Knights of Dragoneia

Barely Legible Ramblings by Dara
Entry 1

YES! I knew it!

I am chosen by the Dragonei! The Dragon Temple Priestess said it is so. Morghanos desires her work to continue and I must become the tool that she needs to finish the job.

List of things need to do to become supreme weapon of Morghanos:
1. Get a sharp Knife
2. Clean and sharpen Kusarigama (make sure no brains stuck from that caster at the temple!)
3. Patch armor
4. Get in shape
5. Stealth, stealth, stealth!
6. Take bath when mink musk becomes unbearable for companions (This is important! I must play nice with these people. Daikon person seems….nice)
7. Get money
8. Find place for Dojo of Morghanos
9. Make experiments with the liquids and the explosions. Need to find the right concoction for painless, eternal sleep…
10. Meditate

North! To the North! Why did people go South? There’s only two things in that direction: sand and my family…

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Aella's Journal - Entry 2
Everything Is Weirder

(No entry for the second session, as I was unable to make it. :( This starts at the beginning of the third session for the Earthers.)

I don’t know what time it is. After the village was attacked, we decided to go after the army that had attacked it. There were others… I don’t know where they went. I’m travelling with Edin, Kuu, and Vin now, and two others: Flora (a tree…person?) and Shi’Eera (a giant talking bird). I’m glad to be with the people I had started with. I’m unsure of these two new people.

We’re heading south: that’s where the army was going. There’s a loud screeching noise coming from the direction we’re going. Shi’Eera wants to go in the opposite direction, but we don’t have a choice. Maybe we won’t intercept it…

While some of us get going, a few others stay behind and look for horses or mounts of some sort. They have little luck, and quickly catch up with us. Edin seems to know where she’s going, somehow. Even if she doesn’t, I feel a bit more reassured that someone has taken the lead. It’s dark now, and we can barely see anything. Edin is carrying a flashlight but it is still very dark. I’ve never seen darkness like this, even out in the country.

Somehow, fireflies begin to appear around us, giving off a beautiful unobtrusive light to guide us. I look closer and they’re not real fireflies. They’re more like ghosts of fireflies. Amazing!

It’s gotten very late and we’re all exhausted. We decide to make camp some ways off the road. The others begin foraging for food, but Edin tosses me a granola bar. I thank her and split it in half, sharing with Kuu. Vin seems to have some rations as well and shares a bit. :) Shi’Eera tries to give us bus… A termite? Uh… I’ve never eaten a termite, and I don’t think I’m quite desperate enough to start now! But she is complaining that it is offensive in this world not to take what food has been offered, no matter how strange it would be to eat it. I don’t want to offend anyone but… Bugs. I can’t eat bugs.

Thankfully, saving me from having to respond right away, Kuu and Vin have made soup from foraged mushrooms. It isn’t super flavorful but it is hot, and it isn’t bugs.

Edin and I decide to keep first watch. Though it is still strange to think I have magic, I feel like I can finally accept it. It’s actually an amazing thought, to have real magic, to be able to influence something and make something happen. It’s a very uplifting feeling. I close my eyes, breathe in deeply, and open myself up to the sounds of the forest around me. I let my magic flow out of me, mixing and swirling in harmony with the ambient noise. I can almost see each noise as it happens. The birds in the distance, the thumping of a small rabbit as it warns of a nearby predator, the soft but steady heartbeat of a resting doe. I get caught up in the scene when I hear a quick thunk! I’m startled out of my reverie and look about, my mouth open to warn of danger.

Edin is tossing her knife on the ground, apparently deep in thought. I let out a sigh of relief and go back to sensing the sounds around us. This time I try not to let myself get carried away with it.

The first watch is uneventful and as Flora and Kuu come to relieve us, I turn to Edin. In a low voice, I ask a question that has been burning in me since we first came here: “Do you also find all of this strange?” Surely I can’t be alone in this, but what if I am? What if this is something the others have known all along? Thankfully, she agrees that this is all a bit weird. Phew.

Finally, I’ll be able to get some sleep, right? But I guess others are awake: I hear mischief in our camp. Edin barks at them to quiet down. I hope they listen. It’s already hard enough to sleep when I’m in an unfamiliar place. Fitful dreams… I clutch my violin case close…

Dreams… Of rolling clouds, dark with rain. The smell of ozone. A mournful song. A crash of lightning! Burnt bodies… The air is thick with smoke and burnt flesh…

A giant bird is doing weird things with mushrooms. No, wait, that’s actually happening. Ugh, why is Shi’Eera throwing mushrooms at me? Is this some strange bird-person ritual of waking people up? So tired… What time is it? Too early… We’re going now. Where are we going? I’m being moved along. I try wiping the sleep from my eyes but it isn’t working. My thoughts, as well as my steps, are sluggish. Oops. Almost walked into a tree. Thankfully Kuu helped me sidestep that painful embarrassment.

