Anima - Into the Shadows

Sheathing the Sword

The meeting with the rebels gone bad we exit the building quickly. We try to stay out of sight of the airship’s searchlights and their deadly ballista’s. Raphael and Soren take to the rooftops, the rest of us take to the streets. Left, right, right, left we slowly make our way through the city like rats in a maze. Soldiers try to intercept us only to be cut down or savaged by Tetsuro. Brave pup just earned a treat.

As we enter a market square, Vito spots a mage on one of the ships. I grab some Wildfire from a vendor, throwing some gold crowns his way. The mage cast lightning at a distant rooftop, must be Raphael and Soren. Vito makes him pay with a well placed bolt through his throat. We move towards the ship trying to get under their field of fire. I get shot with a glancing blow while trying to protect Tetsuro from the hail of arrows and bolts. Once we are under the ship Tsura bathes it in fire as I hurl my volatile flask skyward. Our combined attack sets the ship on fire. That should keep them busy for a while.

The next street ends at a locked gate. I cut through the lock as Nicolaas lifts the gate. That wiry frame belies some hidden strength. It seems that both Raphael and Soren have lost their pursuers or they are dead as we now have both ships chasing us. I get shot again as they chase us down another street. I turn and hurl another flask at the closest ship. The trooper operating the ballista is very unlucky as his shot ruptures the wildfire, spraying the deck with fiery death. His burning corpse plummets to the street below.

As we turn to make our getaway, a Shadow Demon rises out of the ground. He challenges me to a duel, promising to let the others go. Our reputation has preceded us. I quickly agree for it is better for some to escape then for all of us to get caught in this trap. The Black Butterflies must continue the fight. There is only one way to end this quickly, as I do not have time to linger. I must sacrifice defense for a killing blow. My master called it “Sheathing the Sword.” We charge each other, swords raised. I cut him with a vicious cross body blow, as I feel his hooked blade bite deep into my arm. As I turn I see him drop to his knees, severely wounded. Blood pumps from my severed left arm, pooling at my feet. As I lose consciousness I hear him say, “Well met, Baal will face you again.” A Shadow Demon! Why was there a Shadow Demon here…… My companions grab me as the demon disappears and escape on the other airship as Raphael and Soren have somehow captured it.

I awaken to the gently rocking motion of the airship. It seems that I am in Vito’s debt for he has saved my life with his healing touch, though I have lost my left arm below the elbow. We are on our way to rendezvous with the Ghost and make our way to Castle Odessa. Even though the meeting went bad, we have gathered much intelligence on the enemy.

Talking to Woden about the intel, we are asked to attack a legion from the Alliance at Passage to slow them down giving Woden time to move troops to the pass. Then we are to stop Project Ascension, even though we know not what it is. Anything to do with the Yehudah must be evil. Our little group is growing as we now have two airships, one stealthy and silent the other swift and deadly.

Before we go Professor Gregory, an old friend of Nikolai, fits me with a mechanical gauntlet. Those Lucrecians and their inventions! It does not feel right, but it will allow me to continue the fight. He also promises Raphael a new tongue after Raphael gives Gregory Nikolai’s ashes. I do not know if that was wise, but we shall see.

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It's a Trap!

