The Citadel

The entry to the Golden Age (24) [part 2]
We won.

A day later, we reached Priscus’s fortress, Stahlwerk, and were shocked at what we found. Slabi working to make machines, being paid two silver pieces a day. Men being taught how to use machines that fired pellets with explosive force, which Priscus called “muskets”, a production line of weapons, and armor, and these newly made weapons. It was a true achievement, and I was stunned at how he had accomplished it.

But I did not have time to gape in wonder. I had a duty. We needed a new Revered Maiden if we won this war, and I had to find some evidence of how to do it in the 300+ documents that Ulfgar had managed to gather from the archives. There were multiple armies that Priscus had called for, and we had our fair share of time before they arrived. It was my only opportunity. My days in the fortress were spent reading and re-reading, with few breaks for eating, sleeping, or even bathing.

While I was partaking in these activities, however, apparently Julius snuck up on Laelis and killed her. Because of her bind with WAR, he was killed as well. The other Slayers grabbed Julius and tied him up, with Ulfgar spilling his “undead wine” over his mouth (which has had over half a year to “ferment”). Thankfully, there was an extremely powerful Wizard from another plane that Priscus had somehow come into contact with. As easily as if he were changing the direction of water, this Wizard took the life-energy from Julius and transferred it into Laelis. Because of the bond, WAR was revived as well. After Julius was killed, a litter of baby hamster-like creatures exploded out of his stomach. Because of their rarity, the group made a fortune off of selling them.

That’s right.

This was when I, myself, barged in. Having just discovered the solution. It was an ugly one, however. For the Revered Maiden to be made, the body had to be properly prepared to host a Spirit. It took years, and most girls did not survive it. The host needed to be human, and needed to be female. No other creature even stood a chance, and as said previously even human girls had a small chance. Laelis was our only hope, but she had not been prepared. The Wizard gave each of the Slayers a gift, WAR was given wings, Zayn was given the ability to breathe fire, and Gonsun…was given a second set of genitalia.

…However, Laelis gained the ability to become the Revered Maiden, though it took almost all of the mage’s power to do so.
But this was not the only part of the process. For one Revered Maiden to be made, four other willing souls had to be sacrificed. This naturally presented a problem for the Slayers, who now noticed that in addition to Laelis there were four of them. The uncomfortable thought was dropped.

Over the next few days, the armies of the elves, the dwarves, the fey, the silver dragons, the united orc tribes, and Svatyne arrived. The most surprising however was the arrival of a group of Slabi in gold-colored armor, the soldiers of the unnamed city…and Kridon was amongst them. He told us that the city was spectacular, and that it was a hidden place just for Slabi, however, it was secret, and most of them had only heard of it in rumors. The sword that he had taken from the cottage had been a key and a guide to reach it.

Among the strangest of allies was a young Mind-Flayer, whose name I cannot put into letters. The creature was terrifying, but seemed to be willing to help, so we allowed it to fight alongside us. After all, we were taking all the allies we could get.

Once all the armies were gathered, they set off for the battle. There was no reason not to be confident in our victory. It was the entirety of Zverak versus a single corrupted Citadel. There was no chance. We were prepared. I followed the main army in the background. I could not fight, but I refused to miss this.

When we reached The Citadel, a great horn sounded out, and Tainted soldiers came from outside. Thankfully, what they didn’t know is that Priscus’s secret tunnel through the earth allowed us to flank the main force. A secondary, smaller force with Priscus leading them was sent through the tunnel. None of those who had previously been my slayers were amongst them, and I can only recall the portions of the battle that I saw.

Schem Grevhton stood atop one of The Citadel’s towers, ordering his men to retaliate, but they simply did not stand a chance. The massive, united army swept over them, and suffered casualties, but destroyed them via it’s sheer numbers. It was practically over before it had even begun.

Grevhton saw this, and as his troops were being slaughtered did the unthinkable. He grabbed things from the air…Spirits, I saw him do it, and shoved them into his mouth. Even from as far away as I was, I could see his jaw stretching open unnaturally, his hands and face mutilated with the effort. The energy flowed into him, and tendrils of darkness exploded from his spine. All of the sudden the tables had turned. I saw musketeers have the upper halves of their bodies torn from them, dragons crushed, members of the army from all sides become so tainted that they crumbled into black dust. The whole time everything looked distorted. Spirits had been destroyed, and existence itself was shifting.

But in the confusion a single Silver Dragon charged the creature’s still human body, with the last slayers riding atop it. Some of them were knocked off and nearly fell to their deaths, but they kept fighting, and eventually noticed large black bulbs on the ends of some of Grevhton’s tendrils. When they destroyed them he became human and vulnerable, and they used this to finish him.

The tendrils were destroyed, and Grevhton fell, twitching and declaring that he had still won, simply because the humans and Spirits were now working together against him. The war was over and humanity was safe. WAR killed him, and absorbed his soul.

With this, the battle was pretty much over. Tainted soldiers were chased down and killed. Priscus’s strategy of flanking the main force had been extremely successful, and The Citadel was reclaimed. The only question was: who was going to sacrifice themselves to make the new Maiden? One of the volunteers was Shanara, the fey of the forest who had befriended the group, reasoning that if she could not be a human, at least she could die like one. Surprisingly, the second volunteer was Schem Grevhton, apologizing for all that he had done wrong. As his soul still existed inside WAR, it was possible for him to do this. Kridon and I also volunteered…admittedly I was terrified, but also honored. However, two retired Slayers who had served Schem Grevhton stopped us, and told us that it would be better if they did it, and that it was the only way they could possibly restore their honor.

