Throalic Calendar, 30 day months
Earth Festival- 5 days
Veltom 1, 1505
Scipio – Boring Caravan. The things don’t get attacked enough. I did write this:
Wave your sword at me
Your skill is nonexistent
At you I do scoff
Very good I think. My companions are an odd group but acceptable. The windling is an interesting fellow. We have left the caravan and are headed for the forgotten city. This sounds like a lot of fun.
Lathyrus – Remind me: next time we enter a town, we gag the T’skrang.
CELDIC — OKAY, WE FINALLY GET TO A TOWN—TUREEN—AND WE’RE TREATED AS ROYALTY. I SEEMED TO BE THE ONLY ONE PUTTING 2 AND 2 TOGETHER. BUT I GET AHEAD OF MYSELF. SEEMS THE TUREENIANS WERE EXPECTING SOME “HEROES” AND SCIPIO DECIDED WE’D BE THEM. THEN WE FIND OUT THERE’S SOME SPIDER-THINGS IN THE AREA. HELLO! NOW GUESS WHO’S GOT TO GO BEASTIE HUNTING.
The lizardy fellow has helped convince the rest of this sadly-lacking-in-the-fires-of-justice party to undertake a task of Great Honour! We will free this town from the grip of unrighteous fear put upon them by oppressive monsters! The T’skrang appears hardy, as do the two elvish, (though of course, the privileged life afforded most elves guarantees at least better than minimal health & strength. The small one, however, I feel I shall have problems with. A tiny point of mischief in each day, no doubt. The townsfolk are either very desperate, or planning duplicitous actions against us.
—Bolg, son of Borg.
Veltom 1, 1505
A most interesting group this is becoming. A T’skrang who steals names and never shuts up, a pessimistic elf spellcaster, an ork with delusions of nobility, and annoying windling, a stereotypical elven archer and of course myself – follower of the warrior way.
If the T’skrang is going to insist on speaking for all of us, he will have to learn to stop talking long enough to listen to those around him lest they beat him into submission.
I battled an intimidating dandelion today. Pussy dandelion. Die dandelion. Such it did, quite easily. And so I moved on to a thistle that shot me a dirty look. But I let it to, for I knew the thistle knew not what it was getting itself into. So I picked berries and mashed them into a grainy pulp, which I bathed myself with. I felt very sticky and killed the thistle anyhow.
Veltom 2, 1505
We should have stayed with the caravan. Today the overgrown lizard’s tongue nearly got us all killed; only the obsidiman’s thick skin and swift sword saved us.
I had heard of Jehutra before, but I had thought them traveller’s fancies, blown wildly out of proportion. The sight of two of them rushing us like that made me nearly soil myself. Perhaps I had best pay more attention to traveller’s tales.
But worst of all, my spells were useless! I may as well simply flung dirt at the things! I must find more powerful spells!
Of course, that requires coin, as often as not. And in all these corpses, there must be more coin than we all of us made in a month as guards. And I swear the bodies of those Jehutra sparkled.
Perhaps I can let the lizard live a little longer. So long as the obsidiman stays with us, that is.
Scipio – A glorious battle and a vicious opponent. The fight was going our way except until the damned thing conjured some sort of maze. It is too bad for it that it decided to attack the obsidiman who is an impressive warrior. I am also impressed with the little windling. I have my doubts about the orc who spent the battle encased in ice and the elf who seemed to like throwing dirt at the things. I wrote this:
Spider in your maze
Are you hunting or hunted?
Too bad, the latter
A glorious battle! Thystonious was with us. Gunth was most impressive! When the two beasts attacked he flew up out of reach and (I so wrongly thought) out of the battle. Much to my (and my companions’) surprise, proceeded to swoop and attack the foul beasts! Even more to our surprise, he struck a crippling blow hacked off one of the beasts legs, at which point it began to with draw.
Unfortunately, Scipio bore the brunt of the beast’s initial attack. When we moved up and re-engaged the beast we were able to kill it. Then the beast’s mate (?) cast a strange spell and conjured up some sort of maze. Somehow I came to be separated from my companions. A few tense moments later the beast engaged me in glorious one to one combat. Only by the grace of Thystonious was I able to defeat it. When the beast died the maze crumbled and collapsed.
I feel disappointed by mine combat performance. I find when waging battle, tis wise to direct all attention at the war at hand. But alas, mine mind was clouded with a ridiculous obsession…the old wise man back at the town, he smelt of sour milk. And I remembered my tribe leader from an age gone by. He too smelt of sour curded goat’s milk. Why do all great aged leaders smell such? Does the rancid stench make them great? Or does greatness exude yon odor? When confronting giant spiders, swooping out of the sky in a suicidal charge, pondering wise men and their dairy-esque stench is simply inappropriate. I hope the others didn’t notice…but as I was thinking of such, they were inside that maze. I can’t afford to let that happen again. This shall not become a habit.
CELDIC: IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE, I DIDN’T DO MUCH. ITS MORE THAN DISCONCERTING TO SEE AN ARROW SHATTER ON IMPACT—THINK I BETTER MAKE A NOTE TO GET SOME BETTER ONES THE NEXT TIME A FLITHING SPIDER SHOWS UP. I CAN SAY, THE LEGENDS ABOUT OBSIDIMEN ARE—UNDERSTATED. THE T’SKRANG’S ALMOST AS GOOD AS HIS BOAST BUT WE MAY HAVE TO TEACH HIM HOW TO SHUT UP! I SHOULDN’T BE ANGRY. HELL’S-EYE-TEETH, ITS NOT AS IF I WAS MUCH—ENOUGH. ILAN ISN’T HERE SO I SHOULDN’T FEEL LIKE THIS. IF THE OTHERS FOUND OUT, WHAT’D THEY THINK? THERE SI SOMETHING I SHOULD THINK ON—WHY DID THOSE WOODS SEEM SO…ODD?
Bolg: The evil has been thwarted. I was trapped in a deadly hail of thorned ice…but enough of that. We lived, as the Great Sky Thief-Warrior wills. The mosquito and the lizard & stone-man appear to have acted bravely..as for the rest, tails…
ON the road again. I HATE TO ADMIT IT, BUT I’M GLAD I DECIDED TO LEAVE HOME TO SEE THE WORLD. HAD I KNOWN THE CHANCE OF SAVING THE BLOOD WOOD… BUT I FEAR MY COMPANIONS TRULY DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE GETTING INTO; AND THAT IS GOING TO GET ONE OF US KILLED AND THE REST OF US—I’M STARTING TO SOUNDS LIKE ILAN. MAYBE HE WAS RIGHT—TOO LATE TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT IT. I JUST HAVE TO KEEP MY EYES OPEN AND EARS TO THE WIND. IF ALL GOES WELL, THE NEXT 18 DAYS WILL BE ENOUGH TIME TO GET THE OTHERS TO UNDERSTAND LATHYRUS’ (AND MINE) FEARS.
Scipio: I am beginning to think all Elves are pussies. “Whah Bloodwood Waa”. They should be saying, “worthwhile goal, possible adventure and glory”. Everyone else is ready to go, I will give the Elves a chance to explain their apparent cowardice.
Our journey began quietly and uneventful. The first day was most pleasant. A glorious gift from Jaspree and Upandal. Such beauty and abundance of life. Only a few years ago this land was barren and Horror scarred. The second day was equally beautiful until we were ambushed. Our journey had been so pleasant and uneventful that we had almost forgotten about the dangers we could also be facing.
It was a classic ambush, at a constricted section of the trail. The Ringleader (?) of the Bandits stopped us on the trail and sprung the trap. Fortunately, their archery was rather ineffectual and we were able to battle our way out of the ambush. We lost none of our party (though Celdic and Scipio were badly injured) and we were unable to determine if we killed any of the Bandits as they carried off their wounded.
Next time we may not be so lucky (or will they).
Bolg – day 9
Thank the Great Raider in the Sky! An inn—a stop and a BATH! Some of my noble comrades are beginning to get ripe, if not downright septic—especially the wounded. My people manage to keep clean no matter the daily conditions, so I am not too potent myself. But tell me—how does one only 12 lbs heavy carry such an odor?
I AM FEELING MUCH HEALED NOW. LATHYRUS AIDED MY HEALING WITH SOME HEALING FOOD AND HERBS. I FEAR I WOULD HAVE DIED—I COULD FEEL IT AN IT SCARED ME SOMEWHAT. DOESN’T MATTER—I’M ALIVE…FOR NOW, AT LEAST. THERE’S STILL A MATTER OF THE BLOODWOOD—IF WE WERE SO BADLY BESTED BY HUMAN THIEVES, THEN WHAT HAPPENS IN ANOTHER NINE DAYS…BEST NOT DWELL ON IT NOW. IF I DO I FEAR I MAY RUN OFF AND RETURN HOME AND THAT IS A SHAME I’M NOT SURE I WISH TO FACE. TONIGHT, WE ARRIVED AT MIDLAND.
Bolg – Those drunken fools! All relaxation is understandable, but I fear this may delay our quest!
Scipio- Head Hurt!
CELDIC: LAST NIGHT WAS FRIGHTENINGLY REAL. WE WERE ATTACKED IN THE NIGHT. FIVE CHAIN MAILED ORKS BROKE IN WITH NO WARNING. I WAS LUCKY, MY DAGGER SAVED ME. SCIPIO WAS BLOTTO, SINGING THE WORST HAIKU EVER IN HIS SLEEP OF ALL THINGS. GUNTH FOUGHT VALIANTLY THOUGH FORTUNE WAS NOT AS KIND AS ON OTHER ENCOUNTERS, IT DID HELP. BOLG MANAGED TO DO SOME IMPRESSIVE THINGS. AFTERWARD, THE WATCH ARRIVED. THEY ALLOWED US TO KEEP THE ARMOUR WEAPONS AND COIN. BOLG HAS TAKEN ONE SET OF ARMOR, AND ANOTHER—MINE—I’LL EXCHANGE FOR COIN AND PERHAPS BETTER ARMOR. LATER, TODAY, WE GO TO THE INTERROGATION.
Scipio – Why is it that I make decisions that make my have to see more elves. I hate elves. The Blood Wood was not as bad as our party’s elves made out. The Blood Wood Elves did dress nice. Of course the blood moss or whatever is not ready, so the pompous bastard Treacle or Trenton or something, says “Hey, do me this favor.” “Kill these slavers.” Bastard Elves!
I HAVE SEEN HOW STUPID WE’VE BEEN. WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THE BLOOD ELVES DIDN’T WISH A CURE. THE EVERLIVING FLOWER IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF THE MOST CURSED OF OUR KIND. I WAS VERY EAGER TO USE SLAVER-HUNTING AS AN EXCUSE. BUT DO WE LET THEM KEEP THE FLOWER? FIRST THINGS FIRST. TAKE THE SLAVERS. GET THE IVY FOR THE WIZARD—AND PERHAPS SEEK HIS COUNSEL REGARDING THE FLOWER. IMMORTAL BLOOD ELVES WOULD BE AN ABOMINATION AKIN TO THE HORRORS.
Scipio – Elves with battle plans is a bad sign!
Bolg —A glorious Death is better by far than the prospect of an inglorious life. Freedom is every orc’s (and lower creature’s) right! Crush the cursed Therans and their traitorous accomplices.
Scipio -This smells like a trap. After getting our asses kicked we find ourselves together in an unguarded room with no guard. I will continue this entry later unless I am unable.
What great joy I feel in intruding on others’ commerce. Those we shall attack are not necessarily the proprietors of the slavery operation. Some baron may sit on his comfy chair, decreeing and other neat verbs, supporting the slavery operation. But again, such am I as the slavers; paid by a guy with a comfy chair, paid by another guy with an equally comfy chair. Alas, I have lost interest.
Well, the battle plan was mine, but no-one objected to it, so the blame lies upon us equally…although I do seem to recall objecting to this whole fiasco from the outset. “Let’s go the Blood Wood” they said…”Let’s help him out and go after those slavers” they said…Well, I hope they enjoy being slaves. At least slaves get fed frequently…although, I admit, they seem to have left us a bit to much of our gear to be keeping us as slaves… The mosquito is working on the door and… he’s got it open. More later.
I KNEW THINGS OUTSIDE OF BLOODWOOD WOULD BE DIFFERENT. THE CHOICE WAS EITHER BE BRAINSUCKED BY BLOODWOOD POLITICS OR THE UNKNOWN SLAVERS. SO I WAS, OF COURSE, GOING TO GO WITH THE SLAVERS—BUT PASSIONS KNOW WHO FOOLISH I WAS TO GO ON WITH THIS. PERHAPS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BEST TO SIMPLY SNEAK TOWARDS PARLAINTH. BUT, ALAS, WE WERE CAPTURED AND HAVE AWAKENED IN DIRE STRAIGHTS.
Scipio – The Orc was dying. It took the Passion Garlen to help. In the shrine the obsidiman and Archer played their instruments while I recited an impromptu haiku.
The poison in vein
Courses and burns heart and brain
Garlen heal his pain.
Lathyrus – The mosquito got the door open – fat lot of good it has don us. We seem to be trapped in an abandoned (?) kaer… with the entire south wall just—gone. What’s left is littered with corpses, and I fear we will soon join them.
Yesterday, when we first awakened here and Gunth opened the door f our “cell”, we first attempted to go upstairs (the lizard, of course, was leading, and the rest of us following along like sheep, as usual. I have marked us accordingly.), but were turned back by a wall of fog which filled us with an unnamed dread.
All but Bolg, who apparently lacks the wit to know fear. He forged ahead, bellowing. Were it not for that, we might have won free of this place by simply descending the stairs. But—while we could not summon the courage to follow Bolg into the mist—neither could we leave him entirely behind, and so we waited on the landing of the floor on which we started.
Too close, unfortunately, to a locked and warded door; the mosquito and the lizard found the temptation beyond them and picked the lock. Fortunately the room beyond was a shrine to Garlen, and not, as I had feared, the lair of some trapped Horror. (I had assumed from the corpses outside that the guards had been placed to keep something in. Perhaps they were merely guarding this place from harm. Ineffectively, as the missing south wall and their own death can testify.)
Fortunately indeed, for no sooner than I had identified the statue in the center of the room, Bolg returned to us, staggering in babbling of a glowing creature on the roof, winged maggots and flying stingrays… and then collapsing, with no apparent wounds to account for it.
With my paltry knowledge of herbs, I am the closest thing to a healer among us (I shudder to think what would happen should I take injury! Garlen preserve me!), and I could do nothing for Bolg until the obsidiman, in moving the orc to the feet f Garlen’s representation here, found a wound on the back of his neck, like a huge beesting.
I applied a simple poultice my mother used to use to draw the poison from true bee stings, while Sun Tzu played a pipe and Celdic uncased that great lute he’s been lugging around. Scipio recited a poem even more annoying than most, and I had to fight an urge to say “Damnit, Jim! I’m an elementalist, not a doctor!” I do not understand this urge, nor do I know anyone named “Jim”. It troubles me.
In any case, Garlen apparently either accepted our offerings of talent (or as likely aided us to silence us…at least the lizard) and cleansed the poison from Bolg. I have not yet decided whether or not to be grateful, for this morning when we set out once again to leave, the mysterious fog materialized below us on the stairs, trapping us on the upper floors. I fear this delay has killed us.
CELDIC: IT SEEMS WE ARE T BE OFFERINGS FOR THE VILE FOG THAT TURNS MY HEART TO FEAR EACH TIME WE’VE COME ACROSS IT. THE SPIRIT IN THE TOWER WAS FREED BY LATHYRUS—TO OUR BETTERMENT. WE NOW KNOW HOW TO KILL THE HORROR—SOMEWHAT; THOUGH THE DETAILS ARE UPON THE WIND ALONE, I FEAR. WE HAVE FOUND THE WATER SOURCE OF THE TOWER AND IT IS WELL-GUARDED—FORTUNATELY, WE OUT-THOUGHT WHOMEVER CREATED THE WARDING SO WE’LL NOT DIE OF THIRST. BUT MAYHAP I GET AHEAD OF MYSELF. WE MUST STILL DEAL WITH THE MIST.
Bolg – When will these elves learn that you cannot avoid danger when in an inherently dangerous situation? There is no shame in dying when outmatched… and though I don’t seek death, I believe I would rather die than be as fearful as some here. The dancer was, after all, finally defeated (and freed from torment). What more honourable path could we tread?
Scipio – This party is the biggest bunch of idiots. We are going to conquer the world with our love and trust and kindness. We met a troll and instead of being wary we greet him with open arms. Am I the only sane one here.
How am I going to get my 10 silver back from the Obsidiman? I mean, I can’t just take it, or they’ll think I’m stealing the party funds. Maybe I could challenge the obsidiman five silver at something and get a bit of it back. Or maybe I’ll just take it from the elf. He’ll never miss it. He’ll never miss it!
There is much to be said for a long, dishonorable life.
WE HAVE ENCOUNTERED THE HORROR – WE SPLIT AS SOON AS WE GOT THE DEVIL OUT OF THE KAER WIELDING THE GARGOYLE STAFF—THE WINDLING TOLD US THE VILLAGERS HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO GET OUT BUT MAYBE THE STAFF WILL PROVE THE KEY.
Bolg: Life was sweet. Being close to death, often, leaves one exhilarated. My forefathers would be proud of me, and I am humbled to realize that—almost, almost an honourable state.
Garlen grace us w/a quick, glorious fight.
Bjorn: Encountering a mist, we were all able to take it by surprise. I as well as others able to get several good preliminary blows in on the abominations, but—seemingly no effects to our dismay. I, Bjorn, a fierce warrior as well as Bolg, the Rock man, and frog breath were rendered unconscious, but Gunth mosquito man extraordinaire was able to kill him and save us all. I’m near death, but much richer now.
Lathyrus – we were magnificent! And there are now 7 of us. We should simply call ourselves the Magnificent 7! But I should explain. After my last entry, we proceeded to the roof, to see if some escape could be found there. In a way, it could, for we encountered there a spirit who sought to dance with us. The ork danced first, but must have tripped over his own earthen feet, for he soon fell unconscious. The lizard danced next, and tried to stick a sword through it! He seems inclined to stick a sword in anything that moves. I will wake him, when I must, with prods from the full length of my staff. But I digress—I stepped in on Scipio’s dance, and my light feet carried me through to free the spirit from the force that had made it dance so; in return, it told us how we could be freed from the kaer.
The first step, unfortunately, was to defeat the creature in battle. This we tried to do first thing the next morning, seeking it where it laired in the kaer’s crypts. We did not find it, but were set upon by walking dead who went into frenzies when we wounded them.
We were ourselves injured, specifically the ork; it is merely the lizard’s misfortune that his name sounds so like “sleep”, for surely Bolg spends more time unconscious than awake! In any case, we again retreated upstairs to rest and heal before seeking out the horror.
When we arrived upstairs, we encountered a troll, apparently stuck here like us. Scipio wanted to stick a sword in him, of course, but once the obsidiman calmed him down, we were able to exchange tales, and gladly welcomed another fighter into the party.
On our second day of searching, we found the horror…or rather, it found us. We were soundly defeated, able to do nothing but flee in terror. I suspect this is a power it uses on us deliberately, but the fear is no less real for this.
Hoping the staff we found in the Horror’s lair was a key to release us from the prison on the valley without fighting the creature again, we spent the next day trying to leave. To no avail. That night found us huddled in the temple of Garlen, hoping her power would shelter us.
Shelter us it did, to a degree. The horror found us there, but could not cross the threshold. It could taunt us, though. The T’skrang and the troll both had to be restrained from rushing into battle in response to the foul images it showed us.
And it cast spells. Indeed, the foul creature sullied my own field of Elamentalism with its warped touch! I was so enraged I responded in kind, and (to my surprise, I freely admit) harmed it with a spell that I had not even cast at the best of my ability! This suggested a weakness on which I based a plan.
The next day I carefully attuned a spell from my grimoire for use; if it worked, it would hold the being still while we ought it. Sun Tzu and Gunth would hide in the anteroom to the temple and when the Horror appeared at nightfall, I would immobilize it so that we could all attack it at once.
No plan survives first contact with the enemy, though. Although my spell was well cast, the being was not held! Still, we surrounded it and fought it. I saw many great blows strike the horror, but few seemed to harm it.
One by one our fighters fell to the horror. Bolg first, of course. The troll second. But then, after taking injury, the Mist fled! Obviously, it was weakened!
The ork may say what he likes about my courage (when the great oaf thinks he’s mumbling under his breath, everyone in camp can hear), I simply know enough to fight only when there is hope. When I saw that the mist was in fear of us, I didn’t hesitate to follow; only the windling’s speed and the lizard’s swift reactions put them before me in the chase.
Indeed, I rather lost myself. Apparently thinking myself a T’skrang, when I saw Scipio slide dramatically down the rope we had needed to get the obsidiman up the stairs past the warding, I followed, badly burning my skin on the way down.
In any case, the mosquito’s and lizard’s leads did them no good, for when the rest of us caught up with them, they were trying to puzzle out the secret door to the horror’s lair, as if the latch weren’t glaringly obvious. I opened the door and we entered.
The mist rose to meet us, and the battle continued as if it had not been interrupted. Again our blows rained down on the creature, and again none seemed to harm it. At least it seemed to keep it too busy to use the power of fear that had defeated us days before.
Still, we fell one by one. Scipio leapt to attack and was knocked unconscious in one blow. I was struck so hard my vision darkened and weaving threads became difficult. When the mighty obsidiman fell, I thought all was lost, but all knew there was no hope now but to kill the mist.
Only Celdic, the windling, and I still stood to fight the fiend, and then a spear of ice struck Celdic and dropped him to the floor amidst the bones of those who had tried before us. I watched my most effective spell of the battle pass through the being without harming it, and despair overcame me. The windling flew in for a last desperate blow, for surely none would be alive to fight in another moment.
And the mist was defeated! As Gunth struck it, it gave an unholy wail and diminished to a single milky white pearl of fog!
As I ran up the stairs to the temple, that pearl clenched in my hand, the words of the dancer echoed in my head. I must put the pearl on Garlen’s altar, light the forge of Akarem, and say that name aloud.
The last light of day was still fading as I stoked the kaer’s forge, Gunth fanning the flames with his wings. I spoke the word, and the pearl shone so brightly day returned to the valley. The people of the village ran excitedly to the kaer and—as they climbed the stairs to the roof—aged, died, and crumbled to dust.
I hope never again to see people so eager to die. How terrible the long years in the horror’s thrall must have been for such peace to appear on their faces even as life fled from them! The last words of their leader still ring in my ears: “Let not the world forget the people of Akarem.”
The tale must be told, and we must tell it. Of course, if we’re going to tell tales of ourselves, we must have a name to stick in men’s minds. Our deed was magnificent. We are seven. Why not the magnificent seven? I shall suggest it to the party at our next meal.
(next day, before breakfast)
Lathyrus- now that the exhilaration of success has worn off, I have rethought my idea for the name Magnificent Seven. I believe “The Crazy Eight” would be more accurate. True, there are only 7 of us, but we may acquire a new member some day, and until then, we can just claim an invisible eighth party member no one but the windling can see.
After all, we are crazy. What sane people would be wandering around with “use me” written on their foreheads and “kick me” on their arses, sleeping on the ground more often than in a bed, fighting creatures guaranteed to give us nightmares far into an old age we’ll likely never reach? If we were sane, we’d all be leading the quiet lives of tradesfolk in some peaceful corner of Barsaive.
It’s about time I got the recognition I deserve. When the party was falling unconscious and tripping as they fled…I flew in, sword dug in the demons…and horror died. Die horror die.
And they call themselves warriors! Ha! They underestimated me. They boasted. They attacked. Until I opened the locked doors. I felled the evil. Perhaps I should strike out on my own. These boisterous ragamuffins are only holding me back. Then I can restore peace and order to the galaxy…
KAER AKAREM WAS QUITE A BIT UNPLEASANT—TO SAY THE LEAST. I’M JUST GLAD TO BE ALIVE; THOUGH THERE WERE TIMES WHEN OUR LESS—WISE—MEMBERS NEARLY GOT US KILLED. SLEEPIO AND BOLG NEED A PLACARD TO REMIND THEM THAT THEY SHOULD LOOK BEFORE THEY ENTER UNMAPPED ROOMS IN RUINED KAERS. TWO STONES MAKE UNPLEASANTLY HEAVY PARTY MEMBERS.
Scipio – I hate elves, especially the high faluting thorny kind. That is with one exception: the Empress of the Elves (Blood). She was quite charming. I also think she was giving me the big eyes. That darn Gunth caught the rose that she threw at me. The windling is on me list but for now I want to be out of here and back to Haven.
