The Long Road Home

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Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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Tidings of War
The prelude to change

The noise of the Summer Festival was practically all consuming. Violence and music pervaded every aspect of the gathering, and everyone great and small joined in the festivities. The alcohol flowed, the blood was spilled, and the season was invigorated by it. All was set to be the start of a fantastic summer. So of course things got worse. A commotion by the front gate drew my attention. I headed that direction and found only imminent but unsanctioned violence. I saw the freehold sheriff across the field, well out of eye and ear shot, and decided immediate action was necessary.

I adopted my best impression of the sheriff, the one I only used when he was nowhere around, and barked out a command to cease the squabbling. The gate guard Godwin, a large blue ogre with a fascination for collecting snow globes, laughed at the interloper. “You’ve done it now. He’s on his way.” I rounded the copse of trees, leaning slightly on my cane and adopting what I hoped was an intimidating sneer. Godwin never even blinked as he immediately fell in with the ruse.

I asked in a calm voice, “What seems to be the problem here?”

The interloper, later found to be named Hound, was of the fanatical variety. Bad news etched itself all over his being, from the briar tattoos to the hook at the end of his arm. “I’m lookin’ for someone. I’m gonna go in there and get him. So either you can let me in to get him, or I’ll just kill ALL of you to get him. He broke his contract. I’m here to bring him back to fulfill it.”

Alarms went off in my head. Privateers don’t normally care who they’re stealing, and loyalists don’t usually care about stealing folks to begin with. If this were a loyalist privateer, he could be very bad news. No matter the threat, there was no way I or any others in the freehold were turning over one of our own. We would all die first. Stalling, I asked for a description, and he gave me one in great detail. It rang a few bells, but nobody in particular stood out, though admittedly I was still fairly new to the freehold. I took a moment to note that while I had been speaking with Hound, Godwin had blessedly summoned additional knights, including the sheriff I was currently imitating. Thankfully none broke the ruse and allowed me to continue.

“I’m sorry, but there is no way you are taking anyone here. It’s just not going to happen.” He snarled as I delivered this news, and stalked away. Breathing a collective sigh of relief, everyone present went back to their duty, with Godwin giving me an exaggerated wink. I made for the bar and ordered a drink. No sooner than I sat down to wait for my drink than a guy directly matching Hound’s description, down to the rifle on his back, plopped down next to me.

I half turned to him, “Hey, some guy with a briar tattoo on his arm was looking for you at the front gate. We went him packing though.” This guy got a panicked look in his eye and climbed on top of the truck serving as the bar. I ignored his idiosyncrasies. We’re all scarred, so I try not to judge the quirks of my fellow escapees.

My drink arrived, and before I could raise it to my lips, the screaming started. From on top of the truck, I heard a shout. “We’re under attack!” Then gunfire filled the air. The entire festival erupted in carnage and gore. The king was cut down in moments. My mind raced to make sense of the chaos. I started to make to defend the queen, but she was felled before I could close half of the distance. All around me my friends and allies were being butchered.

Almost as if by divine providence, a hedge gate opened before me. A Wizened stood in the way, with an ogre behind him. My mind racing between fleeing or battling these newcomers was halted when the smaller one took stock of the situation then called out. “We’re finally here, let’s get ready to- WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING? Oh my, get in, get in!” He frantically waved me over, and two other refugees fell in behind me. He slammed the gate shut just as the wall of carnage crashed on our location. We made introductions, and he informed us he was Tik-Tok, as was evident by his love of clocks, and the ogre was Big Frank. We exchanged pleasantries as best as we were able while covered in blood and flesh of our friends, and Tik started guiding us along a path that only he could see. Hours later we arrived at our destination, a small town in New Hampshire called Nashua.

Mercifully he bought us food and set up a place for us to stay for the short term. I took a well deserved shower and fell into a deep sleep. Luckily I didn’t dream, and was awakened early in the morning by a knock on the door. I opened it and invited Tik and Frank in, and they distributed breakfast for everyone. He offered to bring us by the local freehold to make introductions.

A short time later we were in front of an old house turned business turned derelict. A thug guarding the front door denoted that this place was more than met the eye. We made our way in, though Tik and Frank said they’d meet up with us later. He also mentioned he would help out setting up Kyle with a job at the local hospital. We went in and were presented before the freehold’s king. We were introduced as “Tik-Tok’s foundlings”.

The king sneered, “What do you want?”

I began, “We’re refugees. Privateers wiped out our freehold and we’re the only survivors. They seemed to be searching for Jarrod here,” and I gestured towards the darkling sniper.

“Searching for him? Why him specifically?”

