Those Aren't Tears

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Those Aren't Tears was a storyline by GameMaster Quilic set in Mist Harbor that ran from August 21, 2018 until December 18, 2018. Characters from this story previously showed up in The Green Lady and later showed up in The Nazhor Chronicles.

Summary

  • Penre, a merchant, introduced mysterious Nazhor to the pawnshop owner Cendadric. Nazhor then took over ownership of the pawnshop by threatening to reveal Cendadric's secrets, and remained skulking around town.
  • Elspie (a recently retired Imperial Drake fresh off the Demonwall) and her husband Brannogh moved to Mist Harbor, and commissioned their retirement home on a brand new cay, which they named Sunset Cay.
  • Bandits arrived in Mist Harbor looking for something and killed Brannogh, whom Elspie buried at their cottage.
  • During Brannogh's memorial, Elspie's cottage was ransacked and an artifact she was gifted upon retirement by her former commander Drehod was stolen.
  • Elspie went to Mist Harbor's First Sergeant who dismissed her. A half-elf Taladorian named Duvainiel showed up at the meeting with the First Sergeant, mocking Elspie, and letting drop that Nazhor may be involved.
  • Upon arrival at the pawnshop, Nazhor arrived, goading Elspie and baiting her until she erupted and attacked him. He counteracted her and asked the First Sergent to arrest Elspie.
  • Mist Harbor Town Administrator Ilsola called a meeting asking what in the world had happened. At the meeting the First Sergeant did not remember arresting Elspie and was very confused. Meanwhile, people heard whispers in their mind presumably from Elspie. The meeting moved to the pawnshop where Cendadric also very confused. Duvainiel arrived and began mocking everyone.
  • Days later, Ilsola received a message from Elspie asking everyone to gather upon which time Elspie explained magically via whispers that she was locked away, that Nazhor and group had her retirement gift (a necklace), and Nazhor was searching for another artifact. The group was given magical tokens that helped them to find the artifact. Upon finding it at Mazorn's Warehouse in River's Rest, Duvainiel arrived and took it.
  • Elspie was still missing, so Ilsola asked Drehod to come and tell them more about Elspie and help find her. Duvainiel killed Drehod just as it seemed they were getting useful information out of Penre.
  • Ilsola called another gathering to search for Elspie. Adventurers found a fiery portal at Sunset Cay and walked inside. There was a huge wall of fire that was put out by the adventurers. Behind it was a hatch. In the hatch was Elspie and... Duvainiel, who had been betrayed by Nazhor.

Persons of Note

Timeline of Events

Cendadric's Troubling Morning (8/21/2018)

Vignette: Cendadric's Troubling Morning
In the wee hours of the morning, a pair of individuals, garbed in deep red cloaks and clutching their transporters, appeared outside Cendadric's in Mist Harbor. As they adjusted to their new surroundings, the pair exchanged a glance, then headed inside. Cendadric paused in his examination of a bauble, a questioning look on his face.

"Something I can help you with?" he asked.

The larger of the two men stepped forward, tossing back the hood of his cloak and giving the pawnshop owner a wide, predatory grin.

"Good evening, Cendadric. My name is Penre, and I'm here to show my good friend around the place. You see, he's interesting in procuring ownership in one of the businesses in Mist Harbor, and I suggested that your shop might be a good fit."

"I... I beg your pardon? My shop?" Cendadric stammered.

"Indeed. You've built the reputation of the place quite nicely, and the location is ideal for his purposes," Penre replied.

Cendadric glanced between the two men, his face growing red with irritation.

"Now see here, you two. I'm not sure what you're on about, but this is my shop, and I have no interest in selling, at any price. So I will thank you to be on your way!"

Penre cocked his head slightly to one side, staring at the pawnbroker, then turned to his companion, an inquisitive look on his face. The third man tilted his head back slightly, revealing the lower half of his face beneath the hood of his robe. His jawline was elegant and the grin he wore was charming, if a little too toothy. When he spoke, his voice was a soothing, pleasant tenor, rich in tone, and his words were enunciated perfectly, full of warmth and charisma.

"Cendadric... The widow never forgave you for Zul Logoth. She cried for a week before she killed herself over that. The note she left called you out by name. Well... the name that you used at the time, in any case. That name had quite the history to it... the Vaalorian soldier... the halfling farmers... the alchemist's uncle... there are a great many people who would love to know where THAT man ended up, don't you think?"

As the man spoke, Cendadric's face drained of color and he had to clutch at the counter in front of him to hold his balance. When he managed to speak, his words came out strained and low.

"What is it you want, then? Is it money?"

The stranger's response was a rich, warm laugh that filled the room. Everything about the man's body language spoke of relaxed confidence.

"I'm fairly certain my friend here has already told you what it is that I want. I want this shop, Cendadric. I shall take over ownership of it, but never fear. I will not put you out on the street, or reveal your secrets. You will be free to run it as you have, and conduct all the regular business. I shall take only a pittance of the profits, and you shall hardly know I'm around," the stranger purred.

Cendadric's face scrunched up in confusion as the stranger spoke, and when he responded, his tone of voice belied his lack of understanding.

"Why would you do such a thing? What's in it for you?"

The stranger's toothy grin grew a few degrees wider, and Cendadric wilted under the man's silent regard. Penre stepped in then, with a half bow towards the stranger.

"Allow me. Cendadric, this man has his own reasons, which are frankly none of your concern. Your life will remain largely unchanged. You will still have your job, and will still go about your business. Whatever the new owner chooses to do is his own affair. There's nothing more to be said than that. The deal is implicit, and squarely on the table. You may accept, and go about your life, or you may decline, in which case we shall find out exactly how much this man knows about your past. What say you?"

Cendadric stared hard at Penre for a long moment, then turned his gaze to the still-smiling stranger. Cendadric's eyes softened, then closed as he bowed his head.

