Kingdom's Fall

Blenheim's Diary - 6
A chance at knighthood!

After the exploits of the last few days we all decided to rest and not engage in life threatening work. I enjoyed a novel leave of absence (even got out of my uniform for a few days) whilst the others began their research into the Basiliscus’ Maximus. I really did try to get interested in their work but there’s a reason scholarly pursuits don’t appeal to me. There wasn’t much I could do to help aside from keep an eye on the beast in case if broke out of containment or attacked researchers. I think they made a lot of progress though and it is good to see everyone pleased with their work.

After officially entering my short leave of absence Caelena practically dragged me to a rather high end bar for us all to toast another successful mission and apparently, to get to know me better outside of work. It was a novel experience, not many really bother trying to know me and I was touched by the effort. Admittedly I focus so much on my work that I don’t leave much to learn. However, while we were out we met someone new. Rotta Falkranath, son of Vulmon. Initially I was very wary of this man, given my suspicions about his father. After a brief chat, he revealed himself to be the amiable if withdrawn sort. As it turns out he and I have something in common. We both want to become knights. Well, I mean who wouldn’t!? To be a shining beacon of hope, loyalty and protection for all in the realm should be something admired by all. So, we talked about how great knights are for a while and he told me about a jousting tournament scheduled to happen in three weeks. You need the sponsorship of a noble family and a “heroic” deed. Rotta seemed to be as confused as I was about exactly counts but there is an official process and everything. The rest of the evening was rather enjoyable although my intention to drink myself into unconsciousness and guarantee I rest didn’t work. Apparently my alcohol tolerance is higher than I thought.

The others continued their research and I commissioned a new cold iron sword for Cosmo as an apology for my gross lapses such as attempting to strip him in The Silken Lounge, forgetting his favourite colour and being so weak that he had to finish the hag himself. I ensured it was the highest quality possible and even managed to get a drake engraved on the blade. It was when I was in the blacksmith collecting the blade and placing an order for a breastplate (after all, can’t go jousting in a heavy coat) I saw Rotta again. He was in picking up a lance and we go to talking again. Seeing that I was here to buy some armour (with fingerless gauntlets for my more… unorthodox fighting style) he was kind enough to offer me some of his spare armour, all I’d have to do is cover the resizing. I could scarcely turn down the offer and thanked him for his generosity. He even extended an offer to train with him on his estate, another offer I couldn’t refuse. Especially given I have done almost no mounted combat. Were this a passage of arms or a melee I would be confident but jousting does not play to my strengths. So, I made arrangements to meet him later that day, after delivering the sword.

The estate was much grander than the Drake’s but I daresay the character of its lord leaves much to be desired. Guard presence seemed higher than I’d expect. I was expected so I was let in easy enough and found Rotta in his own personal jousting list. I had a great time and learned the basics of mounted combat, although I think I may have hit him too hard during our melee spar. I swear sometimes I don’t know my own strength. Then before I knew it, training was over and were in his bedroom and he was removing his armour. How do I keep getting in these situations? There was no need for concern as I am a stalwart professional, I turned my back and daren’t turn around. No urge to peek whatsoever. Nope, not me. Never have, never will.

It wasn’t long after Cosmo received a letter from his grandfather. He was more than happy to sponsor me for the tournament but apparently needed our help with something. So, we set off for the family estate to talk with him. He’s as enthusiastic and charming as ever. It was good to see the family again, even if I didn’t have time to check in on most of them. Anyway, Baronet Drake asked for our assistance in the Dwarven realm. Apparently a mining operation has hit some rather vague problems. Should we help, it could be put forward as a heroic deed. No more needed said and we are making plans to head there now. Of course, I couldn’t just go get a heroic deed without Rotta, that would be incredibly rude! Unfortunately, we had to meet with his father. He’d only allow Rotta to accompany us if he had a personal bodyguard with him. Cosmo does not seem pleased about this and I am not either but I’m more focused on Rotta’s reaction to his father. He’s terrified of him, to the point where he physically flinches at his gestures. I may not be terribly smart or perceptive but I know what that means and it was difficult to hold back my fury. I don’t know how or when but I will bring that bastard to justice.

