Crimson Dawn
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Crimson Dawn

The Story:

Chapter 1plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 1: Scouts

It has been two months since I took a position as healer for this army. Perhaps my ideal profession would be to work as a temple priest, but those jobs are in short supply, especially for a man my age who still has the title of Brother, and I need money to survive. While not ideal, this work is respectable enough, and it allows be to delve deep into a question that has bothered me for years. In war, each side sees themselves as good and their enemy as evil. Whether aggressor or defender, this vi…

Chapter 2plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 2: Ip

It's always the dwarves. Stubborn. Impulsive. You can always rely on them to throw the best laid plans into chaos.

It has been a long time since I’ve concerned myself with matters of war. But what I remember from back then still holds true today: the incompetence of your allies is a greater threat than even the most cunning enemy.

Chapter 3plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 3: Breadguy and the King of the Troglodytes

I’ve never been much of one to keep a journal. Azi assured me that despite the risk it would help me focus, but I left the little books blank. Of course, now that I have the urge to write my impressions on paper I cannot afford to do so. I doubt the supply officer would even know what I was asking for.

Chapter 4plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 4: The Trial of Uruk Ta

Long have I held sway upon my people, manipulating the course of our history as had been passed down by my father before me, Balik Ta. He had bequeathed unto me the secret of our power. And better still, he had taught me how to manipulate hearts and minds, even the physical elements that surround us, with but our thoughts. And lo, we are but limited by the sun’s deadly light. Within the caves, we dwell, hidden in shadow and secrecy.

Chapter 5plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 5: Better off with Federov

Since I joined the army, I've had a somewhat privileged position. As someone who can heal using both mundane and magical means, I'm in slightly higher demand than the average soldier. However, it's been made clear to me that I, like everyone else, am expendable and replaceable. In the end, I'm one soldier among thousands, so why have some people put so much effort into protecting me? I restored Federov to his half-life. When he got into a fight, I explained his purpose to him and thought he was …

Chapter 6plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 6: ...

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Detailed summary by Hanah'rah

Crimson Dawn

Chapter 3: Breadguy and the King of the Troglodytes

Previousplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 2: Ip

It's always the dwarves. Stubborn. Impulsive. You can always rely on them to throw the best laid plans into chaos.

It has been a long time since I’ve concerned myself with matters of war. But what I remember from back then still holds true today: the incompetence of your allies is a greater threat than even the most cunning enemy.
IndexNextplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 4: The Trial of Uruk Ta

Long have I held sway upon my people, manipulating the course of our history as had been passed down by my father before me, Balik Ta. He had bequeathed unto me the secret of our power. And better still, he had taught me how to manipulate hearts and minds, even the physical elements that surround us, with but our thoughts. And lo, we are but limited by the sun’s deadly light. Within the caves, we dwell, hidden in shadow and secrecy.
2018-08-12
Author: Tephna

I’ve never been much of one to keep a journal. Azi assured me that despite the risk it would help me focus, but I left the little books blank. Of course, now that I have the urge to write my impressions on paper I cannot afford to do so. I doubt the supply officer would even know what I was asking for.

Seeing those husks reminded me of a conversation a few years back. My brother was gossiping about a young man who was injured badly out on a hunt. The boy had described the time after his accident as if he were stuck in his body while everyone thought he slept. When his mind managed to claw to the surface- giving the friends at his bedside quite a scare- he remembered all the lamentations and rumors that were shared over the corpse everyone had assumed he’d become.

What if that Kreegarian is still watching us as that man did his mourners? What of that cave creature, or even our soldier? Will they still be peaceful if they return? From what I recall, the family tried to hide that the injured man was not the same as before, now prone to fits of anger and irrationality. How much more severe will it be in these creatures? Death must leave some foul mark on the mind.

But truly, it speaks to the quality of the Eastland Federation that when he isn’t trying to drag a Kreegarian husk along on a scouting mission, the healer is one of the more level-headed in the platoon. Caidis does not seem to have anticipated what he’s done to these things, though I’m worried that his concerns are more theological than they should be.

And what exactly does that monk want? I used to hear that kindness only got you what might couldn’t, but Caidis doesn’t even seem to be asking for anything. I should remember to set some coin aside for when he finally demands that I pay up for his healing.