"I agree."

Vignette posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 8/21/2018 at 5:03 PM.

Penre Peddles (08/27/2018)

  • Penre was in Mist Harbor to do advertised merchant services.
  • Penre mentioned that Mazorn had warned him about Darcena and that he's still dredging the bay (for the chest)
  • Penre says Nazhor would love to meet Darcena and that he's the new owner of Cendadric's

GM Cast: Penre

Adventurers (who interacted): Cortix, Lady Darcena, Lady Elysia, Felicitii, Siys, Vaeronir, Winrie

Player-submitted Log

A Lady Drake in Transit (9/27/2018)

Vignette: A Lady Drake in Transit
The rocking and swaying of the wagon didn't bother Elspie a bit. Brannogh's arm stayed tight around her shoulders, and the motion of the wagon just forced them to snuggle that much closer. The air had already lost a great deal of its chill, and the balmy weather had done wonders for both Brannogh's cough and Elspie's mood. The farther she got from the Demonwall, the more the memories lost their harsh edges. Brannogh chuckled, and she looked up to find him grinning down at her. His smile was so full of warmth that she felt a foolish grin crawling across her own face to match his.

"You were reminiscing again, weren't you?" he asked her.

"Maybe a little. I can't believe it's actually in the past, you know?"

"Of course I do, precious. You've got decades of baggage resting on your shoulders, and no one expects you to cast them all off over the course of one journey."

"Thank you, Bran, for always understanding," Elspie said, tucking her head against his chest and burrowing into him.

"Of course, precious, and never fear. By this time next week we'll be safely in Mist Harbor, ready to enjoy your well-earned retirement."

There was a long, comfortable silence, and then Elspie stretched one hand out in front of both of them, her palm upturned.

"Ever onward?" she asked.

"Ever onward," he said firmly, clapping his hand into hers and intertwining their fingers.

Nazhor shifted his weight suddenly, startling Penre, who hurriedly scraped everything on the table back into his satchel.

"What? What is it?" Penre asked, staring at Nazhor.

"Ever... onward...." replied Nazhor, his eyes gazing far into the distance as he spoke. Then he began to chuckle, very softly.

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 9/27/2018 at 6:53 PM.

Homecoming, For the First Time (11/1/2018)

Vignette: Homecoming, For the First Time
Elspie and Brannogh stood hand in hand on the sandy peninsula, staring across the wooden walkway leading to their new home. Elspie leaned her head against Brannogh's shoulder and sighed contentedly.

"I already love it, Bran. Without setting foot in it, I already know it's exactly what we wanted."

Brannogh chuckled slightly before replying, "For what they charged, it had better be."

Elspie could hear the smile in his voice and closed her eyes, taking it all in. She felt her chest swell with happiness, and could almost feel the years of combat sloughing off of her shoulders, like a snake shedding its skin. Brannogh's hand squeezed hers briefly and she opened her eyes once more, looking up at him. Wordlessly, he nodded off to one side, and she followed his gaze. A school of dolphins leapt from the waves a short distance away, and Elspie couldn't help but laugh in delight.

"It's the welcoming party!" she cried, releasing Brannogh's hand and jogging onto the walkway. The dolphins squeaked their welcome in concert before disappearing beneath the choppy surf, but Elspie didn't slow. Brannogh followed at a more sedate pace, taking in all of Sunset Cay. He'd wondered if Elspie would be able to leave the soldiering in her past, but watching her now, he felt certain that everything would be alright in time.

Elspie fawned over the whole setup. Brannogh had deliberately kept her from visiting while things were being constructed, but his specifications had been precise, and the workers had done an amazing job. The Cay was perfect, and Elspie's eyes danced with joy as she took in every little detail. Brannogh lost sight of her momentarily, but found her in the small bedroom, her eyes bright with tears, as she took in the portrait over the bed. He embraced her from behind, and she leaned back into him.

"It seems like so long ago, Bran. Look how happy we were... and how innocent."

He heard her voice break with emotion, and snuggled her closer.

"We've been forged in some heavy flames, my love, but we've come out the other side indestructible. I love you more than I ever have, and that's been true every day since I met you. We've made it, El. This is our endgame. This is our sunset. Our happy ending."

Elspie wriggled free and turned to face him, throwing her arms around his neck and staring him in the eye, fresh tears running unashamedly down her face.

"Not the end, Bran. This is a beginning for us. The next chapter, better by far than the last. Ever onward, Bran."

Brannogh felt his own eyes well up as he responded. "Ever onward."

They embraced for a long, long time, amidst the sound of the waves and the beating of their hearts.

Nazhor strolled down Gardenia Lane, his smile wide. He glanced down at the blood on his palm and rubbed it absentmindedly against the hem of his cloak. He came to a sudden stop and his head rotated slowly to the East, staring at the horizon. He began to laugh... slowly at first, and then louder. When the laughter faded, the grin remained.

"Welcome home, my dear," he whispered.

OOC: Sunset Cay is now open in Mist Harbor. You can find it across the walkway off of the sandy peninsula to the East of town.

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 11/01/2018 at 2:45 PM.