Until then, to adventure.

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Cosmo's Journal - 5
Scholars and Knights

The last few days were quite peaceful. I think between Ratcliffe disappearing and Brandt taking yet another nap. Really should get him checked by a doctor or something. But we were graced with Raph's presence once again, apparently she learnt giant whilst we were away. So with the research team reassembled we got to work. Progress is slow as the Basilicus Maximus is as uncooperative as ever. Our communication with it got as far as it wants us to stop talking to it and free it. I doubt it will particularly appreciate the vivisection we have planned.

While usually this would have been of great interest to me it pales in comparison to a massive development. Blenheim made a friend! Everyone seemed to expect seething jealousy on my part but after getting over my suspicions, I realised that I was only concerned about Blenheim's new friends father. In my defense his friend is Rotta Falkranath, son of Vumon. He's the bastard that caused the political enviroment to turn against werefolk, just because his wife was killed by one. He now supplies and I imagine funds the training of these homicidal sociopaths.

But a man cannot be judged for the crimes of his father… well unless your father was a traitor. There's no easy way of avoiding that punishment… Anyway Rotta is a nice guy and he and Blenheim are incredibly excited by the prospect of the jousting tournament that can result in a knighthood. Blenheim might become a knight. Even before me! I've never seen him so giddy, it was adorable to see him show such emotion and childish glee. Upon reflection I don't think I've ever seen it. I guess back then it was hard to have such innocent pleasures… This keeps becoming dark, I swear it's been a positive few days.

At any rate I immediately wrote off to my grandfather to have Blenheim nominated for the jousting competition. I was told to get to the estate quickly and meet with him, there was work for me. We set off the next day. It was nice to see the family again, the house was fit to bursting. I found out that my aunt is in line to become the next Baronet, she really deserves it, magi are rare and one of her skill rarer still. Apparently she trained Ratcliffe, this did surprise me as she didn't seem to have relished the experience to train one as gifted, technically.

Now we set off to the Dwarven realms, apparently they dug too deep. And with us is quite the ensemble. Celeana has with her two probation officers thanks to my Grandfather guaranteeing they would come with us (so we could go on the mission to get Blenheim his Great Deed). Rotta is also joinng us, although at his fathers insistence a damned hunter is joining us. An accident may occur that is obviously outside of our control. Heaven forbid.

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Cosmo's Journal - 4
Demons and Hags

One struggles to not question his betters after these last few days and encounters. For one there was the demonic brothel in the middle of a city which was in a district bordering two church districts. This has gone unnoticed despite there being missing persons reports and the fact that this place is frequented by the aristocracy. Surely this should have been looked into… why wasn't it?

But I'm getting very far ahead of myself. Firstly we had to fight off our attacker who had an eye in his hand. His first move was to bewitch Blenheim. This was a good plan as I now found myself beneath a very large barbarian with no means of defending myself as he screamed at me for being a "ponce". It stung. A lot. I realise he wasn't himself anymore but maybe there's a little bit of him in there that thinks like that. Maybe I am a stupid ponce. I just want to look my best and not be a disappointment… I should maybe stop focusing on my looks and focus on doing a good job. 

Anyway we were clearly outmatched but backup arrived in the form of Fathers Alan and Brandt. Alan as it turns out is terrifying when he wants to be as the creature before us was engulfed in blazing holy light and Brandt spotted and stoped the hand as it tried to crawl away from the abominations scorched corpse.

It was then that I met and bless her, got overly emotional and angry with Sir Ariana. Apparently this group does not cope well with stress. I screamed at her for having not already sent paladins to this place and purged and commented that it was incredibly suspicious that this hadn't been seen to before. Under the floorboards she found something and it later found out (because at the time we were told to leave immediately) it was a heavily pregnant woman who was with demon child. It was my suggestion of a well placed teleportation spell that saved the day, as Eljinor was only to excited and pleased to try.

But before the rescuing of the child we had one other thing to deal with, poachers. Well idiots more like. We had word that several unexperienced poachers were going to attempt murder on an innocent lycanthrope. This could not be allowed to transpire. We set off at once. Well once we had a carriage. But we set off with as much haste as could have been expected.

