Monthly Wessex

the damn library

Wat was sleeping peacefully in his husband’s arms. They had returned safely from the Underwilds yet again. Though Wat has scarcely escaped with his life. He’d been knocked unconscious when they encountered some loathsome beast. He’d been reckless. He’d been so caught up by the pure exhilaration of fighting side by side with Cealothan than he hadn’t guarded his side well enough. He’d been thrown back and hit his head. It wasn’t the first time Cealothan had saved his life. In all honesty, it wouldn’t be the last either. Wat had only seen part of his beloved’s true strength, and even that was mightier than any of their little rag-tag team could manage. The elf was very grateful that their very first encounter had ended in Cealothan joining their raiding party. Otherwise, it surely would have ended in their demise. But Cealothan had come with them. And now they were married and living a reckless, adventurous life in the shithole they called Wessex. Their love had begun with the quest to find a necromancer’s library. Wat briefly wondered what would happen when they had finished lotting the place? They’d gone several times and it seems they’ve hardly scratched the surface of the hidden treasures. What happens to him and Cealothan when this is all over?

 

Wat sat up in bed at a sudden, horrific realization.

“We never made it to the damn library!”

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Mission Log 004
A Squishy Friend

This week, we picked up some new recruits – Audris and Tarragon – to join Wat and me on our expedition. They seemed capable enough, and Tavern Taverns the tavern owner seemed to like them, so we elected to take them along. 

Traveling to the well at the edge of town and down into the Underwylds has become second nature at this point, but it still took quite some time for Cealothan (honestly, he lives around here, why is he so bad at navigating?) and Tarragon to get us going in the right direction. By the end of the fourth day of wandering we were confident we were on the right track, so we made camp at the end of a tunnel.

While I was on watch, I noticed a misty creature in the distance. It did not seem aggressive, and Cealothan didn’t recognize it as a danger, so I just let it be. After a while, though, it started to drift closer, so I decided to wake everyone just in case it showed itself to be dangerous. Since it was closer, we could study it more easily, and realized that it was actually a blue colored misty disc with two eye stalks and some dangling tendrils. It still did not act aggressively, so I tried to talk to it.

It did not seem to speak a language, but it responded positively to my compliments by turning a bit pink instead of blue. We were able to get it to change a few more colors by talking to it, but our communication did not seem to be very effective. We spent quite some time trying to figure out what it wanted, and it started to try to communicate with us through emotion. A couple of us were overwhelmed with sadness and longing, and after a few more minutes of troubled communication I was able to deduce that it was anxious about being alone and could not find its friends. 

I invited it to travel with us, and it seemed delighted to not be by itself anymore.We tried out a few names to call it, but I settled on “Squishy”.

The next day we continued our search for the Library’s entrance, and in our wandering we found the imprint of a tendrilly thing on the floor of a cavern. Squishy didn’t seem to recognize it, but we were pretty confident that something of Squishy’s type must have lain here. As we were investigating the imprint, Squishy flashed an alarm to alert us of a creature further down the cavern, and when we turned to look at it we immediately spotted the slain body of one of Squishy’s species dangling from its jaws. 

I immediately jump into action to avenge Squishy’s companion, and we start up a barrage of bullets at the creature. Cealothan jumped the gun a bit, as per usual – such a hard time performing under pressure! – but eventually managed to start doing real damage to the creature. We fought it for some time until it dropped the body of Squishy’s cohort, but by then Wat had fallen unconscious and Cealothan and I were left to tag team the beast. As soon as it sustained substantial injuries, it turned to run away from us. As a person bound by honor I refused to attack a creature running away in surrender with its back turned to me… but apparently Cealothan’s people do not practice such chivalry.

After the fight I buried the dead tendril creature and said a few words for its soul, but I am unsure if the Light-Bringer presides over the souls of Underwyld creatures. Mostly I wanted Squishy to have some closure, and asked if it wanted me to do anything else for its body. Squishy floated around the burial mound for a bit, flashing shades of blue, before returning to us. I took diligent notes, of course – as a Paladin, it is my duty to know the proper burial rites for any creature I may come across in order to give it proper respect in life and death. 

