The trip to Noragate was a long one. It took about three months to get there, but it gave us some time to just relax and be together for a while. Cade and Zen warmed up to Kalona again, saying that they liked him better when he just being himself instead of acting like a pompous asshole. He spoke with Zen in Goblin and joked around with Cade. Zandri never warmed up to him, but she never really warmed up to any of us. I knew he was being more like the old Kalona I knew before all of this started because I was around and we no longer had to worry about his father. I’ll admit that I felt a lot better too.
There were some rough patches for me during the trip, times where the past began to cripple me once more, but Kalona was always there to guide me through it, to be light in the darkness I was facing. Over time, they became less and less frequent, and I felt the old wounds finally begin to heal. I no longer grieved over my mother and my little brother, accepting their deaths and knowing that they were in a better place. My anger towards the Fletchers dissipated and I no longer felt the need to be so fearful of Kalona’s mother. I held no hate towards my older brother, understanding that he may hate me for the rest of his days, but I wasn’t going to allow myself to do the same. By the time we reached Noragate, I only had a few concerns.
One was my father. I didn’t like leaving him so soon after he had gotten out of the asylum. Our relationship with parts of the city was still rocky, he technically was still a wanted criminal, and I didn’t know if Hibernius would be able to protect him from the allegations this time. I hoped that he would. I also hoped that they were having a good time with each other, catching up and such. I also knew that I didn’t really leave on great terms with my father and I hoped that he’d been able to understand why I did what I did and that he’d be ready to talk without anger towards my decisions when I got home.
Another was Kalona. He didn’t say much about seeing his grandfather for the first time, but I started to notice that he seemed to lose himself in his own thoughts more often. He also had asked me if he could have the ring I’d picked up from the coffin a few days after we left Frostford. I knew he didn’t like his father, but I wasn’t sure how he felt about his grandfather. I assumed, especially by the look that Asmodeus gave him, that he wasn’t too keen on him either. He was getting better with the passing days, but I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking about.
The third was Jack. When I asked him to help me with the Fletchers, he said that he’d be able to do so, but he wasn’t able to harm or kill Slither. However, during the fight with them, he admitted to me that he had done both of those things. I didn’t know what the consequences were for him, or if there was going to be any, since he didn’t go into any detail. I couldn’t help that I felt responsible. He wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for me asking him for his aid.
Last was my family. I’m not meaning my immediate family by that either. There were some nights that I’d take out the coffin and look at the vials of blood, taking one out and studying it for a long while. I’d wonder who they were in life, how they were related to me, if their soul had already been claimed by Asmodeus, and if I was still able to assure a better afterlife for them. I’d also think about the fear Atlas must have caused them, if he wounded them as much as he wounded me, and how my family accidently let this happen. My mother knew what we were and what we meant to Asmodeus, but did my family decide that he wasn’t a threat anymore? Did we forget or just turn the other cheek? Did the years since Syreth make us complacent? Did we assume that it would never happen again? I didn’t know, but what I did know was that I wasn’t going to allow it to happen a third time. I wasn’t going to allow Asmodeus to hunt my family towards near extinction once more. I needed to protect what little blood there was left. I needed to protect my brother’s child and his future children while I still could. I feared that I was too late to save him.
When we got to Noragate, we stopped by the Serpent’s Den, to Zandri’s dismay, to say hi to Kisora. We went in and sat down at the bar, and found out from the bartender that he might not be back yet, since he was traveling, but the barkeep went to look for him. After a few minutes, Kisora walked out from the back and smiled at us. We spent a little bit of time catching up with him and I introduced him to Kalona. Kisora then told us that he had gone to one of his former student’s wedding and that he had recently came back from Croak. We told him that we had seen Jack recently, and he told us that Jack was at the wedding with him, and that there were a lot of interesting people there too. Zen pressed him for more information, but he told us that it was a small wedding and the local newspaper had written an article about it if we really wanted to know more. Towards the end of our conversation, he wished us the best of luck getting to Croak, and told us to stop by more often when we had the chance.
