1st Edition D&D vs 5th Edition D&D

The problem with 1st Edition D&D was it was a little too hard at times.
Your character could have an ability score of 3, which was pretty ridiculous, and made it very hard for your character to function, let alone survive.
They could have 1 hit point, which doesn’t really make any sense.
If you took damage and dropped to 0 hit points or less, you died, which also didn’t really make much sense.

All of us players EASILY fixed these “bad rules”.
TSR also addressed problem rules with the game all the time, and often came up with better ways of playing the game.
That’s because everyone at TSR actually PLAYED D&D.

The problem with 5th Edition D&D is that it’s way too easy, and everyone goes up levels very fast, and at the exact same pace, which makes no sense, and totally defeats the original purpose of the game.

Wizards of the Coast, because they’re a Corporation, and only care about profits, never really understood what D&D is actually about. They did in part, of course, since ‘people’ work for the company, but their CEO has no clue, and was only hired to generate more sales for the company, because being a billion+ dollar a year company just isn’t good enough, ya know. I’m guessing that MANY at WotC have never played 1st edition D&D.

The other problem was that they basically ‘sanitized the game’, and made it EASY. In other words, they designed it for kids, so their characters wouldn’t die, because the Corporation didn’t want kids “failing” at the game, which only shows that they just don’t get it.
They just didn’t understand that kids LOVED 1st edition D&D, BECAUSE IT WAS HARD. They LOVED how CHALLENGING the game was.
They also made all of the 5th edition D&D characters WAY MORE POWERFUL, which also totally defeats the purpose of playing the game.

What they’ll never understand, because they’re a Corporation that’s totally driven by profits, is that the reason everyone LOVED playing D&D in the 1970’s and 1980’s was that your characters all started out fairly weak, and the goal was to BECOME POWERFUL, and when your Character Died, which happened at times, that you either had to pay to have them ‘Raised from the Dead’, or you had to, perish the thought today… ROLL UP A NEW CHARACTER, which meant losing your character, something that today’s mentality believes that kids just can’t handle, so kids today get “participation trophies”, which totally defeats the point of “getting a trophy”, but try explaining that to some people today.
Everybody today wants everything to be EASY FOR KIDS, instead of hard, despite the FACT that KIDS LOVED PLAYING D&D in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when it was hard to succeed at the game, and sometimes THEIR CHARACTER DIED. All that did was make them bound and determined to not let it happen again.

D&D taught kids how to work together to solve problems and overcome obstacles. It taught them math, improved their reading comprehension skills, and much more.

The reason Kids LOVED PLAYING D&D was because it was a CHALLENGE TO SUCCEED, so when they did, they felt amazing inside, like they had ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING.

I wish everyone who’s only played 5th edition D&D would take the time to play some ‘Old School D&D’, to see what the game was like, and why it was so popular.

I think if they did… they’d like it better.

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Why I’m ‘not’ an Atheist (because I care)

And so do you. Most people care. We care about the world that we live in, and the people who live in it. Most people don’t want to see other people suffer. We feel bad, and we hurt inside, when we ‘see’ or hear about someone suffering. We ‘wish’ that we could help them, but we feel helpless in that ‘moment of their suffering’, and feel like there’s nothing we can do, so we just ‘move on’, and hope that things get better for them, and the world.

As a song says “I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do, so I’m leaving it up to you”.

Most people don’t want war. We want peace. Most people keep hoping that the world will get better. We say to ourselves how bad the world used to be, and that we’re slowly getting better. We say how we used to live in caves, and just kill people, with no thought or regard to their humanity. Survival of the fittest, to the victor goes the spoils, but now we’re better. We’re not as bad ‘as we used to be’, so we’re hopeful for a ‘brighter tomorrow’, but why are we like that? Why do most people ‘hope’ for a better and brighter world for tomorrow? Why does it matter… if there is no god who created everything?

Well, you say why add God to the mix. We know the Universe exists. There’s no reason to add God to it. The atheist assures themselves that the only reason anyone believes in a god is because they feel empty inside, and life seems meaningless, if there’s no god, so the atheist is quite certain that they’re right, and no longer falls for the silly superstitions that humans have believed throughout all of time.

The atheist thus believes that they are ‘enlightened’, since they’ve put away superstition, and now only deal in logic and reason. They’re convinced that they’re right, and are happy that they no longer fall for ‘religious superstition’ and foolishness. I’m pretty much in agreement with atheists… on these issues, at least.

So let us now ‘assume’ that the atheist is right; that there is no god, and therefore everything is just here, because it’s here, that everything in the Universe ‘just happened’, purely by blind chance. There was a cosmic burp, and from this ‘accident’, everything just ‘came into existence’, and continues to exist, and will continue to exist until it dies, for every thing that exists eventually dies, and therefore even the entire Universe will one day ‘no longer exist’, since everything that exists eventually dies, so therefore everything will die, so why worry about it. Just enjoy your life, and stop worrying about things that you can’t control.

After all, eventually the Universe will no longer exist, which means that ‘Nothing will exist’… for all eternity.

One of the ways I try to determine if something is ‘logical’ or ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable’ is I try my best to ‘run with it, to its logical conclusion’, to see where it ends up.
Example: Take the Evangelical Christian belief in eternal hell. I ran with this ‘claim’ and took it to its logical conclusion, to see where it would go, and I ended up with Billions of ‘lost souls’ being ‘literally burned alive’ in ‘literal fire’ for ‘literally all eternity’ for not believing in the god that Evangelical Christians believed in, but that this ‘god of theirs’ ‘loves them’. Well, if you’re a Calvinist, then this god ‘hates them’, which is why he’s ‘burning them alive forever’, because ‘they’re evil’… so they/we deserve it.

If you think ‘either’ of those belief systems makes ‘Any Rational Sense’, I don’t think I’ll be talking with you anymore, but I’m certainly willing to listen to you ‘give it your best shot’ to both defend ‘and justify’ this very bizarre and insane ‘belief of yours’.
I’m sure you can see why I feel the way that I do about this belief.

Well it’s the same with Atheism. Yes it is, and now I’ll try my best to explain to you why I say this. I actually considered the possibility that ‘god doesn’t exist’ and therefore that ‘atheism is true’. I considered it, but I could never accept it, and here’s why.

Let us now run with this claim of Atheism, that everything is completely meaningless, caused by nothing, for no reason, and will therefore end in an eternity of nothingness (If that alone doesn’t already make you see the complete illogic of atheism… well, keep reading).

If Atheism is true, then this is what is also true:
Everything came into existence by ‘blind chance’. It happened simply because ‘it just happened’, and ‘nothing’ ’caused it to happen’. Nothing directed it. There is literally no reason or purpose for why ‘Anything’ is here. It’s just all one big giant Cosmic burp/accident, and eventually everything that this ‘accident caused’ will, in time, cease to exist, and it will never exist ever again, since there was never any purpose or reason for it to exist in the first place.

Just a few questions for atheists:
Why is murder wrong?
Why is anything wrong, for that matter?
If nothing is ‘actually wrong’, which it can’t be wrong, if atheism is true, then why do you care when someone suffers?
Why does it matter to you whether anyone hurts anyone, or kills anyone, or tortures anyone?
Why do you care, if everything that exists literally exists for no purpose, and it’s all just an accident that will eventually cease to exist, and never exist again?
How could ‘any action’ be ‘wrong’, ‘in any way’… if atheism is true?

If ‘any atheist’ can answer that question… I’m all ears…. well… I’m not ‘actually’ ‘all ears’. I was speaking… ya know… metaphorically. Not that ears matter though… since… ya know…

But if you dare say to me “so ‘which’ god do I claim is ‘the real god'”, I’ll resist the urge to punch you in the face… and just walk away instead… since it would be… ya know… ‘wrong’ to… punch you in the face… that is… if… atheism is wrong…

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There is no right or wrong way to play D&D

The first time I played D&D was 1980, freshmen year in college. I rolled up a character on a blank sheet of paper. Others helped me fill in all the necessary information, and then we rolled up “starting money” and bought stuff (armor, weapons, and gear, mostly), and then the Dungeon Master set the stage. He told us that we had travelled here because evil rides again, and the road had become dangerous to travel on. Something like that, basically, so we set out ‘down that road’ to try to find the source of the evil. That’s basically all he told us. I knew nothing about my character. I had no background information at all, and I knew nothing about the world that my character was living in, nor about any of the other people who just rolled up characters. There was a Dwarven Fighter, a Magic-User, a Cleric, a Thief, a Ranger, and me, a Human Fighter. I forget what other races were played, but because I was new, they had me play a human fighter, to keep it simple for me, basically.

I knew nothing about the game. I knew none of the rules, or how to play, and yet I had a blast. It was the greatest game I had ever played. Now, 42 years later, I’ve written a book; a book that was at least partly inspired by that first game I played. I wrote an article in 2017 about that experience. The article is titled ‘The first time I played Dungeons and Dragons’, if you’d like to read it. Unlike that first game I played, in my story there is much background, for I also created a world called ‘Forestera’, and my book is titled ‘Forestera’s Fate’. I wrote the book on my blog here, 1 chapter at a time, and have since self-published it on Amazon, even though I despise Amazon, but it sure is nice to see my book in print. I also just finished re-narrating my story on my YouTube channel. My YouTube channel is ‘Lightmane’, if you’re interested. If you go to my channel and click on ‘Playlists’, you’ll see it. I originally called my book ‘The Adventurers’, but later changed the name, because I like ‘Forestera’s Fate’ much better, as it ‘plays’ to the story better. So now my book is narrated twice on my channel, as I left up the original, cause why not. I’ve made several changes to the story though, over time, so I’ll be curious to see if anyone takes the time to listen to both, to see if they can spot any of the changes, and what they think of them. The other playlist is called ‘The Adventurers’.

So I told you all that to tell you this… Dungeons and Dragons can be played any way you want. There are no rules that “must” be adhered to. All rules are open-ended, and are subject to change and interpretation. Dungeons and Dragons is “your game” and no one else’s. Thus, if you want your characters to have backgrounds, then give them backgrounds. If you want your game to be played in a D&D world, like ‘Greyhawk’ or ‘The Forgotten Realms’, or your own world, or even no world at all, that’s up to you. It is not necessary that the characters in your game have “character backgrounds” or that there’s any particular ‘World’ that they’re playing in. There are literally no limits to the game, other than your own imagination.

Example: You could play D&D in outer space, and the characters could all be magical bunny rabbits with magical powers.

Here’s another idea: Your game could take place on Earth (any year), or some other planet, like Saturn or Jupiter, or a planet of your own creation, and the players could all be magical creatures, like a Unicorn, or a Pegasus, or a Lammasu, Chimera, etc.. The party could all be Kobolds, and the Kobold Chieftain of your tribe has commanded that you all go out and attack travelers on the road, kill them, or take them prisoner, and steal their stuff and bring it to him. Imagine going up levels as a Kobold, and eventually becoming a powerful Kobold Warrior or Wizard, Cleric, Rogue, etc. : )

In my story, I decided to make an introductory video, for my narration on YouTube. I did this to give more background for the listener. Perhaps I should add it to my book. I might at some point, but for now, it’s just on YouTube, and not on my blog. The introductory video is designed to give the listener information on the world they are about to enter, as though they were one of the characters in the story. They are told all about the world, what they know, and where they’re at when the story begins. They’re told about the different races that live there, and what they know about those races, along with rumours that they’ve heard (Yes, I purposely spell ‘rumours’ this way). In the video, you’re shown a map of the world of Forestera, and a map of the village that they’re in, along with how long they’ve lived there, how they all met, and what they know. With this knowledge, chapter 1 begins, and the story unfolds from there. The story is written from the “characters” point of view, as though there were no players involved, as though D&D was real, and not just a game. In this way, I was hoping to create an atmosphere that would draw the reader/listener in, and get them interested in the story. One of my friends who’s reading the story, decided to listen to my introductory video, and told me that it greatly helped him understand and appreciate all that’s going on in the story, so yeah, maybe I should add an “introductory chapter” to my book. Maybe I will at some point, but I’m hoping for more input before making anymore changes.

Forestera is your typical medieval fantasy world setting, where magic and monsters are real. There are currently no Dragonborn or Tieflings in Forestera, as I’ve only played 1st and 2nd edition D&D, and have no interest whatsoever in any other editions that came afterwards, but it’s possible that I could add those races in future books. I’m certainly “open to it” : )
As you read &/or listen to the story, you’ll learn more about the world as you go. This is not just a story about 8 people who go adventuring, though that is the ‘main’ aspect to the story. The other main aspect involves 2 other people, which you’ll meet in chapter 1. You’ll eventually come to learn the backgrounds of each character, along with other creatures that you’ll meet over time, including deities. Incorporating deities into my world, and my story, was tons of fun. I wrote a ‘preface’ where I tell you more about why I wrote this story, and what I was trying to achieve in writing it, so I hope you’ll take the time to at least listen to the introductory video and read &/or listen to a little of it, to see what you think. Have I said too much, or is this generating interest? Well here’s hoping that I haven’t said too much. It’s hard not to though. I very much want to tell everyone all about this story that I wrote. Well here’s hoping that at some point, I’ll form a ‘discussion group’ about ‘Forestera’s Fate’ and we can all enjoy this epic tale together, and yes, it’s an epic tale… well, as far as I’m concerned, it is : )

Yes, one purpose of this article is to try to promote my book, but I’m sure that’s quite obvious by now, but the other reason is to show that there’s no “set way” to play D&D, and why that’s the case. Some players believe there’s only one right way to play, and all other ways are wrong. There’s a yt channel that I subscribe to, which swears by 1st edition only (and maybe 2nd edition too), and despises 5th edition, and says how that’s not “real D&D”, but rather that it’s some made up game, made up by a corporation, purely for profit, and that they have no clue what “real D&D” is actually about. He actually makes “some” good points, but he also makes some silly arguments, but I choose not to disagree or argue with him. He seems like a nice guy, so I enjoy the content that he puts out, and ignore the other stuff. There’s another channel that I like a lot, which is a father and son, that prefer 1st edition over 5th, like I do, but are much more balanced in their approach to their critique of different editions. They basically incorporate rules from different editions that they like, and ignore the rest. In other words, they’ve created “their own version” of D&D, just like I have.