Takasis said that we have been “honored”. The rose that Queen Alachia threw to us will allow us free passage through the Bloodwood for a year and a day! I am glad to be leaving this ghastly place. With luck, we will not have need of this rose, now or ever.
I’M GLAD TO HAVE GOTTEN AWAY FROM THE BLOODWOOD. THOUGH, IT FEELS GOOD TO’VE SPAT IN THE PLANS OF KALOURIN. I CAN’T SAY THERE’S MUCH ABOUT BLOOD ELVES THAT I’D CALL TRUSTWORTHY—BUT KALOURIN WAS BEYOND VILE. THE RIDE FROM THE WOOD FOUND ME QUITE JUMPY. EVERY SHADOW—EVERY SOUND—MADE ME THINK KALOURIN AND HIS ILK WERE LYING IN WAIT. EVENTUALLY I MANAGED TO SLEEP A NIGHT WITHOUT JUMPING UP WHEN THE WIND CHANGED.
A DAY’S RIDE OUTSIDE MIDTOWN SAW US ATTACKED. NOT BY KALOURIN—ODDLY ENOUGH. BUT I WAS SO TENSE, I FOUND MYSELF QUITE WILLING TO GO TO BATTLE AND DISPATCHED TWO OF OUR OPPONENTS. THE LOSS OF LIFE BOTHERED ME ABOUT AS MUCH AS SWATTING FLIES—HAVE I CHANGED SO MUCH? IS THIS THE SORT OF THING ILAN MEANT ABOUT THE WORLD CHANGING A PERSON?
Today we resume our journey to Haven. Hiermon must surely think us dead, we have been delayed so. But what a tale we will tell! We have spent the last two days here at Midland trading post resting and recovering from the wounds we received on the 4th against a band of 10 ork scorchers. They broke and ran once we felled 3 of their number. Such a price for them to pay, trying to extort a toll from unwilling adepts such as us. Unfortunately, our new found companion, Bjorn Borg was grievously wounded and unable to continue his journey with us. It is with a sad heart that we leave him here to recover from his injuries. Troll swordmasters can be handy to have around. he had only been with us since we left Kaer Akarem. On the positive side, we were able to sell the 2 scorcher horses and the weapons and armor we took from the bodies. We were able to get several hundred gold coins for the lot, a very tidy sum for the group!
We journey on!
Our mission is complete at last! But such a strange ending………
We arrived back in Haven this afternoon and after turning in our mounts at the livery we made our way straight to Hiermon’s. Upon our arrival, a strangely subdued Brenna led us in to meet with Hiermon. Hiermon was acting most strangely. He didn’t show much, if any, interest in the “prized” Blood Ivy. Unfortunately, we soon had our explanation…..After some rather subdued small talk, Hiermon thanked us and began to speak of payment—at which point he went board stiff and then collapsed!
Before we could rush to his side, who should walk in but Kalourin! “Any who would harm Kalourin of Bloodwood shall pay the cost! You sought to expose me and take my power; now I will have your blood!” he shouted. With that he cast some sort of damaging spell upon our group and 2 henchmen rushed into the room to attack us. As we moved to deal with the henchmen, Kalourin readied another spell. Before he could cast his second spell, the amulet around his neck began to glow and give off a light too bright to look at! At first we thought it part of the spell, then Kalourin screamed and collapsed. As this occurred, a strange yet familiar mist began to swirl forth from the amulet! As the mist solidified into a solid form, we realized that we must once again battle and defeat the mist from Kaer Akarem once again!
Fortunately, with Kalourin down (presumably dead) and a horror in our mist, the Henchmen decided it was time to leave. With that, we were able to concentrate more fully on the mist. the battle went much better this time, probably because we had Hiermon there to help us. Once again, Gunth struck the fatal blow killing (?) the mist.
After the battle Hiermon theorized that the reason the mist was able to return was that it had created a blood tie with Kalourin. It was this tie which allowed the horror to sacrifice Kalourin and gain entry back into this world.
As for the Amulet which started our “grand” adventure, Hiermon says that it has 5 thread ranks, there are no deeds associated with the amulet, it grants the wearer increased resistance to attacks, and too weave a thread to the amulet we must learn it’s name.
Bolg Tomorrow, my Master takes me to the skies themselves. Hope we see something useful! My training goes well..I’m happy to see that my comrades are improving themselves..After all, the Ancient one once said “He who strives for excellence dies in greater purity.” How true.
You need to know everything’s name. This sucks! All our magic stuff needs to be named or info found on it. The good thing though is that because of this I was able to convince the normally cowardly elves that we can find the library of Parlainth. To go about this I visited an info broker T’Skrang. She sold me a map that mentions a library. I believe the party is very excited to try our hand at the dangers of Parlainth. We have spent a week or two preparing ourself for the trip. Meditating and learning some new skills. Also; the Obsidiman and myself have had our swords improved by a weaponsmith. My new sword is beautiful. The gates of Parlainth awaits! To Adventure!
AFTER A WEEK OF REST AND MEDITATION, I FIND MYSELF CHANGED. I CANNOT EXPLAIN IT BUT I FEEL FAR MORE CAPABLE OF TRAVELING WITH MY COMPANIONS. LATHYRUS WAS TOLD THAT HIDEOUS STAFF WOULD AID HIM—IF HE LEARNED ITS NAME. INITIALLY, WE THOUGHT WE’D GO TO THROAL—THAT PLAN CHANGED. TWO CHILDREN, JASOM AND JEZRA, WERE PLAYING NEAR THE MAP WALL. THE BOY TOUCHED A FRESH DRAWING AND FELL INTO A DEEP SWOON THAT NOTHING WOULD WAKE. WE TOOK THE BOY TO HIS MOTHER AND SHE TOO BECAME ILL. BOLG WANTED HONOR AND GLORY; SCIPIO WANTED FAME. ME, I GUESS ALL I WANTED WAS FOR THE BOY TO BE WELL AGAIN. SURE, SOME PART OF ME WANTED TO SEE PARLAINTH—BUT JASOM REMINDED ME OF SOMEONE AND I HAD TO DO SOMETHING. IN THE MEANTIME, LATHYRUS SEEMED TO HAVE TAKEN IT IN HIS HEAD THAT HE WAS HORROR-TOUCHED. IT GAVE HIM A REASON TO GO HORROR-HUNTING.
So, we’re with this loony Skrang in Parlainth. The equally loony Skrang in our party is annoying the honey out of my wings by counting his steps, fussing about making his precious little map. Stone lizard refuses to go any further. “It’s in there. I’m not going any further.” Meanwhile, Malaria is vibrating inside my sheath, ready to kill something.
Inside, we’re face-to-face with the horror; a hideous spider-rodent-nasty thing. We all attack with our swords, launch arrows, what not. All we manage to do is hurt one another. The obsidiman wasn’t looking too good.
The ork gets knocked out. No surprise. Pretty much everyone else lies down to take a nap.
So, I’m getting ready to deliver the death blow, when the horror launches a fireball that knocks me on my cute little ass. Before I get back on my feet, the obsidiman splatters the horror, and everybody wakes up, kissing SungSu’s feet. Let him have his victory. It’s good for his ego—after all, we know who the horror killer really is.
So, we limp back to Parlainth, and we go to the infected/possessed children’s hospital. Everybody’s dancing and all happy, and the kids are no longer possessed.
Skrang harrasses the map people, trying to pawn off his map, disbelieving it’s worth more than a couple pieces of silver. Silly lizard.
Lathyrus- A week since the fight—the others are finally moving around again. I’ve managed to tie a thread to the staff of Akarem; I will have to test its effectiveness.
I spoke to Haramon yesterday. He could give me no new information on our magical things. he suggested we go to Throal to research them. Since I’ve been arguing for this for weeks, I don’t think there’s much chance of it. Since we are most likely going back into Parlainth, Haramon has asked us to capture a shadowmant for him. Seems marginally safer than horror hunting.
Spoke to the other, and now we’ve made preparations to catch a shadowmant (Ha!). A net to trap it. A box to carry it. What we need is some drugs to knock it out.
After attacking (what at the time appeared to be) a Jehutra, with my boot and belt, wearing no armor, catching this manta-ray from hell should seem easy.
I have dreamt nightly of my demise, as well as that of several of my companions. But I have no need or desire to allow dire premonitions to decide my actions. On to a glorious Death!!!
p.s. need ale badly
--I mean adventurers—over at the Restless Troll who had encountered shadowmants recently, and they gave us the means to find the spot, in the form of the hat of their fellow who they had lost there. They described him as "a good elementalist, "which gave me pause, but at least shadowmants kill quickly by their report.
Well, that went better than I expected. I was unable to find the necessary herbs to make a poison, but a wait of six weeks to acquire them was out of the question, so we went without. Other preparations went better:
I met some fellow idiots
When we rose in the moring, a wizard—an apprentice of Haramon’s—awaited us in the taproom of Loke’s Legacy—sent to assist us in the City.
Things proceeded smoothly from there—Celdic’s talents guided us directly to the building in which we found the dead elementalist’s body. (And, seeing how much the effort took out of him, and how little he complained, I swear the next time that damned ork refers to “mincing elves” I’m going to make his life thouroughly uncomfortable.) I appropriated the man’s grimoire—his friends likely have no use for it.
Then a problem arose. We found a stairway too narrow for any but us elves to climb, so climb we did—right into the lair of at least six shadowmants, who were quite excited by our presence. Gunth flew for help, since we’d found that the building’s main stairs also reached this room, but that left the three of us—a bowless archer, already hurt, an elementalist, and a fledgling wizard—to face the creatures at 2 to 1 odds.
Fortunately, the shadowmants’ fighting ability was overrated. None of us was more than scratched, and once the reinforcements arrived, we had killed, captured, or driven off all of the beasts within a few moments. Of all of us, only the ork was seriously injured (as usual); Haramon’s poultice kept him alive until we reached town, and the attentions of a healer have brought him to a point where he will likely live yet longer. Oh well, at least his weakness might keep him quiet for a few days.
But having another spellcaster around is nice; between the two of us we accounted for at least one of those damned beasts, and seriously weakened at least one other—it was hard to tell them apart with their constant wheeling around, but the one that was on fire was hard to miss! Too bad the wizard must go back to Haramon.
Scipio—It was a good battle. The ork was impressive. He jumped over the Obsidiman and then let out an impressive Battleshout. He then stood there admiring his handiwork. The shadowmants were pussies but I wrote a haiku none the less.
Fly silent shadows
Mantas in the rafters lurk
In the box you go
THE PAST FEW DAYS HAVE FOUND ME SURPRISED WITH MYSELF, AND MUCH MORE INCLINED TO STAY WITH MY TRAVELING COMPANIONS. PERHAPS I’VE GOTTEN AHEAD OF MYSELF A BIT…. WE ENTERED THE WINDING TWISTING WARREN AFTER STOPPING AT THE ENTRANCE TO GATHER MATERIAL. I THOUGH I COULD USE MY TALENT TO LEAD US BACK OUT SHOULD ANYTHING HAPPEN TO TAKE US OFF THE MAP. I WAS ALREADY TUNED TO THE LOST FELLOW’S CAP SO I TOOK THE FIRST SHOT. THE TALENT WORKED AND THE FIRST TWINGE OF PAIN WAS MORE A NUISANCE.
EVENTUALLY, WE FOUND OUR WAY TO THE TOWER. SCIPIO, MAPPING ALL THE WAY, CONTINUED TO DO SO AS WE WENT FLOOR BY FLOOR. EVENTUALLY, WE FOUND THE DEAD ELEMENTALIST. I’M GLAD, THE TALENT WAS BEGINNING TO ADD UP.
ACROSS A HALLWAY WE FOUND SEVERAL ROOMS WHERE THE SHADOWMANTS HAD APPARENTLY BROKEN INTO DESPITE BEING HEAVILY SHUTTERED. THE STRENGTH OF THESE CREATURES WAS SOMETHING I SUDDENLY THOUGHT OF AS FRIGHTENING AND SOMETHING I’D NOT CONSIDERED WHEN I WAS LOOKING AT NETS.
WE EVENTUALLY FOUND A VERY NARROW PASSAGEWAY AND STAIRWELL. NEEDLESS TOS AY, THE SWORDSMEN HAD TO STAY BEHIND. WITH THE MAGE, LATHYRUS, AND GUNTH IN TOW, I LED US UP INTO WHAT TURNED OUT TO BE THE LAIR. WE WERE WELL INTO THE ROOM BEFORE WE LEARNED THIS.
I ATTEMPTED ACCESSING A TRAPDOOR THAT I THOUGH MIGHT LEAD TO THE STAIRWELL THAT WE’D FOLLOWED GOING FLOOR TO FLOOR. MAYBE I WAS NERVOUS OR JUST TOO EAGER TO GET AWAY—BUT I DROPPED THE LANYARD AND THE DOOR SLAMMED SHUT. MOVEMENT OFF TO MY LEFT SUGGESTED I’D HAVE TO FIGHT.
GUNTH MAY HAVE CAUGHT MY MOVE FOR MY SWORD—OR HE’D ALREADY MADE A RUN FOR THE OTHERS, BUT HE WAS GONE BEFORE I’D MADE WHAT WAS PROBABLY A VERY STUPID MOVE. I ATTACKED ONE OF THE NEARER BLOBS OF MOTION.
A FEW MOMENTS INTO THE COMBAT, THE MAGE LIT UP THE ROOM BY IGNITING ONE OF THE SHADOWMANTS. THERE WAS A MOMENT WHEN I REALIZED JUST HOW CLOSE WE THREE ELVES WERE TO BEING KILLED BY SHEER NUMBERS. THEN A SOUND LIKE THUNDER IN THE PLAINS. I TURNED AND THERE STOOD BOLG AT THE TRAPDOOR. NEVER HAS SUCH AN UGLY SIGHT BEEN SO WELCOMED.
WITH THE OTHERS IN THE FRAY, WE SOON DISPATCHED THE EVIL BEASTS. TWO WERE CAPTURED. THREE WERE KILLED. THE OTHER TWO OR THREE FLED, HAMPERED BY THEIR WOUNDS. MAY THEY DIE BENEATH THE SUN.
BOLG, OF COURSE, WAS HURT. HIS WOUNDS WERE SLIGHT, BUT THEY HAD BEEN CAUSED BY THE POISON STINGERS. HARAMON’S POULTICE SEEMED TO HELP, AT FIRST; BY THE TIME WE REACHED THE GATES, THOUGH, LATHYRUS AND I HAD TO NEARLY CARRY OUR ORC FRIEND.
AFTER BRIBING THE GUARD TO LET US BACK IN—I STILL SAY, AS COPPERTOTE, THAT THE GUARD SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN NO MORE THAN 50 SILVER—GUNTH, LATHYRUS AND I WENT IN SEARCH OF THE HEALER. THE OTHERS WENT TO DELIVER OUR CARGO TO HARAMON.
WE GOT AS FAR AS AUDRA’S BEFORE WE HAD TO STOP. AUDRA TOOK US IN AND GUNTH BROUGHT THE HEALER. THE NEXT MORNING, SCIPIO WENT SHOPPING—PURCHASING FOOD AND GIFTS FOR AUDRA AND THE KIDS—AND I WENT IN SEARCH OF THE DEAD ELAMENTALIST’S FRIENDS; I GAVE MY WORD AND INTENDED TO KEEP IT. I STOPPED BY HARAMON’S AND GAVE HIM THE ODD SQUARE, ROUGHLY THE LENGTH OF A FOREARM, THAT WE’D FOUND IN THAT TOWER ROOM.
THE SECOND MORNING AFTER OUR RETURN, WE ARRIVED AT HARAMON’S. THE MAGE NEEDED TO CHECK IN, I GUESS, THE REST OF US WANTED TO KNOW WHAT WAS UP WITH THE SQUARE. WE WENT AFTER BREAKFAST. GUNTH AND SCIPIO WERE HURTING FROM THAT BRACKISH ORC-SWILL—I MIGHT ADD THAT SICK WINDLING’S CAN’T FLY. AT HARAMON’S THE SHOP WAS CLOSED. RATHER ODD FOR THE WEAPONSMITH TO BE CLOSED AT MIDDAY.
AS WE MULLED THIS I HEARD WHAT SOUNDED LIKE A SCUFFLE FROM HARAMON’S QUARTERS ON THE SECOND FLOOR. I RAN INTO THE SHOP WHEN I REALIZED THE DOOR WAS OPEN. I WAS HALFWAY UP THE STAIRS WHEN I SPOTTED THE SHOPKEEPER UNCONSCIOUS BEHIND THE COUNTER.
GUNTH WAS RIDING IN MY QUIVER AND HE WAS NOT HAPPY WITH ME. I SHALL HAVE TO REMEMBER TO APOLOGIZE TO MY LITTLE FRIEND. I DID TRY TO TELL HIM THAT HARAMON WAS IN TROUBLE—BUT HURLG MUST AFFECT THE MIND MUCH WORSE THAN I’D HEARD.
HARAMON’S DOOR WAS AJAR. FROM WITHIN I COULD HEAR MUFFLED SOUNDS BUT I WAS MOVING TOO FAST TO CONSIDER STOPPING. NOT TO MENTION THAT ANY HESITATION COULD HAVE FOUND HARAMON DEAD. HARAMON HAS DONE US FAR MORE GOOD TURNS THAN WE’VE HAD ANY RIGHT TO EXPECT AND I’D I’D BARGED IN ON THE THUGS. SOMEONE FLED OUT THE WINDOW, BUT I WAS TOO OCCUPIED BY THE ATTACKERS COMING AT ME. I SHOUTED TO GUNTH THAT SOMEONE HAD GONE OUT THE WINDOW, BUT OUR WARRIOR-THIEF WAS IN THE MIDST OF BATTLE BEFORE THE WORDS HAD FULLY PASSED MY LIPS.
AT THE BATTLE’S END, GUNTH AND I HAD SLAIN ONE OF THE RUFFIANS; SUN, ANOTHER. BOLG HAD BADLY FRIGHTENED A THIRD; WE HAD QUESTIONS FOR HIM. BUT HE COMMITTED D’YAN-ZHE AND HIS COMPATRIOTS HAD FLED OUT THE WINDOW. GUNTH FLEW OFF TO FOLLOW THE RUFFIANS, AND I TOLD HIM TO COME DIRECTLY BACK TO HARAMON’S WHEN HE HAD ANYTHING. HOPEFULLY, HE WILL BE ALRIGHT, AND MAKES IT BACK WITH SOME ANSWERS.
Bolg- Never Felt Better!
I found a strange smoking rock on the trail today… I’ve left it under a tree on the river bank; I’ll try to come back for it later.
Rua 14 (?)
I was starting to like the windling. In a show of indiscretion he went flying thru a brother yelling about “A horror”. Our punishment was a trip to nowhere town, the only action around here are these rolly jolly horrors. Funny looking but tough, Bolg was a little snack for one of them. Alas poor Bolg… I hardly knew ye. But Bolg’s death lacked sticking power. After being dead awhile he gets up and is ready to fight again. Everyone thinks he is a horror or horror touched and for some reason me as well. Strange!
Celdic: It has been a long journey since Gunth’s mis-spoken words sentenced our party to the road. We have encountered a series of rolling, tumbling boulder-beasts—I cared not for their true names. After one such series, Bolg was slain. I twas sad to see such an ugly countenance resting before the eternal; He had become likable in an irritating way. He rose later that night after something visited his corpse in the wagon. Mental note: Gunth should never be expected (counted on) to keep a good watch. I say this more as…an expression regarding his character… When the thing in the darkness was chased away from Bolg, Gunth left Sleepy-O asleep at the camp. When next we turned toward camp, we saw the misshapened thing hovering over our cohort. The next day’s journey found us all somewhat stressed by Bolg’s unexpected life and the incident with the thing by Scipio. We suspected our companions of being touched but had to wait a bit on having them prove otherwise. We encountered the remnants of a dwarf army; they too had been battling the boulder-beasts and their numbers had been cut to a third the initial strength. We fought alongside these stout warriors that night, more of these boulder-beasts—yet each wave has been mildly different. The only similarity is their voracious hunger. After Battle, we opted to camp together with the dwarves and continued on to this place. The town has been besieged by wave after wave of these horrifying creatures. They are frightened, of course, but it takes courage, I think not to go mad and flee into danger on the hope of making it. In the morning, we and the dwarves will likely… The warning bells!
Celdic: I still hurt! That worm-addled creature! I feel well-enough to chronicle our journey, though I have many more days left to heal….
The boulder-beasts were being summoned by an even greater Horror—a worm-headed parody of a name-giver. The morning after the town was attacked, we set out. Bolg and Scipio were not thought on as being touched, though I think Lathyrus still didn’t trust Bolg. Perhaps, between us, he is the wiser.
Our initial plan: Investigate the cavern the boulder-beasts were emerging from. The dwarves waited outside the cavern as we entered. Some personal notes—1) always keep a spare torch handy; 2) caves that are hot and dry are likely infested with horrors. That said, I’ll continue…
The tunnel ran on for about a hundred paces before opening onto a large cavern. The heat and dryness had me parched—though not so dry as to prevent the cold sweat the worm-head’s words illicited. It seemed to laugh as it told us it had been waiting for us… I’ve spent my waking days of my recovery piecing something together. But, again, I am ahead of myself.
Bolg, Sun, and Scipio engaged the beast while Lathyrus and I attacked at a distance. Not more than 8 blows fell on the horror before the most frightening sound I have ever heard filled the cavern—Sun was down and mangled, it was his cry of pain that had reverberated down into the dark place of my soul where fear resides.
I fired another arrow, beseeching the passions to guide my aim. I don’t know that they heard, but my arrow burrowed deeply into the creature. Then I was rendt with pain beyond words. The healers said my joints were twisted about and bons snapped as if a great set of chew-teeth had descended upon them. Much of what happened next was, and is, a haze. Bolg apparently frightened the horror away with a sound hit. Scipio and Lathyrus found a summoning circle which they promptly removed. Sun-Tzu and I were loaded on the wagon. I know that I passed out from the pain at some point.
Days to follow were a mixture of healing, ritual and contemplation. Though I complain (to no one but myself) a part of me feels that there is much that still needs to be done—including another trip to the cave. Wormface is bound to resume his its assaults on the town—its plans weren’t met as yet.
My thinking is that Wormface wanted heroes for some sort of blood ritual. Sending random boulder-beasts was naturally going to draw someone with the will to fight. And I think Wormface needs that sort for something more than a terror-feast. Too much effort has been spent. Or perhaps I’m over-thinking the thing’s motivations.
What an ignoble group these creatures seem sometimes… Among my people, any who had been as greatly faithful as I have would be considered worthy of honour forever after, even had he committed the hideous crimes of which I stand unjustly accused.
Tomorrow we go back to the caves to eliminate the horror/s… I yearn to prove, thoroughly and without doubt, that I am faithful to my noble upbringing and free of possession from any bad thing.
I have never felt stronger, or clearer of purpose. The enemies that have entrapt me shall pay with their very essence.
Celdic: More has happened on this week development and recovery than there ought to’ve. First, Bolg may actually be horror touched. At daybreak a scream roused us all and we found the remnants of one of the dwarves strewn across the alley; there was very little of him left, so badly mauled was he. Bolg was missing and his absence wasn’t missed by the dwarves.
Later, Lathyrus and I searched the alley. Under one of the sidewalk planks, we found two crystal ringlets. They appeared to match a small hole in Bolg’s armor that I can’t recall being there before.
We, Lathyrus and I, gathered the others and discussed the situation. Nothing’s been resolved save that we’ll be keeping a keen eye on Bolg. His defense will not prove simple In the meantime, we have all managed to find teachers amongst the townsfolk. Former adventurers who gave up the life out of necessity.
The boulder-beasts attacked again. Luckily, we’ve all fully recovered from Wormface so we were able to take them out with no loss of life. This time, we assaulted the cave in force. Several of the dwarves were killed but wormface is no more. We salvaged 43 points of orichalcum from the horror’s armor, I think I’ll have to try to convince the others that the dwarves who went in and survived ought to receive something Without them having harried the creature, I fear we would all be dead and the town would not be far behind. And whatever Wormface was planning would have succeeded.
Now, we head back to town. If we can find the draft horses. Seems like there are some decisions to make regarding Bolg. If he’s touched, then how did he manage to pass the test? If horrors can be creative, then we’re in worse trouble than anyone thought possible. If Bolg didn’t kill the dwarf, then what did?
Scipio - It begins anew
Apple Blossom turns blood red
The wind to the sea
Fighter or Horror
One a friend and the other foe
My guess is neither
Celdic: It would appear that Lathyrus was right, Bolg should never have been allowed ot live after the whatever revived him—I was a fool to think temperance was needed. I am ahead of myself, though….