Most of the platoon seems unremarkable aside from their unquenchable desire to get us all killed, but Hana’rah appears to lack that impulse. She looks to actually know a thing about fighting, even if she had some difficulty adjusting to civilized bows. Her warriors look to her as a leader although her bearing is unusual for it. Far preferable to Gorben’s bellowing, at least. The one order I gave as a squad leader was roundly ignored, so maybe I’ll keep an eye on what she does.

She does seem to have a touch of the art herself, though I can't quite tell which discipline. It’s obviously not drafting or elementalism, of course. She was able to warn us of that cave king’s powers- does that mean she’s psionic?

And where have all these psionics come from? I was led to believe that my power is rare and difficult to control, something worth wrecking a family over. When Captain Phane told us that those brutish Kreegarians manage telepathy in great numbers- that was unbelievable enough. Now some cave dwelling monster- not even wearing proper pants- wields it more ably than I do? That’s rich.

I suppose it's a relief to be back at the camp, but it’s a lie to say I have no regrets about joining up with the federation’s army. The soldiers here risk all of us with their hunger to fight. Then, when I'm honest about not knowing my way around a sword or a formation, Gorbus goes and hands me a squad. They always said that people were stupider south of the Old Families’ lands, but I never thought they'd actually be right.

Maybe I expected something grander than all this. I don't rightly know what I was thinking.

Detailed Summary by Hana'rah

EXT. FOREST CAMP. NIGHT

Picking up immediately after Episode 2's end. The PCs and other soldiers on guard are standing around (undead) Shee-shar and (living) SHIMI.

Three soldiers are eager to 'experiment' with Shee-shar, trying to stab him and shoot him with arrows. This raises a bit of commotion as Caidis (with Tephna's and Hana'rah's support) tries to prevent it.

Caidis insists that Shee-shar has been rejected by Vil, and we need to know why.

One of the assailing soldiers is a half-orc (DURON MAR). Caidis does something where he touches Shee-shar touches Duron Mar at the same time, bridging them with himself. Some kind magical exchange occurs, something happens to Duron Mar.

Hana'rah's fellow Namadi awake, she sends one to wake Gorbus.

Caidis whacks one of the one of the soldiers with his staff as he tries to touch Shee-shar.

One of the soldiers tries to shoot Shee-shar with an arrow, Tephna makes him miss, psionically.

Gorbus arrives, sends everyone away. Most disperse.

Duron Mar doesn't. He seems shaken and walks off and sits nearby on a rock.

Caidis talks to Duron Mar. He seems to have felt a total empathy with Shee-shar upon the touch (“I could see and feel where he came from”). He's now questioning whether he can fight the Kreegarians because he understands them as people.

As Gane and Duri come to relieve Caidis and Hana'rah from guard duty, an arrow flies through the air, hitting Duron Mar. More arrows follow. The camp appears to be under Kreegarian attack.

Caidis heals Duron Mar a little.

Caidis and Hana'rah setup near the trees with the two prisoners.

There are ~20 figures approaching the camp in a few small groups, flanking from several sides from the North. The figures appear to be shorter than Kreegarians.

Tephna is setup in a different position. She fires arrows at a different group of approaching invaders, hits two. Takes an arrow herself.

Caidis fires some arrows at one of the flanking groups. Hits a few. A half-orc near Caidis joins Gorbus and charges in.

Hana'rah has apparently forgotten how to shoot a bow and keeps missing. She gets into melee with an invader.

The approaching creatures appear to be goblins.

We overtake the goblins. Some are wounded but not dead.

Shimi tries to tell Hana'rah that the goblins were a scouting force preceding the full invasion. She passes the info on to Gorbus. He orders to break camp and everyone scrambles to move out.

The two prisoners are blindfolded and put on a horse and move out.

EXT. GRASSLANDS. NIGHT

The platoon moves South. The platoon is ~30 with 9 injured.

Later the rear guard reports that the platoon is being tailed by a force of Kreegarians and/or goblins. They're about a quarter league behind us.

The platoon stands at the edge of the forest with grassland ahead, and rocky terrain off to one side. The sun is starting to rise. Neither terrain option is desirable because the platoon will be easily caught and ambushed. The platoon decides to get rid the horses and head through the rocky terrain.