Their channel is called ‘The Old Warlock’, if you’re interested.

Lastly, I must mention the roleplaying game ‘Castles & Crusades’, that greatly inspired me to write my own edition of D&D, putting all the rules into One Rulebook, taking much from their excellent rulebook. The introduction to that book, written by Stephen Chenault, is a thing of beauty. I believe it was written in criticism of the 3rd edition of D&D, which I also greatly disliked when I looked at the rulebook, as it seemed to have an overabundance of rules that I thought were mostly unnecessary. Again though, some like 3rd edition, and prefer it over 1st. I’ll never understand why, but so what. If they like it, that’s all that matters. Castles and Crusades also played a role in inspiring me to write my story. Their take on roleplaying games is very refreshing. They ‘get it’ with what roleplaying games are all about, which is to have fun.

So play D&D the way you want to play it, and don’t worry about the ‘rules’. It’s the ‘play’ that’s the thing.
It’s the ‘play’ that makes D&D the greatest game in the world, so go play D&D the way that you want to… and have fun : )

I guess I should include links, huh : )

Article: The first time I played Dungeons and Dragons: https://lightmane321.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/the-first-time-i-played-dungeons-dragons/

Chapter 1 of ‘Forestera’s Fate’, here on my blog, which you can read for free: https://lightmane321.wordpress.com/2021/07/24/the-adventurers-chapter-1/

Narration of Forestera’s Fate on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HClLx_Q8vfk&list=PLGVlX-UKorSr_RKmT3h8T_REowB5IJBCN&index=1&t=39s&ab_channel=Lightmane

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I want to tell you about my parents

Had life gone differently, there’d be no need to write any of this, for in all likelihood you all would’ve known who Tristan Meinecke and Lorraine Johnson “Angel Casey” Meinecke were. I never “knew” my parents who were “somewhat famous” back then, for by the time I was born (1962), that fame had mostly faded, but prior to the 1960’s my parents were very well known in Chicago. So let me tell you about them, about who they were and what they had accomplished prior to my birth.

My mother was born in 1919 in Cincinnati Ohio, and at some point in her life came to Chicago, to work in radio, and eventually in TV too. My father was born in 1916 in Kansas, but his parents soon moved to Ann Arbor Michigan, where his father, Bruno Meinecke, became a Professor on staff at the prestigious University of Michigan. Bruno played the violin and taught Latin, but he didn’t just teach Latin. He, along with a man named ‘Kelsey’, wrote the textbook, which would be used at the University for the better part of 50 years. According to my brother, Bruno Meinecke was one of the foremost Latin Scholars in the country. You can google him, if you’d like. One day I went on eBay to see if any of his books were for sale there, and I found this. I can only imagine the pressure of growing up with a father who was a ‘Latin Professor’ at the University of Michigan.

Here are 2 more pics of Bruno. He would die shortly after I was born. I have very little memory of him. Can you see the tension between my father and grandfather? The pic with me in the stroller, along with my older brother, is in Chicago, on Cleveland Avenue, where we lived until I was 6.

My mom had her own children’s television show called ‘The Playhouse’ (she was actually one of the pioneers of television in Chicago), while my dad was a working artist throughout the late 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, but would walk away from the art world around 1960, because he couldn’t stand how phony the art critics and gallery owners were, and he simply refused to work with them anymore. He would then, somehow, teach himself Architecture, and ran his own Architectural firm with just 1 other person, ‘Robert Bruce Tague’, who was a licensed architect. My dad wasn’t licensed, but with Bob, he was able to run his own business, and somehow made it work. Growing up, my dad did not have a very good relationship with his father, so as soon as he could, he left home for Chicago, having fallen in love with jazz music, and hearing that the local jazz scene in Chicago, on Lincoln Avenue, was the place to be, he moved there on his own. He soon established himself as a prolific artist/painter, as well as a decent musician. He quickly became known as the only white guy in Chicago who played with black musicians, something that just wasn’t done in his day, but he loved playing with them, because, as he said, they’re geniuses. Here he is with his Saxophone in his ‘pad’.

Here’s my mom on the cover of ‘TV Prevue’ and on the cover of a book about the ‘Golden Age of Chicago Television’. That’s her, just to the left of ‘Bozo the Clown’, with her puppet that she created herself, ‘Sir Worthington Wiggle’.

As a musician, my dad wrote quite a bit of music, including a 30 minute long String Quartet. A family friend took the sheet music and somehow fed it into a computer, which performed the piece. We put it on YouTube, but it’s broken into parts, unfortunately. Here’s part 1.

While my dad wasn’t well known for his music, he was very well known as an artist. In an art show in the 1950’s, he unveiled a new mode of art that he called ‘Split-Level Painting’ at ‘The 62nd American Show’, which opened at the Art Institute in 1957. The piece, ‘Heterogeneous Icon’, was huge, measuring 50″x74″x5.5″ (meaning it’s almost 6 inches deep). It’s oil and acrylic on Masonite.
Here’s what art critic ‘Frank Getlein’ said about this piece, in an article that he wrote:
“The only painting in the show that pushes back the frontiers of art is Tristan Meinecke’s “Heterogeneous Icon”, which reveals the untapped possibilities of split-level painting. The base level of the work is simply a swirl of red, white and black, more or less viscous in feeling. Several inches out from this is mounted a piece of composition board, hacked up here and there to make the base visible. On the outer surface is painted a man-like figure in broad black outlines, like a very crude Rouault, the outlines being filled in with more viscosity. As a matter of fact the work is fairly compelling, but at ten feet the gimmick disappears, and closer than that it’s profoundly irritating”.
Frank also described this painting as “A new concept in art is shown by Tristan Meinecke”. 
In other words, my dad actually created a ‘new medium’ in art, and we have a copy of the article to prove it. My dad actually loved what Frank said, even though he kind of criticized the piece too, but calling it “profoundly irritating” only made my dad enjoy it more. I think he was glad that he “profoundly irritated” an ‘art critic’.
My dad would say this quote many times throughout his life, “The only painting” he would say, as he held one finger up in the air, with a big smile on his face.

Heterogeneous Icon

In addition to her children’s television show, my mom was on radio a lot too. Here she is doing a live broadcast, with another pic of her eating caviar at a restaurant.

Her career though would sadly come to an end because she chose to take multi-racial promo shoots. They got so many complaints that no one would work with her anymore, so just like my dad, she walked away from a TV career, without a care in the world, and became a full time mom instead.

Here’s some more pics of her career. The baby in the first pic is my older brother.

Here she is in 1944, posing for an add for ‘Coca-Cola’… I think 🙂

Finally, here’s a pic of them in Chicago Newspapers, along with being mentioned in ‘Kup’s Column’. If you grew up in Chicago, you know who Irv Kupcinet was.

So as you can see, my parents were pretty much ‘Chicago Celebrities’, yet they walked away from that life of fame and fortune, and somehow found a way to still live a middle class life, while they faded into obscurity. Over the years, people would occasionally still come by and buy one of my dad’s paintings. I knew this, because my mom would say something like “Dad sold a painting today, so we’re going out to dinner”, and off we’d go to the restaurant, ‘Twin Anchors’. Twin Anchors was their favorite restaurant to go to, until one day when Frank Sinatra was in town and declared that their ribs where the best in Chicago, and just like that Twin Anchors became a very popular place, with lines going around the block to get in, and immediately they stopped going to Twin Anchors. Today, Twin Anchors apparently is still a very popular place. I really loved that place, when it wasn’t so popular, yet still did a good business.

Here’s the life I lived, growing up as a kid on Cleveland Avenue in Chicago. We had an above ground swimming pool and a big yard to play in. We lived in the Coach House in the back. My dad rented out the apartments in the 3-flat in the front. That’s how he’d survive for the rest of his life, by buying ‘Income Properties’, so that the rent he collected basically paid his mortgage. Sadly, we moved from here when I was 6 years old… but that’s, another story…

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The Greatest ‘EPICS’ of Progressive Rock Music

I decided that I wanted to include on my blog a list of all the Progressive Rock EPICS that I could find (I’m sure I missed some), but first I need to define what I consider to be an ‘Epic’. For me an Epic piece of music needs to be at least 15 minutes in length. I chose 15 for a very specific reason. ‘Awaken’ by YES is just over 15 minutes in length. If I lowered it to 12, or 10, there would be a TON of music that I’d have to include in this list, and I’d be here all day writing it, if not all week, so 15 is the mark.

I’ll first list a band, in no particular order, except at the end, which you’ll see why when you get there, followed by the Epic or Epics, in the order that they wrote them, along with a video of the piece, so you can listen to it if you’d like, and hopefully leave a comment here, letting me know what you think of the music &/or with regards to my comments.

For whatever reason, a lot of the lengths on YouTube are different from the lengths listed in their discography. Not sure which is more accurate, so for the most part I listed what their discography said was the length.

Hope you enjoy reading and listening to these PROG ROCK EPICS.

Tarkus, by Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP), from 1971. Length: 20:59

I consider ELP to be one of the greatest Prog Rock groups. They definitely make my top 5. Of their Epics, ‘Tarkus’ is my favorite. I just love the power and the energy that this music evokes in me, let alone the name ‘Tarkus’. It sounds like some medieval god or something, or something you’d encounter playing Dungeons & Dragons.
From Google: “The music describes the story of a war machine called Tarkus (a mixture between an armadillo and a tank). This creature emerges from an egg that is beside a volcanic crater that is making an eruption. Then a cybernetic creature that looks like a futuristic station, this creature is destroyed by Tarkus’ turrets”.

At 20:59 in length, ‘Tarkus’ is about as Prog as you can get. I don’t know why the YouTube video is shorter though. Weird.

Karn Evil 9, by Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP), from 1973. Length: 29:40

Possibly the craziest piece of music ever written. Part of this piece was a commercial hit that got a ton of radio play. It also included a section of free-form jazz, along with music that sounded computerized and futuristic, and I’ve probably only described maybe half of the components that are included in this monster epic. Karn Evil 9 was the 5th piece of music on side 1, lasting just under 9 minutes, and when you turned the record over the music began with these lyrics “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends…” Albums allowed for creative things like that. I’m guessing that in 1973, there was nothing else like this. ELP was often referred to as ‘pretentious’ by their critics, to which Keith Emerson, their keyboard player, responded “What you call pretentious, I call ambitious”. I agree with Keith.

Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman, by Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP), from 1978. Length: 20:12

I’ve never heard this piece before, so I just listened to it now. It’s excellent. No wonder the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson had Keith Emerson on his TV Show. Oscar had no interest in any of the keyboard players in rock music… until he heard Keith Emerson, after his son told him he should listen to him. At first he was like ‘sure son, sure’, but then he heard him… I’ll include the segment with Keith Emerson and Oscar Peterson, so you can see what I’m talking about. I doubt anyone but Oscar Peterson could get away with that “Pink” suit he wore : )

Thick As A Brick, by Jethro Tull, from 1972. Length: 43:46

I’ve never been a huge Jethro Tull fan, but there’s no denying their incredible talent, and I wish I saw them live at least once, just to see Ian Anderson perform on stage. The man is an absolute legend, and much of their music is great, no doubt, but they just never moved me like others do. That said, I still consider them a great band and very much enjoy listening to some of their music; just not as much as I do others. When I first heard the very short radio edit of this song, I thought it was just ok, and didn’t get all the hype about it. When I listened to the 43:46 minute version, I was quite amazed, but got bored often on that first listen. It was just way too long, and I’m assuming that was part of the ‘joke’ that Ian was playing with all the music critics who said their previous album ‘Aqualung’ was a ‘concept album’. Pretty sure that was Ian’s ‘joke’ to his critics. I’ve now listened to this maybe 3 times. I enjoyed it a lot more on my 2nd and 3rd listens, but it’s still a lot to take in, but it’s definitely an amazing piece of music that I think everyone should hear, if they get the chance.

A Passion Play, by Jethro Tull, from 1973. Length: 45:07

They wrote a piece of music that was almost 44 minutes long, so let’s go for 45. Sure, why not. I have yet to listen to this in its entirety, so I’m not in a position to say how good it is. The critics didn’t like it, yet it went all the way to #1, so I’m sure it’s incredible. It’s amazing to me how many ‘music critics’ don’t like music that’s great. Go figure.

Baker St. Muse, by Jethro Tull, from 1975. Length: 16:39

I’m listening to this now for the first time, so I’ll type as I listen. Love the intro. Listening to it though, I like it very much, but I’m not blown away by it. The musicianship is incredible, yes, but the music doesn’t move me like the music of YES or ELP or Pink Floyd or King Crimson does. I like it plenty, like I do most Jethro Tull music. I’m just not blown away by it, despite the obvious musicianship that’s brilliant. I honestly am not sure why I don’t love their music as much as the other 4.