Before I could go any further, Jarrod began gushing with information. He described Hound in great detail and claimed to have personally killed him. He explained that he and Hound had the same master and that Hound seemed intent on returning him to their master. The more he spilled out, the angrier the king seemed to get, until we were ever so politely ordered to leave. We weren’t ordered into exile, but it was clear that we would not have the protection of the freehold should the privateers track us down again.

Discouraged and alone in a strange city, I offered up a plan. Kyle set out to the nearby hospital to see what Tik had arranged while Jarrod and I split up to search for signs of non-freehold Lost. I saw signs of passing, but nothing concrete. I came to a large park and saw Jarrod frozen. He was nearly running away in panic, and I followed his line of sight to see a large, granite skinned man in the shade of a tree. I approached and called out, “Hey! We’re new in town, and come in peace. I don’t have much to offer but I offer all I have.” I drew out a sandwich I had saved from breakfast and held it out to him. He looked at it for a moment, took it from my hand and then stowed it away in a pocket. He jerked his head and grunted.

We followed him through the park to a more heavily wooded area where he revealed a small hidden clearing. We ducked inside and were greeted by dozens of Lost. A small child offered me a cup of thick coffee. I asked our host if this was a freehold as well, and he shook his head. “No, not quite. We lack a vital part. We don’t have a ready and reliable source of glamour. The bigots in that place across town have a source, but they hoard it. We’ve got plans to take it.”

It looked like we’d fled a battle only to fall into the middle of a war.

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Meat for the Grinder

War was looming. By all rights, it was not my fight. I had every right to simply walk away. There were a thousand freeholds that I could go to for protection and support. There were countless cities I could disappear in. Damn it, I should have just walked away.

We decided to stay. Kyle, Jarred, and I decided that we could not walk away from these people. If our future was uncertain, though, we knew we would have to band together in support of each other. In names there is Power, so we took the name Knights of Mayhem. If one must live in chaos, one must accept and rejoice in chaos. We swore our oath to the fates.

“Here we stand, joined by fate for the passing of a season. We stand together and will not falter, no matter the forces arrayed against us. Blessed be our harvest, and grant us aid in protecting our brothers should they fall. Let he who holds betrayal in his heart or actions be bound by fate to suffer the fruits of his misdeeds.”

For a moment I felt my breath leave me, like the moment before decent on a roller coaster. Then the world crashed back into me, and I knew that fate had witnessed our oath.

We parted to draw the mystical essence called as Glamor to bolster our own strength and to help sustain our adopted freehold. I had taken a break and was catching a quick drink when I heard a familiar grating voice. “Oh, there he is!” I turned and Tic and Frank were there, and behind them were three more refugees, two supporting a third who was barely alive.

“You’re calling your favor in already? Mine is the Mazda 6 out in the parking lot. Put the injured one in the car, and bring these two to my new place.” I wrote down the address for him and started to the E.R. I called Kyle and he met me at the door. I passed of the injured dog meat, then returned to meet the two more lively ones. Jarrod broke off from his tasks to meet me there.

I got home and the other two, one a snow princess, and the other a Freddy Kruger stunt double, were making themselves at home and eating my grub. Hospitality is great and all, but damn, let a man be the one to open the bag and get the first chip before you eat the whole thing!

Tic looked at me, “So, these guys are political refugees, kind of like you were not too long ago. You think you can help them out? The bladed one and the dragon that you saw earlier are decent fighters. You might be able to use them.”

I looked at his foundlings with care, “Okay, but this makes us square. I’m already up to my neck in trouble.”

He shook his head and toddered momentarily, “Oh yes, yes. We’re even. Thank you.” Soon he was on his way out of the door.

I packed Jarrod and the two foundlings into my car, and swung over to pick up Kyle and his patient the dragon, who looked much better after Kyle worked his magic, and headed to the park. I lead them down the path and soon we were at the freehold.

Stonebeard met us at the door and raised a gravelly eyebrow at the newcomers. I grunted, “Tic’s foundlings. He said they were decent in a fight” That satisfied him and he directed them to food and a place to sit. He returned to me quickly.

His stoney voice reminded me of speaking with a mountain. “Plans are moving forward quickly. We should be able to move out very soon. Your newcomers may be very useful in the upcoming events.”

I asked, “Is there any way we can bring this about peacefully? We don’t need any more bloodshed than has already been spilled.”

“Oh yes, they could surrender to us and then there wouldn’t be any bloodshed. We’ve got more help. They’re making plans in the study if you’d like to join in.” He directed us to a side room.

The door opened revealing the fiend himself, Hound. The rage misted in my eyes and I tasted blood. A hard hand pulling at my shirt collar restrained me, but I didn’t know how long that would hold.

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1) Culture Shock
Don Grace's PoV
Don Grace = Garrett Victor Rios = Dwayne Jarrod = Joseph

Today was the day of the Summer festival, the dawn of the rule of Summer.

