Ahrea Sidestory: Soul Of The Burning Mountain

Session 1: In Search of Peaceful Days

The year is AC1262. It’s been four days since the final events of Campaign 3. Aras successfully rescued Fiva from Sepna Austir, and escaped from the destruction of the dragon’s lair with the rest of his allies. Ryhar and Yunea decided to leave for much safer travels, though they wished Aras, Fiva, and Selea well.

Aras, Fiva, and Selea find themselves traveling the Highroad southbound from the Divide of the Lands, having literally no where they need to go after the experiences they had in the last few months . They decide to go back to the city of Durden upon Selea’s suggestion – one of the largest cities in the region and of all of South Ahrea. As Selea travels upon Brie, she comments that the other two will find much more opportunities there then they ever would have in their homeland up north.

As night falls, a large thunderstorm brews over the open grasslands they are traveling over, and becomes so bad that they are forced to take cover under their tent for the rest of the night – Selea abandoning her plate/chainmail armor outside in order to avoid being electrocuted in it. Fiva attempts to dance in the rain as she’s so amazed by the sights, but is quickly forced back into the tent by Selea and Aras due to them worrying for her safety. Fiva comments that it isn’t as serious as they’re making it out to be – until a lightning bolt strikes down upon Selea’s armor outside the tent as they all watch on. Unfortunately, the lighting strike spooks Brie, and the horse manages to break free of it’s post and runs off with a majority of their food and other gear – much to Aras’s dismay as he watches his horse run off again.

The next morning, the trio are reduced to walking to their destination – much to Selea’s annoyance, as she’s used to either being given her own horse to ride or a cart/carriage to ride around in. Fiva enjoys the fresh and damp grasslands after the storm, skipping around ahead of them in her bare feet – though Aras and Selea are both rather upset as they’ve lost the majority of their equipment after Brie ran off on them.

Another week passes before the trio finishes their return trip back to Durden, being slowed down by the lack of the horse and Selea tiring out often from traveling in her full armor. Fiva keeps relatively optimistic during the entire trip (very much enjoying the South Ahrea grasslands), though Aras and Selea are relieved to finally reach a civilized city again, as they have ran out of food and are low on money as well. Upon reaching Durden, Selea parts ways with Aras and Fiva, intending to return to her duties with the Order of Ayer.

Aras immediately sets about trying to find work after leaving Fiva to bond with the local group of wood elven drifters – though Aras comes to find that there’s an inherent bias against Northerners, and that he’s just one out of hundreds also attempting to gain employment in the area for civilian labor. His skills in logging and smithing don’t count for much either – there’s not much of a market for loggers in Durden itself (with camps outside in the nearby Gradnel Wood handling that), and no one needing assistance with blacksmithing.

Selea also finds herself without options – her banishment from the Order of Ayer is upheld, and the word of how she was dismissed in disgrace from the Order by her own father has spread. As she tries to find civilian work herself, she finds that she’s not regarded well by the majority of peasants in the area due to her privileged background.

Fiva neither cares or is worried about any of this – she knows that the wilderness will provide for her, though she struggles to understand why Aras is so concerned about their future. She does find Aras looking over a weaponry shop’s wares (him being desperate after his job search and thinking of returning to what he knows best – mercenary fighting), however, and immediately drags him away from it – being highly upset at him for even considering going back to a fighting lifestyle, after having promised to her that he was done after the Sepna Austir fight. Aras attempts to apologize, but finds himself not sure of what to do in order to make money in order to survive.

Unable to afford an inn, the three are forced to camp outside the city after being encountered by local guards. Fiva doesn’t mind as she’s rather content to be out in the wild, but Selea is rather depressed with the state of her current life, and Aras is in dismay that he can’t afford to provide for Fiva in the way he wanted to be able to.

In the morning, Fiva prepares another of her little infamous wood elven dishes (a delicious soup of leaves put into a stew of water), Aras and Selea both inform her that they cannot eat leaves yet again – though Aras forces himself to eat them in order to avoid upsetting her.

Selea has a conversation with Aras in regards to the situation, venting on her fall from relative prestige to dire economic straights. She informs Aras that more than anything she wants to see her childhood friend Alahar again, to which Aras says he sounds rather nice from her description of him. Selea then comments on how nice it is of Aras to be so concerned for his wood elven friend, to which he’s slightly embarrassed and states that he’ll always look out for Fiva. Aras ends up becoming rather depressed upon the end of the conversation, and it rather moves him more towards considering becoming a sellsword again.

Unable to continue to survive in such a manner (as starvation is a very motivating factor) and his desire to see the wood elf live in some manner of actual comfort (along with the fact Selea is his hireling and he needs to pay her at some point), Aras leaves very early in the morning, and finds himself a farming company requesting mercenary escorts to maintain the wheat shipments from a local farm. Figuring it is rather safe in comparison to his former life, Aras signs up immediately and is given the order to report to the farm for his first assignment.

Upon returning to their camp, Fiva becomes distressed and slaps Aras for having broken his word to not fight anymore – though he attempts to reason with her that it’s the only way he can make a living. Selea figures that it’s relatively safe work herself (having been a farm girl in the past), and eagerly agrees to assist him – looking forward to arriving to the farm and receiving a decent meal. Fiva reluctantly comes along, greatly concerned that Aras is doing something he does not need to do on her behalf (then again…starvation also kind of motivates him, so she wasn’t the only reason he signed up).

The party begins their travel to the farm, seeing a trail of smoke in the distance as they approach. They come closer as they figure it’s a bonfire – find themselves staring at the burning remains of the farm, while draconians are rounding up and preparing to execute civilians. Fiva realizes that this is a repeating pattern when she sees that Aras is already preparing to fight on their behalf.

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Session 2

A Kingdom Ahrea trooper is caught by the dakans, and is about to be executed by them after he attempted to defend the civilians. He cries out that the Kingdom will not fall to these creatures, though appears to be prepared for what’s about to happen to him as a dakan prepares to swing an axe down on him.

Without hesitation and much to Fiva’s dismay, Aras immediately rushes in and shoots the dakan at point black range with his crossbow. His old instincts set in – finding himself up against some 12-18 of the draconians, and immediately begins plotting how he’ll defend everyone behind him. After securing the Kingdom trooper with Selea and Fiva, he instructs them to stay behind as he rushes headlong into another fray.

As the two watch on, the Kingdom trooper informs Fiva and Selea that there’s even more captured people inside the burning barn nearby – the draconians are intending to just let the majority of the people burn to death inside. Rather concerned about this, Selea and Fiva break into the barn and encounter another five dakans inside holding the captives in place. The two engage and kill the draconians, and Selea frees the captives. She notices that Fiva is jumping up further into the badly burning building, and yells at her to get out. Fiva informs her that Aras is going to need help, however, and disregards the cleric completely as she scampers to the top.

In the meantime, Aras wanders right in the middle of the fight – 5 humans are in a fight against a Dakrahn, and engages. He slays the Dakrahn easily, and informs the civilians to run away – which they quickly do so. He calmly walks towards the dakans preparing to fight him, and gets to work as he engages them.

He plans this rather well knowing Fiva’s concern, stepping out of the way for her to take out several from her position in the barn with her arrow fire. He begins cutting his way through, trying to end things as quickly as he can. Selea rushes the civilians out of the area, realizing that she has to go help even though she’s rather afraid to get into the fight. Fiva takes out a couple more from the barn, though she realizes her time is up and scampers on back down to the outside using the random poles and support beams to jump down. The two wander back towards Aras, but find that he’s taken out the remaining hostile dakans – causing a few more to run off in fear.

Aras takes a good look at his sword Kinsir while the other two catch up to him, realizing he doesn’t quite feel right (in fact, doesn’t feel alive at all) unless he’s in the middle of a fight. He realizes that there is where he makes the most difference in life, and where he can do the most good for the others he travels with and meets. It isn’t in him to settle down, by any means.

The three return to help out the civilians, and are given a number of thanks for their help. Aras inquires as to why the farm was attacked, and is informed that a party of six arrived the night before. They were in a rush to head to Durden, though two members of that party were wounded to the point of being bedridden. He finds out that the draconians attacked in order to find them, and captured that entire party before he, Fiva, and Selea arrived.

