Temple of Embers

Bleh
Puc's Chronicle

Bleh…Nothing eventful happened from the last shitty town I was in to the town i’m in now. We’ve traveled about a week and a half now and the town i’m staying in is better, but that still isn’t going to shake my distrust of humans…well, distrust of other people for that matter! I’m going to have to get cleaver if I wanna make it on my own. As I walked into town there was a man passed out on the ground outside of the local pub. I stopped Borvir and walked up to him. I nudged him with my boot to see how inebriated he was and there was no movement. This guy was piss drunk! I leaned down and picked his coin bag off his hip. This poor man had ten gold on him! Ten gold! Well not anymore buddy! I ran back over to Borvir and nervously nudged him into a sprint to an inn near the exit of the town. We stayed there for a day or two before leaving again.

This next stop should be my last before hitting the sea of sand. I can’t wait!

The stars look so pretty tonight…I wonder if mother is taking good care of Phen?….

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Distrust
Puc's Chronicle

The next morning I woke to the sound of chirping birds. I sat up and patted the bed next to me expecting to feel Borvir. I didn’t. I looked around the room and froze. I didn’t see him anywhere. I looked under the bed, I even ran out the door and looked in the hallways. I quickly got dressed and ran downstairs and asked the innkeeper if he had seen him. He told me he was sorry. I got angry. Sorry? Was that all that fucker had to say? Sorry!

My stomach jumped into my throat and tears came to my eyes as I ran around the city looking for Borvir. I searched for hours. I finally ran into one of the only city guards I had seen and asked him if he had seen him, tears pouring down my small face. The guard seemed to take pity on me and told me they had seen a party of three or four men leaving town a couple minutes ago with a dog of that description. I smiled and thanked him graciously. I raced to the west entrance of the city and looked around. In the distance I saw three small figures that resembled men walking away. I ran as hard as I could to catch up with them. Did they really have Borvir? Or was this all for nothing? What was I going to do if that was him? I didn’t know how to fight…All I had was my magic. I finally caught up to them two hours later when they settled to take a break. I took a minute to catch my breath before running up to them. “Hey!” I screamed. They all looked at me. I don’t think they were expecting me to be following them. “That’s my fucking dog you assholes!” Borvir was indeed with them. He was hog tied and had silk rope tied around his muzzle to keep him from making noise. I felt heat rise to my face when I saw him bound. The men laughed at me and the leader got up and walked over to me. He put his foot on my chest and kicked me a little ways back.

“What’re you going to do about it ’ya little goblin?”

That pissed me off. Gnomes HATE goblins, we’re like mortal enemies. So that right there was a big insult. I got up and was immediately met with a fist to the side of my face. I fell to the side and looked up at the man who was now laughing along with his other cohorts. I glared and pointed my finger. The side of his face turned blue and Ice spread across like wildfire. He let out a small yelp as he grabbed at his face. I pulled my five foot quarterstaff off my back and swept his legs out from under him. Two more guys came over and started throwing a flurry of punches and kicks. I managed to let out another spell and the man kicking me in the ribs suddenly got stiff. He looked at me in horror and started running away. The remaining man put his foot on my throat while the last one that was by Borvir walked over with his sword drawn. I put my hands out and choked out one last spell before bright crystalline like missiles shot from my hands and plunged straight into their chests. Blood flew over me as they fell to the ground writhing in pain, eventually either going unconscious or dying…at that point I didn’t care. I got up and spit out the blood that had collected in my mouth. I walked over to the first man and leaned down. I picked up the dagger that he had tried to kill me with earlier and fingered it for a minute before violently slashing his throat with it. I then walked over to Borvir, knife still in hand and cut his bonds. He barked happily and nuzzled me. I broke down and started to cry still holding onto him. He hoisted me onto his back and trotted me into town.

We got back to the inn and trudged up the stairs to my rented room. I had thirty minutes until check out. I got to the door and swung it open. My room had been wrecked! It looked as if a wind elemental had come crashing through! I stood there in awe of the mess that had been made. It was then that I saw my bag laying on the ground. I ran over to it. My money was gone. Nothing else of value had been taken. My food and waterskin was still there along with my book…but my money, the money for food and shelter was gone. I grabbed my bag and roughly threw it on my back. I grabbed Borvirs collar hard and trudged downstairs. “Hey…” I said to the innkeeper behind the desk. He looked up, his face had bored written all over it.
“Oh, you…found your dog did ya?”
“Yeah I did. Somebody stole my money and ransacked my room while I was gone!”
His face stayed the same.
“Sorry miss, not my problem. I’ll have the maid clean it up” He turned around and I stomped off.