We went to the tenth ring and performed the appropriate ritual…which I will not describe here…and I was in awe as it seemed as if all the energy of the room flowed into Laelis, who was now no longer herself, but instead the Revered Maiden.

Ulfgar and Zayn became High Bogatyrs, and I became the leader of the High Priests. Gonsun became the leader of the clergy. WAR went to Majak and supposedly destroyed all possibility for a human to ever be able to destroy Spirits again, and then disappeared. It is rumored that an avatar of the Spirit of war wanders the land, but I have never seen it, and frankly I am too busy getting the Citadel up and running. We are currently recruiting Slabi, Elves, Dwarves, whoever is willing to serve us. We are no longer a human organization, as there are simply no longer enough humans for this to work, and instead we welcome all willing to fight for us. Not that there is as much need for fighting anymore. The Spirits no longer hate humanity, and no longer send horrible things simply to destroy us. We have some sort of peace with them, though I do not know if it will last. I will not look a gift horse in the mouth.

All in all, The Citadel is entering a golden age. Our plans involve the Slayers becoming more of a military, and expanding outward as Svatyne did. Yes, the old Citadel is gone, and all who represented it are dead, but it has been replaced by something greater. I do not know what the future holds, but for now we are safe, and that is something that I have never been able to say before.

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The entry to the Golden Age (24) [part 1]
We won.

Only two weeks ago it seemed as if all hope was lost, and now The Citadel is rebuilding. I’ve been so busy the past few days I haven’t had time to write. I’m a member of the Panov now, along with Zayn, Ulfgar, and Gonsun, a group of people who used to be slayers under me. My head is spinning, let me try to recount what happened.

Halfway from The Citadel to Coldrock, we camped for the night. Gonsun and I were keeping watch when a large, furry mammal resembling a giant hamster wandered into our camp. We were unsure of it, as it made no moves to attack and we did not want to start a conflict. It wandered into Julius’s tent. We followed it and managed to catch up to it just in time to see it hook its claws around Julius’s clothing, and begin to perform…actions, upon him.

Because it wasn’t actually killing him. (And frankly, it was Julius) We just left it alone.

The next morning, during the night, both Zayn and Ulfgar claimed to have had visions given to them by a strange ethereal voice. First, they had been led in the direction of a “cave” showing them where to go, and second, they had seen inside the mind of Schem Grevhton, who had led an expedition to Majak and gained some kind of terrible power. With nothing else to go off of, we decided to follow them to this supposed cave. However, before we left, Laelis and WAR showed up at our campsite. Laelis looked much the same. But something had happened to WAR. Whereas once he had been a machine that looked no more malicious than any other, he was now covered in a black ethereal substance. His voice had become strange, and as we talked to him we learned what had happened to the town of Coldrock…he had killed them. All of them. And had somehow absorbed their souls. Voices came out of his mouth that belonged to other people. I didn’t feel safe around him anymore, for good reason. But I uneasily reminded myself that he was on our side. I didn’t have to trust him, but he was on our side.

We kept moving north, to where this cave supposedly was, and passed by the town of Coldrock. Some time during the day, WAR demonstrated his ability to “eat” by absorbing the soul of a disabled Elk. It was disturbing, to say the very least. In addition, the entire time we traveled, the rest of the group was greatly abusing Julius. I almost felt sorry for him…almost.

When we reached the “cave” there was a period of silence. It was a wall of solid rock. We had led a group of 70 orphans to a solid wall of rock. However, as if hearing a voice in his mind, Zayn wandered up to the wall and placed his hand against it. It passed through. Gonsun decided that he would sprint full speed at the wall because…well, I don’t know why. He ended up crashing into the wall and suffered minor injuries, which he healed with magic. Zayn managed to pass the rest of the way through the wall, and it disappeared. Everyone could follow now.

The tunnel we entered was smooth on all sides, and seemed to have perfect lighting from a source that we couldn’t see. As we went along, we heard strange whispers and voices grow progressively louder. When we reached the end we saw a gulf with a rocky outcropping bridge. The bottom was obscured by what looked like a mass of white energy. As the rock bridge seemed to be held up by nothing, we were cautious about walking across it, so we sent Julius first. He survived, and the rest of us progressed, other than the children, who were so large of a mass that we had to leave them behind.

The voices grew loud enough that we could speak to them, they were The Spirits. And they still had a contempt for us, as they did for all humans. This cave was a magical place, where they all had the capability to communicate, and they did not like us being here. They spoke of a traitor, of one of them who had turned away, and it was then that someone looking exactly like the Revered Maiden appeared. She told us that she was not the maiden, but was actually the Spirit who had occupied her body, Nádej, the Spirit of Hope. She then told us the truth of the maiden, who she was and how she was made. It was a fusion between a young woman and Nádej, and the process was painful. The reason why she…or the Spirit, as I assume they don’t have genders…was considered a traitor was because she loved the humans, rather than hating them like the other Spirits did. She told us that human ambition is what separates us from other races, and that no other race is capable of doing such things as destroying Spirits to suit its own desires, and that, truth be told, the Spirits hate us because they fear us. This ambition, however, is the exact reason why Nádej only has love for us.

And our only hope was to convince the other Spirits to love us too.