Intrigued by the fact the draconians were after that party specifically, and knowing they might be in grave danger, Aras decides to follow after the trail in order to attempt a rescue. Selea reluctantly agrees (having rather preferred to just do the original job offer of protecting the trade caravans rather than going on a dangerous mystery quest), and Fiva does so as well – realizing yet again that her best friend doesn’t ever intend on living up to his promise of putting the fighting man’s life behind. Despite her disappointment in him for throwing himself in harm’s way for no reason again, she goes with him – knowing he might end up dead if she doesn’t.

The trio leave the farm after receiving a few gifts for their services (and finally a meal!), intending to head further into the Gradnel Wood after the draconians.

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Session 3

Fiva leads Aras and Selea through the Gradnel Wood, using her superior tracking skills in an attempt to find the band of draconians responsible for the attack on the farm. Though Aras seems rather confident about being able to find and rescued the captives, Selea is much less sure about their odds. Though she’s from the region, her family stayed away from the Gradnel Wood for a reason – all sorts of terrible things wander about freely within the woods. Fiva carries on without much concern – intending to make sure that Aras survives when they do enter battle.

Eventually, they come up across the band responsible for the attack – complete with the six captives they were informed about. Another Dakrahn leads this band, and seems to be content on heading northwards to some unknown destination. Fiva tells the two to wait on their attack, however, and scampers on ahead.

The draconians are immediately surprised by a wood elf hanging out of a tree above them and shooting towards them, and in the confusion Aras and Selea get into the fight. Selea finds herself in danger as she finds herself against a much quicker dakan while she can barely swing her mace – but rectifies it by enchanting a stone and knocking the creature out with it. Aras in the meantime engages the leader – getting himself almost killed when he gets too confident in his swordplay skills, but manages to win out due his tendency to use his crossbow as a secret weapon.

Fiva’s rather upset due to Aras’s recklessness during the fight, but keeps reserved while she helps him save the captives. One introduces himself as Gragus, and the other as Travner. The others introduce themselves as Eliva, Alenn, Kres, and Nardoss – all of them having been accompanying Gragus as his personal party of assistants.

Travner informs the trio that the reason his group was captured was that they had encountered a Legion of Vas plot – though the thief is uneager to explain how or why. Torn between deciding what to do, the trio debate whether to investigate the Legion plot further or if they should just return to the farm. Unable to come to a conclusion and with night setting in, they make camp – though Aras stays up the night in order to guard the other two in the event this party attempts to attack them. Gragus stays up with him, and Aras immediately bonds with this fellow due to their discussion of the world and why it needs people to defend it.

Morning breaks as a mysterious figure approaches the camp – despite Aras’s suspicions of an attack, it turns out that Adgar the wizard has found them. He immediately recognizes the party the trio had saved as the individuals he was looking for, and requests them to return to Iranel with him. Selea is rather excited as Iranel is her hometown, and gladly wishes to go there. Somewhat confused by the somewhat familiar green wizard, Fiva none the less comes along as Aras gets involved in yet another plan to assist people he doesn’t know.

Adgar takes the group to Iranel (about a three day trip through the Gradnel Woods), and they meet Wekus, an older gnome who apparently is some sort of friend to Adgar. As they travel around Iranel, Aras notices that the redheaded girl that had been following him around since he had left North Ahrea is trailing behind them, but loses sight of her when he turns around to confront her.

Finding a suitable meeting location, Adgar cuts to the chase of things – Travner’s group had come across the high elven ruins on top of Mount Fresa, and had apparently been looking for a “Book of the Planes”, essentially a book containing a permanent spell to link a spot on the material plane to it’s coordinated point on the plane of shadows. The Legion is also attempting to find this relic for whatever unknown reason, though Adgar goes to speculate that they intend to use it to make a staging point for a renewed war. All sorts of terrible things could emerge if such a link was made – dragons specifically – and Adgar requests all of those in attendance to help him find the relic before it falls into the wrong hands.

Almost immediately Aras volunteers to go, though Fiva interjects with her fears of such a quest being a suicide mission against the Legion of Vas. She’s calmed down by Adgar, who’s claims of assuring that Aras will remain safe ease her mind (if just slightly). Selea fears that she has gotten herself into a terrible mess, but feels obligated to assist against a known enemy, and agrees. Travner and Gragus also agree to help – knowing where to look for the relic, having almost found it but having to turn around due to the odd “snakelike” creatures inside. The rest of Gragus’s party agree to assist – Kres, Nardoss, and Alenn seem to be far more interested in the gold and treasure then what Adgar is requesting assistance with, though Eliva seems to be interested in helping the wizard reclaim the book.

Regardless of the monsters inside, however, Adgar determines that the relic is too important to leave sitting around, and plans to move first to retrieve it. It is a nearly month-long journey to Mount Fresa, and Adgar moves out to gather supplies for his new party.

Fiva and Aras head out to the tavern later, and she begins discussing why she fears that he intends to get himself killed one day – thinking this is some pattern that will never end. Aras can’t immediately interject with any thoughtful commentary to the opposite, and remains quiet. The two notice that the odd redhead woman that has followed them before is now in the tavern, but she disappears before they can confront her.

As they retire to their inn room, Fiva cuddles up next to him on his bed, despite the fact she has her own bed – informing him that she wants to hold onto her dearest friend in the event something goes wrong in the future. Aras spends more then a few hours wide awake while she trances next to him, knowing much of what she says is rather true – feeling regret over how he’s unable to live a peaceful life in the way she wants to.

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Session 4: The Journey To Mount Fresa

Fiva has a horrible trance session during the night – reliving her capture at the claws of Sepna Austir. She sees Aras intending to kill the dragon on her behalf, and watches on as he’s incinerated by the dragon’s unusal fire breath.

She wakes up in an absolute panic, and wakes him up as she tries to make him promise not to defend her again – fearing that he will end up like her father Iaorven if he doesn’t. Taken aback by the odd request, Aras refuses – not being aware of the visions she had during her trance. Regardless, the two cling onto each in support before both fall asleep.

The group sets out in the morning, heading northeast on the highroads towards Mount Fresa. It’s a relatively peaceful journey through the grasslands over the course of two weeks.

During a break in the expedition, Fiva corners Adgar and asks him why specifically he hunted down Aras to get him to help – the wood elf still feeling angry that the wizard essentially forced her friend into becoming a security escort. Adgar silences her and informs her of the horrors he had seen during the 1st War of the Reign and the friends he had seen die – going to say that these things would be infinitely worse in the event the Legion was able to replicate them again, as they could very well stand to do if they were to capture the Book of the Realms. He goes on to say that having raised Aras, he could see the same look in the fighter’s eyes as an old friend had – the one of a person unwilling to let the world die without a fight. Adgar goes on to tell her that Aras didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose him. (…er, adventuring life! That’s it! The adventuring life chose him.). In any regards, Fiva tries to force herself to understand the mindset these two have – while the last thing she’d ever want to do willingly is to go and risk death, she understands that to Aras this is something beyond them.

A few more days go by, and the group begins reaching the end of the grasslands before the Revnal Wastes. During the downtime, Fiva decides to go fishing in her old fashioned way (grabbing them by hand) while Aras watches on. She asks him of his opinion of why he’s on the quest. He explains that he’s aware that hundreds (and if not thousands) would die in a new war if it was to occur, especially so in the event the Legion was to be able to stage their forces on this side of the continent – he views it as a matter of something that he cannot personally walk away from and be able to live with himself afterwards. He bluntly apologizes to Fiva upon realizing this was what she was trying to divulge from him, stating his concern that he knows he’s been misleading her nearly the whole time they had been together – he can’t find it in himself to hang up his sword and live a life ignorant of the world’s problems while he can still attempt to change some of them. He tries to rationalize himself more but Fiva cuts him off, as she accepts the apology and informs him that she’ll follow where ever he goes. At the end of the conversation she manages to grab onto a fish, and changes the topic by gleefully informing him that she’s caught their dinner for the night.

The group continues onwards into the Revnal Wastes after leaving the grasslands, being slowed down by the fact Fiva finds it difficult to travel in the arid environment.

In the meantime, Gragus and Aras continue to build a friendship as they discuss their backgrounds – Aras explaining his past in North Ahrea. Gragus informs Aras that he’s from North Ahrea as well, and his family is now residing in Durden due to the troubles up there. He’s primarily on this adventure in order to gain the money he needs to fully ensure their survival, as he has his wife and three kids to worry about. Aras informs Gragus that he’ll do whatever it takes in order to get him back home safely.

Travner causes Selea to become giddy as he informs her of all the treasures they had to leave behind in the ruins. She’s ecstatic to reach the ruins, believing that they will be able to quickly grab the book – along with all the precious little gems she’d been hearing about.