After dealing with Wormface, we suspected something was amiss with Bolg. He had begun to change… It was little things, at first but I fooled myself into believing him going through some orcish equivalent to Perát (puberty of a sort)> Then a dwarf was killed and the only suspect was Bolg himself. Still, I would not have him harmed without some true proof….
Later, we camped outside of town. Bolg’s aspect had grown more hideous (even for an orc)—I dare say, he began to look more touched. I knew we could never return to the town—or anywhere else where our companion had been seen. Few would accept the changes in him. Still, I refused to see (what now seems) the wisdom of Lathyrus.
I did agree that perhaps Bolg should be given a sleeping tonic—if only the ingredients had been available! Gunth tried to convince our insect-skinned friend (Bolg’s flesh had grown hard like cricket shells) to submit to being tied up. While Sun-Tzu and Scipio prepared to knock Bolg senseless… All three failed.
Bolg fled, the Tskrang took off after him, while drawing his sword. Bolg could not be allowed to die! That was my thought despite the gnawing fear that screamed he was no longer Bolg. I gave chase, shouting at Scipio and Bolg to stop. And then, as Sun-Tzu’s trident flew past me, I saw Bolg leap backwards. The leap was incredible! He knocked Scipio back and down before vaulting skyward faster than I dared give chase.
In that instant, no doubt could be allowed to dwell in my heart. Bolg had become one with a horror. As I write my heart weighs heavy at the task before me. We must slay our comrade lest our inaction bring another vile creature unto the world.
My brother was right… The world is a cruel mockery of what it once was. I an the others must gird ourselves for the hunt which lies ahead will not be easy—once, I thought Bolg could be cured now the only cure will be his demise. May the Passions forgive us what we must do.
I’m sure that, once again, I’ll be blamed for the failure of whatever half-arsed scheme we come up with to try to fix a problem that never would have arisen if my companions had listened to me in the first place. As if the accursed ork weren’t troublesome enough before being altered by whatever horror has claimed him.
Scipio – We are a group divided over Bolg. I am of the opinion that we should go on to Bartertown and let the orc follow, maybe there we can find help. I have been overruled. The orc dies. Sorry, Bolg. I hope that we can at least free your spirit from the horror. Rest well.
Gunth: Alas, mine poor wretched heart, we prepare this morn to hunt down our maladin companion. The dwarf keeps saying, the transformation is complete, yet I somehow believe there is still a little piggy left in our companion, + my desire to carve the ham is as lukewarm as this breakfast’s been. Um..bacon.
It appears that I may have committed a terrible error. It was my vote that decided Bolg’s fate that night he first rose from the dead. I could not believe that Bolg was horror touched. Then we all watch the horrible changes Bolg went through. Now the change is complete, but to what is too horrible a question. When we tracked him down, he nearly destroyed the rest of us…before running off. We are at a loss for a means to overcome him now.
Scipio – What is now Bolg is moving fast and is headed somewhere with a purpose. It has wrecked a ferry and crossed the Serpent River. It also attacked a camp of adventurers. The only thing survivor was a female troll with a tiger. “A tiger…in the mountains of Throal.”
The once and future Bolg;
A friend in NEED is a friend indeed,
Know one, knows the Horror
MAWAG 17 DAY BY DAY, THE THING LEFT US MORE PROOF OF ITS INTENT TO DESTROY LIFE. I CANNOT CALL THE CREATURE BY THE NAME IT ONCE BORE—THAT WOULD ONLY MAKE ME WEAK OF PURPOSE WHEN THE TIME COMES. SCIPIO STILL CALLS IT BOLG, BUT PERHAPS HE’S STRONGER THAN I. WE’VE ALSO ENCOUNTERED A TROLL BEASTMASTER, SHE SEEMS HONORABLE BUT THE WINDLING HAS BEEN ANYTHING BUT KIND TO HER. THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM….
MAWAG 19 VILLAGE AFTER VILLAGE HAS BEEN RAZED BY THE THING. IN SOME HAMLET WHOSE NAME SEEMS FOREVER SCOURED FROM MY MIND, WE FOUND SURVIVORS—A DOZEN CHILDREN FROM SWADDLING CLOTHES TO NEAR ADULTS. ALL HAVE LOST WHATEVER INNOCENCE THEY’D ONCE HAD. SOME OF THE CHILDREN CAME WITH US THE REST OF THE WAY TO BARTERTOWN; THE OTHERS REMAINED AT THE TEMPLE OF GARLAN IN THE TOWN OF MARSDON….
MAWAG 20 IN BARTERTOWN, THE SEARCH WAS ON FOR INFORMATION. UNFORTUNATELY THE INFO WE SOUGHT WAS SO HIGHLY-SECRETED THAT NOT EVEN THE EMPEROR WOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO VIEW LET ALONE A GROUP OF NO-NAME TRAVELERS. ROGAR WAS AS HELPFUL AS HE COULD, ALLOWING CERTAIN OMISSIONS TO HIS OFFICIAL REPORT AND GIVING US THE INFO WE’D NEED TO GO AFTER THE CREATURE…
MAWAG 22 I HAVE BEEN TROUBLED BY THE FEELING THAT THE CREATURE IS BAITING US. AS WE SIT, WAITING FOR INFORMATION AND SPENDING PARTY FUNDS FASTER THAN WE’RE LIKELY TO REPLENISH, I CAN’T HELP BUT THINK ON THE PATTERNS OF THE CREATURE’S BEHAVIOR. FIRST, IT PARALLELLED OUR COURSE-KILLING AS MANY AS WERE IN ITS PATH. THEN IT WENT AHEAD. THE LATEST INFORMATION IS THAT IT’S CIRCLING BARTERTOWN, WANTON IN ITS KILLING. I THINK IT’S WAITING FOR US TO FOLLOW—TO WHAT PURPOSE, I CAN’T SAY…
MAWAG 24 IT IS DEAD. I TRIED TO WE SET OUT FROM BARTERTOWN, SOUTH TO SUMMERDALE. HERE, WE REPORTED IN TO THE WATCH AND MADE PLANS TO HUNT DOWN THE CREATURE. ALL INDICATIONS WERE THE CREATURE WAS LIKELY TO STRIKE THIS HAMLET WITH ITS EVER-INCREASING HUNGER FOR DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. WE WAITED THE NIGHT—NOTHING. IN THE MORNING, THE OTHERS CONVINCED ME TO TRY THE DIRECTION ARROW. WITH SUN-TZU’S HELP WE WERE ABLE TO GET AN IDEA OF THE CREATURE’S HIDING PLACE. THE CAPTAIN OF THE WATCH ASKED SEVERAL TELLING QUESTIONS—IT SEEMS SCIPIO HAD FAILED TO BE FORTHRIGHT IN HIS INTRODUCING OUR PARTY; THIS TOOK PLACE AFTER FINDING AN ENTIRE CLAN SLAUGHTERED AND TOSSED ABOUT LIKE CUT GRASS IN A STORM.
MY RESOLVE TO KILL THE BEAST WAS RE-AFFIRMED LONG BEFORE THIS CARNAGE; BUT I FOUND MYSELF EAGER FOR THE HUNT. THIS DISHONORABLE THOUGHT HAD TO BE CHECKED—AND I INSISTED UPON THE FAMILY’S BODIES BE PROPERLY ATTENDED TO. LATHYRUS ARGUED HOW SENSELESS IT WOULD BE TO WASTE THE TIME BUT IT BOTHERED ME MORE THAT I HAD TO MAKE MYSELF FOCUS ON THE RIGHT THING TO DO THAN THAT I WAS BEING ARGUED WITH. I AM TOO LONG FROM MY MEDITATIONS, I FEAR.
I FOUND AND FOLLOWED THE CREATURE’S TRAIL—HEADED BACK TOWARDS SUMMER DALE. I SHOULD HAVE MADE MY WAY BACK TO THE OTHERS, BUT INSTEAD I TOLD MYSELF I SHOULD BE SURE OF THE CREATURE’S INTENT. PART OF ME ACTUALLY WANTED TO SEE IF ANY PART OF OUR COMRADE IN ARMS WAS LEFT REMAINED.
WHEN I DID REPORT BACK TO THE OTHERS WE MADE DOUBLE-TIME BACK INTO TOWN WHERE THE CAPTAIN WAS DOING HIS BEST TO ORGANIZE HIS PEOPLE. THE THRONG OF FRIGHTENED VILLAG TOWNSFOLK COULD HAVE TURNED ON US IN THE HEIGHT OF THEIR FEAR HAD NOT SCIPIO GIVEN THEM BUSY-WORK.
NIGHTFALL, IT CAME. THE THING HAD PROVEN ITS CUNNING AND CIRCLED THE TOWN BEFORE ITS ATTACK. WE FOUGHT HARD, SUN-TZU DEALT AND TOOK A MASSIVE HIT. THE THING TOOK TWELVE OF MY AP ARROWS BEFORE FINALLY FALLING. I DO NOT KNOW IF IT WAS DEAD, BUT GUNTH AND HIS BLADE, MALARIA, SWEPT IN FOR WHAT SURELY COULD HAVE BEEN THE FINISHING BLOW. HE’LL LIKELY SAY HE’S DOING ALL THE WORK HORROR-SLAYING (AGAIN) BUT I DON’T CARE…THE CREATURE IS DEAD, THE BODY BURNED, AND THE HEAD ENCASED IN A LEAD BOX AS PROOF TO ROGAR AND BARTERTOWN THAT THE CURRENT DANGER HAS PASSED.
SOON, WE’LL BE OFF, TO DO WHAT, I’M NOT SURE. BUT SOON, WE’LL HAVE MORE MILES PUT BEHIND US THAN WHAT LAY BEFORE. IT MAY BE TIME TO NAME THE WARBOW AS IT HAS HELPED SAVE US MORE THAN ONCE.
It seems that cats dislike the taste of gadflies or we would have been soon rid of the tiny thief. However, to do Honour to my peple, I have undertaken a truce; an attempt at peace, though if I look at the vile creature’s actions, I cannot fathom why. Still, we attempt to maintain a reasonable comradeship.
Sun Tzu, a noble fighter and heavy thinker, is of course as stable & dependable as a troll. The elves are less flighty than I expected of such folk; I long to bring tales of their strange but well-placed valour back home & enlighten those sisters & brothers who have in the so maligned their race.
The lizard would be a fine asset to any group of comrades—though perhaps finer did he not yearn to appear as the shit of a peacock who has eaten blowberries. Camouflage is not his strong point.
Still, we have cleared one horror from the world, and we must find our further path now.. I just hope we do not pass any chameleons on the way’ their laughter might unsettle the would-be fop.
Scipio – Alas, I am torn. The creature that was formally Bolg is no more. It was a great battle and one deserving of epic tale and haiku but I do not believe I will tell the tale ever. Now that it is over, I feel that I shall not dishonor Bolg by spe spreading the tale of his downfall and passage to the wicked path of the horror he became. I am occasionally slow to reach the final conclusion but when I do, I will remain steadfast. I will honor Bolg’s memory by never speaking of the event after this and never again speaking his name, save in heart and mind. Of all my companions, Bolg was the one that I had the most in common with. The elves are overly cautious, the windling is a trouble maker and Sun Tsu is to much of a thinker. Bolg alone was in pursuit solely of adventure and honor, like myself. I will miss him and that whimper he called a shout. Good-bye
Damn, those lizards sure like to get wasted! We shouldn’t have put the windling in such a big mug, though.
Ohhh the Hurlg doth flow
Nopryus sleeps soundly
Under horny Orc
Ow. Someone please cut off my head.
Tonight is the waiting time—will I be off, alone, in the morning, or will these brave but misguided companions see the light of truth along with the sunrise?
OUR PARTY WAS NEARLY RENT ASUNDER. MORE THAN USUAL, WE ARGUED AND BICKERED. AT ONE POINT, I THOUGHT BLOOD WOULD HAVE TO BE SHED BEFORE GOOD SENSE AND DUTY TOOK HOLD. BUT I’M AHEAD OF MYSELF…
WE WERE INVITED INTO A VILLAGE—ODD ENOUGH CONSIDERING HOW USED TO THE BLANK STARES I’D BECOME; IN SOME CASES, VILLAGES WE PASSED LOOKED ON THE VERGE OF TAKING UP ARMS. IT WAS A WELCOME THING TO BE INVITED TO AN EVENING’S REST AMONGST OTHER NAME-GIVERS. I WAS SUSPICIOUS FOR A TIME—BUT EVEN SUN BEGAN TO RELAX SO ALL MUST ASSUREDLY HAVE BEEN WELL.
WE ATE, DANCED, SANG, AND PLAYED WITH THE VILLAGERS WELL INTO THE NIGHT. LATHYRUS MANAGED TO FIND SOMETHING TO DULL HIS MERRIMENT AND WAS SOON MANY TANKARDS INTO THE LOCAL BREW—A SAD ATTEMPT TO DROWN WHATEVER MOROSITY HAD OVERCOME HIM. BY THE TIME I NOTICED, HE’D HAD A TANKARD OF HURLG. AN ORC, I FAILED TO CATCH HER NAME, HAD TAKEN A BIT OF A LIKING TO LATHYRUS. SOMEHOW, I THINK SHE’D HAVE BROKEN HIM.
THAT NIGHT, I SLEPT IN THE WARMTH OF A MAIDEN’S BED. SO MUCH MORE COMFORTING THAN COLD CAMPS AND ROCKY FIELDS. I’D BEGUN THE DREAM WALK—THAT POINT IN THE NIGHT ONE’S SLUMBER WHERE WORLDS COME AND GO IN A MOMENT AND WHERE PROPHESY IS SAID TO COME, THOUGH NONE HAVE COME TO ME. THE SOUND AND SMELL OF FIRE AWAKENED ME. I GRABBED MY KIT AND OUT INTO THE STREETS I WENT. MY BOW WAS READY FOR THE WORST AND I STRU WHILE MY MIND WORKED IT’S WAY OUT OF THE DREAM WALK. I’D K AFT AT ONE END OF THE VILLAGE, AN ATTACK WAS UNDER WAY. FLAMES LEAPT FROM THATCH ROOFS AS THE VILLAGERS STRUGGLED TO DEFEND THEMSELVES. I’D LET FLY TWO ARROWS BEFORE REALIZING THE ATTACKERS WERE AS ILL-EQUIPPED AS THE VILLAGERS.
THIS MADE NO SENSE. WE’D SEEN OLD PIKEWORKS THAT HAD JUST BEEN MAINTAINED BUT SAW NO SIGNS THAT THESE WERE MORE THAN OLD DEFENSES FROM LONG AGO—PERHAPS KEPT UP OUT OF SUP HABIT. BUT HERE WERE WAS A RAIDING PARTY AS ILL-EQUIPPED AS A NEWBORN.
WE FOUGHT. I TO SUBDUE, GUNTH TO THE DEATH—THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND FOR HIM IT WOULD SEEM. WITH TWO LIVE CAPTIVES, I DEMANDED TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.
A LAND WAR BETWEEN TWO VILLAGES—CHERRY PIT (THE RAIDERS) AND YELLOWBARK (OUR HOSTS). IT SEEMS OUR GENEROUS HOSTS WERE HOPING TO HAVE US DESTROY CHERRY PIT. ANGERED, I STORMED OFF AND MADE WHAT PREPARATIONS FOR LEAVING AT DAWN THAT I COULD MAKE.
THEN THE RIFT BEGAN
IT IS NO SECRET THAT MY COHORTS AND I ARE NOT THE MOST…AMENABLE…OF NAME-GIVERS. THIS TIME, I WAS READY TO GO AT FI LEAVE FOOLS TO THEMSELVES—UNTIL SCIPIO PROMISED WE’D RESOLVE THE ISSUE.
THE LIZARD IS A LYING OFTEN A LIAR AND A PIRATE. BUT HE HAS SOMEHOW BECOME OUR SPEAKER—HIS GIFT OF TONGUES MAKING HIM THE MOST LOGICAL. AND AS OUR SPEAKER—OUR REPRESENTATIVE TO THE HEADMAN—HE’D COMMITTED US TO ONE OF THE WORST POSSIBLE REASONS TO BATTLE.
IN A WORLD BESET BY BANDITS, AND RECLAIMING THE LAND FROM HORRORS, NAME-GIVERS HAVE NO RATIONALE FOR FIGHTING ONE ANOTHER—THERE ARE LEAGUES’ WORTH OF GOOD FERTILE LAND NEEDING TENDING. IN THIS, OUR PARTY IS SOMEWHAT AGREED—IT IS FOOLISH TO GET INVOLVED IN A LAND WAR. BUT THAT IS WHAT SCIPIO AGREED TO.
I WAS ANGRY. I WAS OBSTINATE. AND FOR ME, THERE WAS A MATTER OF HONOR. A NEED TO MAKE AN HONEST ATTEMPT AT RESOLUTION. WE ARGUED FOR SOME TIME, THE WANING MOON HAVING PASSED A HANDS-BREADTH BEFORE SUN POINTED OUT THAT WE WOULD NEED TO REST.
AT DAWN, WE REALIZED GUNTH HAD NOT RETURNED FROM WHAT MUST HAVE BEEN HIS ATTEMPT TO RUN DOWN THE ATTACKERS FROM CHERRY PIT. SO WE NEEDED TO RESCUE OUR RASH WINDLING. AS WE DECIDED WHAT TO DO NEXT, JA KAR’AGAR AND SCIPIO GOT INTO A HEATED DISCUSSION AND SHE DECREED SHE WOULD STRIKE OUT ON HER OWN TO DELIVER OUR THE LETTERS. HER TAKE WAS THE LAND WAR WASN’T OUR CONCERN—AGREED. BUT SCIPIO MADE IT OUR BUSINESS AND GUNTH’S DISAPPEARANCE ASSURED IT.
AS JA KARA GAR & SCIPIO ARGUED, SUN AND I READIED THE WAGONS AND LOADED UP THE PRISONERS. BY THE TIME THE OTHERS WERE AWARE OF THINGS, SUN AND I WERE PULLING OUT, WITH LATHYRUS ATTEMPTING TO SURVIVE HIS HANG-OVER. JA KARA GAR AND HER TIGER WENT OFF ON THEIR OWN, WITHOUT THE LETTERS—ODDLY ENOUGH.
THE EXCHANGE OF GUNTH FOR THE PRISONERS WENT QUICKLY. AND WE WENT ON OUR WAY—I FOLLOWED SUN’S LEAD IN THE EXCHANGE BUT OF OUR PARTY SUN’S THE ONE LEAST LIKELY TO “MISDIRECT” HIS COHORTS.
WE ARE NOW ABOUT TWO THREE (?) DAYS RIDE FROM OUR DESTINATION. I’VE SINCE CALMED DOWN, THOUGH I STILL THINK WE HAVE THIS ISSUE HANGING.
LAST NIGHT, WE HAD VISITORS. THE PRIOR GROUP OF COURIERS HAD MET WITH DISASTER. THE TOWN HAD BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THE GRIM LEGION. APPARENTLY, THE LEGION IS A GROUP THAT HAS TAKEN IT UPON THEMSELVES TO PURGE THE LAND OF HORRORS…. BY CO-OPTING AND QUARANTINING ENTIRE VILLAGES. ON ONE HAND, I CAN SEE THE NEED FOR AN ORGANIZED ATTEMPT TO PURGE THE VILE CREATURES – BUT THEY ARE USING SOM STRONG-ARM TACTICS. THE PREVIOUS COURIERS WERE HELD CAPTIVE WITHIN THE VILLAGE FOR OVER NEARLY A MONTH. TWO WERE KILLED, THREE ESCAPED AND FLED INTO THE WILD; AND DECIDED TO ATTACK OUR PARTY.
THESE NAME-GIVERS WENT FROM POTENTIAL HEROES – COURIER WORK CAN BECOME VERY USEFUL IN RE-UNITING THE LANDS – TO BANDITS AFTER ONE FAILURE. AFTER PATCHING UP THEIR WOUNDED MAGE, I TOLD THEM TO HEAD BACK TO BARTERTOWN, REPORT TO OUR MUTUAL EMPLOYER AND THAT IF THEY DID ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO NEVER LET ME RUN INTO THEM AGAIN. IT MAY BEVE BEEN RASH OF ME – BUT ESSENTIAL. AND I INTEND TO KEEP MY WORD ON THIS.
THREE NIGHTS IN A COLD CAMP, WAITING AND WATCHING FOR SOME SIGN OF WHAT TO DO. GUNTH WAS SUPPOSED to HAVE FOUND OUT THE PLAN BUT APPARENTLY THERE IS NO PLAN. LATHYRUS CAME OUT AND WENT BACK Yester-MORN. SADLY, THE TIME WILL COME WHEN I NEED TO MOVE FROM MY blind – the tower’s GOTTEN TOO TALL.
Ja’Kar’a’Gar Webshine Tigerheart
My furred soul companion is out of the reach of my thought
We are outnumbered + outskilled. We are who are about to die, die nearly willingly.
The villagers lack bravery + sense. We have been most ignobly defeated, despite our most strenuous efforts. I believe the Grim Legion still holds the town secretly in (slavery? Sway? I need Mari to look at the notebook and decipher this word.). Pray Garlen give usstrength.
Scipio- We have a great battle! It teetered on a knife edge and was nearly lsot but we over come supuerior numbers and odds. It started when the Grim Legion brought villagers out to do the field work. Our ambush went well except their thief got around us and attacked the archer. Both were badly injured before the thief ran for the gate. I stopped the thief at the gate and killed him her. That is where the archers on the tower came into play. I was hit once before getting into the town. The cadavermen were struggling to get out of a puddle 7’0 deep that the mage created and the archers were harrassed by Gunth. Which left the Swordsman and the Nethermancer to the mage and I with the Archer, Beastmaster, and Sun Tsu following. I fought with the swordsman while Lathyrus turned the ground in front of us to ice. I was doing ok with the swordsman when the Nethermancer cast a very nasty spell which did me terrible harm, as if my bones were being crushed, why can’t our mage do cool stuff like that. Well, it hurt me and the troll badly, but I fought on. Sun Tsu made it to the battle in a very timely manner. As I went down before the swords master and the Or Troll fell before the nthermancer, Sun Tsu made it across the ice, leap over the Nethermancer and clobbered her real good. She hit him with that spell and he survived it and finished her off, knocking her out. Meanwhile, the mage knocked the Swordsman down to the ice. And the Sun came over to knock him out. Mea The archers gave up and the remaining members of the Grim Legion were bound and hooded.
WE LEFT HANTO A FEW DAYS AGO. I’VE MOSTLY RECOVERED WITH THE LAST OF THE MORE SERIOUS WOUNDS BEGINNING TO FADE. I’M SKITTISH ABOUT THE LEGION KEEPING THEIR WORD AND LEAVING THE VILLAGERS AND THE GIRL AT PEACE. BUT SCIPIO SEEMS SURE THEY WILL ADHERE TO THE DEAL WE’D MANAGED TO PARLAY. ASIDE FROM GUNTH (WHO IS FAST HELPING RE-AFFIRM MY DISTRUST OF THIEVES) THE GRIM LEGION HAVE NO TRUE ANIMOSITY TOWARDS US. TOMORROW WE LEAVE THE LEGION’S WEAPONS AND ARMOR FOR THEM. IN THESE LANDS THE WILD CAN’T BE FACED IN SINGLET AND SOCKS.
AS FOR GUNTH – HE’D BACKSTABBED A BOUND CAPTIVE I TRULY WISH HIM MORE RELIABLE. IN A FIGHT HE’S A GRAND ALLY. HIS HARRIMON HARRYING OF THE TOWER GUARDS PROBABLY SAVED OUR PARTY, BUT HE DOESN’T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT NOT ALL PROBLEMS ARE RESOLVED BY A DAGGER IN THE BACK. I FEAR HIS ACTIONS WILL BRING DOWN SOMETHING FOUL ONE DAY – SOMETHING THAT WILL MARK US OUR NAMES FOR AGES IN VILLAINY. OK, PERHAPS THAT’S A BIT MUCH. BUT I’M tired and though SUN-TZU’S Booster Potion Revived me for the Final assault, I CAN’T HELP FOCUS ON the fact that it was a theif who lay me NEAR the OtherWORLD’S DOOR.
I HAVE FOUND the Leather FOR MY QUIVER! TODAY WE SLEW A GARGOYLE. THE PAIR LIK HAD APPARENTLY marked the clearing WE WERE TO PASS through as their hunting grouNDS – WE’D FOUND SIGNS OF AN ATTACK, WE AT LEAST TWO DAYS Past, AND AS WE INVEStigaed, GUNTH WAS ATTACKED. PERHAPS IT WAS Karmic Retribution FOR his attempt to slay the bound captive in HANTO – OR IT MAY have simply been luck. EITHER WAY OUR THIEF FELL hard AND WAS out FOR the Battle.