We spoke to the Spirits, but they seemed beyond convincing. They were great and powerful beings, and would not be moved by simple words. So Nádej gave us one final gift: she showed the vision of Schem Grevhton to them. At once, there was a powerful scream from every Spirit. He had discovered how to eat Spirits and absorb their power, and he intended to do it. It was true, he was going to wipe out the entirety of existence just to win his petty war.

With no other choice, The Spirits decided to help us. First, one of them offered to give all of its power to convey messages to creatures across Zverak, and did so. Others told us of Priscus Primoris, and how he had escaped from The Citadel and dug a gigantic tunnel from it to Svatyne. In between Svatyne and The Citadel, he had built a massive fortress where he had taken in Slabi and was paying them generously for their services. He had created new forms of technology, and was building a massive alliance. Everyone would start from there, and march on to The Citadel.

Before we left, however, WAR called out one of the Spirits, one he announced as his father. He asked for food, for something to eat, but the father Spirit, something representing either war or destruction, told him that he could not offer it, as despite everything, he was a spirit, and he could not destroy other spirits.

With this determined, we left the Spirit cave, and ventured south and to the west, to reach Stahlwerk, Priscus’s fortress.

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The end of everything (23)
I don't know why I'm still writing this

Everything we’ve worked for is gone. The Citadel, the Slayers, even the Revered Maiden. I can’t keep the old rhetoric anymore, and I struggle even to write this. We’re done.

Schem Grevhton led it. A revolution, the power of The Citadel was overthrown, what little power there was that wasn’t on his side. He replaced the scouts and Slayers with an army of tainted soldiers, and killed those who wouldn’t join him. He cast a spell throughout the entire Citadel…and killed everyone.

The Revered Maiden took some of us, protected us…but she was weakened, and we had to fight to escape from the Citadel. By the time we had gotten out, only a handful of Slayers remained, the rest had covered for our retreat…where are the other High Priests? Am I the only one left?

Grevhton demanded that the maiden give herself to him, so that The Citadel would be safe. But she would not go with him…and rather than joining him…she killed herself. She’s gone. We’re alone.

And he let us go. Because we weren’t a threat.

And now there’s nothing but me, a handful of Slayers, and a group of orphans going to Coldrock, to find WAR and Laelis.

What Grevhton intends to do is horrible…he wants to destroy the spirits. He wants to destroy everything, just so that he can win.

And I have no idea how we can stop him.

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Eleventh Mission (22)
The Elder Tree

After heavy deliberation, it was decided that the group who had instigated our possible conflict with the forest would be the same one to resolve it. In Schem Grevhton’s own words: “If they go out there and get killed, at least they’ll be the ones who have it coming.”

However, we had nothing to go off of. Communication with the forest itself was rare, and we had to dig through the archives to find out when it had last occurred. By “we” I of course am entirely referring to myself. Sleep is a luxury for the lazy.

Anyway, I found several instances of Slayers interacting with an “Elder Tree”, supposedly the leader of treants. When referring to “The Forest”, we are primarily referring to the treants, and this being that controls them.

With this lead, but nothing else, I dug up the best information I could on where the tree was. Unfortunately, what I managed to find was “in the east”. We were shooting in the dark again, but it was necessary.

So with little direction, a group comprised of Julius, Jorge, Ulfgar, and Zayn was sent to the forest.

In the beginning, their only objective was to find the tree. However, things became more complicated with the knowledge that the forest would soon turn against them. Only a few days into their journey, they discovered a creature known as a Bearhound, one of the guardians of the forest. Though initially threatening, the Bearhound was won over by the group through offers of magical items, and the ambush that it had prepared was called off.

The party made a deal with the creature that, having given it a potion, it would lead them through what it had previously described to them as an infinite maze surrounding the Elder Tree, that mortals had no way of getting through. For a time, it became their traveling companion, and they developed a strange fondness for the creature.

A wall of mountains bordered the enchanted forest, and as the group climbed them they were attacked by a swarm of Murderhawks. Though the Slayers were experienced enough to be able to handle them by this point, the creatures were of a large number and attacked together. Several among the group were almost carried off. Thankfully, however, the birds were killed, and treasure was found amongst their nest, as well as Murderhawk chicks. Chances of their survival left alone were slim, and one less future Murderhawk probably meant many more living Slabi, Scouts, and Slayers, so the babies were killed.

Beneath the mountains was the endless forest, an area supposedly impossible to cross for mortals, yet as long as the Slayers followed the Bearhound they would be able to get through it. Shortly after entering the forest, night broke, and the group decided to make camp. When they awoke in the morning, seven Treants entered their camp, and told them they knew why they were here. They offered to bring them the rest of the way to the Elder Tree. Here, the Bearhound departed, sensing that it was no longer needed, and the group thanked it.

The Slayers were then introduced to the Elder Tree, a mind-bogglingly massive being that would take up half of The Citadel’s courtyard, with so many leaves and branches that it could speak with the sounds of the wind blowing through them. The group introduced themselves and told the Tree why they were there, what they were trying to accomplish, and the Tree told them that their debt could be repaid if they returned a group of Treant seeds that had been taken by The Citadel. When asked, however, when these seeds had been taken, the Tree informed them that it had been ‘only’ hundreds of years ago. They asked if there was anything else they could do, but there was nothing.

Just then, a partially destroyed Treant ran into the Elder Tree’s clearing, and informed it that a human creature was destroying the forest. The Elder Tree did not need this information to be told to it, however, as it could feel pieces of the forest being destroyed, and cried out in pain. The Slayers quickly formed a new deal with the Tree, that they would stop the intruder if it would redeem The Citadel. With this established, a treant led the group to where the forest-killer was. Unfortunately, a fire had started in the area, and the pure heat damaged the group. A frantic fight began in which the Slayers were trying to penetrate a wall of fire to hit a target they could not see. In the end, they managed to dispatch the monstrous human…only to find that it was a Citadel Slayer.

