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Faerin's Thirteenth letter

Dearest Father,

I regret to inform you that we will be delayed from returning to Khan Hall following our quest to retrieve our friend’s body from Aurion. We have gotten involved in the local politics of Aurion and find ourselves unable to leave again for at least the coming two months.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, we had travelled to Aurion through the Fey Realm and Umber Reach after the events at the shrine of Gobnu My last letter I had written from the family home of House Auzetior, on the outskirts of Aurion. We spent the night there and awoke to find that Fierna, our friend, had her body restored to her. Our quest complete, we decided to take one quick look around the city and make some acquisitions. I was hoping to buy plenty of souvenirs to take back home with me.

Aurion is very impressive, far large than I could have possibly imagined. And everywhere you look, there are stone buildings reaching to the skies, at least ten times as high as the tallest building in Khan Hall. I had no idea that these human wizard were capable of such architectural feats. There are many canals that intersect through the city, and several sections are blocked of by great walls and stone gates. Most of the population at first glance seemed to be human. It is only after spending a day there that we discovered some of the other races as well. And what variety there are in humans, there are skinny humans and fat humans, smelly humans and well-dressed humans. It took me some time, but I have learned to identify the different subraces that exists within Aurion. There are the wizards, the so-called nobles, with fine dress and on occasion a pointy hat, and then there are the clansmen, with barely any dress and often covered in dirt. I much prefer the clansmen to the wizards as they seem to be far more pleasant and far less deceitful.

As we were interested in magical items, we first went to the Arcanum district. There we found a shop called ‘Modern Magic’, which contained the largest store of magical artefacts that I have ever seen. I went a bit on a spending frenzy and bough we four magical items and a non-magical painting. After which I was 1000 gold shorter. But it was money well spent! I now have a helm that allows me to understand nay language. A stone that allows communication over great distances. A periapt that stops bleeding and a ring that offers protection from weapon attacks. The painting is also exquisite, it features the surrounding landscape with Aurion in the middle. Quite a sight.

As we hadn’t found everything we wanted yet, I was still missing some souvenirs, we journeyed to the Layman’s district in the North of Aurion. Varris in particular was very keen on finding a magical item that would hide him from magical detection, but such an item was seemingly banned in Aurion. We went to Elvira’s Brew, a potion shop, but could not find any the items we searched, save for a stone of luck and an impotence potion that Fierna offered to buy for Varris. I had no idea Varris suffered from such issues, you definitely would not be able to tell from the way he behaves, but Fierna was quite insistent. We then continued on to Bron’s Bazaar. Here Nissa bought a pair of invisible gloves (for which Varris claimed she overpaid by quite a bit). Varris himself sang a beautiful song before purchasing the item that he sought, at a bargain price apparently. Our final shopping stop was at Aurion Oddities. Here I finally found my souvenirs and trinkets that I wished. I even found a nice doll for Lyn. While I’m sure she’ll tell me that she is too old for dolls, this one is special.

Within the Layman’s district, we did happen upon a strange but very familiar sight, a Dwarven style tavern called the Hall of Hills tavern. It is quite jarring to see stout Dwarven architecture surrounded by flimsy wooden human buildings, but it immediately reminded me of home. The inside is just the same as the outside, 100% Dwarf. We even got some of Khan’s Finest Stoutrock Ale inside! This tavern is going to make my stay a much more pleasant one. And we even ran into Aunt Karin there! She was just returning from Raven, a nearby mage city, and was getting ready to return to the Beinnhall Hills. We shared a pint and the latest gossip. Apparently a conflict is brewing between the clansmen and the wizards in Aurion. Several incidents have already transpired. At the time I did not know the details, but later we learned that the clansmen’s land was stolen during the founding of Aurion and that there shamans were put to death. Even now the clansmen are treated as second-rate citizens, if even that. Karin also spoke of wizards being assassinated over the past few days. While we did not think much of it at the time, we would be facing the assassin up close before long.

Our thirsts decently quenched for the first time in days, we travelled to the Highlord District. The Auzetior family has an outhouse in this district where Fierna said we could spend the night. The Highlord District is a combination of parks, ponds and magnificent mansions. The Auzetior house was again huge. Though this is just an outhouse, I believe it could fit an entire Dwarf contingent, maybe even twice over. And this only housed a single person, namely Fierna’s mother, Mercelina. We had a pleasant evening dinner with her and told her all about our journeys and adventures. Before long, we were headed to bed. By this time, my brother and I had grown weary of the opulent bedrooms and we took up our residence in the cool basement.

