I'm writing this journal down as we travel through the Bleed, since…well I couldn't remember much about these events until recently. It's as if the memories were locked or wiped from my mind. But when the Banites were poking around in Judi, Kai and I, it all came rushing back. And I remember…well most of it. Jean and I worked together for a long time prior to these events in the Bleed. But our first mission together was in Bridgerun.
It all started on the eve of my graduation from the Vale Hold Academy for Ambassadors and Linguists. I was running to meet the Magistrate. As usual, I was late, and was sprinting down the halls when I ran into a guard I'd never seen before. He was possibly one of rudest people I'd met and we exchanged insults, before racing to the Magistrate’s office. To my surprise, my uncle gave me my first official mission, which was to go Bridgerun, a orcish village to the north, and stop the tension between a human and an orc tribe from turning into a full-blown war. And to my dismay, the rude guard, who I would later come to know as Jean Nieves, was to my bodyguard. Happy to be skipping the boring ceremony the next day, I immediately headed out for supplies, but found that we were unable to get horses for the trip, so it ended up being about a 5 day walk.
The next few days were uneventful, but they included the first time I noticed that Jean talked in his sleep. On the 4th day, we came to a river passing, where a group of orcs and humans acted as a toll bridge. There was obvious tension between the two groups, and I had trouble talking down both parties. There was one human in particular, however, who seemed unconvinced. I gave them the money and Jean and I almost passed without incidence, but the human behind us let fly a crossbow bolt and attacked the Orc who was helping us. This caused a quick battle between all the parties, and Jean and I had to run after the last one standing (an orc) to try and talk to him. He, however, ran to another bridge down the way and the orcs attacked Jean and I for lying to try to defuse the situation. I managed to down one orc before getting shot in the stomach and passing out.
I woke up several hours later with a shabby-looking human nearby staring at the coppery scales on my neck and Jean elsewhere, talking to himself. The human asked what I was. (A question I still ask myself to his day.) I tried to get up, but Jean mentioned that he killed all the Orcs and that I should rest. That might be one of the only times I've actually taken his advice on matters.
The next morning, Jean and I tried to convince the human to stay at the campsite while we ran for help, but the human was injured and insisted on carrying the packs of his fallen brothers back to his home. After about a ½ mile, he keeled over, so I took his dead friends’ notes for their families in the pack and promised to send help soon. Jean and I raced to the village.
At the entrance to the village, we ran into more orcs and humans, including the druidic human leader, Ramora, and the orcs remarked that if I wanted to talk to their leader, Axehandle (to try and work out a peace treaty or agreement), I would have to challenge and fight him. Uneasy with this, as I was aware, even at this point, that athletics contests were not my strong suit, I suggested that Jean could fight in my place, as it would not really be a fair fight if I were to go in the arena if magic was frowned upon. The Orcs brought us to the Arena in the center of the village, where Jean prepared to fight as my, abet unwilling, champion. But the Orc called me out and said that I had to fight my own battles. So, irritated but prepared to do what I needed to get the job done, I stepped up and took the hulking beast on. As even I could have predicted, after a very short battle, I was knocked out.
I came to in the Longhouse, the main bar/inn for the village. A Ranger woman, who introduced herself as Asora, was at the door standing guard. I was bandaged up and noticed Ramora sitting on the bed next to me, and asked her what happened. To my shock, Ramora explained that I won on a technicality, with the orc Matrons deciding that because I did not die, it was a sign and so Axehandle should speak with me. This village was/is…..strange. I guess the Matrons decided to speak with me in 2 days’ time. Since it was evening, and I had time to kill, I headed downstairs to find out where Jean got off to, and immediately, to my dismay, found literally a whole tavern calling me a “dragon lady” and roaring praises for not dying.
I was, of course, extremely embarrassed, and headed over to Jean after grabbing a drink. Jean was acting extremely intoxicated but upon further inspection, it turned out he was only pretending to be drunk. He asked me how I wanted to handle the situation. But, deducing that he was the one who suggested the term "dragon lady", I told him that I was going to bed and would deal with everything the next day. Jean headed upstairs with me and sat guard at the door, (and to my amusement falling asleep while doing so). He talked some more under his breath, but I fell asleep as well.
The next morning, I decided to use the 2 days to look around town and see if I could find any information about the Orcs, as something didn't seem right about Axehandle. I also sent a note via a bird-boy druid to the Magistrate in Vale Hold. As we were preparing to head out, Jean was hit in the chest with an arrow that came flying through the window. He pulls it out, and upon inspection, we discovered it was a orcish arrow, (despite Jean thinking that it was for him sleeping with a guy’s wife. The idiot really knew how to pick em). Asora decided to come with us as we explored after breakfast, and I discovered a new found love of Haggis.
We headed downstairs, and I spoke to the bartender about rumors. There is a dwarf in the tavern named Bwent who I also spoke to regarding a yelling match he participated in, and he mentioned that he hadn’t been able to get his shipment of horseshoes. Jean seemed…uneasy about Bwent, but he seemed alright to me, so I invited him to come with us since he was new to town as well. We wandered around Bridgerun tracking down shipments from people and getting information. We found out about a guy from Mulmaster who brought metal into town and decided to head to his house. But when we got close, Jean, Asora and Bwent all froze in place.