However, several days into the excursion through the Wastes, the party notices a much larger group moving towards Mount Fresa, and go into hiding as this group passes over them. It turns out to be a Legion company, who definitely are intending to reach the ruins and claim the Book of the Realms. This company is being guided by a sorcerer by the name of Yarvdenn, who indicates he’s quite able to use the book to create a portal at the base of the ruins itself – effectively being able to make a fortified forward base for the Legion on the top of Mount Fresa.

The Legion company does not notice the party (despite between relatively close to one another), and they depart on their way to continue to the mountain after their break. The party is completely caught off guard, and become rather horrified when they realize that Aras had been intending to shoot Yarvdenn before Fiva managed to make him stand down.

Aras, Selea, and Adgar are horrified by this news – having had their worst fears confirmed in the fact the Legion wishes to establish a presence on South Ahrea. Despite the fact Wekus and Travner fear they’re horribly outnumbered, Adgar and Aras decide to press on after the Legion – knowing that there is no time to gather any more reinforcements before the Legion makes it there first.

The party continues onwards through the wastes, eventually breaking into the forest at the base of Mount Fresa. They continue onward – though they are very cautious as the possibility of an ambush is rather high.

As Fiva scouts the way and Adgar and Aras lead the party, the group comes across an odd sight – they find the red haired woman from before in the middle of some sort of levitation above a pond within the forest. Their interruption causes her spell to fail, and she falls into the pond. She becomes immediately hostile and prepares another spell aimed at them, and they are able to see that frost is emanating from the wand she’s holding onto. Aras immediately recognizes her, and asks why she’s been following them – though Fiva is more direct, surprising the witch by jumping down immediately in front of her and holding her at swordpoint. Fiva is under the impression that this woman is a spy of some sort, though the witch drops her spell and informs Fiva that she is mistaken, and idiotic for being mistaken in the first place.

She introduces herself as Aya, and informs Aras she’s been following him since his time in North Ahrea due to having heard so much about him after her first sighting of him – though she immediately follows this up by stating that she’s rather disappointed in him after the welcome she’s received. Adgar asks if she is registered with the Kingdom as she’s shown rather potent magical abilities – though she dismisses him by stating that she is not and that she does not subject herself to any laws of the sort, doing what she wants.

Being surprised to actually speak with her, Aras asks if she wants to join his party as she seems to have such an interest in their activities – Aya declines, stating that she’s in the area on her own business and journey of discovery. After insulting Fiva once the elf asks a question of what the witch is looking for, Aya dismisses them and disappears into the woods, leaving the party rather confused with the encounter.

Regardless, they’ve arrived to Mount Fresa, and begin their ascent up the mountain – knowing there’s much more important matters at hand to deal with.

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Session 5: The Ascent of Mount Fresa

The party continues their ascent up Mount Fresa, being very cautious as to avoid any potential ambushes by the Legion. Eventually, their travel path up the mountain takes them to a rope bridge that must be crossed – diverting would take hours due to having to climb down and then up the other side of the ravine.

As the group ascends Mount Fresa, they go into hiding as a large band of Dakans decend the mountain. These Dakans state out loud that they’re grateful to be leaving the ruins – they had come across creatures that they had been afraid of, and were lucky to be relieved by the Legion. Aras takes note of the fact that the Dakans were scared by what they had fought against – the Dakans do not fear too much, being draconic in heritage.

As the Dakans continue descending the mountain without noticing the party, Alenn requests Aras gives the command to attack – stating that if the party kills this group now, the party will leave a “calling card” that will intimidate the Legion and dissuade them from continuing to the ruins.

Due to the numbers of Dakans, Aras immediately shoots down the plan – it’s too reckless (even for him, with his hatred against Dakans in particular and all), and states that it’s not worth risking the safety of the group while they are hidden – these Dakans are evacuating, not looking for a fight.

Dissatisfied with Aras’s answer, Alenn decides to go for it – yelling out to the others to follow him while he engages. Aras immediately yells at him to stop, but it’s too late as Alenn begins hacking at the first Dakan he comes across. The other Dakans immediately realize they’ve been ambushed, and notice the hidden party members in the treeline. As the Dakans charge to fight back, Aras and the others realize they have no other option but to fight back, and engage as well. Aras yells for the others to defend Adgar, and leads them into the fight.

During the fight, one of the Dakans manages to fire off a signal flare before being killed off – Aras becomes mortified, as he realizes that this means they’re calling for reinforcements, most likely the Legion company. As the fight continues on, Aras has the group fight on while they withdraw, as he cannot determine if the Legion is going to send reinforcements to assist the Dakans. Alenn is outraged as the others retreat, thinking that they’re leaving the fight unfinished. The party withdraws and escapes, not even taking the time to loot the bodies of the dead draconians they leave behind.

After the fight, Aras immediately berates Alenn for his idiotic action – he risked everyone’s lives without any need to. Alenn shoots back that he knows that Aras does the same thing often – to which Aras replies he only does what he needs to, instead of engaging into fights any time he can. Alenn disregards Aras’s complaints, saying that it was the best tactical option to remove enemies from the fight and lower the morale of the reinforcement Legion troops. He further goes on to say that even if the Legion did come to assist, that they would have been distracted from their main objective – Aras cannot argue that point, but states it would have possibly costed lives he isn’t willing to throw away to find out.

Gragus gets into a conversation with Aras afterwards, stating he seems to have some sense. Aras replies by informing Gragus that he’s led parties before on his own and a platoon when he was in the Army of the Sword’s Path – stating that while he’ll fight on his own without hesitation, he doesn’t engage in a fight with allies without knowing for certain they can win. He had done that before in the past – and got too many people killed because of it.

The party in general is scolded by Selea due to their extremely reckless actions while she tends to Fiva’s wounded hand, but Gragus is rather impressed by their skills. Travner is a bit more annoyed, however – wanting to go in and find the treasures in the ruins before the Legion loots it. The rest of the party is dismayed with his lack of concern over the more important issue of a new portal possibly being opened, but ignore it as they continue on their journey up the mountain.

The group carries on through the night, but are forced to camp after several people exhaust themselves. Aras volunteers to stay watch for the first part of the night – though during his shift he notices a bright red flame further in the forest.

He heads over to investigate, and finds a lone fire sprite hovering over a shallow pond. He’s taken aback by the sight – having never seen one of these before, and prepares to fight it in fears of it being a mindless monster. It notices him, however, and begins quivering in fear, squeaking out quite understandable common asking him not to hurt her.

Aras is shocked by the fire sprite’s pleas, and immediately puts away his sword. The fire sprite becomes delighted as she sees he means no harm, and introduces herself as Soli. Aras is amused by the sprite, and begins a conversation as he’s curious to know why she so happens to be here – knowing that such elementals are unable to project themselves on the material plane without some sort of magic allowing it. Soli informs him that a sorcerer had claimed her as a prisoner a long time ago, keeping her as a personal pet – having soulbonded her to a ruby and leaving her unable to escape it without dying in the process.

Aras immediately realizes that this would be Yarvdenn, and pledges to Soli that he will rescue her from her plight – though he is completely unaware that the sorcerer has been watching the entire time. Yarvdenn sneaks up behind him and casts a empowered ray of enfeeblement on him, leaving Aras no time to react and causing him to succumb to the effects of the spell. Soli watches on in horror as her new friend falls limp, and is returned into Yarvdenn’s ruby as the sorcerer investigates the intruder. He leaves Aras for dead, casting another ray of enfeeblement on him to ensure the job is done before leaving. As he watches Aras squirm, he informs Aras that he figured this was what the dakans were warning them about – though it wasn’t worth aiding the disposable draconians, he figured it wouldn’t hurt for him to personally see what they had encountered.

Selea and the others hear Soli’s cries back at their camp, and upon realizing Aras has gone missing run out to find him. They come across him laying facefirst in the pond, and Selea barely manages to revive him with her cure light wounds spell. Aras comes to and informs them of what had just happened – leaving Adgar concerned, as a person capable of casting a magic jar spell in the way Yarvdenn had is capable of much more.

Deciding they have no time to waste, the party quickly finds the Legion camp and plan a raid of the encampment. Aras goes in order to attempt to slay the sorcerer himself, being aided by Gragus. Fiva sneaks around in an attempt to determine how she can undermine their camp – accidentally knocking over a lamp and causing a tent to catch on fire. Despite her initial horror of the fire she started (Fiva and her overwhelming fear of fire in general), she quickly realizes this is a rather good thing – and sets about knocking over every lamp she comes across.