We reached a small idylic cottage in the woods. As Blenheim approached the cottage something in the bushes attracted his attention and we all came over to find the hunters lying in "ambush". They were all teenagers which came as a surprise, then Blenheim and I looked at each other and remembered we were still in our teens as well. Brandt also made this deduction and started yelling that he was surrounded by jumped up toddlers. He really doesn't do himself any favours, there's a reason we think he's so old. 

We proceeded to berate the teens that wanted to kill the "monster" that was in the hut. But something of our commitment to get rid of them must have tipped them off that we weren't here to kill the locals. They rounded on us and attacked. This was a mistake. Blenheim pummeled the leader and I found it very cathartic to just go around the ones hiding in bushes and also pummel them but with a magic fist I discovered I could conjure. I can see why Blenheim likes it. Although I don't think any of us expected what happened next. Their leader pulled a bomb and blew himself up in an effort to kill Blenheim. 

After securing the fanatics in ropes we went to talk to the inhabitant who was a sweet old lady. That wanted to eat the children… yeah I didn't see it coming either. During the fight Celaena and I were blinded but still useful as I sceamed vulgarities at the hag and through magic at her. Apparently I hit with only all of it being down to Celaena's quick thinking and an air elemental. Then once we were able to see again there were two Blenheim's, but the fake made a fateful error and cried out for my help. Stupid witch, Blenheim would never ask for my aid. Afterall he should just expect it. So we beat the crap out of her, although she took quite a bit out of Blenheim. I don't think he was expecting two fights in succession like that. She tried to just turn herself into a tree to survive. So I set fire to the tree and made myself a little pyre. Don't mess with my charge.

After the hag incident we interrogated the "hunters" although Blenheim and I took a backseat for that as he had a drink and I tried to tend to some of his wounds. To be honest I mainly just did his hair and tried to make him look respectful. Bharnarol I'm useless. Celaena took charge of the interrogation and was making quite a bit of progress she worked out the leader and decided to despatch him but shoving a bomb under his arse. I've heard of lighting a fire under someone but this was amazing. I agree with Brandt it was the wrong thing to do but I was pretty ok with it all things considered.

We made our way back to the capital and handed over the atempted murderers and warned of the hag. Pretty productive few days if I do say so myself.

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Blenheim's Diary - 5
Poachers

Predictably, it did not go well for the owner. He had cast some spell on Mr. Ratcliffe which prevented him from drawing his sword so it was down to Cosmo, Miss Honduran and myself to deal with this villain. He then cast something and I was feeling really angry. Well angry isn’t the right word, more jealous. Of Cosmo’s clothing. I mean, it’s all perfectly tailored (I’ve seen to that) but unhealthily jealous. As in, strip it from him whilst he’s wearing it jealous. Cosmo was rather lucky the spell seemed to fail rather quickly because I don’t think there was anything he could have done to stop me. I feel awful about it, I need to be stronger in the future, not just in body but in will. I assume Cosmo called for help because it wasn’t long before Father Brandt and Father Luxius arrived. Once they arrived, the Enchanter was quickly overwhelmed. Father Luxius then began to purge the area of demonic corruption with copious amounts of fire. With the Enchanter dead, some of the workers began to change back into their normal selves. Others quite conspicuously did not. These workers also happened to be carrying knives. Disarming them was simple enough although some insisted on trying to enchant me. Cosmo had my back however. Not long after the guard arrived and got to work processing everyone and investigating the scene. He seemed rather upset they refused his help but it was probably for the best that the professionals handled it.

After spending the rest of the night giving statements we were free to do as we will. The incident left us little time to prepare for stopping the “poachers” in the woods. A quick breakfast and a nap on the carriage there would have to suffice. I knew we were not stopping professional “poachers” but their inexperience shocked me. Outside a secluded log cabin we found a group of leather clad hunters, all of them around my age. It was quite obvious they hadn’t a clue what they were doing. Attempts at getting them to leave peacefully fell apart as they attempted to attack us. Well, if it was a lycanthrope they were hunting for, I was more than happy to oblige. The second they saw my claws they focused their fire on me, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen. We knocked them out fairly easily, although one of them tried to detonate a bomb right next to himself just to kill me. I could scarcely believe that someone could be so stupid and insane.

