Book 2-3 Interludes – Liessa’s Journal – Erastus – (Liessa’s point of view)
My search for my dear Freja has led me deep into the Stolen Lands after following rumours of werewolf attacks in this burgeoning kingdom of Argentum. Perhaps this werewolf took her after what we did to the pack back in Ustalav.
I have heard rumour that there is a tower nearby this new kingdom where people go missing and one of its rulers, a Baron Drael, is planning an expedition to this tower. I will join them and hopefully find some trace of my friend.
I meet this Baron and his companions near the gate to the city of Silver Falls. He is a haggard looking blond half-elf in fancy robes. He is accompanied by a halfling – I assume, in an owl mask and black leather robes. He has a troll hound, I believe, on a leash. There is a final member a strong looking half-orc woman with black hair a hearty laugh. She has a hefty maul strapped to her back. At least one other of this group will be capable in a fight.
The halfling introduces himself as Finn, and then the half-elf confirms he is Baron Drael and the female is Aila. Finn says something about a dwarf. They then ask how long I plan to stay, and I let them know, if I find Freja, I will stay if she wants.
They seem idle, so I ask for a hot bath if we are not leaving right away. This kicks them in butt, and they offer me a horse to ride from a girl named Gith. It is nice to ride a horse again.
After a day of smooth travel over roads and through the small quaint town of Tatzylford before we rest for the night in the grove a dryad named Tiressia. They are apparently friends with this beautiful fey, but I keep my guard up while we rest.
The next day of travel, my silence and focus on our tasks seems to unnerve the short one and he comes up with a convoluted way to find out more about me. He mentions customs and some other such nonsense while conversing with Drael. They seem silly for supposed rulers of kingdom. Finn tells me that he is a healer and Drael uses magic.
I tell them to stop beating bush and just ask what they want to know. They ask who I am, so I tell them of my father and the Burning Crow Tribe. That when I came of age and my appearance changed, I found and killed my hag mother.
This seems to stun their lips until the half-orc Aila says her dad is human and her mother is orc. Then Finn talks of candles, and I stop listening.
The summer heat is pleasant here and the white clouds are fluffy and full when we spot a huge tower surrounded by vines and trees. Four surrounding towers with one large central one. As we get closer, the Finn one mentions something about runes and elven architecture. Whatever… looks like a perfect home for the monsters I hunt.
As we get close, I check the perimeter to see if there are any sign of undead, fey, or monstrous humanoid, but can’t find anything fresh. Must not be werewolves here as they need to hunt regularly and are often sloppy at covering tracks, more savage animals.
When I finish my scouting, the rest are standing out front of the high walls in front of an open portcullis. Drael is talking to his amulet or something magic folk do. He then says that he senses a lot of magic inside. Perhaps Freja’s nature magic has had lasting influence here…here is hoping at least.
Finn and Aila are talking of craftsman ship. I ask the hound in its giant tongue if its smells anything, but it cocks its head to side and does not seem to understand. The Finn one then asks what language I spoke. Strange that he does not know gianteese when he handles a trollhound.
We decide that despite there being most likely traps, the best way in is through the front gate. We head in and Drael senses magic on a stone to our left, so we pause. It looks like a stone statue of an animal. Gargoyles look like statues, so I shoot it with my bow and a small piece breaks off, but it does not move. Guess it’s not a live at least.
Then Drael says the magic is coming from below the rock. I then say I will head towards it but the others enter and head the opposite way, and as Finn and his dog are passing through the portcullis it suddenly drops on him, pinning him and the dog, who falls unconscious from the piercing spikes.
Aila and I both rush to lift the gate and after Aila curses about some sort of ‘Blighted Begonias’ we get them both out, and Ray Jay, the hound, has his wounds start stitching back together. Lucky troll blood. However, the gate does not go up.
The sudden trap has Finn spooked and he wants to leave. Aila and I can’t seem to get the portcullis open. He then starts curing himself with a wand. Handy to have, this wand.
The inside area is all overgrown with dense foliage. Now that everyone seems healthy, the Candlemaker asks if we should try lifting again. I nod and we both dig in and try to hoist it. The ground starts to sag where we stand but we can not raise the bars. Damn.
