The Green Eye of the Forest

Rekel's Recollections - Part 1

I like my job. It takes me to interesting places, pays well, I meet interesting people. Some more interesting than others. My boss is reasonable, I am not an idiot, I know some of his dealings are not on the level but I’ve never had to do anything really bad. In fact he has even paid me out of his own pocket to protect the town from time to time, killing goblins and the like. Mostly though, what I am is a courier. I take messages and packages to nearby towns and sometimes return with other messages and packages. Sometimes the people I bring them from don’t know that they are missing. All part of the job, what I have been trained and equipped to do. And the thing is, without sounding too full of myself, I am good at it.
Now, that part about interesting people. There are a few I met the other day in Almas, a strange crew to say the least. It all started when I spotted a familiar face in the stocks. It was a former townie named Kristoff Wilton. They were calling him traitor and the like so I didn’t really want to associate with him then and there but soon he was released. I followed him and after disappearing into a barracks for a bit he went to a nearby inn. As my current job seemed to be a wash with the noble I was to deliver a package to in jail on some fairly serious charges I decided to spend some time in town while I figured it out. Turns out I was on the right track. So I go up to Wilton and introduce myself, buy him a drink, read the orders he was carrying, put them back in his pocket, talk about old times. I told him that his brother had joined up as well but that seemed to upset him quite badly. Maybe he was afraid of his brother hearing that he was a suspected traitor. Soon enough a beautiful woman paladin (angel? I don’t know, I don’t even usually go for the human type but she was definitely more) comes up to the table and says that she is to take Wilton on a mission. I took the opportunity to ask about my imprisoned noble contact and she took me right to the jail to see him, even bought the poor bastard a meal. Though from what I hear he hardly deserved it. Anyway we go to the prison and I left the package outside with the paladin (Elsbet Oathae apparently) while I went inside to talk to the former Lord Renton Talladus. He insisted that I bring the package to him even though the guards would have to inspect it so I complied. The guards were rather bemused that I was bringing him a teddy bear but they allowed me to bring it to him alone which was perfect. Talladus pulled a message out of it and told me a story about his friend Hestner in Bellis who used to love his aunts chocolates and how there might still be some in his stove at his estate " where the coals glow". The man was so obvious I’m surprised the guards didn’t beat me to it. I rejoined Elsbet and Kristoff outside and inquired about a place to stay. We the liberation party not looking like it was ending anytime soon all of the inns seemed to be full. Elsbet offered me a place to sleep at the Temple of Iomedae so I took her up on it. You just don’t turn a girl like that down. First though I had to go pick up some chocolates…
or uncut diamonds as it turned out, huge ones. In a neatly trapped little door in the back of the stove in the burnt ruins of Talladus’ mansion. Mission accomplished.
The next day I wandered out into the courtyard of the temple to see Elsbet practicing her sword work. She was strong but slow, so I offered a bit of sparring. I beat her 3-0 but if she had been in her armor my blows would have been pointless, and I certainly wouldn’t want to get hit by that greatsword she carries. Just then Kristoff arrived with a very scary looking pair, when I said interesting some are just downright ugly. The man was very tall and seemed to have metal gauntlets that went all the way up his arms, and only one eye. The woman was a Tiefling, I haven’t seen many before and I am not sad about that. Frightening bastards. Kristoff mentioned that they were off to Bellis before they dragged him off to a secret meeting. I thought about listening in but figured I probably didn’t need to. I would learn soon enough. When they returned Elsbet asked me if I wanted to travel with Kristoff and herself as far as Fusil. It seemed like a good idea so I took her up on it. The man referred to as The Major and the Tiefling left and we prepared to leave. Kristoff was even going to restitution a horse for me to ride back so I went off with him to help. When we got back to the temple to meet Elsbet the Tiefling woman rode up fast and said she was coming with us as far as Fusil. She makes me uneasy (though not as uneasy as she seems to make Eslbet but I suppose that is understandable) but I wasn’t really in a position to deny her. So off we set on the road with Lt. Leona.
One thing of note, in the city were wanted posters for my employer. Not entirely surprising in itself but the crimes were arson and inciting a riot which was strange. They listed his name as Jorus the Grey Fox aka Charles Montague. The Charles Montague part was new to me.
Back to our trip we traveled up the road through the various little towns. Leona seemed intrigued by me, why her and not the other one just seems to be my luck. She asked me a lot of questions about Fusil and what I did there. I told her that I work for an antiques dealer named Smith Bros., fortunately Kristoff seemed so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he didn’t say anything. She also asked me about a group of Kitsune living nearby which is ominous but I didn’t give it much of a response. She did seem to open up a bit when I asked her about her own upbringing and sympathized with her about her childhood as some sort of slave/gladiator. It honestly did sound pretty brutal. Kristoff is acting strangely, he stops like he is listening sometimes and even responds occasionally to nothing anyone else can hear. He grips the hilt of his strange sword when he does it, I don’t even think he notices himself doing that.
About half way there we were warned of a pass on our way that was supposedly haunted. When we went through Kristoff spotted a body floating face down in the lake. I assumed it was a corpse but he jumped in and started swimming while I was getting the rope ready. As he neared the corpse it started to move towards him, and four others joined it. I threw the rope out to him and tried to pull him back to shore but wasn’t quite strong enough. Then I remembered the horse, I tied the rope to the saddle and gave it a whack. That got him to shore in a hurry but the things were still on him. Leona picked one off with her crossbow and Elsbet rode up and started fighting some of the others. I killed the one going after Kristoff but not before it had bit him on the ankle. We dragged the bodies further up shore and burned them before moving on. That night Kristoff took a fever and started raving about betrayal. In the morning he seemed much better so we carried on.