It wasn’t just the “poachers” that noticed my claws, Father Brandt and Miss Honduran noticed as well. Father Brandt did not seem to care at all at this revelation and was much more concerned with how much I was bleeding. Miss Honduran seemed somewhat confused but was very sorry about what she had said the other day about lycanthropes. I was going to answer whatever questions she had but then the old lady appeared. She seemed curious about what was going on and was apparently not a lycanthrope. Just as we were patting ourselves on the back for saving an old granny from being ambushed by a bunch of amateur hunters she lamented that we were taking them away because she’d much rather eat them.

This was no old lady, this was a hag.

As much as I maintain those hunters didn’t have a clue what they were doing, fire enough arrows and some will start to hurt. I was tired, bleeding and weakened. Unable to tap fully into my natural form the hag quite soundly tore me to shreds. Each claw digging and tearing the muscle, making me weaker and weaker. She even changed her form to resemble me in an attempt to trick my companions. She however made a mistake in her impersonation. She called for help. Shaking off their blindness the others easily brought her low and in a desperate attempt at self-preservation she turned herself into a tree. She did not realise the amount of fire Cosmo is capable of unleashing and she burnt to a crisp. Horrible way to go for a horrible thing.

We rested a moment in the cabin waiting for the “poachers” to awaken. I have to admit, it was very amusing watching Father Brandt give them the scolding of a lifetime. It’s a shame Miss Honduran had to ruin the mood by attempting to murder the crazy bastard who tried to blow himself up. I can understand why she did it, but I can’t say I approve. Father Brandt showed a cast iron set of morals stopping her. I’m not sure if it’s the absinthe or the blood loss but everything then gets a bit hazy. Not sure of the specifics but the courts sorted everything out with only the radical going to jail. I’ve got some time off while I recover from my fight with the hag. Although I don’t think I’ll drop everything, shopping and making reservations is not physically taxing.

 

I’ll have to get around to fixing up the cloak Miss Honduran gave me, it got a little scratched during the fight. I’m not sure why she insisted on giving us gifts, after all we all get worked up sometimes and lash out. All anyone can ask for is that we recognise our failings and work harder next time. Still, it would be the height of rudeness to refuse such a fine cloak. I’ll have to find some way to repay this but I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer.

Anyway, I shall enjoy my rest and look forward to what the rest discover about the Basilicus Maximus.

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Cosmo's Journal - 3
They weren't all that anyway

This was truly a momentous few days. After we all finally got back from that damnable swamp we were free to do as we wanted at at this point over two and a half grand in the black. We were unable to begin research on the Basiliscus' Maximus yet as it was still unconscious and most importantly we had to get it released into our custody. Academics are nothing if not fickle and proud. They all want to research the new creature despite us having the most experience. Thankfully after going shopping for "ladies things" Celaena managed to calm down enough to work with me on the presentation to get the research grant. I reckon it must've been the father that set her off, although if she's that prone to anger maybe she isn't suited to working with animals. Or people. My god she was let in a school… Anyway I'm getting ahead of myself that all isn't even what happened first.

Firstly we went shopping, because why would you do anything else. Celaena refused to come because she needed to go on her own. I fear Blenheim might have taken it as a personal slight that he couldn't be trusted. The good Father Brandt went for his nap and as of yet has not arisen. Is that normal for his age? He seems to think we all think he's too old but I fear he's proving his own fallacy correct. Ratcliffe went off to gather skulls I can only assume.

But while my cohorts were not taken with the idea of shopping Blenheim thankfully remembered that Viscountess Saria Valmus was quite taken with the idea of shopping with us. So after quite the shopping spree Blenheim and I convinced her to but some dresses and let Blenheim give her a haircut. Quite the transformation. It was good to see her smile genuinely, especially when she said Eljinor was her only friend.

On our second day we began our research, after giving a presentation I promptly guaranteed that we got all accesses to the Basiliscus' Maximus and a large grant. Although we were told we couldn't spend it frivolously. So I had Blenheim make arrangements for a celebratory dinner and some… entertainment.

