Ascensions Gate

Reesa - Back at Home

Reesa had been worried sick about “her” kids for days, but had tried not to show it. As soon as the group found the Marquis of Blades, she wanted to sprint to the house and check on them. Once the Marquis told them that Kincaid and Janos had gone to the house after the Morlian attack, she had felt hopeful.

As they had moved through the city, toward her house, Reesa felt like things might be okay… right up until they found 11 year old Nell being marched around by a Morlian patrol and some multi-legged draconic beast. It had twisted her gut back into knots and she had channeled that energy the best way she knew how, into combat. After they defeated the patrol she tried to speak to Nell, but the poor girl was in shock and couldn’t tell Reesa anything.

When the group finally got to the house it looked like it had caught fire and been boarded up. For the space of a breath, Reesa’s heart dropped and she felt like someone had stabbed her in the stomach. Then she realized that it would have been the perfect way to hide a house full of kids. After some knocking and whispering through the door, the group was let inside by a relieved Kincaid.

She had been so glad to see the kids that she had nearly burst into tears. After hugging each and every one of them, she found out from Kincaid that Janos was gravely ill and wounded, which was why they hadn’t moved the kid’s back to the Marquis’ stronghold. He had related his original plan to her and they had decided to move the kids at 4 AM, when the patrols would be few and far between.

Once a plan was in place, Reesa sat down with Melia to find out how all the kids were doing. The poor girl looked exhausted. Her normally crimson skin was ashen looking and there were dark purple circles under her eyes. Reesa had left her in charge and Kincaid had said she was the only one he allowed out of the house to raid for food and supplies.
“Have you gotten any rest lately?” Reesa asked her gently.

She shrugged and sighed. “I have been trying to make sure everyone is okay.”

Reesa felt proud of her and sad for her in the same moment. “I know, and you have done a great job. How have all the younger kids been doing? Have there been problems?”

“Well, Cerise, Ishi-Avox-Nia and Dorian are just terrified in general and haven’t really been talking to anyone. Grady, Lere, Nell, Torc, Nessina, Allina and Rey-Nassah all resisted Kincaid in the beginning, but after he screamed and ranted at them they backed off. Except for Nell, who got so upset that she ran away. I’m so glad you found her! Me, Siman, Selinia and Jamil have just been trying to keep everyone calm, safe and fed. It would be easier if Kincaid was really helping. At first I was really glad him and Janos were here. They helped us torch the front of the house and board it up. But, as Janos got sicker, Kincaid just got more frustrated and he started drinking a lot and just complaining about how we never listen to him. If you hadn’t shown up, I don’t know what we would have done. Especially since at least a couple of us had dads who drank and got angry. It is kinda scary for kids like Dorian and Nell to be around somebody like that again.”

Reesa’s face darkened and she tried to keep her voice calm. “Has he laid a hand on any of you?”

Melia shook her head. “He just yells and complains.” She paused for a minute and then just blurted out. “I’m really glad you came back and you aren’t dead.”

Reesa hugged her tightly and said “I was so worried and I came back as soon as I could. You know I would never leave you.”

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Painted next to a charred black corpse found in occuppied Itoni

Any soldiers looking to a good time? Meet here at Mid-Night.

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Letter to Home 6

Dearest Lucille,

I can only imagine what you’ve heard about Itoni and I apologize for not writing these past weeks, however for me it’s only been three days! Allow me to explain.

The new contract I spoke of in my last letter was a trap, set by the Morlian invaders of Itoni. We were lured to the Shadar-kia mercenary camp to do battle with them. The warriors, using foul magic, transported us to the haunted realm of the Shadowfell. The world there was much like our own, only a grim reflection inhabited by the dead and the hallow. A truly frightening place, and one that the only way out was through a magical ritual that the remaining Shadar-kia possessed. Realizing that someone in power, likely the Morlians, wanted us out of Itoni. Rushing through that dreaded realm, we found the Shadar-kia lair and began our assault. We fought many of the warriors and were able to overcome them, bringing us to the lair of another dragon. This creature was not as terrible as Karphaus the Black, but it was a strange breed of dragon from the Shadowfell known as a Shadow Dragon. The drake, known as Galthus, also had the ritual and would give it to us for a price. Unfortunately, as we were preparing to fight the creature before he began discussing terms, Rook remained invisible. The dragon became suspicious of our party as Rook was missing and attacked us. He used terrible, strength draining magic on us but we were able to overcome him. I do feel some regret over this, as this could have been avoided and the dragon, though evil, could bring no harm to our plane from the Shadowfell.