We were camped in the ruins of Bastel, living more comfortably behind enemy lines than the lower classes of our own countries, whiling away the time until orders came through. The ruins are supposedly haunted, but the general feelings of creeping dread helped assure that the more specific dangers of an enemy attack could be avoided; only fools and madmen would visit such a place.
After a time, we were instructed by Wodin to meet with a group of insurrectionists at the Nephilim’s Soul in Waldemar. We had been prepared to go for some time, so we were able to leave later that evening.
We landed outside Waldemar and continued into the walled city on foot. Truthfully, “walled” does little to describe the jutting stone teeth that have encircled the town, and the blatant use of magic that must have created it is, it would seem, largely ignored (or thought unimportant) by the populace. Once in the city, the group immediately set about finding bath houses, and, having cleaned, began to ply the trades more familiar to them than espionage (and the associated month-long camping trip in a suburb of the underworld). Nicolaas found a significant sum of gold pieces carelessly left in a register, Tsura haggled with a member of the Black Sun regarding ways to 1.) purchase non-cursed items and 2.) get rid of the cursed item she already has. She paid for the rumor of a place where the latter could be accomplished, and was offered freelance work for the Sun hunting down “wanted” individuals. (The proprietor only being so forward with offers to hunt human beings because asking someone for artifacts that hold Zeion in Anima is kind of like asking the owner of a pawn shop with known mafia connections, point-blank, if he has any untraceable handguns. Yes? I’m still a little unclear about how criminal magic use may be from place to place…)
The group eventually made it to the Nephilim’s Soul, Taro wisely choosing to wait outside. Inside, the group was briefly reacquainted with a man that at least Soren seemed to know. Rosa introduced herself, and discussions began, her asking for help in exchange for access to a network of rebels. The conversation lasted for a little over a minute before the building was assaulted by snipers from an adjacent rooftop and more crossbowmen that came in from the street. Taro followed them up, and a melee broke out. The men Rosa came with were killed as were the attackers in the building (By table legs, arrows, and a really scary Fu dog. Rosa told the group that they must have a mole in their organization (since she alone knew of the meeting place), and even as the group scattered to escape the city, an airship high above shined spotlights down on the building. Nicolaas surrounded the ship in darkness to buy some time for them to move without light. Raphael and Soren swung from the window of the N.S. on rope to a neighboring building while everyone else made for the street.
The question remains, if it was known that the group would meet where it did, what’s to say that returning to the airship is any safer?


Vote that next recap is titled Escape from Waldemar"

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Strike Swiftly, Strike Deep

Taro’s Mission

One month into our campaign against the Azure Alliance we had a problem. It came in the form of the formidable commander of the 9th Legion. He was quite adept at leading his forces in victory after victory. Something had to be done if we wanted to keep control of this sector. If you want to kill a snake, cut off its head. So that is what we did.

After scouting the enemy and their camp I came up with a daring plan. Attack their camp with a strike force to get their attention while another team infiltrates the camp and captures the commander. I figured why let all of his knowledge go to waste. We can always kill him later.

On a moonless night we acted. I, Taro, along with Raphael and Tsura attacked with our crack force of marines on the north side of the camp. I carved a path through their best warriors while Raphael protected Tsura so she could work her magic. Her fire magic lit the night as precious supplies went up in smoke. Some soldiers tried to counter-attack, but were no match for our blades.

As the alarm sounded, Soren and Vito snuck into the camp from the east. Quickly and quietly they stole through our enemies undetected. Wearing captured uniforms didn’t hurt. A crescent blade dropped the guards at the commander’s tent. Silently they stole into the commander’s inner sanctum. He was awake and dressing, having been awakened by the alarm. Too late he noticed something was wrong not ten feet from his bed. Soren hit his target in the neck with one of his special darts and the Commander dropped like a felled tree. Not dead, but unconscious. Quickly Soren and Vito secured their prisoner and made their way out of the chaotic camp. Leaving was much easier with all of the soldiers running around trying to form-up and defend the camp from further attacks. Vito added to the chaos by giving contradictory orders to a troop of cavalry, sending then in the wrong direction. His hatred of his former comrades runs deep. I much watch that his actions do not endanger us.

The commander secured, we disengaged and made our way back to our waiting airship. Without their dynamic leader no pursuit was launched and we safely made it back to our camp in the north.

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The Sky is Falling

So there we were, standing thousands of feet underground, trying to catch our breath when the sky fell. Well, technically the roof fell, but that far underground, it may as well have been the sky.

We all took off running. Before we had run 15 feet, the ground shuddered and a large crack opened in front of us. Soren took a running jump, but forgot he was carrying a huge book. Luckily he was able to grab a hold of the edge of the crack. Taro and Tsura landed safely on the far side as I reached down and pulled Soren back up. With a quick word and gesture of my hands I infused myself with a supernatural ability to jump and easily landed on the other side. Soren managed to make it across and no sooner had we actually gotten out of the room when the entire roof collapsed, sending a spray of smoke out the doorway.

Without leaving us enough time to celebrate making it out before the roof collapsed, the ground shook again and the sky started falling again. We ran, dodging and weaving. At one point, I saw a huge rock hit the ground in front of me and split into two boulders. I dodged left to miss them, only to realize that there was a rather large stalagmite falling there. A searing pain in my leg and suddenly I was pinned to the ground through my thigh. Taro spun, drew his sword and without a word lifted it over his head.