After leaving the Serpent’s Den, I took Kalona’s hand and told everyone that I was going to see my brother before we went to the docks. Kalona gave me a curious look as I lead him to my brother’s shop, with everyone else following behind us. To my surprise, my brother was sitting behind the counter and our gazes met almost instantly. I smiled at him as I walked closer with Kalona, my brother’s eyes glancing between the two of us before finally focusing on me. “Klara,” he stated, sounding unimpressed. “I promise I won’t take up too much of your time, brother,” I said with a confident smile as I tried not to revel in the annoyed look he was giving me. “I just wanted to let you know that Atlas is dead.”
Nikolas blinked a few times before asking me to elaborate and I told him what happened back in Frostford, of what Kalona and I had accomplished. “Atlas is dead and you and your family are safe now,” I said, trying to solidify the statement in my brother’s mind. He still looked confused. “We were never unsafe, sister,” he replied. In that moment, I knew he had been played for a fool. I decided that it was best to drop the topic there.
I looked towards Kalona, who proceeded to tell him that he was now his new boss, and I watched as Nikolas tensed at his words. For all the things my brother was and had done, I was surprised to see how easily he was shaken. It didn’t take much for him to lose his composure. He worked as a businessman in a cutthroat guild and yet everything we said seemed to bothered him. It didn’t help when I told him that Kalona and I were dating.
We said our quick goodbyes and stepped out of my brother’s store when Cade and Zen immediately asked why I still kept in touch with him. They thought he was an ass. I explained to them that even though he was an ass, he was still my brother.
I didn’t have much family left. It was only him and I who carried the blood of Syreth in our veins now. Our family had been hunted to near extinction and if we want the bloodline to survive, it rests on our shoulders. If I want to protect the family, I need to be on decent terms with him. My brother’s children and his children’s children would be the ones to rebuild our family in a purer sense that what my children would be. Their blood wouldn’t be mixed with the blood of Asmodeus. That was enough of a reason for me to want to stay in contact with him.
We soon found ourselves at the docks and I managed to flag down someone who knew where Captain Jerron was and we were given directions where his ship was docked. As we approached, it looked like his crew were loading the final supplies onto their ship and we had arrived in the nick of time. I called out for Jerron, slightly butchering his name, and I apologized for doing so as he looked over the railing at us. I asked him if he would be willing to take us to Croak, and he said that he would, as long as we had a navigator. It was then when Zandri stepped up and said that she would navigate.
The Sea of Storms lived up to its name during our month long trip. As soon as we left Noragate, we were met with a tempest. I’ll say this as kindly as I can. I’m pretty sure Jerron is insane. He’s brilliant and an expert captain, but completely mental for even considering to sail through the storms he brought us through. However, our group seemed to be holding up well with the constantly raging sea.
In the final week of our trip, the Sea of Storms had one final test for us. The storm grew more violent with every passing minute and soon the sea was rising and falling in great swells. The crew raced around the slippery deck, following the orders that Jerron barked at them while Kalona and I tried to hang on the best that we could. The ocean roared before us, towering above the ship, as Jerron shouted to brace for impact. Kalona put one arm around my waist as we both hung on for dear life. The massive wave crashed into the side of the ship, spilling over onto the deck, and I was sure that our ship was going down. Kalona held me tightly, even after the water passed, and I soon opened my eyes to see that Zen and Zandri had been swept overboard.
Zen, who had transformed into a dolphin, seemed to be having the time of her life as we tried to get a rope to throw down to Zandri. The rope wasn’t necessary. As we were about to rescue her, she landed back on the deck gracefully and walked calmly towards us as if nothing happened. The angelic wings on her back glowed with a warm light and I couldn’t help but look at her in awe. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. I knew she was like that paladin I met, an aasimar, but I didn’t know they could do that. I didn’t know the extent of the gifts having angelic blood gave a person.
After a few hours, the storm passed and Zen eventually returned to the ship. By the next day, we could see land and Jerron asked if we had an offering to appease the kraken. Confused, I looked between him and Zandri and asked what type of offering it needed. He smiled and told me that gems or money would work. I pulled out a gem for each of us, eyeing Kalona to see if he’d take one out of his bag, but when he didn’t, I handed one to him with a little glare. He smirked and thanked me for covering for him. We all threw our gems overboard while Jerron’s crew dumped a crateful of gems into the water. With that done, we were able to dock in the town of Karlsfell.
