IRON GORGE

If found, please send to Master Healer Soen. Sun Temple, Albeira

Dear Master Soen, 

If you are reading this, it means that this journal was either taken from me, I've lost it myself, or I have met my untimely demise. I'm writing to you to explain a few things, and to share with you my experiences out in the world. I'm unable to send these letters directly, as I don't have a desire to be found quite yet, and I may inadvertently give you clues to my whereabouts! 

First of all, I need to sincerely apologize for sneaking away from the Sun Temple and my training. You and the other Healers have been nothing but kind to me. You've always told me that the markings on my hands and feet were a sign that I was destined for greatness in the Healing Arts, but keeping me in isolation and intense training all of my life has left me wishing for something more. My experiences were limited to training, ceremonies, and discipline, and I felt trapped! Everything was laid out in a clear path before me: complete my training, work for the temple, and eventually become a Master Healer. You teach about the importance of community to a Sun Acolyte, but I had no opportunity to create a community of my own! So, I left. 

And yes, in case you were wondering, I did take the key. 

I'm here at a crossroads, with nothing but my cloak, Grimoire, and a few coins from the temple. I might even meet my end here, alone in the woods. At least I'll have experienced something on my own, made my own choices for once, and bear the consequences.

- Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I'm completely shaken up, but I've never felt more alive! I was approached by what appeared to be a beggar woman. After sharing some coin, I learned that her name was Hypatia, and that she was searching for work at a tavern called The Scabby Rooster. Apparently, it was somewhere nearby! Oh, what I wouldn't give for a hot meal. 

There were others that had gathered, including another Healer named Colgren, a fellow Sun Acolyte named Athen, a couple of innkeepers, a spellcaster called Calliope, and a warrior named Mejito. There were others, but these were the few that I had a chance to talk to before we were attacked.

Yes, you read that correctly! We were ATTACKED! 

The people came directly at us, clearly afflicted by some sort of disease. I suspected Leprosy, though there were murmurings of them being undead. Despite my desire to diagnose and treat these poor people, I was instructed to be ready to heal anyone who might take a wound in the battle against them. Luckily, the undead were quickly disposed of, and we decided to travel together and find a place to make camp for the night. 

I'm grateful to have some sort of protection against the things that lurk in these dark woods, things are so much clearer in the bright, healing light of the sun!

- Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I'm finally taking time to write you, after quite an eventful evening. Our small party of travelers soon met a rather large and strange group of people. I spoke with a tattooed, bearded man named Hergeir, and he seemed to be very kindly, despite his gruff exterior. After some talk of battle skill, Hergeir decided to give me a small, magical tattoo. The pain of it was very intense!! I've never so much as scraped a knee before, and this was a whole new level. Hergeir told me that the tattoo would allow me to move very quickly once it was activated. A man from Albeira watched on as I squirmed in agony during the process, and I foolishly and enthusiastically confirmed I had just come from there. I'm in danger of being found each time that I mention it!

The man actually entrusted his Cato Family Broach to me, and told me I was to deliver it to his son Severus back in Albeira. I had to agree, he looked so desperate for his son to have the pin that I assured him I would try. Unfortunately, I don't know if I'll be headed back to Albeira any time soon! Upon further examination of the Broach, I felt a strange power emanating from it, and I accidentally triggered some sort of magical effect. Hopefully I haven't broken anything!

Hergeir introduced me to several other people, including the poet Wallad, the healer Nasrin, and the mute blacksmith Jack. It seems that I've accidentally stumbled into a situation that is much larger than I could have imagined! A centurion gathered the group's attention, and told us that a group of Sauren called the Ebon Claw had taken over the nearby Iron Gorge. They had enslaved the townspeople into working in the nearby mines, and were keeping young children and babies hostage at the local tavern! Scouts from the group returned to confirm the news, and told us that we were to secure certain points in order to liberate the town.

Nasrin, the Healer I had met earlier, quickly gathered those of us that had healing abilities together. Though she seemed to have a tough exterior, I could tell that she felt genuine compassion for others. We moved forward with the rest of the group, but the Sauren attacked, quickly bringing complete chaos all around us!

I have to say, actual battle is completely different from what I've read in books!

Soon I found myself guarding one of the checkpoints with the blacksmith Jack. To our surprise, a group of Sauren ambushed us! I wasn't sure if they had fire magics, or if they were breathing fire themselves, but soon I was engulfed in flame. The strangest thing happened, however, as I felt no pain. The flames were simply sucked into the gemstone on the Broach I was given, which was only warm to the touch for a short period. After, the bright red of the gemstone faded into a dull maroon, and I took off running. 

I still feel terrible that I left poor Jack alone against the assailants, but I really didn't know what else to do. It didn't seem like the broach would protect me any more, and I just felt that I had to run away!