We decided to follow the tracks of the attacking beast to see if we could find Squishy’s family. Obviously it snagged the tendril creature from somewhere, and chances were that it was from a larger group of tendril creatures rather than another wandering loner like Squishy. 

We got lost during the first hour of tracking, but during the second hour we managed to find our way to a rocky outcropping deep in the caverns. Climbing up, we found a nest of sorts full of refuse – and a pouch of gems! During my lecture of how it’s important to help others in need even when you don’t get paid, a handful of tendril creatures floated down from above us, turning a soft pink as soon as they spotted our Squishy. 

They danced with Squishy for a bit before coming over to thank us with healing – Wat and I had sustained some injuries in the fight with the claw beast. The healing tendril creature and I exchanged a look of camaraderie – clearly it knew as well as I do the difficulties of being a healer among headstrong adventurers. I briefly  entertained the thought of renouncing the Light-Bringer and starting a religion devoted to the soft, empathic creatures, but I don’t want to have memorized a thousand holy texts of the Light-Bringer for nothing. 

After a sweet goodbye, we parted ways with Squishy and its friends and started heading home. On the way back we found a herd of furry creatures, but casting the daylight of the Light-Bringer from my Driftglobe seemed to keep them at bay. 

Upon our return to the city, we sold our gems and invested some money in the town’s structures. Helping a new friend in need is its own reward of course, but I was happy to have some spare change to donate to the church. 

Inspired by my unwavering display of honor and devotion to helping others, Tarragon approached me to express interest in becoming a cleric of the Light-Bringer. Always delighted to help out new acolytes and teach them the way of the Light-Bringer, I heartily agreed. This month we will spend our time studying the thousands of holy texts – what could be more fun than that?

End log.

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Mission Log 003
Did we really kill a gargoyle?

Mission Log 003

We picked up the very colorful Bard Birdie at The Tavern, since we were starting to run low on new recruits and really needed some more magical expertise. Wat was back for more of course, but I was still surprised that Julius decided to tag along. Then again, a little danger for a lifetime of riches is wholly worth it.

Once prepared for the journey, we headed back to the old well at the edge of town. Getting down into the depths was a fairly practiced skill at this point, but navigating the twisting paths in search of the necromancer’s library again proved far more difficult. The first day we did okay, but we got a little lost the second day. Wat managed to find an abandoned campsite, but there wasn’t anything of value to procure. With Cealothan’s help, we wandered in a more directed manner on the third day, and unexpectedly ran into some Dwarves.

They told us that they were running recon for Fortress Dunbar, a very old fortress that Birdie had some knowledge about. Apparently, it’s either abandoned, or occupied by hobgoblins. According to the Dwarves, they were able to take the fort back from the hobgoblins. They seemed friendly enough, but wouldn’t give us maps of the caverns as we requested – they didn’t seem to like Cealothan or other Elves of his clan. Persuasion don’t go so well, so we continued on our way without maps.

Eventually, we made it to the entrance guarded by our good statue friend, however this time he was far less friendly and easy to trick. Despite our discussion of a scheduled shipment last time, he had come to realize we lied to him about our delivery to the Master. We did our best to rationalize that we needed to deliver critical supplies to the master, and Julius even tried to forge some shipping orders, but the statue was not at all convinced and attacked us.

Julius and I ran to the Library entrance and took up arms in the entrance, even managing to do some substantial damage with sling bullets. In the main room, despite the help of Wat and Cealothan, Birdie took a pretty hard hit from the creature. Starting to get worried, we decided to use Birdie’s Thunderwave spell to push the creature away, and use our procured sleep scroll to make it fall asleep. The Light-Bringer smiled upon us that day – we managed to do enough damage to the creature that it quickly fell asleep under the scroll’s spell. Once incapacitated, it was a simple matter of dealing the killing blow to the statue.

Once inside the Library, we quickly discovered that the bodies of the strange cultists we fought last time had disappeared from the dining hall. Thinking nothing of it, we decided to explore the rest of the area, finding a kitchen and library. Julius stole some salt from the kitchen – can never be too careful with demons and devils about – and we explored the library more thoroughly.