Howling? What? Bad time for howling. Something about trees? I shake the grogginess as best as I can from my mind, enough to realize that we might be in danger. There’s talk of climbing the trees to get out of sight.

I’ve never climbed a tree in my life. I don’t see this going well.

I’m just going to stay on the ground, with Kuu, Vin, and Edin. Flora and Shi’Eera manage to get into the tree without difficulty. I draw by bow.

It’s those horrid beasts again, with the skeletal faces and hollow eyes. There are ten of them, and they’ve formed a semi-circle around us. They’re drawing close. They’re a terrifying sight to behold, but I draw a deep breath and remember my archery training. The bow is new, but my muscles remember what to do: I loose an arrow and nail one; it goes deep. Kuu and Vin look ready to charge, daring them to come closer.

A brilliant flash of light explodes from Edin. The creatures seem to be greatly affected by it, driving all but one of the wolves away. This one retaliates, launching itself at Edin, it’s tail slashing her. Oh, no! That looked like it hurt. I hope she’s okay…

Kuu goes in for the attack, her sword striking deep. Vin follows close behind and finishes it off with a flourish!

Oh. Oh gross. The skull actually cracked open. How grotesque…

I busy myself helping Edin dress her wound. I won’t be able to do anything until we get to safer territory, but she looks like she’ll be okay. I smile. She seems tough.

Deciding we’re safe for the moment, we set up camp once more and get some much needed rest. Good, because I’m completely exhausted.

Nightmares… Of hollow eyes and ear-splitting screeches…

-

We head off to the south in the late morning. The scenery is actually quite picturesque. The trees look like a mix between China’s bamboo, and the spruce and firs we have in Seattle… I miss Seattle… At least, a little. Can’t ever go back there.

An unwelcome shiver courses through me.

I should help look for the army. They are far ahead. We hasten.

Ugh, this mountain is steep. I’m not particularly athletic but somehow I’m managing to keep up with Flora and Shi’Eera. Where are the others? I look around, and spot them lagging behind us! That’s not good. We have to move as quickly as possible to catch up with the army, but I don’t want to leave them behind. Maybe my magic can help. I’m able to cast a weaker form of Breeze Adagio that lightens their steps. Good, they seem less fatigued now and have caught up.

On the horizon, the army is nowhere to be seen, but we’ve followed the tracks this far and know we’re heading in the right direction. Hopefully we can catch up to them before it’s too late! Up ahead we can see ravens circling, almost as if they’re watching us.

Flora seems to think she can ask an animal spirit about the army. She conjures a beautiful ethereal golden eagle that lands gracefully on her arm. Amazing! I almost can’t believe it, even though I’m standing this close and witnessing it first hand. She asks about the nomads, if they’ve passed this way recently or if it knows where we could find them. It doesn’t respond vocally, and I’m a bit disappointed. Why would I think it could talk? This world is beginning to mess with my head!

Next, she asks about the army; if it had passed this way recently. This time, it does speak! Wow! But the answer is not one Flora wants, so she shoos it away. :( I guess getting anything from animal spirits is more difficult than I thought.

A trail is leading off, diverging from the one created by the army. It looks different, as if it was created by a heavier, longer-legged creature. Possibly a horse? Maybe a scout on horseback. Overhead the birds seem to be following us. That’s a bit ominous.

We continue on, and eventually come to canyons! I haven’t seen canyons before. I was supposed to go to the Grand Canyon with… Well, it didn’t happen. I try not to think about it. The shadows bouncing off the plateau is enough to distract me. They almost seem… Alive. The rocks that are all around us, they’re moving. They’re… Behaving (?) strangely. Can rocks behave?

Flora tries to cast a spell on those birds. They’re making all of us nervous, and they’re definitely following us. But, the spell doesn’t really… Do anything. They birds seem to be soulless. Empty. They must be associated with the enemy. We talk about trying to get their attention but they’re up too high to notice any errant noise or movement we make.

There’s only one thing I can think of to do: I can play my violin quite loudly if I so chose, and I know a good song to play. I begin Scherzo-tarantelle, and as they song continues my notes become louder and more aggressive. (Entire song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPNpkufm6Tg || Where she starts playing: https://youtu.be/cPNpkufm6Tg?t=30s ) It works! But now that I’ve gotten their attention, they begin to attack us. I try using Lightning Bolero but it barely clips one of their wings. Ugh!

