Nightshade Pass

Let us just move past all the broken bones and carnage strewn across the mountain side, as well as the multitude of failed attempts that lead to extended convalescence under the care of a local healer; slipping between the borders of madness and sobriety. Let us also look past the poor weapon and armor choices, inappropriate skill management and miscalculations with the business end of a sword.

Instead, it is time to bask in the glorious defeat of that fiery harpy known as Xavara. It may have only happened once, but it counts, and I’m accepting the reward.


Yes my little mud buddy, I know you did most of the work with your mighty ground pulverizing punches. I also agree that things would have gone more smoothly had I not fallen headlong into the sulphur plumes on those first few attempts. In my defense, it was dark. But in the end I did offer up a few critical strikes and managed not to fall off the cliff, so double victory in my book.

I would regale you with more riveting details of the epic struggle, but I’m quite sure I need to visit a healer as that last crushing body slam has take a debilitating toll on my person and I’ve lost all feeling in my body.

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The time has come for me to face the terrors that plague me in the deep hours of the night. Not the terrible effects of too much Fireweed Ale, but something much more powerful.

I’ve been practicing the art of the Fire Skills and after a few false starts, a few singed hairs and some rather disastrous results to that wooden domicile I didn’t realize was there, I have begun to achieve mastery. Not Grand Mastery, just mastery in the sense of not igniting anyone that wasn’t meant to be ignited. The next tier is the Fire Elemental itself. But in order to conjure an elemental, you must defeat an elemental. Oh curses.

With that, I set off to Nightshade Pass to face the hazard and what would most likely be a fiery end. For me, not the elemental, she was already on fire.

I had recently learned the craft of creating an Earth Elemental so with the help of Mud Bug, I tried to snuff out this flaming harpy of ill will and hatred toward all mankind.

Oddly, it worked. Alley had agreed to be my spotter in case things got out of hand, or I got in over my head, or my leggings got incinerated. Oba, Gravedancer, Stank, Jobe and the others were off at the Pipsqueak PvP tournament and were thus not on hand to witness my victory.

Sure, they can kill a man just by looking at him, but this is just as worthy.

But with the use of Earth and Ice, I managed to stay alive. It was touch and go there for a minute, however, I walked away with no signs of smoldering.

Clearly the heat of the event had caused delirium, as Alley suggested I try my hand at the local troll that guards the bridge to the Hilt Fortress. After airing my surprise at her suggestion, I agreed to give it a try.

In my mind I was triumphantly victorious, kicking the troll off the bridge and sending him running into the lake to cool himself from the savage defeat I had given him. In reality, it was I who was thrown into the lake, on multiple occasions, and suffered the indignity of being stepped on like a pesky insect at a picnic. I’m not sure trolls actually picnic, but if they, that’s how it would have looked.

I took my first five defeats in stride. It’s not the first time I’ve suffered at the hands of a troll. And certainly won’t be the last. All that stomping on my head and attempts to pulverize my spleen must have worn him out.

It was my time to strike and trapping him by the bridge I led a savage and furious assault on his person. Even Mud Bug managed a few hits to his skull before he landed face down in the dust.

I was rather pleased with my effort, even though the score was 5 to 1 for those who might be keeping count.

And while he was down, I rifled through his pockets then took my leave at a judicious pace. I had a previous engagement in Desolis with a Fire Maiden that has possibly stared at the sun one too many times.


Ok, sure, I admit, you may have won the first five or six rounds, but who’s laughing now? I’m quite certain you’re not just going to pop up from that bit of head trauma.


My goodness, what a horrible, foul smelling scene, with disgusting bits of who knows what all over the place. Look what you made me do to my leggings!


Oh dear, I may have struck him a touch harder than I intended. I blame this on Mud Bug.

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While traveling on the road to adventure, I stopped off in Desolis to converse with the local trainer, skilled in the arts of Fire magic. After wading through her cackling prophecies and obvious cautions about the burning power of fire, she agreed to teach me some of the more advanced fire skills. But there was a catch. I would have to prove my worth by heading to Nightshade Pass, slay some Pillar of Flame named Xavara and bring back her ashes. Sounds a touch morbid actually, but she was insistent. No more training in Fire Skills until the quest was complete.

Lacking alternatives, I set out for Nightshade Pass. As soon as I entered I was greeted with the slings of arrows and the hurl of fireballs. Why are these bandits always so hostile? I had no choice but to silence their assaults with my own volley of savage immolations. I must admit to taking great pleasure in rooting them to the ground and pummeling sense into their heads. And the ground may have been on fire while this took place.

As I read over my instructions, it became clear to me that I was to head to the sulphur springs that have such mystical healing powers. And it also became clear, this was the new threat Alley had informed me about.

I was confident that, whomever Xavara was, she could be reasoned with and we still might be able to come to some sort of arrangement about opening a resort and spa within the springs. As she glimmered high atop the hills overlooking the lake, I did the courteous thing and introduced myself. At first she seemed to ignore me, which I assumed was her lost in thought at the beauty and grandeur of the scenery. As I drew closer, I did my best to gain her attention. This, sadly, was met with a barrage of fireballs and the shrieking of “Begone!”

I attributed this to her being startled at my sudden appearance and tried to explain that I had an opportunity to discuss. She responded by setting me on fire. This was indeed unexpected and I concluded this was an end to the negotiation phase. I then tried to explain that the maniacal trainer in Desolis sent me out here to get some ashes and that if she would be so kind as to scorch a couple of trees and some scrub, I would take those back as proof of her ashes and none should be the wiser.