On one end, there was a relief of a sword and a book with a matching crevice below them. Putting a hand in the book hole, Birdie pulled out a scroll that we suspected could be magical. Intrigued by the discovery, I put my hand in the sword hole, hoping for a blessed weapon – but only got a rather nasty cut for my trouble. Oddly, it seemed satisfied by my unwilling offering of blood, and I had the strangest sensation that I could cast spells – if I knew any. Clearly, this device will come in handy in the future for casting spells.

Continuing on, we discovered an old sauna, I was heartbroken to find that none of my companions wanted to take a break and see if we could get the steam to work. I may be a devoted guardsperson, but I wasn’t going to turn down a spa day in a creepy necromancer’s library! Despite my insistence, we journeyed on to explore more of the area.

Further back, we discovered a larger room with a beautiful sphinx mosaic. As we crossed the room to reach the doors on the other side, a green dragon suddenly materialized to warn us against going inside. After a brief conversation, it became obvious he was not really a dragon, and he revealed himself to be a djinn bound to the door’s entrance. After inquiring about how he came to be so bound, we concluded that what was needed was a dispel magic spell. I found him quite interesting, and since no one deserves to be bound against their will, I pledged to free him as soon as we found a method to do so. If Wat could find a lover in the dank wanderings of adventuring, by the Light-Bringer I could too!

For the moment leaving the room with the djinn, we explored what we could of the rest of the area. We found a laundry room (I suppose even evil necromancers need clean socks) and multiple bedrooms, one of which was crammed full of skeletons. Having anticipated such an event, we were quick to close the door on them and fall back to keep it secure. Birdie managed to viciously mock them for a few seconds through the door before they managed to hack through it. Having been weakened by Birdie’s spell and our adamant efforts to keep the door shut, disposing of the skeletons did not take long.

Armed with a bit of loot, we decided we had pushed our luck enough for the day and headed back to town to do some research on the scroll and anything else we might find. As usual, I paid a tithe to the church in town to help it grow. My efforts over the last few weeks made me a more capable adventurer, and I devoted my week off to improving my skills as a paladin. I picked up a few handy spells, and even learned one for a marriage ceremony! I’m sure Wat and Cealothan will be pleased.

End log.

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Newly weds
Cause nothing says romance like the constant threat of death

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Mission Log 002
Just Housekeeping

Mission Log of Sgt. Lieutenant

This mission started off the same as all the others: meeting the new blood at the Tavern, telling them about the fate of many fishermen, and inviting them to join the adventure. The newest soldier of fortune was Julius, who seemed as intrigued as we were to learn more about the necromancer’s library.

My companions, Wat and Julius, and I spent a week researching the fabled library. We learned the general location as well as some tales of undead and a caravan of Orcs and skeletons that headed to the area 70 or so years ago, which didn’t exactly make me more eager to find it. Sure, striking down undead is good and just, but where there’s dungeon monsters I always seem to end up with a dead fisherman.

Armed with new information, we headed down the well at the edge of a local’s property, a place we had explored a few times before. We made our way to some stone stairs and a chiseled chamber with winding paths in all directions, and allowed Wat to lead us where we needed to be. Wat got us lost of course, but we managed to wander into an open cave area. Luckily, Julius spotted some reflective twinkling in the distance, and after bolstering ourselves and slowly advancing, blue lights sparked to life and revealed some dark-skinned Elves.

Wat spoke to them and they ended up being very interested in our information about the necromancer’s library, and offered to buy it from us. Sadly, they laughed at my completely reasonable offer of 10,000 gold pieces, but seemed amenable to the offer of traveling with us to the library. They decided to send one of their guards, Cealothan, and he would take his share of arcane knowledge in exchange for protecting us on our way to the library. The rest of their group could not come with us, since they were on a pilgrimage to some totally metal shrine to a dead warrior that needed appeasement lest their children are eaten. Sounded pretty awesome. Might have to do some religious research when I get back.

Even with Cealothan’s help, we wandered in the tunnels for two more days until Wat finally directed us to a more unique room carved from the stone. In the center was a creepy statue of some creature with wings and teeth, and beyond it some double doors. The statue told us we were trespassing, but Julius managed to convince it that we were a delayed caravan (just 70 years late!) that was a snap decision from the Big Boss to get materials, so of course we were not scheduled. The statue seemed annoyed by this, but let us through.

