Kenneth's Journal
A star without an orbit

Kenneth’s Diary
These past few months have broken me. Revenge is the only thing that kept me going. The lord of Blades, killed my clan, my family, took my arms and legs from me. These brothers of mine do not know my pain. They speak of this Arresh as if he is still alive… What do they know about the pain of death and destruction? My entire upbringing was a lie! The Lord of Blades had answers. I planned on torturing him in ways only I knew how. During the prison break that revenge was taken from me.
The artifact did not help me bring this war to an end. It only crippled me on the battlefield and prevented me from helping. It urged me to keep going down into the abyss. Even now…. it speaks to me of secrets I know not. I headed back down deeper, confronted the monster that prevented my path and annihilated it. Wounds do not heal in this cursed place. The brothers came to rescue me as I bled out.
They urged patience as days and weeks passed by. If I am to continue down this path I will have to be more subtle. The church of the silver flame cannot be trusted. I will keep a close eye on those that pledge their allegiance to them. I trust Rhaegar and Xagyg to remain objective. I need the dragonborn on my side. Rhaegar is the key. The Warforged Druids are my natural ally. We can exchange secrets. The bullywogs do not answer to me nor does it seem like they answer to anyone anymore.
I found some notes and finally convinced my brothers to go down deeper exploring underneath the labrynth. A huge forge underneath us this entire time. The artifact has been directly linked to the creation of the mournland. My parents may have been complicit in someway. They were involved in the creation of the warforged. Again, I am forced to rethink my purpose in all this. I am the red comet with no orbit. Freed from prison only to live in a much larger one. The Lord of Blades body belongs to me and I will recover it. A warforged scout attacked us. We captured him and killed his friends. Andel helped me torture him in the abyss. Perhaps he is not so bad after all. Fulcrum will pay for the Lord of Blade’s many sins. That is the path I choose moving forward. No one will stand in my way.

Promises fulfilled
Death of a demigod

An epic battle had ensued in the heart of the mournland, our companions after an arduous and desperate journey finally found themselves at the threshold of the fortress, they could smell the iron and grease of the warforged inhabitants. They knew what laid behind those horrible and imposing gates, an army willing to die and kill indiscriminately for their tyrannical leader….The Lord Of Blades.
The group entered the fray with chaos raining down upon and around them, warforged crunching around them, like waves of steel and wood. One after another falling and one after another coming again. Our heroes fought valiantly, as did their army. Unfortunately many of their army perished, as did one of the heroes. Graeme managed one last act of bravery as he snatched the last piece of the component from around the Lord of Blades neck. Handing it off to Jerji as his final act to fulfil the prophecy.
Sheyba was challenged to single combat with the Lord Of Blades and fought valiantly as TRex and human alike, but was unfortunately overwhelmed by the demi god, simultaneously Randall and Yohan broke the back line of the warforged and found a secret entry leading below ground, Yohan and his compatriot set loose the remaining captured Prophesied brothers, while Randall found his way to a top of a tower then down into combat with the Lord Of Blades, all the brothers eventually joining as well. Randall did what he does best, kill, by landing the killing blow on the Lord Of Blades.
Jerji and Kenneth kept going deeper and deeper underneath the fortress. The artifact kept telling Kenneth to go deeper and deeper. Jerji and Kenneth come upon a platform with a puzzle which they solve quickly. Which causes a room to be revealed with an old man. They chase the old man further and further down. They reach a dead end. Kenneth is overwhelmed with emotion and helplessness and cannot find a way further. Jerji uses his persuasion to convince the old man to come out of hiding.

Graeme's Quest

Graeme thought long how to go about obtaining the remaining items from the Silver Flame. He had two choices: go barging into the main compound and taking it by force, or drawing them out to him. He chose to utilize his connections to get the flame to move the items for him. And to lead them directly into his grasp.

Graeme contacted Johnny Talltale and asked to cash in a favor. Could he and his connects send words towards the Silver Flame hierarchy. He asked him to spread rumors of a force approaching the Argentum seeking the items for nefarious purposes. The rumor began among the templars and friars. They heard noise rising from the city deeps of a warforged intending to march on Flamekeep demanding the items, possibly by force if necessary. Slowly the rumors snowballed and morphed from a single warforged into the entirety of the warforged from the city depths rising against the Argentum.

Word came down from High Cardinal Krozen to Nystrum Shadar to move the remaining items along a caravan. Graeme asked Johnny to keep track of changes occurring with the flame. Due to the various groups Johnny is involved with, he heard of this caravan and its intended target – a hidden Silver Flame enclave in the mountains of The Starpeaks.

Graeme was ecstatic. This was a perfect turn of events. Their route was long and bound to be arduous. Somehow, Johnny even had knowledge of which carriage of the caravan carried the items. Graeme made haste and took off to Askelios. He arrived within a few days with his companion Johnny. They made camp outside the village near the base of the mountains. Graeme instructed johnny to remain hidden and he would message him when he should begin his approach to his location. From here on out, the only way this could work was if he was truly part of the Prophesied.

It took far longer for them to close in on The Starpeaks than Graeme expected, however he finally saw them arriving in the distance. He began preparing for the heist. He estimated it would take them 4 days travel to reach the enclave and 3 days travel to where he hid. He sat in deep contemplation and slowly a string of words form in his mind “It is time. My position is 7 miles due east, one due north. Climb into the fog and find my signal.” His position was high up in the peaks ahead of the enclave near the upper limit the fog line. The way to the enclave required the caravan to pass through the fog line into the peaks themselves, and Graeme used this to his advantage.

