Princes of the Apocalypse

Those sure are some berries

Dearest brother,

How I wish you were here to experience these mad adventures with me. I don’t know why I write to you, you’re not here to read these letters. But it helps a little I suppose. Anyway, who would have thought that I would find myself caught up in this web of cults, danger, and deception?
I suppose I should start at the beginning.

After we met those strange druids, we decided to follow them to their festival. I mean, we needed some time to relax after our run in with the Sacred Stone Monastery, we deserved some fun.

We traveled with them for 3 days in a berry induced haze, talking about everything and nothing. Finally we arrived, a little late, to the festival. We made camp and spent the night on a hillside. Unfortunately, Sandro and Anora had to share a tent with one of the druids, the least liked one it seems. He snored so loudly, they had to roll him out of the tent. I spent most of the night looking up at the stars and around our camp. After the berries wore off, I found myself wondering why I was here.

In the morning, they made some delicious breakfast, and I was a little rude to them. I feel guilty about that now, but it’s hard to keep my emotions in check after everything that’s happened. Afterwards, they offered us more berries. I was happy to partake, as was Kilkax and Ryo. Sandro and Anora seemed uncomfortable and went for a walk. After they left, one of the druids was very excited and proposed we have a storytelling competition. We were all very pleased about this idea.

The first one to tell their story was Ryo, who told a very sad tale about an ugly barnacle who was so ugly that everyone died. It was very deep, as everyone agreed. I don’t really remember what the druids’ stories were, I was too focused on the fact that they were trying to grow flowers and conjure wind. Things that druids should very easily be able to accomplish.

Next was me, and I am embarrassed to say that I brought the mood down. I told them the story of your death, and how I went on a quest for revenge that ended with chicken. I don’t think anyone really got it. Kilkax ended the contest with an emotional story about a man who took the fall for the boy he raised. Everyone was deeply moved. I don’t really know how, but I managed to win this contest and I received a beautiful ivory pipe.

The druids then decided to head off to the temple to complete their trials, we would join them later. Kilkax took Ryo aside for some reason, leaving me alone with Sandro and Anora. We decided to go pet the elk that the druids had. Sandro and Anora learned that they were at the same event where a man was burned alive. I decided to let them talk about what they had in common. Finally, the other two rejoined us. We spoke among ourselves, revealing our uneasy feelings about this whole situation, but we ultimately decided we should find out what’s going on. We decided to look around the grounds.

We headed east, where we met a group of druids arguing about the purpose of fire. I didn’t really care much about this petty argument. I was too interested in the strange hooded man they had with them. He looked anxious, and he secretly drew the symbol for the water cult in the air to me. I told Kilkax and Anora, who were farther from the camp, about this. Anora telepathically communicated with the man and he joined us under the ruse of getting firewood. His name was Suruki, and he was an undercover water cultist, wanting to know if we were there to relieve him of his duty. We convinced him we were, and we learned of the cult of Eternal Flame and how he suspects that something wasn’t right about this festival. We agreed and promised to figure it out.

We headed back west, down a new path and we met with 4 new people. They quickly grew suspicious of us and went to attack. How rude, right? Well anyway, Kilkax, Ryo and I almost die. But we’re fine now because Sandro did some incredible sword work. Though at the wrong moment, as another druid woman saw the fight. She was incredibly panicked, though Kilkax managed to calm her. She agreed to let us use her camp to heal and rest for a short while.
You would have loved the two sprites she had with her. They were the cutest things I have ever seen, and so mischievous.

She told us she was there because she felt she didn’t fit in with other druid groups. We were hesitant to tell her that this people weren’t druid at all, but she shared our suspicions. She didn’t know what else to do, so Kilkax offered to let her join us to the ceremony the next day to see for herself. She accepted, but didn’t want us at her camp any longer lest we bring danger into it. We headed off towards our trials and to meet the cult’s leader, Elizar.

Meet him we did, and brother let me tell you, he was one of the most handsome men (with David Bowie level bulge) I’ve ever laid eyes upon. We were all getting pretty hot and bothered in his presence, and it wasn’t just because there was a giant wicker man burning behind us. He tells us of the trials, but I wasn’t really listening due to being captivated by his face area.

We began the trials with Ryo going first. He had to hold a hot coal in his hand for as long as possible, he gave a mediocre performance. I was next, being told to walk across hot coals. My performance also sucked.

When Elizar got to Kilkax, he paused and informed him he wouldn’t have to do a trial which was very curious. Next up was Anora, who had to hold a coal. I don’t think she felt the heat coming off of it at all. At least she had the sense to try to look surprised about this fact.

Last was Sandro, who was given the most difficult task in my opinion. He had to stand beside the burning wicker man for as long as possible. Given that he was wearing heavy metal armor, I was very impressed with his discipline and ability to stay there as long as he did. He became a Child of the Hearth. Ryo and myself became a Brother and Sister of the Kindle. Don’t ask me what these titles mean, I haven’t a clue.

The three of us were sent away, with Kilkax and Anora being invited up to Elizar’s chamber. Lucky bastards. We reluctantly headed back to the camp we shared with the four druids we travelled with. Once we met up with them, they were very excited to tell us their results and offered us more berries. We retired for the night, still feeling the heat from the trials on our skin.

I later learned what had gone on in Elizar’s chambers. Once Anora and Kilkax entered, things got very awkward as they didn’t know what was to be expected of them. Here they had the cult leader undressing in front of them. He asked Kilkax to rub his shoulders, Kilkax immediately started protesting but had no choice in the matter. The backrub was adequate.

During their time in his room they learn they are chosen to march with him, as Kilkax is a dragonborn and Anora is of dragon blood. He plans to complete the ritual the following day to summon the fire elemental and sacrifice his cult, after which he will march on Red Larch and burn it down. They are horrified to learn of this, and figure they should probably save the rest of us from certain death.

I don’t know what is to become of us, and where this will lead. But I will keep you updated.

Rest well,
Tinuviel

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