Stumbling through the dark forest, I snuck my way into the town, which had descended into pure madness. Sauren and adventurers traded blows all around me, and I was eventually able to make my way over to the tavern, where the familiar face of Nasrin greeted me, and she was not happy. The area in front of the tavern had turned into a triage center, and bloodied bodies were being dragged in for healing. I went to work right away, mending those that I could.

While the rest of the healing team were busy, I was pulled away by a desperate woman, insisting that I treat an injured person on the field. Upon reaching the site, she pointed to a giant, wounded bear! I told the woman time and again that I had never treated animals before, but she was persistent. After stabilizing the wound and speeding up the healing process as much as I could, we enlisted the help of two other strong people to help bring the bear back to the triage center. With further healing provided by the more experienced, the bear was soon conscious and melting into a humanoid form! The bear was actually a woman named Sofie! I have never heard of anything like this before, and after talking with her, I'm still not convinced she's a person who can change into a bear or a bear who has learned to imitate a person.

Thankfully, the sounds of battle eventually faded away, and more and more of the adventurers stumbled back into town. To my extreme relief, Jack was one of them. I apologized profusely about leaving him, and he gestured that it was alright, but I still haven't forgiven myself. It was an eye-opening experience into what my true nature is in the heat of battle, and I will try my hardest to rectify it in the future. 

But for now, we feast!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

Our revelry was cut short by screaming heard through the night. Apparently, some teenagers were in a nearby graveyard playing with dark magics they shouldn't have. I heard there was a brief fight, and the wounded were brought back to camp. One of the teenagers in particular seemed to strike a chord with several adventurers, who all insisted on questioning him. Colgren and I took the wounded teen to our station, and revived him back to consciousness, just to be interrogated by a large, strong-looking man named Rupert. While Rupert could easily strike me down with one blow, I wasn't going to be a coward for a second time tonight. When his interrogation tactics became too forceful, I had to put my foot down and establish that that sort of behavior would not be happening to someone in my care.

Apparently, they gleaned the information they needed from him, and once he recovered was on his way. Rupert even apologized and gifted me with an Air Shield Talisman, but not before staring in terror at the markings on my hands. Upon closer examination, he muttered that he thought the symbols were something else, but he's not the first person in the camp to stare strangely at my birthmarks.

Ah well, I'm looking forward to a good night's rest!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I have found employment! The local tavern, The Scabby Rooster, were in need of a few dishwashers. So, the Healer Colgren and myself were given the position! The barkeep, a scowling, smelly man named Iggy, seems downright untrustworthy, but who am I to complain? The others in his employ seem to be decent enough, and I know that I have a hot meal waiting for me. 

Colgren and I take this time to compare the differences in our healing abilities. While I was trained as a Sun Acolyte, he takes his Chirurgery very seriously. He downright denies the effectiveness of magical healing! It's been fascinating to expand my knowledge of these technical practices, and we work together as a healing team very well. Nasrin is trained in yet a third type of healing, using the herbs around the forest to create various concoctions. I've since visited the alchemist who sells her wares outside of the Scabby Rooster, and have purchased several potions to increase my effectiveness as a caregiver.

I'm sorry that I have to cut this a bit short, there seems to be something happening outside. People sound rather sick!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

The water supply has been poisoned! Fortunately, Iggy had both Colgren and I up and working so early that I hadn't even taken a sip of the water yet. Several of the townspeople as well as those in our camps have come down with some sort of terrible sickness. We've tried to treat them the best that we could, but we won't survive very long without a source of potable water. I traveled with an adventuring party to the local aqueduct to see what the problem was. The water mages took great care in trying to purify the water, but the source of the contamination was actually some kind of plant that was placed there by angry Sauren from them Ebon Claw. How do I know it was them? Because they attacked us! Luckily, the warriors that were with us were just as skilled, and bested them in combat. With the plants out of the aqueduct, the water mages were able to purify the rest of the supply, and we headed back to camp. 

Maybe I was safer on my own after all.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

We were attacked by large bugs in the camp. We heard word that Hypatia was badly injured and unable to move, so Jack and I made our way over to heal her. I saw a fascinating display by a mage named Elan, who was revealing the position of the previously unseen creatures using a mirror. Soon the insect problem was taken care of, and Elan offered to teach me several techniques in Mirror magic, since it seems to compliment Sun magic quite nicely. I might have to take him up on that.

I caught Iggy scooping up the remains of the slaughtered insects. When I mentioned how exhausted I was due to all of this excitement, he recommended something called Death Sludge. I'm back at the Rooster, waiting for him to prepare it for me now. 

I hope it can clear my senses a bit, as this is all a bit too much!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I LOVE DEATH SLUDGE I AM SO AWAKE NOW. IT DOES NOT TASTE GOOD.