All kinds of celebrations and festivities were going on. From concerts to medieval competitions to drinking yourself into unconsciousness. Changelings gathered from across the state to partake in the beginning of what is sure to be a fantastic summer. Which was why I was here. When you mix booze and sword fights, you get accidents requiring medical help. Inevitable, thus I am happy to provide my services.

I spent the greater part of the morning healing sword wounds, repairing broken bones from the participants of the mosh pits, and pulling stray arrows out of innocent bystanders. It was mid-afternoon when I finally got a break. I began strolling through the festival, trying to get into the festive spirit. But the faint sounds of a commotion invaded my peaceful state of mind. I had thought I had distanced myself from the medieval competitions… But upon further inspection, I noticed that the commotion was coming from the front entrance. An unsanctioned fight?

I made my way forward, and hid behind a building upon seeing a group of people arguing by the front gate. A large blue ogre whom I believed was the gate-guard named Godwin, Brad Pitt, and a scary looking man with briar tattoo’s on his right arm, leading down to a hook at the end of his arm.

Brad Pitt was leaning on an old cane and imitating the Sheriff, which I found odd since the real sheriff was a mere fifteen feet away, with a cluster of guards watching the transaction. He seemed to be ok with it, so no harm there.

“I’m sorry, but there is no way you are taking anyone here. It’s just not going to happen.” Brad Pitt proclaimed, causing the hooked man to storm off, pissed at the world. Crisis adverted it seemed. The guards stayed around for a moment, but when it became obvious that nothing more was forthcoming, they drifted off in pairs. Brad Pitt went off to the truck posing as a bar. I looked off to the gate entrance, seeing Godwin chilling, on watch. I looked back to the bar and saw a figure climbing on top of it, rifle in hand. This was a sanctioned gathering! Why does he have a weapon here?!? How did he even get it in here?

I began to march towards him, when he yelled out “We’re under attack!” What? I followed the barrel to the front entrance, seeing Godwin on the ground, headless, and The Hooked Man stalking towards the Festival, slaughtering all in his way. Sound erupted as battles took place all over the festival. I saw the Rifleman shoot down The Hooked Man, then shift his attention to the chaos that the festival had become. I looked over to the King and Queen, and blanched. The king laid there, dead. The Queen was fighting off attackers. “PROTECT THE QUEEN!” I screamed, then charged towards them. A spider like assassin dropped down onto her, but before it could stab her, it recoiled from a rifle bullet implanting into its shoulder. Damn that guy could shoot! The creature snared at the Rifleman atop the bar, then beheaded the Queen as she spun around.

“NO!” I wailed, but I could do nothing. I saw my compatriots being butchered left and right. This wasn’t a minor attack, this was a freaking war! I saw the enemy begin to charge towards me, so I ran to the safety of the hawk-eyed Rifleman. The Rifleman took in the situation, then jumped off his perch. He yelled for his allies to run to a hedge gate that apparently just opened up. The hedge? No! It took me so long to escape from there… I was not going to risk being captured again! Seeing me standing there, frozen, he grabbed me and hauled me towards it.

I struggled, attempting to detangle myself from him, but he pressed on. He carried us past a Wizened with 20 too many clocks, and a huge ogre behind him. My eyes began to water as the hedge gates closed behind us… All of our friends, our brothers, our allies, our neighbors. Were all dead. And the only sanctuary we had, was here within the hedge… I seemed to buckle under despair. Everything went south pretty fast, true, but this was no way for a member of the Dawn court to act…

I noticed that everyone were introducing themselves. Brad Pitt was Victor Rios. The Rifleman was Jarrod. The Wizend with too many clocks was named Tik-Tok, Ironically. And the big ogre was named Big Frank. A sigh escaped me. Well, we might as well make the most of what we got. Look on the bright side and all that jazz…

I assessed the condition of our group. Blood and gore covered Victor, Jarrod, and I. But I could tell that we were relatively unharmed. No, the carnage covering us was not our own, but that of our fallen allies… Tik-Tok asked what caused the commotion, and Victor replied that the guy with the briar tattoo and hooked hand, named Hound, was here looking for Jarrod. The rest of us weren’t going to give him up freely, thus here we are.

Tik-Tok nodded sadly, then began discussing a safe place for us to hide out, and started to lead us forward, but I refused to move. “Why should we trust you? What is your angle in all this? Why are you helping us? I find it convenient that in the midst of chaos, you just happen to stroll onto the battlefield with a ready escape waiting for us. I’d rather stay put until I know your true intent.”