As the envoy entered the fog, Graeme caught sight of the carriage. Nondescript with an open and flat bed, he could make out the layout. A trunk laid near the front seat, with 2 guards facing the rear and one seated next to the driver. Johnny cast a spell and Graeme was invisible to a mundane eye. Graeme activated his dragonmark, and felt his energy level rise. He became almost unable to stand still, ready to dash away at a moments notice. He managed to maintain his concentration enough to imagine in his mind the carriage and where he wanted to be. He only had one shot to teleport into an empty spot within the caravan. Once cast, he’d have to rest before being able to cast again and he knew he wouldn’t get a chance on any other day. Miscalculate by an inch and the whole mission would be a failure. His brothers captured by the Lord of Blades would be as good as dead. He studied the caravan’s path and whispered a prayer to the SIlver Flame. He mouthed an incantation and immediately appeared in the carriage directly in front of the trunk facing it. He quickly grabbed the trunk as the monks turned around, hearing creaking of the wood. In the blink of an eye, he activated his dragonmark once again, this time with a different effect. He began to be surrounded by a silvery mist, the same color as the surrounding fog, disappearing within it. The guards yelled out, and the caravan stopped. It was too late as Graeme had teleported 30 feet into the fog, moving twice as fast as humanly possible, to where Johnny laid in wait. He hopped onto his means of escape, both quickly running down the mountain. The silver flame tried in vain searching the fog, unable to find who or what stole from the Argentum.

I see fire
and I hope that you'll remember me

I see fire.

It’s all I see. I’m surrounded by a Cobalt haze. The smoke from the burning timber is filling my lungs. It’s all I smell.

This was supposed to be the easy part. I was the only one who could control the warship so I had to do this but I would’ve chosen this task if they gave me a choice. I’d rather be the diversion. It’s less work. They can handle the fighting parts of the prophecy. I’d never back down from a fight but I’d never pick one either. Looks like there’s no backing out of this fight. This is the end for me.

This isn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to retire out on the outskirts of town, enjoying a fulfilling life with a loving wife. My brothers would come visit me and we’d reminisce about the past while Jerji played music for us. Drinks and merriment would flow. We’d drink enough to have fun but not enough to get drunk and forget the good times we were having. Just like that night in New Cyre we all spent together before we parted ways. The way we were all having fun and laughing and joking with one another reminded me of the days back at the estate. Back then, we were just brothers growing up being kids. Free and unburdened. That night in New Cyre, even Graeme and Yohan dropped their guard and joined in on the festivities.

Did we know even then? Did we know we were headed to fight against a self-proclaimed god? Did we know we might never see one another again? Did we know it was our last chance to be a family? Why did we feel so free that night? Like there was finally a release from some kind of burden. Did we finally accept we were just pawns in a grand scheme? Did we allow ourselves a brief moment of self-indulgence knowing that our lives, with all of its joys and all its sadness, were forfeit to the draconic prophecy? Did we find peace by fully surrendering to a greater cause than our own? We sacrificed a future with the ones we love for true happiness in the belief that we were part of father’s dream to cure the world. Did we accept what true happiness really is? Was it the peace we had that night? Am I at peace?

I guess it’s time to make peace with my end.

It’s not looking good for me, guys. It was an honor to battle alongside all of you. I know you guys are stronger than I am. You can finish this without me. I’m going to do my part as best I can but you guys were always stronger than I was. I’ll always remember the last day we shared together in New Cyre. It reminded me of the days we had at the estate. Finish this for me. Finish this for all of us.

Heh, that’s right! Jerji never finished teaching me how to play that song on the lure. I was very much looking forward to that. How did it go again?

_Oh, misty eye of the clouds below

Keep careful watch of my brothers’ souls
And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke
Keep watching over Arresh’s sons

If this is to end in fire
Then we should all burn together
Watch the flames climb high into the night
Calling out father, oh, stand by and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side

And if we should die tonight
Then we should all die together
Raise a glass of wine for the last time
Calling out father, oh
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn auburn over
The mountain side

Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me

Oh, should my people fall in
Surely I’ll do the same
Confined in mountain halls
We got too close to the flame
Calling out father
Hold fast and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side

Desolation comes upon the sky

Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
And I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me

And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns then
My brothers will die
And as the sky is falling down
It crashed into this lonely town
And with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
Hollowing souls
And I see fire
Blood in the breeze

I see fire (Oh you know I saw a city burning) (fire)
And I see fire (Feel the heat upon my skin, yeah) (fire)
And I see fire (Uh-uh-uh-uh) (fire)
And I see fire burn auburn on the mountain side_

Thinking in the clouds

Why did I jump? A strange question to ask when hurding down head first through the clouds. Bu​t​ then again ​I am the p​oster child for impulsiveness. Leaping without looking and acting first ​then​ asking questions later. Case in point. But truthfully there was little time to think. The roller coaster of emotions would have sent even Amros into a frenzy. It was his tone of voice when delivering the message that was the first indication that something was off. The slow, defeated tone was no way to tell your closest brother that you found their long lost father. So I waited for the impending second part of the announcement only to find out it was really an obituary. So I jumped out of reaction. I didn’t realize how high up the airship was
​ at the time and my feather fall activated quite quickly​. So there was no time to digest ​the recent news that my natural father was alive, at least alive up until just moments ago. So what is this feeling that grabbed me and tossed me over the side of the ship? I thought it would be the same feeling I had when Xagyg died. But its not. When comparing the two I can see that this new feeling didnt have the deep sense of loss, sadness that couldnt be described. It was overwhelming. This feeling seems born out of anger more than sadness. The more I think about it the angrier I get. The thought that the University sent my father on the same mission we are on was aggravating. The fact that they used me to blackmail him into this suicide mission was beyond infuriating. It was like hot magma coursing through my veins. They needed to pay for they did to both of us. Reperations needed to be paid. Revenge. That is this new feeling he had. I thought I felt it before but never this clearly. Never this pure. We could have been retrieving the item together, father and son, hand in hand fighting to keep each other alive. But I will never have the chance now, thanks to that dirty lying university claiming I was with them and he was doing everything he could to save me. My father was trying to find me. He was looking for me and now he’s dead.
The last bit of clouds finally part and I see the top of the fortress. I see my brothers, dots from this high up but I can recognize them no matter. And then the unmistakable shape of a red dragon. A slender ridged neck with large beating wings and a long tail whipping in the air. All in bright red with dark undertones. Amros always taught us that eye catching coloration like that was a warning sign in the wild, beware all who dare attack. And there by his terrifying talons was a sprawled remains of my father.
I no longer have control of my own body. My mind has lost consciousness. All I can sense is my heart beating at an incredible pace. Feeding my lungs with mana. Filling them frozen flame. And the last thought I have before I release everything in my chest, is “Die, murderer of my father! Die, you fiery thief!”