Jerron asked us how long we’d be, and we told him that we’d be gone a month at most, and he said that he was willing to stay until we got back. He then asked if any of us knew Deep Speech, and luckily Zandri did so we wouldn’t have to hire a translator. Jerron also warned us that parts of Croak were pretty strange, and it would be best if we left our animals with him and his crew. I’ll admit that I didn’t want to leave Beacon, but when he told me what could happen out there, I decided it was for the best.
With that, we walked into Karlsfell proper and soon Zandri left us and told us that she’d meet back up with us later. We walked around town for a while before we decided to go to the tavern and get some drinks and rooms for the night. The tavernkeeper, a man by the name of Richard Hawkins, was warm and welcoming. He gladly told us about the town and the going-ons around the parts. He also told us about an old woman who lived alone in the woods and would come into town every so often. I guess everyone in the town loved her because she was so sweet. I tensed up at the description of this woman, which the other members of my group didn’t seem to understand.
Growing up in a town that sits between the woods and the ocean, you were told stories when you were little about not wandering off into the forest alone because a little, old woman would get you and you’d never be seen again. Now, these stories were made to scare you, so you wouldn’t wander the woods alone, but they did hold truth to them. This was a prime example of that. This old woman, this Valerie Fireborne, was a hag.
I tried to convince myself that I was jumping to conclusions, but when Zen asked if she could go meet this woman, and Mr. Hawkins gave her the directions to get to her home, I couldn’t help but consider those stories from my youth. Zen, who seemed as happy as she could be, told us that she wanted to go immediately, and we did, after I payed Mr. Hawkins for some rooms for the night. We were really going to visit a hag.
It took a while to get to her place, but we eventually made it. The old woman seemed friendly enough, but by the odd way her home was decorated, my suspicions were confirmed. To say I was tense was an understatement. If I had hackles like Beacon, I knew they would’ve been raised. My left hand gripped the hilt of my sword as Kalona squeezed my right. I could feel his gaze on me, trying to reassure me that there wasn’t anything to worry about, but I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t going to my guard down around a hag.
She spoke with Zen and Cade for a while. Zen grew increasingly frustrated with her as Valerie was being curt with her but eventually, the woman unnerved her. The woman used her full first name instead of calling her Zen, as Zen had introduced herself. She then finally opened up a little, telling us about herself, and one thing she said caught my attention. Mark had lived with her, trained with her in magic, but eventually moved to go start his own business. I didn’t know what to think about that.
Zen then asked, since the hag woman said that she was a powerful magic user, if she could read her fortune for her. She said that she could, in exchange for something. Zen inquired about what that might be and the hag replied by asking for a lock of her hair, or better yet, a favor. I nudged Kalona and whispered a question to him, asking if she was a night hag, and he responded that he didn’t know what type of hag she was. I then asked him why he was so calm in this situation and he responded with, “Hags don’t like messing with nearly immortals.”
Zen and the hag then began to bicker for a while, Zen was freaked out by her wanting her hair, and the hag asked Cade if he wanted anything. He didn’t and her attention turned to Kalona for a brief moment and then to me. A smirk formed on her lips as she said the words, “Is there anything you’d like from me, Klara?” My eyes narrowed and I growled back, “No, I’m wonderful, but thank you for asking.”
Kalona then stepped forward and said that he’d do the hag a favor so Zen could have her fortune read and I felt the rage swell inside my chest. I glared at him with such an intensity that when he turned back to look at me, he automatically looked away. I hoped he knew what he was doing because if he was going to fuck himself over that easily, he wouldn’t hear the end of it from me. Zen told him that it wasn’t a big deal, but he insisted, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to slap Kalona more than I did in that moment.
I was seething the entire time Zen had her fortune read. I wasn’t even paying attention to her or the hag because I was too busy staring furiously at Kalona. He wouldn’t even acknowledge me. Not a single glance. Nothing. It was like I wasn’t even in the fucking room anymore. That gods-forsaken fortune better have been worth it.