We begin attacking, one after the other, with both magic and physical weapons, but they’re really sturdy. And there are six of them. Thankfully, Edin gives off another powerful blast of light, scaring away some of the birds. The rest of them come after us once more, but only one lands a hit: it’s metal talons ripping into Kuu’s shoulder! No! It looks terrible… We’re able to get a few more hits in, but they just don’t go down. Edin lets out another burst of light and scares two more off. Only one left. I strike with Lightning Bolero once more; it’s alive, but barely. As it tries to fly away, Shi’Eera manages to skewer it with an arrow. The birds are gone.

Thunder rumbles in the distance.

The sun is beginning to set once more, casting more shadows in the plateau beyond us. The rocks begin floating and a haunting but stunning light flows over the canyon. Nothing here makes any sense, but this sight is really something. I’m in complete awe, and as we venture into the canyon, I’m not paying any attention to where I’m going. This is so incredible!

Ouch. That was a rock. I need to pay more attention.

We begin to make camp, but the wind that had been playing an almost cheerful melody through the cavern suddenly turns eerie and off-key when the sun disappears from view. As if by magic, a temple fades into existence where a rock-face had been. It glimmers like a mirage. Could it possibly be real? And if it is, do we dare approach?

The temple is simpler than the grand one we had seen before, but impressive all the same. We warily approach the pagoda with the wooden door. Vin and Edin open it together.

The entryway has a sense of calmness to it, of a beautiful serenity. However, nothing about it makes any sense. It shouldn’t be able to be this big. It’s much bigger on the inside than the outside. Edin says, “Like a TARDIS.” Hahahaha, yeah that’s exactly it! I say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were brought here by the Doctor all along?”

Everyone looks at us as if we’ve grown two heads. Though maybe that’s a common ailment in this strange world. I don’t know. Regardless, what we’re saying is apparently strange to them, even Kuu and Vin. Maybe Doctor Who isn’t popular where they’re from? I try to explain it, but I’m only confusing them more. Oh dear. Edin tells them it’s basically a work of fiction where we’re from and we leave it at that.

Before they can ask any more questions, a robed figure approaches us from out of nowhere. The robes are reminiscent of ancient Mongolian fashions. Huh. Vin introduces us as the Knights of Dragoneia; such a proclamation has him bidding us forward before the entryway closes. As we enter the main chamber, another incredible room, we’re brought before a small elegant woman with very long violet hair, standing with possibly the most attractive man I have ever seen in my life. Oh. My. God. I think I forgot out how to breathe…

We try to tell them about everything that has happened, though some of it they already know. They offer us tea and rice, which we hungrily partake in, and upon further explanation of our journey, we are told that the birds are creatures of shadow. They are symptoms of the invasion of the Sin Dragonei, who we are sworn to protect this world from.

Apparently, a very long time ago, humans from our world came to this world, bringing with them the darkness of their hearts. This world is shaped by strong desires, but one’s will, and the Sin Dragonei were born from the corruption within the humans’ hearts. This is terrible! I stand up, determined, swearing that I will do all in my power to vanquish the evil that has befallen this world. I cannot idly sit by while countless others are suffering, even if they’re from a world not my own.

Kuu follows suit, though she is worried that she does not know her purpose: she is number thirteen of twelve Knights of Dragnoeia. Arden, the really attractive guy, doesn’t seem to believe us. That’s actually kind of annoying. Does this sort of thing happen everyday? Strangely-dressed people coming from another world spouting off that they’re Knights of Dragoneia? Clearly it annoys Edin as well, as both of our magic manifests at that point.

Oracia then is delighted and believes we are who we say we are. She tells us which Dragonei each of us is a Knight of (mine is Fendelar? Hm, that resonates with me…) except that Kuu is a mystery. She senses an emptiness to her and can’t tell her who her Dragonei is, or why she has been summoned. This obviously upsets Kuu, so I try to reassure her, as do Edin and Vin! She is our friend, and that is all that matters.

We are told of armor related particularly to our Dragonei. It resides in the temples of each of our Dragonei and only the worthy can possess it. That goes for weapons too. In order to be worthy, we need to believe in ourselves as the Knights of Dragoneia.

At this point, I don’t have much doubt. How else would I explain this, except by a fantastical dream?

Oracia invites us to rest her for the time being, assuring us that we’re quite safe for now.