Squid 1 / Squid 2 / Octopus, by Van der Graaf Generator, from 1970. Length: 15:24

Now here’s one crazy piece of music. It wasn’t on their album though, which greatly confuses me. Who writes a 15+ minute piece of music and doesn’t put it on their album? I’m so confused. VdGG music always sounds like I’m at a Theater. I’m always expecting music from ‘Le Miserables’ or ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to start playing. The music here is great though. Love this track. I see that it was a staple in concerts, apparently. I can see why. I’m sure audiences loved it, but then again I don’t know how many ‘fans’ would enjoy long epics like this. Most ‘fans’ like 4 minute pieces, but I’m guessing that VdGG fans aren’t ‘typical fans’ : )

A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, by Van der Graaf Generator, from 1971. Length: 23:04

Enjoy this theatrical epic piece of music. This seems to be VdGG’s ‘Close to the Edge’, their ‘Magnum Opus’. It’s an incredible piece of music for sure, and I’m very glad that I got to hear it on YouTube. If it wasn’t for YouTube, I might have never heard their music. Too bad I never heard about this group growing up. Guess they just weren’t ‘commercial enough’ for the radio. If only they had written a couple of ‘radio friendly hits’ : )

Meurglys III, The Songwriter’s Guild, by Van der Graaf Generator, from 1976. Length: 20:50

I’ve never heard this piece, so I’m trying to listen to it now. Some of VdGG’s music tended to bore me at times, yet I still like their music in general. An interesting intro, for sure. Almost sounds a little like Gentle Giant’s music at times, though not quite that weird. I like Gentle Giant’s music though… for the most part : )
I have a feeling that if I were sitting around with say 3 or 4 friends, and we all were high, this music quite possibly would blow our minds. Just a thought.

Atom Heart Mother, by Pink Floyd, from 1970. Length: 23:44

This is such a bizarre piece of music. I both love it and am just ok with it. Parts seem incredible, but overall it just doesn’t grab me like other epics. Give me ‘Dogs’ any day over Atom Heart Mother, but it’s definitely a very unique and interesting piece of music, and the album cover is just so perfect, but I don’t really know why; it just is : )

Echoes, by Pink Floyd, from 1971. Length: 23:31

Echoes is great, but in some ways so is Atom Heart Mother. I find music like this very difficult to rate, so I’ll just say it’s a great epic and leave it at that. Pink Floyd is definitely one of the most unique ‘rock bands’ there ever was.

Dogs, by Pink Floyd, from 1977. Length: 17:04

The moment I heard them using synthesizers to mimic the sound of Dogs barking and howling, this epic instantly became my favorite piece by Pink Floyd, though ‘Sheep’ might actually be better, but the barking and howling synthesizer dogs just gets me every time.

Lizard, by King Crimson, from 1970. Length: 23:25

King Crimson is my second favorite Prog Rock group, but to my surprise, they only wrote 1 epic; an epic by my definition, that is. That said, if you’ve never listened to “The Lizard Suite”, find some time, have a seat, turn it on, and sit back and close your eyes and enjoy where the music takes you. This album is one of King Crimson’s most criticized albums. Critics hated it. With fans it ranks everywhere from #1 to last. I rank it overall somewhere in the middle of all of their albums, meaning I greatly enjoy it, but this piece right here is the main reason I rank it as high as I do. When the YouTube reaction channel ‘JustJP’ listened to it for the first time, he was blown away. It was blocked on YouTube, but his reaction video is still there. The music is silenced though, but a link to his Patreon is there, so anyone can watch it. I’ll post his YouTube reaction below. Enjoy.

The Fountain of Lamneth, by RUSH, from 1975. Length: 19:57

Before ‘2112’ there was ‘The Fountain of Lamneth’. It’s not as great as 2112, but just knowing that RUSH wrote a 20 minute epic when they did is pretty incredible. I had no idea it even existed, until I saw it on YouTube. It’s a really interesting piece of music and it really feels like they were experimenting here and getting their feet wet with writing such long epics. That said, I think it’s a great piece, regardless, and highly recommend you give it a listen.

2112, by RUSH, from 1976. Length: 20:34

‘2112’ was the first piece of music I heard by RUSH. I was a freshmen in High School, 1976, and I was blown away. I had never heard music like this. I had heard ‘Close to the Edge’ but still wasn’t a huge YES fan yet… but I was getting there. I loved hearing how RUSH idolized YES and I believe it was ‘Close to the Edge’, along with ‘The Gates of Delirium’, that inspired them to write epics, instead of just ‘songs’.

Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres, by RUSH, from 1978. Length: 18:08

While technically, this is the second half of a very long 28+ minute Epic, this piece is on a separate album from the first part, and since the first part is just 10+ minutes in length… Ending their previous album with Book I and then beginning their next album, 1 year later, with Book II was a very cool and creative thing to do. Everyone couldn’t wait to hear what Book II would sound like and we were all blown away when it finally came out.
Oh hell, I’ll just post Book I right after Hemispheres, so you can listen to both of them here, if you want. ‘2112’ and ‘Cygnus X-1’ are, in my opinion, the greatest pieces of music RUSH ever wrote. They wrote a LOT of great songs and longer pieces (10+ minutes in length), but these are their best, as far as I’m concerned, though ‘The Necromancer’ definitely deserves a mention at 12+ minutes in length : )

Supper’s Ready, by Genesis, from 1972. Length: 23:06

It’s kind of bizarre how the music starts out like you’re right in the middle of the song, with Peter Gabriel singing “Walking across the sitting-room, I turn the television off”. I’ve never heard any piece of music start like it’s in the middle of the song.
When I first listened to this, just several years ago, I wasn’t all that blown away. I guess I just wasn’t in the right mind set for a Genesis Epic. Genesis often bored me. I had never heard any of their older music until I discovered it all on YouTube. I had heard about ‘old Genesis’, but Genesis to me was ‘Abacab’ and songs like that, which I just wasn’t a huge fan of. I could listen to them on the radio. They were fun, but I was just getting into Progressive Rock at the time and was listening more to YES and King Crimson, and then RUSH, along with Pink Floyd and eventually ELP too. I had heard Phil Collins amazing drumming with the jazz fusion group ‘Brand X’, which no one in my high school knew anything about. I only knew about them because of my brother who listened to a lot of fusion and other odd groups like ‘Dixie Dregs’. As a teenager, I found the music that most had never heard, to be much more enjoyable to listen to. Maybe that was in part because most had never heard any of it, or perhaps it was because they didn’t understand most of it and found it odd, or weird, which only made me like it more : )
Now though, having listened to this maybe half a dozen times now, I love this incredible epic. I have no clue why I wasn’t amazed by it at first. Perhaps it was the odd way it started, or maybe just because it didn’t blow me away like other epics had, but I didn’t even like ‘Close to the Edge’ when I first heard it when I was 12 years old. I find it quite bizarre how my feelings towards ‘some’ music changes with future listens. Perhaps this is true of most people??? Or maybe I’m just a little weird. Hmmm…

Song of Scheherazade, by Renaissance, from 1975. Length: 24:38

Shout out to my YouTube friend (I won’t say her name), who introduced me to Renaissance several years ago. Meeting her on YouTube, on ‘Andy & Alex’s’ YouTube channel was a fun experience. We are both huge YES fans, and now we’re kind of like brother and sister. I’m quite lucky to have met cool people like her, though we’ve never actually ‘met’ : )
Renaissance is best described as Folk Prog, and Annie Haslam is one of the greatest female vocalists I’ve ever heard. Their bass player, I believe, was inspired by Chris Squire (as was Geddy Lee from RUSH). Their music is awesome, and this is their longest studio recording, so enjoy.

Ashes are Burning, Live at Carnegie Hall, by Renaissance, from 1975. Length: 23:50

The studio version of ‘Ashes are Burning’ is only 11+ minutes long, but since their live performance at Carnegie Hall is 23:06, I’m including it. No clue why their discography says it’s 23:50. No clue, but if you listen to this pay close attention to the last few minutes where Annie sings. Listen closely and if you know anyone who’s ever sung like that, leave a comment and let me know. Renaissance quickly became one of my favorite bands. I love most of their music. There’s just something magical about much of it.

Close to the Edge, by YES, from 1972. Length: 18:12

If you haven’t realized it by now, YES is my favorite band, and Close to the Edge is now my favorite piece of music. It’s been my favorite for a very long time now and I seriously doubt any other piece of music will replace it, but right behind it are ‘Epitaph’ and ‘Starless’ by King Crimson.
Amazingly, YES wrote ELEVEN EPICS! No one, as you can see, even comes close to what they achieved musically, in that regard. I have no clue how they did it, but they did, so here they all are.

The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn), by YES, from 1973. Length: 20:27 (22:25)

Their album ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’ is a much maligned album, though most YES fans, like me, love it. I love what they created here. There are many magical moments in this music that take my breath away and leave me feeling lifted in ways that’s hard to describe. Awaken is their best, when it comes to feeling lifted, but these 4 pieces all affect me in different ways, every time I listen to them. This version includes the intro that they cut from the album. I wish they didn’t cut it. It’s SO MUCH BETTER with the 2 minute atmospheric intro. Listen, and see for yourself.

The Remembering (High the Memory), by YES, from 1973. Length: 20:38

This piece has some really beautiful moments. So many moving parts that I feel like I’ve heard before. I find all 4 pieces magical, in that sense. Each of the 4 pieces are considered favorites by some YES fans. I think that’s pretty cool that each one is a favorite by someone. It shows you how music really is subjective. I think ‘The Revealing Science of God’ is #1 for most YES fans, with ‘Ritual’ second, ‘The Remembering’ 3rd with ‘The Ancient’ being the least favorite of the 4. While I love all 4 pieces, I’m in the minority and like ‘The Ancient’ the best, but I see why some don’t like it, and prefer the other 3. It’s so interesting how some don’t like 1 piece, while others like it the most. Perhaps that’s also what makes TfTO such a unique album. No one has ever made a double album with 4 Epics. Then again, only Jethro Tull wrote 40+ minute pieces of music.

The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun), by YES, from 1973. Length: 18:34

My favorite parts of this are the opening and the ending. I get why some get bored with the middle section, but I love how disjointed and different it all sounds. When I close my eyes and listen to this piece, it takes me on a journey, and I feel like I’m playing Dungeons and Dragons and we’re about to enter some evil creatures lair or something. I love when music does that to me.

Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil), by YES, from 1973. Length: 21:35

The percussion in this piece blew my mind, and it almost became my favorite of the 4 at one point. I was so blown away by what they did for about 2-3 minutes. It was unlike any percussion I had ever heard. I thought that perhaps Alan White was a god at this point, but Bill Bruford remains my favorite drummer, despite the fact that Alan just might be a god : )

The Gates of Delirium, by YES, from 1974. Length: 21:46

Some say this is better than ‘Close to the Edge’. The fact that it’s even a discussion among some YES fans shows that YES achieved their goal with this album, which was to show that they weren’t a ‘one trick pony’ with ‘Close to the Edge’. ‘Relayer’ is every bit as incredible as ‘CttE’, which is why it soon became my 2nd favorite YES album, just slightly over ‘Fragile’ and ‘The Yes Album’. Those 4 albums are music that every YES fan should hear, let alone the rest of their music, though you can skip ‘Heaven & Earth’ if you want. I’ve listened to it around 3 times, trying to “give it a chance”… I’m done : )

Awaken, by YES, from 1977. Length: 15:38

Quite a few YES fans insist that ‘Awaken’ is their greatest piece of music. It’s hard to argue. If you would like to have a ‘spiritual experience’… here you go…

Endless Dream, by YES, from 1994. Length: 15:43

Did Trevor Rabin just want to prove to YES fans that he could write a Prog Rock Epic too? Well if that was his motivation, he succeeded. Endless Dream is a great Epic. Not as great as ‘CttE’ or ‘Gates’ or ‘Awaken’, obviously, but still great nonetheless.

That, That Is, by YES, from 1996. Length: 19:14

This one really surprised me. Of their 11 Epics, this is, in my opinion, the most unique of the bunch. This is YES showing a different side to them, yet in other ways you still here their typical ‘Yes Sound’, but it’s different too. The lyrics that Jon Anderson sings are ‘different’ and this piece really took me by surprise. Such a different style for YES, yet still, in other ways, YES : )

Mind Drive, by YES, from 1997. Length: 18:37

Most of their later Epics aren’t considered as good as their earlier ones, but most still consider them great. I’m in the great camp too, but I get why not everyone likes ‘Mind Drive’ as much as I do. Yes, it’s not quite as great as their others, but I still think it’s ‘good enough’, meaning it gets an A grade from me. Ok, maybe an A-, but an A- is still great, as far as I’m concerned. Same with ‘Endless Dream’, and ‘Fly From Here’. Not all YES fans agree about these later epics, but aren’t you glad we don’t all agree on everything? : )

Fly from Here, by YES, from 2011. Length: 23:55

I really enjoyed listening to this piece on YouTube that’s almost 24 minutes in length, making it their longest Epic. I didn’t’ even know it existed until just a few years ago, and was quite surprised when I listened to it. 2011 and YES wrote yet another epic. I was pleasantly surprised with how good it sounded. Unfortunately, there’s no video on YouTube that will load here, but it loads on YouTube just fine. Go figure, but here’s a playlist of the ‘Return Trip’ album, which is basically the same album, but with Trevor Horn on vocals, instead of Benoit David. I like both singers, so it’s not a big deal to me, but some prefer one or the other. I think both albums are very good. Notice I didn’t say ‘great’ : )
I do think ‘Fly from Here’ is great though. A very cool 24 minutes of music that I think most YES fans would enjoy.

Well these are all the 15+ minute pieces of Prog Rock Epics that I could find. If I missed any, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them : )

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TCoOR – Chapter 2 – Shayla, the One True goddess

Forestera’s FateBook Two: The Caves of Ordered Randomness

In the morning, the adventurers headed out for the Shrine, since it’s effects had worn off just recently. They were hoping that afterwards, they could head out for the caves that the goddess Shayla had told them about, but since no one in Doran knew anything about them, they were hoping the Wood Elves would know where they were, but the last time they saw a Wood Elf was when they spent the night in their camp, almost a year ago.

Lettia: If we don’t run into any Wood Elves, I’m not sure what to do now after we come back. Should we keep asking around Doran some more, or travel to another village?

Lightmane: It seems odd that she invited us to go on this quest, but didn’t tell us where the caves are.