That town was fucking unbelievable! I’m never coming here again…and if I do, i’m burning the whole place to the fucking ground.

Borvir and I left out the east gate. I think i’m going to head towards that sand sea that crazy man told me about. But one thing is for sure. Now I know why Humans aren’t to be trusted.

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From bad to worse
Puc's Chronicle

So after walking a couple more days I made it to the city. It wasn’t what I expected at all. It was small, foul smelling, and reeked of thugs. I walked Burvir through the streets, leaving a trail of nervousness where ever I was. I found a small Inn to stay in for a couple of nights. The band of travelers graciously loaned me some coin so I could get a bath and an actual meal. The first night was nice. I was too exhausted from walking to really care that I was in a town that made my hair stand on end. I awoke the next morning with a big puddle of drool on my pillow and a big dog paw in my face. I smiled. Burvir always made me smile, this morning especially. I went out on the town to stack up on rations for the next trek of our journey. I also asked around to see where the next best town to see would be so I could learn it’s history and magic. I got a couple of different answers, the one that interested me the most was the answer I got from a old man with a freaky eye. He also had a horrible snaggle tooth, but he told me I should go “see the sea of sand, bask in the flame goddesses glory” and then he disappeared. Flame goddess…sea of sand? I had to visit this place. It sounded…mysterious!

As I was headed back to the inn I hadn’t realized how late it had gotten. The sun had set behind the houses and the sky was kissed with shades of orange and pink, it was beautiful, too beautiful and out of place for this stinky town. I turned the corner and a man about 5’7 with a scruffy beard smacked me in the face with the blunt of his sword. I fell hard to the ground as I wasn’t expecting it and hit my head. I looked up in time to see him snatching up my bag and running down a back ally, Burvir right on his tail. I stood up and blinked a couple of times, my vision blurry and askew before I had realized what happened. I started running after the sounds of Borvir chasing the man while viciously barking at him. I called him, but all I got in response was more snarling. I ended up chasing them to the edge of the city before I came upon Burvir on the man, his arm in his mouth ripping it back and forth. The man screamed and reached for a dagger on the side of his hip. Out of instinct I shouted a spell and pointed at the dagger in the mans hand. Starting from the point of the dagger frost shot up the knife and encompassed the mans arm. He screamed as he had just gotten immediate frostbite. I walked over to him and picked up my bag. I was astounded that people would be that cruel. Hitting people in the face, stealing their stuff? Were people really that bad hearted? The gnomes from my village would’ve never thought to do anything like this. I felt a small smirk pull at my lips and I aimed the same finger at his eyes. I muttered the same words under my breath and actually took pleasure in watching the man scream and rip at his eyes as ice swam over them. I grabbed Burvir’s collar and lead him back to the inn.
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Summer- The Sea
Jera's Journal

I can’t believe I am here! The sound of the waves crashing along the shore. The briny smell to the air! The sand beneath my toes! I wish Mother and Da were here. This is so amazing. I found an inn right on the sands…you can see the sea from my room’s one large window. Its so soothing at night. I fling open my windows and let the smells and sounds of the sea wash over me. I have never slept so sound, so peacefully-even with Gizzle’s tea. I have been here a week and have loved every moment. I wake before the sun and walk along the shore to watch it rise. It seems to emerge from the sea itself setting the waves ablaze with color on it journey into the sky. I also sit upon the sand and watch it set at night. Watching it seemingly sink into the water as my mind imagines the hissing as it hits the waves. Does the water have an end? Is there another land in the vast distance? Is there someone right now sitting upon a distance shore thinking the same thing? Are they in as much awe of the sight before them as I am?

I met a retired trader at the inn I am staying at, The Sirens’ Slumber, who says far to the west is a sea of sand. And beyond that another ocean even more expansive then this one. He has traveled to all corners of our land. Says he has seen it all. I think when I leave here, I shall venture West to see the Sea of Sand…then cross it to see the ocean beyond. He claims it took him several years to get to the ocean to the West and back again. Once I see the other sea I think maybe then it will be time to venture home and tell Mother and Da all I have seen.

