Everfall: Rise of Nations

Felvida 8th Through 14th, Corlin Quentel

Felvida 8th Through 14th, Corlin Quentel

Dearest Mother,

I hope this letter finds you well. I apologize for my lack of correspondence as of late, but I have been uniquely indisposed.

The trouble with my villainous abductor continued quite overwhelmingly. I awoke from my newest bout of unconsciousness with an aching hand. Mr. Barleywright and Miss Cross were considerate enough to examine it, but could detect no indication of injury. However, despite the lack of evidence, Mr. Barleywright was kind enough to take my word as truth and attempted to heal my hurt regardless.

My budding goodwill quickly abated when Mr. Barleywright proceeded to suggest heating the unidentified metal of the bracelet in the hope of liquefying a section of it in order to remove it from my wrist. I adamantly refused, of course, and Miss Cross showed good sense in siding with me on the issue. I suggested researching the markings on the bracelet instead. As you taught me: when in doubt, gather more data.

As Content Not Found: julius-boch feared that we would bring my abductor down on his house (quite a reasonable assumption, considering my hypothesis that the bracelet acted as a homing beacon), we were escorted off of the plantation. Connor was mysteriously unconscious, but I did not waste the time of asking how this had come to be – he had probably attempted to pick a fight with the wall, or something equally asinine. Luckily, Mr. Boch leant us the use of two of his guards to carry our fallen comrade out on a gurney.

Mr. Barleywright healed Connor and explained that he was knocked unconscious when lightning shot from the bracelet when the item cracked. Apparently he was trying to break it off while I was unaware – the bracelet, not my aching finger, as Miss Salvatore was quick to assure me. I would not put it past Connor to maim me in an attempt to remove the bracelet – he had suggested as much before I was initially knocked unconscious. It had come to naught, however, as the bracelet had reformed after it incapacitated him.

It was night by the time we reached the main road in the middle of town. Miss Cross suggested we visit Content Not Found: madame-bota_ – an earth archon gypsy woman that Miss Cross and Miss Salvatore both swear to be truly clairvoyant. We shall have to see, as true seers are rare and most are revealed to be charlatans sooner or later. However, there were a few points in the woman’s favor, as she aided in reuniting me with my companions. Apparently _Content Not Found: madame-fluffers was also involved somehow, though it is unclear to me exactly what role she could have played. Luckily I left her back at Mr. Boch’s estate, where she should be safe.

Miss Salvatore was the first one to spot something amiss, catching sight of eerie blue lights floating above the ground. When we approached to examine them, the bracelet began to ping again. Taking this to be a bad sign, I retreated to a safer distance. Miss Cross recognized the glowing rune as reminiscent of the ones that graced the bracelet – four of them in a square. She realized something and called a warning, but walls of glowing energy rose from the ground and engulfed us before we could flee. Everyone but the still-unconscious Connor drew our weapons.

One guard was immediately struck dead by a horrifically familiar blast of energy through is torso. The other attempted to run, but disintegrated upon contact with the barrier surrounding our group. We were quite effectively trapped.

Suddenly, the gear that had abducted me appeared before us and gestured for me to present myself to him. When I demanded an explanation, he refused to answer. After a tense standoff (during which time I deduced that he would recognize each person’s different type of energy by means of a rotating, color-coded eye), I finally acquiesced to his demand, realizing that he was prepared to strike out at my comrades. Mr. Barleywright attempted to hinder my approach, but I was unswayed.

Fortunately, the gear – addressed as Exe by Miss Cross, who apparently discovered this information while I was captive – retracted his weapons when I complied with his demand. Miss Cross demanded to know what Exe wanted with me, and he finally deigned to reply: “A bounty is a bounty.” I haven’t the foggiest idea as to who might order a bounty on my head. I have no enemies (at least, none that would single me out from my group as exceptional among them), and I am not nearly so well-known (or respected) as you are, Mother. I admit that I am still utterly bewildered by this development.

Exe ignored our further inquiries and made a gap in the energy wall with his shield, beckoning me through and proving that he was in control of our cage. When I refuse, Exe displayed a repugnant brutishness by torturing Miss Cross to procure my cooperation. Nothing anyone did seemed to phase him, and so I was forced to comply.

A few things happened very quickly after that: Mr. Barleywright jumped into the fray as Miss Cross called out to Mr. Avren – I had been unaware that he had arrived – and I deduced that Exe had displayed the ability to kill me easily, but had resorted to coercion or non-lethal abduction every time. Clearly, the bounty on my head demanded that I be delivered alive. Before I could actually act on the information, however, I was knocked unconscious. Yet again. I shall have to request an examination for brain damage. The frequency with which I am knocked senseless is beginning to become distressing.