SUN-TZU AND JaKaraGar WERE the focal POINt OF the GARGOYLE’S ASSAULT – that allowED ME the time to let fly half a dozen arrows. THEN SUN-TZU FELL. IT STILL UNNERVES ME when the ROCK ONE Falls. But on WE Fought. I THINK I STRUCK A VITAL POINt ON THE ONE OF the Creatures AS It began to Flee. The other seemed to be guarding its mate’s RetReat – much liKe some Snakes I’VE HEARD OF. WE COULDN’T LET THE WOUNDED BEAST ESCAPE AND I FIR LET FLY ANOTHER ARROW – the creature WAS struck DOWN A FEW DOZEN YARDS AS IT CLIM INTO the tree line. Its mate, having just gone airborn, dove to follow.
I GAVE chase. BOTH BECAUSE the hide of such a creature AS WELL AS something I WAS ONCE told: Never leave a WOUNDED ANIMAL to its own; FINISH the DEED OR HEAL IT. GARGOYLES ARE PROBABLY LIKE BEARS – MORE VICIOUS when WOUNDED. LATHYRUS AND SCIPIO Charged into the WOODS with ME to track the fallen and (hopefully) slay the Mate. JaKaraGar stayed to Protect the wounded.
SCIPIO FOUGHT the Mate AS Lathyrus AND I TOOK UP POSITIONS best Suited to OUR DISCIPLINE. SLEEPY-O FELL (I JOKE ONLY BECAUSE HE LIVES). LATHYRUS SOON TOOK A GRIEVOUS WOUND AND WAS KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS. I LET FLY AS FAST as I COULD. FEAR Notched itself in my belly as my last AP ARROW Sailed WIDE. THE CREATURE WAS OBVIOUSLY WOUNDED AS TI TOOK FLIGHT; I KNEW MI MY Remaining ARROWS WOULD DO LITTLE, BIT I TRIED ONE LAst shot.
The Mate Flew OFF, my last attempt Either mISSING OR Failing to Penetrate the CReature’s hide.
With two companions down, to I had to have JaKaragar (who’d Revived a couple OF OUR cohort) Assist bRING the WOUNDED to OUR CLEARING turned camp. GUNth WAS AWAKE ENOUGH to REQUEST the CLaws OF the fallen beast. IT WAS APParently OBVIOUS to ALL that I INtended to claim the CReatURE’S hide.
LathyRus, RecoVERED ENOUGH to help, lay claim to horn AND some bone – though he may have abandoned the latter. SKINNING A GARGOYLE IS NOT EASY WORK. I HAVE Lost ALL OF MY AP ARROWS SO I must make some AFter ACQUIRING heads in Bartertown.
Both SUN-TZU AND I AGREE WE’RE Not a Full 2 Days FRom OUR DEstination. I NEED to FIND A TRAINER, A TANNER, A MEtal smith AND Something else. The last must be a part of the compulsion ENCOURAGING ME the time FOR MY QUIVER IS NEAR. I WONDER, DO the other DISCIPLINES have moments OF NEAR CLARIty like this? Perhaps I’LL ASK LATHYRUS – he is the most liKELY to UNDERStand.
- I pray to all the passions that my experience this morning, of rejoicing that I have only 7 some wounds left after days of healing + easy travel becomes a singular memory. Honor is honor, but fruitless pain adds no honour to my soul! Would that SunTzu had healed so well. We worry yet over his state. (at least, I finally feel fully attached to these folk)
Even the weeny thieflet is not at his, shall I wryly say, best.
-JaKar’Gar Webshine Tigerheart
Is it love? Or am I just being robbed? Women are a lot like trolls. They smell funny, they’re always complaining, and it doesn’t’ take a lot for one to hurt you bad. A flirtatious windling lass seemed enamored by my brazen good looks and the aura of “a legend in his own time,” which I’m sure most sentient beings about can smell on me soon as I enter town. Is it the mask? The crafty smile? Or the really sharp sword that has brought down beasts they would wet themselves and choke on their own tongue should they encounter? Anyay, this particular dream with wings claimed to be able to help me ride Murray. I have long ago given up any hope the smelly stupid pussy-loving troll would be able to help me learn to be a master zoke riding Gunth. And this nine inches of wonder could! And if she was as enchanted by my godlike physique, brought on my minutes of daily exercise, I might be able to get out of having to pay her for zoke lessons. Hey, she should be paying me for the evening of pleasure that would celebrate the birth of Master Zoke Riding Gunth.
But she wouldn’t even let me kiss her. Does she not know how the story goes? Heroic outlander seduces knowledge-possessing simple town girl, takes her knowledge, then takes her to bed for a night of squeaky loving? I’m going to have to work on this chick. Perhaps she’s playing hard-to-get… but she can’t hold out forever.
On the Road again. I’VE GROWn Quite fond OF the trails OF the WORLD – BUT, this time WE’VE GOT PROBLEMS BEFORE Reaching OUR DEStination: Lathyrus has SWORN to Slay Gunth AND WE’RE EXPECTED to Deliver a sealed box to the city of thieves – KRaddis – without the King of theives KNOWING.
ALLOW ME to BackTRACK. IT WOULD SEEM that GUNTH ACCEPTED to be a Rather shady JOB ON OUR BEHALF. OF COURSE, the USUAL ARGUMENTS WERE THROWN out – x WITH LATHYRUS AND I AT ODDS. GUNTH Failed to get ANY INFORMATION ASIDE FROM GO FROM HERE to there AND NOt to open the box. HE WAS LURED BY the PROMISE OF AN UNK UNKNOWN AMOUNT OF PAY – FIRST, HE SAID 4000 SILVER, NOW HE’S Saying 6000 APIECE. HIS GRASP ON the WORLD SEEMS MORE tenuous than USUAL. PERHAPS HE’S BEEN EATING FOREIGN MUshROOMS, AGAIN…
… GUNTH NEEDS to be tied UP AND Left ON A PRECIPIC RIDGE FOR WOLVES! TODAY, GUNTH HAD the GUFF to DEMAND WE tell us the box IS due IN A COUPLE DAYS AT NO time befoRe did Gunth say “there’s a deadline.” The Distance from KRADDIS IS A GOOD NINE Day Path, a TOTal JOURNEY, AND the box is DUE A Day Shy OF when WE COULD CONCEIVABLY make it. WE SPENT the Day today Pushing hard AND LATHYRUS has been heating the horses’ FOOD SO We’Re COVERING MORe ground than NORMAL – but it can’t last…
…yesterday LathyRUS AND GUNth FLew AHEAD with the box. FLyIng, they wiLL GET it to its Destination JUSt IN time. But the Rest OF US will have to take a normal Pace to catch up. LathyRUS HAS DECLARED HE WILL KILL GUNTH IF Something else goes WRong. I BELIEVE HIM. I wish I COULD Say it’d be an over-Reaction, but I stiLL WON’T TAKE watch ALONE with GuNth.
AN OLD ONE HAD called UPON US to AID HIM. HE HAS NO NAME that he can Remember AND HIS BODY carries the scars OF one Ritually abused OR someone OF Blood MAGIC. THE OLD ONE Was FOUND, UNCONSCIOUS ABOUT 3 WEEKS AGO. HIS ONLY POSSESSIONS WERE A MAP and THREE COUNS (Lathyrus says they’re ORIchalcum).
the OLD ONE SOLD ONE OF HIS COINS TO HIRE US AND to COVER HIS EXPENSES. HE IS OFFERING A HEFTY SUM – 800 400 SILVER EACH, UPON COMPLETION AND ADDITIONAL FUNDS to be certain We’Re PROPERLY OUtFitted For the JOURNEY.
NEVER HAVE I HEARD OF ONE HAVing their Name taken FRom Them. The Rags he was found in suggested that he used to be someone of Status. The Scars suggested that he’d been enslaved – at least to my mind. BUT EITHER WAY, I FELT WE SHOULD take this JOB MORe to help the OLD ONE, than anything else.
Perhaps when we discover who he is AND maybe help him ReACQUIRE his memoRies he will have tales to share – though I Doubt that will be something I can bother him with for some time….
We’ve Reached the first site on the OLD ONE’S Map. ALL INDICATIONS ARE that this is Kaer CARELL, AS SUN-TZU GUESSED. SADL AS LEGEND had it, the Kaer fell before it COULD be compLeted. UNFORTUNATELY, the Kaer has been inhabited by some unpleasant – Dare I WRITE IT – FOLLOWERS OF AN EVIL ONE; A HORROR CULT.
How Anything SO FOUL AND VILE AS A HORROR COULD BE VENERATED AND EXALTED IS A QUESTION that boggles the mind. WE’VE FOUND A blood-stained alter at the foot of the stone sculpture OF – IT… – Right outSIDE the ENTRANCE to the Kaer. Whomever INHABITS this PLACE IS UNCONCERNED ABOUT being detected.
IN the moRNINg, WE’RE GOIN IN. IF WE FIND FOLLOWERS OF… IT… they WILL BE SLAIN ON sight. THAT DOES LITTLE TO QUELL my nervousness this watch….
TOMORROW we head to the second site. I’m StiLL A BIT Achey FROM OUR LITTLE Kaer CRawl, But that shoulD Be fully healed by the time we Reach OUR Destination.
LathyRUS AND GUNTH HAVE BEEN AVOIDING ONE ANOTHER. That’s GOOD SINCE Gunth’s caused US ONE too many problems – AND LathYRUS has already Refused to heal OUR thief. THAT Nearly caused bloodshed. HOPEFULLY, the two OF them wiLL come to some sort of ACCORD – THOUGH I DON’T blame LathyRUS FOR Being angry, I’VE Still, as yet, to take watch with Gun ALONE with GUNth SINCE Hanto.
Well, we have made itto the third site. APParently the tales OF this Region were Not ACCURATE. THE FIRST Kaer was NOT Carell AS we’d thought. THE LORE HUTER MASters WILL AND Scholars WILL LIKELY FIND that USEFUL TO KNOW. FOR US, IT DOESN’T MATTER; the CORE OF the Legends holds tRUe – A Kaer Destroyed by A hoRRoR ShoRtly after before Sealing….
The First Night has Passed and we’vE FOUND A TWISTING WARREN OF Passageways. TODAY WE TAKE the ROUTE Down the hidden Stairwell. the ARGUMENT OF CLearing all behind us doesn’t Fit now – t A hidden passage IS a lot MORE to OUR USes than Not. The Namegivers sealed in the flass COFFINS can wait…
we found A Room a with 6 Dragon eggs on a pedestal. each was covered in A thick green substance that made my flesh CRawl to be near. Someone IS TRYING to CORRUPT these CReatuRes. MY FIRST thought was to Destroy the CORRuptions before they hatched but it was Pointed out the Eggs may yet be Saved. ONWARD WE PRESS, though there seems to be an egg missing with NO INDIcation OF anything having hatched from it.
AS we leave this place I am UNSURE what to Feel. THERE IS EXALTATION AT HAVING SURVIVED the tainted thing that was NOT-QUIte-DRagon. But there is GUCI A sadness in that we failed to Destroy that hideous CReatuRe OR ITS master. I KNOW that NONE OF US fared well. The CReatuRE’s Bite AND the UNHEALTHY green SLime made each oF US SUFFER GReatly. But Part OF me wonders IF WE COULD have destroyed the thing. AND DID ITS Master Flee OR WAS he truly JUst late for something MORE PRESSING – IF the latter I’m mildly INSULTED Despite the itch IN my bones from where the creatuRE’S CLaws GAShed MY SIDes. IT IS out there AND IT must be Destroyed.
FOR NOW, WE HEAD NORTH-NORTHEAST. WE ARE NEAR the LIFE Rock OF the Region AND SUN TZU IS compelled to that place. It should take us NO MORE than a handful of Days to Reach the Jungle AND ANOTHER to Reach the River.
WE GO to FIND Rest, to mend bone, to acquiRe a teachers. I Need a leathersmith to teach me the craf enough of the craft to begin the Quiver.
This place sucks! I have been very busy but a drink would be nice and a social conversation that was not with someone’s cousin about somone’s cousin would be great! Well, I have gotten a lot of meditation and training done but this sword is a stumper. The bard doesn’t know and we have been unable to determine anything. I even had some wizard look at it and she got all crossed-eyed and looked like her head hurt and said she said she couldn’t help. I need a drink.
My companions have been complaining that I haven’t contributed to the party’s annals in too long; when they expect me to find the time between my studies and putting them back together thrice a fortnight I don’t know, but Celdic has even gone so far as to start skipping pages when he writes in order to “leave me room”…sanctimonious ass.
Still, in thumbing through what has been written, I see there are many gaps. I’ll try to bring things up to date, and link the other entries together.
When Gunth got us banished from Haven with his false horror alarm, we were sent to Yellow Spring, a village deep in the Caucavics with which contact had been lost. En route, Bolg became horror touched, and I was outvoted when I suggested we kill him before he did harm. The results of that decision are tolerably well chronicled, so I won’t repeat them, but I suppose the blood of the scores killed by Bolg must weigh heavily on the consciences of my companions. Scipio’s stated intent to not repeat the name or tell the tale of Bolg’s downfall has indeed become a sick refusal to even acknowledge that his old friend ever existed. Such guilt.
After dealing—finally, and after much loss of innocent life—with Bolg, we based our activities out of Bartertown for a while, through our connection with Roggar of the Throalic Guard. He connected us with a merchant who wished us to courier letters to and from his family in distant Hanto, on the way to which we got entangled in and extricated ourselves from a land feud between the villages of Yellowbark and Cherrypit.
A few days short of Hanto, we were set upon in camp by the remnants of the last party our employer had sent out to carry his messages. The village was in the control of some over-zealous horror-hunting religious nuts, lured there by tales of a girl who had powers that might conceivably the result of horror taint.
The battle is already documented, but what was skipped was the fact that the girl was simply a human pre-adept who showed abilities of more than one discipline because of conversation she’d had with a grimoire of incredible power, recently uncovered from a hidey hole it had been placed in before the scourge. We offered to take her to Bartertown with us to develop her Talents, whatever they might be, but were politely refused. We returned to Bartertown with no further incidents besides a run-in with some gargoyles.
In Bartertown, we supplemented out income by training some novice adventurers in our respective disciplines, and then accepted a commission from our previous employer’s friend to determine why a caravan from Darannis, in the south on the shores of Lake ban, was overdue. We found the corpses of our erstwhile students about halfway there, and battled a horror and the jehutra it had spawned before reaching town.
There we met a survivor of that group, who had stayed in darannis to heal while his companions went north to train and find more work. After he assimilated the news, he joined us, and has traveled with us since. He is Melvaig, a human nethermancer, advancing rapidly in circle and seeming wise despite his youth.
It was upon our return from Darannis that Gunth got us into the trouble that necessitates his death. We had been in town mere days when he informed us that he had negotiated a deal on our behalf to carry a dubious cargo to Kratas…without letting the legendary thief-king of Kratas know about it, all for the low sum of 1000 gold, although that number increased every time the mosquito mentioned it. Since the deal was made with the lord of the Bartertown underworld the option of denying Gunth’s right to negotiate for the group seemed likely to be very…unhealthy, and so we left.
It wasn’t until we were about halfway there that Gunth informed us that there was a time limit on this job…and that it would be impossible to meet that time limit with the entire party. We split up, and got into serious trouble, although we did successfully complete our mission…delivering magical wards to a Theran slaving ring in Kratas. Garlthik One-Eye was, understandably, miffed. I am the windling’s avowed mortal enemy from that day hence.
Garlthik graciously not only allowed us to live, but presumably dropped word of us in appropriate places, because in a day or two we were approached with another commission; to help the Old One Celdic writes about rediscover his identity.
That journey took us south and east, into the badlands East of K’tenghin. There we cleared the ruins of three kaers…or two kaers and a half-completed temple, of a cult of worshippers of the Dragon-Hunter, the horror Vergigorm. We crudely sealed off, but did not otherwise hamper three extremely powerful bone circles and, in the last kaer, failed to kill the nethermancer who had made them, and failed also to stop him from completing the blasphemous corruption of a dragon egg into a winged monstrosity of unspeakable ugliness. That we saw it as an infant does not inspire me with great hope.
the old man who commissioned us to go there in search of his identity turned out to be an agent of Icewing, apparently himself sent out to recover the eggs and caught in a trap with his two companions, all of whom we freed. We collected our pay, thanked our lucky stars that we had even survived, overmatched as we were, and set out north toward Lake Ban and Melvaig’s home on its banks.
On the way we left Sun Tzu and Jak’ar’aGar at the great Liferock on the river’s edge there in the eastern outskirts of the Servos Jungle and, due to the stony puritanism of Melvag’s folk, passed an uneventful month in study and meditation, incorporating all that we had done, seen, and learned into our patterns, attaining higher circles.
We met up again, in due time, with Sun Tzu, and were informed that when he had emerged from the Liferock, the troll and her feline companion had been gone for some time. Perhaps we shall meet them again some time. In any case, we decided to travel north and seek employment, once again, in Bartertown, but were sought out with a commission while barely on the road. Icewing him(it?)self met us on the road, thanked us for our assistance, identified a sword Scipio had found among the detritus of the lair of the horror we had cleared from the Darrannis road, and gave us a job to deliver a sealed box to a Telamon in Travar…near where we had recently been. I’m not sure if any price were mentioned; we were eager merely to be out from under that ageless, unfathomable stare with all our limbs and souls intact.
Besides, any deal made with a dragon is to its advantage alone, o matter how effectively you haggle.
Needless to say, we immediately turned south again, and sought and gained passage on a riverboat, cutting several weeks from our travel time. The boat was attacked by pirates, and at one time Sun Tzu and Scipio were dangerously surrounded on the enemy craft as it pulled away from our ability to aid, so I cleared the deck of that ship of foes with a well-placed and quite satisfyingly effective fireball spell. I don’t understand why those two keep giving me dirty looks. I saved both their lives and neither had any eyebrows to begin with, anyway.
Anyway, upon arrival in Travar we found that Telamon no longer resides in the city, but has moved to an undisclosed location north of town. I am sure I know the name Telamon from somewhere, and I fear that while worrying at my memory like a loose tooth I spoke without thinking and alerted the town to the name of our employer…not, I think, that it was secret to anyone to whom it would be of interest…one of the pirates who took longer to die than the others said with his dying breaths that they were after our specific cargo.
Another attempt was made on that cargo last night. A band of adventurers slipped into our room at the inn in Travar and succeeded in slipping off with the box, although we pursued and managed to recover it before it was opened, losing Gunth and gaining a prisoner ourselves in the process. Against my cries of “good riddance”, we exchanged prisoners, and now we await further attempts on our cargo, and ponder the whereabouts of this Telamon, whose name I swear I’ve heard before.
One night back with my companions and Scipio already needs carrying back!
Looking forward to learning new skills, in the air.
Still no sign of cat
Travar has turned out to be quite a busy stop for us. After delivering our cargo to Telamon (whose name I finally remembered as being the same as that of a pre-scourge troubadour..no relation) and receiving what he called a “tip” (implying payment of some sort my yet be forthcoming? Or already paid? Who knows. I’m certainly not going to hunt down Icewing with a bill), we returned to Travar around nightfall of the 10th and, while looking for a suitable inn, were waylaid by smells of the most wondrous cooking. We followed our noses into and establishment named the Picky Palate, where we spent the cost of a few weeks lodging on a meal that looked and smelled to be worth every half-copper…until our server dropped it.
As she was approaching our table, you see, an officer of the watch entered the restaurant and made a general call to arms. An airship inbound to the busy port had fallen under attack…apparently not the first such…and had fallen in burning wreckage—with our server’s beloved aboard.
We answered the call to arms, and Scipio managed to impress the locals with a wholly unconsidered rush into the inferno to rescue one of perhaps two or three survivors of the attack. I don’t believe he’s paid for a drink since. This brought us to the attention of Drimmsby, the commander of the sky watch, and the next day, with nothing better to occupy our time for the moment, we signed up for the air watch…caravan guards again after all, although this time with rather a better view.
The tale went more or less as follows: For the past several weeks, airships coming in and out of Travar had been being attacked, usually with complete loss, by flying creatures who used flame as a weapon; apparently either horrors or horror constructs. The Sky Watch, who were formed to provide defense against Crystal Raiders in the busy lanes near the city, had been largely helpless against what people were calling the Raken. Little if anything was known beyond that, although the brunt of the damage had been borne by a single merchant…we thought when he heard that that perhaps someone had made a pact with a horror specifically to damage this man’s business, but in retrospect I believe he was merely unfortunate in having more traffic at that time than his competitors.
In any case, we went on a few routine patrols with the Sky Watch, crewing a drakkar captained by an orc sky-raider named Karl and his mate, a Troll whose name I never did quite catch. It was only a matter of time, however, before a ship we were escorting came under attack. A vast obsidian ship owned by the same merchant who had suffered such heavy losses so far was attacked, and the Raken turned out to be everything we had heard and worse. They moved many times more swiftly than even my throne of air takes me, and I can keep up with a fast horse with that spell. Despite their speed, they were impossibly nimble. I cast a blizzard sphere directly in front of one, certain that its speed would carry it completely through the sphere with maximum damage. Despite moving faster than one of Celdic’s arrows it veered as if tethered and skirted the sphere cast no more than a yard before its nose!
The things were very strange; winged, yes, with large maws, but their wings were short, almost stubby, and the didn’t flap, rather they seemed to propel themselves with a constant blast of flame from their hind ends. And had no qualms about also jetting flame from their fore ends to set masts, rigging, and crew alight. We managed to drive them off—one was feathered with so many of Celdic’s arrows it almost looked like a bird after all—and the ship we defended was at least salvageable after the fight. Apparently this was better than had ever been managed, and so we returned to Travar heroes…again. In truth, the time since has been so hectic I cannot recall if any of us—even myself—were injured in the fight.
For no sooner had we returned to town and had a night’s rest than Drimmsby summoned us to his office to recruit us for a mission a little more involved than simple patrols. He showed us a letter concerning a windling kaer whose resident wizard had written a tome detailing his own battle against creatures identical to these Raken, and the manner in which he banished them. The Tome was believed sealed in the kaer, which had been abandoned in haste after a cave-in. Drimmsby had acquired a vessel suitable for the trip—two or three days East in the Thunder Mountains—and wanted us to come along as defense and for the actual exploration of the kaer. We agreed.
The trip to the kaer was fairly uneventful, except for one stop to stop a Scorcher raid we saw happening below us, and we arrived at it early enough in the day that we decided to go in the same day. It was immediately apparent that the facts had been misrepresented to us. Great scratches and gouges marked the doors of the kaer, which had obviously been forced from outside. There was no sign of a cave-in inside, but after we began our descent down the ancient elevator controlling access (with a brief return to the top to let off our allies from Travar, wounded by blood bees in the shaft) we saw the ground of the kaer’s many levels carpeted in the bones of long-dead windlings. It appeared at this point that only the maps leading us here were accurate.
This knowledge almost perished with us as the elevator’s rope parted as we neared the bottom of the kaer; we all sustained damage in the fall, and were fortunate indeed not to plummet into the depths of the pit that continued past the habitable levels. We paused to repair the lift as well as possible, in the non unreasonable expectation that we may have to leave in a bigger hurry than we came in, and set out to follow our map to where the letter claimed the tome we sought should be.
Our destination proved to be on the far side of an underwater lake, and in searching for a way across we found an…individual dwelling down here among the windling skeletons and the carapaces of the large insectoids they had fought. A humanoid apparently composed entirely of rolls of fat sat court over a pile of trinkets and equipment…much of it sized far too large for windlings. He did not appear to be a horror or even horror touched as far as I or the windling could tell looking at him astrally, but his mere presence there was disconcerting, as was the utter silence with which he responded to our efforts to communicate. In the end, Scipio, by pointing and gesturing, traded a dagger or the like to the…thing…for a large rowboat inexplicably pulled up at the shore.
We rowed across the lake, the water boiling with unseen beings battering at the bottom of the boat, and eventually reached our destination, the wizard’s tower. In his study we found a locked chamber, sealed against intrusion for the Passions only know how long. There was evidence that some had tried the blood sacrifice of name-givers to breach the magical wards, but they still stood firm. The inscription on the door said that access could only be gained by “one pure of heart but touched with evil”, or some such. After much puzzling we agreed that only the horror touched (but not a horror itself) could open the door. While the others dickered about how to find someone horror touched that we could trust, Melvag mentioned that nethermancers were open to dealings with horrors that other name-givers would avoid, and offered to open himself to a horror touch. Seeing no other alternative, I agreed that he should do so, and within minutes the door was open and the tome in our hands.