Stone hard truths

Amros positioned himself so that the corpse was to his left and can be studied easily while the large slab of stone was directly before him. His color palette contained not an ounce of paint. Instead, a handful of smoking pipes were placed in the wells, their aromas flowing out in serpentine smoke intertwining and fading into the recesses of the room. Behind Amros, Jerji was plucking away at his lute a slow somber tune. Traditionally, when you ask Jerji to play you something you offer either the piece to play or the mood to set. This time, Amros simply asked if he can help him. To which Jerji responded by simply getting up and selecting two instruments to carry with him. He then just followed Amros into the makeshift morgue and chose a comfortable place to play. Amros picked up one of the pipes and inhaled softly but very deeply. He always felt this mix of hash that allowed him to concentrate more, the main ingredient was a weed he found the gardeners removing outside the church. The first phase needed focus more than anything else so it was an obvious choice. In battle, incantations are fast and deliberate with instantaneous results. However now, when the need is to stretch the duration of the spell and resolve it in minute detail, how you cast the spell is imperative. With the final words to the spell consummating with Jerji playing the final note to his opening piece, it was done. The sides of the rock wobbled for just a moment then went back. Holding his concentration, Amros began to work on the base of the stone. The stone was softer than any clay a sculptor would use and he manipulated with graceful hands as he saw fit. He first fashioned the general shape of a foot on the outsides of the stone. Picking up a different pipe this time he began to analyze the details in the strange creature’s clawed feet. He set the pipe down and and began to mimic everything he saw onto the stone. Jerji’s second piece flowed beautifully but somehow never left the lower registers of sound, it was deep and carried you with through a journey into the caverns of your mind. Soon, Amros had begun working up the leg and then the thigh. Looking once again at the dead body, Amros couldn’t believe this was the father of perhaps his closest brother. The only proof he could find was the scaling on its body. On occasion when Sheyba used his breathe weapon or when the light hit just right, you could catch a glimpse of it faintly outlined across his body but only if you were paying attention and for brief moments. Turning back to the stone he continued his work.
The loud thuds coming from the stairs in quick succession gave all the indication needed to who was coming and with that Amros exhaled out a sigh and braced for Sheyba to come barreling through the door which he did, loudly.
“You are here! I have been looking everywhere for you. Of course I should have checked here first.” Sheyba screamed “every time I think I got you figured out, you do something that confuses me to no end. What is your problem?”
“What do you mean?” Was the response in a cold tone. Despite Sheybas disruptive entrance, Amros and Jerji both continued as if nothing happened. The dismissive attitude clearly sending Sheyba further into aggravation.
" Don’t play dumb with me. You know exactly what I’m talking about. I see how you have treated Xagyg ever since he was brought back to us. Like he doesn’t exist to you. Ignoring him whenever you can. Can’t you just be happy that you got your brother back? Does your beliefs always have to be so backwards that you can’t accept the luxuries that we have at our disposal, that we can bring back something we thought we lost forever?"
By now Amros had completed up to the waist. He chose to dress him exactly as he last saw him, with a simple cloth to cover himself, and not what could have been appropriate for a headmaster of a great university. “It is against everything the circle of life teaches us. In the wild, death is constantly looming around the corner. Predator or prey, death is always a possible outcome. It is necessary otherwise the cycle is not completed and if you always cheat death, then the world will fall apart.”
“Then if you feel so strongly about this FRIEND, then explain to me why would you of all people go to the church and ask them to resurrect my dead father? Then when you were denied you simply walk right back out the door without a fight?”
Amros did not give an answer. He simply continued shaping the mid section and then slowly went around to begin working on the back and the spines going along the middle. Because the brunt of the dragons attack came from behind the dragonborn, Amros had to take artistic liberties in its design based on he could see from the end of his tail.
DONT YOU DARE IGNORE ME! I SAID ANSWER MMmmeee….. Wait. What in Khyber are you doing?”
With a swift swipe down Jerji struck the last chords of his song. The song ended with a much higher pace and erratically. He relaxed the muscles in his arms and set the lute down in front of him.
“I’m making his tombstone.” The dead silence left by Amros statement was suffocating. “These last few days have been very difficult on me Sheyba”
“On you?!” Sheyba responded cynically “it wasn’t your father that died.”
“No it wasn’t. But it’s what your father meant to me that has weighed heavily on my soul.” Jerji bends down and picks up his flute. Pressing his lips against the mouthpiece he begins act two of his concert. “Sheyba, do you ever contemplate the notions of fate and destiny? Choice and free will? Are the mutually exclusive are entirely intertwined? Are they cruel or are they a mercy?”
Sheyba stood there completely motionless and silent. Arms folded at his chest, he was a statue analyzing every word and every movement Amros was making while Amros studied every still detail on the body beside him. He now began shaping the arms.
“As the children chosen to save the world, we had been given a great honor. The ones who will heal the world is what we have been told countless times. A title the king of any land would envy. But it came with a great burden. And an even greater price. Look at us. Thirteen children lost. We don’t know our past and don’t know our future. Is our path leading to salvation or is it leading to annihilation? Will we ever truly know who we are? This is the price we pay. A lifetime of questions. But we paid the price long before we were given the choice to follow this path. Fate had chosen for us long before we chose our destiny, if there was a choice in it at all. Until this day we are being told what do to and where to go. We were never given an even playing field to follow the path that we want. We either follow the path shown us or forsake everything that was taken away from us.” When Amros stepped away he found he made the arms bent one on top of the other at the figures chest. The left arm bent slightly higher than the right, like he is carrying something. Nodding his head Amros continued.