We encountered Gall-el, the leader of the Shadar-kia group, who agreed (with Reesa’s persuasion) to perform the ritual to return to Itoni. She betrayed her employer, explaining that the Morlians had indeed hired her to keep us from Itoni. She also revealed that the commander of the Morlian force was Lt. Commander Madrigal Thax, comrade to Sergeant Bromier who we were forced to slay months ago. It appears that Bromier’s warning about retribution was not a lie.

We returned to learn that time moved so slowly that over a month had past! Itoni’s defenses had fallen, but there was still a great deal of resistance from the nobles. I am eager to return to Itoni to turn the tide of battle away from the Morlians. Reesa, a native to this city, is charge of several children that are trapped in the city. She is certainly concerned for them and I do share her concern. After all what good is being a hero if you can’t save those truly in need? However, we cannot go rushing into another trap. We need resources, we need information, we need a plan. That’s what General Sinclair would have done. That’s what I’m advocating. We are currently in a small town outside of Itoni and will be leaving here this evening. It may be difficult for me to write in the city besieged. Please understand this and I will write you as soon as I am able.

Looking Home,

Ramos

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Out of the Shadowfell

Rook’s Books 183

I can’t tell you how glad I am to see the sun again. I don’t think the others felt the full weight of the Shadowfell, but then again none of them have had it talking to them. Sometimes it would just be a constant murmuring in the background, but other times it just screams for me to kill. I was just lucky enough that there’s nothing in the Shadowfell really deserving of life, couldn’t say I felt bad killing anything there. Maybe in the Shadowfell, there’s just nothing worth living for never having the chance to live.

That’s why I’m glad to be back, I don’t have to listen to some dark voices jabbering in the background. Even having green grass is a blessing. Fuck, I’d settle for brown rather than the gray of the Shadowfell. I’m not intent on ever going back, though Reesa seemed to be keen on the idea that that was our best way back into Itony. Itony, by the way, wasn’t the way we left it. It is now a city under siege. It’s a city I’m intent on taking back from the Morlians. They think they can fuck with us they have got themselves another thing coming.

The problem with having an army is that they’re pretty impotent without a head. Granted, these folks have got several heads, but keep cuttin’ and eventually they run out. Not much of a plan so far, but it’s a tried and true method, let’s face it, it’s gonna work.

I had scouted out a way into the city, the place had lacked proper perimeter patrol and that was how we lucked out. I mean, we really lucked out, watching the Flames of Vengeance lummox about in the dark was honestly a little embarrassing for me. I really picked out a good spot. Our first agenda was to find the Marquis, see if he was still holed up somewhere and we could perhaps rally up some more forces to aid the cause. The Marquis could apparently hold out so long, being in the shadowfell lost us precious weeks. The Marquis is a fucking crackpot by the way, he left us a duplicate of himself that only Ramos could listen to. Though, I guess you don’t get to be as powerful as the Marquis without being a fucking paranoid crackpot.

Reesa was hit hard with the invasion, I know she’s taking it pretty personal. Hard not to when you’ve got family in there. I know what it’s like to lose that, I can only imagine not knowing is worse. I’m willing to help her out if she’s willing to admit she could use the help. Got to stick together with what you’ve got, and I’ve been through a lot with these guys. Time to put on my shit eating grin

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Reesa - Return to Itony

Reesa settled in to keep watch, feeling tense and vaguely uneasy. Scorch nuzzled his scaly head into her neck and began chewing on her hair. The brass dragonling was trying to comfort her, and probably himself. In a language only they could understand, he said “you are so sad and angry, why?”

She sighed and tried to think of a simple answer, but there was no simple way to explain her heartache and boiling rage. She scratched her fingers on Scorch’s scaly back and replied “some very bad people took over Itony and I am afraid of what may happen to people I care about.”

Scorch stopped chewing and lifted his head toward her face. “Worried about the kids?” he asked. Reesa nodded and felt the anger and sorrow rising up in her stomach. She had been one of the street children of Itony not so many years ago, and now that she had the means, she ran a sort of safe-house for them. Not knowing if they were alive and well was gnawing at her. She wanted to find the Morlian who had orchestrated the invasion of Itony and eviscerate him.

Sensing her distress, Scorch started licking her face. His acidic saliva would have irritated anyone else, but Reesa didn’t even notice. She tried to relax her muscles and think calmly about what needed to be done. Rook was planning to scout near the newly erected city walls for a weakness, and hopefully within a few hours they would be back in the confines of Itony. She wouldn’t be able to check on the kids right away. She knew the others would object to the personal errand and staying together as a group was important. She just hoped that if the kids had fled, Melia had remembered to leave her a note with clues to their location. When she had discussed the emergency plan with the older kids months ago, they hadn’t seemed to understand the importance of it. None of them could have foreseen that the Morlians would launch a full-scale invasion with half a legion of Storm Ravens. Itony was a large city, but had no organized military or city fortifications. 5,000 highly trained troops, arriving on air ships, would have caught them totally off guard. As some of the premier mercenaries in the city, the Flames of Vengeance Company would have been on the front line resisting the attack, which is why the Morlian Lieutenant Commander had lured and trapped them in the Shadowfell, where time had stretched and flowed more slowly. Reesa and her companions had been gone for a month by the time they found a way back into the world. Now, here she sat, staring at the lights of Itony in the distance, waiting for the sun to finish setting so that she and her companions could go exact some vengeance.