Preparing myself for the pain of amputation, I closed my eyes. Surprisingly, it wasn’t nearly as painful as I had imagined. I felt two hands grab me and as I opened my eyes, I realized I still had my leg. Taro had cut through the rock and was now picking me up and continuing on! That’s one sword I plan to avoid.

Glancing around, I saw Soren bend over to pick up the unconscious form of Tsura. Turning Soren and Taro ran back toward the stairs. Just before we made it to the stairs, another large chasm was there in front of us. With another quick word and gesture, I infused Taro with supernatural ability to leap and get us across. Luckily both he and Soren were able to make it across with Tsura and I.

We finally made it back to the stairs, only slightly worse for the wear. Fully depleting my Zeon, I revived Tsura and patched up Soren a bit. Then began the long trek back up. It was still the middle of the day when we finally got there, so we waited until nightfall. Miranda and Anna were waiting for us. We gave them the necklace and they presented us with 300 gold coins each.

Later, Anna approached us with a completely different offer. She wants us to act as a deep cover unit in the Azur Alliance on behalf of Abel. I couldn’t wait to start. Finally the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to show the Azur Alliance how wrong they were to start this war with Abel. We went back to our rooms and and talked late into the night. Taro didn’t see the need for us to get involved in the war, but finally my superior arguments moved him to agree.

And so, we set off to war… Maybe the sky really did fall.

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Its all Greek to me

I am the Alpha and the Omega

So we are off to help Maraina by finding this amulet in the ruins below. We are met the next day by Luther Strauss our guide. He hands us a note as he opens a hidden door to the tower. We start to descend the stairs into the darkness. I notice it is getting colder. It is all very oppressive, all sound is muffled. I can barely hear my own footsteps. After half a glass and many steps we step out into a giant cavern. We see before us a softly lit city over a mile underground. The light comes from giant statues of angels, their wings glowing with an inner light. We head east along one of the main thoroughfares. It ends at a strangely wrought gate with a leering face carved into it. Tsura ventures too close and an arm of shadow and evil lashes out at her. Its incorpeal form passes through her body and she drops to the ground unconscious. Raphael lets us know that her soul has been severed and we only have a short time to restore it to her body. Soren suggests that we will find a clue to open the gate in the library to the south. I wonder where he gets this information.

We enter the library and of course find thousands of books. Where to begin? A trapdoor in the middle of the room has a riddle about the various angel and demon statues around the room. After several tense moments we decipher the poem and open the trap door. We are about to discover its contents when we are attacked by undead creatures. I kill one zombie and Soren another, Raphael takes on a winged monstrosity by crushing its head. Lucky us, one of the zombies wears the amulet we are looking for. Safe once again we examine the huge steel book within the floor space. It is written in Napranus, a dark speech. Not surprisingly, Soren can read it, strange man. It has in its contents the ritual we need to open the gate, destroy the creature trapped within, and restore Tsura’s soul to its proper place.

After the fight we make our way back to the gate. It might just be me, but the oppressive suffocating feeling I have felt since descending into this nightmarish realm is lessened around Raphael, our large religious companion. I will keep close to him as he seems a man of honor.
At the gate Soren cuts himself and Tsura. Their blood mingles and then he slams his hand against the barrier. This must be part of the dark ritual needed to gain entrance. The magical barrier gone, a dark tunnel beckons’ us to our doom. Bravely we ready our weapons and descend into its depths. Before too long we come into a chamber pulsing with evil, a dark sphere in its center. It’s not just black but radiates the absence of life. We charge forward to destroy it, but it defends itself with dark tentacles that suck at our very souls. A great fight ensues with us striking the sphere to little effect. Soren’s new arm is like nothing I have ever seen. It stretches and moves like no normal limb should be able to. The demon within takes control of Tsura’s body and attacks Soren. Somehow Raphael enters the sphere only to reappear moments later. It seems as if we fight for an eternity with the fate of the world, our very existence, on our shoulders. Finally, the final blow is struck and the sphere shudders and collapses onto itself, creation rushing in to fill the void. The cavern shudders violently, and starts to collapse. We flee back up the tunnel, hoping to make the stairs to the surface before the entire cavern crushes us.