“But that all changed when I saw your father. In your father I saw a strand of hope in a time I had almost given up. I saw a chance to get back a fraction of what we lost. I saw the chance that we can find out our past. It was the greatest relief I have experienced in ages. With it we can forge on stronger empowered. We can finally say that we were given the choice to live a normal life or carry on as we were but at least it was of true free will. Your father’s life meant everything to me.” When Amros put his hands down from a moment, he looked at what he had done. He had lost sight of what he was doing and trailed off in thought. It wasn’t until just now that he realized what he had placed cradled in the arms of the dragonborn. It was a human baby. Cuddled softly in the scaly chest of the stone creature. The baby a frock of hair and two braids going down its temple. It was sheyba as an infant, and he was smiling. All that was left was the head now and it had to be perfect. That meant it couldn’t have the lifeless expression displayed on the corpse as it was. No, it had to have life, it had to have feeling, a feeling that fit its purpose, a feeling the moment it was depicting. So he looked around and found what he was looking for. He picked the small mirror up and propped it near the creatures head. Close enough so that he could meld his own expression onto the face of the dragon. He then went on top of the stool he brought and then went back to work.
“And then it was all burnt away. Gorgalan came and incinerated everything in a mere breathe. I
​just stood there and watched as your dreams were charred to ash. ​I utterly failed you. I watched as the dragon prophecy stripped you of any hope of being with your father. There will never be a choice for you.” The neck was sculpted at a sharp bend and so that the head would be looking down at the child’s face. “That oppressive reality overwhelmed me, it crushed my spirit. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to redeem my sin. I had to find a way to bring back your father. I would betray my heart to save my mind. I would ask the council to resurrect your father. When Xagyg died he did it with knowledge that he was risking his life and under his own free will. Your father was blackmailed into throwing away his life away. His only fault was that he wanted to finally see his son.” The lips were emotionless until the very edge of the mouth, there it turned downwards into a slight frown. A father’s job is to be strong in the face of adversity. However, no father is immune to the sadness they feel due to their children’s struggles. “But then the council denied my request. They said I shouldn’t push my luck. Considering the events that transpired during Xagyg’s resurrection, they chose to overlook us overstepping their authority and going straight to the Speaker of the Flame but it clearly left a sore spot in their hearts. And if we were to overstep our bounds again serious consequences would follow. So I was kindly escorted out of the hall. Defeated in more ways than I thought possible. So this statue is my final chance at atonement.” Amros bent over and gently lifted the eyelids, revealing large gray hued eyes split into two hemispheres by a slit instead of the round iris seen in the eyes of most races. “For days I wondered about fate. Was it a sadistic torturer? Living right outside the Morgrave University and not knowing you could have gone to visit ​your father
at any time. Bringing you ​closer in distance as his time on Eberron was coming closer to an end. Until the two converged and dwindled to nothing. I wish you could have heard his last words, or seen his eyes as he spoke your name.” The eyebrows were arched and the eyelids followed a similar angle and covered a small part at the of the eye. It gave a sense of wonderment. Pondering on the future of a son and the life he will live. “I wish I could have switched my place with you then or transfer my memory of him to you. Or is it that fate was merciful? Did it save you the agony of finding your father only to watch him die. Saved you the pain of losing your father a second time. The greatest pain is felt when you are given the brief glimpse of hope and happiness, when you feel like you are floating in the clouds, only to feel the noose go taught around your neck and send you crashing into the mud without a warning. At least your decent wasn’t that high to begin with.” After finishing the snout Amros felt there was something missing. Then he dragged two fingers from the corner of the right eye down his face. A single tear was the final touch. “I don’t envy you Sheyba. You are the sacrificial lamb that has given your brothers hope of
​ salvation while chaining them to the path they have been following all along. I hope you will one day forgive me.”
The only response that came was the creaking of the door as Sheyba walked out. Amros didn’t know when Jerji stopped playing his flute. This whole experience was ethereal and exhausting. Jerji made his way to Amros side as the two gave the tombstone one last appreciative look.
“It’s perfect” Jerji reassuringly concluded as he went to his pocket and handed Amros his handkerchief.
Amros took it and wiped away a tear that followed the same path that he just placed on the statue “Thanks”.
“So, should I come back tomorrow when you make a smaller one for Sheyba?”
Amros let out a muffled laugh. “You know, they say that musicians use song to move the hearts of people. Jerji, you look into the hearts of people and see how they move then sing to it.”
“I know” and with a smile he started walking towards the door. But just before leaving the room he stopped. Turning his head slightly he said “if you truly feel that we were never given a fair choice on this path, then maybe Xagyg’s death was not that different from the one that man next to you was given. Maybe Xagyg died for the same reason. I hope that thought helps heal your heart.”
The door shut behind Jerji closed shut with a heavy thud. His knees could no longer carry him and gave. Crumbling to the floor Amros cried silently.