The Legion troopers are caught off guard, and quickly disperse in order to escape the forest fire now ongoing. During the confusion, Aras comes across Yarvdenn and fails to kill him, but does manage to steal the ruby containing Soli and runs away. Yarvdenn’s troops are unable to mount a suitable counterattack due to the shock of their camp burning down unexpectedly, and the party sneaks away. The party loses Travner during the confusion of the fight, but he eventually shows up once the party has fully regrouped – though he shows up nearly an hour or so after the fact.

Though he makes the excuse that he had become lost during the battle, Travner has secretly met with Yarvdenn himself – having been hired by the Legion as a local spy. He informs Yardvenn that the great wizard Soros has brought a party to the mountain in order to find the Book of the Realms, and informs Yardvenn of the individuals that have assisted Soros. Yardvenn immediately recognizes Aras and Fiva upon hearing about them – Aras having reached some level of infamy with the Legion due to his fight with Sepna Austir. Upon realizing the legitimate threat this group presents to the Legion’s efforts, Yardvenn puts out immediate orders to track down and eliminate Adgar’s party – presenting Travner a small gold pouch with an advance payment for his services before dismissing him to sabotage the party’s efforts.

Fearing for their lives in the event the Legion catches up to them after destroying the campsite, the party presses forward and quickly come across the ruins. Soli is freed for the moment from her ruby, and she quickly informs them that they must be careful – Yarvdenn did not take as many men as he did for no reason.

Not really fearing what’s inside, Aras leads the rest of the group towards the entrance.

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Session 6: Echos of An Older Time

As the party begins entering the grounds of the ruins, Fiva notices that there’s dozens of “elf stones” in the area. Out of curiosity she takes a look at them and sees if anyone’s home, but these have been abandoned for years. Soli states that these ruins were indeed High Elven in origin, though that Yarvdenn had mentioned they had been abandoned since the earlier War of Man and Dwarf (some 300-400 years ago in the past at this point in time). Fiva becomes a little depressed upon hearing this, as she was hopeful that she’d run into more of her kind.

The party breaches the inner ruins, finding a very spacious and ornate High Elvish chamber, complete with a giant fountain and pool. Several spouts still work on the structure, though it’s mainly stagnant.

Selea ventures forth to investigate and see if there’s any coinage that was tossed in – though she gets much more then what she bargained for when suddenly a giant Ataga erupts from the well. Completely taken by surprise by the creature’s appearance, the rest of the party goes on the offensive – though Selea is forced to escape to a small hiding spot due to the creature focusing solely on her.

She’s caught by the creature as it figures out where she is, and she becomes very fearful of dying – but is suddenly pushed out the way by Gragus (who puts himself at great risk with some six tentacles slamming towards him during his run over to her), giving her the time to escape. Aras, Fiva, and the others cover Gragus during his attempt to rescue Selea, though Aras finds himself getting wrapped up by a tentacle during his attempt to kill it – though once again Gragus jumps in the way and completes the failed attempt to stab the creature’s head, killing it in one go with all of the other injuries it took fighting the party. Fiva immediately thanks Gragus for saving her friend, though Gragus informs him he was paying the favor back – they have saved him twice before at this point.

The party continues on into the ruins, finding all sorts of odd elvish architecture. Fiva is amazed by all of the artifacts of the earlier times left behind, and wonders aloud why they had built an entire city here. Soli informs her of the fact that there is a magical leyline centered on Mount Fresa, in the same way that the Ia’Nellsa Republic in North Ahrea and the Nar’Sana Republic in the Rosan Wastes in South Ahrea are built upon.

Fiva is amused, though wonders why her ancestors died out here.

Travner and Gragus continue leading the party through the ruins, but as they carry on they come across something very unexpected – the party is accosted by a number of humanoid snakes that begin surrounding them. These snakemen inform the party that they have trespassed into a sacred area, and that they must leave immediately. Once Adgar and Aras’s attempts to negotiate passage fail, the snakemen attack – leaving the party desperately overwhelmed in numbers.

Despite the others telling him to stand his ground, Alenn believes that they will win the fight quickly if they begin attacking their leader now – and charges. The others watch on as Alenn runs up to this snakeman, but are all shocked as the snakeman simply coils up and then strikes with it’s own sword – catching Alenn at the base of the neck with it. Alenn falls over dead in front of them – leaving Fiva to watch this in absolute horror as she realizes this was not the simple quest Adgar had made this out to be.

In the meantime, Yarvdenn’s Legion Expedition reaches the ruins, the much larger company using breaching and clearing tactics to clear the first room soundly. Yarvdenn encounters the corpse of the Ataga the party fought – realizing that the group that stole his Fire Sprite are rather skilled if they had manage to kill one of these beasts. He informs his troops to clear out the rest of the dungeon – knowing that the party up ahead will completely devastate the Legion’s plans for a quick end to a new war in the event they capture the Book of the Realms first. He intends to cut them off before they can – knowing hundreds (and of course, if not thousands) of Legion troops will die in the newly planned war in the event this vital staging point is not captured for them to utilize. If these ruins are captured and the portal between the Plane of Shadows and the Material Plane is linked here, the Legion can actively attack the Kingdom Ahrea in a giant pincer movement – from the top of Mount Fresa and from their already established location in Great Lake of South Ahrea in the southeast. Such an attack would effectively ensnare the majority of the Kingdom’s forces and vital strongholds/supply communities in one blitzkrieg offensive. There would be no time for the Kingdom Ahrea to effectively mount any sort of coordinated offense in the event all of their vital defenses were wiped out all at the same time, which would ensure a quick Legion victory. As such Yarvdenn informs his troops to eliminate the enemy party – as they cannot be allowed to interfere with the Legion’s overall warfare plan or they will severely inhibit the Legion’s capability to quickly win the upcoming war with the Kingdom Ahrea.

Far off in the the forest, Aya spends her night praying to the moon – in particular Krios, the God of Night/Darkness. She informs her favored deity that she is suffering from the bonds placed upon her, and she seeks his guidance on where to go next. Her question is answered by a falling star flying over the top of Mount Fresa. She comments that she finds it weird that Krios is always asking her to follow the path of someone so simple minded, but sighs and prepares to journey forth the next morning.

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Session 7: We Carry On

The party continues fighting through their first encounter with the snakemen, being horribly outnumbered. Wekus in particular points this out, stating he believes the party should retreat before they are all killed.

Aras flashes back to the events of AC1261, in particular the aftermath of his and Fiva’s fight against the Dakans preventing them from escaping the Great Forest of North Ahrea. Fiva barely kept him alive at that point due to his wounds in that fight, but he made the promise that he’d take her away from all the violence they had been through – and his flashback ends as the two walk away towards Durodes.

Back in the present and watching Fiva fight for her life against these creatures along with the others, Aras starts mentally going over his own desires and his wish to keep that promise to Fiva – even if everything else in the world seems to not want him to do so. He throws himself violently back into the fight, managing to cause the snakemen to retreat upon the loss of so many of their kind against the party. With the victory in their hands, the party accepts the loss of Alenn and continue further into the ruins.

Party carries on, though Fiva becomes seperated during a cave in. She encounters even more of the snakemen on her own, who inform them that they were originally high elves who are now in this state due to the magic they had wielded, and they ask her to join them (either by becoming one herself or by being eaten).

Fiva quickly dreams of the life she wishes to live with Aras, and becomes crazed as she fights in order to keep herself alive to do so. She thanks her father Iaorven for always protecting her after the battle is done (staring at her bloody sword Vyraelys, which was given to her by him), and collapses in exhaustion. Aras and the others catch up, and after he taps her on the shoulder to make sure she’s okay, she grabs him in an affectionate manner upon their reunion.

Outside the ruins and within them, the Legion troopers are not having much luck finding the party – in such a overly large dungeon such as this one, it’s akin to finding a needle in the haystack with how mobile the party is. However, a scouting party reports they’ve found a second way inside, and Yarvdenn is informed that his “reinforcement” has arrived. He’s glad on both counts, and asks the group that has recently arrived if “he” will be able to exterminate the enemies inside. The handlers inform him that “he” will find them with no problem, and that “he” will destroy all of them. Yarvdenn is pleased, and heads to the secret entrance – hoping that his informant will live up to the expectations of his service.

