War of the Burning Sky

Shey's Diary, Page Four

And just like that I’m a lad again, nine years old, my only worry is for clear skies, and bird songs, and maybe for Tia to respond to my love letter. Then all of that evaporates, skies choked with ash, the way my father cries when he hears of my mother’s fate, and reading Tia’s letter, but only after I see her home catch on fire with her in it.

Now everything is dark, compressed, breath catching on rough wooden slats. Thunder crashing all around me as if it forgot that it was supposed to come with rain. What might have once been a gentle road is harsh and rugged, knocking my teeth together like a one man staccato symphony.

I see his eyes, red and hungry, pulling me in deeper and deeper. darkness replaced by blinding light, I fight, fight for breath as everything collapses in on itself. I am so scared. I am so, so scared. I just want to be home, I just want to be safe. I see his eyes again, Dark and foreboding. He says he can take me home, he can make me safe, everything that a child could want, and everything that an adult could need. And I want him and I want what he promises, and I will do what I have to to get it.

Then I feel the fire. Truly feel the fire searing flesh and muscle and charring bones. And Then I feel nothing, nothing except for rand’s rope around my ankle.

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Rand's Nightmare
Screams in the forest

Screaming. The others talk of songs and rebirth, but all I can hear is the screaming as that fiery beast burst forth from the stagnant grave we loosed it from. I cannot erase the image of it’s titanic hoof cleaving through that young woman as she sang, tears in her eyes, resignation etched across her face.
The fires died, the smoke cleared, and something infested my very soul. I want to be done with this place, I want to be done with the madness it seems to instill in people…a kind of mindless fanaticism the pulls at the ring, slamming them nose first into blood and mayhem.
I just have to get my sisters safe, and then I can go back for my parents, and yes, even my brother.

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Orvas' Journal (Page 5)

Well that was certainly a day.
As truly useful as those potions were, I’m glad to not need them anymore.
So it turns out that the talking fire (the fire that threatened to kill us) wasn’t that bad a guy.
I think he (it?) Was a stag. No idea how that works. Also, on a related note, I think Shey was possessed? Rand said something about a fire stag entering his body which you think I’d remember.
I would have thought the elements would protect Shey though, he seems so close to them, water especially. Maybe he’s just a bad cleric (with a death wish).
The local fairies (very nice folk) let me keep their sword. It is the best sword I have ever seen. And that’s saying something, because I’ve seen Erdan’s collection.
I think tend could use a cup of calming tea. Surely someone here has some.

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Out of the Fire

Goal: To escape the Fire Forest of Innenotdir

  • Finding a tower and an abandoned village on a river, the heroes decide to keep Haddin, Crystin, Grace, Revelation, Sendell, and Torrent at the tower while they go investigate the “fire demon”
  • They head downstream in the direction that the “fire demon” told them to
  • They come across a fairy girl, Tiljann, who is being attacked by some of her own kin. They want her dead because she refuses to stop “singing the song”
  • The Song of Forms is what they refer to, which Tiljann sings because it is keeping them alive, and the others just want an end to suffering
  • Downstream is a village, populated by the fey who call themselves Seela. Papuvin is the leader, and his duty is to continue the song. Vuhl, a naysayer, was rather convinced that the situation was unnatural and that they should all just let nature take its course.
  • Tiljann is apparently the only one who believes that there might be another option – the Living Blade, once wielded by the heroine Anyariel, who was a lover to the dryad Timbre. Timbre lived in the First Tree, the tree from which the forest sprang, and the living blade was cut from one of its branches. Tiljann said that if they stop singing, the fire would consume all and the Seela, being bound to the forest, would perish along with it. However, the living blade might somehow be the key.
  • Timbre was not up for receiving guests, so Shey did something very stupid unusual. Upon reaching Timbre’s tree, which was engulfed in a wall of flame, Shey stepped through, and promptly caught on fire, screamed, and fell over. While Rand managed to lasso Shey’s boot and drag him out of the flames, Shey sat up, appearing to have a pair of flaming antlers on his head. He said they had to free the fire.
  • Back at the Seela village, Tiljann said that she believed that Anyariel’s last battle, in which she fell, was with a giant stag, and their remains were at the bottom of the lake. The heroes swam out and Orvas pulled the living blade from the side of a giant stag.

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  • The stag emerged from the water, wreathed in flame, and began to hunt down the Seela that had been keeping it prisoner with the Song of Forms all these years. Vola and Orvas were able to convince it to let the Seela live.
  • The fire burned out and life returned to the Seela and the Fire Forest of Innenotdir
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Orvas' Journal (Page 4)

I think fire is a really neat thing. I mean, I’ve always had an affinity for the element, but it turns out that I only like it in small quantities. I do not ever want to come back here. Nope. Wow, what a terrible place.
I’m worried for everyone. I mean, I’ve been surviving so far but I’m not sure that some of the others can make it for much longer. I’m not sure what I can do about it though, is not like I can carry them. Torrent or Vola probably could. They’re a strong couple of ladies.
In other news, I think there’s some sort of elemental trapped here. That would probably explain why the forest is still on fire. I think. I’m not an expert.
Shey turns out to be from here, which I did not know. It explains the attitude.