Randall's Shame

Disgust and envy, two tyrants constantly at war over territory of Randall’s heart. Of the thirteen brothers, only three had no magical aptitude whatsoever; Enso, Xagyg, and Randall. Oblivious to the very notion that magic even existed, Enso trained his body day and night to be his greatest weapon. He never even went to a single lesson Arresh gave about magic or any test to see if he was capable of using magic in the first place. He cared nothing of its art, only in the perfection of his mind and body. On the contrary, Xagyg swore he was the greatest magic user that ever existed in all of of its application and had no need to train on something he already mastered. When implored to show the rest of his brothers an example of his prowess, he responded by saying he didn’t want to disgrace his skills by showing it to such lower beings and that such a display would put all their lives in danger. What scared everyone the most was that he seemed to honestly believe it. Randall on the other hand, went to every lesson Arresh taught on arcana, trained in all the different forms of magic, read up on every technique to bring out even the smallest amount of talent to the surface. But to his utter dismay, after months of practice he could not cast spells that novices are taught on their first day. His brothers did what all young boys do and continually ridiculed him about it. They told him to stand far away from the them when they practiced so it wouldn’t rub off on them too. The jokes only fueled him to try harder but to everyone’s shock there was truth to their humiliating words. He was in fact having a negative affect on the spellcasters around him. Jokes became arguments, and soon arguments became constant fights, fights became all out brawls. But you can’t out bully the bully so Randall usually ended up winning the fights and stayed despite the unspoken embargo against him. It was only when Arresh himself kindly suggested individual lessons between him and Randall did he relent and stopped joining the others in the lessons. In fact, he stopped going to any lessons at all. Arresh may have used soft words but what it meant to Randall was razor sharp. Arresh now also believed there was no hope for Randall in pursuing magic and his very presence was detrimental to all those around him in the continuing their education in arcana. He never felt a pain like the one he felt on that day. Any injury he received in battle paled in comparison. It was like everything he tried to do to impress Arresh was stepped on. He would now never be able to compete with and prove he was better his rival, Rhaegar, who never failed at anything he attempted. With no reason to stay at the mansion in his mind, he packed his things and ran away. The volcanoes surrounding the mountain was the only thing Randall ever experienced outside the estate and it’s immediate grounds so it was the only option to run to. A week and a half passed with no sight of Arresh or any of his brothers. Surviving on the few things he learned about nature, he discovered that physical dominance was an indispensable boon and did well on his own in the harsh environment. He didn’t know if his family was happy he left or if he was just that good at disappearing. He would think to himself how much easier this would be if Amros was with him. How much better the meals would be if Ichino was the one preparing them. How even the the worst day could be made better with the help of Jerji and his songs. How alone he felt right now. But he would always repress those thoughts and blame them for shutting him out and forcing him to leave.
Until one day Graeme briskly walks in on his camp while Randall was roasting a lizard for his meal. He didn’t think Graeme would have been the one to find him. He probably was told by Arresh how to get here or commissioned Xagyg to find Randall for him, but Xagyg was nowhere to be seen. Graeme always seemed to find a way to get the job done, always planning, always finding an answer.
Seeing anyone after being in solitude for so long was a relief that could not be described. His thoughts had grown very dark in the past few days, and he’s not sure what would have become of him had he been left to his own machinations. However, Graeme didn’t need to know that.
“What do you want.” Randall spit out barely raising his sight from cooking his meal.
Graeme raised one eyebrow and focused his glare straight at Randall as he always does when he feels like he will be expending more time than necessary on a project. “Why did you leave?”

“What do you care? Why don’t you go back to your loser brothers and leave me alone. I’m finally happy that I don’t have to see your ugly faces then you show up here and ruin everything.”

It was as if the entire volcano fell silent, holding it’s breath in hopes not to miss even a single sound of what was to happen next. On Graeme’s face was the look of deep speculation and thought. Like playing a game of chess on a board only visible to himself. Randall on the other hand made every effort not to pay him any attention, as if his intrusion had already gone too long. Then with a sigh Graeme finally relaxed his body and shot Randall a look that he will remember for the rest of his life. It was the frown a hunter has when he is standing above his kill that has not yet died. The expression you have when you are about to end the life of the greatest buck you have ever seen, one that should have roamed the forest ruling in grandeur, but instead fell victim to your desire to own it within the confines of your trophy room. And so you draw the knife and have this expression on your face for the tragic ceremony of a momentous victory.”

“I care because you are ruining my plans. I needed you to take care of something for me. But then you decided to just get up and leave. I thought you would be back in a day or two but this is ridiculous. Now, if you’re done pouting, get your things together and let’s get back before you waste anymore of my time.”

Randall was caught off guard. Graeme never spoke this way. The tone was all wrong, Graeme wasn’t the kind of person to look down on his pawns. The pieces didn’t matter as long as he achieved his goal. Puzzled, Randall asked himself if Graeme treated even his emotions as pieces to manipulate?
“I should smash your face in for the way your talking to me”

“I had a plan for that in case you tried to”

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”

“And I planned on not getting punched at all, especially not from you”

Randall cracked a smile and let out muffled laugh “and what are your amazingly important plans that couldn’t wait until I got back?” he said as he began to brush the dirt off his clothes and stand.

A smirk crept onto Graeme’s face, “those losers back home are a bunch of puppets. They wouldn’t be able to lift a finger without Arresh pulling their strings. They need someone to tell them where to go and how to think. And when Arresh isn’t around Yohan will be the light showing the path and I will be the hand that holds the reins driving the carriage. What we need is a whip to gently persuade them from getting out of hand and staying in line.”

Randall bellowed out a hearty laugh. “ You know you suck at acting mean.” His laughter only got louder when he saw how disappointed Graeme was for being called out on it. “How about you let me handle the tough guy routine from now on while you get some acting lessons from Sheyba. Unless he thinks you’re a lost cause.” he continued

“I’m realizing now more than ever that I’m not good at a lot of things. But I’m not going to let anyone or any limitations stop me from doing what Arresh raised us to do.”