There was still some doubt at this point that the tome would be useful to us. Had we been duped into reclaiming something desired by the very enemy we fought on behalf of the people of Travar? Still, the tome, which none of us could read, it being written in the tongue used by wizards, was the only hope we had, and we set out back for the surface. The passage back across the lake was harrowing; the creatures in the water attacked our boat with renewed frenzy and it was only my spells that brought us across intact. We were exhausted by this point and made camp there in the kaer, a stone’s throw from the kaer’s disturbing occupant. On my watch, curiosity finally consumed me and I traded my good Winternight Cloak for a bag of rocks whose exact nature I still don’t know, but which are obviously pattern items of some sort. I had occasion to mourn the loss of the cloak later, but I get ahead of myself.
We had to fight a couple of battles on our way out of the kaer; not that I think anything was actively resisting our departure. We simply had the bad fortune to stumble on a few of the unwholesome things that had taken up residence there in the builders’ absence…or perhaps a little before then. In any case, we were all injured to some degree when we finally reached the top of the kaer, which we sealed behind us with a well-placed fireball to bury the entrance in snow. Still, it must have been our exhaustion that led us to hand the tome over to Drimmsby on his promise that he would place it safely belowdecks when another ship hove into view. Below it definitely went, for upon being handed the book, he marched directly to the rail and threw it down into the snow, turning immediately around with a look of horror on his face to ask what he’d just done.
I stayed not to answer, for even as he turned a swarm of things like fat winged infant humans descended on the book where it lay in the snow and flew with it toward the new vessel. I had woven the threads for a fireball to cast as soon as the other ship was close enough, but with no time to spare I managed to catch the swarm of creatures at the edge of the spell’s range, and I can say with pride that none of them lived…with the exception of Gunth, who had flown after them without my seeing. Not, mind you, that it would have stayed my hand. He’s tough. He can take it. As we’ve proven several times, now. In any case, with the ships closing for combat, and a blizzard swirling around us, I felt retrieval of the book now was imperative, and leapt over the side to find it, mark its place, and defend it.
I succeeded, Gunth and I were still standing over it, my staff aflame to keep us (barely) from frozen death, when our companions found us and brought us back to the ship, but things then turned against us. The other ship matched our pace, and boarded us with more cadaver men than we had crew. Those we fought more or less effectively, but when the nethermancer who created them, his two gigantic defenders and gargoyle minions joined the fray, we were seriously overmatched, and survived the battle at all only because they didn’t concern themselves with us once they had the book. Sun Tzu and Ja’kar Agar were both struck down, grievously wounded, Scipio was barely standing, and I can still feel the fist the nethermancer closed around my heart from 40 feet away. In this condition we did the only thing we could. We gave chase to the nethermancer’s vessel.
We had two days to travel to Travar, and so that much time to heal our wounded. In an attempt to close the distance between us, I tried to summon a water elemental to wet our sails. The first two attempts failed, forcing me to banish the elementals immediately. The third attempt, however, failed spectacularly; it tried, and very nearly succeeded, to kill me, enveloping me. I had always thought the danger of envelopment by a water elemental was from drowning, but the thing squeezed me, and it was only with the aid of my companions that it was driven off. Wounded now and barely keeping upright, I gave up on trying to aid our pursuit, and devoted myself to healing myself and my companions.
We finally closed the distance over the outskirts of Travar itself, and this time the fight apparently went our way, although I don’t remember anything after the first moments, when I again felt that fist around my heart. I came to the next day in the temple of Garlen here in Travar, and have spent the three weeks since healing and meditating to improve my skills. I have new armor, now. The nethermancer’s plate armor, whose surface constantly swirls with storm clouds, is named Siracco, although I so far have not managed to tie a thread to it. I have strengthened the thread to the staff of Akarem; should I need to strike anyone with it they will definitely know it, now.
In any case, we have been here nearly a month, now, and have received another commission for work. There is a package to be carried to Sky Point, apparently of great value, for the fee we shall collect on delivery is substantial indeed, and we will be leaving as soon as we’ve determined the best way to cover the distance. My preference is for passage on an airship, but so far we haven’t enquired.
Alot has happened since the last entry in this vessel of our thought
and feelings. Before our departure from Travar our Journal
disappeared. We all thought that it would turn up but the length of
time it took to do so was more than anticipated. The first place
that we should have looked was Gunth’s bags, not the last. So dear
reader, if our exploits seem disjointed at this point, blame the
Also, if I am wrong in any of my information please feel free to
I will start with my sword…Purifier. Icewing removed the illusion
of tarnish from the sword, leaving me with a nicely made weapon. I
have since tried everything to tie a thread to it, all
unsuccessfully. I have meditated on my Blade Weaving, improving it
time and again so that I feel that I am ready again to attempt the
sword. During these attempts I have tried ever useful herb in
Lathyrus’ stinking bag of flora. Always failure. Damn thing. I
have been practicing on the Ice Pouch to which I have more threads
tied to than rigging on a drakkar. Now I have a powerful bag of
useless ice. Very frustating.
I was sad to leave Travar behind. It is nice have a place where
everyone knows your name and yells it when you enter an
inn. ‘Scipio!!’, they yell ‘Give us a Haiku!’. Ahhh, an
appreciative audience and I am leaving it behind.
It would seem that the daggers we’d taken from the Filth Worshipper have cursed Sun-tzu, Scipio, and I. The curse is one of Discord and Strife. Thus far, it does not appear capable of affecting us directly; yet many of those around us have fallen to querulous bickering and drawn blades. We, who share the curse, may not in good conscience go amongst other name-givers. So far, we’ve gathered that the only solution will be to find the missing eighth dagger and tie threads to them all until the Thing which curses us shows it’s face; and destroy the Foul Thing.
The finding of the dagger may go easy, I can’t say. Convincing each of my compatriots of the need for all to be bound will be much harder. Lathyrus has already refused joining to The Pattern; though his rationale holds some degree of merit, it does mean I doubt him willing to bind to any of the daggers—at least not until he is positive beyond doubt that he must. Gunth, thief that he is, would join The Pattern; but I still do not fully trust him to hold true to It. J’Kara’Gar, may be willing to bind herself to the dagger in an effort to free the cursed among us, but she and Gunth often clash—though if there be fault, it oft times falls upon the Windling.
Yestermorn, while I scouted ahead of us, I saw one of the Tainting Things. It was the same that battered me senseless some time ago and I knew I my arrows would do no more than aggravate It. I tried to flee, thinking to warn my companions when It spoke in my head: taunting me to lead it towards my cohorts. In my headlong, and rash, rush through the woods I was knocked unconscious by my own fear when I failed to see the low-hanging limb.
When I awoke, Gunth and Lathyrus were nearby. They had gone in search of me when I had not returned and they espied the movement of trees in my general direction. The Filth spoke to us all, decrying my “rude” behavior. It told us what we seek is to the south. I assumed it meant the Troubadour we are seeking, but it could also mean something else.
I care not how “pleasant” It chooses to sound. The Foul Thing could very well have led us to where it wants us. Though it feasts on the flesh of name-givers, it has left us more or less alone. “Why” is the question that begs answering. If It wishes to aide us, shouldn’t we consider the price it will exact from us?
I am of the opinion that It should be destroyed at the earliest possible moment. I have held my own council on this, thus far. What the others have taken for kindness may be ploy. Its kind has done much damage to the world, and as It stalks I do not think It should be trusted.
This is possibly the most dangerous time in our little group’s history, I can feel the edge of the precipice and we are soon to tumble into the crevasse. We have apparently taken in a stray horror as our ‘friend’. It is extremely powerful and yet hasn’t seen fit to kill us. The evil of such a horror must be immense yet it acts with great intellect toward us, a combination that could easily allow its tendrils to work their way into our fragile party. I have always considered myself very balanced but several of my companions do not have the same temperament. Gunth acts horror touch many times when he is actually not so and Lathyrus’ barely concealed dislike for the windling is a rift that a party fighting against the pervasive evil of a horror can’t afford. Celdic is also a worry but for another reason. His untempered ‘goodness’ could get one of us a knife in the back if he decides that the creature has gained purchase in one of us. I intend to talk to Jakar Agar and Sun Tsu about my concern…they all need to be watched closely. I will also suggest that we all perform our artistic talents nightly around the campfire. This will hopefully ease some suspicion and give us an early warning of trouble. The daggers are another concern. Those unbound to them will surely be affected by their discord. Another fact that makes us vulnerable.
To date, we have spent several days outside the Theran town of Ironcrook waiting for word to arrive from Vaneck Old-Singer. She may hold some vital clue to aide in ridding the curse and the Thing which brought it about.
Having stayed at camp these past few days has had some unexpected benefits. Apparently a thief of some merit has managed to rob both J’Kara’Gar and Lathyrus. J’Kara’Gar has been in a foul mood since her purse was snatched from within her knapsack. She initially blamed Gunth, logical since he too is a thief. But had Gunth wanted to steal from any of us, he would have had ample opportunity over the past few months; even he has enough measure of self-preservation to not blithely rob a party-mate.
I think even with this argument, she could not accept the Windling’s innocence of this particular crime. The loss of nearly 1300 silver would be a bitter tea. It was the theft of Lathyrus’ purse that provided the first clue as to the culprit. Lathyrus has always kept his purse close to his jewels, a prudent act in most populated areas. This time, it was not enough. The thief’s blade must have been very sharp for he was able to slit Lathyrus’ pants and purse strings without Lathyrus knowing. I do not know what signaled the loss of his purse, I imagine it was the cooler air hitting where it had not, but Lathyrus was able to catch a glimpse of the thief. A redheaded Orc is not a common sight, though how he manages to elude notice is beyond my ken.
Again, much time has passed since anyone has written anything substantive in this journal; it has been rescued from the bottom of Gunth’s pack and now resides in the chest where we keep our cloths, stones and tools for maintaining our gear, but I think the very familiarity of the sight of it keeps it out of our minds. I just now saw Scipio putting it away and realized I hadn’t opened it for weeks, perhaps longer, and, now that I have it before me, it seems the others have barely touched it, either, so I will attempt to recall all that has happened in these past weeks, and explain some of the references my companions have made. Some of these events happened quite some time ago, indeed, and so I’m certain I shall misremember some, and forget others entirely. I shall invite my companions to correct or add to the tale when I have finished my account.
We indeed took ship to Vivane (not neighboring Sky Point, which destination, when named, got us suspicious looks from those we asked, being, as it is, a Theran military base), selling our horses and carts to pay for passage and arriving after an uneventful trip of only a few days. There we delivered our parcel to its intended recipients, which involved wiating with one of them in an inn in the Theran quarter of the city while another of them took the package to be verified preparatory to paying us. We were still awaiting his return when Theran guards stormed the building, and we fled in the company of our contact, Kron, who led us through back alleys and sewers to what he thought would be a place of refuge: the home of a wealthy local supporter of the anti-Theran resistance movement, for whom the parcel had been destined. We arrived just in time to witness the death of that supporter at the hands of Therans, and then fled again, to be put up in an emergency Resistance hidey-hole in the ruined pre-scourge quarter of town.
There we sat cooling our heels for several days, until Kron came to us with a status report on the package we had tried to deliver; the man who had taken it for verification had, instead, sold it to a local black-marketeer for enough money to flee town on, and the marketeer was offering it back to the Resistance for an exorbitant fee.
This sat not well with any of us, except perchance Gunth; it seems the sort of thing he would approve of, at least. The rest of us determined to retrieve the wrongfully tranferred goods at sword’s point (another thing of the sort the windling would approve of, I suppose), and launched a quite effective assault on the “merchant’s” office, taking out most of his guards and freezing his windling lackey in her tracks…literally…as she fled with the package. The “merchant” asked us, as he surrendered himself and the goods to us, why we had felt it necessary to take by force that which had been freely offered for sale, to which I gave an answer not entirely true to the facts, but one which I’m sure he could better understand than our true motivation. “We’re somewhat short of gold,” I told him, “but steel we have in abundance.”
Incidentally, Gunth was caught in the blizzard shpere that stopped our opponenet’s windling, and died; I still smile to think on it. Alas, someone among us must have had a last chance salve; the windling plagues us yet. Still, I swore to kill him for that fiasco around Kratas, and killed him I did. For am I not an elf of my word? I always settle my debts, sooner or later. Any enmity I may bear toward him now is newly earned.
In any case, in return for the completed delivery of our cargo, we received a heartfelt thank you, 200 silver apiece, a promise of later payment in full, and a suggestion to clear out of town for a time, to allow the Theran anthill to calm itself and the local Resistance to re-organize after the death of its backer.
For lack of any other plans, we purchased carts and horses and prepared for an overland journey back to more familiar lands near Throal. Some days along this course, we were set upon by roadside brigands, this time armed with flame arrows, which led to the destruction of one of our wagons. It led also, happily, to the destruction of the band of thieves, as it provided a handy source of flame for my fireball spell to consume them. Still, at our first stop in a town we purchased replacement equipment for that which had been lost on the burned wagon, although we didn’t replace the wagon itself; one will have to suffice.
While there, we also found a troubadour to investigate some items of interest we had acquired, most notably a matched set of knives we had picked up in the laboratory of the nethermancer who had stolen the eggs Icewing sought. The troubadour was unable to help us directly, but directed us to seek out G’nagh the Querulous, an ork scholar (yes, feel free to laugh) last known to be serving as his brother’s advisor in the area of Copper Cauldron, fortuitiously between us there and Throal.
We arrived in Copper Cauldron just in time for a wedding between the son of G’nagh’s brother and the daughter of the main rival scorcher band in the region; all went well until G’nagh’s brother, Mushtuk, was poisoned in the middle of the festivities. Among us, we managed to save the lives of both the scorcher band leader and the hapless dupe who had poured the poisoned hurlg given him by none other than G’nagh. The Querulous one had not yet finished his research of the daggers we had given him, and so we danced a political knife’s edge to try to prevent an all-out war between the two scorcher bands before we could extract the information from the old ork.
The dance went well, if not as well as we could have hoped. Blood was shed, but none died, and we did indeed discover a very important fact about our daggers…one which would have been useful indeed to know before three of our number had tied threads to some of them, solemnly forming a Group where we had been simply companions before. For reasons of pure practicality I opted out of this Group, (The Generally Errant Adventuring Kaniggits of Serendipty), and now am very glad I did, for the daggers that formed the Pattern Items for the group prove to bear a curse.
Relics from pre-Scourge Cara Fahd, they had once bound together eight
Adventurers to fight horrors, but now, they sow discord wherever they go, warping and twisting minds within their range. We know that now the force they exert is weak, although it still proves enough to set orks to fighting. Not a difficult task, true, but G’nagh informed us that they curse of the blades will only grow stronger with time. He further told us that the only way to break the curse is to follow it to it’s end, tying stronger and stronger threads to the daggers, strengthening the curse all the while, until finally the evil that stains them is released in a form that can be fought and, with the grace of the Passions, defeated. The details of this course of action, however, he was unable to tell us, referring us instead to yet another scholar, an ork Troubadour dwelling in a Library south and west of Copper Cauldron.
We have been to the library, and now to this river town, seeking her, and at every stop she has been a step ahead of us, travelling to Vivane seeking, in a case of extreme irony, adventurers. We dare not follow her to such a large population center with the curse haging over half our party like a cloud of poison for the unsuspecting, and so we have sent a message to the library in Vivane in hopes of reaching her, and have been awaiting reply here for several days, during which JaKar’A’Gar and I have both been robbed…and so, apparently, has been the local Theran Guard captain, by a windling, on the night Gunth came back to our camp in his thieves’ garb. I know Gunth didn’t rob me, I saw the ork who did that before he escaped into the crowd, but I also know Gunth is being trained by that ork, and I fully intend to keep him to his promise to replace the money stolen from us.
In any case, it is now nearly dark; I had intended to be in the town right now, awaiting the message that should be arriving any day now, if it is going to arrive at all, but was run out by Theran guards with extra-large wooden suppositories. They and their ilk are swarming the town today. Apparently the dagger stolen from the guard Captain was not only an heirloom, but has a powerful thread tying it to the him. I am inclined to move camp to prevent Gunth leading trouble to us, but as usual when I suggest a prudent act, I have been outvoted. If we are still free and breathing come morning, I shall ask my companions if they have aught to add to this account. For now, though, the light is failing, and the morning watch will come early whether I’ve slept or not.
Gunth did not return to camp last night. Lathyrus was thrown out of town and apparently told to move on. The plan at this point is for Lathyrus to visit the ship that came into harbor today. We’re awaiting his return…
Ja’Kara’Gar is still in a foul mood. Gunth is supposedly working on getting her money back—but the Orc thief is also training him. So this it will likely take some time before the issue is reolved…
Lathyrus returned a little while ago with word that vaneck is en route to Ironcrook. She is supposed to arrive in four days time. But, we still have yet to see Gunth. Apparently the town watch Captain was robbed by a Windling and the Guard has rounded up every windling too slow to get out of town. Gunth is likely among them.
There were some lights a few miles from our encampment. Lathyrus is convinced they represent a search party looking for us. Ja’Kara’Gar has assumed the Windling has sold us out to the Guard—I think that may not be the case; he’s more apt to lie when pressed than not… He’s more apt to lie in general.
I’ve taken an extra watch tonight, Lathyrus needed to rest after flitting out to the dock and back… and I’ve not had much to do beyond waiting for something to do. In the morning, we’re heading towards the river. The thought is to head downstream and attempt to hail ships bound for Ironcrook.
I wonder where Gunth is.
Time to wake the others.
Four days til we can talk to the Troubadour. It is going to be a long time or at least seem that way. The hour-long discussion over track covering was a good indicator of the tenor of those 4 days. We are moving camp to down river so that we can meet the Troubadour en-route since most of us are unable to go to town and the rest of us are not aloud in town. The disappearance of Gunth is very disturbing. He is training so it may be that he has stayed in town but he had been returning to camp. We were going to send a message in the place of the troubadour to inform the Windling of the change in campsites but he arrived in mid-travels. He had been caught for stealing the dagger, which he did, but escaped. The escape wasn’t total of course…they have Gunth’s sword. The sword he has threads tied to. Looks like people will be coming to us and we are finding a defensible position.
The T’skrang had somehow and certainly in his usual maniacal style, gotten up the rope to the airship. I jumped and made it too, having dispatched the enemies surrounding me, and seeing my fellows had done likewise. The bloody mutants above cut rope and began to depart. It was foreseeable, but I had hoped to beat them to the top, perhaps foolishly. Almost immediately, Gunth flew upward, I hoped to aid Scipio. I fervently hoped, saying a quick prayer to any passions that might be in attendance, that Gunth’s help would not be fatal to Scipio (or himself). Lathyrus followed by his typical arcane means, intending to lend aid. Celdic & I assessed our options and prepared to follow below. We leapt to the horses. After some time, having lost track of the bloody boat, Celdic’s sharp ears caught the sound of bursting timbers, and we thus had a direction to follow again. We were heartened by the assurance that our comrades were achieving some level of control over the situation—with what cost we did not dare guess. Soon enough, if the ailing Drakkar slowed, we might have a sight of it and with luck might aid our friends.
If luck was involved in what happened next, it must have been dumb luck. Lathyrus threw up a lattice that finally caught the airship. Somehow, Lathyrus and Scipio caught each other on their separate journeys in air, and Scipio was sorely wounded. Gunth also fell or was tossed, we can’t be sure which, and sustained much damage. In fact, he remains unconscious at this writing.
As Scipio tells it, his stunning acts of derring-do sliced the morale of the enemy and some of their limbs, and from the sounds we heard below, I do not believe he is embellishing as usual. Unfortunately, he was caught in a net after besting the ship’s mate and was finally thrown down after Lathyrus created chaos with his lattices.
We decided it was best that those tied to the cursed daggers remove to the city, the better to obfuscate their trackers. Lathyrus and I go to meet Vannik. It was comforting to make a decision to hide Gunth without having to contend with him, as he was still unconscious—of course, we have to hide because of him, and are short money to do so because of him. Let us pray his consciousness remains at rest for a time.
Vannik has taken an airship rather than boat, and we are returning to our comrades.
When the Tharen bolt impaled me, I fell into darkness as I fell from the Drakar. And as I fell through that mysterious land between life and death I had a very clear vision. I was looking up at the Drakar, faltering through the sky. And I saw Latti looking down, with all the disinterest an elf can muster. Then he looked away from me and saw Scipio falling. Then, Latti did the most improbable thing ever: he risked his own life to save the lizard.
What it means is undeniable. Sides are being formed. Sides between those who tolerate me and those who can’t wait for Latti to engulf me in flames again.
In the vision, Latti let me fall. It was his decision to let me perish. And as I watched him I was not angry. I was at peace. At peace with the voice of Pete in my head. And he said to me, “Gunth, ka is like a wheel.”
Latti will have his day. All I have to do is wait for the moment to just smile and let him fall. As for those who side with him, I will let them also fall.
Why would I continue to journey with those I plan on abandoning to the fates? Simple. They make me look good. My legend grows as they get the crap kicked out of them by Tharens and beasts. Meanwhile, I walk away with nary a bruise and the scalp of mine enemy in my hand. Who looks like the best hero above all others? I do. With the exception of Scipio, none of them have a heroic bone in their body. I cleave through my foes as easily as Sun. And cleave through them he should. Look at the bastard’s size! He could fart and kill a legion of soldiers. He should be embarassed not to have a body count ten times that of little ol’ me. Little ol’ me who has finally found a role model worthy of my esteem. How I wish I’d seen Latti standing in the street, his cockadoodledoo in his hands, as broke as the day he was born. And the dumb troll. Zero could have stolen the horns from the imbecile’s head without it knowing. If there is one thing my experience with the Captain of the Guard has taught me, it’s that I can handle my own, and that my greatest adventures will be when I let these Geaks fall and strike out into legend on my own.
As we made ready to head north and awaited the arrival of Vannick, Gunth flittered back into camp this morning and promptly presumed that he should or even could teach me how to use a bow. As if a bow were something to be used and discarded. As if I need the likes of a thief to tell me just how the world works. He then wanted to shoot a few rounds and grinned that silly little annoying grin…
The gall of that little flea
Teach me how to use a bow indeed!
Much has been made of my brilliant combat with the Drakar, mostly by me, but again when I grip a sword, the Passions shake. What I want to discuss is my brilliant handling of interrorgation. I did not sell out Zero. I did not admit to the crimes. And I totally covered myself for all thief equipment and smoke bombs. Troubadors. What a wonderful cover. I need to eavesdrop on Vannik closely during this journey, to pick up some tales and tricks, to develop this cover for future use.
They even locked me up and dipped me in water. Twice. Did I give in? I only gave away what I intended to, playing the stupid captain into my hands. Plus, I got under their skin so badly they botched transfering me, allowing for a daring escape. Annoyance is not a flaw. It is a gift.
But the best part was when I bit off the guard’s hand. I think this was the true birth of Gunth, coming into his own. It was the blood ritual that began me on the path to clarity, which I traipsed upon in isolation in the box.
I am a force to be reckoned with. I am majestic despite my size. And I have everyone right where I want them.
Stormhead, Borrum 2, 1505
Well, it’s been a busy week, if not a particularly eventful one. After that little fiasco with the Theran drakkar, the party split, as JakarAgar mentioned: those tied to the daggers went back into town to try to hide among the throngs, the troll and I went the opposite direction, hoping to catch Vannik’s ship at the last landing place before Ironcrook. When we found out from the captian of the appropriate ship that the troubadour had, in fact, been planning on coming by airship, we made a rather unpleasant night march by torchlight and managed to enter Ironcrook with the morning market crowd. Along the way I disguised myself with some clothes borrowed from Celdic and some pigments gathered along the way. It seems to have worked; at least I never drew any official attention while in town.
We met Vannik on the appointed night in the Drunken Fish, as planned; she was much younger than I expected, not yet 20, I’d wager. But I get out of turn. On my way to that meeting I encountered our red-headed friend in the street, and we had a chat. It seems that the crush of people in the city had done little to obscure the windling’s presence; our companions were attacked in the night by Theran guardsmen and forced to flee. Zero, as the orc is named, aided them, sealing the windling in an orichalcum box to make him impossible to track, and hiding him and the other party memebers from patrols. Why no one thought to nail the box shut and toss it into the river is beyond me, but then most people must have a higher irritation threshold than I, I suppose.
Those of us not actually in hiding, then, met with Vannik as I wrote earlier, and found that our needs coincide, as I suspected they might, most fortuitiously. She is an avid student of Kara Fahd’s ancient history and needs a party of adventurers to accompany her on an expedition into the heart of the old kingdom’s territory; we are in possession of some ancient artifacts from that kingdom and need both to avoid large aggregations of name-givers and to have the weapons thrououghly inspected and their secrets revealed to us. We agreed on two days for refitting the party, and for Gunth to finish his training with Zero, who turns out to be Vannik’s cousin. On the morning of the third day, we all met outside the walls of Ironcrook and set out north and east, back the way we had come.