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The Crusaders Oath

“I do so swear under the Light, by the Sword and Scales of Truth and all the fires of heaven, to undertake this holy Crusade.
I pledge to guard heart, spirit, body, and mind from the corruption of this Wound upon the World. I furthermore promise and declare that I shall wage relentless war against the Spawn of the Pit and their manifold legions, as directed by those with charge of this Crusade and whenever opportunity presents, to extirpate and annihilate their execrable race and any who serve them.”

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The Path

“I don’t know. Nothing seems to be the way I expected it to be.”
“How so?”
“Well, I mean, I set out from Fusil with the intention of doing something grand. Something special. Making a difference. We stood against the oppressive nobles and twisted Chilaxian politicians. It was all so simple. We fought on the side of right. But now, now it’s complicated. The Revolution is over and the good guys won. But are we really the good guys? I’m told my brother Franz joined the rebellion same as me and now maybe he’s dead. Is that my doing? Did he join because I did?”
“It’s only complicated if you let it be. If your brother joined it’s because he felt it was the right thing to do. If you inspired him to do that then you should be proud. Your soul will guide you on what is the right path to take. You need to trust in that.”
“That’s easy for you to say. These are tumultuous times now that everything has changed. The choices before me, the people that expect things from me. I don’t know who I can trust.”
“Tell me about them.”
“Well, okay. After the army found me and brought me back to Almas they charged me with desertion. It’s crazy, I wouldn’t desert. I didn’t desert. I believed in the cause. I don’t remember where I went or why but I’m sure I left for a good reason. So when this Major Heidern cleared my name I was grateful but also wary. Admittedly my mind seems to be playing tricks on me lately but that doesn’t change that the Major just seems off somehow. I can’t put my finger on what it is about him but honestly he scares me. Anyway he expected me to start working for him, tracking people down and judging them or something. Like a bounty hunter. It didn’t feel right when he recruited me and it still doesn’t feel right now, but he is my superior officer I guess. My first job he’s sent me off with a paladin of Iomadae named Lady Oathae and his creepy daughter Lt. Leona to find a man in Bellis. This guy sounds like a monster but supposedly he’s been pardoned by the new government. Goddess, I don’t even now what to call the new government. Are we a republic? A democracy? Anyway, I’m getting off topic. We were joined for the journey by an old acquaintance of mine from Fusil named Rekel and we set off.”
“The paladin is pure of heart but your instincts may well be right about the monk and his daughter and there are things you don’t know about your friend Rekel”
“See, like I said, things are complicated. Anyway, back to my story. We hadn’t gotten all that far when we spotted somebody floating face down in the surf. I dove in to try and save them but as I drew close I could see they were clearly dead. Of course, that didn’t stop the corpse from attacking me. I got bit and it made me sick, the paladin cured me fortunately. The next day after I was feeling better we searched around to see if there were anymore of the undead creatures. We found one and I expected to destroy it but Lady Oathae convinced us to let it go. I never expected that. I can see her argument for giving it the benefit of the doubt but if even righteous paladins of the holy lady are showing mercy to flesh-eating monsters what is this world coming to?”
“I’m not going to tell you everything is black and white. But you and I both know there is right and wrong. Furthermore, I have no doubt you will know it when you see it. We always have.”
“I guess. I mean, I hope your right Davos.”
“I am. For now why don’t you wake the tiefling. Your watch is over and you could use some sleep before you continue on your path. I feel the Dawnflower is leading us closer to finding Rynn.”