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Through the eyes of Rand
No time for a Journal, to much running for my life

Columns of flame engulf every tree. Smoke billows with the fetid, dry breath of the forest. Drawing in and then rushing out in a deafening roar. Waves of heat pulsate against my flesh, withering hair and evaporating sweat before it can even begin to bead on the brow.

Shey screams something incoherent into the inferno, but it is ripped away before it reaches my ears. Vola points frantically off the trail, deep into the morass of flame.
I shrug and shake my head, not knowing what it is she wants me to see. I point, instead, at Orvas Hurt who plods ahead of us down the ancient elven road.

Charred corpses twitch by the roadside and Shey does his best to give them release from their suffering, but as soon as he does, as soon as their eyes roll back in their skulls, they start to claw feebly at him, begging for more.

I keep my family moving, along with Torrent and Crystin. The girls father scowls and stumbles after us, I cannot spare him the time, even Vola seems unwilling to aid him after his groping hands crossed a line.

Shey moves up and shouts something at Crystin through the roaring forest’s ebb and rise. She tries smiling back, but it is lost in the silt of grey ash that now coats us all.

Vola points again, this time up the road passed Orvas Hurt. Out of the have and smoke scrambles a tiny creature of flayed skin and molten sinew. It screeches and shoots toward us on wings of smoke and fire. It swoops in at me and mine, its hands stretched before it, desperate and grasping.

Then a hellish thing of wing and flame erupts from the have, roaring its fury above even the maelstrom a round us. It’s claws gnash, its teeth chitter, it roils through the air in pursuit of the impish thing.

Vola and Orvas Hurt fall upon it, Shey unleashes the fury of his mage craft. The ting doesn’t stand a chance. I grab the imp and alomost immediately through it away from us, the palm of my glove burned and my hand stinging.
It screeches again and flies into the forest.

Vola tries to tell us she understood it, that it was trying to warn us. Funny, I thought it was just using us as shields.

This forest is a trying to kill us, some one killed it, and now it wants revenge on everything that seems to have the audacity to be alive.

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The Elfroad
Into the Fire Forest

Goal: Make it through the Fire Forest alive

  • The heroes come across three charred corpses on the Elfroad, one of which moans and asks Shey to put him out of his misery. Shey obliges.
  • A fire mephit, fleeing an enormous flaming bat, asks Vola for help. The heroes kill the fire bat, which gets back up a few seconds later and bites Crystin.
  • They come across a stone bridge which has somewhat given way, and a wagon has gone into the gorge 60 feet down.
  • A flaming hound comes from the fire, and drops a large femur onto the road. The bone has scratches which reads “Leave the case. Cooperate, and we might find an arrangement to spare your lives. Carry this with you if you wish to bargain.” The heroes decide to carry the bone, and leave behind a tinderbox.
  • A man calling himself Kazyk teleports onto the road, holding the tinderbox. He says “Smart negotiators always obey the letter of any contract. Unfortunately, I have already signed one. I do so appreciate your spirit.” He summons five creatures of ash, and a fight ensues. When things don’t go his way, he say, “Good fight, but this isn’t over.”
  • A burning tree falls across the road, and a wall of fire crosses the road behind them. Then a searing spear bolts down and from it erupt three small flaming stags. Two are dispatched, but with the third, Shey cuts his hand and offers it as a blood sacrifice. The third stag melds with Shey. To what end? Unknown.
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You hear whispers amid the trees, snatches of words coming from all directions, growing louder and more intense all around until finally a booming voice shouts from the flaming trees:

“Come!” it roars. “Follow the river. Set me free!”

The flames on the fallen trees blockading the road flare as a draconic face emerges, shaped of fire, its head adorned with a massive crown of jagged horns. The image then fades so only a pair of eyes remain. A voice enters your minds, deep, fiery, burning with restrained anger.

“Know this: I am the flame; I am a prisoner here. Save me, free me from the prison of this enforced flesh, and you may continue to your destination. Refuse, and never shall you leave this wood. You shall be a prisoner for as long as I. You shall burn forever, and never die.”

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Chapter 2

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The heroes have escaped from the city of Gate Pass with vital military intelligence as the Ragesian army’s assault came down upon it, and have set off toward the town of Seaquen and the mage school of Lyceum. The heroes and the sea-cleric Torrent, the elderly wizard Haddin Ja-Laffa, and his seer daughter Crystin have arrived at the edge of the Fire Forest of Innenotdar.