We’re shown to rooms we can change in, and then to the communal baths. Wow… It’s like right out of an anime. There are hot springs in this temple! I’m delighted. I’ve never been to a hot springs before.

I soak in the hot water with the others, my muscles relaxing from being overworked. Shi’Eera is nowhere to be seen, but I have a difficult time worrying about it. This place is supposedly safe and she seems the mischievous sort. Probably off getting into trouble. When she finally joins us, she brings a bottle of sake with her.

Soon, Oracia comes to join us. Vin begins questioning Arden’s devotion to Oracia, claiming his attention is because he is in love with her. Well that’s annoying. Kuu seems to be finding it annoying too. Yeah, I don’t like that idea. But it’s probably true. I mean, she’s stupidly pretty.

I’m being petty. I should stop that.

After some light banter, we all get serious and tell Oracia of the Dragonei that had told us of our destiny. She warns that it will be difficult to convince the people of who we are, but we must do it. We must save Dragoneia.

We decide then and there that we will continue our mission to find the nomads, and warn them of the threat they face.

That night, I dream of a dragon… Of lightning… Of a body swaying in shadow, held by a length of rope. I wake gasping.

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Collected Letters of Valda, Daughter of Cassius
Letter the First; to the Warrior Ana

Written prior to the conclave. A hasty scrawl on a half-sheet of paper.

Dearest Ana,

Not much occasion to write on the road. I’m sending this along with a trade delegation headed home. I hope it reaches you. Here several lines have been scribbled out.

It’s been quite a wondrous experience. There’s a lot more out here than I ever saw back home. I should reach the conclave tomorrow, so mother may expect a proper report for the forge soon. I suppose I still miss you, sister-mine, but the sun rises and there’s much yet to see. Know that I am well and I will write you again soon. Remind Cass to clean her blade. Let Petra know the coin purse she wove me hasn’t been stolen yet. Tell Roz no one in this land sings better than her. Trys, stop reading Ana’s mail, you brat. Beryl, stop doing whatever Trys tells you to do. My love to mother and father.

Valda.

Added faintly, below the scribbled signature:

As for the other thing, no news yet. Do not think me foolish for trying.

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Shi'eera "Journal" Entry 1

I have to find her…That Hagraven of birthmother had to be here somewhere. I could barely contain my hatred for the woman but for Daya I would do anything…

Daya was the woman who raised me and gave up her wings for me. She didn’t have to. It would have been so much easier to leave me in one of the human villages like the rest of our kind do when there child is malformed like me. She could have gone back to her life as the cherished beauty of the city. But Daya chose to give up her family, her riches, her beauty, and her lover for a chick that wasn’t even hers by blood. I can never truly repay her.

Now she doesn’t even remember who I am. The mind-wasting sickness has come too far along. She doesn’t remember why she gave up her world for me. I have nothing to tell her. I honestly don’t know why she did what she did. Now all she remembers is Razha, her old lover, my birthmother who abandoned me when she found out I would never fly.

If I had it my way I would never see that woman again. Blood does not mean anything to me. People who act like family are family not stuck up, cold, and nasty pieces of work like Razha. Despite my feelings, Daya called for her and her alone.

I will not leave without that fickle crone, even if I had to tie her up, put her over my shoulder and carry her all the way back. Daya would see her love one more time before she died that’s the least I could do for her.

* * *

Razha wasn’t here yet. How had I made it here before the one with the functioning wings? Sigh. Sneaking passed the “guards” was a joke and I was soon sheltered in the shadows of tiny ally. It seemed the only Aven here was a Strix wandering through the empty vendor stalls. I didn’t recognize him but I didn’t know all the featherbrained cronies my birthmother used. He could easily be one of her group arriving early.

By noon more visitors were flooding in. Quite the variety. I found myself wondering what this meeting was actually about but I immediately pushed the thought away. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was finding Razha and getting her back to Daya. Despite my own thoughts, I couldn’t help picking up the rumors drifting on the wind. The information might be useful in tracking Razha down I tried to justify to the other nagging voice in my head.

“….the rice crop just hasn’t been healthy….
…did you hear what happened in the near by village someone said they….
…wicked things and black magic….
…..unrest in the east….
….shouldn’t have invited these strangers here…..”

Interesting…

* * *

There! A golden mane of feathers towered over the regular humans and entered the meeting house. It had to be her! This was my only chance.

* * *

All the frustration came pouring out of me. What could I possibly say to get this horrible woman to listen to me? I let my anger boil over and reached my hands up to shake some sense into her.