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The Past

“Well, that was interesting. That little Quickling had quite the nasty streak.”
“How can you be so cavalier? A boy died and for nothing. That fey creature just snatched his life and barely even cared.”
“I have not tasted fey blood for sometime. Why did you not use me?”
“Quiet now Nix.”
“What the?! Who was that?!”
“That was just Nix. Don’t worry about her, you’ll get to know her better with time.
“Don’t worry?! A child is dead and the only thing I could offer his mother was more death. And when we exacted our bloody retribution what was the result? A ridiculous man with too much gold and not enough scruples called for a celebration, supposedly in our names but truly without even a thought of anybody but himself. So now I’m off to see if a known murder, that’s been pardoned, is doing alright and I’ll be helped by my half demon superior officer while I do it. So I’m not worried, no. I’m disgusted and ashamed that any of this happened. Not to mention most of the time I am completely out of my league…. and mind.”
“Ok, just breath. The death of that boy was tragic but there are far worse evils in the world then that pint-sized maniac. I remember this one demon that one of us dealt with, called himself Father Plenty, or something like that. He’d set himself up as some great benefactor in a region near Osirion. Offered the people anything which they might desire and it only cost them their will to choose their own actions. They became slaves in the robes of kings, often not even realizing what they had given up. When we overthrew him and freed the people many were lost worse then death. Some fell to corruption and evil themselves preying on others in the hopes of regaining the luxuries they hadn’t earned. Others were just unwilling to fend for themselves and wasted away into pale shadows of themselves, victims of their own sloth. Thus his horrific influence lingered long after he was vanquished. These are just some of the depths of evil that can be inflicted, and don’t think that it can only be inflicted by outsiders either. The potential for cruelty lives in the breast of every creature. That quickling was a killer no doubt and needed to be put down but there will be far greater to come before you pass on the mantle.”
“Why is it I never understand what your talking about?”
“You may not understand now but you will with time. The past is full of horrors and tragedies but also heroes and victories. Stay true to who you are, there is greatness there.”

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Rekel's Recollections - Part 2: Steyr