Little do we know how close our world came to being undone, destroyed by the Omega.

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Fighting, Dining, and Dreams

So we got to town all fine and dandy and arranged for Selana to be taken to safety in the north. On our way back we saw smoke pouring out of the Tower of Tarth-Lomin and a scuffle occuring inside involving Arbitors of the Azure Alliance. As seems to be the pattern, we got involved. We discoved inside the tower, Maraina, the ruler of the city, and to our surprise, Anna, a brief travelling companion from what seems a lifetime ago. After some bloodshed we dispatched our foes and rescued the two ladies. In gratitude of what we had done, we were all invited to a dinner in Anna’s honor.

In the few hours between the battle and the dinner we sent Selana on her way, hopefully to safety. At the dinner the food was… alright. The conversation though, was much better. Anna and I spoke over what it would take for us to sign on with Able for this war of their’s. I wasn’t really interested, but who knows what’ll happen in the future? Maraina and Vito, on the other hand, discussed the possibility of us investigating ruins located under the city for her. Since we were going to do that anyway, it only made sense that if someone wanted to pay us to do it we’d let them. Then there was Tsura who was fighting her own battle all by herself…

That night, after the dinner and after agreeing to Maraina’s proposal to search the ruins, we retired for the night. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Seline came to me in the dream and told me it was time to repay my debt to her. And, of coure, she had to choose one of the most disgusting tentacled beasts I’ve ever seen for me to kill and be my payment. Luckily, I had everyone else with me and after a vicious struggle managed to destroy the beast. Interestingly, in the dream some of the creatures tentacles seemed to latch on to the remains of my shoulder and missing arm, seeming to form a disgusting parody of a replacement limb. Upon waking I discovered that it was not just something from a dream, but that I actually had a new limb.

Being somewhat confused and wary I accompanied my companions to the meeting place where we were to meet Maraina. She was there and introduced us to Luthar Strauss, a survivor of an unfortunate foray into the ruins, who was to be our guide. Maraina asked us to retrieve an amulet that is supposed to be in the ruins for her, and with few additional words spoken, we set off.

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Enter the Dragon
Never make a deal with a dragon.

Raphael chastised himself. He was far behind on his journal — in a world where his tongue had been snipped from his mouth, the written word provided him with a freedom he couldn’t experience elsewhere.

He had much to ponder. The man who had taken his tongue, Father Alexias, had made him an offer. His tongue, in exchange for providing passage and safe harbor for a young Nephilim girl. Why he hadn’t butchered her yet, taking glee in the task, he couldn’t fathom. He had set-up camp with Taro a short distance from the Church and nunnery — he’d be damned if he let that bastard provide him with food and shelter. That wasn’t a figure of speech, either — quite possibly damned for the sins Alexias had committed over the years.

In the night, Seline appeared to both Taro and himself, warning them away from the Land of Ash to the southwest — for there be dragons. The region, volcanic in nature, harbored a sleeping beast underneath each of the mighty inferno-spewing mountains. Should they venture there, Seline could not aid them, for each of the creatures warped the Wake to their will.

In the morning, Alexias refused to take Raphael’s counter-offer — donating his armor to the Order of Saint Nonnatus in exchange for caring for the child; he had called Raphael’s bluff. Raphael agrees regardless, and Alexias provides him with his tongue in some type of preservative. Abel only knows what withcraft would be required to re-attatch the thing. Alexias also provides 40 blood-soaked gold pieces for her care. Despite his seeming inability to harm this child, Alexias must have an ulterior motive. Finally, he suggests bringing a military man — one Vito of the Azure Alliance — into the employ of the troupe, as he has recently been staying with the church and searching for work in such troubled times. It is made so, and decide to make course for Americh, still in pursuit of the shade who troubled us previously.

Beautiful weather escorts us to Americh, and we pass a magnificent green lake. The Fortress at Kassia, built to hold a significant garrison, is overflowing with troops. This is certainly a troubled time for travelers to be wandering the border.

Refugees flow from Americh. Smoke is on the horizon, and, creasing the hill, the party can make out flames and fire, consuming the very rock and stone foundations of the cultural center; neither artifact nor man is spared from the licking flames.