The doors depicted a creepy relief, but merely opened up to a coat rack room with a single cloak. Julius put it on, and we hoped it was a maid outfit so we could try to convince the Big Boss we were merely a cleaning business, but it was just a necromancer’s cloak. We debated starting a housekeeping business for ruins and fortresses to help them do dishes and whatnot anyway, but eventually headed further in.

We opened some doors to a dining room, and found three figures ransacking the place. They didn’t notice us, so Julius pretended to be “the dread necromancer Xanathar” in hopes of surprising them, but threw a rock in a rather ineffectual way… alerting them to our presence.

Cealothan did his very best to climb up on the table and engage our foes, while I ran down between the tables like a normal person. He and I were eventually able to put down the attackers with Julius’ rock-throwing help, and as usual Wat… did nothing. I really should put some time into training my companion better.

During the fight, the cloaked figures hissed like snakes and threatened to feed my soul to some dark, fake, unholy creature. In turn, I of course promised to feed their souls to the Light-Bringer – and they did not seem to like the prospect of that. When we defeated them, I spitefully commended their souls to the Light-Bringer anyway, like any paladin would.

We gathered what loot we could from the room and the cloaked figures, and decided it was probably best to head home with the spoils. After some persuasion, we were able to convince Cealothan to hang out with us until we could return to the cave system. He seemed a bit leery of spending time up with us, but we are very persuasive.

On the way out, we also managed to convince the door gargoyle that the Big Boss needed more supplies and had sent us out for them – therefore, when we returned, we would be a scheduled shipment. As we departed we asked his name – unfortunately, I am not fluent enough in the international phonetic alphabet to properly transcribe the noises that make up his name.

On the journey back to the surface, Wat’s spear was gooped away by a gelatinous cube, but nothing else too exciting happened besides that. Note to self: Spend an afternoon teaching Wat how to properly keep hold of a weapon.

End log.

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The Necromancer's Library
Wat gets a new roomie

After searching for Udo and the encounter with Elbrith, Wat and his companions did some digging into the underwilds beneath the Well. It seemed to be the same underwilds where they were told a Necromancer's library was. So when Wat met at the tavern with his fellow adventurers, they unanimously agreed to return to the underwilds. 

Not long into their journey, they came across a pilgrimage of dark elves. They seemed to be Elbrith's people—though he was not among them. They too were interested in the Necromancer's library and sent one of their own with Wat and his companions. 

Together, they made their way to the Necromancer's library. But rations ran out before they could uncover all its treasures. Their new elvin companion was not to return to his people until he had his share of the treasure. So Wat, being the only other elf present, offered him a place to stay. He'd come to <s>enjoy </s>tolerate his presence and <s>looked forward to</s> wouldn't completely hate getting to know him more.

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The Search for Udo

A few months ago, Wat Chmen and a few others from town went off to investigate this old well nearby. Some of the others had been there before and a fisherman had foolishly died—thus creating the term “sacrificial fisherman”. On Wat’s first journey to the well, they encountered a deadly bookcase and saved a small creature called Udo. When Wat saw Udo, he couldn’t help but reminded of his son. It had been so long since he’d seen his son… He’d still been a small boy then… Wat and the others brought Udo to a staircase in the northwest portion of the well’s complex underground tunnels and went to find their own way home.

 

That hadn’t sit right with Wat. While Wat had no idea how old Udo was—he could be an elder for his kind or he could be a child; Wat had never encountered a creature like Udo before—but the small creature had reminded him so much of his son… Well, he wanted to be sure that Udo had gotten home safely. So when the only two that showed up to The Tavern one day were Audris and someone new who had never adventured with them—an elf by the name of Gene Jr—Wat took this as an opportunity to go back to the well to search for Udo.

 

It had taken some time to refresh Wat’s memories of the Well’s layout. Most of his recent adventures had taken him through the Old Tovi Woods, and he’d never been out here without his paladin companion—Sgt Lieutenant. He’d been adventuring with Audris, but Wat couldn’t recall going down to the Well together. He was relying on his shit memory and luck.