Tik-Tok turned and glanced at me. Big frank took up an aggressive stance, but Tik-Tok waved him off. “Understandable, considering you just survived a coup. You should trust me because I am the only help you all have. As of now, the invaders are destroying everything you hold dear. Your friends; family; roommates; dog; house; cars… all gone, I regret to say. Your life as you know it has ended, again. I do not ask you to follow me blindly, but know that I am not here to deceive you. My name is Tik-Tok, I find Lost changelings, and bring them to the numerous Freeholds around the world. That is my angle, though you should know that I didn’t go to the Summer Festival with the intent to help you. No, I went to enjoy myself and relax for a while. But circumstances change, apparently. But since I was there, and you all needed help, why should I not offer my assistance? Are these answers suitable to you? Any more questions?”

I sighed, content to believe him. His story sounded jacked up enough to be true. “Just the one. Why so many clocks? And… are some of them running backwards?”

Tik-Tok chuckled, and stated “That was two questions. Come! We have much traveling to do!” Tik-Tok turned and begun leading us through the Hedge. I followed him pretty well, but the rest of the party seemed to be fumbling through the hedge, unsure of themselves. Next thing I knew, Tik-Tok’s head turned from a corner that wasn’t there previously, and gathered our group together again. After a few hours of walking, we emerged through the other side of the hedge.

We came into a clearing with a stream running through it. We took the time to grab a drink, then clean ourselves. I noticed a shift in temperature and air pressure. We were no longer in the heart of Texas, that much I was certain. Upon asking Tik-Tok, he informed us that we were in Nashua, a small town in New Hampshire.. We headed to a local Denny’s to discuss future plans. He was kind enough to buy us food. Once settled, Tik-Tok asked if any of us had a trade skill that could be of use. He looked at each of us in turn.

“I can act theatrically.”
“I can shoot things.”
“I can heal people.”

Tik-Tok nodded, then pointed at me. “You can heal, huh? We can use that. What is your field of expertise?” I smiled up at him. "Whatever is needed of me. If you require medical help, then I’m your guy.” He shook his head. “No, you misunderstand. What field of medicine do you major in? Are you a surgeon; a doctor; an on-scene medic; What?” I nodded to him and simply replied “Yes.”

He eyed me, then nodded. “Fair enough. I have a friend in the local hospital by the name of Dr. Gray Mcdowell whom would appreciate your assistance. I’ll set up a meeting. Until then, I have a place that you guys can crash short term. Tomorrow, I will bring you to the local freehold.” We gave our thanks, then all piled into his station wagon. We passed buy a building listed as the mage tower or something (I forget :P ) and Tik-Tok announced that the building was the freehold we would be going to. But for now, we passed it and eventually emerged in front of a small house, and Tik-Tok handed me the key.

I opened it up and we went in. The fellows looked around, so I decided to check the fridge. I found a gallon of milk that looked to be far past its expiration date. Tik-Tok shrugged, saying he never really got around to throwing it out. I nodded, grabbed a permanent marker, and drew the hazard symbol onto it. We could use it as a sort of modified tear gas or something. “Why didn’t I think of doing that?” Tik-Tok questioned, looking at the drawn picture. Then they made motions to leave, promising to bring breakfast with them tomorrow. I thanked them earnestly. He truly was going out of his way to make us feel comfortable, and my gratification was real. We all took our individual showers, and decided that sleep was very welcomed.

I awoke to the sound of a knock on the door, but made no moves to get up. Luckily, Victor was prepared, and he let Tik-Tok and Big Frank in. They brought in breakfast burgers and the like, providing enough motivation to get me up out of bed. I grabbed my share, halved it, and hid the rest of it in the fridge for later. After we ate, we jumped into the car and headed towards the freehold.

I felt rather nervous, sitting in the back next to big frank’s whopping hammer of doom. But it was a rather short drive. We soon arrived in front of the freehold. It looked like a basic two story house, turned into a gaming site judging by the posters on the front of the glass doors. But, upon closer inspection, I noticed that both the games and the group meeting dates were majorly out of date. A front, then. A lackey seemed to be guarding the front door. Looking more like he was protecting the place than merely hanging out. Tik-Tok introduced us to the lackey, and received an annoyed glare from the guy. “Well, I wish you guys good luck! Me and Big Frank have places to be. And Kyle, remember to head up to the Hospital when you’re through here, Dr. Gray Mcdowell is expecting you.” And thus, they headed off…

The lackey watched them go, then sighed as he looked at us. “What do you want?” Thus we described to him our situation and our need to join the free hold. He cut us off mid-speech and waved us into the door before him. We were led to a room occupied by a few Changelings, with the Freehold’s king in the background. The lackey announced that we were found and sent here by Tik-Tok, earning an annoyed sigh from the king. He faced us and sneered “What do you want?”