The dinner was lovely with exceptional company. Celaena was clearly in high spirits since we'd managed to get the grant and Saria seemed to be pleased. Ratcliffe was his usual self but Blenheim was tolerating him mich better, Ratcliffe must have done something to hethim on side. When it came to the latter of the evening Saria left as it was not to her tastes. Blenheim and I tried to get away to a bar of ill repute for some dances. Celaena had told me of it earlier that day.

But I digress we attempted to break away from the other two but Ratcliffe was adament that he was joining us and he would be hired at this club. I shudder to imagine. Oh God… I'm imagining it… I've died a bit.

Anyway we arrived and were beset by scantily clad men. I thought this would be right up my alley but, it just didn't do anything for me. The others were utterly enthralled but, nope nothing. I was more interested in the other customers. Other noble's children spending their families wealth. Nothing new learnt, nothing gained. This damn place seemed downright dingy to me. The Silken Lounge left a lot to be desired. Not that I was going to just let that ruin the evening, all that was left was to pick out my man.

Wait, why am I getting dragged off? Oh God Ratcliffe what have you done now? What are the costs of the damages? What are these runes? Why's there an eye there? Halp!

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Blenheim's Diary - 4
A Night on the Town

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to return to the capital. I usually don’t mind spending some time in the wild but that swamp was awful between the heat, the humidity, the wildlife. I hope we can stick to nice, temperate forests in the future. After seeing that the “Basiliscus Maximus” (which Cosmo has taken to calling it) was safely stored away and preparations for research done we got down to what was really important.

Shopping!

It hasn’t been that long since we last went but the swamp really was quite the ordeal. It wasn’t just Cosmo and I however, Viscountess Valmus joined us. I was hoping on bringing Miss Honduran along as well but she was rather insistent on not accompanying us or even leaving me a list so that I may shop for her, leaving her to do what she will. I’m not sure I understood her reasoning, she seemed concerned she was somehow embarrassing herself or me. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but I’ve been a valet for near enough a decade now, I should think that there would be no need for such concerns. Oh well, she missed out on a great time. Cosmo got his uniform waterproofed, a wise decision if we ever have to go traipsing around such an awful place such as that swamp again. The Viscountess seemed hesitant at first but after a little encouraging she left with an amazing new dress and we even convinced her to let me use my honed skills as a stylist and beautician. I must have been divinely inspired that day because that was possibly my best work yet. The Viscountess certainly seemed pleased at any rate!

Later that day was rather odd. After I secured everyone adequate accommodation for our stay in the capital I chanced upon Miss Honduran and Mister Ratcliffe. Miss Honduran was most concerned that she was being followed after a trip to a rather seedy bar and requested that she sleep in my room for the night. The more time I spend with this woman, the less I understand but I could hardly refuse. Perhaps her fears had some truth to them though. I could have sworn I saw a hawk staring at our room. Could have just been a hawk, could have been something else.

It wasn’t all fun and games however as I had the task Eljinor entrusted me with, as vague as he was. The interrogation was simple enough, even if I nearly buggered up a simple disguise. Was a little rough but I was in no mood to be playing around. Got pointed to the riverside district where apparently, she was approached by a cloaked elf. I considered posing as a prospective hunter myself but I wasn’t feeling entirely confident. Thankfully I know someone who can pull off bloodthirsty murderer rather well. To his credit, Mr Ratcliffe did an exceptional job of gathering the necessary information. Although I didn’t like what I heard. Capturing lycanthropes to skin alive and sell their pelts? I have never heard anything so utterly, disgustingly evil as long as I have lived. This must be stopped. I refuse to stand idly by and allow these atrocities to happen. Although the viewpoints of the others leave much to be desired. Miss Honduran seems to be under the mistaken impression that lycanthropes possess some form on contagious disease and should be put down for the good of all. She seems to me a very bright and well educated young woman so I have no idea how she has been taken in so easily by such nonsense. As for Mr Ratcliffe, well, his position was less surprising. He cares not from where the blood flows, only that it flows. Absolutely vile. If he wishes to be a “barbarian” perhaps he can take the first step and leave civilised society far behind and get himself killed in some nameless wasteland instead. No matter, I’ll stop this with or without their help. If they dare stop me or defend these monsters however, Gods have mercy because I will not.