By the grace of whatever gods had taken pity on Wat, the three elves made it to the strange library Wat had previously encountered just before finding Udo. It hadn’t changed much since Wat had last visited. The strange hobgoblin books were still sitting on the murderous bookshelf. There were scorch marks on the floor. Whatever strange magic protected this bookshelf both intrigued and terrified Wat. The intrigue tugged at the recklessness in Wat. The elf took out his portable battering ram and slammed into the shelf. Electricity jolted through Wat. He was relatively unharmed but did tingle a little. His efforts were rewarded with three books. Luckily, Gene Jr spoke goblin. He interpreted them as a song book, a book on hobgoblin philosophy, and a book on how to use slaves for mining.

The three elves decided they had enough of murderous furniture and went next door to the room where Wat had first met Udo. There wasn’t much to point them in any particular direction, but just being there had jolted Wat’s memory. Or maybe, that was just an after effect of the electricity. Hard to say for sure. Either way, Wat now remembered that Udo had led them down the northern door of the well and taken to a long stair case in the northwestern quadrant of the well.

Unfortunately, a pair of skeletal warriors blocked their way. Cause why not. Audris and Gene Jr were far less experienced in battle than Wat, who also had far better weapons. Wat stood in the doorway, ready to take the blunt of the attack. He threw his spear at one of the skeletons—hoping to destroy it before it became 2 against 1. Unfortunately, aim had never been Wat’s forte. He missed and his spear clattered to the ground. Audris sent a bolt flying over Wat’s shoulder, but also missed. One of the skeletons swung at Wat, who tried to withstand the pain for the sake of his companions. Gene Jr took his club and charged at the skeleton through the opening in the door. Wat finished it off with swift blow from his pike. His victory was short lived, however. The other skeleton knocked him in the head and the world went dark for Wat.

‘No. I can’t go down. I need to get up. I need to get home to my boy. I need to get home.’

Wat was filled with a second wind of strength and stood back up. Gene and Audris had done their best to keep the remaining skeleton at bay—but KEPT. MISSING. Just as Wat stands back up, the skeleton hits Wat again. He doubles over in pain. Audris throws another bolt at the skeleton, but misses. AGAIN. Wat pulls himself back up and knocks off one of the skeleton’s arms with his pike. Gene Jr takes a swing with his club, but misses. The skeleton takes advantage of the miss and hits Wat on the head, knocking him unconscious once more.

When Wat came to once more, he found the skeletons were defeated and their remains had been looted. Audris proclaimed that she had defeated the skeleton by shattering its skull. Wat looked at the younger elf with disbelief. Considering he’d only seen her miss fantastically, Wat found this victory very unlikely.

The three elves returned to Wessex for a long rest. Wat needed to recover after the skeleton battle. He did some research in his spare time, trying to find out more about the Well. Every time they learned something new about that place, it seemed to raise more questions than anything else. After doing some digging, Wat found that the place had once been a hobgoblin mine. They’d used slave labor—which explained the books they found.

The trio resumed their search a few days later. The headed down the northern passage and found stone statues of hobgoblins. Perhaps this was the start of the mine. When they came to the stairs, relief came over Wat. His heart would finally be at ease once they found Udo and made sure he’d made it home safely. The stairs lead down to a stone cavern with an impossible number of paths. They were rough like they’d been eroded away by an underground river that had long since dried up. The elves headed down the closest tunnel. They came across the large exoskeleton of an ant. Fearful of finding more, they unanimously decided to find a different path.

They eventually came to a large cavern and heard a strange noise. Was that Udo? Wat walked towards it. Then a stone came out of nowhere and fell on Wat’s head. He looked down and saw it was actually some sort of crab. It skittered away, clearly not looking for a fight, so Wat left it alone. Then another hit him. Then another. But they all scurried away. So Wat left them alone and simply walked with his shelf over his head to protect him from the falling crabs. Audris and Gene Jr decided to just walk along the side of the cavern to avoid getting hit by them.

As Wat got closer to the figure, he could see it was humanoid and injured.

“Hello! Are you hurt?” he called out.

“Help. Hurt.” The figure replied in a broken elvish.

Definitely not Udo, but Wat still wanted to help. He ran to the figure and helped him to his feet. His features were elfish, but he was unlike any elf Wat had ever met. He reminded Wat of a dark underworld prince he might have read about in a story as a child. He spoke in a dialect of elfish that Wat had never heard of before.