We introduced ourselves, slightly offended by the less-than-polite welcome. Victor stepped forward and proclaimed. “We’re refugees. Privateers wiped out our freehold and we’re the only survivors. They seemed to be searching for Jarrod here,” Victor nodded his head towards our Rifleman. Earning a raised eyebrow from the ‘king’.

“Why would Privateers seek him out specifically?”

Victor nodded, expecting this question, and prepared to go into speech mode, but his efforts were pushed aside by Jarrod, whom apparently thought Victor was ratting him out. Jarrod described Hound, down to his hooked hand, causing a stir in the surrounding Changelings. Jarrod then claimed to have personally killed him, earning a doubtful expression from the ‘king.’ He explained that he and Hound had the same master and that Hound was apparently charged with returning him to their master.

It was like I was in a horror flick, I watched helplessly as the ‘king’ grew more and more furious, and I could do nothing to stop it. Finally the ‘king’ had enough, and ordered us to leave. It wasn’t an official order, but the effect was the same either way. Our offer to join the Freehold was being turned down. We were stuck in a random city, with no help forthcoming. “Just think, things couldn’t possibly get any worse.” I murmured, receiving an angry look from Victor.

“Relax, We will find a way through this, guys.” I’ll go check out that job Tik-Tok proposed. That will get us some basic necessities. If all else fails, and we cannot get to a sanctuary here, then we can just move onto another city.”

But Victor was thinking. “No… That may not be necessary. We only saw like 14 people at the freehold, and this is a big city. Plus, you saw the reception we received. I’m sure there must be more Lost here somewhere, having been turned down like us. You go do your thing, Jarrod and I shall split up and scour the city. We will let you know what we find.”

I nodded, then headed off. I Appeared at the Nashua, Emergency Room, and walked into the lobby. The front lady asked my name, and I showed her my Identification. “Dr. Don Grace, Maam. A Dr. Gray Mcdowell was expecting me?” She nodded then directed me to the third floor. I thanked her and proceeded up to the designated floor. I arrived to Dr. Gray Mcdowell’s room and knocked. A wizened answered, smiling once he saw whom it was. “Ah, Doctor Grace, it is an honor to meet you. The name’s Dr. Gray Mcdowell. I was rather happy when Tik-Tok called me up and called in his favor. I have to admit, I was rather nervous of when he asked me to get a random person hired onto the ER, but your status with Houston’s Medical center was rather impressive. Both of them actually.” He gave me a little wink, and I shrugged. I was fine with this wizened knowing about my previous life, and thus the fetch taking my place. We talked shop for a while, then proceeded to get me set up in my own room.

After a while, I heard my cellphone buzzing. I looked down and saw a text from Victor.

‘I found a group of Lost. They are preparing to attack the ‘king’s freehold in order to support the free people and remove him from his corrupted reign, and they need our help.

We don’t have to wander around, Lost anymore…

We’re not alone.’

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2) Instilling Hope
Don Grace's PoV
Don Grace = Garrett Victor Rios = Dwayne Jarrod = Joseph Ryze = Kazz Sergei = James Keyleth = Kalen

It seemed we’ve fallen out of the frying pan…

I sighed, then shook the hand of the large, granite man who has taken up the mantle of leader among the group of Lost. As we walked away, I was greeting by a small child, offering up a cup of what might have been coffee. I went to refuse, but upon seeing the eyes of the child, I didn’t have the heart too. I took the coffee and took a big swig. I smiled and began nodding to the child. “MMMMM ‘ood!” A smile erupted across the face of the child, and then the child was gone. I spat the coffee out and tried to clear my mouth. Liquefied mud… It had to be…

I walked off with my group, and we began to talk. It appeared that this was not an official freehold. Apparently they were lacking a vital part. They don’t have a ready and reliable source of glamour. No, the ‘king’ and his entourage that banished us was hoarding it all. Seems like this group of Lost had plans to take it.”

Thus were our options. Do we stay, and try to help the Lost obtain the resources needed to survive, while at the same time removing a tyrannical ruler, or do we move on and find another freehold? There were a thousand freeholds that we could go to for protection and support. All it would take is a simple car ride, or a walk in the hedge, and we would be in another city. Thus another opportunity to be granted shelter.

But that seemed like a small thing to me right now. What was bothering me was the ‘king.’ He was denying the Lost their god given rights. He was eclipsing their hope, standing between them and their salvation. I felt it was our right, our ‘Duty,’ to remove him from his throne. Thus, I voted to stay and help. The others were of the same mind.

We looked at one another, and nodded our agreement. “It seems we have a long road ahead of us. How about it? Do you guys want to band together? Officially, I mean. There is power within names, Thus I suggest if we continue together, then We should plan accordingly.” We nodded our agreement, and thus we stood together, prepared to shape the world, if need be. We’d need a fitting name, and eventually decided upon “Knights of Mayhem. Mayhem wasn’t my cup of tea, typically, but when the need called, and mayhem was required to inspire hope in others, then I would indulge myself into it wholeheartedly.