I had never seen such utter disgust in any creatures eyes as Razha pushed me away from her. It sent ice through my veins and I could finally pull myself together long enough to think. I realized I had made this about me with out even thinking. I truthfully had been trying to get her to accept me as her daughter not Daya. I gripped my emotions and tucked them far from my heart. This was not the way to convince Razha to go back.

Kek had once told me I could talk a monk away from his religion if I tried hard enough. An idea sparked in my mind. I opened my beak to try a new tactic with the fool Aven when sound like lightning striking shook the land. The ceiling started to creak and pieces broke inward.

Belathor’s fiery balls! I grabbed the cranky puss-bucket and tossed her towards the door. There was no way I could convince her if she was dead.

* * *

On the outside I realized that some of the buildings had collapsed and the headman was talking to some fancy outfitted noble human about siege equipment. Yeah right. That couldn’t have been anything man made. No time to sound my opinion though, the Strix from before was already trying to get my mother and another Aven to scout for danger with him.

Like Razha would be able to escape that easily. I didn’t care if the world was ending she had to get her uppity tail feathers back to Daya. I tried to approach her again. This time with only Daya in mind.

* * *

Mirelia’s mangey spit-snails. What had I been THINKING?! The boom must have caused my brain to split into another personality entirely! One with MORALS and a sense of NOBILITY!

As I trekked up this dragon-dung heap of a mountain the words still rung in my mind.

“I will protect you stupid PEOPLE!”

Not the most eloquent of phrasing but a promise none-the-less. Protect the pretentious, piss-pot Avens that have treated you like an animal since you were born? Yeah, good one Shi’eera. That’s exactly what you should be doing as the only person who ever loved you is laying on her death bed!

But there had been a glimmer of something in Razha’s eyes as I had turned my back on her. Something, I hoped that would lead her back to Daya’s side. Maybe my poor excuse of a lecture finally knocked some sense into that proud prissy-pants.

* * *

Wonderful, just wonderful. It looks like I had company. Master Fancy Robes from before had tagged a long with his ridiculous amount of weapons that he probably couldn’t use. A weasel masquerading as a ninja. A tiny crazy human girl with giant bow for a head and an equally large hammer. Another baldie, this one tall, with muscles that went on for miles and a obsession with smithing. A petal princess from the Sylvans who specializes in rabbits and sparkles. Oh and a fishie from the Fairgeans who loves sticking her nose in all the wrong places. And guess who’s at the very end of pack struggling to keep up? Well it sure as Shadowlands taint, isn’t the Strix flying over head of them all with his precious working wings. Maybe he should be the one to protect my birthmother’s pompous people. Because our lovely Aven legs aren’t really meant for all this mountain climbing.

* * *
No mountain hike can really be complete with out wolves, right? Not that normally wolves would attack a group this size. As I am stringing up my bow to put an arrow in one of their eyes they suddenly stop and are looking around in confusion. They let out a couple of disappointed whimpers and then turned tail running off into the woods. Huh? Now that was new.

* * *

We finally get to the temple and the little Radish-wielder (—or was it a Daikon—nah) makes quick work of the door. Definitely useful, for a baldie.

As we enter I try and teach the ferret to keep the shiny things when she’s rifling around, but she gets all defensive. Sigh, must be all those balled up rodent instincts which depending on who you ask I may or may not have taken advantage of in the Zen garden.

How was I supposed to know she’d actually do it? It’s barely my fault that she dragged her butt through the sand patterns. The others seemed to get bothered by this for some reason. Who knew sand could be such a sensitive subject?

Poor little Cotten-head tried to fix it and everything. I lead the way to the right thinking the sensitive ones needed some time to cool off as they went left. The weasel and Radish-wielder tagged along. As we made our way down the corridor the shadow of a figure stood a ways off.

“Hello?!” Oh Cotten-head. Lesson one I would have to teach the little chick: do not call greetings to ominous figures in the shadowy hallways of abandoned, ancient tomes.

My mind raced maybe I could use her call as a distraction to sneak up behind it and put an arrow in its back but if I went I would be leaving them both to the attacks of this thing.

Then I wouldn’t miss. I would take this thing out before it had a chance to attack her.

My heart sank to the pit of my stomach as my first arrow zipped right through the creature’s head. What was it made of?!

Before I could launch another arrow she swung her hammer faster than I could see and the creature was gone. The lanterns that riddled this temple came alight, shedding a soft warm light through out the building….