Scouts report that there's a fissure in the rocks up ahead that the platoon might be able to hide in. Gorbus thinks hiding in there is our best option. Gorbus sends a few Namadi in to check out the tunnels in the fissure. They go in, come back and report it to be safe. Everyone piles in.

INT. TROGLODYTE CAVES. DAY

The main cave splits into five “fingers” of tunnels. Hana'rah volunteers to take four of her Namadi to explore the “middle finger”. Tephna goes with a group of four other soldiers into the “pinky” tunnel.

The tunnels range from walkable to having to crawl and squeeze. Hana'rah's team comes to a open “room” with water. Ibrahim volunteers to go into the water. He walks mostly across, but has to swim a little. He gets to the other side. Everyone else follows. One of the Namadi accidentally swallows some of the water. He says it's “good water”. Everyone gets to the other side.

Tephna, Gane, Duri, Thali, and Frardar head down the pinky. The see a humanoid shape in the distance ahead, scurrying away. Tephna tries to reach out mentally to it. The thoughts she detects seem to be pretty base: fear, hunger, survival. It seems to be low intelligence.

They get to where the humanoid was hiding. They see crude tools, possibly a crude chisel and hammer. Tephna stashes them in her bag.

Back in the central area of the fissure, guards are watching the goblin force pass by. Shimi seems to be asking questions in a whisper, no one present can understand him. After most of the force passes, the guards report that four goblins are circling back. A Kreegarian crawls in and sniffs a bit, then quickly backs out. The force fires at him with arrows and drags him in. The same thing happens for three following goblins. They drag the injured/dying scouts into the cave.

Hana'rah and her team come upon a room that seems to have seats (pews?) crudely carved into the stone. There's a main chair. Behind it, she finds a cubby with a quiver with three arrows and a more modern looking knife. She keeps the knife and takes the arrow heads. They continue down the tunnel.

Tephna and crew can see two humanoids ahead of them. They have long, black hair. They don't appear to be clothed. She takes out some rations and eats some, and holds out food ahead of her. As they approach them, she can see they have bluish, glowing eyes. They squint at the sight of the light. They are tall. She tries to speak to them, they don't speak back.

She holds out bread to one, it reaches out to take it from her. As she steps forward to hand it to him, the stench hits her. The smell of a rotting carcass. She tosses the bread to him. He picks it up, sniffs it, and takes a bite. She notices the figure has very sharp teeth. The creature retreats to his buddy and shares the bread with him. Tephna tries to signal that her group want to continue down into the tunnel.

In the main cave, Shimi continues to talk. One of the wounded goblins is talking too. Shimi and the goblin start talking to each other. Gorbus orders the goblin's head to be knocked in. It is.

Caidis notices that one of the other goblins is only faking being unconscious. Gorbus orders him to be killed. Someone stabs him in the throat. All four scouts are now dead.

A third scouting party come running back from the “thumb”. They saw humanoids (the troglodytes) and fired at them. Now they're attacking. Gorbus orders everyone to barricade the thumb.

Hana'rah and crew comes upon a curtain of rushing water pouring in from a fissure in the ceiling and into a fissure in the ground. She orders Mahmud to try to go through it to see if it can be passed. As he pushes in, he seems to slip and fall into the crevice. She orders a rope be tied to Ibrahim's waist, and he's lowered down the crevice. After 75 ft of rope, he's not at the bottom. They start to pull him up, the rope slips, only Hana'rah hold on.

Tephna comes upon a larger opening with twenty or thirty of the troglodytes. She tries to ask them if there's sunlight ahead, they seem to tell her there is. Duri and Frardar are hesitant to trust the troglodytes. Tephna tells them that they should all head back and report to Gorbus. The group turns back, Tephna hesitates. The troglogyte that took Tephna's bread (BREADGUY), steps forward to her, inquisitively. She gestures that her group is afraid of the others. Thali holds back a little to watch Tephna as the others head back. Tephna bows to the troglodyte and rejoins Thali.

As Tepha gets to Thali, one of the other troglodytes runs up to the one that Tephna communicated with, and says something angrily to him and gestures at the leaving group.