Bwent held me back while Asora and Jean investigated the house. They deduced something was inside, so they broke open the door, and Asora shot an arrow into the room. An extremely odd beam of light/shadowy figure writhed in black and red popped up from what looked to be a dead body and flew rapidly through the roof. The group investigated the house, finding the Mulmaster guy very dead, with his head ripped off. They also found a receipt with an item in common on it that no one can identify. (Actually, I think I still have that receipt somewhere…)
A young bird-boy who could shape shift ran up to the group after we exited the house and told us that the High Circle wanted to speak to us. So we went to a very, very high cliff temple (which took 7 hours to climb), while Asora darted off to inform the city about the shady guy. At the High Circle’s place, we met a young lady shapeshifter named Aurora who questioned us about the Mulmasten. We had to explain that were unsure of what happened, and discovered that Aurora was puzzled as to how the shape evaded her birds, as nothing could really fly faster than them. An orc brought the group water and some food, which Jean and Bwent gulped down, and I asked if some of the orcs were aligned with the Circle. Aurora mentioned that some of the orcs worshipped the Earth Mother/Mother Nature, as did the druids, and so they could work together. She also mentioned that Axehandle’s father, Axebreaker, was peaceful and did not wish to fight. But when Axehandle took over a few months ago, things started getting dicey. He had been ordering the villagers to make weapons. We decided to head back to the rooms for the evening, with Jean taking his usual post by the door.
The next morning, I walked around and killed time until an arena match that morning. Jean lost a ton of money at the Arena when an older Orc won against a younger orc in a fight. Jean, Asora and I met up with Bwent and Asora decided to show the group around some more. I kept noticing an out of place human in the shadows but Jean and Asora both thought I was seeing things. Asora showed the group around the village, pointing out different shapeshifter/druid circles around the village, including the Circle of Aquan, Brambles, and the Hunt, plus the High Circle which they had already met. I noticed the shadowy man again, and tried to follow him, but lost him in the marketplace. An orc came up to the group, having found out that his son was killed in the skirmish on the bridge, and challenged me to an arena match.
Not really having a good excuse, I begrudgingly fought another arena match and lost (once again), waking up outside on a stretcher. The orc Matron near me confirmed that I must be special since I wasn't instantly dying (again, weird village). I was exhausted so I decided to just rest until the meeting with Axehandle , and the group headed back to the lodge. At meeting time, Asora, Bwent, Jean and I headed over to the Orc hut and stood outside while waiting to be allowed in. I briefly looked for a strange masked figure I'd been noticing around but still didn't see anything. A Bramble and a Hunt druidic member were standing guard to help me out, as well as a group of Orcs that really wanted to kill me. (already shaping up to be a spectacular meeting, but it just got worse from there).
We headed into the hut for a meeting and I noticed the masked man who had been following us around slide in and stand behind the Axehandle. The odd thing was, no one else seems to notice him or care, so I shrugged it off. After a brief conversation with the Bone Matron (an orc spiritual leader) Axehandle began speaking. But I noticed that as he was talking the masked man behind him started stirring the air in front of him in a strange, arcane pattern. The people in the room began rustling angrily and getting tense, as the heat in the room and the candles seemed to burn a little brighter. The tension kept growing and growing, and it burst when seemingly out of nowhere, Axehandle swatted the Matrons in front of him and the room exploded into chaos, with each of the sides attacking each other (and the masked man still stirring). The young orc I had fought in the arena match earlier that day sprinted at me, and I took a punch to the face. Jean drew his sword, and called out, asking if he could kill them, and I affirmed it, since they were trying to kill us both. Believing that the chaos had something to do with the masked man, I aimed a fire bolt at the him, but he easily dodged my attack, and Jean asked why I was attacking a chair. To my shock, I realized no one else could see the man, so I shouted that, once again, there was someone there. Unfortunately, that was when the spell hit me. I felt this surge of intense rage and fury rise up in me and everything went black.
The remaining memories are quite fuzzy, and I vaguely remember coming to and seeing fire and blood. Jean was collapsed on top of me, seeming to be shielding me with his own body. Everything ached, and I found myself unable to move. As the world focused a little more, I realized that Jean had an antler through his neck and the wound was bleeding profusely. He was dying. He groaned and told me to grab his necklace (I now vaguely remember him talking into it a lot) and contact the High Lord. I managed to do so, whispering High Lord into the necklace, and a deep voice answered. The voice on the other end was very confused that Jean was not the one contacting him but seemed….amused and asked what happened. He was unfazed when I said that Jean was dying and that the meeting with the orcs went to hell. But, when I mentioned that someone in the mask was probably responsible, the High Lord grew furious. He called for someone on the other end of the necklace to hurry, but Jean collapsed entirely on top of me at that point, and I fell back into unconsciousness after seeing Asora’s head get ripped off by an enraged orc.