Aven race saved? Wrongs righted? And I could go back to Daya’s side? Sigh, some how I didn’t think so…

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Journal of Aella Veton
Her Adventures in a Weird Land

Aella Veton

XX/XX – 9:00 AM – Greenwich, CT

Just finished at music club — we played a concerto from Mendelssohn. I think we’re finally sounding good enough to stand a chance against the school from New York. The driver looked upset when I got out today. Well, I was late but we had all gotten so caught up in the music. I tried apologizing but he didn’t really want to hear it.

Oh, there’s a meteor shower tonight! I wonder if I’ll be able to see it from the gardens… Ah, there goes the radio. I guess Bernard isn’t a big fan of astronomy.

It’s so quiet… I told Aunt that I didn’t need a driver. School isn’t that far away from where the club meets. Wait! Was that? It was! A comet just shot across the sky! I leaned up to ask Bernard if he had seen it, but thought better of it. Not a fan of astronomy and in a bad mood. Even if he did see it, I doubt he would care.

Oh well.

I wish he’d turn the radio back on. This silence is really uncomfortable.

Oh?

Oh… No… NO!!!

(Car comes speeding through the intersection, right at me. Then everything goes black.)

XX/XX – Dusk? – I have no idea…

I gasp for air. My lungs feel as if they’ve been bereft of oxygen for days. When I open my eyes, I see… A clearing in a forest? What am I doing in a forest? Wasn’t I just in the car?

Am I… Am I dead? Is this purgatory? So that exists? Or is this a dream. Wait, there are others around me. Oh, they seem just as confused as I am. I clutch my violin case against my body, clinging to the comfort of something familiar.

The air around me smells of something burning, and there seems to be something like a temple in the distance? It’s a little far but it looks like someone knows where they’re going!

Oh, good, introductions. If I’m going to be stuck in the middle of some strange forest, it would be good to know who I’m stuck with.

Vin Costia, Kuu Taylor, and Edin Strongbow. They all sound like they’re from foreign lands. Are we in a foreign land? How did I get in a foreign land?!

Edin is walking in the direction of the temple. Well, if she knows where she’s going, I’m going to follow her. Plus, she has a knife. Oh I hope we don’t need a knife.

Where are we? My phone has no signal whatsoever, but it at least works. Vin…doesn’t seem to know what a cell phone is. That’s…weird. And she’s dressed like she’s at a Renaissance Festival. Is that what’s happening? Did I suddenly get caught up in some play?

Howling. Wolves?

No. We quicken our pace. Those aren’t wolves. I’ve heard wolves before. They sound…different. Wrong. Very, very wrong. We need to keep moving. I hold my violin case tighter against me.

The terrain is so steep! I’m glad I wore boots today. Oh, Kuu seems to be having trouble. If we don’t hurry, those… creatures… will catch up with us and I don’t like the sound of that. I’ll help her.

Ah… Oops? She didn’t not take my help well. She shouldn’t be embarrassed! This is a very steep mountain!

Oh, good the temple is getting closer. Wow, it’s actually very… grand. Ornate. With a very intimidating presence. I’d be more in awe if I didn’t think we were probably in mortal danger. But I’ve never seen anything like this before.

Edin suggests trying an SOS in the direction of the temple. That could work.

Oh, no, it didn’t work. Is there nobody there? I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing right now.

Finally! We’re almost there! Interesting tapestries… Oh, crap. Two wolves. On the stairs in front of us. Chewing on…are those bodies? Oh god those are bodies. Dead bodies. And they’re eating them. No. Wait, those aren’t wolves. No… Oh god what are they?! What’s wrong with their heads?!

Oh… No…

They saw us.

~

We made it. I can’t… I can’t believe it! How?! How is this possible?! I just cast magic! Oh my god. I’ve been drugged; that’s the only explanation. Right? Galeforce Rhapsody. That’s what it was called. But I’m not useless at least. Everyone else had a weapon. I’m decent at a bow but… Magic is possible? And Kuu and Edin seem to be able to do magic too. And they look just as confused as I feel. When the… things… died, my soul seemed to feel better too. Is that just because of the fear I had felt? Kuu and Vin are hurt but they say they’re okay… I hope they’re okay!

We can hear more in the distance. More of those awful creatures are heading our way. We need to get into the temple, but there’s a 6 foot chasm in our way! We could jump it but… Well, I’m not very athletic… Wait.

Breeze Adagio? More magic? It seems to be able to lift us into the air and gently deposit us on the other side of the hole.

What is happening to us?

This temple is very, very old. Those tapestries look like they’re practically decaying! There are… Twelve. Twelve tapestries, four that are larger and more prominent than the others. They seem to depict specific elements. And they all have dragons on them.