However, when we left the hag’s house, Zen said that she was disappointed in the result. The hag asked to discuss the favor with Kalona in private, so I was listening in to their conversation as best as I could outside of her door while Zen complained about what she found out. There was something about taking something to someone she knew. I couldn’t make any more of their conversation out and I returned to Zen and Cade, stating that I hoped it was worth it for what Kalona just did for her.
Eventually, Kalona caught up with us and we all made our way back to the tavern. I quietly asked him to explain to me the favor the hag wanted and he told me that he needed to go meet someone for her in his uncle’s realm in the Abyss. I asked him if he knew if this was safe, and he said it was, for him. I didn’t look at Kalona for the rest of the walk back and I tried to calm my anger while Zen went on and on about how her forest was in danger. Her forest was the least of my concerns, but I kept my mouth shut. My boyfriend just took a risk for her, and I doubt it was even worth his effort.
I went directly to our room once we got back to the tavern and Kalona closely followed me on my heels. He shut the door behind us and I could feel his attention was fixed on me. I sighed and looked down at the floor, my back to him, and I eventually gazed over my shoulder to see him. “We need to talk about this,” I said. I could hear the defeat in my voice. He didn’t move from where he stood, but he agreed. “I don’t like what you did back there. You didn’t have to make that deal with her. It was risky, it was dangerous, and I don’t want to see you hurt because of it. Or from any other risk you take. You’ve been acting strangely after Atlas’ death and I’m worried about you.” I heard him let out a small sigh as he walked up to me and put his arms around me, resting his head against mine.
“I’m sorry that I’ve been worrying you,” he said and I swore I could hear some relief in his voice. “There’s some things that upset me that I’m trying to figure out but once I have them sorted away, you’ll be the first to know.” I shut my eyes, leaning back into him a little bit, wishing that he’d stop being so secretive. “And you don’t have to worry about me so much. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”
“I’m not nearly immortal like you are,” I stated. “I’m only human and I worry about these sorts of things even though they don’t apply to you.” He chuckled lightly as he put his hands over mine.
“You worry too much.”
“Someone has to,” I replied, feeling my anger slip away with each passing heartbeat. “These past few months have been amazing and it’s all thanks to you. I can’t lose you now, not after being away from you for so long, and that’s why I worry about you. I love you with all of my heart, Kalona, and I can’t stand the thought of something happening to you.” There was a few moments of silence in between us and I knew he was considering my words. “You’re not the person you believe yourself to be. You deserve happiness just as much as you say I do.”
“Thank you,” he whispered into my ear, holding me a little tighter. “My happiness is your happiness, and for you, I promise that I’ll be more careful.” With that, whatever was left of my anger slipped away and I turned in his arms to face him. He asked if we were okay and I told him that we were. I asked him if we could agree to never go to bed angry with each other because even though we didn’t fight much, times like this would come up every so often. He smiled, saying that he’d like that and that he’d hold me to it as well, jokingly stating that I was a lot more stubborn than he was. I rolled my eyes and gave him a playful shove as he laughed. I couldn’t help but smile.
He always knew just what to say to make me feel better.
The next morning, Kalona and I made our way down to the main part of the tavern to see Cade, Zen, and Zandri already there, eating breakfast. We joined them, with some comments that Kalona was probably in the dog house last night, but other than that, it was a nice meal. Once we were finished, Zandri told us that we needed to go to two temples on the way to the next town and asked us if we wanted to go to one over the other first. Our choices were the Temple of the Raven Queen and the Temple of Sarenrae. None of us had a preference so I told Zandri about the blood vials I had and if either one of these temples would be able to help me with them. Her response was automatic and we made our way to the Temple of the Raven Queen.
A tall, black-stone temple stood before us and as we approached the front doors, they opened for us. The handles of the coffin dug into my hands as we walked into the building. Some light filtered through the stone walls as another set of doors from the across the chamber opened and a figured veiled in black cloth stepped out. I looked to Kalona, and then to the rest of the group, before we all stepped forward towards them. Soon, the figure raised their hand and we stopped. Their voice softly rang out, echoing off of the walls, as they asked what our business here was.
