To bypass the acid that was blocking the path, Serenity came up with the plan of shrinking us. This was coupled with her using wind magic to protect Carnifex who then carried us through safely. It was surprising to be as small as Demi, though even more surprising was how stunningly beautiful said pixie is when you can look at her properly. I don’t know the beauty levels with pixies, but I’ve noticed that most things fey are rather easy on the eyes, and personally she would up there on any chart I think. Bale definitely won a lottery of some sort with catching the pixies eye, though I doubt he would ever ask it, I wouldn’t mind continuing to help that couple along the road of love.
Getting back on subject, once I got out of Bale’s box, and was large again, no sooner had this been accomplished than Despair barrels into me. I didn’t even really get the chance to make a noise before being unceremoniously dunked into the lake of acid. I don’t EVER want to experience that again! Luckily I managed to get back onto the path before keeling over in the acid, but it definitely changed how quickly I was thinking of taking on Despair again. Turns out in this area there are four pillars that have four of the missing villagers in large cages, guarded by mages. Obvious conclusion is that we must take out the mages and then free the villagers. Not only that, but for the battle with Despair who had slipped into the lake of acid and was lurking about, I didn’t want those guys being able to add boosts or to heal him, and obviously everyone else felt the same way. Everything was going fine, we were working our way around. Demi had, as usual, disappeared off to do her quick dealing with people. Carnifex was almost a one man show, though he doesn’t boast about it, so I can’t really hold it against him. It’s more like I want to try and be as useful as him some how, so it’s a goal to work towards. It’s been a long time since I have had one of those, and I can’t see anything wrong with wanting this as one.
Now, I said everything was going fine, and it was until I started up the ladder with Serenity below me. Despair came for round two, dropping a line of acid straight down onto the two of us. It was obvious that there was no way to fully avoid it, nor protect Serenity without either hurting her, or hurting her in the trying and then her getting hit with the acid. In the two seconds that I had to think and to react, I shifted on the ladder as best as I could to miss most of the acid, only being able to hope that Serenity could try and move out of the way better than I was able to take care of her. The resounding scream that followed shortly along with harsh words about my ability and general sense of being told me that she didn’t like what I had done. Though I knew there wasn’t much else I could have done in that situation, her words still cut. Elia swept in to “save the day” with Serenity, so I continued up the ladder to be of some use somewhere, even if that meant dispatching an enemy. Serenity shot up, obviously having used a fly spell, and reached the top first. I heard, “I hate Necros”, and that was the time I got up there. As I pulled my sword off my back and swung at the Necromancer, Serenity got the most disturbing smile I have seen on her face, walked up to the mage grabbed him by the balls and vaporized him via lightning through the nuts. I have never seen something so outrageously barbaric or inhumane in my life! Just having witnessed it, made me twitch in pain. I almost felt bad for the deceased mage…almost.
Serenity swept back down back to Elia I would suppose, and left me there to take care of the four villagers. Alright…I can do this, no problem. Slight problem, since there wasn’t simply a lock that I could break to let them out. I had to grab a hold of the cage, hold it as well as I could with one hand and CAREFULLY strike it with my sword. It wasn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever accomplished, but it wasn’t the hardest. A flash of blue light caught my attention and I watched in some difficulty as Carnifex took Despair down. If my eyes didn’t deceive me, his sword temporarily became a scythe as he did the finishing blow, smoothly decapitating the dragon that had been troubling us this whole time. This, this action, I needed to be able to spread that around! This was the coolest thing I had witnessed, I would think EVER. I can spin a tale at the taverns well enough, but this one wouldn’t need any extra twists, no embellishments. How many people can say that they were in a party with a person that in one move KILLED a dragon? I would think not many.
After taking care of the lake of acid with help from Serenity and Demi, that gave Carnifex and I the chance to check out Despairs dead body. Once getting a closer look at the dragon that wasn’t trying to kill me anymore, it became obvious that he wasn’t just a normal black dragon. He had purple runes on his body, they looked almost as if they were implanted into his very hide, obviously from when he was very young. We believe that he might have been one giant catalyst for Shar, meaning he was kind of like Shar’s personal dragon. Serenity helped us, and she commented that Despair was also a Shade. Even though I have traveled a lot and have learned many things, I hadn’t heard of a Shade. She quickly explained to us what they were, and it was obvious that her explanation angered Carnifex, as he picked up Despair and walked away from us. I haven’t seen him riled like this before, and I’m kind of worried as to how the big guy is going to release that pent up emotion. A Shade, so that I don’t forget is an old Netherees that came back, Serenity described them as ‘undead, that aren’t undead’. Not all are Shade, they came back from the realm of shadows fifty years ago. They have a hierarchy that leads to them being ‘upgraded’ to a Shade. Maybe when Carnifex is more himself again, I can have him explain to me more about the Nethril. I’m getting the feeling that not knowing this in the coming months might be a weakness. Not only that, but I wonder if they all have the same fighting style, or if Carnifex is unique in how he fights. Maybe he is kind of like me, where he had the basics and then changed it a bit.