And on that note, we stood together. We placed our hands atop one another, and pledged ourselves to the cause:

“Here we stand, joined by fate for the passing of a season. We stand together and will not falter, no matter the forces arrayed against us. Blessed be our harvest, and grant us aid in protecting our brothers should they fall. Let he who holds betrayal in his heart or actions be bound by fate to suffer the fruits of his misdeeds.”

I felt a breeze swirl around us. A smile came over me as I closed my eyes and raised my face to the sky, rejoicing. Our voices were heard, it seemed. I opened my eyes and saw that the rest felt it too. It was official, then.

We decided to part ways in order to assist our adopted freehold. They needed a source of Glamour to call themselves a freehold, but they only way to take the other freehold was to use said Glamour. This they were stuck. So if we were able to harvest enough Glamour to help them out, then it would greatly increase our chances of survival.

I felt the best place for me was the Hospital. I had a knack for inspiring hope in my patients. Thus it was a surefire way to collect Glamour. So I spent the better part of my day taking care of the sick and injured. I took a personal interest in all my patients, getting to know them and making things as comfortable for them as possible. Not only the patients, but the families of them, as well. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t it only for the Glamour… No, I had been doing this for most of my life…

I was in the middle of prescribing some medicine to a patient when I got a page. I smiled at the nurse and gave my thanks. I made sure to finish with the patient, then I headed to the front desk. Apparently it was Victor. I stepped outside and called him up. Apparently Tik-Tok met up with him and decided to cash in his favor. We were to watch over a group of three. One of whom was deeply injured and needed my immediate help. I let him know that this was fine, and to come into the back entry.

I stood there waiting as Victor’s Mazda 6 pulled up at the door, and he helped out a scaled looking man with half his face ripped off. My face froze for a moment upon seeing the huge ‘My Little Pony’ bandage on his face, then I shook myself. I took in his condition and decided that he wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. “What’s your name, sir?” The Dragonkin looked up and replied; “Sergei. My name… is Sergei.” I nodded to him. “Relax, Mr. Sergei, you are in my care now. Everything will be alright.”

I waved to Victor and began helping the patient inside. I comforted the best I could while I got him on a gurney and wheeled him into an operating room. I sedated him and began to work. Like normal, I spoke to the patient whether or not they were conscious. Good practice. “You are doing very well, Mr. Sergei. I will have you fixed up as good as new in but a few moments. You took quite a beating; I wonder what the other guy looked like, haha.” I glanced at the removed bandage, and noticed a rather pretty scale stuck too it. “Hmm… I might keep this one.” Then I took a closer look at him. “On second thought… they grow back quickly enough…” Thus I gathered about seven scales of modest size, and set them aside. With that done, I proceeded with my healing magic.

Thirty minutes later, I had him awake and prepared to leave the hospital. Victor had paged ahead saying he was on his way, so we walked outside. The Mazda 6 pulled up to the curb a minute later, and we got in. I noticed two extra heads in the car, and I greeted them once introduced. One was a snow angel named Keyleth. And the other… was a very familiar scarred man with knives for fingers… “RYZE!”

The man looked up, and shock flashed across his face. “Doc? Holy shit it’s you!?! Damn! It’s been a while! What have you been up too man?!?”

I just stared at him. Disbelief apparent on my face. “Our master had me believe that you were dead… When we made our escape… She lead me back to her, and proclaimed that she grew bored of you, and thus she was happy to ‘dispose’ of you… What happened?”

But he just looked at me with a horrified face. “She caught you? The entire time she knew what we were doing? Damn… I didn’t have a clue. Once we made it into the hedge, I arrived home, to find a fetch had taken over my life. So I left and joined the free hold here in Nashua. Until the ‘King’ tried to frame the three of us, that is. We beat his challenge, but left anyways…”

And thus we began conversing, catching up on old times. After a while, we arrived at the park. We headed down the narrow path and emerged into the freehold. We were greeted by the Reigning leader, and he looked bothered that we had brought friends. But Victor announced that they were; “More of Tic-Tok’s foundlings. Apparently they had proved themselves in combat.”

He seemed to approve of that, and lead us inside. He pointed out food and a place for them to sit, and the three proceeded forward. I watched Ryze sit and converse with the others. A small child ran up to them, carrying cups of what had to be that mud coffee. I chuckled as they each accepted one, but my focus returned to Stonebeard when he returned to us. “Plans are moving forward quickly. We should be able to move out very soon. Your newcomers may be very useful in the upcoming events.”
Victor asked if there was any way to accomplish the necessary tasks without needless bloodshed. And Stonebeard replied: “Oh yes. Our only goal is to dethrone the kind and take his place. None of the other members needs to die. If they but lower their weapons, and refuse to fight us, then there will be no blood spilt but that of the false king.”