Hana'rah and her crew are able to pull Ibrahim back up. They decide that Mahmud is lost. They turn back to return to the central cavern.

Coincidentally, Hana'rah's group reaches the central cavern just as Tephna's group does. They report their experiences. The guards looking out say that the goblins/Kreegarians seem to be coming back to look for their missing soldiers.

Gorbus orders the bodies be dumped in the opening to the middle finger tunnel and for everyone to go into the pinky tunnel.

Tepha is leading, with Caidis and Hana'rah up front.

The group reaches the cavern with all of the troglodytes. It stinks of rotting carcasses. Gorbus is getting nervous. Tephna spots Breadguy.

Hana'rah detects a strong psionic forces probing them. It seems very intelligent and somewhat aggressive. It is curious, though. Hana'rah tells Tephna. Tephna probes back. It gives her a bit of a headache. She keeps probing. She sees (telepathically) that the probing is coming from a white-haired troglodyte on a throne in a room beyond (THE TROGLODYTE KING), surrounded by a group of other white haired troglodytes.

Tephna tries to project the thought of a parler to the white-haired being. All three PCs hear in their heads, “Interesting. You may pass”. The troglodytes part, opening a path.

Tephna explains to Gorbus. Tephna, Hana'rah, Gane, and Caidis with Shee-shar, are led by Breadguy into a carved-out chamber. They see the three white-haired trogs surrounding the Troglodyte King. There are black-haired trogs along the perimeter. The trogs in this chamber have loincloths and rudimentary clothes.

The King stops the approaching party about 20ft away from his throne and asks, “Why are you in my realm”.

They can feel him probing their minds. Gane starts to whig out a little. He puts his hand on his sword. Hana'rah puts her hand on his and keeps it from drawing his weapon.

Tephna speaks to the King. He asks why we're here. She explains we were chased in here, we just want to find another way out. The King asks if we would be willing to sacrifice half of our group in exchange for safe passage. Tephna hesitates to reply. Caidis steps forward and tries to bargain. Asks if we can offer anything else, like food. The King says that's why he wants half the force: food. He says they don't care for “processed food” and want live food.

We hear a commotion in the antechamber behind us. It seems the troglodytes from the thumb have reached the antechamber to complain about being attacked. The King tells us that we've caused quite a disturbance in his realm.

He asks why we're fleeing these “Kreegarians”. He wonders if we stole Shee-shar from them. The king says he probed Shee-shar, and his mind is empty. Caidis explains how Shee-shar was abandoned by Vil. The King seems amused by Caidis's interest in Vil. The white-haired trogs communicate back and forth telepathically. Hana'rah eavesdrops (telepathically). They seem to be interested in keeping Caidis because he has power over life and death.

The King addresses Caidis, and asks him for a demonstration of his ability to bring those back from death. The King looks at one of his guards, who steps forward and runs Breadguy through with a weapon. Breadguy falls, to the ground, dying.

Caidis rushes forward. Caidis starts putting a lot of effort into healing him. As Caidis heals, he is blasted psionically and falls over with from the strength of the blast. The King says, “wait, let him pass first”. Breadguy dies.

Caidis is confused. He says he's dead, and can't be healed. He feels the psionic force ready to blast him again. Tephna psionically tries to deflect anything, and tells Caidis to please try again.

Caidis tells the king he is only a vessel for Vil, and Breadguy can only be resurrected if Vil feels Breadguy's death was undeserved. He improvises a prayer and embraces Breadguy.

After a few moments, Breadguy sits up. His eyes are glassy, just like Shee-shar. The King stands up, amazed. Caidis tries to view Breadguy's last hours (he sees Breadguy's interaction with Tephna, etc). Caidis tries to ask Vil why this man didn't deserve death.

The King declares that we must stay for a while so he can learn more about us. He has trogs bring forward a table.

There's a commotion in the antechamber. Orders shouted in Kreegarian can be heard. The King sends two white-hair trog to investigate. Gorbus and the rest of the platoon come pouring into the throne room. Gorbus, asks what's going on, draws his sword and tries to storm past the King. The King holds a hand aloft and freezes Gorbus like a statue.

Tephna looks Gorbus in his terror stricken eyes and tells him to not be aggressive with these people.