With this horrid realization made, the group still did not hesitate to chop off his head, and, when this was done, to bring it to the Elder Tree. The tree knew enough to understand that what the Slayers had done was frowned upon in their society, and that they faced a hard fate. There was nothing that could be done.

With this message passed to them, the group began to leave the forest.

On their way out, however, they ran into the Verdant Prince. He expressed his deepest condolences and informed them that he may be able to do something about their situation. The members of the group who had made deals with him before said no almost instantaneously. However, Julius was receptive. He was offered to revive upon potential death if he only brought the Verdant Prince a Slabym, and he accepted this deal. Despite encouragement and even bribery from the other slayers, Julius managed to go back to Suthertree and find a human willing to make a deal with the Prince. In return, he was granted the power of potential resurrection. Deals with the Verdant Prince are dangerous, and I have no idea what the future will hold for this one.

The Slayers succeeded on their mission with few problems. Especially since the Slayer that they killed was decided to be “of no consequence”. However, something is wrong. A High Priest was murdered recently, and there is a general air of disturbance. The Citadel has felt safe for a long time, but something about it doesn’t feel quite that way anymore.

Perhaps it is just a feeling, but I can’t simply attribute it to that. The behavior of everyone around me seems strange, and is becoming stranger by the day. There is something being set into motion, and whatever it is, it probably isn’t good.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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Tenth Mission (21)
The Verdant Prince

The Slayers’ mission this time was to save a group of Slabi who had disappeared into the forest recently. A scout had recently identified a Slabym as possessing knowledge of the direction the villagers had disappeared in. With little else to go off of, my Slayers were sent after this man, as he led them through the forest to an unknown destination.

Before they had ventured far from the Slabi village, a Centaur approached them. It spoke to Gonsun, who could comprehend its language, and told him that he must not make a deal with the Verdant Prince, and that while it could benefit him, it would only end in disaster.

Their journey was interrupted by stumbling across the ruins of a forgotten civilization. This would be fine, if disturbing statues had not dotted them. Zayn was aware that these were not natural statues, but were instead constructs, and Laelis detected magic upon them.

However, everything was fine until the group noticed one of the statues moving behind them just as they were leaving.

They were completely unsure of it, but saw that it spit blood out of its face. This strange display made them fear it, and Laelis attacked it. However, it did not respond to this. Tentatively, WAR walked up to it and attempted to shake its hand. When it did, it coughed again, and blood flew out across WAR. Angered, and feeling something magical try to take hold of him, WAR attacked and destroyed the creature instantly.

However, once this happened, the group sensed an anger around them, and ran.

They were attacked, however, by a strange singing fey, as they tried to escape. The creature killed Laelis and WAR, and then flew away, laughing.

Trapped and unsure of whether they were able to continue their mission, the remainder of the group pondered returning to The Citadel. However, this was when the being known as the Verdant Prince appeared. He stated that he could bring back Laelis and WAR, and in addition he would give them all the Slabi they needed to complete the mission. in exchange for a single favor: they must capture a nymph for him, his lost lover. The forest had apparently decided that the two of them should not be together, and it would greatly anger it if he did anything to win her back. However, he promised that if they took her, As if to demonstrate his capability of granting their every desire, he returned the mission family of the Slabi who had helped them.

Ulfgar, Zayn, and Gonsun knew that the deal was dangerous, but they were desperate, and felt that they could not complete their mission otherwise. So they took the Verdant Prince up on his offer, and bound themselves to him.

The group then ventured south, to where the Verdant Prince’s “lost lover” had supposedly been. Gonsun noticed that the area seemed familiar. When they got there, they prepared an assault, and almost instantly destroyed the two treants guarding the nymph. She revealed herself, and declared them traitors, and in this moment Gonsun realized that it was the same nymph that they had encountered guarded by satyrs before.

Just then, “Corn!” Ran in.

He charged into the water, grabbed the Nymph, and pulled her to the shore. The other Slayers were both shocked and horrified at what they had done, and in wonder at why “Corn!” was here. Nonetheless, the Verdant Prince Appeared, and gave Laelis and WAR back as promised, as well as the villagers. However, all of the Slayers were horrified as they saw how he abused the nymph they had helped him capture right before their eyes. He informed them that yes, the forest would forget what they had done today, but the evidence would still exist, and it would be clear to decipher that Slayers had caused it.

And then “Corn!” wanted to make a deal. It is probably best not to dwell on the circumstances of this, but he ended up riding away on a colossal badger declaring that he would be the Verdant Prince’s manservant. We haven’t heard from him since.

The group, somewhat demoralized by what they had ended up doing, returned to the Slabi village. Though they had succeeded at their mission, this success had not come without cost. As they prepared to enter the Portal Stone, Shanara spoke to them, but did not appear. From her, they learned that she had made a deal with the Verdant Prince to escape the water she was bound to and no longer be a Glaistig, hoping to become a mortal. However, he had twisted the deal around, and made it so that she was neither a mortal, nor a Glaistig, only a being that did not belong, desperately attempting to make contact with the humanity that she desired to become a part of, but could not.