The journey so far has been without incident. Vannik is turning out to be an excellent travelling companion; she is better mannered (and groomed) than most name-givers I’ve met recently, much less most orks. She is well educated and well travelled; for once there is someone around who can carry a decent conversation! Pity she’s an ork…although at times one hardly even notices the tusks, depending on how the light catches her. She seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time around Celdic for some reason, though; I have no idea what she and that bumpkin might have in common to speak about.
One thing of note: before setting up camp tonight Vannik and I stopped in to visit the library where we lodged on our trip south to catch her; the riot we left in our wake had seriously injured the head librarian himself, among others. What I found truly disturbing, however, is that while I sat in the refectory awaiting her return from an audience with the convalescing academician, another fight broke out in the next room. I hastily made my excuses and removed myself from the library grounds, and then had the party move camp another mile or so from the gates, but I am worried. Does our curse leave a residual effect, so that the enmities spawned by it linger? Am I personally tainted with it trhough the pattern items I share with Scipio, who is bound to one of the daggers? Or, most soberingly, does anyone who comes into lengthy contact with us—as Vannik has—become a carrier of the curse? None of the three possibilities heartens me.
Tomorrow our course leaves the well-trodden roadway we’ve covered so often in recent weeks, and we will penetrate into Kara Fahd proper.
As we came upon a fork in the road to Storm Head, Vannick made it known she wished to sleep at the library. Lathyrus had to remind her of the curse and told her of the effects our presence had upon those within. She deemed it necessary to go and investigate but agreed to return to camp. Lathyrus (who seems to have fixed upon Vannick, though I doubt he would see this truth) volunteered to attend her.
After a short time, Lathyrus returned alone and told us either our camp was affecting the town, or he too is somehow cursed. How, I cannot say as he neither bonded to the daggers nor The Pattern. I will have to remember to ask him why he thinks himself cursed—though it may be beyond my ken. He did express the possibility that the effects linger for some time after exposure. But upon conclusion of his recounting, we moved further along the spur of road, adding distance between Storm Head and our next encampment.
We left Ja’Kara’Gar behind to await Vannick’s return. When they met back up with us, Vannick was obviously troubled. She asked many questions about where and how we’d come into possession of the daggers. Perhaps something she saw or heard at the Library shook her more than our simply telling her of the curse. Perhaps I will broach the topic during tomorrow night’s watch. The moon rides high, and it nears the time to waken Ja’Kara’Gar and Sun-tzu for the next watch.
A severe rainstorm caught us as we set out from camp this morning. It was quite heavy and as I scouted ahead, it became clear to me the rivers and streams would range far from their banks, soon. I reminded the others to keep watch for flooding, as small rivulets became large and swelling streams within minutes. I should have heeded my own warnings.
As we attempted to ford the first tributary, my horse faltered. Perhaps the error was mine as I guided my mount across, but we both went under and the current took us quickly downstream. Lathyrus flew out a rope while Sun anchored at the crossing.
My horse thrashed wildly at first and I feared the loss of such a dependable animal would mean the loss of my possessions. But then the animal calmed, managing to get us both closer to shore. We pitched our camp not long after. There was no safe way to continue on through the storm and I needed to care for my bow and other gear. Vannick helped us get the tarps in place quickly. I had to discard the travel pouch of tea, but fortunately, I still have some on the wagon that ought to be dry. After the bone-chilling rains and my subsequent dip, I think some hot tea would be most welcome.
Heavy rains began as soon as we set out this morning, and the streams feeding into the river we follow are swollen; we nearly lost Celdic a few moments ago at the first significant crossing when his horse lost its footing. We shall have to take more care on future crossings. If we had taken the time to lay a catchline downstream of our guidline, the minutes of stark panic we just went through would have been, instead, merely a misadventure to laugh at over dinner.
The rain moved on last night and we awoke to a clearing sky. Vannyk was somewhat distressed to discover that her map was not as accurate as she hoped it would be. She was surprised to discover how much the land has changed since before the Scourge. I was able to help her decipher some of the changes by comparing some of my notes on both pre-scourge and post-scourge maps with her ancient map. Rather than waste time looking for some sign of the villages shown on her map, we decided to proceed on our quest using the more permanent terrain shown on our maps. I think Vannyk has finally come to trust us enough reveal her true goal. She finally told us that she was seeking the Hold Of Courage, which she says is some sort of burial site for the ancient heroes of Cara Fahd. If our daggers really were wielded by some of Cara Fahd’s greatest heroes, then this is surely the place to find the information we need.
After breakfast, we continued east, following the Greenheart River into the lands that were once the Kingdom of Cara Fahd. The day was peaceful enough until sometime after lunch when we were surprised what appeared to be a party of primitive orks. Vannyk later called these orks Vrug-norrt, which in throalic means, “savage orks”. These orks have lost all knowledge of, as well as the ability to use, Adept magic. 15 of these savages ambushed us at a spot where the woods grew close to the river’s edge. They did show some cunning in sending 5 attackers after Celdic and J’Kar’A who were scouting ahead. As we were beginning to respond to the initial attack, 5 more attacked Scipio and Lathryus in the rear of our column. Before Vannyk and I could leave the cart to aid either element of our group, 5 more attacked us at the cart. Well, it was more like they attacked me. They seemed to be reluctant to attack Vannyk, presumably because she, too, is an ork. Vannyk, however, showed no such reluctance. While she showed the will to fight, her skills were somewhat lacking. This was not unexpected, she is, after all, a troubadour, a teller of tales, and not a fighter. I shall have to spend some time sparring with her and help her hone her talents in the finer arts of swordplay. Naturally, 15 savages wearing hide armor and wielding only clubs were no match for my companions and I. Once 6 of their number fell, they lost their taste for blood and broke off the fight, heading back into the woods. Then J’Kar’A did a most foolish thing; she pursued our attackers into the woods! I have seen Trolls and Orks become so battle crazed that they think of nothing but the complete slaughter of their foes, but I did not think J’Kar’A would succumb to this battle lust. When I first took up the Warrior’s blade, my master, Wu Ping warned me to never give in to this blood lust, as it blinds you to that which could kill you. He also taught me to never chase a wounded animal into their lair, for that is where they are the most dangerous. Celdic and Gunth followed after her to try and bring her back to the party, while the rest of us secured the battle site.
Borrum 5, next morning
It was very nearly sundown before they returned bearing the Beast mistress’s unconscious body on a travois. Celdic told us that she had fought 4 attackers before she fell, and any more we did not need to know. Apparently, by the reactions of the rest of the party, there was much Celdic left unsaid. Gunth was uncharacteristically quiet, Vannyk turned quite pale and rushed to tend to J’Kar’A, Scipio got that hard stare of his and his crest reddened, and Lathryus’ skin flushed and he got a strange look on his face before he turned away to do some busy work. There are times when I fail to comprehend the wordless speech of my fellow namegivers and this was one of those times. Last night, at watch-change, I asked Lathryus what Celdic didn’t want us to know. Lathryus got quite angry with me, telling me it was rather obvious that Celdic thought that J’Kar’A had been violated! What do you mean, Violated, I asked? They forced themselves on her, he nearly shouted! You mean they forced her to mate with them? Yes, he replied rather coolly as he stalked off. I must apologize to my companions for being so slow to understand what happened. My people are genderless and our means of reproduction is decidedly non-sexual. M y people will never be able to understand these matters. I hope J’Kar’A’ Gar will fully heal, in both body and spirit.
It’s the middle of the night, and I’m on watch with the smelly troll. They’re all concerned the danger is out there in the jungle, but I know it’s among us. I know Flash Bang the Elf is horror touched because:
1. He fried an entire village of orcs.
2. The horror we encountered said it was proud of him.
3. He’s more worthless than usual.
4. I never liked him in the first place.
I tried warning the group. They told me to be quiet. I tied Flash to a tree. Even Scipio turned on me. I’d cut Flash’s head off to save us all, but I guess the others need to be trapped in an icy web before they acknowledge something is wrong.
Borrum 6, dawnwatch
Two nights now since I’ve slept; I keep seeing her face. Worse, I keep seeing theirs. Damn that troll! Why did she have to go running off alone like that? And why the hell couldn’t I have given in at any of the last six apothacaries I’ve dealt with and picked up a quart or two of poppy juice? Not sure you did me any favors, there, old man; I need to sleep sometime.
When Celdic oh-so-carefully didn’t tell us what happened out there…and that two of them got away…I knew that I wouldn’t be able to rest until I’d finished that little job; if the rest of the group hadn’t come along, I’d have gone after them by myself. As it was, that wasn’t necessary, but it might have been better. I’m not sure Celdic slept last night, either; I’ve a feeling he, too, will be seeing faces whenever he closes his eyes for some time to come. Vannyk, I think, sees them even with her eyes open.
Anyway, after the first night of lying, then sitting, awake, the night after the ambush, I put on Scirocco and asked the others if they cared to come hunting with me. All but the obsidiman agreed, and we cut loose our prisoners and followed them to their home. In retrospect, I suppose we should have waited there in the woods, watched for a while, singled out the two we needed and taken care of them individually. This is not what we did.
Instead, Ja’Kar A’Gar stepped out of the woods to draw the attention of the warriors, while I readied a fireball for them, and indeed she did draw their attention, and they rushed her. I have no idea why the women and, for that matter, most of the children also rushed toward her, and I suppose I never shall. When the moment came, and all were gathered in a pack running towards the troll, I hurled the flame I had planned for the warriors alone, and all were consumed. Only one who even approached adulthood in the entire village survived, and Gunth saw to her with a bit of his casual butchery.
Those are the faces that had the Archer and Troubadour muttering and crying out through the night, but they are not the ones I see; even as I cast the spell, they were not the ones.
Scipio – Borrum 7, dawnwatch
Vanick needs to know what is going on. There is too much intrigue and strange moods going on with the party. I met with Sun and Celdic this morning and Vanick over heard some of it.
“Gunth is acting even more horror touched than normal and Lathyrus’ recent mood was scary”, I said to Sun and Celdic in the morning.
“ I find it disturbing that everyone forgot about how our party affected the Fists of Fahd. It should not have been such a surprise to see these primitive orks react to us as they did. Especially if they were already disposed to attack us.” Replied Sun
“With the attention we are getting from horror and the fact that we are curse, the feud between Gunth and Lathyrus is leaving us vulnerable.” I said “Hmmm, I am not sure if I trust her with inter-party turmoil.” But my replay was wasted, she had wandered over and was party to our conversation.
“Do these Daggers have anything to do with what has happened in the last two days: she asked
“I would image that the curse is at work here. Unfortunately, our normal source for this sort of info is acting most strangely”, I answered her.
Sun’s eyes strayed to Lathryus, who looked like he had not slept in years.
“I understand JakaraGar’s reactions, they are not an obviously part of the curse or of our dangerous friend but both Gunth and Lathyrus are acting very strangely. But then, Gunth always acts strangely.” My eyes strayed to Gunth, who was trying to figure out how to piss on Lathyrus’ chest without me knowing.
“I can try and use my Itemm history talent, But it will take a week to use properly.” Vannik announced. You also mentioned that you had the attention of a Horror??”, she had got to the scary meat of her consternation and I was upset that others had not excersiced more discretion.
“We have 2 extra Daggers, she can carry one of those.” Said Sun Tzu, not so cleverly avoiding the point.
I followed suit, “True…well, we need to keep an eye on Gunth and Lathyrus” As if in response to my concern we noticed that Lathryus is quite stressed out. Not sleeping, constantly muttering under his breath, alternately manic and deppressed, and just plain grumpy. “Hmmm, not exactly helping his cause and avoiding suspicion. I am going to propose a nightly Artisan skill test.”
“Blame it on the close proximity of our ’friend” Celdic quipped
“What friend????” Vannik was not to be denied
Celdic and Vannik exchanged glances. “She needs to know. She is in as much danger as the rest of us, and she may be able to help us.” Celdic is always about the truth. I am not sure that she can handle the truth.
“Tell her, We cannot risk her not knowing.” Sun said, joining in on the side of the open and honest do-gooders.
I will gave her the whole story then I told the whole party that she knows. I am going to be more dictatorial than usual and insist on Artisan Tests nightly. I don’t want any repeats of event from our past that I now refuse to recount.
Got caught in an icy web. The group blames the Jahutras… which I killed single-handedly, I might add. I think the group may be right. Flash couldn’t have created beasts to powerful they knocked the Sharp Stone on his gravelly bum. But then I got to thinking about the other night, when I was fighting the large cats from within their mouths. Their breath really stank, which reminded me of the troll’s breath. The troll is a beastmaster and could summon these creatures. Would she have us believe she is so pitiful she can only summon a rotten bird? I never took the troll as a sly one, one who threw me from her path for so long. You have to get up in the morning pretty early to put one over on Gunth.
So, why do I accuse the troll of being the pet of a horror?
1. Bad breath, like the cats who tried to eat me.
2. Wants us to think she’s worthless.
3. Runs into the woods at any excuse—to report to her horror master.
4. Got penetrated by the wild orcs. The only reason I can imagine to penetrate a troll is to insert a demon spawn.
It has been 4 days since the rest of the party returned from their mission to “apprehend” J’Kar’A Gar’s attackers. Vannyk is still rather quiet during the daylight, spending most of her time and attention on the children. At night, she sleeps fitfully and cries out in her sleep, no doubt reliving that day every night.
It is Lathryus that worries me the most, however. While the rest of the party has more or less come to terms with the events of that day, Lathryus still has not been able to sleep through the night and spends most of his day in an exhausted stupor, all but useless in any kind of fight or emergency, such as the Jehuthra that attacked us yesterday. Tasks that he used to be able to do at the snap of a finger, now take him half of the morning to do. Last night, he opened the medicinal brandy and drank himself unconscious. Apparently, it worked. He awoke somewhat less tired than the night before, and I did not hear him cry out in his sleep. Unfortunately we will run out of brandy in another week or so. What will happen to him then?
In the mean time, we still need to deal with whatever is stalking us through this Jungle. It took another of the children last night. Lathryus seems to think that this creature is somehow luring the children out of the camp at night.
It has been 4 days since I last made an entry in our journal. The day after our fight with the Jehuthra, the jungle began to get thicker and we had to take turns with the machetes hacking a clear path for the party, the horses, and our cart. Last night, another of the children wandered off and by the time Celdic and J’Kar’A found him, little remained to be buried. Vannyk is beside herself, no matter what she or the rest of us do, the children keep wandering off, defying our best attempts to safe guard them.
Later that day ……..
This afternoon we were attacked by a pack of monkeys. About 15 or 20 of them dropped down on us from the trees above us. Their fur was blood red and the howled incessantly. Before I could call out for the group to fall back, J’Kar’A and Vannyk were unconscious and 2 of the children were dead. I tried to fend the monkeys off the best I could while leading to safety those who were still mobile. I don’t know how he managed it, but Celdic ran over to Vannyk’s unconscious body, scooped her up and into the cart at a dead run. Meanwhile, Scipio was trying to save J’Kar”A Gar’s unconscious body from about a dozen of the killer beasts. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, Lathryus summoned a Fire Elemental and lost control of it. It did scare away the monkeys as he intended, but we still had to kill it quickly. Fortunately he had summoned a rather weak one that Scipio and I were able to make short work of. Eventually, I’m sure Lathryus will find an element he can control, if not, he may need to find another discipline.
Scipio – Borrum 12
The jungle is difficult as usual. We are continuing to travel along the river but the overgrown nature of the area is making passage incredibly slow. Instead of creature we are constantly fighting plantlife. Not having found an area to camp, Lathyrus burned a nice patch of woods. It is not efficient for our traveling but nice for a campsite.
Feeling like I needed a bath, I took a dip in the river. It was no more than 30 seconds before I was having chunks of flesh torn from me by nasty little fish. Needless to say, I got out of the water and did not finish my bath.
We have traveled for days now without really much in the way of excitement. The children continue to wander off but whether it is just kid’s curiosity or some other force at work has yet to be determined. Either way, Vannek does not like losing the children and is taking it very hard.
The forest has become dense and it is taking all of our effort to cut a path through the underbrush. Day after day of this but finally we are rewarded. We cut our way into a clearing that had a structure that Vannek identified as our destination, the Hall of Valor or what not. Sounds like it will be quite…well, Valorous. It is nearly time to wash away the stains of recent events. We will be preparing ourselves and entering in the morning.
This is the ley of Gunth as it will be written in legend throughout the ages and then some…
As the light was fading behind the mountains, Gunth and his band of band raced over a foothill, hours away from catching that dreaded troubadour, Vannik, who had slain one of Gunth’s comrades, as he lay slumbering beneath his fluffy plume. The troupe raced over the peak, believing they’d find the damned troubadour on the other side. Instead, they found a legion of trolls, five drakars and enough fire power to topple Skypoint itself.
What should these adventurers, marching beneath Garland’s smile, do? Gunth led his company with a deafening, fear-inspiring roar and charge into the heart of the troll army. Many trolls fell, but so did many of the adventurers, marching beneath Garland’s smile. Flash angered powerful wizards, who blinded and smote him. The troll rolled around with a few of the enemy, either in a dance of death or a dance of courtship. And the lizard fought nobly, before eventually falling into the darkness of a thousand blades. But Gunth, the flittering hand of death, fought on, sending many trolls into the void before twenty or more trolls were able to hold a net over the brave windling.
Gunth earned the trolls’ respect for being the mightiest warrior they had ever seen, and they begged Gunth to stay with them and be their king. They offered to roast the other adventurers, marching beneath Garland’s smile, and serve them to him along with a platter of potatoes and with a rich wine sauce. But Gunth demanded they not roast the adventurers, marching beneath Garland’s smile, and keep them as slaves, who might one day come to their senses and join the mighty troll army and help them topple Thera.
But Gunth was cunning, and during the blundering of Flash’s spells, which resulted in many an uproar, Gunth slipped out of the camp and gathered a mighty army, greater than any Barsaive has ever seen.
They marched on the troll army’s camp and in a dazzling display of arms, Gunth, the flittering hand of death, and his mighty army raised the camp to the ground. But alas, Gunth could not find his fellow adventurers, marching beneath Garland’s smile. And he mourned them greatly, except Flash, who was a dickweed. Gunth’s tears fell upon the latrine site, for there was no question that his comrades had been served with potatoes, and their remains floated amidst the potatoes in the commode.
The sweetness of victory could not warm Gunth’s heart, and he bid his mighty army farewell, so that he could seek vengeance against any surviving troll responsible for the consumption of the adventurers, marching beneath Garland’s smile.
It has been some time indeed since my last entry, but there has been little time in which to write. On the 12th we found the Hall of Heroes, and things basically went downhill from there. On the 13th we tried to enter, but the door, either through magic or simply poor construction, allowed only some of us to enter; I will let those who went in describe what occurred inside; all I know is that shortly after my companions disappeared into the building, it collapsed into itself, with much in the way of noise and colored lights. None of us were seriously injured, but little information was gained.
One thing we did notice, when the dust had settled, was that those of us who had bound the daggers were feeling a tug toward the northwest. After a short debate, we followed it, and it led us after a time to a village in such a state of abandoned decay that our mere attempt to enter the one standing structure caused it to collapse. This seems to be our week for urban renewal projects.
The daggers continued to point toward that structure, and we searched the rubble, but after a while we concluded that the village had been the home of the original band who owned the daggers, and that was the draw of the place. We collected rubble from the building and built a shrine to the fallen from the sotnes, in a pattern inspired by the daggers and the tales we have heard of our predecessors.
My memory of the details immediately following this are incomplete. I recall that some of the stones that wound up in the shrine were soulstones that Gunth had taken from the wreckage of the Hall of Heroes, but whether we left them in place or re-collected them to return them I can’t recall. Nor do I remember what we decided to do after this. What I do recall is that that night, or one soon after, Vannik stabbed Scipio in his sleep with his own sword and fled into the night with most of the daggers. We of course, pursued.
It was hard going, and at first it seemed a hopeless chase. We barely slept, we abandoned the cart in the woods so we could carve a narrower path for ourselves and the horses; still she gained on us, the link our party members felt to the daggers growing more tenuous with every check on it.
After a few days of slogging through the jungle, the trees gave way to rolling plains, and we changed our tactics. Sun Tzu and Celdic would continue with the travois holding all our heavy gear while the rest of us left behind everything but weapons and light armor and rode hellbent for leather after the runaway Troubadour. Even so, we still weren’t gaining, but at least we were no longer losing ground.
We followed for three or four days, taking turns standing a single watch each night, feeding the horses magically enhanced, conjured grain mash to keep them running harder than mortal animals should be able; how Vannik kept her animal alive I don’t know. Even with all my aid to our horses, we only barely gained on her.
But gain on her we did, until finally we saw the smoke of her fire over the next rise. In retrospect, this should have tipped us off; we’d seen no trace of campfires along the route of our pursuit, and to have travelled as fast as she did, she couldn’t have taken the time to light any, so I suppose we have no one but ourselves to blame for stumbling into the small army of trolls that awaited us over the ridgeline.
Vannik was, indeed, there; whether as prisoner or ally we still don’t know. What I do know is that we were immediately under attack, and that the trolls had two spellcasters in their ranks, who between them were able to keep me from casting a single spell of my own. We fought, but were taken down by sheer weight of numbers. When our defeat seemed inevitable, we were offered a life of slavery in exchange for our surrender; none of us surrendered.
Apparently, however, “surrender” and “get beaten into unconsciousness by twelve times your weight in enemies” are synonyms in Trollish; when we awoke, we were bound, and the bindings were far too elaborate to be merely practical. They were symbols of our status, which was explained to us when we were taken to the headman’s hut after a while. We were slaves until such time as the village felt we had earned citizenship. I made it clear what I thought of that idea, and consequently spent the rest of the interview unconscious.
For three or four days we bided our time, working as ordered in the kitchens, where each day I conjured food, and each day it was ignored while we took whatever bland, vaguely food-like substances the villages’ foragers brought in and boiled any traces of flavor, color, or texture out of them. Their idea of a delicacy involved stuffing some dead critter’s stomach with its own vital organs and a handful of wild onions and—surprise, surprise—boiling it. During this time, we were each interviewed, separately, by one or the other, or both, of the village spellcasters. Glimpses of Vannik were occasionally caught, but never clearly enough to guage her status there, whether prisoner or honored guest.
Finally, events came to a head. Considering the contentious nature of trolls in general, and the presence of the daggers in the village, it’s astonishing it took so long, but when the hunters came back empty handed one day and went after the horses, JaKar’Agar spooked the beasts off, and the trolls’ meal was meatless that evening. Our own was not, and the smell of it wafting through town inspired a riot. It was not long afterward that we were hauled, once again, to the headman’s hut and blamed for the situation.
I informed the headman, as politely as I could manage, that we had most certainly not asked to be there and would be quite willing indeed to leave if given the chance (and our posessions back) and, lo and behold, that was what happened, with one condition. We were required to swear an oath that we would not harm, nor through inaction allow to come to harm, Vannik Auldsinger until we could remand her to the custody of a Questor of Mynbruje. I was not entirely thrilled by the idea; I had no intention of killing her unless it became necessary for self-defense, but this oath would remove that option, and this made me uncomfortable. Still, it was a much lighter price than I had expected for our freedom to leave the village. We set out forthwith, with directions back to the point where we had been captured, hoping from there to be able to meet up with Celdic and Sun Tzu and, at least on my part, hoping to finally be rid of Gunth, who had disappeared during the food riot the night before.
Sadly this was not to be. Gunth found us that night, and casually told us how he had accompanied a rather large and unpleasant Horror in the wholesale destruction of the village. And that he had been seen doing so. By the time we find a Questor, our fame as Horror-touched fiends will no doubt be widespread; I do not, do not, do not understand my companions’ willingness to continue travelling with the windling. His insanity, his utter lack of any sense of morality, or consequence, or common sense, or, for that matter, reality, make him far worse than simply annoying; he is dangerous, pure and simple. Mad dogs are shot at the first opportunity; Gunth has demonstrated his madness time and time and time again, and still most of this party defends him. At what point does being “good to have on your side in a fight” finally stop being sufficient cause to support someone who tends to cause the fights in the first place, and may, at any moment, decide to be on the other side?
Mad dogs are shot.
But I digress. It took us another day or two to meet up with Sun and Celdic, and we commenced moving north and west, seeking out some place where we might divest ourselves of a Troubadour with homicidal tendencies. We travelled slowly, to allow us time to meditate on and improve our various Talents, and in nearly a sevenday saw no sign of any habiation of this country.