Kaliban, catching the scent of the perpetrators, leads everyone to a fancy carriage, making haste for the city gates. As arrows fly, Soren takes to the roofs, pacing the carriage out of view of its occupants. Moments after passing the city gates, the carriage erupts into flame — doubtless the work of whatever foul sorcery had ruined the town — and Tsura looks pleased with the development that has befallen the villains. Taro leaps upon the carriage and buries his blade in the skull of the ne’er-do-well, spilling his blood on an ancient artifact which resides within. As the rest of the troupe is cleaning up the jackal’s henchmen, a curious event occurs — a small lizard crawls from the wreckage, but grows with incredible speed…until a full grown draconic tyrant stands before us.

The dragon, Farrax, is pleased with Taro for freeing him, and spares the others as a boon to him. Answering questions, the following information is gathered:

  • The dragon was entombed within the artifact for 600 years.
  • The Tooth of Gnarlath, worn by Tsura, is the fang of the beasts’ manipulative brother…certainly no good can come from such an artifact.
  • Humans, in the Land of Ash? Damnation and ruination await them…likely at Farrax’s own tooth and claw. Note: do not trespass in the Land of Ash.
  • A dragonbound individual is tied to the life of his dragon: kill the man, and the dragon dies.

Afterwards, Farrax vanished — dragon sorcery, also foul and damning, innate or not — and wasn’t heard from again. The city heralded the party as dragon-slayers, which may prove to be a double-edged sword. The decision was made to head for Alberia, where Soren had business, and which was nearby to the dwelling of sylvans who may take the burden of Alexias’ charge.

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The reason why you don't wear fancy clothing.
When we return to the Imperial Arms Hotel, we head to our room to sleep; however, we wake up in Corvenus with Raphael and Selene. After talking, Selene agrees to pull Reimbrant from the wake and meet us in Brudge. We are returned to our rooms in the hotel only to find it on fire. Rather humorously, Taro jumps from his 4th story window only to land on Raphael’s face. Sadly, Jehkar didn’t make it; his window was the only window in the hotel that didn’t open. I notice that there is something strange about this fire, it seems to melt stone.

After gathering ourselves, we head to the bar, The Black Feather, to speak to Sam the barkeep. Nikolai, Soren, and Raphael go in to speak with Sam and return with a strange length of rope. Raphael suggests we head down the Calmo River towards the church of St. Bernabe. After traveling for a few days, we find what appears to be a safe and shallow place to cross the river. As we start to cross we are attacked by 4 grendals, one of which kills Nikolai. We also meet a Paladin of St. Michael, Sir Ilyana, who was sent by Father Alexias. While talking with Sir Ilyana a card with Strife floats to the surface of the water. No one seems to notice. Kalaban tells us that we have to head south to the Land of Ashes. Before leaving we burn Nikolai’s body and say our goodbyes.
As we head south we come to 2 buildings on the coast, one the Church of St. Bernabe and an orphanage built by St. Bernabe 200 years ago. Upon our arrival, Father Alexias takes us inside to talk. We discover that Father Alexias was responsible for cutting out Raphael’s tongue. Father Alexias tells us that he needs a favor, he has a unique child at the orphanage that he wants us to take and hide. The child, Selana, is a Selvane, and Father Alexias wants to kill her but can’t. Raphael tells Father Alexias that he wants his armor and sword not acknowledging his favor.

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Big Trouble in Little China or How to Draw Attention to Youself

Brudge. Dockside. Late afternoon.

Calaban and Nikolai duck into the shack to discuss their new partnership. I look around at the filth and squalor and wonder how these barbarians can keep their pitiful cities from total chaos. Just look at these jobless wretches begging in the streets. Just a little proper guidance and they could be picking up trash and cleaning…..Wait! Those aren’t common dock thugs; I can see the armor under their rags. Our small group goes on the alert as the strangers approach.

I count at least 20 as we ready our weapons. Mercenaries by the look of them, they will be no match for my blade. Melee is joined and I cut one down. Blades flash in the alley and blood is spilt. I charge the leader and he uses magic to summon a shield of ice. Obviously fearing for his life he flees and tries to engage Soren the One-armed. Little does the mercenary know that he is just as skilled with one arm as most men are with two. Nikolai and Calaban emerge from the shack and join the fray. It is a tough fight against so many blades, but soon the mercenaries are cut down and only the leader remains. He says something cryptic to Nikolai and uses his magic to flee, flying away to safety. It seems that Wissenschaft really wants Nikolai. We decide to leave the area before the authorities decide to investigate. We collect Tsura and Jekhar who are cowering in the corner and a wounded Kupo. Brave companion, he must have been wounded protecting them.

