Temple of Embers

What's happening to me?
Puc's Chronicle

So lately i’ve been feeling weird. Y’know, that kind of weird where your friends tell you your changing but you just don’t see how your acting any different? Yeah, that kind of changing. I mean i’ve always played tricks on people, it’s fun! But lately…I don’t know, I’ve been feeling a bit…Evil. My friend Gergy works at our local bakery and today I thought about messing with him, y’know, the normal stuff: Unscrewing the salt shakers, mixing different baking ingredients, and so forth. Today wasn’t normal though. I went in to do all that stuff…but instead, I ended up thinking it was a good idea to rig up a gun powder pouch so when they opened the oven, it would fall in…It did. His boss got hurt real bad. Nobody knows who did it, but I do. I’m slightly scaring myself, I don’t know what’s happening to me! I’m just scared that whatever this is, is going to get worse…a lot worse! I think I need to sleep on this…maybe things will be better in the morning…

At least…I hope.

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Bakers funeral
Puc's Chronicle

It got worse. Oh it got so much worse. My friend Gergy came to see me this morning…dressed in dark purple. Apparently they couldn’t stabilize his boss over night and he passed early this morning. When he told me I couldn’t do anything but stand there. My heart sunk down into my stomach and I felt sick. Not only at the news but at myself. Why did I ever think that stupid joke was going to be a good idea?! Where did I come up with such a stupid thing in the first place?! I have no idea…but I felt like crying. So after I gave him my condolences (which was horrible because of the fact that I had not RIGHT in the first place) I closed the door and went back to my bed…and cried. I’m normally not a cry baby, but I had just killed a man, how much worse could this get!?

I think i’m sick…real sick.

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I gotta get the hell out of here!
Puc's Chronicle

So a couple of weeks past uneventfully. I joked with my friends (although Gergy was still in shock over the gruesome dead of his boss) I played with my little brother and I practiced my magic. I was getting really good at the arcane arts. I was the first real sorceress in my bloodline, everybody else wasn’t really good at magic but for some reason I had been born with an innate talent for it! I used my cantrips to dazzle my little brother Phen. He’s only 24. After a while of playing hide and go seek with him (while I was using the cantrip to whisper from a distance) I decided to go out and see my friends.

We met down by the river on the outskirts of the village to go fishing and possibly swimming. We played and talked and then one of my friends decided it would be funny to play dead in the middle of the river. What I did next scared the crap out of me. I walked over to him and tried to get him to answer some silly question. When he didn’t answer I shoved his face further into the water…and just held his head there. My friends were too busy talking among themselves to realize he was thrashing in agony and fear, and that he was NOT playing. It wasn’t until he stopped that I pulled my hand away from his head and realized what I had done. My friends finally looked over and saw my face, the tears running down my face and the look of dread plastered on it. They ran over and pushed me away from my friends limp body. I stumbled and fell back into the river, still looking up at them. As they were carrying him to the village doctor one of them turned around and only said one thing.

“Monster”

I ran as fast as I could to my house. I damn near broke down the door running into it. I didn’t stop for my moms voice or my little brothers, even though it killed me inside to hear him asking my mom why I was crying. I lept on the bed and cried for what seemed like hours until I finally couldn’t cry anymore and fell asleep.

My mother woke me up in the middle of the night and told me the time had unfortunately come to tell me the truth; the truth about why I have my magical ability, the reason why i’ve been acting the way I have…All of it. She sat me down and told me that when I was born My mother and father had been overjoyed. They had wanted a little girl and had tried so hard for one. I was my mothers little miracle and there was nothing anybody could do to change that. However the joy vanished when my mother had noticed a scar on my fathers hand one night. A long, ugly scar that went along the whole length of his palm. She tried to persuade him to tell her where he had gotten the scar. My father was apparently always an honest man with a huge sense of humor, but he dared not tell her where he got the scar. She left it alone but it ate at her for days. Something had not been right. She finally after days of fighting finally got him to tell her where the scar was from. He had made a deal with a demon one day while out hunting. The demon appeared to him in the guise of an old man, so my father decided to sit down and tell him of his woes. How him and his wife wanted children but no matter how hard they tried they seemed to fail. The old man then proceeded to pull out a oddly shaped knife and slit his hand. The old man smiled and told my father that if he were to cut and shake his hand, he could guarantee that they would be able to bare children the next time he tried. My father without thinking about the consequences, cut himself upon the blade and shook the mans hand.

