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The Long Road - by Lily Dale

The journey to attend the Spring Moot was long and arduous; the road from Starfall Lake to the Village is not short, and even taking the waterways only made it a little less a little less strenuous. It was a relief to finally reach the Village and set up camp, and after a good night’s sleep and a couple of heartening meals, we were ready to set off to explore that which had previously been barred to us. Upon visiting a trader of arms, we met a creature known as the Master of Justice, one of the Masters of Lore whom Kleinwort Ironfist had welcomed into the Village. He conversed with us, offering us ways in which to gain favour in order to restore our tower, which has been lost due to the events of the last Time of Reckoning. We were most surprised at his countenance, for it strongly resembled that of our fallen comrade Ikarus; when questioned on this matter, he explained that he was animating Ikarus in order to converse with us. We were considering whether or not to pledge to him when we were interrupted by Kleinwort Ironfist, who attempted to ridicule us, not only proving himself most disrespectful, but also an ill host. When he finally removed himself from our presence, we continued our talks with Justice before heading out into the Village Square. There was a commotion when two clawed creatures appeared, but they were swiftly defeated and those wounded in combat healed. Layton conversed with a few other masters, before leading the majority of the Shadowsfall back to camp. Terra and I followed a moment later, and met the Master of Fire en route. We conversed with her about her abilities, which were vast, including protection from flame. When we arrived at camp, Layton was already in conversation with the Master of Knowledge. He spoke with both Masters about what they had to offer, and we all pondered which decision to make. After a while, we returned to the tavern to hear Kleinwort’s announcement. He decreed that a Lord and Lady of the Moot would be chosen to judge the competitions; a bawdy song contest and a comedic mummer’s play.

We returned to camp and called a faction council meeting to discuss the matter of the Masters. It was revealed that they were released when our towers fell; that they were the heart of each tower. We debated which master to pledge too, other than Justice. It was then decided that Orcus and I would be the Shadowsfall applicants for the Lord and Lady of the Spring Moot. I headed around the other camps with Terra, to try and drum up support amongst the other factions; however, we ended up spending far too long with the Wizard’s Concillium, who plied us with cake and some very interesting potions. Needless to say, after that we did not make it around as many of the camps as we would have liked.

Later on, one of our sources witnessed the voice of the Emperor appearing in to the Legion through the ritual circle. He told them to find a way to strengthen the link between the two worlds and chastised them for doing too little during their stay here, informing them that in this land their few numbers equated to an army. He advised them to convert people to the cause.

The Shadowsfall finally came to a decision, and we pledged ourselves to Justice and Shadow. Next, Orcus and I headed to the Tavern for the announcement of the Lord and Lady of the Moot. It turned out that we needed to collect physical favours from the other factions, something neither of us were aware of, but we stood our ground and held our heads proudly; to be honest, inviting us to enter was nothing but a sham coated with a thin veneer of politeness; Kleinwort was never going to choose a Shadowsfall for the Lord or Lady of his precious Moot. Instead, Clementine of the Wizard’s Concillium and Grovel of the Dai-Fah-Dyne were elected, although the latter is very surely an unwise choice.We returned to camp, where we were joined by members of the Legion. They made clear their distaste for magic and non-human creatures, which is surprising considering their use of the Ritual Circle earlier on.

We were tasked by Justice to escort the artisans of the Village safely to the tavern, along with the items they were delivering. However, we were unable to locate the artisans, and by we returned to the Village to find Justice, said items were already in his hands, with the exception of one which he suspected stolen. However, despite this troubling news, we received fresh heart when Layton placed second in the bawdy song contest with his rendition of ‘Orc Her Gently’, winning us twenty gest. We regrouped and prepared to head to Ash Path, in order to seek out a ghost we had heard was haunting the area. Joined by Trent, Layton and Valentine of the Wizards’ Concillium, I headed through the woods in order to lie in wait.

A figure soon emerged from the gloom, a man who could neither see nor hear us. It soon became apparent that he was an astral traveler. He examined his surroundings, and proclaimed that there was something strange about this plane, that he had never quite come across one like this before. He took some earth and decided to find a more stable portal of transit, before heading off towards the Node, vanishing from sight. His words troubled me deeply, as they indicated that someone had been purposefully interfering with the land of Orin Rakatha, causing disruptions on our plane. I later discovered that a woman from another faction had seen lizardman prints around the Node. Having lost Trent and Layton in the dark, Valentine and I retraced our steps. We found Layton at the Halls of Asgard, and warned him and the Asgardians of the sinister figure we had seen lurking in the darkness. After finding Trent back at camp, we headed over to the Wizards’ Concillium for Valentine to report to them, where I discovered that the wizards had also seen the apparition earlier that day.