Jack: Well obviously finding where they are is part of the quest. Otherwise she would’ve told us where they are.

Lettia: Ok, but we asked around all day and no one’s ever heard of them, so now what?

Belfin: Maybe the Shrine knows where they are.

Lettia: Oh wow, I hadn’t thought of that. It’s answered questions before. That must be it. Well here’s hoping.

As usual, their two hour walk to the Shrine was uneventful. Before they laid down to sleep, to receive the blessing, they first tried asking the Shrine where the caves were located, but they received no answer.

Shinfia: Perhaps after we rest here, it will reveal where they are.

Lettia: Well I sure hope so.

As they all laid down and closed their eyes, they heard a voice that startled them.

Female Voice: Well well well, look who’s here… just like she said you would be.

The shock of hearing a voice got everyone up quickly. For a moment they thought the Shrine was actually speaking to them, but then they saw Dalma and the Wood Elves, which surprised them very much.

Jack: Oh wow, it’s you guys. For a second there I thought the Shrine was talking to us.

Lettia: Same here Jack. Hi Dalma. We were wondering if we’d ever see you guys again. We’ve been coming here every month for months now.

Dalma: Yes, we know. We always know when someone tries to come to the Shrine. I’m only speaking to you now because of what has happened.

Lettia: So when we come here to sleep and receive its blessing, you see us? Wait, happened? What has happened? Is everything ok?

Lettia’s curiosity was spiking now. Were the Wood Elves in need of their help? She was hoping that was the case, but then why wouldn’t they just contact Lord Doridin instead, she wondered to herself.

Dalma: Actually, once you fall asleep here, no one can see you, and no one can enter the area either. It is part of the magic of the Shrine that protects you from all harm while you receive its blessing.

The party was fascinated at what Dalma had just said, but she continued: What has happened is we were told that you would be coming here today, and that we were to wait here and meet with you. She is all knowing though, so none of us were surprised. We’re just shocked that she chose to appear before all of us and speak to us. Seeing and hearing her is the greatest blessing we have ever received.

Lightmane: She appeared and spoke to you? To whom are you referring?

Dalma: Oh, I’m sorry. I did not even realize that I hadn’t told you. We are all still quite shaken at all that has happened to us on this glorious day. (Dalma took a deep breath and tried to relax) The one who appeared and spoke to us, was the creator herself… Shayla.

When Dalma saw the shocked looked on everyone’s faces, she continued: Wait, you’ve heard of her? How? Only Wood Elves know who Shayla is. All the other races worship their false gods.

Tenneth: I’m sorry, did you just say false gods? I am a Cleric of Ehlonna. I can assure you that she is not a false god. Ehlonna is the goddess of the forests.

Dalma: Wrong! Shayla, not Ehlonna, is the goddess of the forests, for she created the forests, and then she created us, and then she created everything else that is in Forestera. Ehlonna is only a figment of your imagination, or possibly a servant of Shayla, for there can only be one creator, and Shayla is the creator of all. Shayla, is the one true goddess.

Lettia: Ok, well perhaps it would be best if we had this conversation another time. Shayla appeared before us too, yesterday, in our home. She invited us to go on a Quest.

At this, Dalma almost fell to the ground. She dropped to her knees and seemed to be shaking.

The Wood Elf, Trena, ran over to Dalma and got down next to her: The goddess has also appeared before them? How is this possible?

Dalma: It’s not. Why would she appear before them? They are not Wood Elves. This doesn’t make any sense.

Dalma then turned to the adventurers: It could not have been Shayla. Her appearing before us was a miracle, but she’d never appear to non-Wood Elves, so it couldn’t have been her. It must’ve been one of your goddesses that you worship, who serves her. That must be it.

Lettia: When she appeared before us, she said ‘I am Shayla, goddess of the forests, of the Wood Elves and the Half-Elves, and all who value independence and freedom’.

Dalma: Clearly that wasn’t Shayla, for she is not the goddess of the Half-Elves, but only of the Wood Elves, which is why you’ve never heard of her. She is our goddess, and the creator of the world.

Tenneth: Well if she’s not the goddess of Half-Elves, then she’s not the only god or goddess then, is she.

Dalma: As I said, Shayla is the one true goddess. If there are others who created the other races, then they are in service to her. Whoever this was who appeared before you could not have been Shayla. What did she look like?

Lettia: Well, she was a Wood Elf, and she had an aura all about her that was of a green and yellow and brown radiance, that swirled all around her. She was the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen, and she said her quest is for us to find 3 of her items that she has hidden in a place called ‘The Caves of Ordered Randomness’. Have you heard of it, by chance?

Lettia chose not to mention that they weren’t certain whether or not Shayla was a Wood Elf or part something else, but Dalma again dropped to her knees, and appeared to be shaking again.

Dalma: How can this be? Why would the goddess appear before them?

Trena: It ‘was’ Shayla who appeared before them. There can be no doubt now. You must go with them, Dalma. You have been chosen.

Lightmane: Chosen? What are you talking about?

Dalma got back up and looked at the adventurers: Shayla appeared before all of us this morning, as we were heading towards the Shrine. When I woke up this morning, something seemed to be telling me that we needed to go to the Shrine today. We don’t come here to receive its blessing, as we already have its blessings, and many more blessings too, but on the way here she appeared before us all, and she told us that you all would be coming here today, and that we were to meet you, and that we would all receive the blessing of the Shrine again, just like we did the last time. Then she told me that you were on a quest, and that she would like me to go with you. This confused me greatly, but she assured me that it was my decision as to whether I go with you or not, but now that you’ve just said where you’re going, I don’t know what to do. I assumed that you were just going on a quest of your own. I can’t believe that it was she who sent you on it. I just can’t believe it, so after we all receive the blessing again, we must then go back to our camp and speak with our elders, and tell them where you are headed and see what they say.

Lightmane: Do you know where these caves are?

Dalma: Yes, but we were told to never go there, so we stay away, but we know where it is.

Shinfia: It? Don’t you mean they?

Dalma: I meant the cave entrance. It is well hidden deep in the woods to the southwest. We only know of it because our elders received a vision of it, many months ago. It told them that we must never go inside, so we never have, but they know where it is located, but I still don’t understand why she would appear before you. It makes no sense.

Nightwind: You said she is the creator of all. Well if she created everyone, then she’s just as likely to appear to a non-Wood Elf, as she is to you.

Dalma: When I said that, I meant she is the creator of the world and the Wood Elves and all the animals that are here.

Nightwind: That’s not what you said.

Dalma: Then I misspoke. Maybe she created all the races, but we were her first creation, and she created everything else in the world. If other deities exist, then perhaps they created the other races.

Nightwind: How about goblins? Did Shayla create the goblins?

At this, Dalma looked frustrated, but Nightwind’s point was obvious.

Dalma: You are right, Nightwind. Clearly she did not create the goblins, or any of the other monsters that are here, for that would make no sense, but whether there are other deities or not, doesn’t change the fact that Shayla is the one true goddess. All other deities would only exist to serve her.

Shinfia: Sorry to change the subject, but I’m confused about something else. You said you don’t come here to receive the shrine’s blessing because you already have it, yet when we received it the first time, you said you all received it too.

Dalma: When the effects of its blessing wore off, I came back here and tried resting again, but nothing happened, and it never has before either. If we are wounded or sick though, we can come rest here, and it heals us, but other than that we have never received the blessing that others receive from resting here, except for that one time when we received it with you. That’s because we already have it, as we experience its blessings daily, while you only experience them when you rest here. When we received it with you though, we were all amazed at the effect it had on us, for even though we experience its benefits daily, everything was even better. We believe that we received, what would be for you, a double blessing that day. That’s the best way we can describe it, but now that Shayla has said that we will all receive its blessing again, we are all very excited to rest here with you now.

Filius: Well on that note, why don’t we all talk more about this some other time. Let’s rest and receive the blessing, and then let’s go to your camp and see what your elders say.

Dalma, looking relieved at Filius’ words: Yes Filius, thank you for your words; let’s do that.

Everyone looked for a nice spot to lay down by the Shrine. When the last person laid down, they all fell asleep just a few moments later. When they awoke, several hours later, they could all feel the effects of the benefits of the blessing. They all felt rested and alert, as well as calm and cleansed.

As they started to make their way to the Wood Elf camp, Filius spoke to Dalma: I’m surprised you remembered my name. Do you remember all of our names, or just some?

Dalma: I remember them all.

Filius: That’s really impressive. It’s been almost a year since we last saw you. How were you able to remember all 8 of us?

Dalma: I make it a point to try to remember the people that I speak to, especially after they just received the Shrine’s blessing. That made remembering all of your names even more important. At least, that’s how it felt at the time. I was shocked that the Shrine chose you. I still am, but I’m even more shocked that our goddess would appear to you and speak to you, let alone send you on a Quest.

Filius: She didn’t send us on it. She invited us to go on it. She was very clear about that too. She said it was entirely up to us.

Dalma: That’s what she said to me too. I just don’t understand why she would appear before you, when you don’t even know who she is.

Lightmane: Well we do now, and we also have a device that she left us, that allows us to watch and hear her again.

At this, Dalma stopped walking, shocked at what the Elf just said: What? You can talk to her anytime?

Lightmane: No, the device plays back what she said to us.

Dalma: I don’t understand. Plays back?

Jack pulled the note out of his belt pouch and handed it to Dalma: Here’s the note that was attached to the device. We assume she wrote it.

Dalma’s hands started to shake as she read it: Th, this is a nn note? … fr from Shayla?

Jack, realizing now why Dalma was shaking: Yes, yes it is, and here is the device, but it doesn’t work anywhere else; we tried. Apparently, it only works where she appeared before us and spoke to us. If you’d like, we can go back to our house later and play it for you.

At that, Dalma looked up at Jack. She was beside herself in amazement at everything: These… were given to you… by the goddess… She, she gave them to you… We must show them to the elders. They will want to come and see how this device works. We must go now.

As they continued walking to the Wood Elf camp, they could all see how much this affected Dalma, let alone the other Wood Elves. They had never seen them look so bewildered. Soon they reached the Wood Elf camp, but as they climbed up with Dalma and the other Wood Elves, they immediately got the attention of the other Wood Elves, and they didn’t look very pleased.

Male Wood Elf: Dalma, why have you brought these creatures into our camp again? What are you doing? You know that no one is welcome here.

Dalma: Daynar, the goddess spoke to them.

At Dalma’s words, he looked quite shocked: They tell you the goddess spoke to them, so you believe them? Have you lost your mind? It is not possible that the goddess would even speak to us. Now get them out of here now.

Dalma: Not only did she speak to them, but she also appeared to them, but there’s more, for this morning, the goddess appeared and spoke to all of us too.

Daynar: You’re mad. The goddess does not speak to mortals, let alone appear to them. You are ill. (he then looked at the other Wood Elves who were with Dalma) Take her to the Shrine, so that it may heal her mind.

Trent: We would, gladly, except that the goddess appeared and spoke to all of us as well.

Daynar: Then you are all mad. I will assemble a group to take you all to the Shrine.

Trena: Daynar sir, we all just came from the Shrine, and have once again received it’s blessing. Dalma is telling you the truth.

Daynar: I will hear no more of this. (he then turned around and spoke to all the Wood Elves who had come near, who were listening) Form a group and take all of these here to the Shrine. They are suffering from delusions and require healing, that only the Shrine can give them, and take these creatures with you and make sure they leave our woods and never return. (he then turned back around and spoke to the adventurers) If you come into our woods again, we will use force against you. You are responsible for this.

Dalma: We are here to see the Elders. Take us to them.

Daynar: No! Take them to the Shrine.

Trent: Daynar sir, we are not suff

Daynar: Silence, all of you. These creatures have poisoned you, and have poisoned our forest, but we shall cleanse you and our forest of their filth, and restore you to the proper balance. I will hear no more of this. Assemble a group and take them now.

Dalma: NO! My mind is not poisoned.

Daynar: Dalma, listen to you. You dare to speak to me like that? Only one who’s mind has been poisoned would dare to defy me like this.

Dalma: Shayla appeared and spoke to all of us, before these creatures were even there, and we have all received the blessing, so it’s not possible that our minds have been poisoned, for if they were, we could not have received the blessing.

Daynar: We are not meant to receive its blessing in that way, as we already have it. That’s why you are acting the way you are, because your minds have been poisoned. This is why we don’t receive it, because we are not meant to receive it like that, since we already have it. By seeking more, it poisoned you instead, because you weren’t satisfied with the blessings that it gives you every day.

Dalma: Our minds are not poisoned.

Daynar: You travel with these creatures again. (he turned to the other Wood Elves who were behind him) This is why we do not associate with others. Look at what has happened. They are no longer one with the forest, so we must help them, and restore them to the proper balance. Take them to the Shrine.

Dalma: No, wait!

But it was too late. Dalma, and the 20 Wood Elves who were with her, were each grabbed by 2 Wood Elves and taken down the vines, while other Wood Elves surrounded the adventurers, and ordered them to climb back down into the woods.

……………………………………………………………………………………

Sheila: Checkmate

Bael, looking frustrated: Figures. I don’t think I’ll ever beat you at this game.

Sheila: Oh I don’t know about that. You’ve become quite good at. I bet, that in less than 5 years, you’ll be almost as good as me (she said, smiling).

Bael, rolling his eyes now: Great (he said, sounding annoyed). We need a new game; something that we can play where I don’t lose all the time.

As Bael said that, there was a knock at the door, which greatly confused him: Someone is knocking at your door? Who would knock, when they can just communicate with you telepathically?

Sheila: Well, I guess someone who wants to surprise me. Open it.

Bael, looking a little nervous: Open it? Are you sure it’s safe?

Sheila, looking at Bael oddly: This is my realm. Therefore it’s safe, so open it.