I took one step forward, adjusting the small coffin in my hands, and said that my family had been hunted to near extinction by the son of Asmodeus, and that these vials of blood had been collected to be a sacrifice to Asmodeus, but we stopped that from happening. I told the figure that I wanted to make sure that their souls would pass on, and that they would be safe from Asmodeus’ grasp.
The figure turned and asked me to follow them and I did as I was told but when Cade and Zen went to follow as well, the figure stopped and said that I was the only one allowed further into the temple. I looked back at Kalona, who gave me a small nod, before I stepped through the doors on the far side of the chamber and began to follow the figure down a set of stairs. I heard the doors shut behind me and I soon found myself in a narrow room that held an altar at the opposite side, another set of doors were behind the altar. The figure told me to put the vials at the foot of the altar and that they would take care of them from there.
Suddenly, the air in the room felt heavy and cold. It seemed like it took ages to reach the altar. I stared at the raven skull sitting upon it, considering what it all meant to me. I placed the coffin before the altar, my hands aching at the sudden relief, as my mind wandered. Did fate bring me here? Was this part of some god’s plan all along? Was this my destiny, to watch my family die and to bring an end to the conflict? Was I going to ensure that these people who I didn’t even know weren’t going to become Asmodeus’ playthings? Did the gods actually have a hand in my life?
I didn’t know. But what I did know, as I knelt down in front of the altar and rested my hand on the top of the coffin, was that I was going to dedicate my life to them so their deaths wouldn’t be in vain. I was going to stand against Asmodeus for as long as I could. I was going to be the protector the family needed. I wouldn’t allow us to forget like last time.
I felt the tears stinging my eyes as I whispered goodbye to them, to my mom, to Reiner, and that I hoped to see them some day. I stood up, a lump in my throat as I fought my tears back, and gazed at the raven skull one last time. I wondered if she heard me.
As I exited the chamber and was about to climb the stairs, the figure handed me a token to give to Zandri and I thanked them. I felt a shiver run up my spine as the doors opened for me when I reached the top of the staircase. I guess I didn’t notice how freezing it was in here. I made my way back to the group, giving the token to Zandri, and asked if anyone else felt really cold. No one did and it was just me. I tried not to think too much of it.
The Temple of Sarenrae, while absolutely beautiful with sunflowers everywhere and the whole building doused in sunlight, was honestly a little weird. There were a lot of clerics about, dressed in bright blues and golds, but there were also a lot of dark-armored bodyguard-like people there. Honestly, they kind of dressed like Cedric did. We went up to one of the clerics, who was super nice, and they started telling us about their goddess and what she stood for. It was all great and all until they told us that she believes anyone can be redeemed, but if they’re too far gone, you smite them. That cleric was honestly way too into smiting for my tastes.
After that conversation was over, Cade, Zen, and I went up to a couple of the bodyguard-looking guys. They didn’t really seem like they were happy to be there and honestly, that felt more normal than how the cleric acted around us. With a few questions, since they really didn’t want to talk to us, we found out that they were blood hunters and that they were the ones who mostly did the smiting for Sarenrae. I liked them a lot and they seemed to warm up to us a bit. Eventually, we let them be and made our way to the next town.
Like Karlsfell, Winterhaven didn’t have much to do so we found ourselves a tavern and relaxed for the rest of the time we were there while Zandri did the things she needed to do. The next morning, we went to Nightvale.
Once we arrived in the town, Zandri turned to us and said that she was going to be leaving us alone for the day as she was going to city hall. She granted us the ability to speak whatever language they spoke here and had a few rules for us. We weren’t allowed to go into any weird portals and we couldn’t go to the dog park, or think about the dog park, or even look at the dog park. That got me wondering what was so bad about the dog park. Also, what is a dog park?