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Summer 2
Jera's Journal

Gnomes. Small people full of life and chipper smiles….and a ton of questions about the world beyond their lands. I enjoyed my brief time there, but alas all things must end. I wanted to see the ocean and Brogen was heading further West to the land of humans. I spoke with some of the gnomes in the village and was told that a month East of here was the sea. I can’t wait! I will miss my companions tho. Old lady Gizzle, the healer, gave me a bag of herbs for my journey. Said they would help keep me strong and healthy if brewed into a nightly tea. They smelled rich and fragrant. I also learned why she said a nightly tea….it must be also a sedative. All I know is when I drink it before bed, whither I sleep 8 hours or 4, I feel totally rested and ready to tackle the day!

And tackle the days I do. I have been walking for what seems like eons. The valley gave way to rolling hills then to a vast grassland. I have been walking on a road thru grasses that sometimes hit waist high or taller. Its blisteringly hot and the flies are everywhere. All I hear is the sound of light breezes thru the grasses and the buzzing of the damnedable flies!

Yesterday I saw a huge herd of bison in the distance and I stopped to sit on a large rock to watch them graze a bit. The break was nice. Suddenly there was a roar in the distance as a gigantic cat of some kind pounced one of the bison. Its startled the herd and they began stampeding in my direction. The cat seemed content with its lunch and paid the others no mind. I slid off the rock and hunkered down behind it as rest of the bison thundered around me. I stayed there for what seemed a lifetime before the noise ended and they were gone. As I gathered my things to leave I heard a bawling from the grasses to my left, I went to investigate. A young bison had somehow stumbled and broken its leg. Looking around to make sure the large cat was nowhere in sight, I quickly dispatched the injured bison. With out wanting to waste the opportunity, I butchered and skinned the animal…which I will tell you is hard with a short sword. Then wrapping a good amount of the meat up in the skin, I tied it to my backpack and walked until the sun started to lower and meet the horizen. There under a stunted tree I set up a camp. I have been here since. I started a fire as soon as I could, hacking some of the limbs from the tree above me and using some of the dried grasses. I plan on smoking all the meat I have into jerky for easy travel, but I cut two pieces for roasting. One I had last night and the other is currently hanging over a smaller fire, its fat slowly dripping onto the fire making it hiss and spit. My mouth is watering remember the taste from last night. Bison roast and Gizzle’s nightly tea….what a wonderful way to end the day!