Finn then looks and says that it is mechanical in nature, but he can’t find any trigger. We try one more time, this time even the spindly Baron Drael helps, more man looks like he will pull every muscle he has.
We give up on that plan, and Drael looks for magic, Aila talks about drilling out and I take a couple attempts to climb the vines and plants with a rope. After two attempts I let them know we have an exit if needed…I don’t want to leave yet though, what if Freja is in here.
This time we sweep the perimeter to the right, circling the central tower, before we come to the weird animal statue. It is not as grown over as the rest of the area and the ground looks more recently disturbed than the surrounding dirt. Looking closer, the statue looks like a bear and there is some Sir name on it. The others seem very interested in this, but it’s not why I am here.
Suddenly there are five flashing lights surrounding us and I draw my cold iron blade from back. Evil spirits will fall today.
One approaches and flash lashes out at me but misses. I draw upon the primal fury of my people and swing back, but even though my strike is true, it passes right through. These must be ghosts of a kind. I drop my great sword and draw Bloodstained Heart – the ghost killing axe.
There is a sudden flash in the corner of my eye, and I see a small lizard of an elven creature with pale skin and a jagged bone like dagger. There is a constant blurring around it. This must be one of those evil quickling fey. It stabs but misses both the hound and me.
A sudden burst of fire enshrouds several of the orbs, but they seem unphased…Baron Drael apparently uses fire magic. Finn then tries to douse them in holy water but despite a look of sizzling they are unaffected.
There is a sound of clinking clunky armour climbing the rope from the other side of the wall and then with an ungraceful thud a dwarf appears after moaning about being up in the air.
This is apparently Glanrim and a friend of theirs. I share with all of them that the little shit is a fey creature known as a quickling and to use cold iron if they have it.
More blurs and stabbings and the lights fade out. Perhaps they are tied to an object, and I yell for Aila to break the bear statue and I swing again at the lights, but my axe finds no purchase. I chose to sheath the axe and grab my sword. I’m readying to hunt this damned fey instead. Aila follows my guidance and there is the sound of cracking stone.
The hound has the scent of it and Finn follows him into the tower. It runs by and narrowly avoids my blade. It then slashes Finn’s throat and blood splatters the ground. He is standing and hopefully he is as good a healer as he says.
Ray Jay then looks like he is following a scent into the central tower while Drael tries to cover the invisible light creatures in some sort of magical dust, but it flutters to the ground, and he yells to us that they aren’t creatures at all, and we should focus on the little one. My plan exactly.
Ray Jay nips at it and Finn is back in the fight, his wounds healed, so I tell him to get his hound to help pinch the fey in. The distraction lets me bring my sword down hard on its leg. His puny dagger no match for my cold iron and flesh gives way to bone. I stare inches away from its horrid little face.
Knowing that this its fate, it makes a sudden burst from under my sword and bolts. We try and swing as quick as possible, but it eludes us and flees into the woods. One day, I will find this little rodent.
With the threat over, I take a moment to catch my breath while the dwarf and Baron drael chatter about something – they pause and the dwarf, Glanrim, wants to know why I am here. I say to find Freya and then start looking at the inside floor of this tower while the rest of them investigate the bear headstone.
Inside is a large pillar with five cracked gemstones and some fancy tapestries. There is also a winding staircase that heads up. As I walk backout, there a loud hissing noise and some toxic gas trap is set off as I am leaving – not a great trap since it happening on my way out. It does stink though.
I then go to look at one of the smaller towers, and the dwarf whines about this. I notice the short one heal Aila as well. I hear Drael say that the trap is discharged. See. I helped.
The first tower I look in is very run down with mountains of rubble. I look around a little but cannot see the remains of any bodies, so I am confident that Freja is not underneath. Mister Finn goes to look with Aila’s help they find some bracers.
The next tower I try to enter has a stuck door. I give it a kick, but it does not budge. I am about to give it more when the dwarf comes over and puts his thick hide into it and it opens. Saying I must have weakened it. I did not need his help.
Inside is a small living quarters with pots and a table with chairs. There are scalps of humanoids. This must be the quickling’s home. Inside a pot I find another set of bracers. The dwarf gives them to Baron Drael. He then tries to tell me to not smash this evil creature’s home for fear of angering it. I want it angered. It can come hunt me if it dares. He tells Aila we should not smash it. I then smash the table and chairs before leaving the room. Onto the next tower.
