Good Mythical Morning

Day 1
I hate waiting.

Time is fluid, at least our perception of it is. To move and to act causes time to flow like a river, the ebbing tide of the day flowing from morning to afternoon to evening as easy as as leaves float down a stream.

Waiting? Waiting makes time freeze, a single minute feeling like an agonizing hour.

I hate waiting.

We have our task, and in this case they want to wait, to be cautious. They want to let something that is undoubtedly dangerous roam. So what if it won’t be when we arrive. At least the trail will be warmer than waiting for an addled fool who just vomited spiders to recover.

He’ll probably be catatonic.

Combine that with my former student, and this has bad idea written all over it.

Maybe though…I can get a return on the wedding gift I left for her….

I hate waiting.

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Zi's Meanderings
A diary of a normal gnome

Spiders!

At first I was almost as excited as Rock. After all, one doesn’t often come across a person spontaneously regurgitating spiders of all things! But then the horse had spiders, and two other people had a case of The Spiders.

Yes, that’s what I’ll call it, The Spiders.

Goodness, I hope I don’t get The Spiders. Imagine them crawling up your throat if one got left behind. Though, I wonder why the bile in the stomach didn’t kill them…. Acid resistant spiders?

Not flame resistant though. And not stomping resistant or crushing. Yes, crushing. That had to be what the big guy did to them. Bodily crush them. So brave, how did he know that he wouldn’t get a case of The Spiders by one jumping down his throat.

But then Rock ate some and he didn’t get The Spiders. Not yet anyway. Maybe I won’t let him do clean up next time… Do you think it’s contagious? Or that it could get caught on the wind? That would be horrible. The wind should carry messages not death.

Ugh, death on the wind. Maybe I should rethink… No! That would simply be another flavor of the wind. After all it was only tall people and animals that got The Spiders. Clearly as a gnome I’m immune.

Now we chase the spiders to stop them. It feels like an abomination of nature and well, that’s what I’m here to do. Begone The Spiders!

BEGONE!

Scribbles follow of musical notes and various catchy phrases about being rid of spiders. Clearly Zi has a song in mind for the journey.

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Arden's Written Account

I can’t help but think it all a sign from the gods.

And I mistrust signs from the gods.

Perhaps the confluence of events that led this strange, rag-tag group together and left me covered in spider guts and with an apparent mission to retrieve some magical artifacts is all just one huge coincidence.

But somehow I doubt it, and as much as I mistrust these signs, I will follow along for the journey.

My people teach to follow not signs from fickle gods, but to make one’s own choices, to live and die by them.

And it’s my choice to follow this path where it leads.

I’ll probably hate myself for it, but in the end, what else am I to do except return to the arena? That life holds little interest to me anymore.

So, we’ll see.

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Xavier's Musings

Footfall after footfall brought me here. Night after night, drink after drink.

The road has been ever so quiet; ever so boring upon this excursion.

It was only after I arrived in town that I learned I was on the heels of the mage train, of course. All a bit stuck up for my taste, but at least they bring good spirit where they go, well, that and good spirits.

This town’s ale was just as good as anywhere elses, the people seemed more or less like your typical townsfolk. All with dreams, good hearts and smiles. Perhaps that’s why I decided to keep around. It most certainly wasn’t just for the festivities, though that is a good reason to stick about.

Truth be told though, it may have been Cayden sticking his fingers in my cup. The morning after arriving of course there would be some sort of commotion.

Spiders here, spiders there. Erupting out of men’s mouths. It’s all rather grisly and frankly, unacceptable. Gods know I couldn’t sit idly by and do nothing. Thankfully, neither could a fair number of the tavern goers.

Even without being implored by some bigshot magistrate, I would have solved this problem. Even without the assistance of all of these people, but I do have to say: The idea of camaraderie is a rather nice one.

At any rate, tonight’s another night worthy of booze; but what night isn’t, let’s be serious. Isn’t that right, Gods above?

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Letters to a Lost Love - Issue 1
Wherein Peyton tries to explain her hasty departure

Dearest Bryce,

I do understand if you cannot find it within your heart to forgive me. I know I would be furious had you been the one not to show up that morning upon which our patriarchs had agreed upon for our vows. It is my fervent hope now that you will read this letter, and perhaps understand my reasons.