I regained consciousness when Mr. Avren slapped me awake. I found myself outside the ring with him, while the rest of our companions were still trapped within with Exe. Guards had surrounded the ring, but wisely refrained from attempting to breach it.

I was unable to do anything but watch as the scoundrel and my comrades fought. Exe was able to counter any moves they made. Soon, he hit Miss Cross with a black ray from a scroll in his arm. Miss Cross was knocked unconscious, and Exe continued to trade blows with my companions.

By this point I had become quite frantic with my inability to aid my friends. When Mr. Avren asked me if I thought I had enough strength left to run. His comment, combined with my earlier revelation about Exe’s motives, sparked a desperate idea. I called out to him, challenging that if he truly wanted me alive, then he would have to act. I ran straight at the lightning shield as fast as I could. Now, Mother, I assure you that the action was not as thoughtlessly reckless as it seems. I was fairly certain there was no true danger to my life, as his contract most probably required that I be delivered alive. It seemed only logical that I use this fact to my advantage in order to free my comrades.

My ploy was successful. As I suspected, Exe was unwilling to let me come to irrevocable harm, destroying the barrier just as I reached it. Unfortunately, the act of destroying it caused it to burst outward in a shower of sparks, knocking all the guards and I unconscious in the process.

I was jolted back to consciousness as I hit the ground. I found that Exe was standing over me. He was holding Mr. Barleywright up off the ground. As Exe spun to throw him, Miss Cross and Miss Salvatore managed to hit him. Suddenly, he vanished – becoming invisible and retreating into the night.

Remembering that Miss Cross had been injured quite badly, I ran toward her. She wasted no time in grabbing me and beginning to run. She accidentally hit a rune that Exe had thrown as he fled – she immediately dropped to the ground. I managed to catch her as she fell, but accidentally and unknowingly came into inappropriate contact with her. Unthinkingly, I dropped her again to assure her that it had been accidental and apologize for my breach of etiquette, and she hit the ground. She appeared conscious, but completely unable to move.

Miss Cross’s condition was quite distressing – her skin was striated with flowing shadows, and much of her hair had begun to turn white from the root. Unfortunately, the symptoms where completely foreign to me. Mr. Barleywright assumed that her condition must be demonic in origin, but could do nothing about it, as it was after sundown. Miss Salvatore tried her luck with a nocturne prayer, but was interrupted by Mr. Barleywright’s disparagements. I was surprised to agree with this sentiment, though I assure you that our thought processes were quite different – Mr. Barleywright was convinced that Miss Salvatore’s prayer was useless simply because it was nocturne. However, you and I know better, don’t we, Mother?

By this point, the guards were awakening, and Connor had roused Mr. Avren.

I had previously realized that the bracelet, in addition to suppressing my abilities, acted as a homing device, allowing Exe to locate me. To avoid another debacle like the one we had just experienced, I had to remove it. As my comrades had already proven through extensive experimentation that the bracelet could not be broken, that left one option for speedy removal: breaking my thumb in order to slide the bracelet off my hand. I tried to convince Mr. Barleywright to attempt breaking my thumb; he appeared uncomfortable and attempted to defer to Connor, but I refused. Connor is indelicate, to say the least, and I judged him to be ill-suited to such an exact task – I would not put it past him to try to cut off my whole hand.

Before we attempted the procedure, we decided that it was best to get moving out of the open. Miss Cross, having lost the ability to speak due to her paralysis, attempted to communicate, but the only accurate method I could think of was inefficient. We discovered that her suggestion was to go to Madame Bota’s to recuperate, as she had been so helpful before.

We decided to remove the bracelet as we traveled there, as we did not want to bring the bracelet into our proposed safe haven. Connor thoughtfully provided me with something to bite down on and moved to break my thumb – luckily, Mr. Barleywright stepped in before he could do any damage.

I will spare you the unsavory details. In short, through the collaboration of all of my companions, the bracelet was eventually removed. It began to rise inexorably into the sky, and shot off into the distance, presumably to return to its creator.

As we continued on, Mr. Barleywright attempted to splint my hand, but unfortunately he failed.