-CALEB

 

Master Soen,

I've had so many interesting experiences with magic users since I've taken refuge with these people. I partook in a meditation session that left my magical energies feeling completely refreshed, even after I had cast spells that day. I was even part of a ceremony that imbued many different types of magic into a suit of armor, which I didn't even know was possible. My mind is definitely expanding, and I look forward to observing the principles of other magics and applying them to my own casting. 

I met a fellow Sun Acolyte by the name of Anariel, and she taught me the secrets to generating your own light through magic. Though I haven't quite got the hang of it yet, I'm well on my way to being able to cast it at will!

A story that I heard over a meal was told by a man named Roderick. He talked about extremely powerful World Stones, and even had one or two in his possession! Apparently, the Sauren queen is looking to create yet another World Stone, and is after children for the freshest blood in order to complete the specific ritual. Then again, Iggy told me that the stones he carried tended to cause madness, so who knows if what he was saying was credible or not.

If that weren't foreboding enough, a man named Arcanos gave a lecture about the perils of dealing with demons. The whole thing sounds quite terrifying, and I'm sure that I would have enough sense to never make a deal with a demon. 

At least, I hope so!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen!

Someone is specifically targeting half-elves! This worries me, as many of my new friends are half-elf. A sensible policy has been enacted, where any traveling done by a half-elf must be accompanied by someone. My half-elf friend, El, however, had the tendency to wander off on her own. She's the alchemist that works out of the Scabby Rooster, so she was apparently going to look for herbs. I followed along with her, though there wasn't much I could offer in the way of protection. I took my eyes away from her for one moment, and she suddenly disappeared! It scared me half to death, and I searched for her high and low. She eventually showed up back at camp - with a new set of fuzzy, animal-like ears!

At least she wasn't seriously harmed.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

There are rumblings of all-out war happening throughout the camp. Illumin soldiers came into camp asking for aid, and we were ambushed on our way to help them. The Sauren were so aggressive, they seemed to appear out of nowhere! The familiar panic appeared in my chest as we leapt into battle, but I was able to steady myself and help create a healing center in the heart of battle. My friend Calliope was gravely injured, and I was left defenseless as I treated her wounds on the battlefield, but I was able to complete the treatment and bring her back to safety. I'm through running, I now know that I'm here to help people, and what we are doing is important.

It's now come to our attention that the Sauren Queen is planning on visiting the original site of the World Stone's creation, which are the mines here in Iron Gorge. The rumors seem to be true, she's going to try and make another powerful stone! Intelligence also came in that she's an avatar for the three separate Demons. If she were to create this stone, it spells the end of the world as we know it.

Tales more terrible than any of the books I've read are coming to life before my eyes!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

Three escaped slaves found refuge in the Scabby Rooster today. They were strange in nature, very panicked, and had feathers and scales growing from their skin! They claimed to have a secret entrance into the mines, and vowed to take us there in exchange for some coin and safe passage. It seemed like the right thing to do! We could scout out the entrance to the mine, and bring the information to everyone in order to stop the Queen from completing her evil plan. Iggy, Hergeir, Mejito, and a few others came on the expedition. We even brought a Sauren, Mar-aat, who apparently is a part of the encampment and is willing to help us fight his brethren. The ex-slaves led us down a rocky path, and we quickly dispatched two of the Sauren Guards that were blocking the entrance to the tunnel. We slowly inched down into the opening, and came to a dead end, when one of the ex-slaves said "I'm sorry, I have to", and sealed us in with Earth magic! He even abandoned his two companions, who cursed his name and muttered something about him executing the plan "too early"

Let's scout the mine, they said. It would be beneficial, they said.

Locked in the dark, I cursed the fact that I wasn't able to get the hang of creating Light in time. Luckily, our Sauren companion Mar-aat was able to use his mining skills to allow us to force our way back out of the trap, but not before we were blasted by geyser water and falling rocks! Beaten and bruised, we dragged the two remaining traitors back to camp.

I don't recall exactly what happened to them, but I do vaguely remember seeing Iggy take them to the back of the Rooster.

The stew was especially meaty at mealtime.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen, 

A great battle has just concluded, and we barely made it out with our lives. Everyone gathered together and stormed the mine, determined to stop the Queen from enacting the ritual. Within the forked tunnels, brave warriors fought Sauren, Demon, and enslaved Civilians. We in the impromptu healing center tried our best to keep up with the demands of the wounded, but everything came to a crashing halt when an explosion was heard further down the mineshaft. As the ceiling started to cave in, hysteria overtook everyone in battle, and we fled for the safety of open air.

So many people were injured, and I didn't even know if we were successful in our mission or not!