A fireball to the head convinced me she disagreed with my plan and we were going to have to do this the hard way. The sword it will be then.

But that proved to be a slight miscalculation on my part. You see, you can’t fight fire with fire. My Flaming Sword of Smiting, Fire Arrow, Ring of Fire and Flame Fist only seemed to fuel her fury against me. She simply grew more powerful and when my leggings caught alight, I thought it was time for a new plan. If only I had brought a bucket of water, I would be done and heading back to town.

Woody might be useful in this situation so I brought him in to aid my endeavors. I also checked my book of spells and realized I did have a couple of Water based spells as well as few related to Earth. Those might snuff out her fiery temperament.

After discussing my new attack plan with Woody and assuring him that even though he was indeed a wooden chest that no harm would come to him by battling a creature made entirely of fire, we rushed headlong against her.

Xavara stood her ground with great vigor, but Woody and I were equally determined. An Ice Fist to the head proved quite effective, especially when combined with a dazzling array of sword combinations. It took time, but the pendulum of victory swung to our side.

And then before us must have been the ashes we were sent to retrieve. Carefully scooping them up and placing them in a satchel I brought just for the occasion, Woody and I were heading back to Desolis.

As promised, the mysterious trainer gave me insight into the dark art of creating, harnessing and controlling my own fire elemental. With near incessant words of caution, she bade me luck in my travels and then muttering and chuckling, she dashed away into the blazing heat of the sun with her newly found ashes.

“Well, yes, you’re welcome, glad I could help,” I offered as she ran in wild circles. Hopefully you aren’t up to anything dangerous and sinister with this new found loot.



Ah, this must be Xavara. Perhaps she is the one in charge of these springs?


A good evening to you! Do you have a moment to discuss a fabulous business proposal I have for you?


Get her Woody! This crazy fire harpy tried to set me on fire! I came here to discuss how we could best take advantage of these springs and you go and set me on fire! True, there may have been some talk of collecting your ashes, but I was willing to compromise. You refused, so now I have to use the sword and collect them the old fashioned way.


Oh, that’s a rather undignified way to go out.
See Woody, you didn’t go up like tinder, just like I said. There’s nothing wrong with my battle plans!

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When you first think of Nightshade Pass, it’s hard to get past the ill-mannered thugs, the deadly wolves, the out of control bears, the arrow slinging undead and that ill-tempered troll that would rather throw boulders than share a mutton sandwich. However, if you know where to look, Nightshade Pass is a gold mine of health and rejuvenation.

High on the cliffs and out of the way are the refreshing sulphur springs that I don’t believe too many know about. And they must be good as bandits guard the entrance and become a flurry of motion and menace to all who come near. But, once you clear them away, luxury is just down the path.

Tucked away, with a stunning view of the Hilt Fortress, are lovely springs that you can ease into to let the cares of the day slip by. Not only is it a grand place to wash off sullied chest armor and leggings, but you can stretch out in the pool, enveloped in soothing liquid heat that will soon have you forgetting about all the misdeeds that the evil-doers of the realm have been up to.

I have found that some of the pools are large enough for a group so you and your adventuring party can all take a break from the day’s events, while some offer a more solitary experience so you can easily focus on meditation.

On one of my previous trips, I tried to strike a bargain with the bandits, wherein they would let me begin construction on a small, but tasteful little resort and spa, where adventurers would pay a small sum to lounge in the healing water and we would all share the profits. I was under the assumption, since they were bandits, they were eager to make some extra coins for their purse. Instead of trying to come to terms over the deal, they saw fit to brandish weapons and assault me with fireballs and incantations of ill-will. I have to say, this was a rather inconvenient rock to throw in my tranquil pond, and thus each and every one of them had to be smited in turn. Alas, I was a touch too exuberant and left no one alive to sign the parchment of agreement. I tried to engage the horse in some trading, but it refused to be entered into a deal.

With that in mind, I have gone with the rule that possession is 9/10ths of the law and have begun to make plans to turn this little slice of Nightshade Pass into a bit of a retreat. It’ll take some time to get the right sort of exposure and something will need to be done to keep the bears and wolves under control so someone doesn’t get mauled in the middle of meditation, which will certainly put a damper of the calm people are trying to achieve.

I also think if the troll would let his guard down for a few minutes and give those bandaged feet a soak in the healing pools, he might have a more opportunistic and positive outlook toward humanity and thus be less inclined to crush a skull with a rock.

I’m also going to see if I can lure the Tour Guide out of his more sinister perch and see if he will take up a post near the springs to help with the foot traffic.


Oh my, that is indeed relaxing. It probably would have been better if I removed the armor first, but you never know what might be lurking in these unknown waters.


This is quite lovely. Isolated little pool, lovely scenery, fresh air. And no one will make a comment if I inadvertently make my own bubbles.


You give it a try Alley and I will stand watch in case one of those bandits decides to sneak on in here. No, no, rest assured, I cannot see through the water from this angle.


A lovely little tree for meditation.


Oh yes, equestrian facilities would be lovely. That horse seems a little spirited, but I’m sure once he’s given some oats and a brushing he’ll be at one with our idea. Not now you silly wolf, we’re in the middle of a business meeting with the horses. I’ll meet with your pack a bit later and see if we can work something out, but I’m not sure we have a need for stealthy and violent death.

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