Please know that it is not any lack of admiration on my part which caused me to depart. My heart remains as always, yours, if you should still so wish. It is only that which we have discussed many times in the past; an opportunity to see the world, to explore the many possibilities which are out there. You and I both know that with our marriage that chance would be gone. Great Uncle Alten would favour you with some post in the city, and I would remain nestled at home to provide for the future generations of our familial lines.

And while we’ve not spoken of this, I do ardently hope that you agree that for both of us, that fate would come much too soon. Had it been possible, I would have sought you out, and eagerly requested you join me for this adventure, but given that foolhardy superstition about brides and grooms seeing each other before the wedding, it was all quite impossible to arrange.

I cannot tell you where I am. I know Uncle Alten has likely already let loose his hounds looking for me. He is not a man to be made a fool, and I fear that this time I have vexed him beyond even that time, when in our younger years, we’d managed to break a priceless vase the Countess Wickham had on display – you know the one I mean, that ugly monstrosity in red and puce she so adored for it having been centuries old and a hideous symbol of her wealth? For this isn’t about money, but his lack of ability to chasten an errant child to accept her position in the family, in the world, and in his plans.

I rode out of the city upon the coattails of those gone to do the Testing this year. It was easy enough to accomplish once I was able to sneak out of my own house and away from my guards.

In the village we first stopped in, I was fortuitous enough to make acquaintance with Elina Koubek. I hadn’t realized the good instructor was travelling herself, but at present, we will be working together, so perhaps the gods still favour me. Surely, with all that she has seen and the adventures from which she has returned, I’ll be able to make it home myself in due time.

The strangest thing happened while we were observing the ceremony. A man rode into town, having ridden the poor beast to death, and upon his collapse (having first run directly over the current peasant being tested), he began to spew spiders from his mouth. Such a sight, the memory of it still has me shiver. I never would have thought such a thing possible.

Then an even larger spider appeared. Those around me began to act. For my part, I’d always wanted to test the capability of a fire potion, and I’m pleased to report that while I was only able to breath fire once having quaffed it, it did handily destroy many of the small spiders the man continued to vomit upon the village square.

Upon vanquishing all the spiders, and I’ll reluctantly admit after my first foray of fire throwing, my later actions were rather unremarkable, we spoke with leaders, and they have pressed upon us a mission to go and investigate the very area these men had been adventuring, and discover if a plague of spiders will be marching across the land.

Knowing the magus leading the company was withholding information, I showed her my signet ring to attempt to have her further explain, however that action only had her state that I could inquire with my father for more information. It was a foolish risk on my part, and I’ll likely be forced to deal with the consequences of the effort at a later time.

I will continue to write, and as I’m able, will send these letters to you. I hope you they will reach you well, if also outraged by the offense I have caused. I do care for you Bryce. I always have, and I always will.

Yours,

Petyon

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Amryn's Journal - 3
The Rambling Ramblings of Teenage Girl

I open my mouth and my father comes out.

Not prefectly, he was certainly more passionate and practiced with his lecturing than I am, but he is there none the less. They started early, as soon as it became clear that I was gifted. Such a small thing, to call light into the darkness, but as a child I was delighted by it and did so at every opportunity. In retrospect it is a good thing that I had no friends for I would have been beastly in lording my newfound ability over them. Father’s reaction was … mixed. He was proud of me and helped me to master the gift so that it came reliably, but he also seemed … sad, or perhaps worried? And the ‘discussions’ began.

Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD.

That was the first, a lesson which grew in complexity over the years. Having the ability does not equal having the right. I learned to temper my use of magic. I used it, and frequently, spending many nights reading by a steadier magical light rather than by candle, it was both more convenient and safer. It was used with a purpose. With conscious thought instead of on a whim.

Our actions have consequences, and power always comes with a price.

Most would separate those into two points, but I feel they are so intertwined so as to be almost indistinguishable.

Nothing is free. There is always a price attached and it is best to pay the cost of things up front rather than borrow trouble for tomorrow. I couldn’t fully appreciate this one until now. I guess in the past I’d always associated cost with money, and currency and I are still not very good friends (I’m almost certain we have it worked out now though, go team).

He attempted lessons of short term gain vrs long term payment, but nothing ever stuck, but as I watched my companions pry gems from the runed walls of this long forgotten outpost something clicked int place.

This.

This is what he meant.

That they are valuable is undeniable. Any gem merchant would trade good money for them, any mage or arcanist even more. Their sale will no doubt bring my companions much-coveted weaponry and armaments… but at what future cost. We have meddled with powers and forces that we cannot define let alone understand or reason with. What ripples will be caused by reintroducing these things to the world? Do they bother to ask themselves these questions? And if so do they just not care about the answer? I’m not sure which option I prefer actually, either makes me doubt the solvency of this tentative accord we’d found ourselves in.