The next morning, we awoke to cheering coming from outside. Nissa, Fierna and I ran out to witness a ship flying overhead. It was the strangest sight. The ship looked inverted, but had masts and sails like one would expect. It was also suspended in the air and did not seem to give any indication of dropping down any time soon as one would expect it to. We followed the ship and it docked at the Aurion Magical Academy. While they did not let us in, Fierna and Nissa used their magic to make us invisible. I followed Nissa in, just in case she would get into trouble, which I fully expected to be the case. We made our way through the academy, using a strange magic device that could teleport us unto different floors. At the 30th floor we found the sky ship dock, along with its crew, a well-dressed Half-Elf. The skyship was listed as part of the Inaste Trading Company and we learned that it heralded from Raven. Nissa slipped the Half-Elf a note stating that she was interested in acquiring his ship and we got away before we were detected. We then returned to the Auzetior Mansion in the Highlord District and regaled our friends with our tales of a flying ship.

As we were exchanging stories, Fierna hushed us. She had heard something out of place, reminiscent of spell casting. Before we knew what we were dealing with, we were beset by several large snakes. The snakes were huge and vicious. We engaged them immediately, but each time we struck one down, it simply disappeared and a new one would just slither in and attack. After what must have been six or seven snakes, they stopped coming. We spread out trying to find the person responsible. We checked outside but could not find anything. Then we realized that Miri was no longer with us and we heard thumping sounds from the upstairs floor. We rushed up as a group and were greeted with the sight of Miri engaged in combat with Marantha, the same assassin who had attacked us in Woodsong all those months ago. I had since wondered what had happened to her and I tried to convince her to stop attacking us. Surely there was no longer any reason for her to fight us, Xerax was long dead and his plans for Arcarost valley were no longer relevant. We still hadn’t gotten to the bottom of what had transpired in the mountain with the Calamity. So I wanted answers and the best way that would happen would be to talk to her.

I stayed my weapon, trusting in Miri’s ability to take a punch. Miri is far stronger than I will ever be and I have learned to trust her in these things. I reached out to Marantha and she launched a small dart into my neck. It didn’t really phase me, so I pressed on. Seeing that we had her cornered, Marantha teleported away. But she offered me the chance to join her spell. I felt I had no choice and I joined her. We teleported out of the mansion to the garden that surrounded it. And for the first time in months, we got to talk again. She told me that her clan was now on the run, pushed out of Arcarost Valley with nowhere to go. She herself had been forced to raise funds the only wat she knew how, as a blade for hire. In this case she had been hired by a masked figure who called himself Ombras to kill wizards. She had come her today to kill Mercelina.

I immediately felt a pang of guilt. The entire resolution with Xerax and the Calamity still festers in my heart. I feel that I have failed Woodsong and our clan. Learning that the entire clan, whom I could only see as the enemy during our conflict, were now on the run as refuges only adds to the burden. Though they were wrong to try and wake the mountain and attack Woodsong, I feel sorry for the snake people who followed Xerax because they had no other choice. As I had learned, their clans fought and killed each other more often than not and Xerax had brought stability and rest. We had taken that all away and now I believe we have failed them as much as we failed those in Woodsong. For me, Marantha embodies that failure. I feel like I was the one who forced this life on her. I could have looked for her afterwards. I could have tried to arrange something for the lost clans. It was then that I decided that I would try to save her as part of my penitence. I know that there is good in Marantha and I know that I can bring her to the side of good. If I can do just that, I could almost convince myself that it might all have been worth it.

Marantha told me that she had poisoned me with a magical disease using the dart she hit me with before and that only she had the antidote. She told me to stay out of her business and then she would give me the antidote when she was done. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Lugh protects me from such malignancies. I gave Marantha one of the sending stones so that we could communicate with each other. Miri rushed out at that point and I blocked her way so that Marantha escaped. I had to prove that we were not the enemy and she was not ours. Our main foe is Ombras, the masked man who had hired her. Even if we captured Marantha, he would simply hire someone new. Miri strongly disagreed and snuck off after.