Forty years ago, Innenotdar was home to an elvish people who wanted to remain neutral in the conflict between Ragesia and Shahalesti. One day refugees began to flee from the forest, claiming it had been put to the torch, though no one could agree on who had been responsible or why. While the refugees settled into a walled ghetto in Gate Pass, they were shocked to learn that the fires that had driven them from their homeland were not dying. For forty years, Innenotdar has burned relentlessly, with no signs that the flames will ever either abate or burn out.

The heroes have chosen to brave this dangerous pass because it is too hazardous for Ragesians to pursue them therein, and because, whereas it would take weeks to travel through the snowed in mountain passes, with the proper magic (potions of stand the heat, of which they possess many), they should be able to cross the fire forest in less than two days, taking the old Elfroad from the Otdar mountains to the northern border of Dassen, beyond the reach of the Ragesian army.

But the forest is still a home to some, and Ragesia will not give up pursuit simply because there is danger.

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The Scouring of Gate Pass
End of Chapter 1

The heroes’ main goal in The Scouring of Gate Pass was to get a cleric named Torrent out of a city under siege before a group of mage-hunting inquisitors arrive and begin capturing and killing spellcasters. Before they could leave, though, Torrent needed the heroes to help her retrieve vital military intelligence from one of the rebellion’s spies, Rivereye Badgerface. However, spies from Shahalesti had already captured the contact, and the heroes had to track down their base of operations in an elvish ghetto, all while the city is under attack.

After retrieving the information, simply walking out of the city was not an option, so the heroes had to call upon a sympathetic city councilman, Erdan Menash. While they sought a way out of the guarded walls of the city, the heroes were constantly followed by a group of mercenaries hired to capture them. Once the heroes made it out of the city, they defeated the mercenary commander who had laid a gauntlet along the road. The second in command, Kathor Danava, had a difference in opinion with his former boss, and allowed the heroes to continue unmolested.

Finally, the heroes headed for the edge of the Innenotdir Fire Forest, a dangerous passage where Torrent thinks they can evade pursuit. At the border of the Innenotdar Fire Forest, however, they came across a hermit, Haddin, and his daughter, Crystin. Crystin asked their help to convince her father to flee, but just as they were ready to depart, a Ragesian inquisitor, sent on a special mission to retrieve the hermit, arrived and attempted to capture them all.

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Shey's Diary, Page Two and Three

PAGE TWO

Damn them! Useless pigs! self serving vicious mockeries of civil men! Fiends, all of them, with horned heads so far up their— AGH! Damn them to whatever underworld they wish but damn them all! I will see their ancestor’s graves drowned in the blood that they have wrought. I don’t want to think of what I would do if I got my hands on one of their inquisitors, but I know that they would not walk away from it.

I have been complacent. I thought that if I just kept trying to help my neighbors with the little things, healing their ill, caring for their children, the like. I thought that maybe that would be enough and I could leave the nobles to their petty games. I was obviously mistaken. I won’t pretend to understand the machinations of a human court. Or any court really. But it is painfully obvious that the Gatepass government is seasoned with one part corruption to two parts ineptitude.

I know first hand that my aunt is powerful. I understand that she is one of the strongest spellerists in the greater Gatepass area. I know that she can look after herself better than any of us. Or, she could, forty years ago. My aunt is aging. Her veins may pump the blood of the ancient folk, but she is old, and no doubt very tired of conflict. She is my only family and I just want her home safe. I just want a home to come back to.

PAGE THREE

I know that I can come off as extreme, and that’s not something I am ashamed of. My brothers and sisters are bleeding in the streets, and blood will have blood. However, I also know that this sometimes can make me a difficult person to bear. I feel I should apologize for some of my words last night. I probably won’t. But I should.

Kathor Danava, Kathor. Why him? Why is he here? What is his purpose, his real purpose. What does he signify. Hopefully I will learn in time. I need a nap.

So here I am, back home at last. I wish I could say that I didn’t miss it, that the smoke and ash choking it’s way through my lungs, and blackening my hair, didn’t fill me with so much anger, and sadness, and, and fear. I was but a lad when it happened, but I can feel the heat on my skin with every step nearer my birthplace, I can hear my sister’s wailing, wailing, then silence. I can feel the oppressive, choking blackness, swallowing reason.

Maybe I’ll find where mother died. She probably lies in some mass grave, a twisted skeleton, scorched ebon. I, I can’t think about that. One foot in front of the other.

This Crystin girl, I need to learn more about her. She said she dreamed of me. I need to talk to her about it, I need to learn more. Maybe she knows more about the nature of my powers than even my aunt. Or maybe she’s just a girl, touched by some unseen force, swept up by some power neither of us could understand.

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