Brannogh is Attacked (11/23/2018)

  • Brannogh arrives at Gardenia Commons and shortly after starting a conversation:
  • A shrill whistle sounds over the raucous noises of the storm. The air seems to buzz with the sound, and a slight metallic tinge is felt at the back of your lower jaw, vibrating in time with the pulse of the whistle. When it ceases, the storm grows noticeably quieter, and the air around you lightens slightly.
  • From the corner of your eye, you notice a flash of movement. Before you can identify the source, Brannogh screeches in pain and clutches his shoulder! From between his clenched fingers, rivulets of red form and mix with the rain, running down his tunic. Brannogh's jaw is clenched tight in pain, and he looks around wildly for some sign of his attacker.
  • A brilliant white bolt of lightning flashes overhead, and the ground beneath your feet shakes violently at nearly the same instant as a harsh thunderclap fills the area. When the sight and sound fade slightly, the sound of Brannogh screaming become audible. You note that he is on his knees, clenching what appears to be a crossbow bolt protruding from his stomach.
  • A dark shape steps out from the shadows and points a small crossbow directly at Brannogh. The injured man notices the shadowy figure and glares his defiance as the figure's finger squeezes the trigger and lets his bolt fly. Brannogh's expression changes from one of defiance to one of pain and fear as the bolt takes him in his right cheek! He crumples, shrieking in pain, and draws himself into a defensive curl.
  • Roblar tells him to stop screaming and bite down on his blade, muttering "hoomans."
  • Elspie arrives: Elspie rushes to Brannogh's side, crying out in alarm. She notes the crossbow bolts protruding from her husband's body, and turns a suddenly stony expression to the surrounding area. She surveys each shadow with barely suppressed rage, the whole while keeping one hand on Brannogh's shoulder. Her focused perusal of the area halts at one shadow in particular and her eyes narrow. She flings a hand in that direction, and a cloaked figure stumbles into view, dragged by an unseen hand despite his best efforts. When he is fully in view, Elspie clenches a fist and grates out a guttural phrase. When she finishes, the man crumples in on himself, shrieking in pain. He folds inwards again and again, until there is nothing left but the echoes of his last scream.
  • A loud cry is heard from nearby, "It's not here! Plan B!" The sudden sound of movement seems to emanate from every shadow around you, rapidly fading away. Elspie looks around in confusion momentarily, glancing from face to face with an expression equal parts murderous rage and desperate panic. She slides her arms underneath Brannogh and lurches to her feet with a grunt. A young man makes to assist her, but she growls in his direction and he takes a careful step backward, holding his hands up in placation.
  • A low, pulsing whistle fills the night air. The air regains its metallic tinge, and you note that with each pulse of the whistle, the night grows progressively darker. When the sound finally ceases, a massive bolt of lightning splits the night sky, and a roaring BOOM accompanies it! The rain redoubles its efforts, coming down once more in thick sheets.
  • Staggering under Brannogh's weight, Elspie shrieks at the night sky in defiance, then stumbles east, glaring at any who dare to meet her eye.

GM Cast: Brannogh, Elspie

Adventurers: Lady Avawren, Galenblackbard, Roblar, Warclaidh

Player-submitted Log

Farewell. A Solitary Drake. Ever Onward. (11/25/2018)

Vignette: Farewell. A Solitary Drake. Ever Onward.
"Bran! Don't you quit on me, Bran! Don't you dare!" Elspie screamed.

The room was dark, with only a couple of guttering candles lighting the area. The sharp scent of various medicinal herbs mixed with the tinge of sea water and permeated the small cottage. Elspie knelt on the floor amidst various discarded, bloody rags, and clenched one of Brannogh's hands tightly as she wept.

Brannogh coughed, an ugly whistling sound coming from the hole in his upper chest. The hole in his cheek was crudely bandaged, but the chest wound had bled through everything Elspie had tried. Their entire store of herbs had been used up, but the bolts had been coated in something that resisted every attempt at healing.

"El... y-... you need to-" Brannogh groaned. Elspie's silent tears increased as she stared miserably at the man she loved.

Elspie had contacted a healer almost immediately... one of her old compatriots, and they had come to lend any assistance they could. But nothing seemed to help. The healer's ministrations actually seemed to make things worse, as the blood flowed more freely with each spell cast. Elspie, at a complete loss, had finally asked her old friend to leave. She had known then what was coming, and the knowing almost destroyed her.

Her time as a Drake had shown her plenty of death, and she knew it for what it was. But she had never thought to see it here. Not in her home, and not coming for her beloved husband. Elspie's gaze settled on the portrait above their bed, and she smiled through her tears. She loved Brannogh with all her heart, and had done so every day of their lives together. The thought that those times were coming to an end was almost too much to bear.

A groan from Bran drew her attention once more away from the portrait. Brannogh was looking at her, a strained smile on his face. His voice was harsh and broken as he spoke, the strain clear on his face.

"Y-... you n-... need to keep g-... going, El," he said. His eyes welled up with tears as he spoke, but Elspie knew these weren't tears of physical pain They matched the tears in her own eyes.

"Bran... you need to rest, my love. You're going to get better, you'll see," she lied. Brannogh's smile grew sad, and he stroked the thumb of her hand that clenched his so tightly.

"We both know... that's not true," he rasped. "It's my-... It's my time, El. But it doesn't have to... be yours. You need-... to keep going, El. You can't give up... you've always been... a fighter."

Elspie couldn't speak for the tightness in her throat. She squeezed his hand hard, tears rolling down her cheeks unchecked. Her eyes locked with his, and she finally nodded once, clenching her eyes shut in pain.

"Ever... onward, my... dearest... El."

Elspie couldn't open her eyes, but she didn't need to, either. She felt his hand fall slack in her grip, and she knew. She sobbed once, fighting to hold her reaction back, but it overwhelmed her and she dissolved into wracking sobs, burying her face into the arm of her lost love.

Nazhor leaned idly against a wall, listening to the sound of the surf. The sobs from inside reached his ear, and he grinned despite himself. Everything was going according to plan, he thought. The first step was nothing less than a resounding success. What came next was sure to make things much more... interesting. His grin grew wider and more feral at the thought. Overhead, the night sky rumbled with an oncoming thunderstorm.

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 11/25/2018 at 3:59 PM.