The Slayers returned to The Citadel and reported what had happened to me, and I am unsure of the steps that must now be taken. It seems that the entire forest will soon be angered at us. Some form of diplomacy may be called for.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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Ninth Mission (20)
The Suicide Mission

Last mission, as the Slayers were wandering through the forest, they found an elven ring. While this would normally have been sold to The Citadel and added to their increasingly large horde of gold, it was identified as a ring belonging to a “Hiltern” a rank of elven nobility comparable to a duke. If the elves were to find out that we had it, it would likely lead to an all-out war, which we certainly don’t need right now.

It was decided that we needed to deliver the ring, but any interaction with the Elves would surely end in death, and that, for this reason, the group who would be sent would likely not survive. I don’t know how it happened, but six of my slayers were sent, along with the scout Parolles Zeno. By some miracle, they survived, but I have to question the Citadel’s judgement on this. Why would such a large group be sent to their deaths? And why would it include our new member, Laelis, who came from an apprenticeship to become one of the Revered Maiden’s personal entourage?

Whatever the case, there were some interesting events on this mission. Particularly the ones that led to the survival of every Scout and Slayer in the group.

I must first detail the opening briefing. Apparently, Laelis, a new Slayer to our group, has bonded with WAR by the Revered Maiden’s design. WAR has revealed himself to be a reincarnation of Magnus…which…I cannot help but be terrified by. He knew things that only Magnus knew, however, and said things that only Magnus can say. It is a strange world we live in, and I guess I am forced to believe this.

As the group set out, I wished them good luck in what I was sure would be a final goodbye.

It started out normal, the forest was damp and grew damper as a heavy rainstorm came on. The group sought shelter beneath trees and waited out the storm, though the mud still slowed them down. The next day, they were attacked by a creature that they identified as a Banshrae, and four Shaedlings. Banshraes are rare, and dangerous, and this seemed to be a weaker one. Thankfully it dealt little harm to them, and the group moved on.

At the thick river, they spotted a small island with a hut on it. As they went to investigate, they saw an elf girl come out. She introduced herself as Marisen, and said that she was coming to this island to gather treasure for her father. It was clear from the beginning that this story was not true. The group interrogated her and found that she was actually running away for a human lover, and that this act was forbidden. If she was found out, she would be punished horribly.

Meanwhile the group got into an argument over exactly what to do with the treasure chest within the hut. Laelis paid Marisen a small sum of gold and she was willing to part with it, knowing that she needed no valuable magical items to live amongst the Slabi. WAR got into a massive argument with the rest of the group, insisting that they should break open the chest, with everyone else disagreeing, saying that this would anger the elves. Eventually, WAR broke the chest open and took the four magical weapons hidden within.

The Slayers then got into another argument, primarily what to do with Marisen and how to get to the elves. She informed them that there was a massive number of traps on the way to the elf civilization, and that only the elves themselves knew how to get through them. It was argued that they would hold Marisen hostage, that they would let her go and have nothing to do with her, that they would have her lead them through the traps, but nothing conclusive was brought up.

Eventually, though, Shanara appeared.

She told the group that Marisen would be an interesting bargaining chip, and that the Elves favored protecting their kin over killing outsiders. When they met the elves, however, they would probably be outnumbered. This was why it was important for her (Shanara) to be present. The elves would be afraid of her, and she would present an interesting tool to give the group an upper hand in a potential fight. Marisen was terrified of Shanara, and warned the Slayers not to accept her help, but she was ignored, and Shanara’s offer was accepted.

They were led across the river and through the forest. Here, Marisen showed them through the traps, and they were thankful, seeing that any one of them could have easily killed them.

Finally, they were confronted by an Elf. It was revealed, as Marisen cried out, that the man they were looking at was her father. The man showed no sign of any problem, however, with casting her aside. He asked Parolles to come forward, and members of the group realized that there were elven archers standing behind him. All they could do was what he told them.

He did not speak to Parolles, but merely cast a spell, and prepared to kill him.

But then he was captivated by Shanara’s song.

As all the other elves ran, Shanara made the elf come to her, and sucked all of his blood from his body. Marisen started to watch, but turned away and ran as well. WAR was the only one who stayed, and looted the body after Shanara left.

The group got in their folding boat and left the shore. They decided to bring Marisen to the slabi village where her lover lived. Unfortunately, though she took all the pains to disguise herself, Julius revealed her to the villagers as an elf. The group fled with her and her beloved, and came to the portal stone, where they took the blood of the elf and the slabi through into the Citadel, and put it into the fountain. My permission was asked prior to doing this, and it was granted.

I do not know why my Slayers would be sent on a suicide mission. I had thought that we were making great strides in the right direction; and, in addition, why would any group of Slayers this large be sent to their deaths? Don’t we need every Slayer we can get, as their total population drops closer and closer to the intolerable number of 200?

Perhaps there is more going on within The Citadel than I know of.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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Eighth Mission (19)
The Ent Seed

This mission, I was forced to send my Slayers out with little information. We did not know where they were going, and while we knew what they were looking for, we did not know what it actually was.

A group of Slayers sent by another priest had found a green orb in the forest. They sent a messaqe using a spell, saying that they had identified it, and apparently it was something extremely powerful. However, that was the end of their message. We had been eagerly awaiting their arrival…but they had not returned. Naturally, The Citadel was very frustrated by this.

My group was called on to follow through. First, they were to find out what the orb was, and if possible bring it back. In order to better locate the orb, we sent the Scout Parolles Zeno with them. Priscus Primoris was called forth to attend this mission, as he had created some kind of robotic hydra that needed to be tested.