We went back in the house and questioned Mercelina on who might want to kill her. She could not think of anyone. For her own safety she did move to the Archmage’s Castle where she would be safe from any would-be assassins hopefully. So we headed out into the city proper to gather some information. We let Varris take the lead as he was to most acquainted with the best spots for socializing. As we headed into town, Varris told me that he suspected that I had been entranced by Marantha (not the last person to accuse me of such). He praised that there was no fruit as sweet as young love. I explained that he was being ridiculous and that I only wished to save her. Furthermore I am pretty sure that at the moment she does not like our band nor me, and with good reason. Varris did keep up this conversation topic until we finally arrived at the Dancing Dryad.

Varris immediately set about gambling at a table with six guards. Gambling makes the tongues loose, he claimed. It seemed to have worked, as he discovered that all the murdered wizards so far had been likely candidates for the upcoming election. They had also all been killed by snakes. The lead investigator was someone called General Sasha Coldfire, who was apparently the daughter of some important mage. I did some interrogation myself and learned that the clansmen had had dealings with Ombras. In particular I was referred to Chief Darren Pineblood.

Just as we were about to leave the Dancing Dryad, a bouncer grabbed someone in front of us who had just lost terribly at a game and threw him out on the street. Varris bought back a jute bag that the man had lost and went out into the street to give it back. The man turned out to be a professor at the Magical Academy called Jake Omar. Varris gave him back his bag in return for a favor, a meeting with General Sasha Coldfire. Jake told him that he would do his best but that his connections might not be good enough. Jake proved to be a useful ally in the coming days.

We quickly went to visit Mercelina at the castle and confirmed that indeed she had been approached to be a candidate for the city council. But this was all unofficial and no one knew the whole list before publication, save for the Magelord. She also told us that assassinations for this post never occur, they are very temporary and one can simply try again in a few years.

We then travelled to the walled enclave in the north where most of the clansmen lived, in the hope of gaining more information about Ombras. The humans there were dressed mostly in leathers instead of the fancy robes common through the city. They sported tattoos and have long hair. Many of their house are simple huts on poles. We sought for one of the larger buildings and entered an inn called The Warrior’s Rest. The inside of the tavern was absolute chaos. There was fighting, drinking, singing, lovemaking and dancing all in a single room. It was glorious.

Miri and Nissa tried to make their way to a clansman in the center of the room who seemed to be someone of authority. But they were stopped by a very loud and very drunk clansman looking for a fight. It all escalated very quickly. They bumped into him. He yelled. Nissa turned into a bear. Luckily I jumped to diffuse the situation with the universal remedy, some of Khan’s Finest. I joined the drunk clansmen back at his table. I spent about an hour drinking with three clansmen. These were people who knew how to live. One of the clansmen, Krisbend told me all about his four wives and how they couldn’t know about each other. Another one, Kusrar, had journeyed all over the world on a walk-about to find his spirit animal. The last one, Brurr, once fought two bears, maybe even at the same time – the drunken slurs were hard to understand.

In the meantime, my friends got the chance to speak to the figure in the middle of the tavern, who turned out to be Chief Darren Pineblood. He told us of the injustice that the wizards had brought upon the clansmen. How their lands had been taken and their shamans killed. And to strike a blow at the wizards, he admitted to working with Ombras right up until he betrayed them. When the council had recently raised the import taxes into the city, the clansmen had risen up and organized a food blockade. But the wizards had simply built a portal to get the food. The clans organized a raid on the portal and it was here that Ombras helped get them in. But Ombras had set them up and it turned out to be a trap. Ten clansmen were killed and they were seen as the barbaric aggressors. The conditions for the clans were now worse than before. The chief did still have the key that Ombras had provided for them and claimed it could be used to magically track the masked man, but he wanted something in return. Nissa offered them a place in Arcarost valley. While they did not all seem inclined to leave their home, they did agree to send an ambassador to Woodsong to survey the location. And in return we received the key.

We then traveled to the Magical Academy in search of someone who could scry for us. We asked after Professor Jake Omar and were escorted inside. Jake was inside his office with his assistant Diana Jae. Interestingly they were just doing research into Dwarven history. It turns out that they had recent discovered a strange Dwarven artefact in a residuum mine. We immediately recognized it as another part of Peacebringer, the legendary weapon used against War. They were eager to learn more and we told them about the other pieces we had found. We worked out a deal with them. We left them the piece we had secured from the Celestial Tome for them to study. In exchange, they would give us both pieces when their study is done in a few weeks. They will send us a sending spell to let us know when they are done.

