Kingdom's Fall

Cosmo's Journal
I didn't mean to apostamasize

As a recent graduate of the academy I thought my first step should be to get some real-world experience. Hearing that there was work to be found with the local temple of Bharnarol, Blenheim and I set off. It would appear I was not the only graduate to think similarly. Except for Blenheim, we are all graduates of the academy. Oh, and the priest, thankfully we have a man of advanced age, I mean experience. There's a Halfling bard who is quite the chit-chat, exceptional in gathering intel. An alchemist whose intellect vastly exceeds my own, we're very lucky to have someone of her disposition. Lastly there is "Butch" Ratcliffe. He seems to want to distance himself from his fellow academics. He seems to be trying hard but even Blenheim is larger than him.

Anyway, the actual mission was to looking into some local disappearances and a wild animal attack on a child in a nearby town. We set off immediately to get a carriage to bring us to the town. The drivers wanted to take an excessively long route to avoid some bandits. Having no fear of such vagabonds I assured them that we could handle it and any damages incurred we would pay for. 

Our journey began as well as to be expected, a simple carriage ride in the countryside. It was an interesting experience to have Celaena refer to me as lord. I probably should have done away with such unnecessary niceties, especially since I am not of such rank. But it was interesting to have such a title given randomly. 

But I digress were eventually beset by bandits. Well at first that's what they appeared to be, as it happened they were beasts. Gnolls are not loved in the Kingdom and are more often than not killed on sight. However, I realised that they were in some way communicating. If we could talk to them, maybe we could introduce them to society. Maybe they didn't have to be this way, we could save them from their own existence. But we couldn't very well do that while they were trying to kill us.

After dispatching with them we finished our journey. As it happened the latest attack victim had been killed. He succumbed to his wounds. Such a shame to see a lad of early years die in such a painful manner. Undeterred we set off into the woods concluding that we should just confront and deal with this threat as quickly as we could.

However, we waited until the next as to go out immediately would be foolish, it was nightfall after all. It was in the tavern that I met an old friend. Admittedly as I recall we'd met once before and I for the life of me couldn't remember but he did. Lord Alastair Tristrand, son of Baron Richmond Tristrand. We'd played together once as children when his father was visiting my grandfather. A night of merriment ensued, admittedly there was a bar fight but even with that Blenheim's mood seemed improved.

The next day we set off into the woods with Alastair's solvent. Which was incredibly convenient as we were attacked by a giant goddamn black widow. Dealing with that living nightmare we continued into their nest. Why in God’s name did it have to be there!? But within we found the spiders slain and an androgynous elf in gleaming armour in the centre. They were no less than a skyknight that we'd rescued. We'd actually rescued a skyknight, how awesome is that?!

So we hurriedly brought her back to the town to get her some proper medical attention, what with Father Brandt taking his afternoon and next few days nap. Ah the things you can get away with when you're old.

Upon our return the bard and I began trying to learn the Gnolls language and between the two of us made distinct progress. It was a strange language. A bastardisation of a much more complex language into a simple form for them to use. But we still had a job to do, find out what down the Skyknight.

We were all trying to think of how to make progress when we realised we'd never looked into the farm where a calf had been taken. It was clearly not just an animal attack as there was only blood left behind and it was hauled over the fence rather than through it.

Once again, we bravely set off into the forest to rescue… a calf I guess? We eventually found a cave with two people impaled, quite the gruesome sight but it just spurred us on to get to the bottom of this. Within we found profane symbols and practices that we couldn't recognise other than that they were wrong.

A large double crossbow that we suspect downed the hippogriff. And its evident user, a minotaur. Immediately we prepared for a fight. Blenheim and Ratcliffe grew in size and prepared to brawl with the beast. Or at least so I thought until Ratcliffe leapt out of its way and I was gored on its damn horns. Seeing that Blenheim was getting ready to kill it with impunity I rasped out that we had to capture it for study and after the wounds it had sustained from the rest of my group a simple ray of frost managed to down it.

Now comes the confusing bit. Firstly, Ratcliffe started strangling the unconscious creature. Then when we stopped him he started bullying the Halfling and struck Celaena. He seems to be determined to get on Blenheim's bad as I demanded he stop such behaviour he continued. A brief scuffle and we were on our way again.

It was on our return to the capital that the bard, Celaena and I finished work on the Gnoll language and our article that I was to publish. Alan Luxius seemed most intrigued by the work and put our names forward for promotion within the academy. While touching up and finishing the article we were approached by Viscountess Saria Valmus and none other than Eljinor himself. Who promptly told us to destroy the work.