All The Slayers had to go off of was the last place the other group had identified themselves as being, near one of the corners of the thick river. With little to go off of, they started venturing south. As they traveled along the banks of the river, they encountered a swarm of small fairies that demanded they play with them. The swarm seemed friendly at first, but the group was cautious. Parolles, knowing how to speak Sylvan, communicated with them and asked them what they wanted. In between the games of throwing acorns around, the fey mentioned that they wanted to play forever, and that the last people they had played with had wanted to stop playing, and that they had gotten angry and…killed them? That was what the general gist of the message was, at least.

Gonson created an image of the group leaving, and while the fey were distracted Priscus cast haste, and everyone ran from the creatures, then hid far away. Priscus, curious about whether the fey were coming after them, sent his Dove familiar to spy. Unfortunately, the dove was noticed, and the angry fairies killed it, then followed the general direction it had been running to reach the group.

Everyone ran away, and managed to retreat as the fey attacked Priscus’s mechanical hydra. Thankfully, even a thousand tearing hands can do little to adamantium plating. The hydra ran into the river, then submerged itself. The group argued about whether to leave the Hydra behind or not, but as they argued it emerged from the river, and they decided to forge on.

The group ventured west, where, hopefully, they would not be near the river. However, they still lacked any idea of where they were supposed to go. As they traveled, every member of the group except for Rin and Parolles was suddenly captivated by a strange noise, which they described as the most beautiful thing they ever heard. Despite Rin and Parolles trying to fight them, they were led to a fey ring, best described as a ring of soil surrounded by mushrooms filled with powerful magical effects. Neither WAR nor Gonson nor Kridon suffered any ill effects, and instead started speaking to the Pixies surrounding the ring. WAR started tearing mushrooms out around the circle, and the Pixies grew angry, demanding he put them back. Eventually, he did so, and the Slayers started questioning the Pixies about the green orb. Unfortunately, none of them knew about it.

As this was going on, Priscus entered the ring and immediately transformed into a toad. His party members could do nothing but stare. They asked the Pixies to change him back, but were told that they could do nothing. All of the sudden the pixies fled, and Shanara appeared again. She asked the group why they were in the forest, and upon being told about the green orb, informed them that a Nymph took it, expressing some level of disdain. Still, however, she told them where the nymph was, and then transformed Priscus back into a human. The problem was, she could only transform him into a human, not the same human. So it was that Priscus transformed into a toad which transformed into Jack, the random Slabi with no idea what was going on.

After being told where the Nymph was, the group headed in that direction. However, they did not find a nymph right away. Instead, they found a group of Satyrs, who were loud, boisterous, and planning a party…pretty much as Satyrs always are. With no other leads, the group celebrated with the Satyrs.

Thankfully, none of the Slayers drunk too much alcohol…except for Jack…but whether or not Jack counts as a Slayer is not a question I want to get into. A Satyr apparently took the drunken Jack aside to attempt to fornicate with him. Thankfully, Gonson prevented this from happening, but could not prevent Jack from vomiting and urinating.

During the party, Parolles noticed a drunken Satyr talking about Massandra, a name he did not recognize, before another Satyr shushed him. In the morning, Parolles approached this Satyr, and asked him who this was. He responded angrily, but after an aggressive inquiry he pointed Parolles to the Satyrs’ leader. The leader told the Slayers that she was a nymph, and that if they promised to do nothing wrong, he would let them talk to her. However, if they took any aggressive action, the satyrs would attack.

When the Nymph emerged, the group closed their eyes, knowing that they could be blinded if she wished it. She told them that she would not give them the orb, however, they could learn of its purpose if they did something for her. Some of her sisters had been attacked by giants recently, and that all the nymphs felt threatened. If the group attacked the giants and killed them, she would tell them what the orb was. The group agreed, and headed toward the cave she pointed them to.

When they reached the area, they found that they were at a cave of Ettins. Inside was a group of three two-headed giants worshipping a bear. The party fought them, and with the help of Priscus’s hydra, modified to listen to the commands of anyone, they defeated them.

Meanwhile, Jack was staying with the Satyrs. He crafted a spoon, and then took a nap. The Satyrs had a party, and he got drunk again.

The group came back the Nymph after slaying the giants, and she showed them the orb, telling them that it was an ent seed, and that it was useless to The Citadel. She then told them that if they did one final favor for her, she could turn Jack back into Priscus. The seed needed to be planted, in a Fey Ring, and thankfully, the group knew of one. She could not do it, as she and the Satyrs were bound to the fey pool. However, they could. IF they did it for her, they would be aided by any Nymph they met in the future. If they did not, they would become their enemy.

The group decided that they would do so, and planted the seed. As they did, it released enough power that the Nymph turned Jack back into Priscus. From here, the group said their thanks, and departed. They had one last encounter with Shanara before they left the forest, and she admitted to them that she hated Nymphs.