Brannogh's Memorial and Elspie's Arrest (11/28/2018)

  • Lady Elspie held a Memorial Service for her deceased husband Brannogh in the Garden of Sunset Cay where she said a few words about her beloved husband.
  • Beginning with Sothog, adventurers noticed movement near the door to the house, interrupting the service, and asked if they could go in.
  • Elspie and the adventurers go in and notice that her house is ransacked. Elysia asks Elspie about Elspie's hidden gift. Elspie reacts by running off to the bedroom.
  • Elspie states her retirement gift from the Imperial Drakes was in the safe and it is missing.
  • Elspie decides to talk to the Mist Harbor First Sergeant about the missing gift and her ransacked home.
  • Anti-Imperialist Duvainiel arrives and begins mocking Elspie: "Speaking flatly to Elspie, Duvainiel accuses, 'Kint save 'er 'usband... kint save my 'ome... kint save no one... What use 'ave we fer ya?'"
  • Nazhor is brought up. Elspie and the adventurers go to the pawnshop to speak with him.
  • Nazhor arrives and Elspie flies at him in a rage: "her fists balled into glowing blue orbs! Nazhor steps backward and gestures lazily, and Elspie is thrown back against the far wall!"
  • Elspie is arrested and in reply, "Nazhor happily says, 'I love it when things come together.'" Adventurers remark on how the First Sergeant and pawnshop owner seem to be in Nazhor's pocket.
  • Nazhor indicates he's interested in Sunset Cay
  • Duvainiel explains, "Nazhor ent got nuddin' on meh... 'e saved meh... Mebbe ya too dense ta recall what went down in ma home."
  • Duvainiel receives a message and grins wickedly and then leaves.
  • Adventurers search for Elspie at the First Sergeant's office and lockup. They cannot find her.
  • Strange occurrences happen at Sunset Cay such as creaking noises and large handprints.

GM Cast: Elspie

Adventurers: Airini, Lady Darcena, Lady Elysia, Lord Elvidor, Khaell, Khobra, Meerana, Nodyre, Ondreian, Commander Roblar, Saphriel, Selema, Sothog, Yakushi

Player-submitted Log

A Request, From Mist Harbor Town Administrator Ilsola Tuulikki (12/03/2018)

A Request, From Mist Harbor Town Administrator Ilsola Tuulikki
From the desk of Ilsola Tuulikki:

To all concerned:

It has recently come to my attention that there has been a disturbance in our fair town. I am given to understand that the First Sergeant has incarcerated one Elspie, formerly of the Imperial Drakes, after she attacked one of the town's shop owners without provocation. I am led to believe, however, that this may not be the complete story. To that end, I am calling for an informational meeting in front of Hale Hall on Niiman evening, at 8:30pm Elven Time. I would very much appreciate it if those who were witness to the events that led up to our current situation could make themselves available, so that I might ascertain the truth of what happened, and take appropriate action, if necessary.

I'd like to thank the citizens who brought this all to my attention, and would like to thank everyone in advance for making themselves available this Niiman evening.

Sincerely, Town Administrator Ilsola Tuulikki

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 12/03/2018 at 6:46 PM.

A Meeting with Ilsola (12/06/2018)

  • Darcena hears "A quiet, feminine whisper reaches your ear, almost washed out by the night breeze. "-can hear this... must find out wha-... Nazh-...," then is lost completely."
  • Khaell and Darcena have a conversation with the First Sergeant where he seems to forget that he had just said something with a notable demeanor change. He also claims he hasn't arrested anyone in a long time and doesn't know who Elspie is.
  • Ilsola arrives and states she doesn't know what's going on and she hasn't been getting the reports she expects to get. She questions the First Sergeant about his role in Elspie's disappearance. The First Sergeant doesn't seem to remember Elspie coming to him to report the crimes against her and tells the sequence of events from a skewed perspective. "The First Sergeant cocks his head to one side, his gaze drifting to the horizon for a moment, then stands a bit straighter." He states he's drifting off.
  • Adventurers fill in the gaps of what has happened from their perspectives. Duvainiel continues to claim that Elspie was trying to kill Nazhor. The First Sergeant continues to state he didn't arrest Elspie. Ilsola dismisses him. The First Sergeant states Ilsola can expect his resignation within the hour.
  • Duvainiel states that Nazhor is her boss and she helps him in his shop.
  • Darcena hears, "A whisper reaches your ear, tenuous on the night breeze, "They have put me here, believing it would contain my magic, but they are mistaken, at least for now. I regret asking you this, for we are yet strangers, but someone must find out what Nazhor is up to. Please, friend, find out his plan and stop him!"
  • Ilsola and adventurers go to question Cendadric. Cendadric claims he doesn't know who Nazhor is, seems confused about the arrest, states he doesn't know who Elspie is, states "I would never sell my shop," then, "Cendadric blinks his eyes rapidly, cocking his head to one side, then opens them again with a wide smile." He then has a completely different demeanor.
  • Ilsola summarizes the evening by telling adventurers that nothing can be done until they find Nazhor, that she will handle the changeover of the First Sergeant, that she will tell the town to watch for Nazhor and Elspie and contact her immediately if they're found, and that she would like everyone else to search and let her know.

GM Cast: Duvainiel, Ilsola, Mist Harbor First Sergeant

Adventurers: Lady Darcena, Khaell, Khobra, Land Pirate Maylan, Nodyre, Commander Roblar, Selema, Sothog, Yakushi

Player-submitted Log

A Cry for Help. A Window. A Dockside Meeting (12/08/2018)