That night, we drank and made merry with the other factions that arrived at our camp, including Valentine and Clementine of the Wizard’s Concillium, and Magee of the Keepers. After a night of friendship and alcohol I retired to bed, exhausted. The next day I rose much later than I intended, feeling strangely weakened. To my dismay, I discovered that it was almost noon, and I had missed a battle with Elementals at the Keepers camp. Trent was just cooking me some breakfast to keep my strength up when a representative of Fortune’s Keep entered the camp. Morpheus, our second in command, got up to welcome him, and as breakfast wasn’t ready yet, I joined him. This representative soon informed us that he did not believe that we were on Orin Rakatha, something we had been concerned about for some time. He informed us that people were missing from the towers, and that some people’s stories were confused and incorrect, for example Kleinwort Ironfist’s. Kleinwort betrayed Fortune’s Keep some time ago, using their power for his own gain; however, Kleinwort has no recollection of this now. Those who recently came to the land, however, have stable memories. It is believed that this is all linked to the Great Cataclysm, a conflict between the Mystics and the Mistweavers which took place over ten years ago.Orin Rakatha is strongly linked to the Realm of Dreams, which could have something to do with this. I escorted the representative to the tavern where I left him after he reassured me that I would have been young to have suffered any negative mental effects from this, as I will reach my seventeenth nameday within a moon. After a short respite, I headed back to Ash Path with Trent. We spent some time with the Asgardians, who provided us with beverages and merriment, before a man claiming to be the Herald of the Dark Lady arrived. He provided the factions present with an ultimatum; to meet them in combat in the open field or starve to death as they had the Village surrounded. He claimed that we could not all stay in the Village without towers and that we should face them or die. Their challenge was accepted by the gathered factions, who retreated to prepare for battle. They met these challengers by the Old Quays and decimated their forces, winning a great victory. I later heard tell that shortly before this battle, the Summer Stars had attacked and, with the help of the Halls of Asgard, defeated three dark fae which were in possession of a curious staff. What this means is beyond my knowledge.

We spent a little time in camp, conversing with Dreadnaught of the Circle Aflame, who was seeking out squires. Then, hearing news of an Elemental attack, we headed up to the Keepers Ship, where we lay in wait. They soon arrived, and the battle was long. Amongst them was a tall man the colour of flames, who lay waste to all around him with balls of fire. Layton eventually managed to paralyse him, and Terra began laying waste to him whilst he was immobilised, whilst the other factions stood there gawping. They finally came to their senses, and together struck him down, although as usual Shadowsfall had done most of the work for them already. I turned my attention to the healing of the fallen, one of whom took a liking to me and needed a lot of consoling. She seemed harmless enough, but her incessant crying began to get on everyone’s nerves before long.

When we returned to camp, we were joined by Valentine of the Wizards’Concillium. He had come on behalf of his faction, who joined him a little while later. They were searching for the Dragon Lord, which it transpired was the man we had slain during the battle. He had been their ally for a couple of hundred years, but had betrayed them, and they were under the impression that we had taken him captive, and wished to help us execute such a dangerous enemy.When we explained that we had already defeated him, there was much rejoicing and they left, satisfied.

An unexpected visitor entered the camp soon after. It was Judge Helm Brighthand of the Shadowsfall, who had found Shadowsmeet empty and endeavoured to seek us out in order to find an explanation. When we told him of the loss of our tower, he was most dismayed. He had not previously heard the news due to his travels through time, and was sorely grieved by this misfortune. He warned us again of concerned regarding the planes, and the unreliability of the stories of some. He also warned us that Ironfist was breaking the laws of the Mystics by residing without a tower, and was a threat to us all due to his determination for everyone to stay inside the village under his command.

Troubled by this news, I decided to begin spreading this around the factions, in an attempt to sway them against Ironfist, but before that was the Mummer’s Play. The Shadowsfall Interpretive Dance Corps was received with much laughter by those gathered in the tavern, and also with much pelting of fruit. Sadly, we did not win, but I didn’t really mind; I had not laughed so much in quite a long time. The Keepers also made a good effort, having stolen Grovel’s hat in an attempt to blackmail him into voting for them, but in the end it was the Wizards’ Concillium and the Wee Scunners who won, in joint first place.

Judge Helmbrighthand then made an important announcement, after the competition was over. He said that we had to perform a ritual to prove whether or not we were on Orin Rakatha. The ritual had to be cast on a portal device, and it required seven elemental sources; fire, air, earth, water, light, darkness and steel. These elementals would have to be summoned into the ritual circle and be taken down to the ship. Trent and I returned to camp with this news, the others having gone on ahead after our performance had finished. We relayed it to the rest of the Shadowsfall, before we all headed off to the Old Quay in order to follow up on a tip that we had received concerning a necromancer from the Dymwan. We hid on the dunes along with the other factions that had arrived, however I fear that we were not as quiet as we normally would be due to Nibbles, our newest member, who kept making comments which made the entire faction double over laughing. In the end, the necromancer didn’t appear, so the gathered factions had a mock battle to blow off steam before heading back to their camps.

Soon it was time for the ritual to begin. Trent headed down to the Keeper’s Ship to join the other ritualists, whilst the rest of the faction waited near the ritual circle for the mages to summon the elementals. The mages did this one by one, and we guided each elemental down to the ship, some more easily than others. Layton, having learnt the song of the River Folk, taught it to his companions, and managed to guide Water to the ship with the following tune:
Hey ho, is anybody home?
Food and drink and money have I none,
But still I will be happy.
When all of the elementals had reached the ship, the ritual was completed. We returned to the ritual circle, where the Chaos Jester had just appeared. I spoke to Judge Helmbrighthand, who explained what had transpired.

A long time ago, the Chaos Jester and the Fayre created a lens over the real Orin Rakatha in order to reflect celestial light. The lens was used to combine planes together to create a new one. However, someone discovered this and broke the lens. The light reflected and refracted and a different version of Orin Rakatha split off from the original; the land we are living in now. This happened fourteen years ago, and took people from the original land to here, which is why memories are different and people are missing. Now the planets are lining up for the Grand Conjunction, which shouldn’t be happening so soon. Orin Rakatha is so closely linked to the realm of Dreams and stories, and stories have a habit of repeating themselves. Once more, the Chaos Jester is creating a lens to place over the land, however as this land is a fragment it will be broken if the lens is completed. Only one piece of the lens is left to be completed; Thranduil. We must travel there to try and stop the Chaos Jester; however, his lens could be the only chance we have of getting home.

These revelations are most disturbing, and must be investigated at once. However, that night there was time for more revelry to ease our minds before we set off to Thranduil to challenge the Chaos Jester.

 

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