I know that the Slayers did not return the Ent seed to The Citadel. However, Nymphs could be a valuable, if not entirely trustworthy, ally to them. And at least Priscus was transformed back into himself. We need all the people we can get.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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Seventh Mission (18)
The Pixies of the forest

The group went on their first mission into the forest recently. Their goal was to find a group of children who had been kidnapped by Pixies from Suthertree, a Slabi settlement. Thanks to the Portal Stone, Suthertree was fairly easy to reach, and the group was exposed to the Slabi culture of the forest. The people here do not speak common, and many of the members of the group had a hard time speaking to them. They learned, however, that these people were extremely religious, and some of them, a little disturbingly, took the capture of their children in stride. The group spoke to the mayor, and to a friendly villager, and learned that the Pixies had taken the children south, along the river. A group of slabi had gone after them, but had not come back. The Slayers headed that direction, and after traveling for a considerable time met a man by a tree. The man told them that he was one of the slabi who had tried to rescue the children, but he and his group had failed to do this, and had instead tried to steal the Pixies’ treasure. The treasure was apparently back behind him if the group wanted it. WAR cauterized the man’s wound with a heated sword, and then checked the pile of treasure back behind the man. Unfortunately, the treasure was an illusion, and WAR fell into a pit of spikes. The man transformed back into a Pixie, and then disappeared. Thankfully, WAR was not significantly damaged, and removed himself.

In the night, Pixies swarmed the group’s campsite and started talking to them. The Pixies were eccentric, immature, and endlessly humorous, with no regard for human life. They made members of the group dance incessantly, and shot arrows of sleep, but eventually left when they grew bored.

Shortly after, they ran into their bizarre fey friend, Shanara, who seemed very offended at Parolles speaking Sylvan to her. She threatened him if he even glanced up her dress…for whatever reason. The interaction with her was strange. And she ended up even speaking to WAR briefly…what about, I don’t know. But their conversation partially concerned the Pixies, and she confessed that she did not like them.

Finally, they reached the Pixie camp, where the Pixies were holding the children. The interaction that followed was beyond bizarre. The Pixies were keeping the children in a large jar, having shrunk them. They demanded that they play a game, but couldn’t agree on which game to play. Eventually, the Pixies released the children, and said that they would play a game with the party. In the confusion that followed, the Pixies all killed each other until there was only one of them left…who promptly turned and flew away. The Slayers had…saved the children?

Anyway, as they headed back, they were attacked by a group of giant spiders. Thankfully, these were easily defeated, and the children were returned to the village.

All in all, this mission went well. We are lucky that these Slayers have yet to encounter the incredible danger that lurks within this forest, or at least encounter it in a way that is hostile to them. We can only hope that they are able to ease into this, and not outright die like so many of the other Slayers we have seen before.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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Sixth Mission (17)
The Journey to the Forest

Seeing as how they have been Standard Slayers for multiple missions, and they have performed…competently, I decided that it was time for my group to venture south, to protect the Slabí villages formed outside of the valley. For now, The Pánov have ruled that these settlements are still vital need to be protected, as humanity should not be trapped within the gulch.

As we all know, the first step to taking part in this missions is to activate the Portal Stone of the forest. This was the objective of our mission. Rin was not readily available, unfortunately, and I will arrange for her to activate the portal stone herself before any missions within the forest take place, and Kain, having fled The Citadel, was also unavailable. However, I was sent a new recruit, a being known only as WAR. Many of the group members were uneasy about the creature, if it can even be called that, and stayed uneasy about it throughout the mission. I, myself, am not entirely sure what it is.

In the briefing, I gave the group a folding boat and instructions on how to get to where they needed to be. Before leaving, Julius had the magical rope from a few missions prior identified. Apparently, is was a magical rope that would obey his every command.

So the group set forth through the valley. Thankfully, the thawing season was ending, and the worst they had to deal with was slush and mud. Unfortunately, I must report that WAR showed a strange disrespect for the other Slayers, and managed to scare their horses into fleeing simply by glaring at them. The group was scrambled, and thankfully managed to reorganize themselves, still, if they had been attacked during this, the results would have been disastrous.

They were attacked, however, the next day, by a group of Carnage Demons. Thankfully they were not powerful, and were easily dispatched by the party. However, further on in the forest they found a hastily built hut, containing a slaughtered family. Within the hut they found an amulet and a sword, both with strange eye-symbols on them. When tested for magic, they found no evidence of it on the amulet, but a powerful aura on the sword. Not knowing exactly what the symbol meant, they packed away both, and continued on.

After a few more days of travel, the group ran into a gnome burrow, which had probably once been built underneath the snow, but was now no longer hidden. Just as they encountered this den, the occupying gnome himself opened the door, and ran out, carrying a bag of goods. Most of the group took up chase, while Gonson stayed behind. As expected, they quickly caught up to the gnome, however, as soon as they did, they found that he was an illusion. Gonson, staying at the gnome den, spotted the real one leaving, and ran after him. Once again, a horse can easily outrun a short man with stubby legs, and Gonson tackled the gnome. The rest of the group arrived in time to see the two of them struggling on the ground, and everyone else joined in. They apprehended the Gnome and tied him up. He began to make negotiations, to which the group was cynical. They found four magical items in his bag, and he warned them that these were not properly made. However, he told them, there was something better. Cautiously, they followed them into his house, and he showed them what was apparently a stone that transformed into whatever gem they wanted it to be. They had the opportunity to sell this thing back to The Citadel for an unimaginable sum of money. Say what you like about these Slayers, but they did not accept the offer, and decided instead that the Gnome himself would be more valuable. So, they kidnapped him, and brought him with them.

As they moved south, they continued to harass the gnome, at some point forcing him to urinate while they held him above the ground from his hair. I, personally, don’t feel proud of the cruelty the group showed, but clearly within The Citadel this was not a problem.