It is actually a fair even split. Myself and the cleric seem far more cautious, while the human male and the other arcane magic wielder show almost reckless abandon when it comes to gathering spoils and power. The monk and the dwarf are somewhere in the middle … which to be honest surprises me. I’d thought that monks set themselves apart from worldly wealth? Perhaps it is only some of them? Or maybe that’s a thing that only happens in stories. But surely the dwarves above all others have learned the lesson about the consequences of greed and ambition? It is possible the accounts I’d been given were wrong, or perhaps these tendencies are innate and he cannot help himself?

The cycle of humans rising and being corrupted by their greed is also a prevalent one through history. The ruin that we stand in is a testament to that. Admittedly I know little about Thassilon, it was so very long ago. Stray mentions by my father (in the midst of previously mentioned lectures mostly), that they were humans whos ambition consumed them, twisting what they’d built into something dangerous and ruinous, leading to some great uprising … Maybe? I should have pushed harder for details I guess, or been more interested in the very ancient history that he seems to have studied somewhere. I can only hope that at some point I am in a position to ask him these new questions …

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Nathalia's Prayers - Maariv - Day 2

Blessed Jlyne, I understand now why you have set me on this path. Though the adventurers continue to lack common sense, and make decisions which I cannot respect, I see the wisdom in your actions. Please forgive me for ever having doubted you. For while we have braved spiders and diseased bears, we have also encountered a powerful crystal relic which seems to see through time, and found another of your followers who had been entrapped in the ruins we now explore.

My heart may not have been devouted in this effort, based solely on the order of some noble, for it felt like slavery from which you had raised me up. I know better now and I swear to you, I will put all my effort into seeing this quest being successful now. I will guard and protect, I will heal and guide as best as I can.

I pray only you give me the wisdom I need to do so, and guide me forever to following your path.

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Nadeline's Dairy Entry - Day 2
Again in Aklo

The circumstances in which I write these words should be unsettling to me, for spending a night in an unknown place with hostiles, the likes of which I could never have imagined, surely sounds grim. There was no doubt we’d battle spiders in the forest, and that we did, but to encounter traps obviously made by beings other than the mindless spider swarms was not what I anticipated.
This mystery was soon solved, however, when we entered a sort of fortress in a clearing. Old, tattered, with broken statues. It was clear by the corpses of the magus group who came before us that we were in the right place. I’d wager the amount of corpses I have seen in my lifetime has more than doubled by now. I expect that count to rise dramatically before we leave this place granted I am not among those corpses.
But it was not the corpses or the spiders or the traps that alarmed me. Grotesque creatures the size of a tall man were anything but a man, with distorted limbs and hunched over backs, greyish black in color and sinister in nature; it was as if the monsters of nightmares had come to life. They cannot be from this plane or the next and pondering why they would be here in his fortress in a forest I’d regard as my backyard piques my curiosity greatly.

I mention all this to say that despite my circumstances, I oddly feel at ease here. While I cannot say I regard my companions yet as a solid group whom I trust, I get the sense that this is all just the beginning of something far more grand than a single quest in search of a culprit in a forest and that there is reason for me to be part of it.

That being said, with the archer gone I admit I feel a bit better about this group, he was a weaker link for me. The dwarf continues to bring me comfort and all but the cleric seem formidable enough a team. That is not to say the cleric has not improved… slightly… but her continuous hesitance and obvious reluctance to continue with us is still troubling, perhaps if we make it through here and her sentiments remain as they are, we can drop her off and find another more adamant in their mission from their god or goddess to assist us. Perhaps I assume too soon that there will be more beyond this, but with all that we have encountered so far I can’t stop the tugging in my mind saying this is all merely in the outskirts of something grander and more frightening.

A few discoveries I should mention: A contraption that seems to dial back time and play back recordings of the happenings in its ‘eyesight’, a sort of scouting or surveillance magical device at the front of the fortress. Another was that the dwarf seems to have an almost lustful admiration for well crafted stone walls and doors. I’d guess it is because dwarves spend far too much time surrounded by stone walls in the underground. The most significant discovery though was the incredibly large and loud man we encountered in the fortress. Caught by the other planar creatures, he finally escaped his bindings and was quick to rush into the fray and conquer his foes in the name of Jlyne, his goddess. He seems content to remain with us and my hope is that his pure and fully trusting gusto for the same goddess the cleric claims to follow will prick the cleric’s heart and give her a bit of gusto of her own.

