The city of Borehole, we soon discovered, was doomed. An overwhelming army of blugori and white elves approached from nightwise, a second goblin army breached the city from within it’s own mines. There was no time to prepare. I ran ahead of the crew in an attempt to corral as many people as possible into the caverns that run beneath a massive swath of the landscape. Unfortunately, the rest of the crew decided to attempt a baffling combat manuever, and we were separated. I can only assume that as I navigated the nightmare network of tunnels with thousands of panicked refugees that the crew worked tirelessly to find us and safely expedite our return to the surface.
Our path through the tunnels required us to pass through drider territory. After some bargaining, their leader agreed to grant us safe passage through their lands as well as the Minotaur territory in exchange for five percent of the surviving populace. I refused to strike such a bargain on my own, and brought it to the people. There were more than enough volunteers. I was both moved by their bravery and saddened to require it. I felt like I had failed them somehow. The driders promised that they would not be harmed, and in fact planned to deliver them to Violus; an ancient Orek leader with whom we already have business. I had the brave volunteers mark their hands with a scar, which I share with them, so that they can be easily identified when I return for them.
The driders’ word was good, and we reached the surface safely. The equinox was not too far away, and we begun the construction of a fleet of boats that could safely bear the refugees to the port of Zechar near the city of Birth. Over the course of the month we investigated a vision of Dietlinde’s which led us to the former home of Cerra; the corporeal form of the Seeress. I also was able to finally deprogram Mars of the destructive worldview inflicted upon her by her mother and her cult. It means a great deal to me to be to able to call upon her as an ally. If there is hope for Mars, who was literally born into the cult of the black flame to find a better path, then there is hope for nearly anyone.
To describe the city of Birth is difficult. Firstly, it is a bureaucratic nightmare. Otherwise, it is a massive and beautiful place. As we ventured deeper into the city, we passed through a series of increasingly secure and elaborate curtain walls. Near the center wall, we again encountered Katarine, the emissary sent to greet us after traveling the fire road. She took us into the Silent House(actually a series of towers), a place she stewards, and has offered us a great deal of assistance within the city.
I think most importantly, she fast tracked us an audience with the high zha. We marched up through the elaborate central tower and gained an audience with….. a tiger. I’m not judging mind you, it’s just that tigers are harder to read than people when it comes to conversation. We were sent away with two scrolls. The first was a call for assistance asking us to enter the city of New Thebes through a portal in the lower reaches of the building. The catch is that nobody who has returned from the portal for the last 15 or 16 years. The second scroll was a call for assistance with an emerging goblin menace on the plains.
Our business in the tower concluded, we went to the forge district to meet the immortal of the district’s namesake. The immortal, as it turns out, is actually a sentient forge. It mysteriously generates shields every day. One of the shields generated that day seemed to be tailor made for Harolde.
I knelt and touched the forge, telling it of our plight, and asked for guidance. I received a vision of the white elves carrying a squirming bag through the portal to New Thebes 15 or 16 years ago. Shit. I should have known. The vision was physically taxing, and I was badly burned. If the forge wanted me to shave my head and eyebrows, it could have just asked.
On our return trip we encountered the kindly greylen vampire who assisted us when we crash teleported night side. It seems that her city has fallen to the Red Army. Apparently, they command a great deal of control over the undead. Our experiences with them thus far seem to confirm this. She was off in seek of guidance. I hope she finds it.
Another order of business: the great library. Katarine set aside some books for us concerning the civil war of the angels. Finally, some knowledge about where we come from and whom we’re up against. The author of the book, Zachariah Gallows, viewed what he called angels and demons with a similar lens, and seemed to think what was left of the universe better off without them. I will admit, it gave me some pause. If and when we find Cerra, our purpose in doing so is to assist her in becoming an angel. I wonder what old Zachariah would say about that. I also wonder if it would matter to any of us.