Bael: Yes, I know… it’s just, no one has ever knocked before, so I’m a little confused.

Bael opened the door, and was somewhat surprised at what he saw, for standing before him was a Gnome: Hi. Is Sheila home?

Sheila, excited at the sound of the voice: Oh my goodness, is that you?

She jumped up and ran to the door, got down on her knees and hugged him: I was wondering when I’d see you again.

The Gnome was carrying a briefcase. Bael was looking somewhat confused.

Sheila, looking at the briefcase: Is that it? Did you finally finish it?

Gnome: Sure did. That’s why I came by, to show it to you and see what you think. By chance, do you have any free time today?

Sheila, smiling: Wow, talk about timing. I just finished working on a very long project, so now I have plenty of free time.

Gnome, also smiling: And I just finished working on this very long project, so I’d say you and I are quite in sync with each other.

Sheila: We most definitely are. Oh I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see it. Shall I have others come over too? Oh, this is Bael. He’s my new friend and companion.

Bael made his typical face at Sheila’s referring to him as ‘her companion’, but she continued: He came here a couple years ago, under most unusual circumstances.

She told him all that happened to Bael, and that he was staying with her while they searched for the way to turn him back: But since he’s been here, we’ve become the best of friends, and now I couldn’t imagine life without him.

At this Bael smiled: So… who’s your friend?

The Gnome walked right up to Bael and reached out his hand and shook Bael’s paw: Well hello Bael, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I must say, that’s quite a story. I don’t know if I can be of any help in figuring out how to turn you back, but now that I’ve finally finished my project here, that I’ve been working on for the past few years, I will most definitely take some time and see if I can be of any help. How does that sound?

Bael, smiling, but still looking a little bewildered: Well that sounds great, but I have 2 questions for you. What is this project that you’ve brought to show Sheila… and what is your name?

Sheila and the Gnome just looked at each other and started laughing.

Sheila: I’m sorry Bael, it’s just that we’re not used to people not knowing who he is, since everyone here knows who he is. This is

But the Gnome interrupted her: Sheila, let me… if you don’t mind.

Sheila, smiling again: Oh by all means, go ahead.

The Gnome walked over to the large table that was in the room. Sheila and Bael followed. He sat down at the head of the table, and invited them to sit down on either side of him. Then he set his briefcase on the table and opened it. Inside were 3 books, along with many dice of various shapes and colors, and pencils and lots of paper.

This… is a new game that I’ve created. My name… is YOLO.

Bael’s eyes lit up: That was the only name that came to me, but I didn’t see how it could be you, since this isn’t your realm. I figured you had to be one of the Gnome deities, since mortals can’t visit other deities realms without being invited, right?

YOLO: Correct, but Sheila has given me an open invitation to come visit her anytime I wish, mainly so that I could surprise her, once I finished working on my project, but I assume when you said ‘mortals’ that you meant a creature that’s not a god, yes?

Bael: Yes, that’s what I meant. Not really sure how else to refer to all of us who live in the realm of the gods.

YOLO: I’m not sure either. Non-gods, or non-deities maybe? For now though, mortals works just fine (he said, smiling).

Sheila, looking excited now: I’m inviting Ehlonna and Moradin right now. This is going to be so much fun.

Bael: Can Kirth come over too?

Sheila looked at YOLO, who just smiled: 5 players sounds like a good number to playtest my game, so yes, invite Kirth too.

Bael rushed into the other room and started grabbing snacks and beverages. It wasn’t easy, since he had paws, but he managed. YOLO just smiled.

Bael, coming back with food and drinks and looking excited: So YOLO… what do you call this game?

YOLO, with a most interesting gleam in his eyes: Well, I’ve thought about a few different names… but in the end I decided to call it… ‘Fate’

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TCoOR – Chapter 1 – Meet the New Boss

Forestera’s FateBook Two: The Caves of Ordered Randomness

SYNOPSIS:
Having found great treasure in Talona’s temple, the adventurers are now enjoying life in the village of Doran, but as soon as they start wanting to go adventuring again, they are invited to go on a most unusual quest.

The Party:
Lightmane: Elven Warrior/Wizard, each of the 3rd progression
Lettia: Half-Elven Ranger/Druid, each of the 3rd progression
Nightwind: Dwarven Warrior, of the 4th progression
Tenneth: Human Cleric, of the 4th progression
Shinfia: Human Monk, of the 4th progression
Jack: Human Wizard, of the 4th progression
Filius: Gnome Illusionist/Rogue, of the 3rd and 4th progression
Belfin: Halfling Rogue, of the 5th progression

Recap:
Exactly one year ago today, the party had all gathered at ‘The Inn of the Green Dragon’, to finally form their own adventuring party. When they began that day, they had each achieved the first progression in their craft, and now they’ve all gathered in their own beautiful 10 bedroom house, and are quite a bit more powerful than when they had started.

In addition to the adventurers and their story, there’s also many other things going on. There’s Zeus, a.k.a. Suez, or Eszu, and his interactions with the evil goddesses Talona and Shar, let alone his desire for vengeance against Sheila. There’s the day that all of Forestera went completely dark for 3 minutes. Was it a foreshadowing of things to come in the year 1000, or was it nothing more than a brief ‘open window’ that Shar took advantage of and nothing more? Is there anything to the rumours that surround the coming of the new millennium? Will darkness reign? Will Sheila lose her world? ‘Can’ she lose her world? What about Karl and Laura, who’s now pregnant? What of Tenneth’s love, who is now a Unicorn? What about Shingar? What of Dalma and the Wood Elves? What about Bael? Will the dark curse that turned him into a half-dog creature ever be lifted? Then there’s Raysha, who has been raised from the dead, but by who, and for what purpose?

Yes, many questions remain, so let us now continue with the story…

……………………………………………………………………………………

Opening Scene:
The year is 997. Shar has just left Sheila’s realm, after having watched the adventurers defeat Raysha, and has returned to her domain.

Zeus, communicating with Shar from his own domain: Finally. I quit trying to communicate with you while you were there. There just wasn’t any point. I’m shocked though at how long you were there. I take it you’ve discovered much. So, what all do you have for me?

Shar: I don’t have anything for you. I helped you one time, but now I’m done.

Zeus: I’m sorry, what? You’re done? I’m confused. If you’re done, and helping me was just a one-time thing, then why did you go see Sheila? What, are you two friends now? What’s going on, Shar?

Shar: I don’t need to explain anything to you, but if you must know, I went to see her mostly out of curiosity. Luckily for me, she allowed me to enter her realm, and I must say I was quite impressed. She’s not at all the incompetent fool that you claimed she was.

Zeus: I was referring to her world building skills. Obviously she’s not incompetent; she’s a goddess, but I’m shocked that you don’t want to work with me anymore. You’ve been on the inside; something that no evil deity has ever achieved, and for 3 minutes you were the goddess of Forestera. You’re quite the talk among all the gods now, but I’m sure you knew that. We would make a great team.

Shar: I’m sorry, but did you say we’d make a great team? Don’t try to con me Zeus; it won’t work.

Zeus: Call me Suez. I’m sure that no one can hear us, but I don’t want to take any chances. It’s important that my true identity remains hidden, as I’m sure you understand. I am Suez, a lawful good deity, sworn to the destruction of all that is evil (he said, smiling).

Shar, rolling her eyes now: Oh please, no one can hear us, so just relax, but fine… you take care now… Suez.

Zeus: I don’t think you realize the opportunity that you’re turning down. When I come into power, you and Talona were going to benefit greatly, but I guess when Talona rises to power and you don’t, you’ll realize the mistake that you’ve made.

Shar ended the conversation and cut off all communication, wanting nothing more to do with Zeus. She walked over to her throne and sat down… disgusted. Just then, one of her main servants came into her throne room.

Dark Entity: My mistress, there you are. We were starting to worry. You’ve been gone for so long, but don’t worry, all of the festivities that you commanded have continued to this very moment. I imagine the celebrations shall continue for many more hours. Will you be making an appearance, or shall I tell them to continue in the revelries without you?

Shar, continuing to look disgusted: Yes, very well. Let them know that I will be… ‘making an appearance’… soon.

The Dark Entity’s eyes lit up with excitement: I cannot wait until you join us.

He then turned an exited, closing the door behind him.

Shar, getting up now and walking towards the door, but still not looking happy: D & D… Drugs… & Darkness… oh joy…

……………………………………………………………………………………

Present Day and Recap:
It’s the first day of the year 998, and Sheila has just finished speaking to the party, in what they assume was a vision. After getting over the shock that they had just been visited by a goddess, and having replayed the vision, thanks to the strange device that Sheila left them, they now discussed what they should do next.

Lettia: Well… we did just say that we all really wanted to go adventuring again… didn’t we…

Lightmane: Yes, we did just say that. Well I’d call that timing, or perhaps ‘fate’ would be a better word. I didn’t recognize her face, but I’ve heard that voice before. I think it was in one of my dreams that I had a while back.

Lettia: I’m sure she’s the one I saw in my dream that one time, back at the Moathouse, when I had died, and she and a dog-like creature were talking to me.

Shinfia: Oh yes, I remember that. You felt she was a Half-Wood Elf creature, and I thought you were crazy.

Lettia: I thought she looked like a Wood Elf, but not entirely. You were the one who said Half-Wood Elf. Well, with those auras all around her I am still not sure what she is, but she definitely looked like a Wood Elf. I just wish we could’ve talked to her, but it was like we were all frozen almost. I couldn’t speak. I could move, but I couldn’t speak.

None of them could, but Lettia continued: I’ve never heard of a goddess named Shayla. Her name sounds so similar to my goddess, Shyla, but Shyla is a Half-Elf. She said though that she’s the goddess of Wood Elves and Half-Elves, and that we are all very special to her, and that she has guided us at times, and that she hoped to one day speak with us face to face. I cannot believe what we all just experienced. If we run into Wood Elves again, let’s ask them if they know who Shayla is. Speaking of which, shall we head out for the Shrine, since it’s the first day of the month?

Since the adventurers had gotten back to Doran, they went back to the Shrine as soon as they could, and have been going there about once a month, just like Lord Doridin does, but they’ve yet to go with Doridin and his party, mostly because they felt awkward asking if they could go with them.

Jack: I think before we do that, we should ask around and see if anyone’s heard of those caves before. Caves of ordered randomness. What a weird name for caves. So there’s an order to them, but they’re random? Huh? I’m confused.

Tenneth: Maybe they’re called that to confuse us. Just a thought.

Lightmane: Who knows, but yes, let’s see if we can find someone who’s heard of them. That would seem to be the next logical step.

Filius: Maybe the Wood Elves know where they are. I mean, this is their forest, so if anyone’s heard of them, I’d think they would have.

Lettia: So we head out for the Shrine to get its blessing, and then hope that we run into Wood Elves?

Filius: Sure, why not.

Shinfia: Sounds like as good a plan as any.

Nightwind: And if we don’t run into any Wood Elves?

Belfin: Then we come back here and start asking around town.

Nightwind: We’re in town now. Let’s ask around now, before we head out for the Shrine. How about some of you go to Doridin, some go to the tavern, and some go to the market square. How does that sound?

Belfin: Ok. Filius and I can scout around the square. Thieves will have a harder time picking our pockets than any of you, and who knows… maybe we can pick one of their pockets (he said, smiling).

Filius: Ok Belfin, let’s not go picking pockets in town. Last thing we need is for one of us to get caught and thrown in the dungeon for theft, though I do like the thought of picking a thief’s pocket, but as enticing as that sounds, it’s just not worth the risk, but I agree that you and I should scout around the square.

Shinfia: Lettia and I can go talk to Doridin (she said, smiling).

Lettia: Oh yes Shin, let’s go do that (she said, also smiling).

Lightmane: I’m not saying that you two have any ulterior motives, in wanting to go ‘talk to Doridin’, but just so you know, I’m pretty sure he’s with someone. At least one of the people in his party was a woman and I’ve seen them together at times.

Shinfia: Yes, we’ve seen her too, and yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re a couple, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go talk to him now, does it (again, smiling).

Jack: So us 4 guys then can go to the tavern, or just walk around Doran and ask around?

Tenneth: Jack, how about you go talk to your mentor, Luther, and I can ask the Clerics at the temple.

Lightmane: And I can ask Emellynn.

Nightwind, looking at everyone: Sure, and I can ask the Dwarves here that I know. How about we spend the day asking around, and we all meet at the tavern for dinner this evening?

Lightmane: Sounds like a plan. Are we all in agreement?

Everyone appeared to all be in agreement.

Lettia: So her special items are a short sword, a light crossbow, and leather armor. Sounds like a Rogue might like to have those items.

Belfin: Well here’s hoping when we find them that I can use all 3 (he said, smiling).

Filius, coughing now: Excuse me? You’re not the only Rogue here.

Jack: Hey, I want a magical short sword and magical leather armor too. You two can fight each other for the crossbow.

Yes, Jack was smiling as he said that, as was everyone else.

The party split up into 4 groups. Lettia and Shinfia headed to Doridin’s Castle. Belfin and Filius headed for the market square. Tenneth and Jack went to Jack’s mentor, and would then head to the temple of Ehlonna, while Lightmane and Nightwind went to the places where they used to work. The Elf and the Dwarf greatly enjoyed walking around Doran together, whenever they could, as it wasn’t common for a Dwarf and an Elf to associate like that; not that Dwarves and Elves didn’t get along. For the most part they got along just fine. It’s just that not many Dwarves and Elves had the kind of friendship that Lightmane and Nightwind had, but everyone knew them now, along with the rest of the party, so no one was surprised when they saw them together. They had become somewhat famous, mostly because of their great wealth that they had acquired, but their tales of their adventures in ‘The Valley of Caves’ was the talk of the festival, along with the day the entire world became dark. That event still had people freaking out, certain that ‘the end was near’ or that ‘darkness would reign in the year 1000’, or that some other strange event was certain to happen in that year. Every caravan that had come through Doran spoke of the day of darkness, and some had come from ‘The Great Elven Forest’ in the north, while others had come from the mountains in the east, as well as the plains in the south, so apparently, as far as they could tell, the entire world was covered in darkness for those brief few minutes. No one could make any sense of it. The only question that remains is simple, was that all it was, or was it a sign of something to come…

……………………………………………………………………………………

Dalma: Trent and Trena, assemble our group. I don’t know why, but apparently I’m supposed to travel to the Shrine today.