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Spring 2
Jera's Journal
Can’t believe I have been away from home for a year already. Traveling with Ruudgar’s brother Brogen has been an experience all in its own. He is such a funny man! When the trip gets so horrible we are all wondering why we agreed to come along, he livens up the party by cracking jokes, singing obscenely funny songs and telling stories that make us laugh so hard I am afraid I will wet myself! Yesterday we encountered 3 orc bandits. They attacked the caravan as we turned the wagons onto a mountain pass. They jumped down to block our path from the rocks above. While two were engaged in melee with some of the other men, one grabbed Margarette from one of the wagons. She is a wagon driver and our cook. I heard her shriek and ran after them. The whole time thinking “What am I DOING!?! I cant fight and orc on my own!” But didnt let my brain stop me. I was not going to let this creature make off with a member of our band. As I ran I noticed a small footpath up the rocks that paralleled the main path from above. Maybe this is what the orcs used to ambush people who passed by. I took to the path in a blur of anger. Once I was right above the assailant, I drew my sword and leaped off the rocks. I landed squarely on the ors’s back, causing him to drop Margartette to the ground. She rolled away and ran for cover. The orc flailed about trying to knock me off. I held on with a deathgrip as he spun and roared in rage and frustration. He slammed me into the rocky wall beside us and it was all I could do not to fall. I quickly took my right hand and gouged its eye with my fingers. It cried out in pain and grabbed its face with both hands. As it was stumbling blindly, i leapt down and swung my sword in an arc….aimed for his abdomen. It was a solid hit, I felt as the blade sliced deeply into its flesh. The orc groaned and stumble then fell to its knees. Once more I swung my sword, calling up the last of my strength as my head pounded. I don’t know if the Gods were watching over me, or it was just my lucky day, but my swing landed true. My blade bit deeply into the creature’s neck nearly severing the head from the shoulders. The orc collapsed to the ground….and the world seemed to tilt and go dark. I awoke several hours later in the back of a wagon with Margarette sitting to my left. She saw that I had opened my eyes and cried out for the wagons to stop. They stopped and filled me in. Apparently the repeated knocks to the head from the rock wall while I was on the orc’s back had given my a head injury. I reached up to touch the back of my pounding head and felt it was wrapped in a bandage. The other guards had quickly dispatched the other two marauding orcs and had started to move on again before realizing that Margarette and I were missing. She had run back to the group after I had collapsed and gotten help. They bandaged me up and plopped into the back of this wagon and started moving forward again. Apparently I had been out of it for 3 days. They all smiled at me when Margarette helped me down from the wagon. “Look who be awake now?! It be she who slays orcs in her skivvies!” exclaimed Brogen loudly with a chuckle. And the others actually…. applauded. I was so embarrassed! “We be stoppin’ for the night now. This be a good place to camp fer the night. UNLOAD PEOPLE!” Brogen shouted at he clapped his hand together. Before he walked away he smiled at me and squeezed my shoulder. “Good on you girlie….good on you.” That night during dinner, which was delicious tho Margarette handed me a plate big enough to feed 4 orcs, she presented me with a necklace she had made. It was a tooth from the orc I had killed and some of the carved copper beads she was going to be selling. It was lovely. I immediately put it on and promised never to remove it. Then, feeling full to the point of bursting…i made my way to bed. What a trip this has been thus far…and we are only half way to are final destination.
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Winters End
Jera's Journal
So here I am still at the Anvil. I took Ruudgar up on his offer. I made friends with his daughter Egana as well. She is a blacksmith, first female blacksmith I have ever seen but then again she is a dwarf. She was insistent that I let her reform my chain mail before I left in the Spring with the trading mission. Said I was going about my travels all wrong. She said since I was female and had the best of two races I should use my obvious ‘endowments’ to my advantage. What she handed me back was shocking! How will this protect me in a fight?! There is barely anything there! It did cover all the important bits but still! I had to laugh at first. I thought she was kidding. Then she introduced me to Lana Blackmore. Lana is a sell sword and human with huge….endowments of her own. Her armor covered less then my nightclothes when I lived in the Hollow. She said she would teach me a thing or two about being a female in the world of men and how to do more then just get by. She showed me many things, how to change my stances to be more protected with less armor, how to stand just so while talking to a man so my…armor…gets his attention, and how to properly use that attention for drinks, a free stay at an inn and more. She also talked to me in depth about things a mother tells her daughter the night before her wedding! “Don’t hold back! You are in the world now. Enjoy ALL it has to offer- that includes men. Lots of naked sweaty men!” I nearly choked on my ale when she said it! Needless to say that Spring is nearly here and I have had a few nights here and there to ‘practice’ the skills Lana taught me. She said I was a good student and learned quickly. I will say…sometimes when bored, its a great way to fill the time! Gods! Mother would roast me if she knew! Just a few more weeks until I head off with the caravan. I will miss old Ruudgar and Egana. There is a pleasant looking you man across the room. I think I will go practice for a while!
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Beginning of a new chapter
Puc's Chronicle

It’s been at least two weeks or so since I left home. Burvir had been kind to me as he knew my emotions were on the fritz. Whenever we would stop he would get down low and pounce on me in a playful manner, which then initiated a running session. But at nights, when I was laying underneath the stars, staring up at the night sky, I would remember everything and the sadness and sorrow would come flooding back to me. I had to be strong! I couldn’t be a traveler like this…soft and weak. I had magical abilities! I had to hone them even more and use them as my weapons to protect myself and Burvir! It was just us now…just us.

We traveled until we got to a small encampment. It was another group of travelers that warmly let us join…they were human. They always have to be human…Humans are so…full of themselves! But I hadn’t eaten in a day or two (mainly because I gave the last of my meat rations to Burvir…He’s the one carrying my ass!) I ate and drank and they told me of their “adventures”. Adventures my ass, it was just a bunch of “oh we walked here” and then “oh we battled a bunch of kobolds up in the moutain pass” What were they expecting my praise? I had a run in with some kobolds before in the village…you could poke them in the eye and they were down! But I just smiled and nodded before asking where the next town was. They happily told me and I thanked them before getting up to leave. Burvir had gotten some food and sleep so I figured going on wasn’t a bad idea.