A psychic scream rings in the heads of Hana’rah, Tephna, and Caidis.. It seems one of the white-haired trogs was wounded by the Kreegarians. The King decides he has to investigate, he and the rest of the trogs in the room leave us all there. Gorbus declares we need to get out of here, leads everyone down a left tunnel.

Tephna, Hana'rah, Caidis (and Shee-shar), Gane, and reanimated Breadguy are left in the throne room. Thali is calling for this group to join them in the left tunnel.

Caidis tries to get Breadguy to direct him out of the caves, but he's not communicative. Duron Mar comes back from the tunnel, too see what’s going on. This gives Hana'rah an idea, and she asks him what he saw when Caidis joined him to Shee-shar earlier. He confirms that he got some of his knowledge. Hana'rah insists that Caidis join her to Breadguy the way he did to Duron Mar before.

Caidis reluctantly complies. Hana'rah is able to see that there is a way out through the right-most tunnel. She tells everyone they need to take that route. Duron Mar runs down the left tunnel to retrieve Gorbus and the rest of the platoon. Caidis tries it himself on Breadguy. He is able to see that the best way out of the caves was the “middle finger” route past the curtain of water, but that this right tunnel is also a way out.

Gorbus and company return, we all run down the left tunnel. Caidis unties Shee-shar, and instructs Shee-shar and Breadguy to follow him.

Tephna is at the back of the party. She can feel the King telepathically insisting for her to wait and not leave.

EXT. GRASSLANDS. DAY

The platoon emerges from the tunnel far East of where they entered the fissure. They can see the Kreegarian force pouring into the fissure in the distance. As Tephna leaves the caverns, she tries to tell the King that there are more Kreegarians, and that the troglodytes should retreat. She gets no response.

The platoon hurries South. After a couple of hours, they reach the grasslands at the edge of a forest. They set up a fortified position. The platoon is low on food and water.

Gorbus decides it’s best to hide and wait for nightfall to leave. He asks for volunteers to get water from a nearby brook. Hana'rah volunteers and brings her Namadi with her. While gathering water, she examines the arrowheads and knife she stowed away. They're all made from the same obsidian-like black stone. The knife is a single piece of intricately carved stone. It's not like the other weapons the troglodytes carried.

Back at the camp, Gorbus discovers that Caidis has Breadguy following him now too. He tells him he needs to stop doing this.

EXT. GRASSLANDS. NIGHT

As night falls, a light rain starts. A group goes out and returns with a dead stag. Hana'rah suggests we use the rain and darkness as cover for escape. Gorbus reluctantly agrees. The platoon moves out South.

By morning, the rain has stopped. Everyone is exhausted. Gorbus's map suggests that the camp is a half-day march ahead. We eat the stag and rest a little.

Guards report they see a formation coming in the distance. They are several hours away. Gorbus decides the platoon should trot to the main camp before the Kreegarians can catch up. The group finishes eating and resting and move out again.

Tephna tells Gorbus that she and another member of the platoon (Hana'rah) can tell if someone has psionic ability. Gorbus reacts in predictably Grobus-like fashion.

EXT. EASTLAND FEDERATION BATTALION CAMP. DAY

The platoon reaches the E.L.F. camp. It's a full battalion. Gorbus tells evertibe where to set up camp and says he'll see them again that night. Everyone gets two gold pieces each as salary (1GP) plus combat pay (1GP).

At camp, rumours are circulating the dead are rising and vampires are about and such.

Caidis, mostly talking to himself, says he thinks he made a mistake. Tephna hears him and inquires what he means. Caidis mumbles that he must have asked Vil the wrong thing.

A soldier comes by from another platoon (a half-elf) comes by the camp and says he'll share his rations for stories from the front. Hana'rah mentions the siege engines outside of Strica. She also says the Kreegarians have goblins in their employ.

The visiting troops see Shimi, Shee-shar, and Breadguy. They ask about them, but no one says much Hana'rah pulls Shimi away from the group and off to a corner where her Namadi are sitting.

Another soldier tells a rumor about an E.L.F. soldier that was killed in a battle at a church on a hill and buried there. The next day, they found the grave dug up, with footprints leading away (he is clearly talking about Sarrey).