Trent: What? Why? For what purpose?

Dalma: Other than to maybe receive its blessing again, no clue, but something is telling me I’m supposed to go there, so get everyone together and let’s head out.

Trena: Well I sure hope we can all receive its blessing again. It felt so wonderful when we did, remember?

Dalma: Yes, of course I remember. How could I forget? I wish we could receive it every month like Doridin and the adventurers do, but every time I’ve tried sleeping there, nothing happens. I guess we weren’t meant to receive its blessing like that. Perhaps it’s because we are already blessed in so many ways, yet that day we received its blessing was unlike any other day I’ve ever experienced. I can’t explain it.

Trent: Perhaps we already have its blessing, and that day we got a double portion?

Dalma and Trena looked at Trent, a little confused.

Trent: Look, it’s just a guess, but clearly we are blessed in many ways. I’m guessing the blessing that Doridin and those adventurers receive are the blessings we all experience every day.

Trena: But over those next several weeks, everything was even better. The food, our rest, our healing, our energy and strength and vitality. I’ve always felt one with the forest, in that regard, but not like that.

Dalma: I know. It was incredible, and I very much want to feel that blessing again, but maybe you’re right and we already receive its blessing in that way, and that a double portion, as you said, is similar to them getting it once. Regardless, let’s hope its calling me to it again. Well, let’s hope it’s calling all of us to receive its blessing again.

With Dalma’s last words, Trent and Trena smiled and looked at each other, excited. They gathered the other 18 Wood Elves, and they all headed out for the Shrine…

……………………………………………………………………………………

That first day of the new year was nothing but fun for the adventurers. The first day of the year was also the first day of spring, after a short 2 months of winter. Winter lasted for just around 2 months in the western half of Forestera. It is said that winter lasts 3-4 months in the hills and mountains to the east. As they all split up and walked around Doran, everyone was so happy to see them and talk to them, since the ‘Fate Festival’ had just ended yesterday. It almost felt like the festival had lasted for 2 days, but unfortunately for them, no one had heard of ‘The Caves of Ordered Randomness’; not even Lord Doridin, or anyone in his party. As they sat and ate dinner in the tavern, it almost felt just like it did exactly one year ago today, as they all sat around the same table, discussing where they should first go adventuring.

Lettia: What do you all say we just head out for the Shrine tomorrow morning now and receive its blessing and hope we see some Wood Elves again.

Lightmane: I think we’re all in agreement that that’s what we’re going to do.

Lettia: I know… I just feel like I did a year ago this day, when we were all discussing where we should go first. Will we all be sitting here on the first day of the year 999, wondering where we’re going to go adventuring next? Wouldn’t that be thrilling?

Shinfia: Thrilling? Is that Dalma talking now? (she said, smiling)

Lettia, laughing a little: Yes, I guess I did sound a little like Dalma there, didn’t I. I find it quite interesting that Wood Elves say to adventurers ‘may all your adventures be thrilling’, right before they throw you out of their forest (she said, laughing some more).

Nightwind: Well here’s to another thrilling adventure, but after all that happened last year, I can’t imagine how any adventure could be as thrilling as those were.

Everyone agreed. They all felt like they were living a charmed life; that fate, along with fortune, was on their side…

……………………………………………………………………………………

As Dalma and her group of Wood Elves were making their way to the Shrine, they all heard an odd sound. It seemed to be right by them. Then they heard something that sounded like a buzzing noise of some kind. Then they all saw a light form in the air before them. Then… all of a sudden, they all saw a beautiful female Wood Elf standing before them.

The Wood Elves all got down low to the ground and looked up at the woman, in awe. She was radiating a most beautiful aura all about her, of a yellowish brown and green radiance. All 3 colors seemed to swirl all around her and blend together in a most beautiful way, so no one could tell that she was actually a Half-Wood Elf.

Shayla: Greetings, my children. I am Shayla… your goddess…

Zeus (Suez/Eszu)
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Chapter 47 – The Festival… and The Quest

Forestera’s FateBook One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

It was late in the afternoon when the adventurers entered Doran through the east gate, riding their horses. They put their horses in a stable and paid to have their chests locked away in storage. The first thing they did was go right to ‘The Inn of the Green Dragon’. I don’t believe I mentioned this before, but it is called ‘The Inn of the Green Dragon’ because it is believed that Lord Doridin slew the very Dragon whose head is on the wall over the fireplace. Some though question if it’s real, but most believe it is, though Doridin, as far as people know, has never denied nor confirmed its authenticity.

Lightmane, along with the others, was quite eager to see how the place was doing. He was hoping that his experiment with Karl worked. The moment they saw the place, they were certain it had, for the building had expanded somewhat. The place was already starting to get busy inside. They saw a couple serving wenches that they didn’t recognize, and saw Karl at the bar, but no one saw Laura.

Lettia: Hi Karl, where’s Laura?

Karl: Lettia, you’re back. Laura is in bed, resting.

Lettia: What? Why, what’s wrong?

Karl: Well come with me and I’ll show you. Is everyone else here with you?

Lettia: Yes, we’re all here.

Karl: Great, follow me.

Karl took everyone to his living quarters in the back of the Inn. Laura was laying in his bed… pregnant.

Karl: She’s going to be out of commission for a while. She still wants to work though, so we compromised, and I let her work 4 hours a day, but no heavy lifting, obviously.

Lettia and Shinfia went and hugged Laura, and sat on the bed and talked with her, and were beside themselves with joy, but when Laura told them that she and Karl got married, their joy erupted, and everyone starting hugging Laura, and shaking Karl’s hand.

Lettia: Laura, we are all so happy for you. You’re just glowing now.

Shinfia: Yes, you look so beautiful, Laura.

Laura: Thanks girls. I’m very happy. Karl has been wonderful. Once business started booming, he gave everyone more raises, and proposed to me the next morning. He told me that he had fallen in love with me, and that he knew that I was the only girl for him. I was shocked, and wasn’t sure what to say at first, so he told me to take all the time that I needed, and that whatever I decided, he would accept. After the place closed and everyone was gone, we sat at a table and just talked for hours, about anything and everything. We just talked. I felt like I was talking to my best friend. That’s when I knew, so I said yes, and we got married and I’ve never been happier.

Lettia and Shinfia had big smiles on their faces, and they just started hugging Laura some more, and saying how happy they both were for her.

Karl: I’m the luckiest man in the world. Meeting Laura has changed my life. No clue where I’d be today without her. I never thought I’d ever fall in love with anyone, yet here we are. (He then turned to Lightmane) Well Lightmane, your experiment worked amazingly. I actually lost money that first week, so I almost quit, but I knew if I did that, you’d all kill me. The next week, things started to get better, and then everything just started clicking, and before I knew it, I had to hire more people to keep up with the demand. I’ve given everyone another raise too, and all it did was make things even better. I don’t know how you knew it would work, but it did, so thank you. We’ve now expanded. We built an addition to both the tavern and the Inn, so we have more rooms, and we also have a booth in the Market Square now. Laura works there sometimes too, but now she just stays here mostly. Oh, Doridin told me to tell you when I see you to come see him. That wine you found in the Moathouse was excellent, so I’m guessing he has some more money for you. We made quite a lot of money selling that wine.

Everyone was thrilled at the success of Lightmane’s experiment, but they all went to the Castle, and planned on coming back later for dinner. Doridin greeted everyone like they were all his friends, and told them that there were 60 barrels of wine in the Moathouse and that it was of excellent quality. He had 500 silver coins for them, so they all decided to give it all to their friends in Doran, including Laura and Karl. When Doridin heard them say that, he was so impressed with their generosity that he invited them all to have dinner with him in his Castle. The adventurers had dinner with not only Lord Doridin, but with his entire adventuring party, along with other guests who were staying at the Castle. They told everyone about their adventures at the Keep and the treasures they had found, and how they wanted to build a large home here in Doran, with 8 small homes all around it, so that they’d have their own place to live here. Doridin helped them make all the necessary arrangements to begin construction. Then they told him about the Festival that they’d like to try to organize here. Fortunately for them, Doridin had attended one many years ago, and loved the idea of having one here, though he knew the Wood Elves wouldn’t like it, but then he said that ‘by the time they find out, it’ll be too late’, to which everyone started laughing.

The evening went well. They stayed in 2 large private rooms at the Inn, giving Lettia and Shinfia one of the rooms, so they could have some privacy, and over the next several months they built their homes and planned the Fate Festival with Filius. The caravans that left Doran daily were all given bulletins about the upcoming Fate Festival, that would be held for the first time in Doran, and the caravans passed them out in each village that they travelled to. Eventually their homes were built and they all moved in. The large 2 story home had 10 bedrooms and each small home, that went around it in a semi-circle, had 2 bedrooms. They built their homes in the southeast section, right across from the Inn of the Green Dragon, and as the months passed, winter came.

Winter in this part of Forestera usually only lasted for the last 2 months of the year, and usually by the end of the year, it almost felt like spring again. The Festival was held on the last day of the year, so sometimes there was snow on the ground still, but this year it was held on a nice cool winter’s day. It was chilly outside, but all the snow had melted, and the Festival in Doran was a lot of fun for all involved. All of their parents and brothers and sisters and more, showed up days before the Festival, and they all stayed with them in their houses. Many Gnomes came, and set up booths, and many stories were told, and there was lots of singing and dancing as well. The adventurers were also a big hit, as everyone loved hearing them tell their tales of all that happened to them, from the day they set out for the sacred shrine, to the day they left Tenneth’s family, to head back to Doran.

Eventually the Festival ended, and they and their family members all spent one last night together in their big beautiful home. The next morning, all who had travelled here to celebrate ‘Forestera’s Fate Festival’ started packing up, and eventually Doran was back to normal. The first day of the year 998 had begun.

Filius: Well I just want to thank you all one more time. This was a lot of fun, and now I can’t wait until the end of this year.

Lettia: Now we just need another great adventure to go on again. Don’t get me wrong, 997 was an amazing year, but I miss adventuring.

Everyone agreed. They all missed adventuring, but there were no bulletins posted anywhere in Doran, but at least now they had a lot of money and their own place to live. They had family that wasn’t too far away, and lots of good friends too. Life was good, so they didn’t complain. They just all wanted to go adventuring again.

As they were all sitting around in their big house, enjoying the first day of the new year, they all heard an odd sound. It seemed to be right by them. Then they heard something that sounded like a buzzing noise of some kind. Then they all saw a light form in the air before them. Then they heard a female voice, and then a male voice. A moment later and a figure seemed to fade in, but it was blurry, so they couldn’t quite make it out. Then, all of a sudden, they all saw a beautiful female Wood Elf standing before them. She was radiating a most beautiful aura all about her, of a yellowish brown and green radiance. All 3 colors seemed to swirl all around her, and blend together in a most beautiful way…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Sheila: Finished.

Bael: Finally! I took Heidi out again. Do I need to put her back now?

Sheila: Nah, there’s no rush. You can put her back anytime. Come over here though, cause I need your help.

Bael: Ok, what are you doing?

Sheila: It’s time to offer them my Quest.

Bael: Offer them? Don’t you mean send them?

Sheila: No, offer them. I only send someone on a Quest if I have to.

Bael: But isn’t this kind of important?

Sheila: Well yes, but offering them the opportunity to go on a Quest is much more fun for all involved, than just sending them on a Quest.

Bael: I enjoyed watching the Festival. That was fun. Wish we could’ve gone to it.

Sheila: We could’ve. It’s not like anyone would’ve known who we are, so maybe we’ll go next year.

Bael: Yay.

Sheila: But now I need your help. Stand over here and hold this thingy.

Bael: This ‘thingy’? It’s a Vision Rod.

Sheila: Yes, Vision Rod, that thingy, hold it.

Bael: I’m holding it.

Sheila: Ok, is it working? What’s that sound?

Bael: I don’t know. The rod seems to be causing it. Here, let me move it around a little.

Sheila: Ok, now I hear a buzzing noise. Oh, what’s that light?

Bael: I think it’s so they can see you. Um, I think they can hear us. I muted the sound, so we’re good.

Sheila: I’m blurry now. You need to keep making adjustments. I’ll let you know when it’s good, and then unmute me… Ok, they can see me now… Unmute me now…

Hello. Do not be afraid. I am Shayla, goddess of the forests, of the Wood Elves, and the Half-Elves, and all who value independence and freedom. I have come before you to offer you a most wonderful Quest for you to go on, but only if you desire to go on such a Quest. I am not here to force you to do anything. As I said, I am the goddess of those who value independence and freedom, so the last thing I would ever do is force anyone to go on a Quest. I see that I appear familiar to some of you. Well that’s because a couple of you have seen me before, and a few of you have heard my voice. That’s because, at times in your lives, I have guided you…
You are all very special to me, and I hope to one day speak with all of you, face to face, but that day is not now… Behold!

When Sheila said behold, 3 items appeared next to her, hovering in the air; a short sword, a light crossbow, and a suit of leather armor. They all had the same yellowish brown and green radiance to them that she had, and they were unlike any items they had ever seen.

Sheila: These 3 items are all of my own creation, and I’ve hidden them, to challenge you, to see if you can find them. If you are able to find them, then I will visit you again, and will let you know of a great and noble task that I have for you.