Eventually, they reached the lake, where they activated the folding boat, and moved south across the water. Eventually, they ventured into the river, where the currents became rapid. They encountered ice floes, here, and slowed down or avoided them. Unfortunately, this became more difficult when they were attacked by a strange monster with a massive number of tentacles. The fight was long, and difficult, and during it Zayn was seriously injured. Thankfully, however, they eventually defeated it…only to almost run into the mountains on the edge of the river. After quickly turning the boat, they went the rest of the way down the river.

Finally, the group arrived in the forest. They folded the boat back up and traveled along the mountains. On the edge of the forest, as they wandered, Gonson decided to throw dirt at a tree.

I am not making this up.

He threw dirt at one of the trees. This tree and the tree next to it, with their roots, then formed a massive clot of dirt, and threw it at him. He was plastered to the ground, but thankfully alive. The rest of the group dragged him away. As they continued to travel through the forest, however, they encountered a strange woman sitting on a tree. Her skin and hair were pure white, and her eyes were bright red. Her speech was abrupt and random, and she would frequently call them rude and tell them she might eat them. Eventually, she introduced herself as Shanara, and told them that she would be their friend. The implications of this are uncertain.

Finally, they encountered the Portal Stone. Here, they injected their blood into the symbol so that they could teleport back to The Citadel. However, unfortunately, they realized that the Gnome they had been planning on bringing back did not have his blood in the Citadel fountain. Therefore, there was no way for him to come through. The discussion on what to do with him was short, Julius decided that he would kill him, and did so with no hesitation. Zayn prepared to cast a spell, but WAR interrupted this by grabbing him, and knocked Zayn unconscious. The group moved through the portal and returned to The Citadel.

As I write this, a trial will take place for Zayn. Several of the Slayers are disgruntled about Julius’s behavior. I am inclined to agree with them, though it certainly was not alright for Zayn to cast a spell on a fellow Slayer. After the results of this trial, we will see what the future of this group will be.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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Fifth Mission (16)
The negotiations with Svatyne

In light of what has occurred, I would like to apologize sincerely.

However, I would also like to recommend that less easily intimidated Scouts are sent out on missions in the future. Yes, a group of Slayers negotiated with the current head of the Koslod family. And yes, said group of Slayers was what has become increasingly known as “Novy’s tribe of freaks”, but this would not have occurred if the Scout appointed had not been stunned and broken down by Vari Koslod. These diplomatic scouts should be more carefully chosen in the future.

Regardless, what happened happened, and for the most part my Slayers did what they were supposed to do. Their mission was to escort the scout, Ervad, to Svatyne, where he would hopefully negotiate with the reigning monarch Miro Koslod, and find out why Svatyne was expanding.

Their journey was made difficult by the fact that the thawing season was underway, at the time, and ice and snow melting created a slush that was difficult to move through. White oozes were a constant threat, and they were attacked on their journey, thankfully making it through with no casualties. After a week of travel, the group reached Hillfoot, or the town that had once been Hillfoot.

To confirm Ervad’s report, if it is stated the same way: The Slabi are in a state of indentured servitude, perhaps closer to slavery, in the territories that formerly belonged to them. They are kept safe by walls around what used to be simple villages of huts. Their labor helps Svatyne to strengthen the defenses of its new outposts.

Some of my Slayers, I will admit, had problems with this. Kain, due to his draconic culture, did not believe in the concept of slavery. Negotiations with the new mayor of Hillfoot were tentative for this reason. Ervad had to do everything he could to stop a conflict from breaking out.

Thankfully, it was managed, and the group moved the rest of the way to Svatyne being escorted along with a group of merchants. Julius made fast friends with a human merchant…much to Kain’s dismay.

Upon reaching Svatyne, the group was forced to discard their weapons. Julius apparently concealed daggers in the saddlebags, which was a smart move, but ended up being unnecessary. There was no time to see the sights, or opportunity to get into a fight, as the group headed straight to the lord’s castle. They finally came across the new lord, Vari Koslod, and learned some interesting things.

Miro Koslod is dead. His son, Vari, has taken the throne. Vari is expanding Svatyne’s borders, and plans on stretching an empire across Zverak. Naturally, this has been attempted before. However, in earlier days, we had an alliance with Svatyne. Now, there is no alliance, and the country is intending on taking us over as well. Ervad was overwhelmed by this information, as well as Vari’s intimidating presence, and could not negotiate. The group was forced to step in, as Vari requested it himself. Kain, apparently, did most of the negotiating. Julius did not approve of his insinuations, but the lord accepted his terms. These suggested terms will be mentioned shortly.

It should be noted that when the group came back, Kain was insistent on seeing the Revered Maiden. However, she was busy, for a long time….today, he came into my office and informed me that he was leaving The Citadel.

At this point, I am down a Slayer, and one of the better ones. Kain left in a huff of impatience and irritability. The Revered Maiden managed to talk to Panov out of punishing him for his last, if brief, desertion, but I have no doubt that if he ever returns from this indefinite absence, he will be executed. Not that he wouldn’t deserve it. Like a coward, he fled back to his dragon cave where he wouldn’t have to bear the weight of making a difference. Meanwhile, more of that weight has been placed on the shoulders of those of us who are still willing to fight.

I wonder what the Revered Maiden would say, after fighting to keep him here.

But I digress, the suggestion appointed to me was as such: In terms of negotiations, we should offer to give Svatyne access to our golems. Without, however, the knowledge of how to build them. These golems would soon become an integral part of their civilization’s construction and defense, however, Svatyne’s lack of magical knowledge would leave them reliant on us.

The judgment of this proposal I leave to the hierarchy. I would appreciate it if you were to read it before you simply dismissed it.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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