Vignette: A Cry for Help. A Window. A Dockside Meeting.
Elspie stirred, and the runes covering the walls of her cell rippled in response. She opened an eye, cautiously, and reached out with her senses, ready to pull back at a moment's notice. Slowly she tested, feeling the magical emanations being gently bent out of her way. She'd learned this tactic more than a decade ago, and was far out of practice, but she persevered. She made sure to hold as still as she could, so as to not rouse any guards who might be outside her door, and she kept her spells as unobtrusive as possible. She knew that if Nazhor was present, he'd sense her, but she'd had some luck reaching out when he was not around. And this time it was important, and worth the risk.
Ilsola looked up from her desk, her quill ceasing its motion. Her eyes were haggard, and her face strained from a distinct lack of sleep. She cocked a head to one side, listening closely, then her eyes went wide in surprise. She blinked once, then again, and then glanced down at the letter she'd been writing. With a furious motion, she crumpled it into a ball and cast it towards the wastebin. She dipped her quill in the ink and hurriedly penned a letter. As she finished, she called for a crier, and when he arrived she bade him spread the word, with as much haste as could be managed. As the crier scurried away, Ilsola's eyes relaxed a touch, and her strained expression drifted into one of fierce resolve.
The young crier scurried into Gardenia Commons, breathlessly. He took the parchment clutched in his hand and held it aloft. In a clear voice, he called out, "Be advised: I have received word from someone I believe to be the missing Elspie. She asks that we congregate on the dock near her home at 6pm Elven. I'd ask that all who are willing to assist make themselves available at that time. I will see you then. Signed, Town Administrator Ilsola."

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 12/08/2018 at 10:16 AM

Elspie Gives a Mission... and the Artifact is Lost (12/08/2018)

  • Elspie whispers to the adventurers gathered at her dock.
  • Elspie's voice drifts in on the breeze, her tone whispered but clear. "I'm reasonably certain this is working... the spells they wove into the cell aren't as strong as they seem to believe, and I've managed to find a way to get messages out... at least when Nazhor isn't nearby. Ilsola, hopefully you're there, and that you were able to get others as well."
  • Elspie whispers, "Nazhor, Duvainiel, and at least two others are frequently here in this place with me, and believe me incapacitated inside this magical room. As a result, they haven't been particularly careful about discussing their plans, and I've managed to learn some things."
  • Elspie whispers, "Nazhor has my necklace, and is using its power as part of some scheme. He doesn't have everything he needs, though. He's looking for... something else. Some source of power that he needs to complete whatever it is he's working on. He's got Duvainiel looking for it, but it's apparently well hidden. He's given her some sort of a token, and he's cast a spell on it to allow her to find this hidden item."
  • Elspie whispers, "Unfortunately for him, I'm not incapacitated at all, and was able to both decipher his spells and emulate them after he left. I've managed to cast similar spells onto some of the coins that Bran-... That Brannogh used to give me every year. These spells are different from the ones that Nazhor laid upon Duvainiel's token... they will locate the item, but blanket it in an extra layer of concealment, keeping it from being located by Duvainiel."
  • Elspie whispers, "From what I've been able to gather, none of the tokens will work if the individual charged with keeping the item safe is nearby, as they will simply reinforce the magics keeping it hidden if they witness any interference. Once you have located the item, you must ensure that its protector is not in the same room in order for the spells laid upon the coins to function properly."
  • Elspie whispers, "The only clue I have is that Duvainiel has been instructed to focus her search on the docks of various cities. I'd suggest that you look there as well, and simply strive to beat Duvainiel to the target."
  • Elspie whispers, "Please, take these coins and distribute them to any who are willing to help. Time is of the essence. Whatever Nazhor is after, he must not be allowed to gain control of it! His plans are... From what I have been able to ascertain, he seeks the complete destruction of Mist Harbor, and does not intend to stop there. Please, find this item, and protect it. This must be the first priority. Once he has been thwarted I shall put my efforts towards my own freedom. The spells they have used to bind me are not nearly strong enough to hold me for long, once I put my will towards escape!"
  • Several delicate brass coins appear that have "All My Love" written on them
  • Adventurers recall that Nazhor has been seen pestering Mazorn in River's Rest at his dock-side warehouse and that Mazorn had a chest at one point of which he was very protective; they leave for River's Rest
  • Mazorn reluctantly allows adventurers inside the warehouse but refuses to tell them anything about the chest or where it is
  • Adventurers convince Mazorn to leave the warehouse; upon raising the coins Elspie gave them, it pulses once with a bright, cerulean light. The light suffuses the area, highlighting the lines of every surface for a heartbeat, before slowly dissipating. Off to one side, however, a rectangular area retains a small portion of the cerulean glow.
  • Duvainiel arrives and raises her iron spike high, and brings it down hard against her palm, piercing it! She gasps as blood flows from the wound, twining up the spike before dispersing into a very fine red mist. The mist sweeps around the room in a circular pattern before coalescing onto the cerulean-outlined space. As the mist gathers around it, the color shifts from a deep red to a pitch black. Once the last bit of blue is covered, there is an almighty *CRACK*, and the shape is gone.
  • Duvainiel tells the adventurers that the boss thanks them for their help
  • Mazorn is livid; Ilsola doesn't know what to do next, but eventually decides she is going to requisition more soldiers, double the watch, keep an ear out for Elspie, request Elspie's supervisor from the Drakes to see what he can tell them, and leaves

GM Cast: Elspie, Ilsola, Mazorn

Adventurers: Alastir, Lady Darcena, Lady Elysia, Lord Hammerrhead, Khobra, Maiden Leafiara, Nodyre

Player-submitted Log

Those Aren't Tears - Our Story So Far (12/09/2018)

Recap: Our Story So Far
A mysterious individual going by the name Nazhor took over ownership of the pawnshop in Mist Harbor from Cendadric. Since then, Nazhor has been seen skulking about town, while Cendadric has been acting as if nothing is amiss. Elspie (a recently retired Imperial Drake fresh off the Demonwall) and her husband Brannogh moved to Mist Harbor, and commissioned their retirement home on a brand new Cay, which they named Sunset Cay. Retirement was short-lived, however. Shortly after they arrived, bandits arrived in town. Snatches of their conversations confirmed they were looking for 'something'. Brannogh came running, and the bandits pounced, putting quarrels into him from the shadows. The projectiles were not instantly fatal, and Elspie arrived shortly after. She located the assassin and crushed him with a spell, then dragged Brannogh away to their cottage. She did her best to heal him, calling in favors, but it was all for naught. Brannogh died within 24 hours, and Elspie buried him in the garden of their new home.

