It's been quite a hectic few weeks.
The mission we were assigned turned out to be sent from none other than Alec himself, the traveler who we recently met. He lied about the payment and was generally pretty shifty. We reacted accordingly—all of us (even Lucius, the sweetheart of the group!) ganged up and yelled at the boy. It was cathartic letting that out, but we really hurt his feelings and he left the next morning. Normally I wouldn't care, but we wanted to see what was so special about the mission. We tracked him down and, after a bout of pouting from him, rejoined forced with Alec.
We came to a bizarre dungeon of an orc chieftain, filled with powerful magic and a labrynthine layout. While we did not encounter too many common enemies, we were forced to answer riddles, discover chambers, and indeed battle some arcane foes. During this time, Alec was somewhat frightened but was a great combat ally. His bizarre magical properties served to be a boon to the group. His worry was honestly somewhat endearing, and though he is insanely annoying, I started to grow rather fond of the boy.
Gawain came into a near-death situation involving a golem and a riddle, but through his fabled wit and wisdom made it out. At the other end we found a strange room where human experiments were being conducted. On either end sat a powerful artifact; one being a dangerous, dark gemstone, the other brimming with restorative properties. As a sorcerer, I wished to collect it, but Alec was fearful I would try to steal it for myself. The bastard even called me untrustworthy (rich from the pissant who left us stranded in the wilderness because he is too sensitive.) Scarloc ended up carrying the wand. On top of it, we found a large cache of magical goodies—it was quite remarkable! I was brimming with excitement. I even found a ring of sustenance, an object I was pursuing for quite some time. We happily left, riches in tow.
However, before we could escape, we were faced with yet another puzzle. The others to this point were surmountable, so we (I, rather,) went into it somewhat gung-ho. This proved to be a bad idea. To make a long story short, the room was filled with lava and we would need to act quickly to escape. We tore a door off it's hinges and used it as a bridge (Alec and I were champs,) resulting in us finally unlocking the door. However, as we made our escape, Alec was stuck behind the sea of molten rock. I insisted we stayed to rescue him, but the rest insisted we left. While I am not going to claim we always got along, there was something so crushing about seeing his face growing more and more distant as I was pulled up the stairs to the exit. It was Phethian all over again.
However, my laments wouldn't last long. As we arrived outside, we were ambushed by a tribe of vicious orcs. At this point, our lives were gone and that there was nothing left we could do. However, the cheiftain struck us a bargain; he would let us live if we not only gave him most of our loot, but also we agreed to help him when he needs us in the future. We had no choice but to comply. First the loss of Alec, now the loss of our riches. What a spectacular day.
We made our way back to Dayhill, greeted by the Hand's trademark dwarf, Thoric. He informed us that Alec was not dead, and that we had a means of communicating with him. We got the chance to speak to him, and he informed ups that he made an escape after a mere day. This made me ecstatic, almost removing the frustration of losing our goods. At the very least, we could keep a new ally—and were about to make another one. That night, I stayed up and performed a ritual to unleash Teto's potential. He entered the sweet, small scorpion we knew and exited a beautiful masked arbiter of the dead, a Nosoi Psychopomp. Truly badass.
With newfound courage, I told the group I wished to speak to Lucan Valerius head-on and stop avoiding my problems. They gave me their blessing. Although I was terrified, I finally mustered the courage to knock at his door. I was met by the familiar green eyes of the cute court wizard's mage, followed by the deep voice of Headmaster Valerius granting me entry. I was practically shaking as he invited me to sit down with him. However, I was not met with the hostility or scheming resentment I was expecting. Instead, he seemed rather exhausted—an indescribably refreshing emotion to see him wear.
It's rather embarrassing to admit this, but I think I might have made a mistake. Over the next hour or so, we discussed the events that had unfolded over the last few years. Firstly, he informed me that my parents were still alive and well—I was incredibly relieved to hear this. However, he also explained that the fall of Annell Tower was at the hands of the forces of Abaddon, the most fearful plane known to man. He risked his life to protect the tower that day, resulting in horrible injuries and a potential curse. The beast I saw him conjure that day was not to aid him, but rather for him to bargain with. Apparently, the beast's noticing of me resulted in Valerius' ability to keep him maintained, in a way saving his life. I saved Lucan Valerius' life…now that's a sentence I never thought I would say. We parted ways after a while. While I cannot be sure if what he told me was even remotely true, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to trust him.
Before I could finally retire for the night, though, Scarloc entered my room followed by a shadowy figure. The figure told us to meet her on the south side of town the following day. We complied, but were ambushed and knocked unconscious on our way there. We awoke to the shadowy lady once more. She gave us our assignments: Scarloc was to break Morton Salt, a raider prisoner, out of jail, and I was to learn more about a project of Lucan's called Ironclad—no more information than that. Could Ironclad be an evil plot? Perhaps I was too quick to associate with the headmaster.
I approached the headmaster's door once more, and he once again welcomed me in. He seemed a bit impatient, but before I could even ask him about it, he told—or rather, showed me what Ironclad was all about. In the corner of his room, a once hidden behemoth of a man materialized. It was clearly human, but also clearly…wasn't. He told me that he has been experimenting with magic to 'upgrade' the guards of the town so we would never be in danger again. Knowing this would be my last chance to do so, I asked him if I could assist in his project. To my surprise, he agreed, stating that he would also help me finally learn Protean during this time. I was taken aback at his agreement…it made me oddly happy knowing he liked (or at least tolerated) me enough to work alongside me for 12 hours a day, even after our rocky past. I gave him a thankful bow and left him to discuss matters with Scarloc. Before I left for the Hands I finally decided to make a move on that cute maid girl, but she started freaking out and ran back inside. Huh, didn't expect her to be such a spaz. Oh well, I am sure I will get into her pants at some point.
Now, I face a dilemma unlike any other…I am torn between two mysterious individuals. I could either truthfully support Lucan through his endeavors, or simply act as reconnaissance for the mysterious lady. Headmaster Valerius…the man I spent the last few years running from, who caused me so much anguish and sleepless nights…just like that, he completely changes in my perspective. It makes me sad that I can't trust anyone. I feel somewhat alone. While it would be wise of me to assume Lucan is simply lying through his teeth, I want so desperately to have a mentor…a real father, even. Oh well. At least I have you, Teto.