Back at our hotel we confer and decide that the best way of tracking Rembrandt is to contact the Black Sun Trading House. My, my, it seems that Tetsuro, my Foo dog companion, is growing by the hour. He and Calaban seem to like each other. They enjoy wresting over a bone. We leave and Jekhar is able to locate the shop. We meet an interesting creature that is able to give us the information we need, but at a steep price. It seems that Rembrandt is a Dragon Sworn. Working in this world for his master, to nefarious ends I am sure. If we could just find out what those are so we can stop him and this Order of the Dying Light. Rembrandt is traveling the Wake to Americh. This is why we keep tight controls over the Wake in Lannet. We also try to find the easiest way to Graven, City of Dreams. It is somewhere in the layers of Gehena in Moth. If only we could find a way in. Too many ifs, it is time to contact Seline, our strange acquaintance, to see if she can enlighten us mere mortals.

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Misery Loves Company

Upon saying our farewells to the Knox family we once again boarded our friendly neighborhood ship, the Ebon Daughter, captained by Sin. She is always so cheerful to see us, well mostly me, but I will not ruin that for Nikolia. We decided that we would best find answers as to Rembrants whereabouts in Brudge. After telling Sin we would head to Brudge with her she told us she has also taken on another passenger, a 13 year old girl, who was to be checking on her fathers holdings in Brudge. She was a well dressed young lady whom has undoubtedly traveled this way many times.

when we made it to Brudge we had to split pathes with Sin and her illustrious crew. I do believe that Soren will sorely miss Picker. They seemed to really hit it off. But I am no match maker, even if it did cost me 2 silver to get her to even talk to him… No time to be sore about that! there is an adventure afoot! Nikolia I guess is/was familiar with this town because he led us straight to a nice little hole in the wall joint that I feel was under-managed. However, when we arrived the crazy little man at the desk had a reservation for us. Under Nikolia’s name, with the correct number of our party added as well. Denying that reservation Nikolia set us all up with some, eh, rooms. I have stayed in much better for the price.

Soren decided he would go to a local bar and find some information on Rembrant, Nikolia wanted to make sure he was all squared away in his room and eat, Taro went to his room, Tsura just looked as though she was lost in thought and meandered toward the bar as well, and I wanted to check out the Sites in this Magnificent City. When I was out I found a book shop with some very amazing books. With only the little that I had in my purse I was able to purchase a book on Summoning and also a book of Magics for Tsura. Hopefully this will help chip off some of her icy exterior. She could be much nicer to us, ok, me. The shop keeper only mentioned that he worked for the Black Sun, so I did not wish to do much haggling.

When I returned to the Inn to share with the party they were all at the bar except Nikolia. Soren informed us that he was unable to find a good lead on Rembrant but he was not dine trying. With the silence I took my opportunity to share what I got with Tsura. She and I were going to go to my room to look the books over when Nikolia, once again, spoke into my head. He told us there was trouble and that we needed to follow him out. At about that time Tsura and I were passing him and some strange guests on the stairway. Tsura and I followed them. We met up with Taro at the foot of the steps and we all followed Nikolia’s friend to a safe place. Somehow Soren found us and we were led into the basement of a Bar. There Nikolia and his friend continued the conversation they were having. They spoke of the Black Sun, Tol Racko, Wisen Shaft, and the Inquisition. I only know a little of both. Then a group known as the Crows. I guess that Nikolia was originally at the School for magic and left and now the Crows have his old room mate, Calavan, and turned him into their own little Blood Hound. And, they were using him to hunt Nikolia. The only way to get rid of Calavan was to hunt him and kill him.

We were able to find Calavan in a beat up all shack along the river. We initiated an assault on him, however, he had quite a powerful shield that none of our attacks could penetrate. When finally Nikolia approached Calavan and started a conversation with him. Calavan told Nikolia he didn’t want to hunt anyone any more and that he needed Nikolia to help end his misery

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