The first item that you must find is my Armor. It is hidden in a place called ‘The Caves of Ordered Randomness’. It is an extremely well hidden cave, that can be accessed in 2 different places; somewhere in these woods, and somewhere in the woods that are near The Valley of Caves, which you just came from, but it will be very difficult to find this cave on your own. Only a few people have heard of it. Find them, and they can lead you to it.

The second item is my Crossbow. It is hidden in a place called ‘The Wizard’s Tower’.

The third item is my Sword. It is hidden in a place called ‘Dragon Mountain’.

The location of ‘The Wizard’s Tower’ and ‘Dragon Mountain’ can be found within ‘The Caves of Ordered Randomness’.

If you are indeed worthy and powerful enough to serve me, you shall surely find them.
Enjoy your adventuring, and may all your adventures be thrilling.

She then faded out. They tried to talk to her as she started to fade, but then she was gone, but laying on the floor was a device of some kind that had a note attached to it. Lightmane went over and picked it up and read the note.

The note read as follows: I know you all wanted to talk to me, but that is not possible right now. I also know that this was a lot to just throw at you like that, so if you need to watch this again, just press the button and it will play back what you just watched.

Lightmane pressed the button, and the entire scene was played again, including the buzzing sounds and everything else. Everyone just looked at each other, shocked at what just happened, and not really sure what to say in that moment.

But then Lettia finally spoke: Well… we did just say that we all really wanted to go adventuring again… didn’t we…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Raysha, feeling very weak and exhausted: Where am I? What’s going on?

Male voice: Everything is fine. You are safe.

Raysha: Who is that? I can barely move. What has happened to me?

Male voice: You have just been raised from the dead, so now you need to rest, but tomorrow we’ll talk again.

Raysha: I died? I was in my Temple. Wait, they won? They defeated me?

Male voice: Yes, you were defeated.

Raysha: Who are you, and why did you raise me from the dead?

He moved into the light where Raysha could see him: You… Why did you bring me back?

Male voice: Because, Raysha… I have plans for you… (he said… smiling)…

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Chapter 46 – The Journey

Forestera’s FateBook One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

The party decided to give their parents 1000 copper, 500 silver, 50 gold and 20 platinum coins. As they traveled to each village, they had several encounters along the way, but no monsters attacked them. It was mostly just caravans and small groups of travelers. It was those encounters which helped them navigate each of the roads to each of their villages.

The village of Fayshen was around 80 miles northeast of the village of Doran. Traveling on horses turned out to be quite fun. They guessed that they might’ve been able to reach the Keep from Doran in a day or so, had they had horses, but then they wouldn’t have had all the interesting encounters that they had while traveling on foot. The reality of that contrast had them all thinking about it for a while. The trip to Fayshen didn’t take all that long though, and soon Lightmane was introducing everyone to his family members. Lettia’s family was now just her Elven father, and all of his parents and great grandparents and great great grandparents, and many many more, but they were all way up north in the Elven Kingdom, so they all hoped to one day travel there, but not now. Seeing an entire Elven family though was quite interesting for everyone. They were all amazed at how beautiful his 3 sisters were, and how amazing his 2 brothers looked, let alone their mother and father.

When Lightmane handed his parents all the money though, they tried to refuse, but when he told them how much they had now, they were both completely shocked, and happily accepted the party’s generous gift. They stayed until morning, and quite enjoyed hearing his mother tell the story of her adventures she went on with her husband, and all that happened to Lightmane, which finally led him to leave home on the next caravan out of town. Lightmane kept trying to explain to his mother that he’d already told them the story, but everyone found her version much more enjoyable to listen to, while Lightmane just seemed to become more embarrassed as she talked. Everyone had a wonderful time meeting everyone, and the next morning they all headed out.

The next stop was the village of Farin, where Filius grew up, and was also around 80 miles northeast of the village of Doran. Meeting all of his family members was quite something. His 2 mothers confused them, but by the time they left, the idea that one was his birth mother and the other was his second mother, being his father’s other wife, was almost something they were starting to get used to, which also started to confuse them, which then made everybody laugh, but meeting all his brothers and sisters, Gilius, Dilius, Bilius, Jilius, and Lilius, and all their husbands and wives that they had, made them all quite dizzy, which only made Filius and his brothers and sisters laugh even more. His parents though were shocked at the money he gave them, but told them that everyone was going to receive some. It was at this moment though that Lilius mentioned Genevieve, and how sad she still felt for her brother. After they held each other, and his brothers and sisters all spent some time crying, Filius knew that he had to tell his friends about Genevieve. Hearing his story brought them all to tears, and the bonds that formed that day were strong, as all of his family members now loved his 7 new friends, and hoped that they could all come to ‘Forestera’s Fate Festival’ at the end of the year. When Filius told them that they were going to start one in Doran this year, they all said that they would make the journey to Doran, which brought everyone to tears again, but now they were tears of joy. Filius came to Farin that day, fearful of the pain that his past might cause him, let alone his family and friends, but when they left the next morning, his heart was now filled with joy and love.

The next stop was Nightwind’s home in the village of Norendal, which was around 80 miles east of the village of Doran. It was quite a sight for everyone to see all the different races of Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, Gnomes, Humans, and Half-Elves, all in one village. Lettia was very happy that she was finally able to visit Norendal, but she was even more interested in meeting Nightwind’s family, because of the time she and Nightwind had dinner together in Doran, when they were just getting to know each other, when he told her all about his family. Everyone else had heard parts of his story, so they were all interested in meeting them too, but Lettia was the most fascinated, as Nightwind’s stories about them all just fascinated her to no end. Meeting them didn’t disappoint her in the slightest. His parents even took everyone out in the field for a couple hours, just to give them all a taste of what Nightwind had told them about. Seeing themselves sitting in a field, meditating with a bunch of Dwarves, turned into quite the spiritual experience for everyone. They would end up talking for days about how incredible that experience was for all of them, but when Nightwind handed his parents all the coins, they started to cry a little. His mother explained to him, in front of everyone, how they had been hurting financially a little bit recently, and how they just kept meditating each day, believing that everything would be fine, so when he handed them all those coins, they both knew that their prayers had been answered. The next morning, all the Dwarves gave all of them great big hugs, and sent them on their way.

The next stop was the village of Darrenmoor, which is where Shinfia grew up, which was around 70 miles east of the village of Doran. When Shin’s family saw her coming up the road, they all ran out to greet her. The joy that everyone felt from seeing her again, and meeting her new friends, was a very special moment for everyone, but when her older brother told her that he was training with the Monk, Shinfia started to cry, and hugged him. Soon, the Monk came over to say hello, and Shinfia ran up to him and jumped up in his arms. In addition to giving money to her parents, she took 20 gold coins out of her belt pouch and gave them to the Monk. He tried to refuse, but she wouldn’t let him.

Shinfia: It’s because of you that I am who I am today, and now my brother is training with you. I owe you far more than 20 gold coins. This is the least I can do, so please accept this gift from me.

He still tried to refuse, so she showed him how many gold and platinum coins where in her pouch. When he saw that, he accepted her gift.

The next morning, Shinfia was having a hard time leaving, but when her brother pointed out the fact that she was just 70 miles west of here, and could just jump on her horse and ride here anytime she felt like it, she just started laughing.

The next stop was Belfin’s home, in the village of Barrowdin, which was around 90 miles southeast of the village of Doran. They decided to travel all the way south first, and then work their way back towards Doran, so this trip took longer than the others. Belfin was a little apprehensive about visiting his parents, since he ran off with a Halfling girl and just left them a note, but when they saw him, they ran to greet him, and his mother’s eyes were filled with tears of joy. His parents loved meeting his new friends, but when he gave them the money, they took everyone into the village and celebrated. Everyone could see that bonding with his parents had quite an impact on him. At one point, Belfin invited them to come live with him in Doran, saying how they were going to build a big house for them all to live in, along with 8 little houses for each of them. His parents declined, but promised to come visit sometime, as long as he promised to come visit them sometime too. The next morning, everyone hugged and said their goodbyes, and headed out.

The next stop was Jack’s home, in the village of Knorrwood, which was around 80 miles southeast of the village of Doran. As they approached his parent’s home, Shinfia came over and put her arm around Jack and kissed him on his cheek.

Shinfia: You ok?

Jack: Yeah, but thanks. I still miss her, but that was a long time ago, but the moment I travel to Knorrwood, my sister starts flooding my mind. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.

Meeting Jack’s parents, like everyone else’s parents, was a wonderful experience for everyone. His parents were so happy to see him again, and said how they were worried that they might never see him again, which made Jack feel really good that they took the time to visit all of their families. They said that they’d try their best to come to the Fate Festival in Doran, which made Jack even more happy. Eventually though, it was time to head out. Just one more stop, and then they’d finally get back to Doran.

The last stop, before heading back, was where Tenneth grew up, in the village of Knollwood, which was around 60 miles slightly southeast of Doran. Seeing their parents again had a profound impact on everyone. Those who had brothers and sisters also experienced great joy at seeing their siblings again. Belfin and Tenneth had no siblings though, and neither did Jack anymore, after losing his sister, but for Tenneth, this visit hit him hard, similar to how it affected Filius, for both of them had lost the love of their lives, so the moment he saw his parents, his love came flooding back into his mind, so when his parents started hugging him, Tenneth started to cry. He had never told any of them about her, so after everyone met each other, he told them all that had happened and, despite how painful his story was, everyone’s love for each other grew deeper that day.

This journey, that started at the Keep, turned out to be far more than any of them had thought it would be. Meeting everyone’s families was great, but this experience completely transformed all of them. The great adventure they had just gone on had certainly bonded them all together, but as they made their way back to Doran, everyone felt a bond with each other that was unlike anything they had ever felt for anyone else.

They all couldn’t wait to get home…

………………………………………………………………………………………….

Bael: So did you finish it yet?

Sheila: Nope, still got a lot of work to do.

Bael: Did you change the name of it?

Sheila: No, silly boy, I didn’t. I like the name I gave it.

Bael: You like that name?

Sheila: Yep.

Bael: But they’re not caves.

Sheila: There’s a couple caves in there, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just a name.

Bael: How about this for a name? ‘Shayla’s Portals of Delirium’.

Sheila: Portals? Hmmm… I was thinking maybe Gates, but Portals is kind of neat too, but delirium? Do you just want to scare everybody?

Bael: Nah… if I wanted to scare everyone, I’d call your crazy place Shayla’s Portals… or ‘Shayla’s Gates of DOOM’ (he said, laughing, as did Sheila). So how long before you’re finally finished creating everything?

Sheila: I’d say around 3 more months.

Bael: 3 more months?!

Sheila: Well there’s a lot here, so yes, 3 more months… or 4 maybe.

Bael: Well what should I do while you’re building your crazy place?

Sheila: Heidi is at Red any Brown. You could take her out and ride her around out back if you’d like.

Bael: You put Heidi in there?

Sheila: Yes, she loves her new place.

Bael, looking very confused now: But what if she’s killed?

Sheila stopped what she was working on, and came and sat next to Bael: Are you familiar with the level 7 Cleric spell, Resurrection?

Bael: Yes, but you’re not a Cleric.

Sheila: Bael… I’m a goddess, you silly boy.

Bael: Oh… Wait, that spell can resurrect a Hydra?

Sheila leaned in, and looked right into Bael’s eyes: … Goddess.

Bael, finally getting it now: Right… got it… I’m gonna… go get Heidi… and go for a ride.

Bael got up, and went out back…

Sheila, smiling now, as she watched him head out: … Good boy…

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Chapter 45 – The Meeting

Forestera’s FateBook One: The Sacred Shrine and The Valley of Caves

It was starting to get dark outside when the party arrived at the Keep, so they feared that William might not come see them until tomorrow, but luckily for them he arrived in less than an hour. 8 heavily armored guards accompanied him. Everyone was very concerned that someone had stolen their treasure chests, but said nothing as William entered.

William: Ok… I’m listening. What’s going on here? And yes, they told me all that happened and all that you said.

Jaren: Castellan sir, my name is

William: I know who you are Jaren, and I already know what you’re going to claim, so don’t bother. I have no reason right now to believe anything you’re saying. If this is some plot of theirs, then you’re working with them, to make it all appear real, so don’t waste our time. (looking at the Half-Orc) Let’s start with you. Ken Jilgrath, correct?

Jilgrath: That is correct. You have a good memory, it appears.

William: I’m usually good with remembering names, cause it’s kind of important, being who I am. So what’s your story, Ken Jilgrath?

Ken told him his entire story, right up to the moment he decided to come with them to the Keep, in hopes that they could convince everyone here that he could be trusted, as long as at least 2 Humans came with him, so that he could come here from time to time, to purchase any needed supplies. He pointed out how the 2 Humans were for his protection, as well as others. He also said how he was now in charge of the Valley of Caves and was working with all the monsters there, to help them to all get along with each other, and everything else that he was trying to accomplish in the valley.

William: Wow! That’s one heck of a story, Ken Jilgrath. Thank you for telling it to me. Lettia, when we first all spoke to each other, I had come to the conclusion that you all were most likely making stuff up, as your stories appeared to contradict each other. Remember?

Lettia: Vividly (she said, as if stating the obvious).

William: Great, so tell me what’s actually going on here.

Lettia reiterated that everything Jilgrath told him was the truth, and invited him to speak with Nog and Kirk, and judge for himself whether or not they could be trusted, so William accepted her challenge. Nog and Kirk had not spoken a word yet, which already had an impact on him.

William extended his hand into the cell: Hello Nog.

Nog, having watched Shinfia, with Kirk and Jaren, extended his hand and took Williams and gently shook it: Hello sir. It’s an honor to meet you.

William: Really? Why do you say that?

Nog: Because I am just a Bugbear, which you consider nothing more than an evil monster, and in almost every case you are right, for that is exactly what almost every Bugbear is, so for the leader of this Keep to extend his hand to me is quite incredible.