I turned to see Victor nodding grimly. “We got some more people here to help. They’re making plans in the study if you’d like to join them.” He directed us to a side room. So we proceeded forward, and walked through the door that Stonebeard opened for us, revealing one of the last people I was prepared to see… Hound. I quickly grabbed hold of Victor’s shirt as he started charging forward, intent obvious. That man slaughtered our kith and kin; he assassinated the king and queen of the summer court; and he was responsible for us having to relocate… I didn’t know how long I could hold Victor back…

Or how long I was willing to…

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Betrayal
In which Victor loses his faith

I strained against Don’s grip. In my fury I struggled to unsheathe my blade. Stonebeard meekly said, “So I guess you know each other.”

Hound looked smug. His affected accent made me want to hurt him more as he spread his hands wide. “Auch, you’re not still upset with me are ye? Dat twas just a bit of bad business. Business, you see? No need to go takin’ it personal.”

“Personal? You murdered all of my friends. How could I not take that personal? I’ll have your head!” I was seeing red mist. I wanted nothing more than to see this betrayer dead, even if it cost me my life.

Stonebeard spoke up, trying to break the tension. “Hey, I understand you’re mad. But he’s going to help us. He’s promised to back our play against the Summer King and his cronies.”

Jarrod spoke up from his hiding spot, “What then? He’s just going to come back and kill us all again. He’s still going to try to collect on my bounty as soon as he’s done.”

Hound shook his head in mock sadness. “Nay, A’h cannot, per the terms of the arrangement. I get the Kings and Queens as my prize for helping you, and in return I canna’ attempt harm on any member of this free’old. If ye be a part of this free’old, then A’h guess that’d be applyin’ to you as well.”

Jarrod softened at once. My heart sank as I realized what was being offered and I knew I’d lost this fight. The Hound was offering the illusion of protection and security, and all it would cost is a tiny betrayal. The seduction must have been intoxicating. I could see the fear in the eyes of everyone in the room. They would give anything to be able to believe, even if for only a moment, that they would be safe from their fear. With a heavy heart, I sank.

As Stonebeard and The Hound announced the plan to all assembled, they rejoiced, and I grew sad. I would sacrifice my life if need be to help these people, but it would seem they required something more. They would require I sacrifice my very soul. If that be the cost, then I am bound by oath to offer it up to the altar.

We gathered at a dinner near The Tower as a staging area, and despite the claim of peace, clubs, knives and chains were readily visible. We set out towards the tower, and I formed part of the vanguard for the diplomatic party. We were met by the gate guard. He retreated briefly into The Tower and emerged soon after, calling Stonebeard and the rest of us forth to an audience.

The Summer King sat in his throne, and eyed the group assembled before him. His eye was drawn almost immediately to The Hound. His eyes narrowed. “You ally with HIM? Do you realize what you are doing?”

I could not meet his eyes. I focused my will to keep the tears from my eye. I wanted to scream that his own corruption made this betrayal possible. I wanted to cry out to stop this atrocity. Instead I held my tongue. They required my soul in trade for their safety, and I was bound to offer it up.

Silently the ruling members of the freehold and their retainers filed out and followed The Hound, leaving their crowns behind. Stonebeard stepped forward to take up the summer crown, and one by one the other ruling heads came forward to claim their own seasonal crowns. As they layed the crowns on their heads, the corrupt taint of them seeped into the minds of the kings and queens. This whole court had been founded on a betrayal, so it would seem that the fates had decided that the freehold would pay it’s price from the start.

Jarrod and Don, along with our newcomers, beckoned me over from the party that had erupted. They had realized that something was amiss. I explained to them that the court had been founded on a corrupt betrayal, and that the entire assemblage was tainted by it. They soon realized the depth of their actions, having had fallen prey to the seduction fully themselves. I tasked Jarrod with talking to the freehold while I gathered supplies. I was set on making this right, even if it meant I would have to carve a path through the hedge to retrieve those that had been betrayed.

I returned a few minutes later with backpacks, a few supplies, water and energy bars, to Jarrod explaining how he had been unable to persuade the masses. I doled out the packs, and said, “Well, get to tracking. You claim to know Hound best. You’ve got to find where he went.”

We asked around and managed to get pointed in the direction of a local church near a graveyard. The church itself was locked up, and as Jarrod and Don explored the graveyard, I found a small sanctuary and confessional, attended by a priest, behind the church. He noticed my entry and made for the confessional. I’m not a particularly religious person, and my title of Bishop is more of an honorary thing, but I entered into the confessional anyway.