After reuniting with Fiva, the party takes a quick break as they decide how to proceed throughout the rest of the ruins. Soli comments to Fiva how unfortunate it is that her ancestors fell to the rather dark magic that twisted them, to which Fiva isn’t really too overly excited to respond to.

It seems that her attention is more focused Aras, watching him from afar as he, Selea, Travner, and Adgar are planning their advance. Gragus sits next to Fiva and begins talking to her, asking her about her feelings for the fighter – figuring that they’re a couple. Fiva is horribly embarrassed and corrects him by stating that they’re only friends, though Gragus notes they seem to truly care about one another. He correctly notes that she wishes they were not here, however – stating that he doesn’t want to be here either, but that he is because he has a family to protect. He informs Fiva that everyone here is fighting for loved ones in one way or another, and even though she doesn’t feel right about how Aras goes about it, she shouldn’t hold against him – he’s trying to help her in the only way he really knows how to. Fiva’s made a little emotional after Gragus’s speech and she thanks him – he replies in saying that he hopes the two will move on and find some peace after this, and that he will see them again someday once this is over.

The party continues onward and deeper into the ruins upon Travner’s lead – though Selea notices that he begins leading them towards an underground section when he had explained the chamber containing the book was above ground. She immediately calls him out on his decision, but he informs them that this is the quickest way to reach there – which even Gragus questions as they hadn’t been in this part of the dungeon before. Regardless, with little time to spare and no one with the actual experience to challenge Travner’s suggestions, the party follows him. He smiles to himself as he travels ahead, having led the party into a narrow and debris-filled tunnel – something they would have a very hard time trying to get out of.

As the party continues through the tunnel, they suddenly become aware of a loud rumbling after Fiva hears the sound and informs them, and then hear an extremely loud roar. They turn around and look at the thing approaching them, with Fiva only able to mumble out “diasan" in reply to what they’re watching. Aras informs the party that the Legion intends to stop them here, stating that they must protect Adgar and continue ahead as this will be the only chance to capture the Book before the Legion does. Aras charges the creature behind them, being revealed to be Kor’Jagn the red dragon as it stares at the fighter pointing his sword at him.

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Session 8: The Burning Mountain

Aya finds the secondary entrance to the ruins, commenting on how odd her choices in life are made by Krios. She knows this is where Aras and his party ventured to, and wonders how they’re doing as she takes a look at the entrance before wandering in.

In the meantime, Kor’Jagn introduces himself to Aras, and asks the fighter why he’s so intent on preventing the Legion from creating a peaceful world. Aras asks the dragon if wholesale genocide is the Legion’s idea of a “peaceful” world, to which Kor’Jagn replies by stating the “unwanted” elements of the world need to be purged before engaging with Aras.

The others watch as Aras begins fighting Kor’Jagn, and immediately Fiva attempts to break off from the rest in order to go assist him. Gragus also has a change of heart, though Selea grabs Fiva and restrains her before she can leave them – telling the elf she needs to help accomplish the quest.

Aras finds himself fighting against a very superior foe, as though he manages to put a couple wounds into Kor’Jagn, the dragon sweeps Aras on his feet and causes him to fall on the ground. Looking like he’s about to become killed, Aras ends up being saved by Gragus as he shoves him out of the way. Gragus ends up taking a severe scratch wound from Kor’Jagn’s claws, but is still standing and begins helping Aras in the fight against the dragon. Gragus holds Kor’Jagn at bay while Aras manages to climb on top of the dragon in order to stab him through the skull, though the dragon is just playing with them – seeing that the rest of the party is in full retreat, Kor’Jagn informs Aras that he’ll destroy what the fighter cares about as he flies forward to chase them. Aras and Gragus are thrown back by the sheer force of Kor’Jagn taking flight in the tunnel, and can only watch on in horror as the dragon lets loose with his fire breath before they can get up.

Fiva, despite being enraged that Selea and Adgar are forcing her to come with them, saves their lives as she throws them down to avoid the blast of fire bearing down on them. Wekus also saves himself, just barely.

As Eliva finds herself unable to escape the burst of flame in time, she is immediately pushed away by Nardoss – the fighter sending her into the wall and safety moments before he himself is caught within the blast. Everyone against the walls watch on in utter horror as Nardoss is incinerated in front of them. After the flames clear, only his chainmail and sword remain. Eliva is broken after this, having become shellshocked after seeing him sacrifice himself for her.

Aras and Gragus start desperately running after Kor’Jagn in an attempt to slay him before he can cause any more harm, and the dragon turns in order to face them. Seeing her chance to help, Fiva runs to save Aras from harm. Kres joins her, having been enraged to see his friend die in such a horrible way.

At the same time, Adgar realizes this is the time he needs to actually help his younger allies, and prepares to cast some sort of extremely powerful spell aimed at Kor’Jagn – but coughs out blood in the middle of his incantation and falls to the ground as Travner stands behind him with a bloody dagger.

Everyone watches on in horror as Adgar falls, and realize that Travner has misled them the entire time.

Having been caught by surprise, Eliva realizes that their old friend has betrayed them – and realizes that Travner intends to assist the Legion. She charges at him in an attempt to kill him before he can harm anyone else – but Travner realizes this and strikes first, making a clean swipe at her throat as she runs at him. She stops in place after he makes his attack, and falls to the ground after having had her throat cut – she died instantly upon the strike.

As Kres runs up to help the others fighting Kor’Jagn, he turns around upon hearing Eliva yell, and watches on as Travner kills her. He loses complete sight of the dragon behind him as he is horrified to watch her die – only to be slammed with the full force of Kor’Jagn’s tail into the wall. He dies instantly as well – basically becoming a fresh coat of red paint on the wall he was slammed into.

Very horrified at what has just happened, and due to her oath to defend the wounded, Selea attempts to charge at Travner and feels enraged enough to murder him – though her attempt is cut short as suddenly the left wall behind of Travner simply explodes – a new hallway is created as Yarvdenn and Legion troopers pour out of it and stand behind Travner. The thief is thanked for his services – as the ambush as been sprung. Selea and Wekus can only watch on as the odds have completely been turned against them, and as the Legionnaires charge at them.

Aras watches on as all of this goes on while he’s attempting to engage Kor’Jagn, being caught off guard and realizing that things have gone rather bad rather quick. He and Gragus wound Kor’Jagn slightly more, and Fiva manages to pop off several arrows into it’s back in order to get the dragon’s attention focused on her rather then her friends. Kor’Jagn turns around and prepares to fire his breath again at her, which causes Aras to lose his attention and gets him thrown straight into the wall as Kor’Jagn’s tail slams into him.

Though Selea and Wekus valiantly attempt to hold off the oncoming Legionaries, Wekus ends up being stabbed in the stomach and Selea finds herself being pinned down by a Legionnaire attempting to stab her neck. She attempts to force the man off of her, watching on as Soli attempts to guard Adgar’s body by immolating the other Legionnaires approaching them.

Yarvdenn casually walks up to Adgar, however, warding Soli off with a Hold spell and reclaiming the ruby that was stolen from him, immediately forcing her back into it. Yarvdenn steps on Adgar’s back as the old wizard attempts to stand, wounding him even more then the man can bear. As Adgar falls defeated, Yarvdenn begins preparing to cast a spell that will wipe out Adgar, Wekus, and Selea all in one go – smiling widely as Selea begins losing her fight and can only watch on.

Suddenly Selea feels the weight being lifted off of her, however, and sees that Gragus has killed the man fighting her – and as Gragus starts hacking his way through the Legionaries in order to cut Yarvdenn down. As Gragus prepares to bring the full weight of his sword down on Yarvdenn, however, Travner immediately jumps behind him and strikes first – violently and repeatedly stabbing into the back of his former travel partner.

Aras, Selea, Fiva, and Wekus all watch on as Gragus falls lifelessly down to the ground.

Enraged that the Kor’Jagn is preparing to kill Fiva and has prevented him from aiding his other friends, Aras feels a rejuvenated burst of rage flow through him and he jumps into action – running in front of Fiva and bringing his sword down at the moment that Kor’Jagn prepares to breathe fire on her.

Aras catches the dragon at the last possible moment – he has stabbed straight through Kor’Jagn’s mouth and jammed Kinsir in place, closing the dragon’s mouth shut as flames burst out of the sides of his jaws. Kor’Jagn is rather enraged by this interruption of killing things, and begins attempting to force Aras backwards and to let go of his sword as it pushes forward. Aras does not yield, however – realizing that if he loses now, everyone behind him will be killed once the dragon finishes him. Kor’Jagn starts pushing Aras’s backwards, attempting to trip him as he’s being shoved. At the same time, Fiva’s attempting to pepper the dragon’s throat and face with arrows, though she also sees that her other friends have gone down and that several Legionnaires are preparing to cut down Aras. She jumps in front of his back, protecting him as she starts shooting down anyone who dares approach him.