During the small memorial service Elspie held, noises were heard inside the cottage. When the attendees investigated, they found the home ransacked, and a safe in the wall of the bedroom lay open and empty. Elspie collapsed, completely overwrought, at the sight. The attendees attempted to console her, and finally got her to breathe, and think, a little bit. She resolved to go to the First Sergeant, in an attempt to do things properly. When she and the attendees located the Sergeant, there was another individual already there, calling herself Duvainiel. As Elspie attempted to explain to the Sergeant that her home had been burglarized, and her suspicions that the death of her husband might be related, Duvainiel mocked her relentlessly, driving Elspie into more and more of an outraged state of mind. The Sergeant seemed to dismiss Elspie's claims, and did nothing to dissuade Duvainiel. Finally, Duvainiel suggested that Nazhor might know something, and Elspie charged off to the pawnshop.

At the pawnshop, the group found Nazhor, along with the First Sergeant. Nazhor smoothly denied everything, keeping his tone mild and not a little mocking. Elspie finally snapped, against the advice of the adventurers accompanying her, and attacked Nazhor. He easily grounded out her spell and flung her back against a wall, stunning her. He then prompted the Sergeant, who arrested Elspie on charges of unprovoked assault, and led her away. Nazhor remained, smugly taunting the adventurers, with the help of Duvainiel, before taking his leave.

Town Administrator Ilsola, the titular head of the Mist Harbor government, called an information-gathering meeting so that she could be brought up to speed on what had happened. During the meeting, the First Sergeant acted more and more strangely, seeming to have periods of lucidity mixed with obviously false memories. He swore that he hadn't arrested anyone in some time, and was unable to provide any useful information about the whereabouts of Elspie, or Nazhor. During this time, various members of the group heard fractured whispers from someone believed to be Elspie. The whispers encouraged the group to disbelieve what the Sergeant was saying, and to pursue Nazhor. Ilsola became frustrated by the Sergeant's prevarication and dismissed him, instructing him to await her at her home so that they could discuss his conduct. The group suggested that Cendadric might be a good person to interrogate, and they made their way to the pawnshop. Once there, they found Cendadric acting in much the same manner. He spouted demonstrably incorrect information, seeming to believe it to be the truth, and his story kept changing. Duvainiel arrived once more and riled up the crowd before taking her leave. Ilsola, getting angrier by the minute, explained that the First Sergeant was to be relieved of his duties, and his second in command would be taking his place. She also asked that everyone keep their eye out for either Elspie or Nazhor, and if they were seen, to notify her immediately.

A couple days later, Ilsola received a message from someone she believed to be Elspie, asking that she gather as many as would come to receive a message at a particular time and place. Ilsola spread the word, and a small group met on the dock of Sunset Cay. Elspie's message came via a series of whispers, wherein she explained that she was locked away in a magical cell, but that they had underestimated her abilities, and she was able to get past the wards to a certain degree, but only when Nazhor was not present. She revealed that she had been able to listen in, and that Nazhor, Duvainiel, and others had been discussing their plans. They were in possession of her necklace, a powerful magical item she received from her commander in the Imperial Drakes upon her retirement, and was putting it to some use. However, he required another item of great power, and had dispatched Duvainiel to locate it. He had given her a token that would assist her in locating the item, and Elspie claimed she had been able to decipher the spells he used, and duplicate the essence of them. However, Elspie claimed that she had managed to pervert the spells for her own use, and that the tokens she would distribute to the group would locate the item of power, but once they had done so, they would reinforce the protections on it, and keep it hidden from Duvainiel and Nazhor. She explained that the only clue she had overheard Nazhor delivering to Duvainiel was his belief that the item was near water, and his suggestion that she concentrate her search on docks. With that, Elspie managed to move enspelled coins onto the dock's surface, for the group to use. She urged the group to find the item and protect it, for Nazhor's plans were nothing less than the destruction of Mist Harbor, and she feared he had no intention of stopping there.

The group brainstormed, and it was remembered that Nazhor had been seen in River's Rest, and had some interactions with Trader Mazorn. The group made their way there to begin their search, but when they arrived they found Mazorn's Warehouse closed. They convinced him to let them inside to look around, and then convinced him to step outside, as Elspie had warned that the protector of the item must NOT be present when they used their tokens, as he or she would immediately reinforce their own protections, keeping Elspie's spells from attaching themselves to the item. Mazorn grudgingly agreed, and stepped outside. When he did, the members of the group used their tokens, and a cerulean light layered itself on a rectangular-shaped empty space, covering it completely in Elspie's protections. At that moment, Duvainiel arrived, mocking them all. She explained that Nazhor had known all along that Elspie was able to communicate, and insinuated that she had unwittingly coerced the group into doing all the hard work for them, in locating the hidden item. Duvainiel utilized her own item, from Nazhor, and it covered the revealed object in blackness, then all traces of the object disappeared. Duvainiel departed soon after, taunting and mocking the group for their gullibility.

Ilsola, disconsolate and angry, has asked all to keep a close eye out for Nazhor, or Elspie. She has vowed to contact Elspie's commander from the Drakes and enlist his assistance in tracking her down, questioning Cendadric, and providing information about the retirement 'gift' given to Elspie.