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A Note Found in Occupied Itoni

Please someone
If anyone finds this we need help. We’ve remained hidden so far, but everyday they could be getting closer to finding us. Please, we need help and we don’t know how long we can wait.

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Letter to home 5

Dearest Lucille,

I am thankful that I am alive to write you this letter! We have bested Karphaus the Black! We journeyed to the foul dragon’s lair and rescued dozens of slaves that were to be the dragon’s playthings. We sent them on their way to Itoni and ventured into the beast’s cave. The creatures contained within were immensely powerful, Karphaus’s servants alone were taxing to the extreme. We fought through and met a terrible member of dragonkind, an Earthquake dragon called Gargathus. We were barely able to defeat the monster and had to retreat to recover our strength. Unfortunately, Karphaus detected our presence and cut us off at the mouth of the cave. He threaten to kill his prisoners if we did not face him there. Together, weakened but resolute, we fought the wyrm. An amazing and frightening battle was fought, but we overcame the dragon. Taking the beast’s head, we returned to Itoni.

We met with the Marquis of Blades and we were rewarded for our great feat. The Marquis also offered to give me a great prize. He requested my family sword and told me to return in a month’s time. When I did he gave me back my sword, but it had been heavily enchanted. He told me that to be a true rival I would need a master’s blade. I have no doubt now that the Marquis of Blades is the same duelist that Lamount Sinclair face generations ago. I hope that I share Lamount’s victory when I face the Marquis.

In the time being, we built our company. There has been some tension between Rook and Xaing Ho, but that appears to have been resolved privately. A strange Nogrim woman, a reclaimer, has been stalking Rook from the shadows. Rook has not discussed much with me, but I think she as a deeper connection to him than he is letting on. He can keep what secrets he wishes, I’m just ready for whatever is needed.

We are beginning a new contract today. The harbormaster reports that shipments entering Itoni have been being stolen. Some of these cargos there meant to go to the Swords of Aramatheis. We have evidence that the Swords are trying to gain more powerful magitech weapons of war for their company, a dangerous possibility. Information suggests that the thieves are members of the Shadar-kia, a race born of the Shadowfell that live hollow lives. We are leaving tonight to meet the thieves at their lair in a local graveyard.

I hope you are well, Lucille. Your smiling face is one of the only things I truly miss of home.

Looking to the west,

Ramos

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A note of reassignment

Jezarreli, I am sorry. I know we need certain monetary gain from our employees, but i fear for our " A team" I have pulled back the twins, Dott, Jimmy, and Kincad to go make sure everything is ok. I’m sorry my dear but i fear this may be the best. I hope you agree.
Fahzul Ith-Shanni.

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Letter to Home 4

Dearest Lucille,

I needed to write you this letter before we rush off for another grand adventure. Truly marvelous things are happening! We had returned to Itoni after our adventure with the Black Tooth Grin Clan and were summoned by the famed Marquis of Blades himself. This bizarre aristocrat controls much of the city and our company managers had indebted us to him. We were offered a chance to clear our debt to the Marquis in return for fulfilling a task for him. A foul tribe of gnolls have been attacking caravans outside of the city and the Marquis ordered our company to stop them and eliminate their tribe.

An interesting event occurred with the Marquis. He has been a resident of Itoni for decades (some say longer) and he hides his face behind changing brass masks. This eccentric man is renowned as one of the great swordsmen of the world. I recalled some lore about my ancestor, the great General Sinclair, and was struck my the similarities between the Marquis of Blades and the fabled clockwork swashbuckler of the Mad King Azah. I remind you that the construct claimed to be the greatest swordsman in the world and Lamont challenged him to single combat. As you father often said when regaled us the tales, Lamont defeated his opponent with superior skill and charming bravado. The legend is that King Azah rebuilt the construct and it has been searching the world for a chance to face Lamont Sinclair once again. My family never told this alluring tale, likely out of shame of our fall. As a result, I always dismissed it. Now I think this story has much more merit than I gave it in the past, for the Marquis of Blades recognized my family crest immediately and hinted at knowing Lamont Sinclair. He spoke highly of Lamont, and demanded that I obtain such epic status so that he may face me like my great patriarch. I only hope that when that day comes my blade will be as fast as Lamont’s!