It took a second but Randall finally collected himself and started packing his few things “That’s nice. Now whose face am I smashing in?”

“I’ll tell you when the time is right. For now stay by my side and and wait for my command” he said as he he turned and began walking away from the camp, Randall in tow slightly behind him. “I am weak, I need you. I need you to be my fists, to be my sword, and strike down any in our way. You possess a special skill I can use to our advantage. You will bring down any magi who are too high for us to reach. With you I will fulfill the prophecy.”
And since that day, Randall was always by Graeme’s side waiting for his orders. He would heal the world with his sword and defeat any mage who stood in their way.

Randall consoles Sheyba's grief
Each in their own way

It wasn’t hard for Randall find where sheyba was: simply look where all the priests with the tattered and freshly singed gowns were running away from and head in that direction. The crash of furniture and deafening roars only removed any doubt to the obvious.

Growing up, Randall had gotten into enough fights with Sheyba that he’s learned his tendencies. He gives into his rage and attacks randomly and with no restraint. On this day, he is as angry as he has ever seen him. Sheyba hates losing things, and moments ago all the brothers heard they had lost their brother in battle while retrieving a magical item for the Church of the Silver Flame. Immediately, Graeme knew how Sheyba would react and told Randall to handle it. Over the years, Randall has gotten ever more efficient at combating casters of all kinds. Then again Sheyba is no ordinary mage.

When Randall knew he was coming upon Sheyba’s location, he huddled behind his shield, lowered his shoulder, and began to pick up speed. By the time he reached sheyba, he was already in full sprint. A stream of blue fire erupted in his direction. The geyser of arcane energy slammed hard against the large metal shield, dispersing radially in all directions. With his body safely positioned behind the shield, Randall barreled forward unhindered. Using Sheyba’s breath weapon as a beacon, Randall could continue rushing forward without poking his head from over his shield. Even though he was wearing his signature onyx helm, he knew it would do little in the form of protection in the face of this type of attack. It didn’t take long for Randall’s shield to make contact with its target. Thick steel met soft flesh and the the arcane volcano immediately came to an end. You could hear the wind’s fast exodus from Sheyba’s lungs as the impact sent him off his feet. His flight backwards came to a crashing halt when his body bounced off the wall behind him. His body went limp and landed on the ornate carpet the way a hunting dog drops a pheasant in front of its master.

Randall let his shield fall to the ground, tearing apart the silver filigree carpet where it landed. The priests demanded that everyone wear soft leather slippers when walking these halls to preserve the value of the rich carpet. When they see the damage done to both the carpet and the wall tapestry, they will be beside themselves in anger. The thought of it carved a large devilish grin across Randall’s face. The coarse gasping for air coming from his beaten up brother returned him to the situation at hand. "Why worry about dessert when dinner is on the table,” he thought to himself.

He could see Sheyba attempting to string words together in between short sharp breaths. Randall immediately tensed as he realized sheyba may be trying to verbalize an incantation for a spell. Quickly turning his head, he could see he was already a good distance away from his shield on the floor behind him. If Sheyba really was casting a spell, he would most likely not reach his shield in time. He snapped his head back at Sheyba, took two steps towards him and lunged with all his might. The distance he covered was immense as he braced himself for impact. He caught a little bit of Sheyba’s shoulder as he landed to his immediate right. Randall’s left arm snaked around Sheyba’s own as his powerful legs locked onto Sheyba’s right arm. With his right hand he grabbed the back of Sheyba’s head and pulled. With Sheyba crucified on the floor this way, Randall was safe from getting hit by Sheyba’s breath attack and preventing him from casting a spell.
It was only then that he could finally see Sheyba’s face. It was like all the water in his body was pouring from his eyes. The only part of his face not drenched in tears was his mouth, there icicles formed where tears met his frost magic. Turning his ears towards that icicle beard, Randall could now hear the whispers coming from Sheyba’s mouth.
“I’ll …. I’ll kill ….. them .. all… they kil… killed him….”

It’s true. Xagyg is dead. Randall hated hearing those words. That’s why he was happy to be given this task. Something that would take his focus away from the reality of losing his brother. A reality that was being whispered into his ears piecemeal and there was nothing he could do about it in the position he was in.
Trying to block out the emotions bottled up inside him, he began to lose focus. Sheyba used the momentary opening to whip his head to Randall so they were almost face to face. Sheyba opened his mouth wide, almost too wide for human standards. Wide enough that you thought you could see his soul through the depths of his gaping maw. And it was from there that a blue flame sparked to life. And it quickly grew, and grew, until that flame was born violently into the world.
Any swordsman that has earned a few scars in combat will tell you that your body reacts to an attack long before your mind has fully understood what was happening. Randall was hardly out of his daze before he had already jerked his head back and twisted his body. Avoiding the attack by a mere few inches, his onyx helm was not as lucky and was blown off his scalp, clanking to the floor a few feet away.
Never had Randall been so close to Sheyba’s flame before. His eyes were seeing a fiery inferno but his skin was feeling an icy blizzard. It was beautiful. It was terrifying. Like lightning, instantly creating a paradoxical battle of serenity and terror in a man’s heart. And just like lightning, it was gone before either side could be declared the victor. But it wasn’t thunder that replaced the light display; it was the pain filled shriek emitted from Sheyba’s lungs. Randall jumped to his feet alarmed. He never heard Sheyba do that before and didn’t know if he should brace himself for an attack or run to his brother’s help.
Doubled over himself, Sheyba was grabbing his left shoulder frantically. Randall realized what had happened. While maneuvering away from the breath attack, Randall’s death grip on Sheyba’s arm popped it clean out of its socket when his body twisted. An all too familiar feeling in Randall’s chest was beginning to well up and almost come flooding out, but that was quickly repressed and buried in depths of anger. He gave Sheyba a vicious boot to his ribs, “You see what happens! Look what you made me do! Next time know how squishy you really are and cower when you see me, then things like this won’t happen”
Everyone knew Randall was his cruelest after he already hurt you and won, always making a show of his victory. In reality, it was a diversion to hide the concerned look on his face that disappeared before it ever materialized. Concern that Randall would never admit to himself, let alone anyone else. It didn’t take long for the brothers to learn to quit a fight long before their fate was sealed.