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 12/09/2018 at 8:31 AM

Penre's Interrogation and Drehod's Death (12/12/2018)

  • Ilsola contacted Drehod, Elspie's commander at the Demonwall, to come and provide information about Elspie and help find her
  • Drehod confirmed that Elspie is "one of the finest soldiers," a fighter, and "something else." He said her specialty was water mage of all sorts and the necklace that was stolen from the cottage has "a ridiculous level of power" and "water-life affinity"
  • Drehod did some telepathic or mental magic that forced Penre to answer questions. Read the interrogation to see all that was learned
  • Duvainiel killed Drehod and ran to the pawnshop where Nazhor was also located; they both leave with nothing resolved
  • Ilsola expresses frustration that she doesn't know what to do
  • Nazhor muzzles Darcena and many low-level water-based creatures show up and attack
  • Adventurers hear ripples and unbalance whispered to them.

GM Cast: Drehod, Duvainiel, Ilsola, Nazhor, Penre

Adventurers: Asheura, Lady Darcena, Khaell, Khobra, Kreigh, Maiden Leafiara, Meggiemae, Melivn, Master Neovik, Nola, Ondreian, Lady Shalla, Telare, Vice Chancellor Xorus

Player-submitted Log

Elspie is Found (12/16/2018)

  • Atmospheric differences continue to happen on the isle paired with violent thunderstorms (which Ilsola stated Nazhor might have something to do with): "The air ripples around you, everything distorting momentarily, then returning to normal."
  • Ilsola announces that we must find Elspie and follow up on Penre's clue about underneath. She said she'd asked around and every place the Five Families knew of was searched to no avail. She said the outlying islands must be searched and adventurers should start off Eastern Harbor.
  • Darcena leads the group to Sunset Cay to try to pick up any new scents. While there, adventurers discovered the bedroom door was closed and covered in "bright red runes". Adventurers could not open the door.
  • Adventurers went back out to Brannogh's grave based on the clues "damp," "rotting," and "underneath" given by Penre. While there, Jalodg digs with his shovel while Maylan and Darcena dig with their hands. Khaell searches the area and discovers a flame-edged flickering portal behind the tombstone.
  • Adventurers go through the portal and find they are in Elspie's bedroom where there is a "roaring fire completely obscuring one wall". After one hundred and twenty two casts, Jiriane manages to break through the fire. Behind it is a reinforced steel hatch.
  • Jiarine opens the reinforced steel hatch. Inside the cell is Duvainiel and Elspie and some bright red letters scrawled across the wall that reads "I'm quite finished with her. She has been more useful than she will ever know. I shall see you all soon. -Nazhor"
  • Nodyre kills Duvainiel, she's raised by Khaell, then Khaell kills Duvainiel and Ilsola calls for a town cleric. In between, Duvainiel is interrogated while Elspie repeats "Ripples" over and over and does not respond to the adventurers.
  • Duvainiel states "Oi...ma head..", "Where 'm I?", "Aye... I rememba da... bu'...", "I wen ta bed wid 'im... Da's da las' ding I rememba.", Duvainiel brings her fingers to her temples and rubs in clockwise motion, "Da boss wun do dat... da boss... 'wun...", "Na... 'e... 'e wun... 'e wun leave meh... 'e promised...", "'e promised if I did wha 'e wanted... 'e'd make it go away... I'd see mah ma and pa agin" and after this she began repeating and shrieking and sobbing.
  • Elspie wanders out of the cell and stares out the picture window. She continues to repeat "Ripples." Twice, she said, "Ripples... folds..."
  • Adventurers coerce Elspie out to the water where her eyes start to clear and she watches the waves. She says, "Ripples... Nazhor..." She then remembers that Bran is dead and becomes very sad. Then remembers Nazhor is involved and she is enraged and upset with the town for not helping her.
  • Jalodg, Khobra, and Nodyre help calm Elspie down while Darcena attempts to stoke the flames of holy vengeance. Nodyre gives a particularly rousing speech.
  • During the various speeches, adventurers hear tapping noises, someone on the walkway, a quiet rustling noise, quiet footsteps, but never figure out who it is.

GM Cast: Duvainiel, Elspie, Ilsola

Adventurers: Warchief Archales, Lord Crime, Lady Darcena, High Lord Jalodg, Jiarine, Khaell, Khobra, Land Pirate Maylan, Nodyre, Master Pukk

Player-submitted Log

Those Aren't Tears - Finit (12/18/2018)

Finit Vignette: Those Aren't Tears
Penre skulked, and did it well. He was hiding in a comfortable shadow with a view of the pawnshop door, his heart in his throat. He'd watched the place for days, trying to get a sense of the situation. There had been no word from Nazhor, but that didn't mean much. At this point, Penre had to be honest with himself. The man had messed with his mind, and Penre didn't trust his own memories any longer. There had been the whole scene with the Drake commander... or at least he thought there had. The only things that he knew, for sure, revolved around this pawnshop. And so he skulked... and watched.
Duvainiel lay on the cold floor, listening to the creak of the cottage above her. Her mind was whirling, fractured images playing across the insides of her eyelids in a nauseating dance of chaos. And every image was painful. Her mother, smiling down at her... with her face split wide open. Her father, holding her close... then morphing slowly into a corpse. And Nazhor.

She'd loved him. Or thought she had. He'd promised her vengeance... and then delivered! She'd shared his bed, and dreamed wondrous dreams by his side. She'd found her place... a shelter from the cold, harsh realities of the world. The memories weren't solid things, but were instead as sand, drifting through her fingers. There was nothing there to hold, to grasp... just fleeting emotions. When she thought about Nazhor now, there was only one thing that was able to be held tight in her fist.

His laughter.

Duvainiel wept, but no tears came. Dry, wracking sobs tore from her throat as she spasmed in grief on the floor of her cell.

Mazorn sat in the corner of his warehouse, his face haggard and sporting a ragged growth of beard. A bottle of rum was clutched in one hand, and a framed portrait in the other. Bottles similar in shape and size to the one in hand littered the floor around him, and his eyes were bright with drunken tears.