The situation around this discussion was growing rather tense but Cosmo as ever found a way to diffuse the situation and proposed a night out on the town to toast their success at convincing the academic board to back their plans for research. The suggestion was even enough to lighten my darkening mood and I got to work setting up the necessary reservations. Once again Viscountess Valmus would be joining us in celebration. The evening was lovely from pre-event drinks, to the dinner and the entertainment I reserved was quite thrilling. The Viscountess departed before the more serious drinking which was quite fine, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or bottle of wine rather). The evening was slated to finish as a private affair for Cosmo at a more… salacious establishment by the name of the Silken Lounge that Miss Honduran had recommended. I wouldn’t have expected her to know about such a place but she is apparently full of surprises.

Well it was supposed to be private but Miss Honduran and most bizarrely Mr Ratcliffe insisted on accompanying us.  With any luck, after this they won’t insist on inserting themselves into occasions where they were not accommodated for, nor invited nor is even to their liking!  The establishment was much as you would expect although clearly very high end between fine scents, expensive drugs, fabrics and the high concentration of nobles that make up its clientele. The, uh, “entertainment” on show was certainly… impressive. I was approached by two “entertainers” almost immediately upon arrival which was strange but really flattering because nobody ever really bothers or tries for the butler. We talked a bit but I’d be hard pressed to fathom a single word that was said. They were really nice though and the evening was going really well.

Ahem.

Anyway. Took me about 10 minutes to realise I was separated from Cosmo and I was still on duty. But leaving seemed… difficult and I was left stammering for help. Then Mr Ratcliffe ruined everything. He had apparently been causing trouble for whatever damn reason because going anywhere and not causing difficulties is too damn difficult. The owner however was more concerned about Ratcliffe knowing that the establishment was brimming with magic and somehow deducing that the crazy man with the skulls strapped to him was considered a trustworthy source by anyone and was now deciding to kidnap, brainwash and transform us to be his employees…

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Cosmo's Journal - 2
Swamp Trek

As much as I appreciate the Royal Advisor getting us to the village with such speed, I think Blenheim and I are both in agreement that we would have rather had time to prepare ourselves for a journey into the swamp which has claimed the lives of so many adventurers. But instead we were dumped in this backwater village with only the clothes on our backs and all the necessities in Blenheim’s backpack. I know that sounds like a lot but the poor bastard didn’t even have his sword. Oh, to be a mage with that kind of power without having to fear for anything. Although he would appear to have forgotten what being a “normal” person is like. Just disappearing and reappearing wherever he need, not needing to worry for equipment or supplies.

But I digress after the kind if not well thought out help we received from <u>Eljinor</u>, we set off into the swamp. Well at least we were going to but we had to kill some cockatrice’s first. Turns out they’re pretty stupid and we dispatched them with relative ease. It was here that I noticed the dedication <u>Celaena</u> has for her research as she held them down and stuffed them into bags to study later. A shame the damn things accidentally killed themselves.

With the little critters dealt with we started our trek through the swamp. As much as I love my attire I fear it was not prepared for the abuse of a swamp or the giant leeches that dwelled within. Having attempted to rescue Raph I was beset upon by these revolting abominations which drained me of my strength but more importantly my blood. I only have so much of that.

Raph ran into the trees and thankfully came back with some direction for us to follow, she had found large footprints of a beast none of us could work out. It sounded publishable. So, with Brandt healing us and whining every step of the way we continued. Here we found the source of the cockatrice infestation. Their eggs were everywhere, but thanks to the others knowledge of nature they could tell these were unfertilised. The big one in the middle on the other hand was very much fertilised. And protected as it turned out.

Celaena decided she wanted to research t and picked it up exclaiming, “I’m your mummy now!” As it happened the real mummy was not best please by this as the massive beast revealed itself. I began trying to scan it’s features and commit them to memory. After all it would be rare to study such a creature as it is fighting to defend its children. Deciding how to name it I settled on Basiliscus’ Maximus, thought it was fitting because it was rather maximus.