Wat covered him with his shield and helped him out of the cavern. Audris and Gene Jr followed quickly behind them. The strange elf murmured his thanks in broken elfish.

“I’m Wat Chmen.” Wat introduced himself.

“Elbrith,” the elf introduced himself.

“Are you lost? Do you need help getting out of here?”

Elbrith was dressed for adventure and exploration. Wat wondered if he’d gotten lost in the Well. How long had he been down there?

Elbrith shook his head and pressed something into Wat’s hand before waving goodbye and disappearing into the tunnels. Wat looked at his hand to find a large gem. Wat wondered if he’d ever see Elbrith again. He and his companions didn’t have the rations to remain in the Well much longer, but he made a silent vow to come back to find him again. He was also looking for Udo. The Well had suddenly become a much more interesting place.

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Gone in a Firey Blaze
Wat Sacrficies an Innocent Life

A normal day. Summer heat is intense. I scavenge for food. Then I was chosen from above. The hands of a god pluck me from the field. I'm brought into darkness. Then there was fire. Then there was nothing.

 

-told from the perspective of the field mouse that Wat sacrificed to a fire trap-

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Sure! Let the grumpy elf lead!
Why Wat is always grumpy

Wat scowled as he sulked in The Tavern. What a rotten place. What a rotten life. It was almost enough to make him start drinking again. Almost. No, Wat couldn’t start drinking again. Reyna had always complained about his drinking. Then again, his estranged wife always had something to complain about. She hated him. She hated their life. So much so that she took their boy and left him. 

Wat missed them both dearly. Their absence had nearly destroyed him. At first, he tried to drink to numb the pain. To forget. Then he got robbed while he was drunk. He was left with nothing. That’s how he ended up on the edge of the empire in a little shit hole called Wessex. 

It’d been several years since Wat had last seen his family. After several months in Wessex with everyone else who had no where to go and nothing to live for, Wat was tired. He was tired of living like this. He wanted to see his boy. He wanted to see his wife. 

Wat wanted to change.

Reluctantly, Wat had traded in drinking for looting. If he was going to make it out of Wessex and back to his family, he’d need gold and supplies. 

Somehow, he’d ended up with a group that regularly went out looting shit. They met regularly in The Tavern and picked up whatever sorry broke bastards were willing to risk their lives for gold and glory. 

On the day they were to meet, Wat waited impatiently in The Tavern. 

‘Where the blazes are Sgt Lieutenant and the annoying bard?’ Wat wondered to himself as he waited with Thorngage and Greycastle. The halfling and the human looked to him for guidance. Why? Wat could only wonder. The two were fairly new in Wessex, but had gone down to The Well with Wat, Sgt Lieutenant, and the annoying bard. 

Wat couldn’t lead the two down to The Well by himself. That place was too unpredictable. Too dangerous. Honestly, he didn’t want to go down there without Sgt Lieutenant. Wat’s life might be sad and pathetic, but he didn’t feel like dying just yet. He had to get back to his wife and his boy. 

Wat, Greycastle, and Thorngage were joined by three others. A halfling named Milly who had a bad limp. A human called Tulrath. And an elf called Audris. They turned to Wat for guidance, since he’d been in Wessex the longest. 

“Oh how the gods must laugh at my existence!” Wat thought bitterly. “These morons want a quest and that damn paladin isn’t anywhere to be found! Sure! Let the grumpy elf lead!”

Wat swore to take the paladin’s head for leaving him with these morons. And the bard’s too. 

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An Adventurer's Life for Me...
How I became a wizard.

From the diary of Prudence Goodfaith, Adventuring Wizard

It happened! The time has come! Last night I awoke in a cold sweat with my mind reeling. I was at once both puzzled and enlightened. I became aware of a whispered chanting as my eyes darted in terror across the dark corners of my room. Then I recognized the voice as… my own! My body, unresponsive to my mind's commands, became animated and furiously scribbled arcane words on paper. Then suddenly as it had come, the feeling passed, like a fever breaking.

It has been said that sometimes the dreaming soul can grasp truths too powerful for the waking mind to comprehend. Despite all my studies, I never dreamed that one day I would become a wizard myself! I defensively clutched my newly created spellbook to my chest. Apparently I was destined to a life of adventure after all…

 

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