Traveling from the village to this point I had to go through the dense forest of my homeland. It was easy navigating since I knew which parts to avoid and which parts to go through. I finally came upon the grand field ahead of me. I knew I was close but it would still be a couple of days journey. I let Burvir get a break and we walked side by side until we could no longer walk. We set up came and he was my pillow. His fur was always warm and comforting, even in the chilly spring nights. I laid my head down on his fur and looked up at the stars. For the first time that night, no tears came to my eyes.

I think i’m starting to get the hang of this traveling thing.

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Winters start
Jera's Journal

It took another month and a half from my last entry to reach the Dwarven city of Markai. What a site to behold really. You look at it from the outside and it doesnt seem like much. Then you head into the mountain itself! The city is deep within the mountain! Its amazing! Large spanning corridors leading to expansive chambers housing hundreds of dwarven homes and businesses! Lit by both flame and magical means. For not being able to see the sun while standing the the center of a city, this place is breathtaking. I wish Da could see this, Durc and Mother too! I have to remember to pick up something small to take home to Mother from here. I saw a tiny dwarven statuette of a mother and child, about half the size of my palm. I might get that. Only 2 silver pieces. She would like that.

I noticed some of the elder dwarves i see seem to keep their distance from me. Or grumble as I pass. The innkeeper of the Hardened Anvil, the inn i am staying at, mention it was due to my obvious elven heritage. Some of the elders apparently still have animosity towards elves for some reason. Apparently, in the past, there was trouble between the two races. But Markai is a more accepting city. More so then most I am told. There is even an in, on the surface, run my a pair of elven brothers. I guess I could have stayed there, but they charged more and I really wanted to stay in the heart of the city.

Ruudgar, the innkeeper of the Anvil has taught me how to speak some of the language of the Giants. He said I may need to communicate on my trek out of Markai. The Giants have lands to the near west of here and he said I was a “nice little halfie girl. Din’ wanna see me git hurt whilst I traveled”. He is so funny. He also said that my sword’s design was similar to a dagger he once saw on a gypsy women once when he was young. But that is all he could say. That and she was a “strange one, she was.” Its a start I guess.

I am thinking I may winter here, Ruudgar said he could use some help in the inn for a bit. Winter is their busiest season since many traveler prefer to hole up then to trek thru the winters biting cold and spontaneous blizzards. Then if I like I can go with a trading mission to the Gnomes to the West come Spring. His brother is a trader and goes every year. They always need a hand protecting the cargo. From the Gnomelands its said to not be far from the sea.

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Fall
Jera's Journal

So glad the Summer has passed me by…or have I passed it? The journey with the caravan was exciting and I learned alot. The Gypsies we assisted end up joining us for a time since we were all headed the same way. A month of music and dance every night- not bad when the days were filled with grueling travel. The landscape slowly changed from mountain pass, to lush valley to dense forest. It was halfway thru the forest when the Gypsies bid us farewell. They turned West while we continued North East. Heading toward another mountain range in the distance. This caravan’s destination is the Dwarven homelands. I am excited to arrive there. I have seen and met a few while traveling, but to see the actual homeland of another race seems amazing to me! One of the reasons I so wanted to travel. I know the Dwarves are great metalsmiths. I would love to see the kind of swords they make and maybe show off Da’s sword. Maybe he fashioned it after a Dwarven pattern? I have asked a few people along the way. They always comment on the sword’s foreign look. The more I think about it, the more my family is a mystery.

As we traveled deeper into the forest the lead wagon stumbled into the territory of an Death vine. Annaline called it Assassin Vine. The smell around it was rank, littered all around it was the decaying corpses of animals and a few hapless individuals that it caught. It reached out and grabbed the horse from under the lead rider as the rider trotted toward what he thought was a growth of lush blackberries. Instead it was the creature way of tempting its own food source- us! It took a bit but we managed to free the horse and slay the horrid vine. A bunch of us pitched in to bury the remains of what had been its past meals. Once with finished with that gruesome task we hurried onward and away from the death and its once tempting looking fruit.

I am sleepy and the flickering of the campfire doesnt help one to stay awake. Every time I look towards the mountain range in the distance I feel my heart sink. It looks so far away. Like we will never get there. And once we get there the caravan won’t need me anymore. Sure, I’ll get my pay- a decent sum. But what then? Where to I go from there? I guess I shall let the winds guide me. I wonder where the nearest ocean is? I have always wanted to see the sea! Well I think its time for some shut eye. We will be up with the sun……

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