Estin, The Celestial City

Today is a Good Day to . . . Hide

Nabal, when are you going to learn your lesson. Stop running head first into things you barely understand all for the sake of what? My Friends of course! But are they really worth dying for? Are you sure that you would be doing this if you werent with them? Probably not, but this appears to be where the gods have pointed me.

Perhaps I should give up this fools errand. After this I might need to go back to the desserts, go back to the storms. At least out there I know how to live. I am not sure if I survive this I will be content to continue to survive here in the cities unless something changes. Unless I change .
We need to stop being goaded into fixing this cities problems. Centuries of wealth and religion have done so much harm that this action we are about to do, I fear, will only be a forestalling of the inevitable.

At the end of the day it appears to only matter that who we want to win wins, and I am not sure that is even the best course of action. But look at me, a thief and a forger having these philosophical thoughts, as if what we do could change the world, or even this small part of it.

WE must triumph if only to increase our reputation and cement our position as unflappable hero’s worthy of some respect in this world, or the next. So friends, I ask you. Let us be brave not for this city, not for any great cause, but for each other.

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Before the UnderDark
Meloditty is worried

Meloditty started nervously playing her lute again. It’s a weird nervous habit, and she usually doesn’t even realize that she is doing it until someone asks her to stop. There was just so much to be nervous about! Ditty and the rest of the party were about to enter into the UnderDark to the location of the MotherBrain of the MindFlares. The way they got the location was extremely unsettling. Ditty continued to feel the pit in her stomach that won’t go away, thinking about how they kidnapped and probed the mind of that young boy last night. And now they were going to have to face MindFlares! Ditty had never seen these creatures before, and had only heard of them from songs and stories, all of which made them out to seem nasty and terrifying. And they were going into the heart of their lair, or whatever they call it. Ditty not only feared for her own safety, but that of her friends, especially Keld, who was still training, and might not be ready for this, and Lionel Esper, who she feared she was leading to his death. She wasn’t romantically interested in him in the slightest, but she doesn’t want him killed! She feels a little guilty that the only reason he was throwing himself into harm’s way was for her. If he was hurt or killed, she would have a hard time living with herself. Or facing Duke Esper afterwards… Ditty started nervously playing her lute again, and tried to breathe deeply and prepare herself for the challenge ahead. Here we go!

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Broken assumptions mean a broken home?

In a pleasant and placid field, miles away from any city, sat a small complex of buildings. It was too small to be a town, but too large to be a family’s home. Well, a traditional family.

Dunell Hall housed about 110 children of varying ages and a much smaller number of adults. Still, the hall was kept in good condition. Anyone old enough did their part, and there was a positive pulse of camaraderie that hung in the air. Of course, those who worked hard also played hard, and many of the youth found themselves out and about, romping within the agreeable weather that washed over the complex.

While the children played Macarus Sympos took the opportunity to seek out his nephew who had stayed with him for the past several months. A breeze tickled through his near-silver hair as he turned his head to look over the grounds. When he spotted the boy from a distance, Macarus grinned and walked over.

Eryximachus for his part was taking the time to doze in the sun, his bare back lying against the soft spring grass. He yawned lightly, bordering on sleep, his mind swilling with pleasant plans for the evening. He stirred only when he heard that very familiar voice,

“Beloved nephew!” Macarus boomed with a chuckle, “I know you may be going for that saucy island look to go along with your dark hair – but I have bad news. Your scales won’t tan.”
Eryximachus let a momentary grin come to his lips before replying, eyes still closed, “How would any of us know? It’s not like I can be outside without a shirt in Estin. Let’s give it more time.”

Macarus crossed his arms, smiling down at the teenager. His voice slanted with a joke-mock tone, “So you are trying to look good for the girls then.” Eryximachus only snorted. Macarus shook his head, taking a seat in the grass next to his nephew. “Now would be the time – you’ve got this whole…dark and brooding look about you that teenage girls are crazy about.” Without delay Eryximachus grinned and replied with, “Oh, so you know what teenage girls like?”