We arrived at Madame Bota’s, where she had tea and supplies – a splint kit in particular – prepared for each of us. Miss Cross and Miss Salvatore seemed quite convinced that this proved her clairvoyant ability, but I remain skeptical. We did dawdle a bit on the way to her shop – it is not inconceivable that she was informed as to our number and general condition by someone who saw us in the street. In much happier news, I found that Madame Fluffers was also in the shop. Given Madame Bota’s excellent treatment of her, I am inclined to take the cat’s endorsement as a positive witness of her character. Madame Bota directed Connor to place Miss Cross on the bed in the corner to rest as we splinted my hand.

Madame Bota was resolved to withhold her aid until she had been compensated – a less charitable decision than I would have made, given her ostensible desire to see us succeed, but she was well within her rights to expect payment for services rendered – namely, the splint kit and help in curing Miss Cross’s condition.

At this point I was made quite taciturn by the pain from my hand. Happily, Madame Fluffers came over to comfort me when I requested a hug. I understand that this was quite childish of me, but I had just rescued myself from captivity had my hand mangled, so I was quite exhausted. I also blame the multiple blows to the head I had sustained over the past few days.

Despite the group’s genuine need, Connor refused to pay Madame Bota’s price – she would give us what we needed in exchange for a large piece of amber in Connor’s possession. As the delay in her cure must have been quite distressing to Miss Cross, I sent Madame Fluffers over to comfort her. After that, I firmly demanded that Connor turn over the amber for her sake. I must confess that I descended to the use of some crass language in my anger, which was exacerbated by the pain in my as-yet-untreated hand. The group descended into childish bickering at that point. Despite the fact that Madame Bota would not accept the amber unless it was whole, Connor insisted upon attempting to break it open to find whatever was inside that made it so valuable to her. As the proceedings escalated in absurdity, I retreated onto the bed with Madame Fluffers and Miss Cross to endure my pain. Mr. Barleywright again attempted to heal my hand, but was again unsuccessful.

Mr. Barleywright then went outside to retrieve Connor, who for some reason, was forced to literally crawl his way back inside. Mr. Avren informed us that Connor had injured his ankle in an attempt to break the amber. Exasperated by this development, I collapsed onto the already-occupied bed.

After yet more quarrelling, Connor offered to trade the amber for the personal possessions of other members of the party. Even when they agreed to make the trades or pay him for the amber in order to demonstrate group solidarity, Connor continued to refuse to contribute to our cause. Miss Salvatore suggested I attempt to deduce the contents of the amber by means of magic. However, I doubted that would be a possibility. When Connor grew frustrated and attempted to crawl back outside, Miss Salvatore grabbed his sprained ankle and dragged him back inside. She insisted Connor handed over the amber in order to heal Connor, myself, and Miss Cross. At this point, I was forced to once again enter into the conversation to correct the priority with which the injured party members should be treated (Miss Cross first, obviously, her condition being the most severe).

After yet more squabbling, sniping, a bit more light torture, Miss Salvatore quit in disgust. I called for civility, but was again ignored, as Mr. Avren took Miss Salvatore’s place with Connor’s ankle.

At this point, exasperated, I asked Madame Bota if there was anything I could offer for her services in curing Miss Cross. She contemplated my offer but declined, claiming that she could sense that my only use to her would be if I was deceased, and that she did not wish for my death. I must admit, if I were more prone to superstition, I might be perturbed by this pronouncement.

Mr. Avren twisted Connor’s ankle so far that it began to crack, and everyone begged Connor to reconsider. Connor claimed that he would have given up the amber after just one more attempt to crack it, but now that he had been tortured he was resolute in his decision not to give it up. The group offered to assist him in one final attempt to break the amber in exchange for his giving it to Madame Bota. Connor agreed, turning the amber over to Mr. Barleywright. After the two returned from a genuine failed attempt to break it, Connor gave Madame Bota the amber. She generously agreed to reveal what was inside the amber before the night was over.

Madame Bota graciously overlooked Connor’s belligerence and splinted my hand, providing a salve which soothed my pain. Then Madame Bota began to disrobe Miss Cross without warning. Quite flustered at her lack of propriety, I attempted to salvage the lady’s dignity by closing my own eyes and blocking Connor’s gaze. After some frantic shuffling and only moderately successful attempts to save Miss Cross from the wandering eyes of the other men of the party (any images that I may have caught were entirely accidental, I assure you), the males all went outside to wait.

After a few minutes, we returned inside. Miss Salvatore questioned Madame Bota as to the source of Miss Cross’s discomfort, and Madame Bota informed us that Miss Cross had too much corruption for her body to properly handle. Again, we were sent out. When Connor refused, I once again attempted to block his gaze, but only the threat of not finding out what was in the amber saved Miss Cross’s modesty.