Realizing that Kor’Jagn will finish the two still standing and that the others are either severely wounded or “useless” in Selea’s case, Yarvdenn commands his troops to retreat and continue towards their destination – stating that he needs to save his energy to create the portal rather than waste it killing vermin.

Utterly enraged beyond all measure, Aras continues to desperately bide time in order to gain a moment in which he can kill the dragon in one go. Kor’Jagn realizes this also, and intends to finish things by sweeping both Fiva and Aras with his tail. He slams Fiva against the wall, and Aras initially goes flying – but uses it as his opportunity, using the momentum while he’s still holding onto the sword hilt in order to swing himself on top of the back of Kor’Jagn’s head. The dragon realizes that it’s a fatal mistake – and Aras immediately retrieves Kinsir and begins stabbing down upon Kor’Jagn’s head. Kor’Jagn is killed as Aras continues his attack, and the Legionnaires watching are left horrified as they stare upon the sight. Demoralized after watching one of their champions fall against the Green Swordsman, the remaining Legionnaires break and begin retreating after Yarvdenn, leaving the rest of the party for dead.

Fiva immediately picks herself up and runs to assist Gragus, seeing that he’s laying down in a pool of blood. As Aras catches up and the two attempt to give him medical aid with Selea, the three of them realize it’s too late. Gragus requests to Aras that he completes the quest, and protect his family for him – and gives Aras a gold pouch to give to them before he dies. Unable to do anything for him, Selea turns around and begins tending to Adgar’s wounds, Wekus being just cognitive enough to remain barely standing.

Aras is overwhelmed by emotions as he recuperates from having just slain Kor’Jagn, realizing that three of his allies lay dead and that Yarvdenn will continue ahead and create the portal in mere minutes. Unable to let this happen, he stands up, checks his equipment one last time, and prepares to enter the hallway that the Legion escaped into. Before he enters the hallway, he leaves his shield at Selea’s side.

Selea asks him what he’s doing, and he informs the remaining party members to remain behind as they’re too wounded to help him. Upon being asked again in regards to what he’s doing by Selea, Aras informs her that he’s going to turn Travner into a bloody pulp and that he’ll do the same to Yarvdenn. Wekus informs Aras that he’s going on a suicide mission alone, and Fiva chimes in with this notion as well as she continues to hold onto Gragus’s body. Aras informs Fiva that he’s not going to die, but he’s going to make a future for the two of them. As she watches on rather speechless, he turns around and prepares to give chase to the Legion.

Fiva stares down at Gragus one last time, squeezing the man’s hand before she stands up and forcibly grabs Aras by the arm. She informs him that she’s going to help him make that future happen. As Aras interjects and states that it’s too dangerous, she silences him and tells him that they’ll have to risk it in order to live through the day.

Unable to convince her otherwise, Aras holds her hand for a brief moment as the two stare at each other – and the two start on their chase of the Legion.

Selea and Wekus watch on as she tends to unconscious Adgar’s wounds, both of them realizing that Aras and Fiva are going to die.

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Session 9: To Those Who Remain

Aras and Fiva begin willingly rushing into the trap the Legion has set for them – a good majority of Yarvdenn’s troops are waiting for them to arrive, and a number of snakemen and other weird creatures such as native drakes have made their presence known – engaging everything that’s entered the ruins, the Legion included.

Aras begins having a rather horrid daydream as he remembers a lot of old friends – Inel, Hilde, Ellever, and all sorts of other companions from his past ask him to protect them, and all of them begin turning into skeletons in front of him as he continues through the ruins. Aras apologizes to them for not having been able to, and imagines Gragus and his other recently deceased comrades also asking for his help and turning into skeletons along with the others. Aras is visible shaken, and begins stating that he can’t help them anymore, but that he’ll protect everyone still left. He looks over to see Fiva running alongside him and imagines her in a skeletal form, then immediately goes emotionally dead as he swears at the skeletons in his daydream that he will protect her over all – proving this point to them by cutting the head off of a drake in one blow as he runs past it.

The pair continue going down the hallway leading to the grand chamber, coming across heavy resistance as the Legion are firing arrows at them and trying to engage in sword fights along the way.

Fiva starts having her own daydream as she continues running and fighting her way down the hall with Aras – envisioning forests and fields full of flowers and all sorts of other such pleasant things, and stating plainly that she does not want to be here – she wants to be free from this. She wants to be far away and never experience war again – though she returns to reality and determines that she’ll need to take Aras with her first, despite how long it will take her.

The two continue on through the hallway after their hallucinations, running as fast as they can while engaging whatever opponents attempt to get in their way. The entire time they’re being fired at by arrows and being attacked by Legionnaires and snake men – but the two hack and slash their way through the thick of it. Later on in the charge the Legion intentionally start blasting columns and pillars over in order to attempt to stop them and buy time for Yarvdenn to finish the enchantment to open the portal. However, Aras continues running, slashing, and jumping through the thick of it – while Fiva follows right along as she fires her bow and scampers through the debris.

As those two are continuing through the hallway to the grand chamber, Selea is still trying to heal Adgar’s wounds at the ambush site. Wekus holds guard as best as he can, though he’s badly wounded himself. As she continues trying to save Adgar’s life, however, she realizes that the inevitable is happening – Legionnaires start rushing in to surround the three, the majority of the force having caught up to execute them. Knowing there’s no escape from this situation, and that she’s sworn to protect her wounded charges, Selea throws both Adgar and Wekus behind her as she holds her arms up – yelling at them that they will have to fight her in order to kill the others. She looks horribly afraid as she knows she has chance, but holds her ground with her mace in hand – until Adgar grabs her and forces her and Wekus underneath him, telling them to hold on. He starts yelling out an incantation, and suddenly a blast emanates from him – a blast of searing light.

As Adgar lets go of her, Selea looks up – seeing that little of the enemy remains other then charred ashes all around them. She’s utterly horrified at the prospect that some 50-70 people have just died around her, and Adgar grabs her and informs her that this is what he had attempted to shield her from since she was a child. He informs her that this is what war really looks like – people who have no reason to fight each other being forced to due to the different colored-flags they represent, and that they die for no reason during it. He looks utterly remorseful over what he’s just done himself, and forces himself up – telling the two with him that they must attempt to assist Aras and Fiva before they die in this battle as well.

As Aras and Fiva continue their assault, the two pass through an arched hallway – the majority of enemies they’ve come across have either been killed or have cleared out. As the two slow down to figure out where to go, Travner jumps from off top of the hallway arch in order to attempt to back stab Aras (having figured he’s the more lethal opponent out of the two to fight against). Fiva yells out to Aras to get out of the way when she notices him, and Aras turns around in surprise – barely avoiding being struck in the spine by Travner, but he still takes a severe cut down the side as Travner lands next to him. Aras is taken completely off guard, and Fiva takes a shot at Travner in order to protect him. She misses, however, and Travner takes advantage of Aras reeling from his new wound in order to stab him in the right side.

Travner draws back as Aras starts bleeding out, watching on as he’s fully expecting the fighter to succumb to his wounds immediately. Aras asks him why he thought betraying his allies was appropriate, however – catching Travner visibly off guard as he’s still expecting Aras to fall over dead by now. Seeing that Fiva now has an arrow directly pointed towards his face, Travner utilizes her worst fear and begins pointing his dagger at Aras’s neck – letting her know that he’ll fall directly into Aras and slash his neck if she fires. Fiva hesitates, trying to slowly draw in so she can rescue Aras from the predicament he’s in. Travner replies to Aras’s question by stating that it’d be foolish to fight against the new order now that it’s taking control – and that he was guaranteed to have a lavish life once this particular loose end was taken care of. The fact he facilitated the deaths of his former party members means nothing to him, as they simply allowed for him to gain a lion’s share of wealth in repayment for his services to the Legion.

Aras states that Travner die for having made that decision – though Travner laughs, saying that Aras is due to bleed out in minutes since he hasn’t already and is far too gone to make good on the threat.