When at last we did find a village, it appeared empty, and seemed to have been so for some time. When we entered to investigate, however, we were attacked, by what or whom I don’t know. I know what I saw, which was each of my companions being felled without a blow struck, and then I was struck down myself by…someone I know to be long dead. That the attack was magical was obvious. Whether the attacker was a name-giver or some thing is unclear. I found no trace of any person in the village after Celdic came in to wake us.
Nor, after we left the village, did we find any trace of Vannik; she had taken a horse and ridden generally easterly as soon as Celdic had left her to find us. Another chase ensued; with my throne of air, I could make better time than anyone else in the party, and so I set out in the direction indicated by those of us with tracking skill and went at top speed for an hour. At some point I must have lost my direction, though, because when I found camp again after a fruitless search, I came in from an entirely different direction than I had left in. Celdic was still out searching, so we gathered our gear and set out in slow pursuit of our own, knowing he could find us on the move if he had to.
He still hasn’t rejoined us. Scipio and Sun Tzu have felt for him through their group pattern, and we know he stopped moving away from us late in the afternoon, but when night fell, it became foolish to keep moving. Hopefully he has found Vannik and we’ll find each other early tomorrow.
Doddul 12 -
Ja’ Kar ‘a Gar
After Celdic brought Vannik back, and we healed her as much as may be in an inconvenient place, we kept moving till we found a suitable campground. Well, suitable as may be. It was with dismay we found ourselves attacked by wolves several days later; somehow, Celdic was unaware in his roamings, and the rest of us found ourselves suddenly beset by 3-4 wolves each. Wolves do not usually attck large, well-armed groups, with horses yet, in daylight on the move. They would have had to be starving, and there was no reason to suppose they were to be seen—our paths took us through a fruitful area, with plenty of game and even carrion to be had. If necessary, wolves can live on the smallest rodents for an extended period of time, and would before they risked such a sortie. There was evil influence about, be it the call of the daggers that dogs our every step or something (or should I say Someone?) else. I will mention no names.
Though all fought valiantly, as always, it was not easy to conquer them, and but for Sun Tzu, I fear we may have taken graver injury and perhaps lost Vannik altogether. But the wolves pursued the terrified horses, and it proved their undoing. We caught up with them, and I used all my skills as best I could while my companions rallied, decimating more than half the pack. They finally retreated, I calmed our poor beasts, and we healed our wounds after a small movement to safer ground. I made use of the carcasses to replace my lost armor—it was filthy, dispiriting work to skin and cure the lifeless shells of those once noble beasts; they are not manhaters by nature, though they have reason to be. I prayed to the great wolven mistress as I worked that their souls be eased of the torment that brought them to their unlucky end.
We are very much in trouble…we have managed to piss off everyone and survived but I fear making an enemy of Icewing will be our undoing. We found a party of mostly dead adepts who were guarding a box with a horror somehow attached to it. The dying survivor told us that Icewing wanted the box and we needed to complete the task given the massacred party. We got the box no more than a day before it was stolen in the night. After trailing for a long time we were lead back to the seen of the original attack. There we fought the dead warriors, which had been reanimated as cadavermen. These we subdued but did not dismantle(for lack of a better term) and we ended up fighting them a second time. All the while, the thief gained more ground on us.
I sure hope that we don’t piss off Icewing…we have succeeded in pissing off everyone else so it should come as no surprise.
Lathyrus, above Nazferat, Strassa 5, 1506
Well, it’s been some time since I saw this little volume; Scipio says he found it beneath the emergency dry rations while we were taking the essentials off the cart yesterday. He’s jotted a bit in it, but it seems there’s a lot we haven’t covered. I invite any of my companions who read this to correct any errors I may make in recounting ar our recent activities, although I have little hope that this invitation will be taken, as none of my previous requests for clarifications, corrections, or expansions seem to have led to anything.
Celdic did indeed find Vannik, where she lay with two broken legs
Under the corpse of the horse she had ridden straight off a cliff; there are reasons we don’t push horses hard on moonless nights. The poor beast certainly didn’t deserve such a fate. In any case, we did find her, and with two broken legs she seemed much less inclined to run as we strapped her into a travois and continued our search for a Questor of Mynbruje. After some time, exactly how much I frankly don’t recall (a condition that will arise often in this account, and for which I will apologize only this once) we found a village—inhabited, this time—where we were given directions to a larger city, where a Questor might be found. We arrived there uneventfully enough, I think, with those of us bound to daggers camping a good half a day outside the city walls, and a few of us going in to inquire af make inquiries.
As luck had it, the city did in fact boast a Questor of Mynbruje, who conveniently dwelt outside the city in the same direction as our campsite. He interviewed us all, separately, and what he told us I don’t recall, so overwhelmed was I by what he did for us…or, more specifically, for me. With the aid of the Passion, he blocked whatever power had been influencing me, and for the first time in seemingly a lifetime, I slept without dreams! And, now that I think about it, without bindings for the first time in several days, as well; the trip, in retrospect, wasn’t completely uneventful, as apparently the barrier in my mind between dream and waking had worn so thin that I was endangering my companions with spells cast against phantom adversaries that only I saw or heard, and we all agreed that it might be best if I spent my nights bound.
He also worked a magick on Sun Tzu’s dagger, that would make it point like a lodestone towards its missing mate for so long as the dagger’s carrier spoke no lies; considering how rarely the big one speaks at all, this restriction shouldn’t be much of a burden on him. Had it been the T’skrang’s dagger, it would have been back to normal before he reached the door of the Questor’s hut, I’m sure. He informed us that his workings should block the effect of the daggers for some time, as well and, temporarily freed of their curse, we happily plunged into civilized life, sleeping on beds, under roofs, with blankets chosen more for comfort than weight while we spent some few weeks resting and recuperating from our recent ventures, and training for those to come.
At that, I fear we overstayed; I had been paying for our lodgings by conjuring gourmet meals for our innkeeper, and one night as I worked, a fight broke out in the common room. I was knocked unconscious trying to reach the stairs and my companions, and didn’t awake until we were out of the city, but its glow as it burned was visible behind us until the rising sun, catching us on the road, washed it out of the sky.
It may have been the Questor who gave us the directions, or another, but either way, the next stage of our quest to remove this damnable curse took us to the southern edge of the Liaj jungle. The directions were vague: something along the lines of “enter the jungle from the south, go north until you find its dark heart” or some such drivel.
< what the hell were we going there for, again? What happened there? I’can’t remember any of it>
It was in the jungle that I finally bound one of the daggers to myself; I had had misgivings about doing so, not because of the curse, but because I feel I am near reaching the strength I will need to go back west and settle my business there, and felt it imprudent and possibly even dishonest to formally join a group when I know our ways may need to part soon. I explained this to them, though, and they all agreed that, generally errant as we are, they would have no qualms with journeying towards my homeland when the time came for me to do so. In any case, I can make no move in that direction while the curse hangs over us. From the moment I bound the dagger to me, however, I have not felt the effects of the curse; my nightmares are back to the old familiar ones, and do not disturb my companions’ slumber.
After leaving the Liaj, we journeyed toward Jerris for the simple reason that it was the nearest large city, and we were at a loss for what to do or where to go next. On the way there, we stumbled across a battlefield, the grass still wet with blood, and one of the combatants still living. He told us that they, an experienced band of ten Adepts, had been carrying a package for delivery to Icewing when they were set upon by a large group of cadaver trolls under the command of a nethermancer named Tobias. The Adepts were defeated; indeed, we had to fight and destroy once more the same cadaver trolls when they got up while we composed the bodies of the fallen. Among those we eventually buried (how I still shudder at that, but it brings these people comfort) was our informant, who died after entreating us to finish the task they set out to perform: to deliver the box that had been stolen.
As it happens, we knew of a nethermancer named Tobias; while we had been seeking the knowledge of G’nagh the Querulous in Copper Cauldron, just after our first encounter with a large Horror who shall remain nameless (and, I reiterate to any who may be reading this without foreknowledge of us, we did not destroy simply because our most potent attempts to do so did about as much damage to him as the buzzing of a small gnat does a thundra beast) we had met a nethermancer who went by the name Tobias al’Nazfarat. Disinclined to believe in coincidences, and lacking any better leads, we concluded the two men were one and the same, and set out in search of the town of Nazferat, deep in the Delaris mountains.
We had to stop in three different towns for directions, but eventually we did find the one we sought. The road here was steep, narrow, winding, and treacherous, which is why we had to leave the wagon at the foot of it and why this journal was rediscovered. Entering the town in late afternoon, we went into the nearest—indeed the only—inn and asked the landlord if he had heard of this Tobias. He ventured that he had, and that in fact another group of adventurers had been here quite recently asking after him. They and everyone else in the town’s other inn had been found hacked into bloody bits the following morning. He went on to tell us that Tobias himself had recently reappeared after a decades-long absence and had taken up residence in the abandoned citadel overlooking the town. Not wishing to bring the same fate to this inn that had met the other, we loudly announced a preference for sleeping under the stars, and made sure to draw as much attention to ourselves as possible as we left the town, eventually finding a campsite here on the hillside, halfway between town and the citadel.
Anyway, second watch is halfway gone now and I’ve yet to sleep. Tomorrow we should reach the citadel, and may the Passions protect us from what we may find inside.
Strassa 8, 1506
Well, that could have gone better.
We resumed our climb up the mountain at daybreak, and toward late morning, we reached the top. Seen from its base, the tower appeared to stretch to the heavens, but this was mostly a trick of the eye. Though a hundred paces across at ground level, it tapered quickly to only ten across at its pinnacle. Once the mind grasped that it was a cone, not a cylinder, it became clear that the top was a mere hundred paces up, not the miles it appeared at first. Even so, a not unimpressive piece of engineering. But I digress.
There was but one door at ground level, and we dithered a bit over whehter we should announce our presence by knocking, but in the end we decided to try the windows of the observation room we could see at the top. We sent Gunth to reconnoitre, but when he came back babbling some nonsense about “rooms within rooms”, I erected a sky lattice and went up to look, myself. I still have no idea to what he was referring; there was but a single room at the top of the tower, with four windows in the cardinal directions and a trapdoor in the center of the floor. It was obvious no one but birds had used it since the town below had been erected, and I signalled to my companions that they should follow me up before the lattice faded back into the air from which it came.
The trapdoor was bolted from below, but its hinges were acessible, and we made short work of them, quickly gaining entrance to what appeared to be a store-room. The brief mystery of how both its entrances had been bolted from inside was solved when we found the broken body of its last occupant. We somehow managed to keep Cledic from insisting we drop everything to bury the body immediately, and left him in the observation room to watch the tower’s main door while we unbolted the attic door and cautiously took the ramp we found downwards, expecting at any moment to find whatever had broken our silent friend upstairs.
That mystery remains unsolved, however; what we found at the bottom of the ramp was a pair of cadaver trolls, and the body upstairs certainly predated the occupation of this tower by the nethermancer we sought. The fighters among us made short work of the cadavers, dispatching them before those of us at the back were able to know for certain what all the shouting and clanking was about, being, as we were, around the curve of the ramp. So far, so good, but this is where things started to go wrong.
We were using torches for light, made from the remains of the furniture upstairs, and Sun Tzu tossed one into the darkness beyond the door the cadaver trolls had been guarding. We watched as the torch sailed out into the center of the empty space…and disappeared out of sight below. Since I better than any of us save the windling might survive a long fall, I scouted ahead, and found that this level of the tower did indeed have a solid floor…except for the open hole in the center, with rope disappearing into it. I looked down, and saw that whatever was at the end of the rope was, for one thing, a very long way down, and for another, on fire.
What followed then was, I freely admit, a seriouds error in judgement on my part. Forgetting, for an unconscionable length of time, that I could create sky lattices at will…doubly unforgiveable seeing how we had entered the structure in the first place…I felt it important that we should save the rope from burning, and we hauled on the winch until the burning elevator cage was in the room with us. I then had Scipio cut the rope, and we watched in interest as the wreckage tumbled spectacularly downwards, shdding sparks and flaming debris onto balcony after balcony. At this point, the only things we had seen stirring in the whole place had been the two cadaver Torlls, and I’m afraid we must have been getting a little complacent.
Again since I can survive a fall (and because my descriptions of the terrain ahead might be intelligible to someone other than myself, unlike our flittering companion), I was first down the hole, tied into a harness at the end of the rope while the troll lowered me down slowly…slowly, that is, until she dropped me. I plummeted the full height of the tower, zooming past balcony after balcony far too quickly to get a good look at any of them, and at the bottom barely stepped aside in time to avoid being crushed by the winch, block, and tackle. Ifthe present-day inhabitants of Nazferat make rope anything like their forebears, I dare say they should be able to command a premium price for it. Just don’t hire their carpenters.
In any case, things then began to get rather hectic. It’s amazing how even in a structure made entirely of stone, fire can find something on which to feed; the citadel was rapidly becoming an inferno. I’ve lost count of exactly which error in judgement this would be, but I summoned an air elemental and instructed it to “extinguish the fires,” the result of which being that it shot direcly up the shaft and, shortly afterwards, the top of the tower began to literally fill with smoke. The fires would die eventually, yes, but not before we did. It was only then that I remembered the sky lattice spell, and, cursing myself for an idiot, I threw up a ladder to bring the others down before they suffocated, although conditions down here were hardly peleasant.
They arrived just in time, as far as I was concerned, because no sooner than their feet hit the ground we were beset by a horde of cadaver men and orcs, at least three of them for each of us, and had barely dispatched them before at least as many again fell upon us. Even at that I suppose we were lucky. All through the fight we were sidestepping a literal rain of blazing cadaver men from the upper stories; had we had to fight them all, all that would be known of our fate would be that we’d gone up the mountain looking for a nethermancer named Tobias and never been heard froma gain.
As it was, by the time the second wave of attackers had been dealt with, only myself, Sun Tzu and Gunth were still conscious, and that just barely, because the strain of opening the door, when we found it, caused the obsidiman to drop unconscious on the threshoold. I summoned a porter to carry him out, and would that my spells in combat could come off so well. The thing that came to my call could have thrown a dragon over its shoulder and asked where I wanted it…given, of course, an extremely tolerant dragon.
Which brings us to the present. We’ve been camped in front of the tower for two days now, and though the fires have finally gone out, the stone itself is still hot enough to bake bread simply by pushing it in through the door. It’s actually quite nice having a warm camp for once, but we’re gettnig no closer to catching Tobias or restoring Icewing’s property, and time may well be running out. Gunth asked a while ago if I could cool the stone down with a blizzard sphere, and while a direct hit would surely shatter the stone and bring the whole thing down in a thunderous collapse, his question has given me an idea. IN the morning, I’ll cast an maintain a blizzard sphere a few yards outside the door, and try to speed the cooling without pushing it too far and destryoying the structure. And this time, when we go in, we won’t be setting anything ablaze again; I’ve been lugging around a copy of the Moon Glow spell ever since we went shadowmant hunting in Parlainth…or was it from that girl who died north of Darrannis?…either way, I put the past couple days to good use learning the spell. No more torches for us, thank you very much.
somewhere in the Throal mountains, Strassa 9, 1506
You know, Scipio might be onto something witht the blindly-rushing-ahead thing. It seemed to work pretty well for us this time, at least.
The blizzard spehere worked fairly well, and by luncthtime the citdel had cooled (barely) enough to let us enter. We still have no idea what, if anything, is on the upper levels I fell past on my way down from the attic, since Celdic found a ramp going donw and, more or less on the toss of a coin, we chose to explore it first. It led us, after a few levels of empty ( in the case of the citadel’s mausoleum, gruesomely so) rooms, to a locked door containing, surprise surprise, an impressively large bone circle. We were discussing how best to seal the chamber from outside when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise in a way I recognized from a ceratin nethermancer’s escape from us back in Raquas, and before we could arrange ourselves for ambush, who should step through a hole in reality but our old friend Toby himself, who spotted us, turned even paler (a neat trick for a nethermancer), and scuttled back whnce he came.
Knowing that such a portal cannot close while a living thing is in it, I threw caution to the wind and, shouting to my compantions to get through as quickly as possible, I ran to interpose myself in the opening, dodging the bone spirit…as impressively large as the circle it guarded…as it formed, trusting Thystonius and my companions to keep it off me long enough for everyone to get through. Scipio wasted precious moments trying to fight the thing, but eventually my shouts to “get through the portal, dammit!” penetrated his skull and I was able to give the spirit the interspecies salute as the gateway closed on its impotent rage. By the time I turned around, Sun Tzu had already dealth with the thing’s counterpart on this end, and we found ourselveds in another large room with a bone circle and one door and, I suddenly realized with a quick sinking sensation in my stomach, no way back to our animals or equipment save a no-doubt long overland trip from only Floranuus knows where.
Still the way ahead was before us, Celdic having seen Tobias’ bootheels disappear through the room’s one door as he sprinted past me through the portal, and we gave chase. The room beyond was huge—villages of quite respectable size could have been built in it—dark, and had a smell to it that immediately filled me with foreboding…after all, the last time we’d encountered bone cirlces like the ones we had just travelled through had been in the lair of a nethermancer given to breeding truly horrific abominations, and if this room said one thing to me, it was that it was the lair of a such a thing. Actually, it said two things to me, and the other was that whatever the truly horrific abominations in question were, they were likely airborne. Before I could advise my companions to move cautiosly and stay near the walls, though, they were already scattered widely across the room, most out in the middle, and, since Moon Glow only works within a few paces of its caster, most without light.
The first sign that we weren’t alone was a series of snapping sounds, followed by a soft plop which I recognized from my more pleasant dreams as Gunth’s body hitting the ground. It was mere moments later that the quiet was broken by, of all things, Sun Tzu bellowing retreat. When a warrior as capable as the obsidiman responds to a threat with anything but a tighter grip on his sword and a shrug of his shoulders, the situation must be dire, indeed.
Scipio had come towards my light when it became clear that the shit had hit the spinning wheel, and together we dodged a swarm of large, toothy creatures back to the door we’d entered from.
By the time we were most of us safely back in the bone circle room, half of us had to be carried, and Gunth was nowhere to be found. I seem to recall dragging Scipio the last few yards, myself, but things happened so quickly the whole time that I won’t swear we weren’t working together to pull the troll through the door, nor will I claim to remember who Sun had slung over his shoulder when he came through at a dead run. All I will swear to is that, when he was through and I’d thrown the door shut and barred it, its handspan-thick ironbound oak timbers shook on their hinges like a leaf in a storm from the blows that fell upon them. Before the battering subsided I had time to heat a meal for all of us that had been harmed, and in comparing notes it became clear that it wasn’t a swarm of creatures on the other side of the door, but a single huge beast with many heads. In short, a Hydra and, I’m assuming, the same beast that was hatched from that corrupted egg in the Thunder Mountains.
With Sun Tzu and JaKar’aGar leaning against it, the door held, and we had ample time to make a plan of sorts. We made our preparations, and on my signal, the troll opened the door, and I launched a fireball into the room beyond, putting the power of my desperate spell pearl into the force of the thing. The hydra gave a satisfying bellow of pain, Sun Tzu slammed the door shut, and we sat and waited through another quarter hour of pounding and battering. At a loss for any better ideas, when it was quiet we tried it again, and whoever said that two heads are better than one never met this beast, because it was sitting handily in range of my spell, and again it bellowed, again we barred the door, and again we waited through a seeming eternity of thumps.
We whiled away most of a long afternoon in this way, catching the poor stupid thing by surprise time after time, until finally Sun Tzu, examing the door once it had stopped shaking, informed the rest of us that it wouldn’t surviive another onslaught. We would need another plan to finish it. The thing was so huge, it couldn’t possibly fit more than one head through the doorway, and together we hoped we would be able to deal with one head. We arrayed ourselves around the room, and this time when Sun opened the door he stepped aside and drew his sword.
For once I am grateful for the troll’s stench; it proved irresistable to the beast, and the rest of us were able to pour hurt into it while it attacked her, the only one of us who’d not managed to harm it at all, over and over again. I started with a blizzard sphere, thinking to maintain it, and continue damaging the beast, but in the turmoil of battle I lost the thread of the spell after but a moment. Thereafter Sun, Scipio, and Celdic (how’s that for alliteration?) hacked away at the thing’s neck while I crouched low and lobbed fireballs between their legs into the thing’s underbelly. The air was redolent with the stench of roast meat by the time it finally had enough and retreated, but Sun Tzu pursued it and dealt the death blow. Oddly, though, I think this time I can say I did more damage to a single foe in a fight than the warrior. It’s a good feeling.
We were most of us in pretty sorry shape by this time, although much better than any of us had any right to be considering we’d just battled a creature larger than the last building we’d bought a meal in, but there was little to be gained by giving our prey even more time to flee, and we pushed ahead.
There were five doors to the room…well, five at ground level, but we’ll get back to that…the one we’d come through, two more bone circles, a bedroom in which we found several goodies—including some armor, a potion to enhance a person’s perceptive powers, and some flasks enchanted to keep things hot or cold—and the real prize, a passageway leading deeper into the warren (or, considering how we’d gotten in and the way our opponent seemed to arrange his dwellings, more likely leading further out of the warren).
We followed this to the first turning, and set Jakar and Celdic to watching the hallway beyond while the rest of us prepared to check out a door a few paces short of that point. We apparently didn’t prepare enough, for when we opened the door, we were attacked despite our supposed readiness, and the two windlings inside were practically out of sight by the time I could step to the corner and lob a blizzard sphere at them…perhaps not the greatest idea in such a tight hallway, as the blast of cold air caught us all and gave us all chilblains. I suppose I should be grateful there wasn’t much power to it, or things could have gone much worse, considering how badly off some of us were already.
We took a quick look at the room we’d opened…a study, it seemed…to establish that nothing would be creeping up behind us, and then gave chase to the windlings, hoping to catch their master before he could put to good use their warning that we’d survived the watchdog.
The others dashed ahead of me at full tilt while I tried to reattune a matrix, but when I heard Scipio’s scream of anguish and the clashings of combat, I left the matrix empty and hurtled into the room in time to find another feces/spinning-wheel interface incident in progress; on the floor in the middle of the room—another study, larger than the other—lay Scipio, mercifually unconscious, his legs twisted so badly his tail was straighter and an old elf who I recognized as the nethermancer we’d fought—and failed to kill—in a hole in the ground under the Thunder Mountains. He was quite conscious, and I resolved that, the buzzing of his two windling apprentices notwithstanding, I had to make sure that if and when he stood up, he would fall down again. I hung back and readied a bola of ice in my mind while my companions, likewise recognizing our enemy, proceeded to to do their best to make sure he never stood up in the first place. They failed in that, but not by much; he had no sooner stood than I’d wrapped him in a chain of ice, and in the same breath he was in two roughly-equal halves on the floor, cleft by an impressive blow from Sun Tzu’s blade.
We turned then to the two windlings, and after I dispatched one with two attacks with the mace-and-chain, the other fled. Celdic and I pursued, but lost him when he used a sixth, upper-level exit from the Hydra’s cave. By the time we found a way up to it, the windling was long gone into the maze of passageways beyond, and we turned back. We returned to the study where Sun was standing guard over the unconscious forms of Jakar’a’Gar and Scipio, bringing with us the nearly dead Gunth (someone, over my protests, wasted another last chance salve on the little bastard. Damn if he isn’t an expensive pet to keep, as well as an annoying one), and assessed our situation.
I was unable to make head or tail of the copious notes spread around the studiesy’s worktables, but the box that had been taken from us was unmistakable, as was the black dragon statue we’d recovered in Hanto. No sooner had Sun replaced the one in the other than I felt that old familiar prickling in the back of my neck. This time, though, when the portal opened, it wasn’t Tobias that came through, but the head of Icewing himself, who cordially invited us to come through. Not wishing to be impolite, we did, dragging our unconscious companions through on a tapestry hastily pulled from the walls.
I’m no more certain of where we are now than I was in the nethermancer’s study, but those foolish enough to tell stories of dragons put Icewing’s home in the mountains near Throal, and indeed the wind occasionally brings a whiff of foundries, so I’d put my money on us being close to the Kingdom. The old elf who hired us once in Kratas is here, as well, with our cart, animals, and equipment, including this book. Considering how touch-and-go our first try at the citadel over Nazferat had gone, I’d thought it prudent to leave the journal wrapped in my cloak with a rock for weight somehwere where a curious townsman, wondering how we’d fared, might find it and perhaps remember our passing.