Later, in the mess hall. There are cheers as news spreads that the pursuing goblins and Kreegarians were routed and defeated

Later at the camp. Gorbus assembles everyone and tells them news. The platoon is headed due West to another town to do some reconnaissance. Gorbus says he has been promoted to full platoon sergeant, not just acting platoon leader. He promotes Tephna and Hana'rah to squad leaders (thanks to Tephna’s earlier comment about Psionic abilities) and tells them to determine their respective squads.

Hana'rah declares she won’t take any dwarves under her command. She takes her Namadi (Ibrahim, Sayed, Khali, Ajayi), and Codis Kahn (a half elf).

Tephna takes Thali, Duron Mar, Gane, Caidis, and Frardar.

For future reference, there are three more humans (Summers, Secundis, and Laminsky; male, male, female), and another half-elf (Corinth) from in platoon. Duri is in neither Tephna, nor Hana’rah groups.

Hana'rah continues to practice her Kreegarian with Shimi. A mix of her pre-existing knowledge of the language and a bit of her psionic ability allow her to improve rapidly. She is now speaks near passable Kreegarian.

INT. CAMP TENT. NIGHT

That night, Caidis is awakened from sleep. There is a creepy looking, filthy woman standing at the foot of his bunk. She's dressed like a soldier, but is covered in dirt. Her eyes are glazed over, like Shee-shar and Breadguy. Caidis knows exactly who she is.

Caidis says, “Sarrey?”

The half-elf from the other platoon that was talking about zombies and vampires sees what's happening, pops off his bed. He swings his sword, and lops off Surrey's head. Duron Mar awakes and grabs the soldier with the sword (hereafter known as DECAPITATOR).

The body drops to the ground. Everyone awakes. Caidis examines the corpse. The body has lost all animation. Caidis touches the body and tries to read her last few hours. He gets nothing but blackness.

An argument ensues between the Decapitator and members of our platoon. He wants to take the head for (what he claims) is a five gold piece reward. Blows are almost exchanged when Gorbus bursts in. He has Frardar and Duri restrain the Decapitator. He orders others to bring the head and corpse and follow him.

INT. CPT. FEYN’S TENT. NIGHT

Gorbus leads the group to a tent where Cpt. Feyn is waiting. Caidis has followed along, and his two shadows (Shee-shar and Breadguy) are with him. Feyn is just now hearing about the reanimated. He examines Shee-shar and Breadguy. Feyn sends everyone away but Caidis. He gestures for Caidis to sit down with him in his tent.

Caidis tells Feyn that he thinks the god of Death is trying to send him a message. He tells him he came to worship Vil because the temple he was raised in had no one tending to Vil. Feyn asks where Breadguy came from. Caidis explains.

Feyn puts a sword on the table. He raises the sword, and swings it at Caidis's head. Shee-shar's hand swings out and catches the blade and stops it from hitting Caidis's head. Feyn says, “Interesting.”

Feyn asks more questions. Caidis explains that he has only done it intentionally once, with Breadguy. He doesn't understand how it happened for the other two. He says that his life's work has been to find a way for the dead to redeem themselves for wrongs they've committed in life. The problem is, these three examples don't seem to have committed any sins that need to be redeemed.

Feyn asks him if he has tried to reverse the reanimation, and send them back to death. He hasn’t.

Feyn then says that one of our soldiers died in battle recently, and he'd like Caidis to try to reanimate him in the morning.

Caidis returns to the camp. Frardar and Duron Mar return from taking the Decapitator to the stockade.


Previousplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 2: Ip

It's always the dwarves. Stubborn. Impulsive. You can always rely on them to throw the best laid plans into chaos.

It has been a long time since I’ve concerned myself with matters of war. But what I remember from back then still holds true today: the incompetence of your allies is a greater threat than even the most cunning enemy.
IndexNextplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Chapter 4: The Trial of Uruk Ta

Long have I held sway upon my people, manipulating the course of our history as had been passed down by my father before me, Balik Ta. He had bequeathed unto me the secret of our power. And better still, he had taught me how to manipulate hearts and minds, even the physical elements that surround us, with but our thoughts. And lo, we are but limited by the sun’s deadly light. Within the caves, we dwell, hidden in shadow and secrecy.