The old man then shed his guise and there standing before my father was a demon. The demon told my father that he would indeed bare children, but they would have his abyssal bloodline running through their veins as well and would soon follow on the path of evil, that the demons legacy would yet again live on in another victim. And with that he was gone.

I cried as my mother stopped speaking and looked up at me, tears lining her own eyes. She hugged me and apologized to me for not telling me sooner. I just hugged her back, that was all I really could do. She told me that the elder knew, and if it ever came to it, he would have me personally killed.

My mother leaned back and put my hands on the sides of my face.
“Run Puc, far away from here and never look back. I believe in you, you can beat this. I will be happy as long as I know you are alive.” She told me. I busted into tears but nodded not fully comprehending what was happening as of yet.

After she left I packed my things I went to my little brothers room and kissed him on the forehead. It was so hard to know that I probably was never going to see him again. I walked out of the room and down the stairs only to be greeted by my mother and my friend Sheshgar. He had been my best friend as long as I could remember. He smiled sadly at me and hugged me.
“I want you to take Burvir” He said, motioning to his dog that I played with every time I saw him. I started to wale. I didn’t want to leave everything I knew, I felt like I wanted to die, the world was so unfair. But I took the oversized dog, climbed onto his back and rode out of the city in the dead of night.

I looked back with tears in my eyes

“goodbye” I whispered and never looked back again.

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Jera's Journal
Spring...the first long road
So here I am sitting in this shitty Inn after telling Durc my plans. I can’t believe he treated me like such a child! I thought he would support me like Da did. How DARE he tell me I should go home, marry Daelen Vomond and settle down! REALLY!?! I mean, Daelen is nice, quite handsome but that is not what I want. Not now anyway. Maybe I shouldn’t have come to Cyphona first. Maybe I should have just sent him a letter from some far away city telling him that I was out seeing the world. I told him what I promised Da and he groaned. He said since I promised that I was SURE to meet some gruesome demise now. That I had tempted Fate, and she LOVED that. I feel bad we parted on such bad terms. I think I shall write him a letter and have it delivered when I leave. I will tell him how much I love him, and can’t wait to see the day he becomes a great mage like our Great Grand Da. I wonder if I will ever be able to find out where Mother and Da lived before. I know that my Great Grandparent may still be alive. I mean come on…Elves live practically forever right? I would love to meet them! That shall be my goal: see the world and find my family. One day I will….this I promise myself! But its late and there is some creepy dwarf that keeps winking at me. UGH! His beard is grayer then a summer storm cloud! I shouldn’t have stayed down here in the bar. Off to bed for me. Tomorrow I travel on.
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Summer
Jera's Journal

So I joined a caravan heading out of Cyphona a few months ago. They were hiring some sell swords to be guards to protect their cargo. Not bad. Their is only one other female among the 10 hired for the job. She is a bitter women, and I think…I think she is sleeping with one of the wagon drivers named Annaline.

We had to fend off some giant wolves the other night. Nicoli, a hired sword was mauled to death. It was a cruel way for the world to say hello. I knew there were dangers, but didnt think they would rear there ugly heads so soon. Must keep my wits about me and be more focused. Lindren had fallen asleep that night during his watch which is why the wolves were able to surprise us all. What an arse! I mean, he falls asleep- puts us all in danger and he lives? Not a scratch on him either.

Can’t believe how hot it is now that we have come down the mountain. Chain mail is not proper summer traveling attire. How could Da wear this?? Ugh! But I know this thing will save my hide, guess I have no choice. But man! once we stop for the night I smell just like a rubbish heap! Good thing the merchant had soap he was going to be selling. I paid for 3 bars after two days of being with this wagon train.

I cant believe I am rambling so. Note to self…never accept wine from a gypsy! We helped a small group of them earlier today with a broken wagon wheel. They offered to camp with us tonight and cook us all a meal as thanks. They made the most delicious stew! I was about to ask them what was in it and Annaline told me not to. Come to think of it, she told me not to drink the wine either. My head feels funny. Light…airy. The music smells wonderful…..maybe I will join the dance…..

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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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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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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 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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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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