There’s one with a dragon surrounded by tornados and lightning. Suddenly, the tapestry looks brand new! He looks… I don’t want to say familiar but there is something about him. When I touch it, I have a sense of… home? Comfort? But almost a slight… trepidation? It goes back to its decayed state. I look at Vin. Was that her?

So… We can all do magic? Did we die? Are we dreaming?

Somehow I don’t feel like we are.

The creatures are getting closer. We have to get in the temple.

Once we get in, Vin does something to the doors, making them look like the stone they used to be. There is no way the creatures are getting through. But then, there is no way we’re getting out that way.

It’s so dark in here, I can’t see anything until somehow Edin casts light about the room. The candles are burning as if naturally.

The temple has been abandoned for a long, long time. Everything is covered in cobwebs and the decay of time. I had managed to grab a bow from one of the bodies outside, but this is a bit different than the bow I use in my archery club. I’m going to have to adjust to this. Hopefully I won’t have to use it.

Edin starts to go through the door into another room. This room has four indentations in the shape of discs. We try looking around in the room for something that would fit in there but no luck. We try looking in another room and this room is covered in vines and flora! There is a tree literally growing in the corner. It has… a crest in its bark? What?

It looks tough to get out but Kuu manages to do it. We look in the next room. Oh god it’s so hot. I have to get out of here! As I go back to the other room, the temperature goes back to normal. Weird doesn’t begin to describe this place!

Vin is able to get the crest and the air gets normalized. We go to the next room.

This one looks as if there is a tornado inside of it. No one can even get in. I seem to have some sort of control over the wind; maybe if I use that magic from before I can get the crest that is hanging from the ceiling.

Well. I give it a shot. I take a leap, surrounding myself in wind that is flowing the opposite direction and just as I go to grab the crest, it escapes me. It moved! Agh! I try again, this time even more determined. But no! Once again, beyond my reach!

But then…

Oh. I did grab it the first time. I… What?

The last room looks as if it was the backdrop to Frozen. Everything is covered in ice and oh my god it is cold. Thankfully I have my wool coat. But, I think this task belongs to Edin? She looks very cold, so I’ll let her use my coat and I’ll wait outside.

Haha! But I guess she didn’t need it. She seems to be made of heat! The room’s ice melts and the crest is free. My coat is returned.

We go back to the indentations in the original room.

Now. How to do this… I feel like it relates to something back home, but what. Oh, I was never very good at these sorts of things. We try all sorts of combinations but after a period of time, Kuu is able to figure it out! Or rather, she used magic and they sort of…fell into a pattern that looked like it would work. Yay Kuu!

The wall opens. Wow. That is a very, very long hallway. I’m not sure I even want to go down it but do we really have a choice?

As we walk down the longest hallway in the world, statues line the wall. They’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. And they look nothing like the dragons we saw in the tapestries. These are people… But not people. What are they? And they’re completely decked out in armor and weapons. They actually look very impressive!

Everything goes dark suddenly. That is never a good sign. My hair begins to stand on end and my heart is hammering in my chest.

There is a creature… Made of shadow. It’s coming at us. Very fast. The fear… is familiar. But different. I remember this fear. Lightning.

Lightning Bolero.

And the attacks begin. I can shoot lightning out of my violin’s bow. What.

My heart is beating out of my chest, but I need to use this fear. We all attack it, but it’s still standing. How is it still standing? Oh god it struck Edin! But we manage to take it down, finally. Wow. The suffocating fear — it’s gone.

This is really happening, isn’t it?

We continue forward and the next room is even grander and ornately decorated. And…there are others… Other people. Wait. No? Are they human? They don’t look like…

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!

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Designer Diary 1: Inspiration & Intention
Where "Knights of Dragoneia" came from and where it's going

I’ve been using Evernote to collect my notes for this campaign in anticipation of character creation sometime in April. As I was scrolling through the notebook, I checked the date of the earliest entry. Wow. It’s hard to believe that the first note related to the world of Dragoneia was written over a year ago on New Years’ Day of 2014. Since then, it’s morphed from a series of YA novels to a gamebook and back to an RPG campaign using an adapted version of the Legend of the Five Rings rules.

It began when I started considering the adage “write the book you want to read.” As a teenage girl, I never got into Dungeons & Dragons because I felt there was something lacking about the settings: where were the strong, adolescent female warriors and casters I had grown up with? Where was the wonder and magic of the world? In seventh grade my best friend snickered as she lent me one of her Dragonlance novels that had a sex scene in the beginning. “These books are so good,” she said, but what excerpts I read somehow didn’t do anything for my anime- and manga-drenched sensibilities.