Figuring that Aras is taken care of, Travner walks past the badly wounded Aras in order to focus on Fiva – dodging another arrow as she fires one to defend herself. He charges her with a jump and takes her by surprise – the thief is extremely quick on his feet and nearly catches her with his dagger to her neck. She barely dodges, however, trying to slam him in the face with her bow as she tries to get out of the way and draw Vyraelys. He continues on the offensive, however, forcing Fiva back as he rapidly stabs in her direction – not giving her the chance to. She’s forced to retreat back, and gets stuck in a position where she’ll get stabbed in the event she tries to draw her sword. Knowing she’s being pushed up against the nearest wall, she tries to roll over to her right, but Travner anticipates this and prepares to stab her as she falls to the ground.

His final attack is disrupted, however, as he realizes that Aras is now rushing right behind him – the fighter yelling out in extreme physical pain as he swings his sword as forcefully as he can. Travner is taken by complete surprise, and barely parries with his dagger, though Aras continues on in a blind rage, swinging his sword wildly as he attempts to kill Travner. The thief is forced completely on the defensive, only having his dagger to defend himself with. He manages to parry a number of Aras’s vertical slashes, and when Aras takes a moment to make a overhead swing at him, Travner uses the opening to stab Aras one more time in the stomach. Aras somewhat reels back from this third wound, having lost his momentum.

Seeing that his opponent is near incapacitated, Travner jumps forward and prepares to slash Aras to ribbons in order to finish him. He completely forgets about Fiva during his rush to kill Aras, however – as she draws her own dagger and stabs him through the back of the shoulder. He lets out an excited gasp and wonders how he got so careless – just in time to see an overly enraged Aras start swinging Kinsir down upon him as Fiva jumps out of the way.

Travner dies a horrible death as Aras rapidly starts using multiple overhead swings of his sword to cut down Travner, and lives up to his word to Selea – once Aras tires out from his most recent rage, there’s not much left of Travner other then a bloody pulp.

Aras stares at the recently deceased thief’s body, and then stumbles backwards as he falls over. Fiva runs over to him and rests him on her lap, realizing that his wounds finally caught up to him. Aras tries to force himself up, however – telling Fiva to bandage him up so they can get going again. Fiva yells at him to stop, however – telling him that he’s far too wounded to even think of carrying on now. Aras disregards her, trying to continue to stand up as she tries to keep him from continuing forward.

As they struggle against one another, a drake manages to sneak up on the two, and Fiva is caught off guard. She watches on as it prepares to pounce on them while she’s trying to hold Aras down – but as the beast prepares to bite at her, a bolt of frost suddenly strikes the beast on the right side of the head, encasing it’s head in ice. Completely surprised, Fiva watches on as the red-headed witch from before casually walks up to the trapped drake and fires a magic missile at it from point-blank range, literally shattering it’s head into pieces.

Fiva and Aras both look at Aya with some amazement, having fully expected to die and shocked she showed up out of nowhere. Aya casually comments she felt a need to be here, and looks concerned as she stares at Aras’s new wounds. Seeing that Fiva nor Aras have done anything to stop the bleeding, Aya forces him up and lets him rest on her shoulder as she rips her own cloak to make bandaging, wrapping it around him as best as she can. Fiva looks surprised, but assists her, utilizing Aras’s own bandaging to fully wrap his wounds. The two help him up, and he barely manages to keep standing as they let him stand on his own.

Fully stressed out that they’ve wasted too much time, Aras starts attempting to run down the hall, though Fiva grabs onto him. She again informs him that there is nothing they can do – though Aras replies that the everyone needs them to continue – even if it costs them personally. Aya watches on during their argument, and looks a bit concerned. Without either of them noticing, Aya walks up to Aras again and holds him up, telling him to keep pace with her. Aras and Fiva both look surprised again, and ask her why she’s helping. Aya replies that if anything, she’s come to regard the two as friends of sorts after having watched them from afar for so long – and promises that no harm will come to Aras as long as she’s with them. Unable to argue any further, Fiva stands dumbstruck as Aras starts dragging Aya behind him, and follows as the fighter and witch start hobbling their way to the grand chamber.

The three finally make their way into the grand chamber of the ruins – finding that Yarvdenn is now fully in the middle of the spell that will open the portal. Aras watches on in horror and throws Aya off of him as he attempts to run at Yarvdenn – but Fiva makes the draw first and shoots at Yarvdenn. The shot hits his left hand, impaling his hand onto the book as he is knocked back by the hit. He yells out in pain as he dislodges the arrow, and looks furiously at the three below him. He yells out in anger that they will die for disrupting the Legion’s plans, and casts an empowered enfeebling blast at them. Aya jumps in front of Aras in order to cast a Shield spell, though her shield breaks as the two of them are thrown backwards into the wall from the force of Yarvdenn’s spell.

As Aras recovers from his dazed state, he finds Aya similarly dazed and laying against him. He looks over to see that Fiva is laying on the ground unconcious from the blast, having hit the wall hard and laying against it. He lets out a pained yell, realizing that this was exactly what he was hoping would not happen.

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Session 10: The Blazing Soul

Aya comes to as she watches Aras run over to check on Fiva. It’s apparent that she’s completely unconcious, and seems to be out of the fight. He starts yelling at her to wake up, shaking her in utter fear for her life.

Yarvdenn continues to watch on in a observant manner – not leaving his pedestal, and very content to let the fight come to him if it must. He informs them that to fight now is a waste of their lives, and that they should turn around and run if they wish to live.

Aya yells at Aras that this is not the time to wake up his unconscious friend – she informs Aras that this sorcerer is far more powerful then her if he was able to break her shield spell so easily, and that they’ll have to be cautious in the event they fight. Aras disregards her advice, however – the sight of the love of his life laying motionless has stirred one more rage inside of him, and he decides that he has to end this now.

He begins immediately charging at Yarvdenn, though the sorcerer smiles as he had been expecting this from such simple minded people. As Aras approaches, Yarvdenn prepares to finish him off with one concentrated blast of negative energy – but realizes that Aras was actually using himself as bait in order to allow Aya time to maneuver into a more suitable location to blast him with her own spells. Aras watches on in shock as Aya’s two magic missiles are deflected and dissipated harmlessly upon Yardman’s own shield spell, and he redirects the spell he was going to cast upon Aras at Aya before the fighter can close the distance to engage in melee. Aya looks utterly surprised underneath her hat, not having expecting him to have been able to cast so quickly and negate her magic so efficiently, and is caught in the ray of enfeeblement. Aras watches on in horror as Aya falls limp from being blasted, the spell having been too much for her to bear.

As Yarvdenn turns back to blast Aras with a similar ray, arrows suddenly start flying from behind the fighter towards the sorcerer. Aras looks back to see Fiva smiling at him, yelling at him to carry on with the attack. Yarvdenn finds himself now pinned as the wood elf does not let up the arrowfire, being unable to concentrate on any other spell without breaking the shield spell (and thus leading him to be perforated with quite a few arrows in the event it breaks).

Given the opportunity to strike back for all the losses he’s encountered with his time fighting against Yarvdenn, Aras rushes the sorcerer – his eyes going white with rage as he forces himself to ignore his wounds one last time in order to kill the man responsible for all of the deaths of his new allies.

Aras immediately starts swinging at Yarvdenn as he gets within range, slamming Kinsir upon the shield spell in order to break it. Yarvdenn is forced completely on the defensive as Aras is bearing down on him and Fiva is keeping him pinned with arrows – though he reinforces his shield spell in order to keep the fight prolonged.

Fury and rage have completely overcome Aras at this point, who doesn’t realize his sword swings are having no effect as they’re being deflected upon the force shield – only thinking to swing his sword as many times as possible at the man until he falls dead. As Aras continues to break through, Yarvdenn uses the opportunity to shuffle around and force Aras’s back to be in front of Fiva’s line of fire – which stops her immediately, as she realizes she cannot get a shot at Yarvdenn without putting Aras’s life in risk as he’s moving around wildly in his attempt to cut Yarvdenn down. Knowing she has to move in, Fiva starts charging in as well to help him.

Yarvdenn smiles as he sees the wood elf come running towards his duel with Aras – knowing that he’s got all of his pieces the way he wants them. As Aras prepares an overhead swing, Yarvdenn breaks his own shield spell in order to cast the enfeebling blast directly into Aras – wiping the fighter out in one go as all of the energy he had is sucked right out of him. Aras stands motionless after the resolution of the spell as Fiva watches on in horror – he’s basically dead already from what she can tell. Yarvdenn pushes Aras back off the pedestal with one of his own magic missiles, sending the fighter falling onto the ground below the pedestal. As Fiva rushes to his aide, Yarvdenn fires off one more enfeebling ray – taking her out as she falls to the ground some ten or twenty feet away.