I woke up completely bandaged and unable to move, back in the Longhouse, with a few unknown figures around. The noticeable ones of the bunch were a bright red Tiefling, who was talking to a paladin with a creepy smile. I glanced around and saw, to my sadness, Jean’s dead body on the ground next to me, pale and blood-soaked, with coins over his eyes. The paladin addressed me then, noticing that I was awake. He called himself the High Lord and mentioned to the Tiefling that I might be able to help them recover Jean (which was confusing at the time because he was clearly dead). Before I could say anything else, there was another wave of dizzying pain, and I fell into darkness again.
The next time I came to, it was late at night, and there was a circle of people, including the Tiefling, the High Lord, a dark figure and a water genassi (who I now recognize to be Fathom), chanting quietly around Jean. I reached out to try and touch the one closest to me but he was just out of reach. The genassi mentioned how Jean wasn't where he should be and that they didn't know how to reach him.
When I woke up again, it was morning and everything still hurt. Moving was still nearly impossible. The High Lord was standing nearby, and he told me that everything had been taken care of but he asked if the mask he had was the one I saw. He pulled out a white mask, similar to the one that the man who caused this had, but this one had a slightly different pattern. I stated that the white mask he was holding wasn't the one I saw, but that it was similar. The High Lord became very irate momentarily, but calmed himself. I attempted to sit up and I noticed that I had a scar on my right shoulder. Taking a closer glance, it seemed like it was a symbol and could mean “Bond” or “Anchor” but at the time, I was unfamiliar with it. The High Lord mentioned that Jean was downstairs and thanked me for being “interesting” and helping them get Jean back (Which was, again, confusing at the time, because Jean was certainly dead. I also have no idea how I helped) before the Tiefling walked into the room and said they could head out soon. He introduced himself with a bow as Wrath, and explained that he’d been the dark man following them. They left the room and I fell into a deep sleep.
I woke up with two bumbling guards (who I would later come to know as Wedge and Biggs) nearby and Jean asleep in a chair. I tried to move again, and was, to my frustration, still completely unable to. Jean addressed me and asked if I felt alright and if I would be ready to leave by the next day. He mentioned drinking, which confused me. I reminded him of the fight and, tentatively, of him dying, to which he laughed and stated that I had been dreaming, telling me that the High Lord showed up after Axehandle disappeared and smoothed everything over, so everyone went to the bar to celebrate. I, apparently, had A LOT to drink, and was hungover. I glanced at my shoulder and the mark I thought was there was gone, but there was another row of scales growing in on my left arm. Jean once again, asked me if I'd be ready to leave the next morning, as apparently, we were heading out. The guards also mentioned how Jean got a promotion and was going to be sticking around with me as my bodyguard. I itched the scales, as they were peeling and new, and everyone appeared disgusted. Jean even asked if they were contagious, to which I simply sighed and said that it was genetic, pointing out that I would prefer not to be called "Dragon Lady" ever again. After that, I fell back asleep.
This is when…well when I believe I lost the memories.
When I woke up, I had little memory of the event, and what I did remember seemed like a bad dream. Jean and I got ready to leave with the water genassi (note to self, need to talk to Fathom about all this…probably in a less aggressive tone) coming in to escort us to a river. I learned that we were headed to a desert, and the newly appointed Sargent Jean mentioned that we wouldn't be going home for a while (in fact, we never got home). I saw the young boy( who I now know was Asora's brother) near the door appearing very sad for some reason, and I tried to comfort him. He ran off crying, and Jean remarked that I always makes children cry. We left.
These memories have slowly been coming back to me (and, I think Jean, as he mentioned dying when he talked in his sleep ). I never discussed it with Jean, because…..well I don't think either of us actually wanted to believe it happened. But…after those Banites tortured Judi, Kai, and I, and the mark on my shoulder started spreading, I remembered how I got it in the first place.
I now know that those people were the Purifiers. The people in white masks. I get why they were after Jean but….he didn't seem like too a high ranking a member of the Vramites for them to do anything and until recently, I had no connection with them whatsoever. The Magistrate said my Blood was what held Vram to our plane, so that could be it, but…why would they go through all the trouble to harm a whole village just to kill two people? That seems like something that would have been easy for them. It just doesn't make sense.
Then there's the business with the Mulmasten….something weird is going on there. I suppose when I get back to our normal plane, I could always go find Bwent, Fathom or the High Lord. Perhaps one of them could give me some answers….if I actually can keep my cool this time.
And now there's the chains that, apparently, are ties to gods or powerful beings. And I have 13 of them…including a few dead gods in the Bleed? That's just…peculiar. I'm attached and a "link" for Vram/Ni'Vram sure but….why the others?
My sight too….that's something I hadn't put together until now. I can see things others can't. The Masked Man, and now the chains and the strange writing in Jean's Journal. But…something isn't right with me. And it feels like it's getting worse. These fluctuations in my magic and in my body don't happen to the others. Could be because my supposed Dragonborn Father is the one the Link to Vram comes from…..but it's still….odd. I don't know.
I also need to figure out who told Ta'ali she needs to stick with me. Although…..maybe…ugh. Maybe I have to actually put my faith in her and Judi. They both know something I don't. And they haven't killed me yet. That has to be good….right?