Macarus laughed and threw uprooted grass into the youth’s face. “You awful smart-ass. This is why your Dad kicked you out of the house.” Eryximachus laughed, finally opening his eyes to look up to his Uncle, “Oh yes, because that how I wound up here. Yes, my Father was the one who instigated this.”

Macarus shrugged, “Your Father is the reason you’re here Eryximachus. It may not have been his idea originally, but he agreed to it because he really thought this would…” Macarus paused, trying to find a way to articulate such a sensitive point, “act as a nice do-over so to say.”

Eryximachus shrugged, lying his head back down. “He can believe whatever he wants. I’m relaxed here, but I know when I go back to Estin all my troubles will come back again.” Macrus frowned slightly, “Why?”

Eryximachus thought a moment, but then spoke with a soft voice. “There’s nothing good there. People are only nice to you when they want something from you. You’d be dumb not to see it. I’m just…always ready for something to go wrong at school or to trust the wrong person. I just don’t understand how anything works. I just get nervous…and then Father treats it like it’s my fault…and the only time I feel like I can catch my breath or relax is when I’m alone – but he clearly resents me wanting to be alone a lot.” He paused, knitting his eyebrows, and embittering his voice “I’m on-edge and unhappy all of the time in Estin and he doesn’t give a damn!

“If the city is in pain in an abstract sense, my Dad jumps to help. Even put himself in danger! But when his own son is in actual pain, the most he’ll do is deliver half-baked advice or a lecture. I just…” The youth sighed, covering his face with his hands in frustration, failing to put together the rest of his thoughts.

Macarus relaxed, patting Eryximachus’ arm. “I think I understand. Oh nephew, I really wish you would tell your Dad these things instead of me.” There was a long pause between the two. They listened to the breeze rattle leaves, and the children playing in the distance. Eventually, Macarus attempted to reconnect with his young nephew.

“You know, things were much easier for your Father when he was growing up. Our Dad taught us about Heironious and his lessons, and your Father just took to it all like a fish to water. From when he was younger than you, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Make his hometown better than what it was. It was a very simple idea that mixed well with Anytus’ gift for vision.”

Eryximachus opened his eyes and stared off into the sky, listening with as much patience as he could muster. “When your Father found out he was having a family of his own, well, I think he got ideas in his head about that too. Of course he did. What parent doesn’t want to imagine the things their children can accomplish? He was so proud of you, even before you were born. And he was so quick to give you a strong and unique name as soon as he found out you were a boy.”

Macarus, smiled at the memories of his older brother preparing for fatherhood. His voice leaked with affectionate warmth and nostalgia before turning into a more thoughtful tone. “But you know… I think he assumed things would work the same way for you that they did for him. That you would love Heironious as much as he did, and that you would find great purpose for yourself in Estin…I think he hoped you would want the same things he did.”

Macarus paused and softened further, running a hand through Eryximachus short, black hair. “And you don’t. You’re just…changing Eryximachus, and I think he’s having trouble changing with you.” He paused again, nudging Eryximachus. The boy looked up to him, his eyes unsure and somewhat pained. Macarus smiled back, “But I promise, your Dad loves you very much.”

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Musings and confusion

Gabriel Gray

Having freshly returned to society, I find myself unfortunately in a group with people that I simply just don’t understand; a hunter of sorts – One axe-wielding, bi-polar barbarian – and some girl that I’m not exactly sure how to take just yet.