After this encounter, we journeyed to meet an incoming caravan. Several days later we were attacked by a gnoll raiding party! These creatures are horrible beings that revel in slaughter. We defeated them and gleaned the location of their lair. As we entered the tribe’s hideout, we learned that they were connected to the Dragon of the Earth’s cult. I won’t recount the terrible acts these foul beasts were conducting in their temple for fear of the nightmares it would bring. We fought dozens of gnolls and their foul leaders. We rescued two adventures: an orc called Haplo and wild shifter named Xaing Hu. These two joined our group and we continued to purge the hold of the foul gnolls. After eliminating the tribe we discovered the source of their power; they were in the service of Karphaus the Black, the high priest of Ezra the Dragon of the Earth! Using a strange scrying crystal, we contacted the dragon cleric who gloated that we had destroyed only a tribe of rabid gnolls and his designs would still bring ruin to Itoni. Our new shifter companion, Xaing Ho, mocked the dragon’s cowardice and demanded it face us! Karphaus was enraged and betrayed the location of his lair before ending the magical link. I was too shocked for words!

We are now quickly preparing to storm the lair of Karphaus the Black. We must make haste, before the dragon has ample time to prepare for our arrival. I will send word of success when we return. Offer a prayer to Drago for me, I may need some luck on my side!

Looking to the West,

Ramos

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Letter to Home 3

Dearest Lucille,

Forgive my delay in writing, as you may expect by now, I was on a great quest! Our mercenary company received a call for aid from the small town of Hillborough. It appeared that the orcs of the Blacktooth Grin Clan had been ravaging the countryside, eliminating small hamlets near the town. It looked like Hillborough was next! I must remind you that the Blacktooth Grin Clan was the very same clan that our ancestor betrayed over a century ago.

We investigated the town and discovered that a strange man in Morlian armor was seen before the attacks began. We were able to piece together that the orcs were attacking because they felt that the people of Hillsborough had violated a treaty banning them from having weapons or armor, all because of this Morlian solider. We decided that this man was no doubt part of a larger attachment and we set out to find were the Morlians were. We went to the orcs first in order to plead that they cease their attacks. Unfortunately, the orcs would only grant us an audience with their leader Thorgrak after a brutal trial by combat. We were forced to fight our way through the tribe that was present and we bested them all! I am proud to say that we did not fell any of them fatally and we could speak to the old, blind orc Thorgrak. I must confess my prejudice, because I was amazed by this creature’s wisdom. He understood our plea and believed we could find the Morlians west of his tribe.

We sought out the Morlian force with Thorgrak’s aid and found that it was no small force. A large outpost had been created in the scrublands, no doubt to serve as a starting point for some terrible campaign. We assaulted the outpost and faced dozens of soldiers with several magatech creatures. I must say that things looked grim several times, but we overcame the villains and met their leader, Sergeant Bromier of Mercer. Bromier gloated about his commander’s plans to conquer the land and, though we offered surrender, he fought us brutally. He defeated him and his retinue and the Outpost was ours.

I regret to say that there were no survivors at the Outpost, due to my companion Ghaul Thu’s rage. As a half-ogre, the Morlians committed a lifetime of wrongs to he and his people. It may be his right to revisit this hatred on them at any opportunity. I don’t feel it is my place to stop him, they would likely do worse to us if given the chance. I wish he would stop, but as of yet I don’t think I should step in. Indeed, several of my companions (I dare say all of them) are of vastly different ideologies and have committed acts I would consider bloodthirsty. Dottenlieg relishes in burning is victims to death and no doubt Reesa would gladly shred unarmed men with her claws if they were vile enough. I am wrong to judge these people because my hands are not free of blood and particularly because of what happened on our return to Itoni.
When we returned, I left the party to return to the Blacktooth Grin Clan. I returned alone and sought an audience with Thorgrak. I was granted such and met with him alone. I confessed that my people, the Sinclairs, had done a great wrong to his people and that I was on a great quest to redeem our line in the eyes of the world. I surrendered to his will and told him if he wished to strike me down I would not resist. The blind warrior laughed and appeared pleased. He said it took courage to appear before him in such a manner. He confessed he could not grant me forgiveness to me as it was not his place as a servant of the god once wronged. But he would tell of my courage to all who would listen and how I had “barred my throat” to him for redemption.

When I returned, I was surprised that my companions were upset that I had vanished for several days. I arrogantly lashed out at them saying they wouldn’t understand, but I quickly saw that I was wrong. Ressa is half-dragon for heaven’s sake, and it takes honor to bear the word of a god like Dottenlieg. They were generally concerned for me and understood. I learned a great deal about them and about my quest. Perhaps our honor will not be won by great deeds, but by wisdom.

It’s a start anyway.

Looking to the West,

Ramos

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