There are noises, small echoes in the corridors surrounding us. I know we are not alone. I have already communed with Percival, I have decided to have him keep watch while I sleep, his watch usually comes to me in the form of a dream if I am sleeping and is helpful in remaining always alert. I am sure I will need my rest for the day ahead.

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Amryn's Journal - 2
The Rambling Ramblings of Teenage Girl

It is not at all like I thought it would be. Oh indeed there was the standard fare. Gruesome spider monsters, strange and wondrous arcane marvels from a time long past. But there is also dust. EVERYWHERE.

Drink of water? Tastes like dust. Try to choke down rations before bed? Somehow bits of spiderweb find their way on to it making the already less than pleasing texture that much worse.

Stories never talk about dust (save for those times when it provides for a telling clue like a footprint or some such nonsense). They don’t talk about the way it coats your skin and makes your eyes feel like a peeled grape.

Don’t get me wrong, I became … disheveled in our travels before this. Mud, blisters, something that was disturbingly NOT mud. But I guess I thought that after reaching civilization again and throwing my lot in with this bunch things would magically change. A silly thought in retrospect.

My companions bear it well enough and I must come to face the fact that this must be something that everyone experiences and grows accustomed to. Even my beloved Jonathan has spent nights like this, and while I do not like to think of him in anything less than health and comfort I will admit that part of me that takes solace in the thought of him … less than immaculate; filled with the same resolve to stay and unravel more of the mystery that I find myself with.

Argh, I had meant to say more, but I fear my days of choosing a book over sleep are at an end. It is time to say goodbye to Hanna and prepare to turn in. I worry about her, even after all these days she still seems to hold some doubt that I will succeed in calling for her again. It is in her eyes… and the fact that she insists on goodbye instead of good night. Stubborn creature. As if I could face any of this without her.

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Written Account of Grimmorn Stonebraid. II
Spiders
Spiders. I’m beginning to think the entire surface world is nothing, but spiders. Just when I thought to thank Thrias for a reprieve from their webbed forest came a temple or fortress or whatever with even more of the shits. One day when my beard touches the floor and greyed beyond redemption I’ll find out who is responsible for such beasts turning so damn big. Not even big, but apparently able to conjure up spears and traps. For now I imagine it won’t be the last time I see these damn things. We’re camped right now in front of a large door. We’d taken quite a beating on the way here, so a small rest seemed a good idea. I will admit though, this place is a strange marvel. On the outside a beautiful construction of statues, but nothing that would’ve been out of the ordinary. On the inside, however, was a true treasure. I doubt any of my companions were able to understand or appreciate the construction of the inner chamber. No doubt they were more enamored with what lay inside the center… fountain? I’m not sure what to call it, nor did I pay loads of attention. I was far too busy admiring the shear craftsmanship of the hall. Smooth walls and doorways that reacted to the touch. Somewhere between magic and artisan work. It took my breath away and perhaps for the first time I came to admire something on the surface more than beneath it. As for my companions? I haven’t had much chance to get to know them any further. The bard still remains the closest thing to a friend I have up here. The cleric seems a little aloof and perhaps a bit too stubborn in her faith. The younger woman and her guardian have begun to speak up a little more, perhaps growing a drop more comfortable with us all.

The other younger woman… I’m not sure what to make of her yet. She’s talkative and inquisitive, but when it comes to battle she either waves her hands around like a daft fool or has aim that rivals the foolish archer we had. Truthfully it might’ve been a bit worse, given she shot me in the back and he hadn’t.

Speaking of the archer… he left in the night. Guess he was more of a thief than we’d thought. Given the fact he didn’t steal anything though, I’d wager nerves got to him more so and he took the cowards path. Good riddance I say. In place of him it seems we found another man who had accompanied the earlier group. He is.. unusual to say the least. Boisterous and loud and he doesn’t use a weapon. I think someone called him a …munk or something. I guess up here fighting with your fists against all manner of devilry is a common thing? I think it’s pretty damn foolish, but at least the man has courage. I can respect that.

A few more moments to close my eyes and then we continue. I’ll have to remind myself to see about getting some antidotes or alchemy healing done. One of those spiders bit me… and while I don’t feel the burn coursing in my veins, I still feel a little weaker than I should.

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