The hunter baffles me because he looks evil, but claims to be on a righteous crusade to save the world from his brother. Personally, I believe him to be a confused little boy with unresolved family issues, and a dark side that he doesn’t hide very well. I mean, he tried to become a slave owner and defended the action under the auspices that they would be paid, even though the pair clearly had no intention of accepting pay and felt like slaves to begin with. He’s also shown himself to be moderately racist against Humans. I’ve considered killing him in the name of Trithereon, so that the evil in his heart (and apparently, family lineage) doesn’t spread into the world, but until he actually completes an evil act, I must believe that Trithereon is trying to show him a better way, perhaps through my good deeds. If not, it shouldn’t prove difficult to smite his wickedness from the world, considering that he can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn with an arrow, on a clear day. How has he not taken up farming instead of archery? I digress…

The uncouth barbarian seems to be even more mentally unstable. I’ve heard him speak of a “merry-go-round made of decapitated heads” (what the heck is a merry-go-round anyhow?) but then moments later will be heard trying to spout logic and talking of trust. He seems to be so confused that, at times, it confuses me. How does one go about dealing with someone like this? I fear that someday this man will fall to lunacy and commit unspeakable acts of horror and devastation. I’m certainly having my moral compass tested with this group of “Good Guys.” Hopefully he doesn’t try to snuggle with what seemed at the time to be a rabid bear again.

The latest addition to the group is definitely quirky. She appears very aloof, but has proven invaluable, and thank Trithereon. The 2 I spoke of above can’t seem to get it together, but at least this one seems to have some clue about how to get things done. We brought her in because the group has been desperately short of arcane knowledge. She also claimed to be very stealthy, and has proven a great asset, but only time will tell if this bit of faith in our new found companion is well placed.

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Another Day

Graf limped through the city gates, his chainmail rustling with every step on his game leg. The leg ached deeply from his days travels, a smoldering coal of pain slowly awakening back to flame. Even the twisted scars on the leg prickled with discomfort. He shifted the beaten shield higher up onto his shoulder and nodded to the guards before passing through.

Inside the city wall, passers by made way for the hard faced grey-beard coming down the sidewalk, clad in worn white robes over dull gray mail.

He paid them no mind, nor the curious stares after him. He thought about hot stew and a hotter bath to calm his aches and pains waiting for him in each inn he passed. Sweet Alara, the offer tempted him.

But no, not this day. There was work to be done and he would be resting his head within the damned, damp, dark catacombs tonight. He prayed a brief prayer the devil’s cough hadn’t returned since his last visit many years ago. By the Flight, not again.

Still, face set, step by step, Graf made his way to the nearest temple to begin his ministry.

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Striking Deals

Oh my. What have we got ourselves into this time. Just when I thought I was done being interfered with by the Nobles we are yet again thrown into the middle of a situation which will probably cause a civil war in this city. I hope we pick the right side, and maybe make some cash out of the deal.

Whatever the case may be, we will be sure to be in the middle of it.

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New Friends

Dear Diary,

Today, I got assigned to a job in Estin. So far away, but exciting! I got to make some new friends, dragon-slayers no less. There’s this wise sage named Eryximachus who has an apprentice who is learning magic just like me. Keld’s much more talented at it than I am though. Not only can he cast spells, but he can do it without a spellbook! Sorcerers are so incredible. Between you and me diary, I"m a little jealous. I wish I had that level of skill. Any moron can swing a hammer, but it takes a real pro to form spells from nothing.

Anyway, I also got to see Diddy again. It has been awhile since she was at the guild hall, so it’ll be nice to hang out with her some more. Actually, it turns out she was the one who hired us. Imagine that! I’ll make sure to protect her during our mission though, as she tends to run into trouble more often than not.

Off to bed! Note to self: try dreaming of spells. Maybe I’ll be able to visualize it better when I wake up.

Love,

Bartandelous

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Personal Space

As soon as Eryximachus saw the marks on his neck, an uneasy shiver ran under his skin. The sensation reminded him of plants he observed when he was young that would recoil when touched. The sorcerer had always had a preference for personal space, and so it was especially alarming that somehow, three times now, people had decided it was acceptable to touch him while he slept!

He cringed and frowned, instantly feeling the need for a bath. He didn’t feel victimized necessarily. Just flustered and uncomfortable. Neither blood, nor fables about the evils of vampires threatened him. He just wanted his damn space.