Stepping back into the normal world was nearly painful. It hurt my eyes, it hurt my head, but there was still a part of my heart that shouted with joy at seeing colors other than varying shades of black and gray. I took this time to work on getting my outfit back to how it was supposed to look. It took a bit of time, and so did putting my hair back in place. Feeling a lot more like myself, I figured it was time to try and find Carnifex and see how he was doing. Through the whole trip back out of the Shadow Realm he had been simmering in his, what could only be, anger. Just as I got out there, I got the pleasure to watch him strike down a stone carving of Serenity. He had done it so smoothly, and with perfect accuracy that I know any of my previous masters of the sword would have wept at that kind of skill. We shared a few short words, at which Carnifex asked if I wanted to spar. Only a trickle of unease swept down me before agreeing. It was never the safest thing to do, sparring with someone running with high emotions, but he proved able to control it well enough, though most of the strikes came closer to my body than I was really comfortable with. I was only able to keep up with him for an hour, by then I was panting and had to call it time. Though I was exhausted from the workout, I still couldn’t shake the phantom feel of a few of those cuts that had all but ghosted across my skin.
We made it to Raccoon Hill safely, where we were thrown a huge party. Now, this I like! I definitely enjoyed the alcohol that they had and the festivities. I noticed a certain blonde was missing, so I went to try and bring the young mage to the party. Finding her ensconced around huge piles of books I decided that I might be of a bit more use for awhile helping her with whatever she was working so diligently about. Maybe with my help, we could complete it quickly and she could go enjoy the party as well. She had me first looking for “Shadow Lord” though Demi quickly piped up as one could almost see the light click over her head as she also heard the saying. “Dusklord!” Wind chimes have spoken, so we changed tactics and looked for anything that had to do with that. I wrote down what I could, and every once in awhile, Serenity warned me to not spill the large bottle of liquor I had brought over. I did share it with Elia who was, as always, nearby Serenity.
Making it back to Silvery Moon, we all kind of went our separate ways. I walked into the tavern that I had gone to once, and found an upset Serenity there. When I heard the reason, I quickly joined her in the retelling of what our group had gone through, mimicking the actions not only with words, but in her case, with magic, and every once in awhile I threw in a particular sword sweep to show the action. Serenity had thrown up a spell to show what the Shadow Realm had looked like, and I must say that seeing it made me even more sure that I never wanted to go there again.
Night was going fine, though there was a male mage that asked Serenity about something, who if I wasn’t mistaken was making calf eyes at Elia, boy did he need to find a better target. Not being one to shoot down someones interests, I instead hailed for an order of drinks, hoping that perhaps some alcohol in the others system would let him be shot down by Elia a bit better. When Serenity came back down, I was asked to get an order of the best, so of course I asked for the whole bottle, it was obvious that the masked lady upstairs had wanted it. The boy next to me had misunderstood, and had me write a letter to go along with it. Letters to ladies have never been my strong point, and I stumbled over it a bit, but managed to help him get something at least semi-decent down. I followed Serenity upstairs per her beckoning. Once in the room I was ‘assaulted’ by the two of them. Turns out, they wanted me to…pretend to be Elia to go on a date with the boy. There was a very big part of me that rejected this idea outright, but then that part of me that had been trained by Aunt Matsu, to do what I could for women, or people in general, who were in need reared up. Reluctantly I agreed. Only hope that could come from this is that I could let the boy down and perhaps steer him in a different direction for his love interest. After suffering through the change of body from my over six foot height, and muscles to the tiny five nothing and light as a feather Elia body, I then had to suffer through some of the worst pick up lines I have ever been burdened with. Some of them were so bad, I don’t think I can forget them. The boy was laying it on thick with what his obvious intentions were for the night, which was the farthest thing I ever wanted to do with another man, no matter what shape I was in at the time. Pushing him away, I suggested a walk, which he took to mean, ’let’s go somewhere where we can be loud’…god, it wouldn’t be too much to ask for him to pass out from too much alcohol would it? While on the walk he told me of all the things his father did, what he could make his father do, and what he could do with his fathers money. Really? I let him know, that personally, he needed to accomplish something himself, not with help from his father to even begin to earn an emotion from me. Just as his personal light struck up, Carnifex manhandled him from behind. To my growing horror, somehow, he knew who I was. The fish mouth gape that was adorning my face must have shown my horror, for Serenity quickly changed me back. Hunkering down, I tried to remember why I had even tried to go through with helping the two of them with this kind of thing. I only pray to every god I could think of, that it doesn’t make Carnifex think me any less of a man. I would be doing that enough by myself, I didn’t need someone, especially someone that I looked up to, to question my abilities, never mind my thoughts.