After kneeling, a small window opened and the priest asked, “How may I help you, my son?”

I answered, “I’m not Catholic.”

He chuckled and said, “That’s fine. I know you aren’t. I would have recognized you. But here we are. So how may I help you, my son?”

I spoke to him at length. The betrayal, so recent, still weighed heavily on me. I needed to come clean to someone, so that I could enter into the hedge free of doubt and guilt. Soon I heard the shout of Jarrod. “Hey, we found something, Vic. We need you.” With renewed hope, I stepped back onto that lonely stage.

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Gazing into the Abyss
Victor delves into the darkness

The horror that is the hedge opened up before me. We pitiful few stood along a path, though I hardly dared call it such. The fact that a large group had so recently passed through was very evident. Jarrod, feeling that our group would slow him down, set off on a narrow side path. There was no way we would be able to follow, so we took the path laid before us.

We trekked for a short while when a sharp hiss drew my attention upwards. The fates drove my sword into my hand and I slashed up into the descending claws of a vile bird, filth encrusting its sharp talons. As it fell to the ground, the clubs of my companions turned it into a bloody wreck.

I had but a moment to relish victory when agony tore at my back. We were being ambushed. I whirled upon my new attacker, and battered it heavily with my blade, my back burning with the filth no doubt infecting my blood. This abomination of a harpy spat and clawed at me, raking against my cheek, the burning filling my senses again. Blood blurred my vision as I pierced its foul heart.

As I turned to the continued sound of battle, I saw my oath brother Don fall, blood pouring from three ragged rips in his chest and throat. Hurling myself across the path, I joined Keyleth in the defense of Don’s crippled body. Moments later there lay five bodies upon the path; four foul harpies and Don.

I saw Ryze search for the medical kit in Don’s pack. His fingers fumbled and while he seemed to know something about medicine, it was clear he was no doctor and this was beyond his skill. I drew from the threads of fate and demanded they honor his task with success. Moments later, Ryze looked up, startled that he had managed to staunch the bleeding.

Ryze then sterilized and bandaged my wounds as well while I formulated my idea. I looked to a bloodied Ryze and terrified Keyleth, and sighed. “Ryze, please take my oath brother back from the hedge and get him seen to. His life is in your care. Keyleth, you are not bound to me, and your choice is your own. You may continue with me or you may return with them. I understand in either case.”

They looked to me, confused. Ryze stammered, “You mean to go after Hound alone? That’s suicide. Let us go with you.”

“No, you are barely standing, and he will die if he doesn’t get seen to by a doctor. You need to return.”

Kayleth, resolutely gripped her wooden bat, and I could almost feel the cold determination emanating from her. “I’ll go with you. I’m no fighter, but you shouldn’t have to face him alone.”

Ryze made to argue, but could think of nothing to say. With a defeated sigh, he picked up Don and made back down the path. As we watched them disappear around a bend, Kayleth looked to me. “How are the two of us expected to stop him?”

From nowhere we heard a familiar voice. “Well, we could help! Who are we stopping?”

I turned to face Tic-Tock and Frank, appearing as usual in the most bizarre of times and places. I wiped more blood from my face and filled them in. Tic, in his usual manner, led us down a path to a shortcut that only he could see. When we emerged, we stood before the Hound and his contingent.

“Hound, I’m here to put a stop to this. You’ll go no further.” I called, trying to sound more sure than my weakened state would allow. I drew my blade from it’s sheath and stood barring the path.

The Hound looked at me exasperated. “I made a deal. These here are mine.”

“I made no deal. I’m not bound to any deal, and I am free to stop you.”

“Aye, bucko, but you don’t seem to be to strongly in a position to stop me, what with your few buddies there all quakin’ in fear, and you covered in blood and bandages. But I’ll do you a solid since you went and stood up to me so nice-like. I’m in a bit of a strong position here, since I’m a mere fifteen steps from my destination.” He nodded behind me.

Tic leaned close to me and winced, “Uh, you need to take a look.”

I slowly turned and saw I was on the outskirts of a teeming goblin market, the likes of which I’d only heard in rumor. There stood enough of the Hound’s cronies to make a decent scrap of a fight, and now we were surrounded.

“Yeah, so you see, these here aren’t my property. I’ve been bound to deliver them to their owner in the market. But seeing as you’re a delightful kind of guy, I’ll let you tag along and you can see about making an arrangement with their new owner. How’s that sound.”

I weighed my options. I knew that I would gladly give my life to save my people from slavery, but this would not be so. It would be a pointless suicide and accomplish nothing. My heart grew heavy as I put away my weapon and followed the scum into the pit.

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