Before long, his tensions were warmed and eased by the bath house, which he was becoming more and more attached to during his stay in Estin. It was a luxury that the man had forgotten while in the mountains. As he washed, he cringed whenever the thought of Melander’s bite crossed his mind. Though soon, he was reminded of the ever touchy and affectionate Fellocha. A subtle smile came to his mind as he remembered how reflexively angry and awkwardly tongue-tied he would become whenever she surprised him with back scratches. She would only ever laugh at his reactions.

Even though the two interactions were different, it gave Eryximachus the ability to get some distance from his discomfort. Blood for rent? That was fair. If Eryximachus wished for another arrangement, he could just discuss the matter with Melander. Simple enough.

As soap came back over where the bite had been, his thoughts began to swill towards curiosity. Eryximachus had been put under the impression that a vampire’s bite was much more dangerous than experience suggested. How much of what he ever read or heard was true about their kind?

Well…from what happened with Anytus’ arrival at the temple the sunlight myths seem true enough. However, his bite….I’ve clearly not been made evil from it. There seems to be no change at all really…and wait…an undead being the head of Nerull’s temple? So…the Death God is fine with some avoiding death?

With a contented sigh, Eryximachus enjoyed his bath and musings about the temple for a while longer before the long day ahead of him unfolded.

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Last Call

As Calisto danced and drank his fill at Lydon’s party, he got to thinking. Thinking that it had been far too long since he had this much fun. Ever since he arrived back in Estin, he had been distracted by the shenanigans of Algernon and the growing threat of Symphonia. Aside from the Esper soiree, which ended in disaster, his time had been spent chasing down a drug lord who was looking to take over a city he only half cared about.

On one hand, this was his home, for better or worse, and he’d hate to see it in the hands of a madman. But on the other hand, what more could he really do? Calisto banded together with legendary dragon slayers, and even with their help, Algernon ran rampant until a mysterious purple hand whisked him away. And thanks to his input (and bribe), the cloaks are looking into the potential poisoning of the city’s water supply. As far as he’s concerned, his job is done. He went above and beyond the call of duty for an average citizen. It’s time to leave things to the proper authorities. As corrupt as they may be, they won’t allow the city to descend into chaos.

Maybe Valentin had the right idea. to leave this place behind. There are many more bars in which to drink, parties in far off cities to crash, and exotic liquors to imbibe. And he always did want to check out that traveling circus….

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Emotional Incompetance

Shadows danced over the stone walls of Eryximachus’ home as a fire burned low a safe distance away. Eryximachus calmly watched them before being distracted by a cold nose nuzzling in to his collar bone.

“So, when are you going to tell me something about yourself like you promised?”

“I’ve told you plenty. I’m tired Follocha, how about you talk for tonight?”

Fellocha wined out a protest and soon found her mouth covered by Eryximachus’ hand. He snorted in amusement, shushing her. “Fine, fine. I’ll tell you something new. But please shut up.” He removed his hand and Fellocha giggled, “Oh, you even said ‘please’ ”. The Elvin girl soon took to fiddling with Eryximachus’ facial hair, trying to part his goatee. Thankfully, after months of tolerating this sort of touching, the sorcerer was well habituated, no longer being surprised or put on edge by it. He knew her as a harmless and affectionate girl.

A few minutes passed before Eryximachus shifted. “You’re the only one I’ve ever been with.”

Fellocha tilted her head and giggled, “What, but you came from an upcoming family, right? Wouldn’t people be…”

Eryximachus nodded, “Yes, but their motives were obvious. I’m aware of how I am. I am also aware that I am not the most handsome bachelor. So if a woman claimed interest…I knew what they actually cared about. And it wasn’t me. I… I was just so insulted by anyone’s advances… and I typically hate being touched. For most men, the girls were taking all the right steps; it is just that I am unresponsive to flirting.”

“Why are you telling me this of all things?”

Eryximachus shrugged, “It’s been strange for me. I’ve gone my whole life before this just…not feeling much attraction to anyone – men or women. Even if they were beautiful. I could of course acknowledge that they were attractive, but I…I never felt anything. I was able to entirely skip over that part of life.”