Jake then performed a scrying spell on the key. He had no issue finding Ombras Onel, who turned out to be in a forest somewhere near a shrine of Dullahan, an ancient Elder Fey. He was taking part in a ritual along with a circle of other humans. Jake recognized one of these humans as Ivar, a student at the Academy. This student as we soon learned is part of the transmuter student guild and has an abode close to the campus.

So we set ourselves up near the student mansion where Ivar Kenneman lived. We were not the only ones waiting for Ivar, there was also May Willowlash, a clan girl who is apparently the girlfriend of Ivar. As we waited for Ivar, we got impatient. Miri tried sneaking in invisibly but failed when the spell faded as she crossed the threshold. The same happened to Nissa in cat form. I lost five gold to Varris here because I had faith in my friends. at least they hadn’t set off any alarms or alerted any guards. Varris himself tried more successfully by simply disguising himself and entering the mansion, claiming to be searching for Ivar for his expertise. Before long Ivar did arrive and he was accompanied by a goat, a cat and a snake, which was twisted around his staff. Varris spoke to him about acquiring his services to change him into a true elf and he seemed to convince him of his interest. He did not immediately ask him about Ombras, but Varris assures me that it is part of a ‘long-con’.

We then regrouped at the Auretior mansion again. When we entered, a wizard called Rovaart Temps was waiting for us. He wished to hire us as his campaign managers. Rovaart is one of the upcoming candidates for city council and has gotten a bit worried with all of the murders. He doesn’t trust anyone from the city itself, so was looking for trustworthy outsiders. Mercelina was the one who recommended us. He offered us a magical item for our services as he was the owner of ‘Magic On Demand’, one of the renowned shops in the city. He seemed honest and genuine, and his policies were fairly reasonable for a wizard, so we said we would think about it.

Miri had stayed behind to keep an eye on Ivar. But she was startled by the distant sounds of battle. May, the clan girlfriend, rushed away. Apparently a war had broken out between the clansmen, between those that wanted to leave the city under guidance of Chief Pineblood and those who wanted to use ancient druidic magic to bring back the shamans under the lead of Oakblade.

We joined Miri just a bit later. And it was then that she admitted the truth to me after prompting by Nissa. When she had left two days before, she had hunted down Marantha and captured her. She had then turned her over to the guards. I thanked her for telling me it to me then and sped away to find her. I knew that this city was absolutely ruled by these wizards and they had little tolerance. So I was worried what would have happened if they knew they had captured an assassin who had been killing their fellow noblemen. I entered the first guard house that I saw, which did not turn out to be the right one. So I rushed to an even larger one where they are supposed to keep the prisoners. Unfortunately it was night, so they would not let me in until morning. So I waited.

The next morning the magister arrived and he agreed to see me. I told the magister all the things we had found out about Ombras, who he was creating chaos in the city by killing wizards and by setting up the clansman. He used some sort of magical device to confirm that I was telling the truth. I asked him what was to become of Marantha, and he said that she was never getting out of there. He also had me tested for charm effects after I detailed how Marantha had tried to kill me twice already but I was still trying to save her. Eventually he agreed to let me see her.

I was given five minutes with Marantha. She was angry, mostly at Miri, which was understandable. But she had also resigned herself to her fate. I told her that I would try to help her in any way I could. Unfortunately the prison is far to secure to attempt a jailbreak at this time, so I decided to use a more diplomatic approach. And I happen to know someone who was running for city council and would soon owe me a favor.

So I headed back to the mansion and explained everything that had happened and my plans going forward. Miri gave me back the sending stone I had given Marantha before leaving. Varris came up with an elaborate plan involving three different persona’s that he would have to play. Sometimes I think he just likes complicated solutions. We headed out to Rovaart’s place to tell him that we agree to work for his campaign. The candidate names had also been announced. Some we knew, some were new. I could have sworn that I saw Varris lose a bit of color in his face when he saw the name lists, but I don’t know what that might be about. Varris spent the remaining day training Rovaart in public speaking and election politics. Me, my brother and Nissa set about to make some plans for the campaign.

Election day is two months away. I hope, for my soul’s sake, that I am in time to save Marantha. If that is even possible.

I am sorry that my trip is going to take so much longer. I wish you all the best and hope to return as a true hero for once.

Love to mother.

Faerin Khan

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