“Why are you doing this, Sheyba? Don’t you know Graeme and Yohan are going to fix this?”
An attempt to respond resulted in heavy coughing and gasping for air. All he could do was scowl and shake his head in disapproval.
“You think these selfish punks are gonna do us any favors huh?”
A small nod was returned in agreement.
“I don’t care what you think about these idiots. I told you Graeme and Yohan went to get Xagyg back. And if you don’t trust those two I’m gonna have to beat some more sense into that stupid dragon wannabe skull of yours.”
Randall extended his arm for Sheyba to grab.“I’ll make a deal with you. If by some twist of the prophecy they don’t get Xagyg back, you and I will both tear and burn this church down, brick by brick, until the only thing left is a silver hole in the ground.”
Reluctantly, Sheyba grabbed Randall with his right hand and was hoisted onto his shoulder.
Randall started to look around. “Now let’s find one of those monks you almost killed and make them heal you back to normal or I’ll bash his head in.”

The memories still sit fresh

This airship is something else. I keep asking to control it but nobody is willing. “Only dragonmarks can” they said. Well, I’m sure my abilities are more than adequate, my skills with my hands are second to none. At any rate, this airship ride has gotten so boring that I’m thinking about other fights we’ve had over the past few years. That hill giant fight was something else. Andel was saying something about the dragon shell – or nut dragon shells or maybe dragon nutshells – at any rate, we had to get these things for the silver flame. I almost forgot that we were the prophesied meant to save the world and not a courier service. When that giant crested the hill it was like staring at a moving building. When the second one showed, WHOA. It took nearly everything we had to get them to their knees. I – like a good thief – hid in the shadows and just pelted them with arrows. My fantastic accuracy landed me a bullet right in that big idiot’s eye. I was a little far, but I’m pretty sure i saw the tip poke out the back of it’s head. The other guys (aka Rhaegar) took care of the other one. What a fight. I may not be the strongest, but I can definitely hold my own. Especially that one time against the bird-folk…

Signs in the smoky clouds

The soft shuffle of leather soles against the city’s gloomy dank back alleys could faintly be heard. Amros made every effort never to disturb nature and he took this notion to the extremes of not even interrupting the sound of nature. At this time of night, the last few hours before daybreak, the noise of city eventually surrenders to the silence and Amros can almost forget he is surrounded by the farce that is the advancement of civilization. Racing to build tall skyscrapers when true enlightenment is found in the simple tranquility of nature where you can achieve a medetative state of discipline and introspection. And simple tranquility has been ever harder to achieve.