After she left us, we found and sign and decided to go to the waterfront area. There was no water there, just a boardwalk and I said that it would be really pretty here if there was water. About that time, a crimson portal appeared in front of us out of thin air and we all looked at each other. I could tell that Cade and Zen kind of wanted to go through it, but since Zandri told us no, we went back into town and went to the radio station. It was strange, there was this man’s voice speaking over this stones that sat on top of poles throughout the city, stating the news of the town, and eventually a song about waiting for a bus in the rain started to play. I didn’t know what a bus was, or what radio was, and I was starting to get highly confused. I glanced over to Zen and she seemed to be irritated at it all.
We eventually found the radio station and talked to the intern named Shawn. He told us a bit about the town, and then said that if we wanted to, we could talk to Cecil, the radio host, after he was off air. We hung around and eventually spoke with Cecil. He was an interesting fellow, very nice, and he had some interesting tattoos, but what struck me as odd was how normal everything seemed to him. Like when he told us that there’s a floating cat in the men’s restroom that had kittens and he wanted us to meet his kitten named Mixtape. This made Zen even more irritated, but we followed him to the restroom and he wasn’t lying. There was a ghostly cat in there with its ghostly kittens. He also told us that the mayor of the town is a five-headed dragon, that there’s a glowing cloud that hangs over the city, and one old lady in town has angels who change her lightbulbs for her. I knew I was smiling and nodding a lot, trying to seem polite, but I was probably just as weirded out as Zen was. Eventually, we said our goodbyes to Cecil and made our way to city hall.
We had to wait around for a while, but we eventually found Zandri, who was surprised to see us all there and to find out that we didn’t step through any weird portals, and we asked her if she was ready to leave. She said that she was but if we wanted to stay the night, we could. We didn’t want to so we started to make our way to the library.
At the base of the path to the library, we were stopped by an androsphinx and a gynosphinx who said that we needed to solve their riddle before we could pass. They also stated that if we answered incorrectly, we would meet our end. Because of this, we decided to go individually and Cade went first, getting the answer correct and was able to pass through their gate with no worries. I went next and my riddle puzzled me for a bit. I wasn’t exactly sure if I was correct or not, but when I answered the moon, I was allowed to pass as well. Zen went next, followed by Kalona and Zandri, and eventually we were all able to continue on our path.
On the way up we were soon met with a dense, low-lying, purple fog blocking our bath. Cade was able to tell that we shouldn’t move through it and Zen was able to control the winds so we could quickly run up the path and away from it. With that obstacle done, we found ourselves in a room with runes inscribed on the floor in a circle before us. However, while Kalona and Cade were trying to decipher them, the room ignited and we were momentarily bathed in flame. Luckily, it was a single event and we were able to exit the room before the glyphs were able to recharge.
After that we found ourselves in a small courtyard with the dark tower looming overhead and a pair of skeletal dragons forming the gate ahead of us. Zandri thanked us for escorting her this far and said that if we wanted to, we could go now. She also said that if we wanted to go into the tower, we’d have to bare our soul for judgement. If we passed, we’d be allowed into the library. If we failed, we’d be killed.
I was interested in doing so, because I really wanted to see the library that was within the tower, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pass the judgement. I looked into Kalona’s eyes for a long while before I looked at each one of my companions and asked if they thought I would be able to make it in. Zandri wasn’t sure, Cade and Zen thought that I’d be able to, and Kalona said I would for sure. I gazed at him for a long while, him giving me a slight nod, before I turned away from him and approached the dragons.
The two heads sprang to life as I approached, their skulls watching me with empty sockets, and lowered before me as I stood in front of them. Fear ate at my heart as their gaze didn’t shift from me. I didn’t know what to do, I remember calling back to Zandri and all she told me was that I needed to bare my soul to them. I didn’t know what that meant. I knew if I didn’t do anything, I was going to die.
I gave them my name and started to tell them about myself. I kept it simple at first, but the words kept flowing from me, in my nervousness, and I felt like I needed to tell them everything. I kept my voice low, so only they could hear, but I didn’t hold anything back. I told them my fears, my joys, my sorrows, and my triumphs. I told them what I was proud of and what I missed. I told them my regrets, my faults, the times where I was wrong. I went into specifics, like that I regret losing my virginity to Cade since I now know how amazing and loving Kalona is. I told them my hopes and dreams for the future. I told them of the silent promise I made to myself in the Raven Queen’s Temple. When I felt that I ran out of things to say, I fell silent, feeling lighter than I had before.