As we walk over, I whisper to Aila, asking if she always does what men want. She smiles saying she just likes to help. Fair enough, she is definitely helpful, and her cheery demeanour is pleasant to be around.
As we go to open the next tower door, we have split. Finn, Glanrim, and I are at the one closest to the gate, and the other two are at the last one. Suddenly the sound of chittering gets louder and swarms of rats come pouring out at us.
I slash and rip at the vermin as they attempt to swarm over me. Through cutting and ripping I am able to disperse the first wave. More pour out and head towards Finn who lets loose a bomb. I hear some kind of charge – to show that Aila is on the way to help.
When she is have way there, Drael is surrounded by vines as another strange fey creature descends from the tower walls. Rats climb over Glanrim and we slash at them. He tries to head to help Drael. More rats, so I retaliate with the rage of my ancestors. In the that moment of primal clarity I remember the new creature is a Grim Stalker. A fey who can control all sorts of vine like entities.
Fire erupts at the fey as I hack and slash rats. Ray Jay even starts eating them. Moments later they are gone. But so too is the new fey creature, having been burnt and bashed by my temporary allies.
With the new fey dead, we look in the last tower but there too is not sign of my Freja. Damn. So we head up the central tower’s staircase. As we are in the lower area. Drael says he would like to take the tapestries, but at least will wait to our way out.
When we reach the second floor we are high up in the tower. There are windows that look out below that we did not see from the outside. The ground is a plush canopy of mossy grass. Standing across the room is an extremely attractive, pale skinned woman with golden hair and she is breathtaking.
Finn is also overcome by her beauty and kneels before her. Although something starts to ring in my mind about a certain fey like this. She then asks if we came to see ‘him’ or ‘her’ but Finn answers you and so she starts to sway her hips and they are captivating.
Oh shit. This is a Baobhan-Sith. …and I can’t help but stare as she dances and traces her fingers all over us while she moves her body. I even think I felt her tongue on my neck.
I come to suddenly as her mouth has elongated and she is drinking the blood of Baron Drael. Clinging to his back. Finn shouts something about his type of women, but the rest of us fighters rush up to her and get into a flanking position.
She then turns and with a voice like honey asks me to defend her home. I feel the urge to help her but then realize what she is trying to do and let the rage well up inside me.
We slash and bash and as I swing down, I get a flash of inspiration that I might miss, so I call upon the Warden’s wife to guide my blade and it bites in hard into her leg. A wound she will not soon forget.
After a round of beat down and Aila talking of broken candles, the evil fey starts to dance again and yes, it is nice to watch. So, we do.
I come to again and she is back on Baron Drael. As we are all snapping out of it, the dwarf chops into her arm twice. Finn does some healing vial for Drael and I chop back into her leg trying to cleave it clear off. She would have trouble dancing then.
Aila then connects right in the chest, screaming of broken candles as the fey fiend collapses, but she looks at Aila first and whispers something incoherent. Suddenly, Aila’s muscles look atrophied but she continues to swing her hammer, over and over and over. It’s too bad she fell victim to the baobhan-sith curse.
After combat is over, I let my heart stop pounding as others stop to catch their breaths. I use my war razor to remove a finger and take her sash.
I then look around the room for signs of my Freja, the view from the window is expansive, but there are no signs from what I can tell. Finn comes and asks me if there was a part of it that was responsible for how it captivated us, and I tell him it was all the dance. No magic or scent, just fey trickery.
I then tell her that the curse can be lifted by powerful healing, and she seems reassured. Perhaps even their Finn has the power.
Meanwhile, there was a mirror in the corner that Baron Drael has been fixated on, with Glanrim at his side. There are lots of different images that flash inside the mirror, but none are my Freja.
They do ask if I recognize a green skinned lady with a flawless beauty. I have seen beautiful dryads, but this fey looking woman seems different.
Baron Drael is interested in taking the mirror, so I help them carry it down and out to the horses.
He also wants to take the fresh grave and take it to a proper burial, so we make a sled to tow it back. We then pack up our things and make for Silver Falls.
Upon arrival we part ways, and I continue my search for my dear friend. Until our paths cross again, rulers of Argentum.