So, with great difficulty and much yelling from Blenheim that the damn thing wouldn’t fight him so he had to keep running to it we managed to defeat it. It was only at this point though that we noticed the good father. He had been turned mostly to stone and was not pleased about it. He lashed out and screamed at Celaena that she was useless. Blenheim and I both glanced at each other both taken aback by the angered response. Trying to change the topic away from the yelling of an old man I told Celeana that I had been trying to keep in mind everything about the creature and had now committed them to writing. This appeared to be a mistake as she now screeched at me that she could write too and study this creature just as well if not better than me.

There seemed to be no diffusing this situation as everyone (Celeana and Brandt) was at the end of their patience. I can’t remember whose idea it was but someone said we should use the card to get backup to retrieve the creature. At this point, Brandt snatched it from my hand and began screaming at it, I guess he forgot who he was screaming at. At this point Eljinor, <u>Sir Williame Athinus</u> and <u>Viscountess Saria Valmus</u> arrived to help. I politely inquired if it would be heretical or apostasy to write about this discovery and was given the green light. While I was looking the other way Sir Williame gauged out the poor things eyes.

I think that’s my one regret about this mission, that I failed to stop that. After all this poor creature was literally just trying to protect its child, who can blame it. If anything, that shows it has some good in it. I think it was intelligent too, we could have got it to understand. But, I imagine a creature that wakes up blind will be little more than anger, confusion and fear made manifest once it recovers.

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Blenheim's Diary - 3
The Source

I knew that cockatrices were stupid creatures. Only now can I fully appreciate how stupid they are. Makes them easy to deal with I suppose. It didn’t take us long to deal with the pests in the village, even if Father Brandt insisted on bitterly complaining to the local villagers. He certainly can go from napping to cranky very quickly. In fact, that could be the theme of this excursion, completely unexpected anger. Anyway, we managed to bag a couple for later study. That was the hope anyway, turns out they are too stupid to survive in the controlled environment of a sack. Shame that, I’m sure Cosmo could have gotten something to write about out of them.

With the cockatrices in the village dealt with we entered the swamp hoping to find the source of these pests. It was a tough slog between the humidity, the fetid swamp water and the irritating local wildlife. Those leeches certainly gave Father Brandt even more to complain about. However, we were to have a breakthrough when Raphaella spotted a very large set of tracks in the distance. Following them, we came upon a nest filled with misshapen eggs which cockatrices hatched from and one very large egg. As Caelena approached the egg the creature revealed itself and it was terrible to behold. A huge serpentine beast with multiple sets of eyes and legs. In addition to its prodigious size and strength it also had the capability to turn creatures to stone with a glare. With Butch too focused on slaying the cockatrices and taking their skulls things looked dire. Not that I would dare speak ill of Cosmo or his new compatriots but they lacked the raw power to deal with this beast. I figured our survival might very well rest upon me, so I didn’t hold back. I must say, I’ve never felt more alive than I did during that fight. No need to hide, no need to restrain myself for fear of breaking something or someone. In the end, we felled the beast and informed the High Priest of our success so that they could take it away. It was close though. Father Brandt had nearly turned to stone, which was an endless source of complaint. What’s more it was continually directed at Caelena, not really sure why. Then Cosmo started talking to Caelena about writing a book on this creature and she completely flipped. I have no idea why and judging by Cosmo’s bewilderment neither did he. Lots of shouting then followed. I couldn’t help but stare disbelievingly at this sudden, meaningless feud while the beast’s blood dripped from almost every inch of me. Maybe it’s a scholar thing that I don’t understand.

Well on a positive note, because of fortunate positioning, the size of the beast and the fact that everyone was avoiding making eye contact my secret is still safe. Talk about luck!