Once cleared of the falling debris, I did my best to haul the injured back to camp, including two of the citizens under the spell of the Sauren. Unfortunately, they perished before we were able to do anything for them. Interestingly enough, two druids called for the bodies to be moved into the forest. Some ritual was about to happen, and I'm determined to observe it.

Anything to distract from the somber mood in camp.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I've witnessed the incredible. The two bodies were encased in cocoons of vines, and suddenly the two corpses were alive again! Unfortunately, one came back to life as himself, and the other came back in the form of a Sauren. In the confusion after waking, the human attacked the Sauren, even though they had previously been friends. They quickly became corpses again, and there wasn't anything we could do.

Reincarnation is a strange, dangerous magic.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I've met the strangest creature today. What appears to be a talking Fox chatted with me and gave me an enchanted gauntlet. Apparently, I'll be able to channel my magical energies into it and shoot a blast of Elemental Energy from it! The Fox was such a bright and spritely fellow, I hope this gauntlet protects me in battle long enough for me to see him again!

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

After meditation and study with Hypatia, Anariel, and Nasrin, I was told that we were successful in the mission in the mine. It was admirable to see the camaraderie these many strange adventurers felt when called to action, and I'll never forget the time I've spent with them. In the celebration that followed, I met two strange locals, Ruby and Sapphire, and they seemed to be friendly enough. 

Hergeir had read my fortune earlier, and I've been reflecting over what he had told me throughout my time here. He drew the 5, 6, and 7 of Swords, representing my past, present, and future. I was shocked that they came out in numerical order, and Hergeir informed me that this was, indeed, quite rare. Due to the cards being upside down or not, the fortune basically confirmed what I had already known. The 'past' card let Hergeir know that I had done something sneaky or shameful, and I know that stealing the key and coins from the temple constituted that. The 'present' card painted a picture of someone who was shirking their responsibilities, in order to fulfill selfish needs. My cheeks burned in recognition. It was the 'future' card, however, that gave me hope. Hergeir told me that there was still a chance to redeem myself, and that running away from my predestined path as the Head Healer in Albeira could always be mended by returning. After thinking long and hard about it, I'd have to agree with him. Though I'm taking a different road to get there, the experiences and knowledge I'm gaining out in the world will be far more valuable to a Head Healer than any book could offer. 

So, it's with careful consideration that I resolve to become the best Healer I can, and to eventually return to be the community leader and caregiver that the great Sun Temple deserves.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

It is with a heavy and confused heart that I have to say I've somehow inadvertently broken some of the sacred vows that are required for the Head Healer position! The customs and traditions out here seem further and further out of my grasp! 

I was coming back into the Scabby Rooster from a dishwashing shift, when suddenly Roderick announced I had just been officially MARRIED! Nasrin was even there, confirming the ceremony!!

The woman I was married to was nice enough, but seemed just as confused as I was. She was an elf named Aethyra, and she told me she was already betrothed to another!! Neither of us consented to this union, it can't possibly be real.

Could it!?

-Caleb

 

Mstr Sooon,

I regrttn th blooodstains andf poor hnancdwriting. Aethyra'sss girldfrien, Petra,., founnd outs about our union, and swiftly punced me in teh nose. Theis rendersred me unconsions, and Jcak woke me by dupming codl water on ne, but im' sitll faeling out fo sorts.

The marrrkaige was annulled. 

-0Caled

 

Master Soen, 

Petra has since apologized, and Aethyra and I have actually become friends. Around the blazing fire, I saw the two pronounce their love for each other. Aethyra also asked me to attend their official wedding! Perhaps I'll bring a few traditions of the Sun to their culture, like making sure the two parties actually WANT to be married. 

Hopefully, this whole misunderstanding will just be a playful memory when reflected upon, and will not be taken into consideration for my candidacy as Head Healer in the future.

Or maybe I'll just tear these last few letters out.

-Caleb

 

Master Soen,

I write to you in pure moonlight, as the candles and fire have all been extinguished. The evening was spent hearing lovely poetry from Wallad, and soul-stirring songs from the bard A'isha. Then, we proceeded to ask questions and share stories. This sense of family and inclusion was sorely missing from my solitary training, and I am truly grateful to have experienced it.

Master Elan informed me that my training in Mirror Magic will take me away from this particular group of people, as he, A'isha, and I will be traveling to Mirror Bay. A'isha is learning all sorts of things from Master Elan, while I'm still at the basic level of training. I don't mind, though, as I know what it takes to grasp the foundations of magic before moving on to more experienced and difficult techniques.

I'll miss my time here in Iron Gorge, and I hope to stay in contact with the friends that I have made here. Perhaps we will adventure together again in the future!

But for now,

on to Mirror Bay!

-Caleb