The divination spell was tugging him in the direction of that which he seeked. But after so many previous excursions he could almost follow the tell tale signs like he used to track animal game in the woods. He turned the corner at the base of one of Sharn’s many monumental towers and found what he was looking for. There huddled around the fire built of refuse was the inhabitants of the Cogs, Sharn’s slums in the lower city. Amros made no effort to hide his presence and walked towards the four men. well, at least three he thought for sure were men. The Elf second from the left immediately noticed and shot him an untrusting glare. It was clear from his poorly hidden attire he was most likely from house Phiarlan and recently relocated to this part of the city, not likely by choice. Amros didn’t give it much thought other than he probably lost the favor of a high ranking member of the house and therefore lost everything. The houses and the melodrama that occurs within their walls was of little interest to Amros, although House Sivis did catch his attention from time to time. To the right of the scowling elf was an elderly human, the wear and tear of a long life in the lower levels of Sharn clearly shown on his body and the speed of his reaction. The old man gave Amros a comforting smile and put his arm on the Elf to ease his nerves. “I know why yer here… I have seen ya before by Khyber’s Gate” the old man motioned to a hunched over figure to his immediate left. That’s the one that Amros couldn’t figure out from the decrepit hair and worn face if it was a male or a female. “If you have any more stories to tell I won’t mind sharing” the old man said as the hunchback handed him a felt bag. “I can fill that weird pipe of yers and we can burn til Tha hags come home”. Amros never turned down a warm welcome like this, especially one in which herbal supplements were being offered. However the fact that this man not only recognized him but knew certain details of him meant that Amros had become heedless in his movements and that he needed to reduce his exploration of flora and fauna in the city of towers. Amros pulled his pipe from his leather sack and smiled “it would be my pleasure. Good company is hard to find and I am lucky to have found such a gathering of honorable men, err uhmmm…. people” Amros tried to cover his confusion over the gender of the hunchback. The Elf raised his eyebrow again trying to read between the lines of Amros opening remarks. Another unfortunate symptom when being a member of house. “Sir take my words as the truth. I have nothing but the highest regard for those of simple lifestyles who enjoy the natural gifts of this world.” Amros took a handful of nightveil from the old man began distributing it within the many chambers of his pipe. He made the pipe himself from a rare wood. The long multi-chambered design was also his own invention. In addition to allowing for more of the plant to be smoked inside and more space to be decorated on the outside, he swore it allowed him to get better pulls for a longer amount of time. “Many of my friends find it hard to understand when a disciplined spiritual man like myself turns to these gifts for enlightenment. It takes strict self awareness to know when you have achieved a higher state of clarity instead of just burning your mind into delirium.”
He thought to himself that any venture with no self control leads to chaos and Sheybe immediately came to mind.
“What’s the matter? " asked the old man.
“I’m sorry?” Replied Amros
“You suddenly got all sad and droopy” the old man took a tinder from the Fire and put it just above Amros pipe. “Here this will living yer spirits”
“Thanks” Amros took the tinder and began lighting his pipe with a few puffs.
“So where are your friends now nature boy?” Asked the elf.
“I used the terms loosely perhaps, my travelling companions had left me trapped in a sewer hole and the only aid I received was them dropping even more undiscernable refuse on top of my head”
A shrill voice spoke out “how did you get out?” It came from the hunchback and it caught Amros of guard. It also gave him no further insight to the creature was.
But he quickly continued “I climbed the wall and transformed into a snake and slithered out” very Matter of factly.
The old man and the confusing one broke into a joyful laughter while the Elf barked “so that stench IS coming from you!” Covering his mouth and. Ose from breathing any further of the aroma. This too was a clear sign that he only recently became a member of the slums. Down here the stagnant air always smelled and it’s folks stopped caring where or whom the smell came from long ago.
“So I take it yer friends ain’t yer friends any longer” the old man asked after recovering from his bout of laughter.
“It’s hard to say.” Amros paused seeming to choose his next words perhaps more for himself than the present audience. “We may all be walking along parallel paths more so than friends at this point. There’s just been too much to deal with and not enough tying us back together”
“The only question is what would you do for them” the voice was deep and verberated in the ears long after the hooded figure finished his statement. Amros hadn’t given the man much attention when he arrived due to his quiet demeanor. Now he can see he should have taken a better look at him. He was almost his height despite a slouch and his shoulders were at an angle that mislead his true stature. The cloaked figure’s head now faced Amros, only the bottom half of face revealed from the cover of his hood. That was enough for Amros to recognize the jaw line and teeth belong to someone with a certain degree of orcish ancestry. He stared right back and flatly replied “Anything. I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR MY brothers. I, however, am not so sure they feel the same. We have grown far apart and now I am practically the age of his father.”
“It pleases me to know you still consider him your brother. It matters little the state you found him in, all that matters is the bond between all of you. Or have the years made you forgotten?”
The orcish creature hadn’t moved but it felt to Amros that he was being talked down to and only Arresh had ever spoken to him like this. It took a lot of effort not to lose his temper. The alternating use of singular and plural was not lost on Amros nor was the fact that he never mentioned the fact that he and his brothers lost contact. This man was either incredibly intuitive or he also knew much more about Amros than he was comfortable with.
A long pause followed with only the sounds of lungs exhaling and twigs snapping to fill the night.
After long deliberation decided it was time for answers. “My name is Amros son of Arresh. May I be honored by yours?” Giving his real name was a calculated risk. Either this person is so good at reading people he would have discerned the lie or he already knew it.
“What’s it to you?”
“You seem to be far wiser than myself. Also, I am sick and tired of proving myself. If it’s not some pompous dragon, it’s the Silver Flame, if not them then it’s someone else.” He emphasized the last part making it clear so the descendent of orcs knew he was referring to him. “My brothers and I are not pawns in this game. We have a mission and we will fulfill it.”
“It seems to me, my lost friend, it’s not being dropped into ditches that has you seeking herbal remedies for the chaos overtaking your mind but the fact that you don’t know in whose hands your fate lies.”
“And how do I put it into my own hands?”
“Well that’s simple. Just use your hands.”
“You mean to take actions into my own hands? It’s not that simple. Like you said we are lost boys reaching for any bit of information that is coming our way with no way of validating these so called truths given to us. Each of us gets pulled into different directions. The word destiny becomes confounded when your a collective.”
“Nothing will become clear as long as you are blindly being dragged by your hand.”
“So now I have to open my eyes to see?” Amros whipped out sarcastically.
“I never said you had your eyes closed. But considering your puppeteers have a birds eye view, perhaps you should try seeing it from their vantage point. I can tell you from experience it will help you far more than one of your induced mind trips.”
Amros gave the man a hard squint and eyed him up and down “What did you say your name was again?”
“You can call me Merick” He then crouched down and spread his arms wide to his sides as if to leap into the air.
Amros jumped to the side if this dragon was about to transform in the middle of the alley the rest of them were about crushed into the walls.
As the orc jumped into the air, instead of growing larger he disappeared into his cloak and a purple hued raven flew out of the collar. the cloak collapsed to the ground where he once stood while the raven soared high. It perched itself on a ledge and turned its head so one eye stared directly at Amros. It cawed twice before continuing it’s ascent.
His excursions to these parts of the city alone have come to an end thought Amros. He would have to stay back on the ship from now on. Likely keeping watch since he was not sure what the results of his actions that night would produce. But he so hated the hasheesh the sailors at the dock used. He then turned to the old man who was now rummaging through the cloak and trying it on to see if it fit. It clearly didn’t but he kept it on anyway. “Hey old man, do you have any more?”
“I think I’m done sharing for one night” He replied with a frown as the hunchback stepped away slowly.
“Then how about I play you for it?” Amros pulled out a bag of dice with different numbers of sides out of his side pocket. He recently learned the gambling game from the locals and quickly mastered until no one on the dock would play with him anymore.
The old man gave a large smile that showed what was left of his blackened teeth “and what do you have to offer?”
Amros pulled out a small pouch and gave it a bounce. It rang with the sound of rattling coins. He then turned his attention to the elf. “What about you?”
He shrugged "why not like my luck can get any worse " He pulls out his snuff tin and adds it to the ante.


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