Yarvdenn watches on to see how his enemies have fared – the witch remains motionless and from what he can tell is deceased, and the elf appears rather dead as well – though he watches as she holds her hand out for a few moments towards the fighter before falling limp.

Aras seems to be somewhat moving, however, and the sorcerer smiles as he looks down at the fighter. He informs Aras that this was the only way that things would have occurred – there was no way that any of them could have possibly stood a chance without having had Adgar present to assist them, such is why he was killed first. At this point, Aras has only accomplished getting his allies killed, and Yarvdenn specifically points out the wood elf after watching her attempt to reach out to him. Aras is boiling over with rage, but he no longer can control his body – beginning to fade quickly as he watches Yarvdenn go back to finishing the spell to open the portal to the Plane of Shadows.

Aya quietly watches on while she plays dead, however – noticing a red light gleaming from the ruby necklace the sorer is wearing. She notes that this must have some significance, however, and prepares her only spell remaining. She casts magic missile one more time, having waited for the man to go back to reading his book.

Yarvdenn is taken completely off guard from the spell emanating from the “dead” witch, and it strikes directly into the ruby – shattering it into pieces. As the sorcerer recovers and stands up after being knocked to the ground, he quickly realizes that Soli is hovering directly in front of him. He lets out an pained yell as he attempts to cast a spell to hold her back, but is too late – in her own form of rage, Soli begins immolating Yarvdenn.

Aras watches on as Soli begins engulfing Yarvdenn in flame, and then realizes that Fiva is now kneeling on the ground away from him, taking one last shot at the sorcerer as he’s distracted. Yarvdenn looks towards her at the last possible moment, and is ended as he’s shot in the face with her only remaining arrow – Soli maneuvering around his head so that she wouldn’t be hit by it.

Aras looks over to see Fiva breathing heavily after having killed Yarvdenn, thinking to himself that she didn’t need anyone to protect her, and that she’s grown so strong since he met her. After musing over that request she made at the inn in Iranel, he falls limp – appearing to be rather dead.

Fiva stands after catching her balance, being horribly exhausted after the enfeebling spells have worn off. She sees that Aras is laying motionless on the ground, though, and she becomes visibly afraid and worried and she runs to him and sits by his side. She calls his name out and realizes that he doesn’t reply – knowing her worst fear has happened. She immediately embraces him as she breaks down, sobbing uncontrollably as she holds onto him. Aya wanders over as she watches on, and appears uncomfortable as she turns away. Soli also watches on, being depressed that the person who helped rescue her from Yarvdenn died.

Selea, Wekus, and Adgar make their way into the grand chamber, however – as Selea notices that Aras is down, she immediately rushes to his side. As everyone watches on, Selea realizes he’s barely alive, and uses her last healing spell in a desperate attempt to begin trying to revive him. It appears not to work, until Fiva hears his heart beating again. She’s overwhelmed by Selea’s miracle working, and begins cradling Aras. Overcome with emotion herself, Selea embraces the two – thanking them for protecting her people.

Aya begins slightly smiling as she realizes things are all fine and well, until she notices Adgar holding the Book of the Realms and begins incinerating it with a fire spell. She at once realizes who exactly he is (muttering “Soros?” under her breath), and asks him why he’s destroying such a vitally important piece of history and power. He informs her that the world doesn’t need such things – this was why this city became ruined in the first place, and the world itself would follow in that path in the event this book continued to exist. Despite being saddened over the loss of such an artifact, Aya realizes his reasoning is for the best.

Some time afterward, the party has exited the ruins – Aras having buried their four allies who had died on a scenic outlook with their weapons planted in remembrance (Travner’s remains were left within the ruins for obvious reasons). Selea gives the departed the last rites of Ayer as the others watch on, and they begin departing from Mount Fresa.

Soli is now free from her service to Yarvdenn, and now really has no where to go now – she cannot exist for long on the material plane, as elementals will diminish and fade from existence if they do not bond with an elemental source of their type or return to the plane of the elements. Adgar smiles as he states that he has just the thing for such an occasion – pulling out a new ruby in his pocket. Soli appears immediately afraid that he intends to capture her now – but he informs her that he has casted a spell upon this ruby that will allow her to travel back and forth between the plane of elements and the material plane as she chooses – she’s free to do as she pleases. She’s grateful for this gesture, and after thanking her new found friends for her assistance, returns to the plane of the elements to join her kind once more. Adgar offers this ruby to Aras for safekeeping, but he declines and says that Adgar would be the best person to look out for her.

Aya begins wandering off on the party without so much as a goodbye – though Aras calls her name out and asks why she’s leaving. She rudely informs him and the others that she has other things to take care of, and turns back around to continue on her way. He stops her though, turning her around to thank her for having helped him – as everyone would have died without her. He squeezes her hand in a gesture of appreciation and tells her to take care, and that he hopes she stays safe in whatever she does. The others give her their thanks as well (though are still kind of insulted and bitter in regards to how rude she was in her last remark to them), and Aras walks back off to join them.

As she wanders off onto her own journey, she brushes the hair out of her eyes – revealing that she has tears welling up while she smiles slightly.

As Aras, Fiva, and Selea watch over the rest of South Ahrea from the top of Mount Fresa, Adgar and Wekus inform them that they too have to go on their own separate ways – Wekus intends to go back home to his family, and Adgar states he needs to return to Castle Ahrea in order to report to the King about what has just happened. The five all trade their goodbyes to one another, and Adgar and Wekus depart from the Mountain.

Fiva’s rather content that the whole thing is behind them now. She puts her arm around Aras as she points out that they’re free to go to where ever they want to, and that she wants him to choose where he wants to go. Feeling that he has one last thing to do before he can truly put the events at Mount Fresa behind him, Aras tells Fiva that he needs to go to Durden. She’s a bit surprised (and a bit frightened at the prospect of again having to go into a highly populated city again), but says that she’ll go where he needs to. The trio depart from Mount Fresa, taking one last look at the ruins behind them.

Once they have arrived to Durden, Aras finds the one house he is looking for and knocks on the door. Gragus’s wife answers, and is surprised to see the three. She asks Aras if this was the party that her husband was traveling with. Aras informs her that it was, and remains silent as she asks what became of her husband. She realizes this means that Gragus passed on, and breaks down. Aras becomes depressed himself and states that they would have not been able to accomplish their quest if he hadn’t had helped them, and that his actions saved the lives of countless people. Gragus’s wife doesn’t seem to care too much about this information, and continues weeping.

Aras knows there’s not much else he can do, but hands her the bag of coins that Gragus gave him to deliver to her – and then hands her his own share of the treasure that he received at Mount Fresa, telling her that he wants the money to go to the people who need it most. Fiva and Selea are utterly surprised by his donation, and upon feeling her own sense of remorse for having survived while Gragus didn’t, Selea hands her share over as well. Fiva asks Aras to hand over her share as well – to which she informs him that she wants it to go to the right people as well when he asks if she’s sure. With not much else they can do, Aras informs Gragus’s wife that he made a promise to Gragus that he’d always look over his family for him – saying that he’ll return if they ever need help.

As the three depart and leave Durden, Gragus’s wife realizes that the money they gave her is enough for all of her children to live off of until their adult years – they will never need to work a day in their lives with the amount of gold that they’ve received. She begins breaking down again, thanking them for what they’ve done.

The three leave Durden and begin on their aimless journey again as they stand on a small hill, not really being any financially better off than they were when they had departed the Halls of Sepna Austir. Regardless, the three are relatively pleased with what they’ve just done – Selea noting that they’ll make it by somehow.

However, Fiva mentions that she wonders if she will ever end up in the way Gragus’s wife did – being left to mourn her loved one someday. Upon realizing what she said sounds rather romantic in tone, she begins blushing horribly – and realizes that Aras is doing the same as well. Regardless, he holds her by the shoulders and tells her that as long as he’s still alive, he’ll always be around for her. She smiles and informs him of the same – noting that they have a lot of years to make it through. Aras grabs her by the wrist and begins running down the hill as she’s taken by surprise and follows him – telling her that they’ll have to make those years worth living.

Selea smiles, finding the antics of her two friends rather charming, and walks down the hill after them – unsure of where she’ll end up in the future herself, but certain that it’ll be a decent place.

END OF AHREA SIDESTORY: SOUL OF THE BURNING MOUNTAIN CAMPAIGN.

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