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Blenheim's Diary - 2
Books and Minotaurs

The last few days have been a mixed batch. On a positive note, we rescued a Sky Knight! Taenarus I believe their name is. We found them at the center of the spider nest, surrounded by dead spiders. The venom did a real number on them though. From what I understand they are recovering well. With their help, we also found and secured the hippogriff, which served as their mount. When we returned it was decided that we should rest for a while before we set out to hunt whatever shot down Taenarus. Just as well, I was still feeling rather under the weather because of that venom. Raphaella and Cosmo worked on understanding the Gnoll language. I did my best to make sure they were well fed and refreshed during their studies but beyond that there wasn’t much I could do to help. Although there was that deer I fetched for them, it felt good to be myself outside for a change.

Anyway, it was obvious on reflection that the calf disappearance was different from the other incidents so we investigated. The clues we found led us to a cave which had two unfortunate souls impaled on sticks outside to act as a brutal warning. Such evil. Inside the cave we found strange symbols drawn in blood. I don’t know much about such things but it was pretty obvious something was very wrong with them. It wasn’t long before we found the instrument used in downing the Sky Knight. A very large crossbow capable of firing two bolts at once. Ratcliffe was rather taken with the weapon, but his struggles to lift it alerted the beast that was its owner. A minotaur. I’m not terribly afraid of beasts larger than I but soon it didn’t even have size as an advantage as Celaena cast some spell on me that evened the odds. I was going to enjoy this. That is, until Ratcliffe too was similarly large and blocked the path to the beast. This I had no qualms with, so long as the beast was slain and as much as it pains me to say it Ratcliffe knows how to fight. Then he jumped out of the way when it charged, leaving it to gore Cosmo. It is only through Cosmo’s great kindness and charity that the minotaur lived and that Ratcliffe retains the use of his limbs. The bastard even laid hands of Celaena after she stopped him from murdering the beast. What scum, abusing his strength to hurt the weak.  It is the role of the strong to protect the weak, something Ratcliffe would do well to learn.

Anyway, we returned to the capital, specimens in tow. Whilst there the scholars amongst us finished learning the Gnoll language and had finished a book on the topic. However, as seems to be theme with this week, the good was immediately followed by the bad as the High Priest of Bharnarol and even Elijnor ordered us to destroy the book. Apparently Gnolls speak a modified version of Abyssal, which is bad. On the other hand, Elijnor has a job for us. There’s a cockatrice problem in a village to the south we need to deal with. Cosmo seems upbeat about the job, thinking we might get an article out of this. I personally just hope he can stay out of trouble this time.

Also, I wish Elijnor would realise not everyone can store everything in some weird place they can access at any time. Being moved around like this is disorientating, not to mention my horse is still in the stable. At least he was nice enough to get the shopping I needed though, even if I do have to carry all this myself…

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Log of Father Brandt Th.D
First entry

For the sake of the record, I only seized the oppurtunity of the investigation out of a desperate, desperate desire to get away from the halfterm marking, but I didn't realise there'd be more children here. It's all respect and "yes father" and "thank you father" to my face, but I know that I'm some uncool old man who they're humouring. Probably shouldn't have had that nap, not really countering any stereotypes there.


The party I've been saddled with are a curious bunch, and by curious I mean ungodly. In brief, there's the rich one, the short one, the shorter one, the hairier one and butch, who has all the self confidence of a man who had his head pushed down a toilet by mage hand. In long form, the Drake boy was very polite, lots of "father"s, but also brought his bloody butler with him and I'm fairly confident he can't dress without him. The butler's a brown nosing sycophant and really smells like dog. The halfling, Raphaela, is probably a nice lass but spend an inordinate quantity of time with a paper maché cow head on her entire top half, and that image is and will stick with me the entire time I'll know her. That brings me to "butch". "Butch" made this cow head and likes to collect skulls. "Butch" also insists on being called "Butch" and I'm going to let that speak for itself. The other one, the white haired girl whose name insists on sliding away from me, has a great nose for wine, and almost no other character traits I can really recall; that could be deliberate or just the wine, really.


I've gathered from the innkeeper and various people I've bumped into after my nap that the party managed to prise a skyknight free from that godawful spider, and the halfling and the Drake boy has got their heads around gnoll : note to self, ask Alan about it later, might be a book or something I could slap my name on. Anyway, the caravan's here to take me back to the temple and the party, left a couple coppers and a blessing for the keeper. Bharnarol keep you.

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