In January of last year I started brainstorming what the RPG that would have hooked 14-year-old-me might look like:

Must have dragons. Dead dragons make up the constellations in the sky? Therefore each person is guided by a Dragon mentor, like zodiac signs.

You can see the influence of Dragonheart and also my love of astrology. I added notes like “evolving armor” and “January = Determination.” I cooked up a simple d6 dice pool system with four stats and twelve skills, one for each of the Cardinal and Ordinal Dragonei. I had a basic cast of four characters who filled the archetypes of fighter, wizard, rogue, and cleric.

From there, I was heavily inspired by the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce as well as Magic Knight Rayearth and Fushigi Yuugi. The end result also has some parallels with Avatar: the Last Airbender and the original Dragonlance Trilogy. I’ve taken a “steal like an artist” approach to this campaign, so if things feel familiar, it’s probably done on purpose, but I hope that the rearrangement of familiar elements—combined with the creative inputs of 10+ people—will transform it into something really special.

Over the last couple of weeks, the campaign has also begun to morph in terms of tone and mood. Our Sailor Moon game, with the exception of maybe two moments from the entire campaign, could have just as easily been played by a group of 12-16 year-olds. I find myself wanting to go darker and more mature this time, partially for a change of pace, but also because there are different philosophical spaces I want to explore as a GM, and I want to make this a game that twenty-something year-old-me can enjoy for months to come. You can blame Zoe a bit for having let me watch some of the Twelve Kingdoms anime episodes, but my appreciation of dark fantasy as a genre no doubt contributes.

Right now it’s trending PG-13 in terms of material. I can promise you there will never be any kind of sexual violence depicted “on screen,” nor any torture or graphic violence (such violence might be implied, but I’ll let you fill in the details). Yet, as I consider the types of threats the Knights of Dragoneia are going to be facing, there will be some level of violence. War affects everyone, from women to children to noncombatants to animals. Put simply, your enemies need to be stopped for a reason. If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate talk to me.

Anyway, I don’t expect anyone to read these, but it’s fun for me to chronicle the evolution of the campaign, so I may post additional “designer diaries” as we hit major plot points or reveals in-game. I’m going to do my best to let go of the setting enough for you all to make your mark on it, but I’ll also warn you that it’s begun to occupy a special place in my heart creative workspace, and perhaps with these blog entries you’ll begin to understand why.

I can’t wait to start and look forward to getting more character concepts from you in the coming weeks!

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My Gamemaster Manifesto
Rights & Responsibilities of the Players and GM

Most, but not all of you, have played with me as a Gamemaster before. Every group has their own social contract, and here is the social contract I intend to work from during Knights of Dragoneia.

  1. I pledge to use the characters you made to help determine the kind game you want to play. This includes class, stats, skills, and backstory. I will also take into account your expectations and style as a player. In exchange, I would like to place certain limits on the types of characters available at character creation to ensure that nobody’s character is disruptive to the campaign or to the party as a whole.
  2. I pledge to try and tell a good story. I will give you characters to conspire with and against, nations to save or ruin, and memorable encounters to terrify you or provide comic relief. In exchange, I hope that you’ll contribute ideas of your own to help make the setting something you want to be invested in.
  3. I pledge to value “rule of cool” over game rules. This means that I might cheat or fudge rolls in order to tell the best story possible. Conversely, if you want to try an awesome stunt or do something to enrich the story that’s not covered by the rules, I will work with you to let you do it.
  4. I pledge not to play favorites. I will not show preferential treatment or give special favors to a single player for any reason; everyone will have a chance to shine. In exchange, players will not gang up on or bully other players out of character, or do the same in-character without that player’s express permission.
  5. I pledge to help you create a character and understand the rules. If you have any questions about your character’s abilities or why the enemies are doing what they’re doing, please ask me and I will slow down to explain what’s going on. In exchange, I would like you to take a reasonable amount of your own time to familiarize yourself with the system we’re using.
  6. I pledge to stay within the limits I’ve set in terms of mature content, and I expect you to also to adhere to the game’s agreed-upon rating.
  7. I pledge to keep to a schedule, and to give advance notice of cancellations as much as I can. In return, please come on time and let me know if you expect to be late or miss the session. I will work with you on availability to the best of my ability.
  8. I pledge to honor fun above all else. Above egos and above rules. If there is something interfering with the fun at the table, work with me and together we can address it.
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