As we waited outside, we heard through the beads that served as the only door that Miss Cross was no longer willing to be in a party with Connor. When Connor insisted on trying to enter to confront her, I resorted to taking hold of his injured ankle to defend Miss Cross’s modesty.

We were invited back inside when Miss Cross was decent. Madame Bota interrupted the brewing argument between Connor and Miss Cross to inform Connor that there is a ring inside the amber. She also told us that she could not aid us in the solution of our problem with the bounty hunter Exe.

At this point, an argument over Miss Cross’s comments about Connor erupted. Miss Cross called for input from other group members on whether or not Connor is truly loyal to the party. After reviewing the evidence, I was compelled to side with Miss Cross, considering the fact that Connor was willing to retard the party’s progress for selfish reasons. Unfortunately, the other party members are not as logical as I am, and chose to proclaim various shades of neutrality regarding the issue. Miss Cross then demanded to know why she should stay with the party, which shocked the rest of us. To my distress, our group contemplated going our separate ways. There are many reasons that the dissolution of our group would be to our individual detriments, not the least of which is the impending war with the hroggar, which I pointed out. We were all specifically chosen and entrusted with the task of averting ruin, so aside from Mr. Avren, we are honor-bound to continue on our quest.

While I consider this reasoning enough to settle the matter, Miss Cross and Connor continue on to a lengthy discussion about loyalty to the party. I excused myself with Madame Fluffers, feeling the need for some fresh air with which to clear my head.

After a few minutes of discussion, Miss Cross moved on to ask Madame Bota if there was any way she might correct her corruption conundrum, but Madame Bota was unable to offer any advice. I suggested a trip to the library (honestly, why are these people unable to grasp that research is the best course of action when one has questions in need of answering?), but was informed that the blackguard Exe destroyed a substantial part of it during my abduction. He is truly dastardly. Miss Salvatore suggested returning to Bach, which the party agreed is a good idea.

Connor asked Miss Cross if their issues with each other had truly been resolved, or if he owed her another dress. I found this comment odd, and inquired as to how long I had been missing. When Mr. Avren informed me that it had been a few days, I realized, to my horror, that I had missed Miss Cross’s birthday. Though she insisted it was hardly important, I was distressed that I had missed the only birthday party I had ever been invited to (aside form your birthday dinners, Mother). I was then shocked to learn that there was no birthday party at all.

When Madame Bota informed us that Mr. Boch was out of town, Miss Cross suggested we inform the city guards of Exe’s appropriated base of operations, and that we should retreat from the town. Before we leave, Madame Bota gave some advice to Miss Cross about her monocle, but when Connor asked about his mirror sword, she was at a loss. She also suggested that we find the remaining two guns that we found in the mirror realm.

When Miss Cross noticed that I had become withdrawn due to my disappointment about her birthday, she attempted to draw me out. She requested that I recreate my letter to her, which was ruined in my absence, and I agreed readily. Miss Salvatore inquired as to my episodes of altered perception, and I was glad to inform everyone that it seemed to have cleared up on its own.

As we left, I bid farewell to Madame Fluffers, having deemed it too dangerous for her to travel with us. I must admit that I will miss her quite a bit. You would have liked her, Mother.

As we searched for accommodation, we were stopped by some guards for breaking curfew. We were escorted to protective, guarded housing for being involved in the battle with Exe. We were informed that we would be forced to leave in the morning so as to not draw further peril to the town; we agreed to those terms. As we retired to the room, I distributed the identification documents from Leminster (which included two guest passes, one of which I bestowed upon Mr. Avren).

The next day, after an interrogation session in which we confirmed that we were indeed the party that a powerful terrorist with the ability to become invisible had targeted, we were warned that we had to leave the city by midnight. We then went to Bach’s plantation.

While there, Bach had us sample some fish wine (I do not recommend it, except for the most peculiar palate). He then revealed the Salvatore crest on the keg. When I inquire, Miss Salvatore informs me that the name is no longer common, though she was surprised that the wine was still in production. Miss Salvatore went on to theorize that the crest was a reproduction by the other families, but Bach claims that it could not have been them, as he was a supporter of the Salvatores and no others would do business with him. I asked Miss Salvatore if mer society was clan based, given all the talk of “families,” but she refrained from answering.

Miss Cross inquired about transportation from the city, and Mr. Boch magnanimously offered the party a free ride to Catiline with the mail service.

On the journey, which took five days, Miss Salvatore explained the presence of Hydra in Coralina. Aside from the shocking revelation of her ties to organized crime, the journey was uneventful.

With highest possible regard,
Your son and aspiring colleague,
Corlin Quentel III

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