Fellocha paused…”So…do you not enjoy…”

Eryximachus shook he head and gave Fellocha a dismissive wave. “I would bark you away from me if I was uncomfortable.” He sighed, scratching his goatee lightly. “I suppose it is just different. Sometimes when I look at you… you act as a reminder for how pleasant this winter has been. I’ll begin to remember all at once your endearing mannerisms, or moments of insight that I respected. I’ll feel nostalgic and warm, even if you’re here… and then I’ll want you.”

Fellocha laughed lightly and smiled, “Of all people…”

Eryximachus tensed for a moment, embarrassed by Fellocha’s laughter, “What?”

Fellocha chuckled, trying to answer. “Please…I’m not laughing at you.” She smiled, “That is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me. And it came from you.” She cleared her throat, continuing, “You always say ‘I know what I’m like’, and yes, you’re stand-offish, but… given the chance to be with a woman, you aren’t even able to be aroused unless you have an emotional connection with them.”

Eryximachus shifted uncomfortably, “I hardly understand how that is significant.”

Fellocha sighed, “It means that you may be rude to people, but you have no desire to take advantage of them.” She softened her voice propping herself up so that she could look the sorcerer in the eye, “Needing intimacy is far from something I would expect from a mean-hearted person.”

The man across from her sighed, looking away. Fellocha continued, “Eryximachus…I just have a lot of trouble understanding how things escalated the way you said they did with your father. With me you’ve been good. Even in the beginning. You were rude and blunt, but you were at least fair. These days, now that you know me, you always go out of your way to explain things in a measured and gentle way, even if I made a mistake.”

Fellocha took note of Eryximachus’ body language. In an effort to bring his attention back, Fellocha slowly twine her fingers into his. “There is good in you…and when it comes out you are this wonderfully contemplative and clam voice…” She paused, gauging if he was listening, “…and I’m sorry that life in Estin put you so on-edge that this side of you couldn’t emerge more often. When you are like this you are one of my favorite people.”

There was a long pause between the two as Eryximachus absorbed what Fellocha had said. Strong feelings were not the easiest thing for the sorcerer to understand or accept immediately, but he did know Fellocha spoke with good-will. Whether or not he needed to be absolved didn’t matter. He was just happy to be the recipient of Fellocha’s kindness.

As the silenced went on Fellocha grew nervous. Eryximachus raised his head, and she watched him, trust pooling into her eyes as he ran his thumb over her brow and kissed her.


“There is good in you…and I – ”

As Anytus went on Eryximachus paused, hearing the rest of his father’s words through what felt like cotton. The sorcerer was suddenly assaulted by memories of that day and worked very quickly to shove it all away. The effort subdued him, and before he knew it he could do nothing but consent to his father. Anything to leave that room as soon as possible.

As he walked away from the temple of Heironeous, Eryximachus made an effort to breathe. It felt strange to hear that phrase again. Never mind coming from Anytus. Once, the idea that someone could see through Eryximachus’ flaws and see him as good was the most lifting and endearing thing…but now, all it did was hurt. All it did was remind the sorcerer that Fellocha was dead.

Unprepared to deal with the grief welling inside of him, Eryximachus did his best to remain busy that day. Relaying information to the others, walking Keld back to the temple to arrange a deal – anything. Even still, his sadness leaked out in angry bursts as he baselessly criticized Anytus’ representative. It was only as Nabal and Ditty began to coral his behavior that Eryximachus had a moment of lucidity long enough to back down.

Eventually, night came and the whole group of adventures took their leave. Lying in bed, left with nothing but his thoughts, Eryximachus tried to think though how he wanted to deal with Anytus and if he was truly willing to play hero. Unfortunately, intrusive memories of Fellocha threatened to dominate the sorcerer’s thoughts. To fall asleep, he was reduced to focused and slow counting.

He just wasn’t ready, and he didn’t need to be. If he just stayed busy, his mind would eventually wander away from her.

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