The portrait was faded, and its frame was brittle with age. The image depicted an elderly man sporting a serious expression. In the background of the image was the same ship that Mazorn himself sailed to this day. The man himself bore a strong resemblance to Mazorn, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Mazorn resembled the man in the image.

"Ah faild, Da-" Mazorn hiccuped. Fresh tears spilled down his cheek as he confessed for the dozenth time. This time was no easier than the rest, and he suddenly flung the portrait away from himself, sending it skittering across the floor. Mazorn tilted his head back and drank deeply of the bottle in his hand, trying to drown the memories, both old and new.

Elspie stood, watching the waves as the sun executed its nightly dance, sliding gracefully beneath the horizon. The interplay of the light on the water had always fascinated her, and even as a young girl, this was her favorite evening ritual. She smiled to herself as she remembered seeing the inside of the cottage for the first time. Bran had known her so well. That massive picture window had been built solely so that she could watch the sunset in comfort, she knew, though he had blustered a protest when she accused him of it.

Bran. Her wonderful Bran. She still couldn't believe he was gone. She wanted so badly for it to be a bad dream that she would awaken from. She was barely past the point of awakening each morning and glancing to the empty mattress beside her, expecting to see his sleeping form. Memories of him dominated her thoughts, and she didn't fight them. There were so many wonderful memories, and she wanted to etch them forever into her mind.

If Elspie had been asked if she was happy with Brannogh, she would readily say that they were happier than any two people had ever been. But if pressed for details, she would have stumbled. It had just... worked. He'd completed her in ways she never knew she was incomplete. He adored her, actively and completely, and she had done her level best to love him just as fiercely. In every moment of every day, Elspie had known what it felt like to be loved like no other. And what it felt like to love someone with all that she was, or ever would be. The loss of that... exchange... was the hardest thing to bear.

She'd cried her tears, and this morning she'd declared that the tears must stop. Bran would not want her to mourn forever, she knew. He had always desired nothing more or less than her happiness, and she would do her best to find what happiness she could in a world without him in it.

Besides, there were preparations to make, she knew. She would travel, and she would prepare. For there would be a price paid for the loss of her Bran. He had told her that it was time to leave the violence in the past, and she had agreed. She had left that life behind, to start a new one based on their mutual adoration for each other. Now that life was shattered into pieces, and all because of Nazhor.

The time of mourning was coming to an end. The people who had rescued her had asked her to fight with them, when Nazhor returned. And fight she would.

Player submitted graphic of Drehod's letter
The young man sighed. He never liked this duty, but unfortunately when dealing with the Drakes on the Demonwall, it'd become almost routine. Drehod's quarters were almost cleaned out. The only item remaining was a small, ornate box on the utilitarian endtable next to the bunk. The young man opened it, and inside found a small card covered in Drehod's cramped handwriting. He couldn't help but notice the first line, and, after a quick glance to confirm he was alone, he read the rest.
I love you.
 
I could never say it, and you could never hear it, but it's there all the same. I love you, Elspie. You are the highlight of my life, and just your presence has gotten me through the hell that is the service we shared. Your bravery inspires me, your power frightens me, and your spirit lifts mine to the heavens above.
 
Yet you are not mine, and never will be. I accept this, and keep this love locked in the prettiest box I could find. I will love you from afar, all the days of my life, and be grateful to have shared the smallest portion of your life for as long as I may.

The young man turned the card over in his hand, his face worried. He then glanced to the fire crackling in the hearth... and tossed both card and box in. He watched as they burned, the flames lighting the solitary tear on his cheek.

Ilsola sighed as she jammed her quill down into the inkpot and pushed her chair back from the desk. She eyed the stack of correspondence for a long moment, then slumped against the back of the chair, her head falling backwards until she was staring at the ceiling. She took a deep breath, then another, feeling the weight of her 'office' like never before.

It wasn't meant to be this way. Things like this didn't happen in Mist Harbor. Except that they had happened... and it was her job to handle it.

"I'm not cut out for this," she whispered to the ceiling. She closed her eyes against the hot tears that had crept into them and just breathed for a few minutes, listening to the quiet and letting her mind drift. It'd been so long since she'd gotten anything resembling a decent night's sleep.

Ilsola was scared. She was no fighter. She didn't have an army she could call upon. She had a smattering of guards, but Nazhor had proven his ability to affect their minds time and again. Ilsola couldn't entrust the lives of those who came to Mist Harbor to the guards, she knew. She clenched her jaw in frustration, remembering the impotent fury she'd felt as Nazhor played them all for fools. As he'd undermined the resources she'd been able to call on... from Drehod to her guards to Cendadric... there wasn't anyone she could rely on to help stand against the man.

Then her mind turned to the adventurers who'd come, and who'd helped. Their faces, their words, and most particularly their actions. A smile crept across her face. Perhaps there was an army, of sorts, after all.

Nazhor gazed into the night sky, his hood thrown back... not that anyone could see. His strange eyes were unfocused, and his pervasive grin was muted this night.

He whispered to the stars, "Those aren't tears, my friends. Those are but the briefest harbinger of the sorrows to come. Then we shall all see what tears truly are."

OOC Portion:

Thus ends this chapter of the story, but only this chapter. There's a great deal more to come, and this arc could rightly be called 'setting the stage'. We'll break for the holidays, and for me to get the next portion ready for you all.

I want to think all who came out and participated, first and foremost. Any who made time to come out and play along, thank you so much. You kept me on my toes (and forced massive rewrites a couple of times mid-stream), and I had a blast playing off of you. Thank you very, very much.

A special thank you to GameHost Thonnel, who played the role of Duvainiel, and did so brilliantly. I couldn't have told this story without her able assistance, and she took a blank canvas of a role and made it her own.

We will resume things after the holidays, and I hope to see you all then. We're going to need all the help we can get.

Originally posted on the official forums by GameMaster Quilic on 12/18/2018 at 8:57 AM

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