With Kristoff feeling better in the morning Elsbet wanted to have one more look around the beach at the pass to make sure there were no more undead lurking about. It seemed a waste of time to me but I suppose it is a paladin thing. While searching the area Kristoff spotted a chest lodged partway down a narrow ravine. I climbed down to it with his help on the rope and bashed it open, no need for subtlety as it had mostly rotted away. The only intact item inside was a bottle of strange liquid so I took that with me. Elsbet did find her undead but it was a pitiable creature that begged to be spared, which is strange as I didn’t think they were smart enough to do that. Stranger still is the fact that she did indeed spare it. We encounter a merchant on the road who tells us of a robbery in Steyr just up the road. Apparently something was taken from the mayor, Estinian Lorpath.
We travelled through that day and camped for the night so that we could reach Steyr the next day. Kristoff took the first watch but kept talking to himself so I took a walk. I must have made a noise because he followed me and stirred up a dire wolverine. I tried to get him away but it was very angry and Elsbet had to come and put it down which was unfortunate.
The next day as we neared Steyr we passed a woman at a wagon with a missing wheel. This was odd considering that the wagon itself was filled with wheels. Elsbet helped her install one of them and in return she told us of what was going on the town. It seemed that the mayor, a former noble of Galt, was building some sort of theater and had brashly chosen to build it right on top of a local fey creature’s home. Strange things had been happening ever since and everyone blamed this Blin, the fey.
While the others were getting situated in town I found my contact, a man named Pippen. He told me that Jorus disappeared from Fusil shortly after some soldiers showed up looking for him.
Since my family lives in relatively close contact with fey I am familiar with them and I decided to go have a chat with this Blin to see if I could smooth things over with him and the mayor. Had to be some reward in that I thought. He told me that his wife’s body was buried under the theater. I told him I would see what I could do and went back into town to talk to the mayor and my new companions. There was a large commotion near the stables and it seemed that something had killed one of the stable boys right in front of Elsbet. I followed a blood trail from the murder into the forest nearby and found a tree with the words “Ha Ha” carved on it. There is a lot of blood, far more that could have been from the murder and it smelled odd. A voice which sounded like Blin taunted me and said that there would be more to come. On the way back I found Elsbet talking to Blin however and he explained that there is another more malevolent fey creature in the area. He described it as a quickling, a creature that moves so fast it is hard to even see. Leona joined us from whatever she was off doing at that point and seized on my idea of trying to find a druid to help deal with the quickling. We travel into the forest together and do find a druid just as it is killing an ogre. He was not interested in helping us with the quickling however and told me nothing that Blin hadn’t about its weaknesses. I had forgotten how pompous and self-righteous druids can be. It took us a while to find our way back to town and it was nightfall when we arrived. It seemed Kristoff and Elsbet had convinced the mayor to move everyone inside his manor for safety and to hold a feast to calm them down. After a bite to eat and my shift at a patrol around town I had a look around the manor house. The mayor obviously has more money than sense, I know a few people who wouldn’t have hesitated to clean the place out. I play the long game though, short term gains often have unforeseen consequences. In the basement though I found an open chest that looks like it was recently forced and the trap on it disabled. As I moved near it the quickling appeared and identified herself as Princess Magnificent. I really do think all fey think the world is a game, they play like children even when the game is murder. We squared off and traded a few missed blows which seemed to frustrate her and then she ran to the stairs and used the magic ocarina that she had stolen from the mayor to call out Fire! She fled as the house fell into panic and as we calmed down the townsfolk Leona came down from the balcony and said she had managed to shoot the quickling with her crossbow. We did find a bit of cloth and blood with the bolt on the ground so it seemed she was right. Note to self, do not let her shoot at me. In the morning we went to where Blin said Princess Magnificent lived, a fairy ring in the forest. I challenged her to continue our fight but what really set her off was Elsbet suggesting we destroy the ring. She attacked us and I continued to taunt her with a challenge of first blood, best two out of three hits, best three out of five and so on to keep her from fleeing. Elsbet and Leona finished her off and she burst into a cloud of bugs when she died. Elsbet took the ocarina and I took a magical bag full of gold and a magical sword. I did give the mayor back the amount of gold he figured had been stolen at Elsbet’s insistence. That left us with a decent sum which I divided up among us. There were also a few pieces of poisonous blue winnis in the bag. Elsbet arranges for a priest to be brought to town to try to resurrect the boy and decided to wait in town for another day to make sure everything was done as she wanted.

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