Initially we were defensive demanding to know why our work must be kept from the public and everyone. As it turns out we were in fact studying Abyssal the language of Demons… I swear we didn't mean to commit apostasy. But Eljinor had a job for us. Some cockatrices were getting out of control and we had to kill them and possibly study how they were appearing. That sounds publishable.

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Blenheim's Diary - 1
New Work

In an effort to better serve the Drakes, I thought it might be wise to roughly record day to day happenings to reflect on my successes and failures. I might also record information that is relevant later. All in all, a diary seems to be a useful use of my time.

Well, where to be begin? Cosmo found some work with the church recently, which is a noble and pious venture indeed. Contracted through the temple of Bharnarol we were tasked to investigate some strange animal attacks at a nearby town. It wasn’t just us, there were a few others signed on to this job as well. In fact, it was quite the coincidence that almost everyone involved in this went to the Academy, although I can’t say I remember seeing any of them. Certainly, none of them were involved in bullying Cosmo nor in the clique he formed so it’s understandable. First was Celaena Honduran, a white-haired woman who is an arcanist I believe. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what most of these distinctions between spellcasters are, magic is magic. She seems to take her work and research very seriously. Next we have Rafaela, a Halfling bard. She seems an amiable sort, it truly is a boon to have someone who can lift our spirits around. Especially on long, dangerous journeys. Then there is a magus by the name of Ratcliffe. He’s an odd one, he seems to hold some form of grudge against the others from the Academy. I’m not sure why. He also has some drive to prove himself. Proving what, I have no idea but he has taken to the idea of strapping skulls to his armour. Cosmo asked if I had previous experience with him and had hit him a bit too hard but I’m afraid Ratcliffe’s eccentricities are his own fault. We also have a priest from the temple accompanying us. I’m quite glad to have Father Brandt with us and not just because he can tend to my wounds. I was pleasantly surprised to see age hasn’t seemed to slow him down a bit.

I digress, the job itself seemed simple enough. Identify the creature behind the attacks and if it’s completely unknown capture it for study, otherwise slay it. The town where the attacks were occurring was a few days’ ride away so we chartered a caravan to take us there. The caravan was initially reluctant to take us by the direct route, citing attacks on that road. We managed to convince them otherwise by promising to protect the caravan and recompense any losses. I suppose it is unsurprising that we were ambushed on the route by gnoll bandits. We dispatched them easily enough, although I shamefully lost my temper between the threat posed to Cosmo and being smashed in the face in the flail. My true nature remains unknown to the others thankfully. It was decided that we would not execute the gnolls however and instead study them. I believe Cosmo is taking it upon himself to learn their language to communicate with them. What an honourable soul, I’m not sure it would be a decision I myself would make. The rest of the journey was thankfully uneventful.

We arrived at the village not long after and began our investigation into this creature. Cosmo and I spoke with the guards and investigated the most recent casualty, a small child who went looking for his parents in the forest. After taking a look at the body it seemed obvious to me that this was a hippogriff attack. Which is strange, hippogriffs hate forests. Returning to the tavern we shared the information we all gathered which pointed to an agitated hippogriff which was here involuntarily. At which point Cosmo was approached by someone who apparently knew him. He certainly made a negative impression with me when he tried to scam Cosmo out of some coin. He is apparently Lord Alistair Tristrand, a member of nobility. I can’t say I ever recall him visiting the Drake manor, perhaps it was before my time. Despite his scam, he didn’t seem to hold any ill will to Cosmo so I’m willing to overlook some of his more… questionable aspects. He was also rather helpful in helping me deal with an accursed hunter of my people. Although, was that incidental or does he know? I have no idea. After that incident a night of merriment was had, except for Rafaela who attempted to drink a great deal of alcohol. Given how small she is, she may have been more alcohol than Halfling at that point.

The next day we ventured into the forest. Following what tracks we could we came across a backpack caught in a tree. Rafaela climbed trees to reach but at the final jump she stopped in mid-air. A spider’s web. The spider crawled out of a hole in a nearby tree with ill intent. It was too far for me to engage but I couldn’t let that foul creature near Rafaela. Thankfully, pelting it with a sling proved a suitable distraction. With its attention drawn, I drew my steel and charged forth to slay the beast. It proved no match for us but I have come to the conclusion that spiders are cowardly creatures. Such reliance on making sure their prey cannot fight back with immobilising web and vile poison. Disgusting. Still it was no match for honest steel. I’m quite glad that it focused its attacks on me, for its poison ravaged me. I can’t help but think what would have happened if Rafaela had been affected by such a poison.

Our work here is far from done but we have found a tool which may prove useful. A beast whistle, no doubt attuned to the hippogriff. It would seem that ultimately this cowardly creature is responsible for much. Anyway, enough of this entry I have to see to Cosmo.

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