William: That was very impressive Nog. How did you learn to speak our language so well?

Nog: By talking to our prisoners mostly. For years I have studied your language, and when we came to the valley and took prisoners, I would speak with them every chance I could. I ended up befriending some, but they only acted like my friend in an attempt to get me to help them escape. Then one day, several months ago, I befriended a prisoner who was a kind, good, and generous man. He helped me. One time I came to him, having gotten into a fight with others, and he offered to heal my wounds. I soon learned that I could trust him. It was at that moment that I came to realize that we were wrong to hate Humans, and others who lived in houses in villages, rather than in caves like most monsters do. We attacked them when they travelled, for their supplies mostly, but also for sport, and to have prisoners to use as bait to get more supplies. Then we’d torture them, and laughed as they’d scream for mercy, and eventually we’d just kill them. In time, I came to see that dominating those who are weaker than us, simply because they are weaker than us, is wrong. One day in the valley, I saw this Kobold here. He was by himself. I could’ve easily killed him, or taken him prisoner, but I chose instead to try to communicate with him. He was terrified when he saw me, but I reached out my hand and got on my knees, and tried to not look intimidating. He turned to run, but when he saw me getting low and not attacking him, he stopped. Eventually we started to communicate with each other. Soon we became friends, and started teaching each other our language. One day our Chief saw me sitting outside in the valley with Kirk. In his anger, he grabbed me and threw me into prison. I tried to explain to him what I now believed, but he thought I was mad.

Nog then explained all that happened when the party entered their cave, and all that happened since.

William then looked at Kirk: Can I hear your story, Kirk?

Kirk told him his story, and William just sat there and listened to him. When Kirk finished, William reached in and offered his hand. Kirk took it, and they shook hands together.

William, looking at the guards now: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I believe they are all telling the truth. How about you all?

Guard: Castellan sir, we are all just as shocked as you. I rarely see this much respect from people. To see it from monsters though is truly incredible. We all believe they are telling you the truth.

All the guards concurred, so William got up and unlocked the gate: You are all free to go, as I believe you’re all telling the truth, but convincing everyone here that you are is going to take a little work, so for now you must all stay by me and my guards here. We will all protect you. As long as you’re with us, no one will harm you. It’s possible that some will accuse you of putting some kind of hex on me though, which is why I brought 8 guards with me, instead of just a few. I can easily grant you safe passage out of here though, so you can get back to your caves in the valley.

Lightmane: They didn’t all come here with us just so that you could grant them safe passage back to their caves in the valley. They came here with us to show everyone that they are good and not evil, and that they want to help, and that they can be trusted. They are here to try to prove to everyone, just as they have now proved to you and all your guards here, that though they are monsters who live in caves, they are not evil, and are no threat to anyone, as long as they are not threatened. Now in my book, that makes them basically no different than any of us.

William: Ok then, it is late now, so most people are asleep. You are all invited to stay with me in my chambers as my special guests. That alone will shock everyone. Let’s see if tomorrow you can convince them, as you’ve convinced me and my guards.

They were all quite surprised at William’s offer, but took it gladly. When the guards, and the few people who were still awake in the Castle, saw William and his 8 guards walk with the party and the 3 monsters into the Castle, talk spread quickly. A few people came up to William, to make sure everything was ok, but soon they were all in for the night. Nog and Kirk found the beautiful rooms quite incredible. They had never slept on a bed that was so comfortable before. Seeing the sunrise in the morning from inside, instead of having to go out into the valley to see it, was also quite a site for them, but once William opened the inner bailey for anyone to come in, a large crowd quickly gathered in the courtyard.

William: Attention everyone. First, let me say that you all have nothing to fear. I assure you that no one has put a hex on me, as my 8 guards here will affirm. I am of sound mind and body, and will speak only the truth. These 8 adventurers have been here many times. Some of you may remember them, when I last spoke to all of you by the Main Gate, how they had been to the Valley of Caves and had killed many Chieftains, including Gragnok, the notorious Hobgoblin King, whose head they held up high for all to see. Well not too high, since a Dwarf was holding it.

At William’s words, Nightwind burst out laughing, which caused the crowd to start laughing as well.

William, smiling now, continued: Actually, Gragnok is not notorious, and I bet none of you have ever heard of him, but he thought highly of himself, right up until they cut off his head. These 8 adventurers have succeeded, where every other adventuring party failed. The attacks on the road have ceased, and are now just as safe to travel on as any other road. All the monsters who were attacking the road have either been killed, or have turned from their evil ways, and have vowed never to attack the road again. Over many days, they have proven their loyalty, and yesterday they proved it in the most amazing way that I’ve ever heard.

With those last words, William had now captured everyone’s attention, so he continued: In the valley, hidden in one of the caves, is a Temple, and in that Temple, many Clerics ruled over the monsters. It was those evil Clerics who made the monsters attack travelers. Monsters being monsters though, had no problem doing what they commanded, because that’s what monsters do when they see travelers, just like Lions attack Zebras, or Dogs attack Cats, so when a monster chooses to no longer attack travelers on the road, you can know for certain that something has happened to them, but the monsters that now live in the valley didn’t just stop attacking people on the roads, which by the way you know is true, since there have been no reports of attacks for many days now, but guess what else these monsters did? These monsters, and by monsters, I mean Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, and Bugbears, all not only stopped attacking travelers, but they helped this party of adventurers, by joining forces with them, as they all attacked the Clerics together. It was the Clerics who made them attack travelers on the road. It was the Clerics who caused our supply lines to start to dwindle, and had they succeeded, they would’ve eventually attacked all of us, and then left all the monsters to their own devices, which means the monsters probably would’ve started killing each other over time. This Half-Orc’s name is Ken Jilgrath. Ken was killed by Gragnok, but this party brought him here, in hopes that they would find the means to pay to have him raised back to life. Well someone here paid, and thanks to whoever that person is, we are all safe now, for Ken Jilgrath is now ‘The Lord of the Valley’ and is working with all the monsters there. He has proven his loyalty time after time, and I’m proud to have him as my friend.

At this, William extended his hand to Ken, who shook it. Everyone gasped in amazement.

William then continued: This Bugbears name is Nog, and this Kobolds name is Kirk. They are both now Captains of the Valley, and work directly under Ken here. All 3 of them speak our language just as well as we do, and after I’ve shaken their hand in front of all of you, they will tell you their story of how they came to be who and what they are now, but after we’re done here, I am going to travel with them to The Valley of Caves, and meet all the monsters who now dwell there in peace, and I will be bringing 8 people with me and 8 volunteers, so that there can be no doubt that these creatures are no longer a threat to any of us. Even more than that, from this day forward, all the creatures who dwell in The Valley of Caves are now under the protection of this Keep, and are welcome to travel here anytime they wish, as long as they are accompanied with at least 2 Humans. That’s how you’ll know they’re from the valley, and not just some random monsters that walked up the road. Now let me introduce to you all, Nog, the Bugbear and Kirk, the Kobold, ‘Captains of the Valley’.

William then extended his hand to Nog, who shook it, and then to Kirk, who also shook it. The crowd was completely silent as Nog spoke and told the story that he told William, and then Kirk addressed them and told everyone his story. They both praised the adventurers and Ken Jilgrath, and pledged their loyalty to them all, and also to all who lived here and traveled to this Keep. So convincing, and so moving were their words, that after Kirk finished, everyone started cheering.

All of the adventurers talked with many in the crowd, as did Ken, Nog, and Kirk, and for the next couple of hours, everyone in the Keep started celebrating. Marcus and Margaret and their kids, came and greeted everyone, as did all who worked at the Inn and tavern, including the 15 year old girl, Sheila, who couldn’t wait to hug Kirk. Kirk got quite nervous at being hugged, especially by a Human girl, but smiled and gently hugged her back. Sheila then asked about Teeko, so they invited her and her family to come with them to the valley to meet him, so they did. The party let everyone know that they would be leaving in the morning, to travel back to their village, but they promised that they’d come visit one day, but couldn’t promise how long that would be, but now William had assembled a group of people to travel with the party to the valley, to meet all these monsters that they could now trust. First though, they got their treasure chests out of the warehouse and put them in their apartment. Then they all set out for the valley.

Jilgrath hadn’t told them yet, but while they were all gone, he told the monsters to clear the path off the road. They didn’t completely finish it yesterday, but close enough. Now it was mostly a clear and wide path, and everyone just walked right into the valley. They all walked all the way to the back, and Jilgrath then rang the bell, and slowly all the monsters came out of their caves, and came over to the small crowd of people. At first there was quite a bit of nervous energy, but Nog and Kirk helped the monsters relax, and the party helped everyone else, and soon everyone was trying their best to communicate with everyone. It was quite an awkward and bizarre scene, but no monster attacked anyone. Even Gluguk came out at one point, but Jilgrath almost stayed glued to his side the entire time, fearful that the Orc might lose it at any moment, but he didn’t. He basically said hello to everyone, let them all know that he was the Orc King, introduced his wife as Meesha, the Orc Queen, and then went back inside his cave. The party then brought out Teeko and the Puma, which shocked and frightened everyone at first, but the party quickly calmed everyone’s nerves, and soon, Teeko and the Puma were the stars of the show. Sheila was so happy to finally meet Teeko, and when she asked him if she could hug him, he quickly reached to hug her. It was a moment that everyone would never forget. They all watched, as Teeko jumped on the Puma, and she raced around the valley, but when she jumped up into a tree and just disappeared, everyone just gasped. Lettia and Shinfia then had Kish show everyone how she could dress wounds and apply healing salve. The amazement on everyone’s faces just made the girls smile more. Kish’s mate though, at one point, started to look somewhat menacing, and ominous, in his appearance.

Nightwind quickly spoke to him: Hey, relax now, or you need to leave.

The Goblin leader just looked at the Dwarf, oddly: Fine, I relax now.

The girls told everyone how they met Kish and the Goblins in the woods, and very quickly people wanted to hear more of their stories of the adventures they had gone on, so they started telling them about all the things that happened to them when they got here. Time seemed to fly by quickly, and soon it was time to head back to the Keep. The people now knew that the valley was safe, though the party told everyone that they should never just walk in here unannounced, just as they wouldn’t like it if a couple of monsters just walked into the Keep. Everyone seemed to understand, and soon they all headed back to the Keep, but the party assured Kish and the others that they’d stop by tomorrow before they headed out.

That evening in the Keep was quite a night. For those who had just entered the Keep, the stories they heard left them confused and bewildered. As the party went back to their apartment for the final time, they almost didn’t want to leave now. It seemed like everything around here was about to change, but they also worried that one of the monsters might attack other monsters, or even people at some point. No matter how great everything had become, these were still monsters, and if one of them snapped, there was no telling what might happen, but they couldn’t worry about that now. Jilgrath was there with the 2 Henchmen, and they knew that Nog and Kirk were completely trustworthy, so they just had to have faith that Jilgrath would continue to improve the relations with everyone over time.

The next morning, they purchased some more Potions at the Temple, bought the wagon from Marcus, purchased 5 horses and 2 draft horses at the stables, along with saddle bags and lots of hides that they threw into the wagon. They visited Marcus and Margaret one last time, along with Malfoy and Marla, Kim and Sheila, along with Sheila’s sister and 2 brothers, and a few others, and said goodbye. Jaren and William and many guards greeted them at the gate. Jaren hugged and kissed Lettia and Shinfia, and William told them that he was going to start talking with as many people as he could, and write a story about the 8 adventurers who travelled from the village of Doran to the Keep, and saved them all from the monsters who dwelt in The Valley of Caves. At first, they questioned why he said it like that, but when William said that it was the Clerics who were the real monsters in the valley, along with all the monsters that attacked them, then it made sense. They left the Keep, and headed back to the valley, one last time.

Saying goodbye to everyone in the valley was even harder than saying goodbye to all the friends they made at the Keep, especially Kish, but when Lettia promised Kish that they’d come visit her one day, she seemed to almost smile, and looked happy, which made Lettia, and everyone else, feel much better. After they had finally finished talking with, and saying goodbye to everyone, it was finally time to leave… but before they headed out, there was one last thing that Lettia needed to do. She walked over to Lettia, the Great White Puma, and cast Speak with Animals, so that she could talk to her again… one last time.

Lettia, the Puma: Why hello Lettia. What brings you to speak to me on this beautiful morning?

Lettia: Well good morning to you too, Lettia. There was no way I could leave without talking to you like this one more time. It’s like you’re my good friend now. I just wish there was a way that I could stay in touch with you, communicate with you in some way. I’m going to miss you a lot.

Lettia, the Puma: Well you never know what fate has in store my dear. Perhaps a way to talk to me will become available at some point. It’s quite interesting to me how what we actually want is sometimes put right in front of us. Most people just don’t have the faith to see it.

Lettia: Are you trying to tell me something?

Lettia, the Puma: Yes I am. I’m trying to tell you that I love you, for you are my best friend’s daughter, and I look forward to speaking to you, and seeing you again someday, as I hope to with your mother again someday too.

Lettia: You’ve spoken to her before though, haven’t you.

Lettia, the Puma: Yes, many years ago, and I am greatly looking forward to the day that I speak to her again.

Lettia: Got it. I was just wondering if you meant that you were going to speak to her anytime soon.

Lettia, the Puma: Well if I knew that, I’d certainly tell you.

Lettia: Obviously. Not sure what I was thinking. Well we all owe you our lives. If it wasn’t for you

Lettia, the Puma: If you all didn’t choose to come here, then you and I might never have met, so I owe you a great debt too, so thank you for choosing to go adventuring.

Lettia: You’re welcome… Bye Lettia.

Lettia, the Puma: Goodbye Lettia.

The party rode out of the valley… and headed down the north road…

The next stop was Lightmane’s home… in the village of Fayshen…

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