The skulls stayed low for a few moments before they began to rise and the gate opened before me. I stepped in to watch it close as Zandri stepped forward, placing her hand on the nose of one of them. Soon, the doors opened for her too and after checking to see if anyone else would be joining us, we ascended the stairs into the tower.
Zandri lectured to me that the tower was used by the Raven Queen while she was still a mortal and had been used by Nerull and Vecna as well. She stated that there were dark parts of this library, horrible things that both Vecna and Nerull researched and studied, but that other parts weren’t that way. She explained that she hoped to find information to confirm her visions and give some clarity to them, but she needed some time to decipher what she’s seen with the information here in the library. I told her that if she ever needed my assistance, all she had to do was ask and she thanked me for it. Before we went our separate ways, she stopped me, looking me in the eye.
She told me that she could tell that there was still good in me, that I hadn’t been corrupted yet like my companions, and to watch the company I kept. She warned me that if I spent enough time around them, if I grew lax in my morals, I too would be at risk of being corrupted. I admitted to her that I was leaving the group and that Kalona and I would be heading back to Frostford for a while. She told me once more that Kalona is dangerous and I told her that I could see that he was, but that his love for me had quelled some of it. She hoped that I was right.
Just before she left, she told me that she’d be in touch with me again once she had more information. We said some quick goodbyes and I explored the library for a while, searching for nothing in particular but stopping when a book piqued my interests. I will admit I found out some interesting things while there in the library, but I need some time to do some more research and figure out just exactly what I found.
After some time, I made my way back to the front gate and reunited with my companions and told them what it was like on the long walk back to Karlsfell. The Sea of Storms still lived up to its name on the way back to Noragate but that didn’t come as a surprise. Once in Noragate, we received a letter from Jack, saying that he had a surprise for us back in Caster, so we decided to make our way there.
At night, Kalona and I would discuss what how I was going to tell Cade and Zen that I was leaving as we counted out the share of the money I was going to take from the group. We had talked for a long while about how much was right, how much was excessive, and what was fair for all that they had put me through. There were some items that I wanted to have as well, so over the days, I rewrote an inventory list of what was contained in the bag for them, minus the items that I was taking for myself. Kalona thought it would be best if I let them know that I was leaving somehow, but said that it was up to me to decide how I wanted to do it. I settled for writing them a letter. I knew that if I told them in person, all they would do was beg me to stay.
When we arrived in Caster, I already had my letter ready and my things were in Kalona’s Bag of Holding. Meeting up with Jack, he lead us out towards his house and brought us to a keep, stating that he had to pull a few strings but that it was ours. Cade and Zen were much more excited than I was when we entered the building and started to look around. I pulled Jack off to the side, thanking him for the keep, but admitted that I’d be leaving the group. He seemed to understand and wished me the best of luck in the future while I told him that I’d keep in touch with him, explaining that there was a lot I needed to do back home. He gave me a hug and I thanked him once more for his help during the fight with Atlas, admitting that things might have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for him. He gave me a small smile before we returned to the rest of them.
After making a meal for us, Kalona and I spent the evening checking to make sure that I had everything I needed to leave. I wouldn’t say that I was feeling remorse for leaving the group, but I did feel bad about the timing of it. Kalona assured me it was for the best. His words made me feel a little more comfortable with my decision.
Early the next morning, I placed the Bag of Holding and my letter on the dining room table and walked out of the keep. Kalona was standing there in the courtyard in the pale morning light, the reins of Joel’s bridle in one hand and Beacon nudging at his other while the silver dragon wyrmling crawled out of the hood of my cloak and onto my shoulder. He smiled at me as I approached him. “Are you ready to go?” he questioned, and I gave him a nod. I took his free hand and grabbed Beacon’s fur with my other. He asked me to close my eyes.
I felt ourselves shift once and then was a brief pause before we shifted again. When he told me I could open my eyes, we were standing on the edge of the forest on the south side of Frostford.
I was home.