But here it is again, and here we are, those of us who are conscious, watching the light fade from the mountain sky with Icewing’s personal assurance that no watches will be necessary tonight. It’s almost impossible to believe that this very same morning I watched the sun rise over a completely different set of mountains on the far side of Barsaive, the Citadel of Nazferat still an oven a stone’s throw away. I could wish I knew where Tobias was right now, or that damned windling…ok, that OTHER damned windling…or that we’d had time to search the nethermancer’s body for our missing dagger, but, all told, right now I almost remember what used to make life worth living, before Ekaterin.
I expect it will pass soon.
Strassa 9, 1506
I am weary. Weary to my very bones. That may not be accurate; I think I am tired to every particle of my brain. It is been months since I have seen a city that had more than one tailor or a tailor that made more than farm clothes. I have not had a decent meal that was not one of Lathyrus’ copies of the restaurant from Travar in that same amount of time. I love their food but the same thing night after night has me thinking that I never want to eat there again. I have not had a good conversation with someone new, flirted, told a story to non inbred country folk, or even felt like writing a haiku…there is no one new to appreciate it. And that is the problem there is no one new around.
I am jumping ahead a bit. I have been so tired, I have not been contributing to this journal so I need to backtrack somewhat. It started with the daggers, the damnable daggers. They are curse to the point that they sow discord everywhere around us meaning that cities are the worst place for us. We have been skulking about, letting those untied to them run into the towns at resupply and take care of business while the unfortunate other sit in the fetid muck surrounding the towns eating Lathyrus’ repetitive conjured food. The daggers have lead us far, as we have sought to unravel the curse. We have turned towns against us. We have gotten the help of adept troubadours who have gone mad, stolen my sword Purifier and run off. We, and I don’t mean we, I mean Gunth have trucked with Horrors in horribly misconceived rescue attempts. We have visited a shrine dedicated to the previous group that used the daggers, the Seven Spokes. We spoke with the spirit of the traitor in their midst and had to destroy him once and for all. We then made a shrine dedicated to the other members of the group. But still there is more to do, we have been told to see it to the end but there are many tasks ahead apparently.
In a seemingly unconnected event we ran into a decimated group, essentially all dead but one member, digging graves for his companions. We helped of course but could not prevent the sole survivor from succumbing to his injuries. Before he died, he tasked us with delivering a chest to none other than Icewing. The group that was destroyed was of a greater experience than us and greater in number so we thought that speed may be our only ally. We took the box but only made it a few hours travel before it was stolen on Lathryus’ and my watch. He pursued in his throne of air and the rest of us tried the to follow at our best speed. The thief lead us back to the site of the massacre where we had to fight the other party as Cadavermen. Horrible. We eventually tracked the thief, a Nethermancer to his tower lair and were able to gain access through the highest level. I hate Nethermancers…did I mention that. We descended and accidentally set the tower on fire. In the midst of the flames and smoke we fought an absurd amount of Cadavermen. I was slaughtering or reslaughtering (depending on how you look at it) Cadavermen left and right but one by one, my companions fell until it was only me, Gunth hiding somewhere in the rafters and a beat up Sun Tsu. A particularly ugly Cadaverman finally knocked me unconscious but my efforts were enough. Sun and Gunth finished them off and carried our wounded party outside, where we watched the tower burn for 3 days.
We reenter when the building cooled and found a underground area which was the living and working quarters of the nethermancers lair. Did I say I hated Nethermancers. We searched and eventually found a bone circle, which we used to follow the villain to who-knows-where. I held off the bone spirit while the party entered, then I followed. One the other side, we slew the spirit and found ourselves still in a dungeon. We proceeded into a large room that was completely dark. I heard what I thought was Gunth drop to the ground and essentially all hell broke loose. Everyone started howling and running…we got completely separated. I stayed near Lathyrus, who had a lite. Unlike, some others, I cannot see in the dark. Something was in the room and it hit me very hard. We were able to retreat to the room with the bone circle and barricade the door. The thing was apparently a hydra, some perverted dragon, which sort of got the brains thinking. Nethermancers and perverted Dragons…sound familiar? Anyway, this dragon did not hold on to its brains through the perversion because Lathyrus simple popped open the door, fireballed it, then shut the door. It was only a matter of time. After killing the hydra we explored some more and found the unconscious Gunth. We carried him with us until 2 misshapen and corrupted Windlings surprised us, something else we have seen previously. We ran after them hoping that they would lead us to the Nethermancer. Celdic was ahead of us and seemed to hear them at an open door. I ran in and came face-to-face with the Nethermancer we had encounter in the desert. I of course hit him with a tremendous blow but it was not quite fast enough. He got off that spell that crunches your bones. The horrible pain knocked me unconscious, but not before I saw him hit the ground from my blows.
The others say we won the battle and Icewing appeared through a gate. Lathyrus also said that the bone-crunchy spell can target multiple people so I sucked it up for the group. I guess that makes me the hero of the hour. I write this from a camp we made that Icewing has said is safe. He is going to return soon, hopefully with some answers but I doubt it. I guess the main thing is that I may be tired and need some social interaction but I also am driven by the pursuit of glory and the road that we are on could have a glorious ending. I need to remember that as we continue.
Well, the above account gives in brief our adventures recently, though without a sense of the peril involved in all we achieved. The army of undead we faced and fought is in itself a tale for the ages— no doubt Scipio will be able to put in in it’s proper perpective when it suits him— or will earn him free drinks. During that skirmish, I fumbled badly and tore some ligaments in my shooting hand— though healing fast, I believe it will take a week before I am able to shoot again. I was forced to do battle with sword again and again, always a bitter irony— never knowing when you may wound your hand even further; I truly ache to shoot again. But Icewing has thanked us, invited us to stay and heal under His protection— also generously offered to help find out information about Scipio’s sword and Lathyrus’ storm armor.
Sun Tzu and Ja’ Kar’ a ‘Gar both carry many wounds— as does Gunth. He nearly didn’t make it, we were lucky to find his lifeless body in the hydra’s lair, and luckier still the abomination hadn’t snapped him up as a snack before we killed it. it took all of our efforts to do that, though of course Lathyrus’ spells were the primary weapon. And it seems as though Ja’ Kar’ a ‘Gar was the primary bait, as the beast attacked her and her alone at least seven times— she fought bravely, getting up time and again, but the strength of the creature was formidable. Even the mighty strokes of Sun did not affect as deeply as usual. When we fought the elven nethermancer, it was another story, and the obsidiman’s blows were instrumental in bringing about his demise. That any of my race could dabble in such a foul artistry amazes and disgusts me— it is the ultimate disrespect to the dead. and to life itself. But I digress.
Unfortunately, the other windling escaped it’s just fate— fled through the roof, which did lead us out of the tower, whence we met our “employer.” Those evil things may have been touched, we can’t know— it is frustrating that one is still free to work the horrible will of what, we do not know. But it is no small thing to have gained the gratitude of such as Icewing, and that may make many a good opportunity in future. Then again, we shall hopefully not be asked continuously to “take care” of matters that irk him, but that he is too busy to see to. Such tasks have their own cost attached, as my hand reminds me. And had we not had a last chance salve with us, Gumth would not be irritating us now.
We are healing, deciding our next move in this great adventure of existence— we still have the issue of the daggers to deal with; there is still some curse attached, and there are still bonds to be strengthened within the group.
Gunth: I learned a valuable lesson in the tower. If an army of undead are stomping the living humor out of Flash and Two Blades Scipio, then I won’t stand half a chance against undead axes. Propping myself in the shadows and zinging the undead with arrows is much safer for my skin than dodging axes, and it feels much more right for my demeanor. I don’t like the weak effects of the arrows and need to ask the archer how to make my hits count a whole lot more.
I got a little full of myself in the hydra’s den, zipping in and expecting my flying ability to keep me above the danger. I was told a hydra consumed me, and sent me into the clearing, as Rubu would say. Having been consumed by a dragon, to return to my companions, I feel a part of the dragon essence has returned with me, as though the dragons have returned me as an ambassador, as their vengeance.
Throalic Mountains, Strassa 16, 1506
I can hardly be blamed for the menu; I’m not a vegetarian, and neither are most of the chefs at the many, many restaurants, taverns, and inns I’ve visited in the past year, so, yes, some of the dishes repeat more often than I’d like, so that everyone can eat. But if scipio can name me one day in any given thirty which didn’t have at least one unique dish, I’ll eat my own hat. In the meantime, since what I prepare is apparently inadequate, I’ll happily step aside and let him take over the cooking duties; I don’t recall ever signing on as company cook in the first place. The pots and pans are in the crate marked “Wenzel Bro’s, Bartertown,” Scipio. You already know where the dried staples are. I pass the apron to you.
That’s not, however, why I opened this book; Icewing checked in on us this morning, and I wanted to record the incident while it was still fresh in my mind. He had information for Scipio and myself concerning Purifier and Siracco; I have to admit that had I known this armor had been made by a Horror, I’d have thought twice before binding my pattern and its, but it’s a little late for second thoughts now. I can only take comfort in the knowledge that we have already banished that Horror back to the plane from which those abominations hail. I am, however, in absolute awe of the means by which the armor’s magic is fuelled; trapped in its pattern is a tempest that assaulted the land so terribly that it itself was Named; indeed, since I first saw Siracco, even as that foul scarecrow of a Nethermancer was squeezing the life out of my heart, I remember feeling some of the same fascination I used to experience as a child, watching the summer storms rage in the hills. Knowing that now when I don the armor I am literally wearing a storm to dwarf those I found so mesmerizing then…the exhiliration I feel is so great that I barefly notice the weight of the metal.
Since Icewing shows every sign of being grateful for our recent assistance, and has shown us such hospitality, I had the timerity to present to him some of the problems we’ve been dealing with lately that have, so far, proven beyond our ability to solve. To wit:
Item the first: the threefold problem of the daggers; where the missing blade is; how to abate the curse long enough to safely visit with other name-givers (while I may not hunger for new faces as Scipio does, I do have to admit a certain weariness with the old ones); and what we need to know about them to strangthen our connection to them, since we know the only way to break the curse is to plow through the heart of it.
Item the second: the problem of the horror Brazzy, what his interest is in our affairs, and how we might banish him from this world.
Icewing took one of the daggers with him; I can only hope he is not touched with its madness, as the others who’ve examined them have been. Should a Greater Dragon go homicidally insane, our only consolation will be that the end will be swift. While he examines it, we shall remain here another week. I have taken full advantage of our time here in Icewing’s protection to meditate on the nature of the Elements, and my place in their balance. From the quietness as I’ve done so, I can only assume my colleagues are likewise taking advantage of the security of this place to advance along their chosen Paths. I welcome the chance to further my understanding still more in the days ahead.
After 2 weeks of peace and quiet courtesy of our patron(?). Icewing returned with the dagger saying that even he could not find any trace of an eigth dagger. Presumably it has been destroyed. He then told us that we needed to find a troubadour named Senog. Apparently he knows a story about A liferock and these daggers. I fear this will be an unhappy tale if this horror is involved. Icewing then opened another one of those portals and bade us to find Senog and our destiny on the other side.
Upon our exit, we realized that we had neglected to ask our patron where it was we were going. While we were trying to figure out where we were, we heard the sounds of combat some distance away. We being the heroic namegivers that Scipio and Celdic would have us be rushed towards the combat where we discovered a Caravan under attack by a band of ork Scorchers. Wthin a few short minutes, and after having killed several scorchers, the rest retreated from the battle with some encouragement from Lathryus and his fireballs.
After a brief parley with the caravan master during which we announced ourselves and they told us that they had heard some of our legend, we were told that we were about 9 days west of Kratas. Rather than risk bringing our curse upon these namegivers, we declined their offer of hot food and companionship and rode on, trying to put as much distance as possible between us and the caravan before nightfall. Hopefully we have been successful in this. We don’t know whether Senog was traveling towards or from Kratas. We are going to gamble and head to Kratas in search of him and his story. May the Passions guide us and keep us from wandering astray!
We reached the crest of the hill to find orc scorchers laying siege on a band of settlers. The dragon’s spirit, flowing in my blood, bade me to charge forward and protect these innocents… and impress everyone by falling orcs and thunderbeasts.
I toyed with one orc in particular, nicking him in one swoop, then coming back in for another light injury. Though I took at least one arrow shot from the settlers, the dragon’s spirit did not let me feel pain. The orc became so enraged he forgot where he was and fruitlessly swatted at me, forfeiting his charging advantage over the settlers and becoming a sitting duck for the settlers to pump arrow after arrow into his stupid hide.
I don’t think my wiles are fully appreciated. I awoke to find Brazzi in parlay with Flash. I had the brilliant idea of getting Brazzi to clear the way before us and smiting our enemies as we approached. What better way to attain a legendary status where none of out enemies in Cratas would mess with us? But alas, they are thin of spirit and are hard to make the sacrifices needed for our greater good. They would rather sacrifice themselves, walking into traps, being cut down by armies, rather than let the horror eat the traps and enemies. It’s a weapon of limitless potential, and it is ours for the manipulation.
Flash made my blow my cool, saying to choose between the horror and the group. How can he be so blind that the horror has bound itself to us, and we can use it to our advantage or let is be an upsetting rash on our bottoms?
6 days west of Kratas, Strasa 27, 1506
There is something admirable of a namegiver invested in the pursuit of being one with the non-namegivers of the land. Communing with the birds and the beasts and developing an understanding of the relationships between us all. It is natural that one who has dedicated his days to the air and water should find friendship, even forbidden love with a beastmaster. And although I find myself smitten with the likes of a troll, I am not disgusted. I am proud. The horns, the strength, the hair… all things I as an elf male lack in appearance… but which are all represented in my spirit and my passion.
I have crossed the lands of Barsaive with wild beasts at my side: animals of complex beauty and amazing talents. Yet I am amazed to have been taken most fully by a namegiver of far from extraordinary physical appearance. But what this animal lacks in appearance is far compensated by his ferocity of spirit. His summoning and manipulation of the elements, his rushing to my aid in moments of dire need. Though his responses can be, shall we say, immature, the dedication and devotion he gives me exceeds the aspects of his persona he lets out in front of others. I feel like I am the beast dominated by the likes of one masterful beastmaster.
Lies! Lies and damned lies!
Strassa 29, 1506
Lathyrus-5 days out of kratas, saved caravan from orc scorchers. That night, traded life of thundra beast for lives of caraveners when Brazzy came calling. Gunth is acting more squidgy than usual since I shiut him up trying to get brazzy to accompany us to kratas.
Veltom 2, 1506
Half a day out of kratas, Gunth still acting more bizarre than usual. WE’ve visited three villages long enough to find we’re following Senog, at 3rd we were told we were known and not welcome.
Gunth’s twitchiness made me decide that I’d feel safer if he bound to a dagger, since that stopped my nightmares.
Camped half a day out of ckratas. Me, celdic and scipio are going into town tomorrow.
Ja Kar ‘A ‘Gar, Veltom 3, 1506
Damn that I lost the mighty thunderbeast; though the creatures abound, it is not easy to come by such an animal already trained, for I would not seek to take one from a goodly master. The scorchers’ beast I had no qualms about—it were better as my companion than as a slave to those murdering harassers. It was a fine animal, and strong, and would have brought us great help in our journey. Would that Lathyrus were as good at speaking as he is at searing; or at least, would he had had a better thought, and more thoughtfulness. There was surely some way to have avoided the loss of my newest companion, and I regret it bitterly. We aided the caravan as we could, and the prize granted me was unexpected— I am more the wounded as the loss of it was so quick. However, I have set the irritation aside as best I may, to carry on and be useful.
Following Icewing’s suggestion, we are searching for the Obsidiman troubadour Senog. We seem to be about five days behind him, but we are confident we have his trail,
having stopped at several villages he has passed through. Only at one have we been unwelcome, for it seems that not only our better exploits have been noised abroad; we cannot know what the larger village, with its strident enforcers, holds against us, but I suppose we may guess. The head dwarf, we suppose, backed by twenty guards, gave us cold greeting, and offered neither welcome nor information. We left without incident, and decided to keep the camp we had made rather than making them search for us, if they dared.
Due to the hostility of the last village, we have been quick to make tracks to Cratus. As I write this, Scipio, Lathyrus & Celdic have started out for town. I remain behind at the ridiculously vocal insistence of Gunth whose recent behavior has become a matter for concern (more than usual). He has apparently forged journal entries from some of us, and worse, he has drawn sword against L. again, for nothing, as well as being constantly against my inclusion in our recent village visits. He gives no reason, just stubborn insistence in the manner of a youngling.
Lathyrus’ concern over these matters grew to the point that he consulted Sun Tzu as we neared Cratus, seeking whether we should bind Gunth to the party, and perhaps the daggers, as a measure of safety, or if we might need to take stronger measures. It was agreed that if Gunth might take the oath of allegiance to the party, we would all (especially Lathyrus) sleep easier at night. I cannot say that I blame him, for they have had constant strife between them, and Gunth has been quick to argue and fight; but then, neither has been faultless in the relationship. Lathyrus is generally condescending, racist and sharp-tongued, sometimes razor-sharp, over things no one else would consider offensive, and he is quicker to judge (and harshly) than any namegiver I have yet to meet. For all his learning and wisdom, you would think he might have a bit of compassion for the young and clearly unbalanced, such as Gunth. But he has none, he expects everyone to have a deep understanding of every skill he himself has—yet it is lost on him that he does not have all skills. Every seed grows a different flower, and my second line-mother used to say; it is a pity that someone with such great attunement to the powers of earth has no time for understanding other creatures. If he would bend his massive will, some things might go easier. As for Gunth, he is wed to the notion that chaos is excitement, and I fear he is being cruelly used against us, subtly forced by an unseen hand. Whose hand, we don’t know, but our neighborhood zwilnick, who has been dogging us for so long, let us in on the fact that someone has their eye on Gunth; it can’t be good.
The little nuisance was successful in binding himself to our partnership, and has been presented with a dagger. He is bound there also, and we may breathe a bit easier, hoping that these stakes of faith in our brotherhood will keep him from falling over the edge. I fear for his sanity, and hope that we may find an answer, or help for the situation, in Cratus.
My beastly companions do well, and now that all have gotten used to traveling alongside Namegivers, I intend to utilize their special qualities more fully. The crow is a quick learner, as his kind tends to be, and also small enough to follow nearly anywhere. I have given him more attention of late, but the trojean is ready for a great command. It is a delicate balance to strike with these friends, teaching them to fight and learn and search by your side without losing their sense of self-protection. I do not wish to see them lose their lives for me, but they have great potential as comrades. If only I had time for deeper study—but I will take the afternoon, now this is complete, for their training.
JA KAR ‘A ‘GAR WEBSHINE TIGERHEART
Veltom 3, 1506
Well, stranger things than Gunth are afoot, it seems. Those “errant” entries were certainly well forged if forged they were—it gives me pause, but to speculate on my friends’ passions is not my business. But then, both have honor, and have sworn that it could not be true—and so I must perforce believe them. It is a farcical notion, and foul to gossip about—but I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read, knowing immediately (in my heart) that is was some sort of joke, even as I saw that the writing appeared to be in L. & J.’s own hands. It is almost more disturbing to think that it could be true than to recognize it as a source of potential discord among us. That, or pure bad humor, must be the truth of it. I am watching Gunth more carefully than usual, knowing he may need a stout supporter before all is said and done.
Veltum 4, 1506
Last night, Scipio, Lathryus, and I finally caught up with Senog at a small tavern outside of Kratas called the Axe in Hand run by a young, somewhat rough looking human female named Nandra Finch. While she was not particularly friendly, the food was good and the rooms were warm and clean. Senog told us the tale of a LifeRock corrupted by the same Horror that corrupted the group known as Cara Fahd’s Protectors. A CORRUPTED LIFEROCK! He told us how the horror corrupted a single Obsidiman and then sent him to merge with his life rock. When the Liferock called out to it’s rockbrothers, they all returned to be corrupted, one by one. This corrupted liferock lays 7 days ride from here to the west in the Tylon mountains. We will pass three small villages along the way, Smallstream, Cliffstone, and Ridge.
A CORRUPTED LIFEROCK! WHAT HAVE I DONE! HAVE I DOOMED MY BROTHERHOOD TO THE SAME FATE?
Veltum 7, 1506
4 days ago Scipio and the elves found Senog and he told them the tale of a corrupted LifeRock that may hold the next clue we need to defeat this horror we have entwined ourselves with.
Last night we arrived at the village of Small stream. The six huts on the bank of a pitifully small creek barely rate being called a village, let alone a named settlement. The human villagers gave us a friendly welcome and shared their evening meal with us. All they asked for was news of the world outside their small village. Scipio shared tales of our exploits and the rest of us played our musical instruments. Grandma, the village healer offered to let us sleep in her hut for the night but, not wanting to subject her or the rest of the village to our “influence”, we politely declined. We camped a short distance from the village and prayed to the passions that our precautions would be enough to protect these innocent villagers.
Sometime during the middle watch, Celdic woke all of us, warning us of some sort of a disturbance in the village. Fearing the worst, we grabbed our battle gear and ran to the village. When we arrived, Grandma was tending to Mara, the pregnant wife of the village headman Pon Fielder. When we questioned Pon about what happened, he told us that a man had entered their hut and attacked Mara. Lathryus poked his head into the hut to offer his assistance and saw that Mara had been slashed across her stomach. The wound was not life-threatening but it had sent her into labor pre-maturely. Unfortunately, Lathryus’ expertise does not extend to the birthing process. Sensing that there was more to Pon’s story, we started looking around the village for clues. Lathryus, with his elven night sight, spotted the bloody knife that had been used in the attack. Grandma identified it as Pon’s hunting knife. When we confronted Pon with the knife, he broke down sobbing, saying he thought he had dreamed the attack. Knowing what had really happened, we explained in the broadest terms possible that Pon was not responsible for the attack and that it work of a malevolent force we were chasing (We didn’t dare use the H word). By morning the baby girl had arrived and she along with Mara were doing well. In an effort to give the baby a lucky name, they named her Gunth. Idon’t know if the world can handle two Gunth’s. With this we took our leave and headed towards the next village.
Celdic Burran Veltom 9
We have spent the last two days walking our horses uphill along a rocky path, unwilling to lame them for our convenience. The land along the creek was quite rocky and lightly forrested. Lathryus says that very little will grow in this soil other than the scrubby pine trees that almost thrive here. Lathryus said something about tree roots going deeper and broader for nourishment than smaller plants.
From midday on, we have heard a sound, a quiet whisper at first, grow slowly louder with each passing step. Scipio said it was a waterfall and that Cliffstone was probably near it.
Late in the afternoon, we walked out of the tree line to see waterfall we been hearing all afternoon. The water cascaded over a cliff some 100 feet or more high making a gentle, if not pleasing, noise. The mist it raised up caught the sunlight and broke into a pleasing rainbow of colors about the quiet village. The quiet, empty village. Our first thought was that the villagers were in their fields or doing the daily chores. But we saw no crop fields surrounding the dozen or so huts at the base of the cliff, only a few pitifully small gardens and an untended fish trap across the river. Fearing the worst, we walked towards the village to investigate. As we drew close to the nearest huts, we began to feel the hot burn of unseen eyes watching us. Then, echoing off the cliff wall, in a somewhat reedy voice: “Stop there strangers! What business do you have here?”
Stepping away from the corner of the nearest hut was a rather thin troll carrying a spear. Scipio, ever the glib one, immediately stepped forward and introduced us as the Geaks, a wandering band of adventurers who meant no harm for their fair village. Scipio told the troll that we were searching for information on an adventuring group from before the scourge and that their trail was taking us to the site of one of their battles in the mountains beyond Cliffstone. The troll told us that his name was Trawet and that he was the village elder. He then looked each of us in the eye and made us promise to bring no harm to the village. Some of us had less trouble making that promise than others. Once that little ritual was out of the way, Trawet introduced us to the rest of the village who were mostly human and trolls and then invited us to spend the night with them.
We declined Trawet’s offer to stay inside the village, saying that our mutual security would be more secure. Lathryus, however, offered to serve up a feast for all of us and Scipio offered to regale them with stories of our travels. The rest of us played our instruments with whatever skill we could muster. As the hour grew late, we retired to our campsite, hoping the increased distance we had chosen would protect Trawet and the village of Cliffstone.
Celdic Burran Veltom 10
We heard no disturbances from the village last night, we were hopeful it was a good sign. We broke camp after a quick breakfast and started the trail past the village. As we drew past the village, Trawet and most of the village gathered to wish us well on our journey. Each one of them looked bone tired and somewhat haggard. Trawet took Lath aside and told him that he and none of the villagers slept well last night. They all slept fitfully and suffered a variety of nightmares. Trawet said he hoped it was just because of last night’s festivities and something ……darker. As we prepared to take our leave, one of the young human men came running up to the gathering waving a fillet knife and yelling that the fish traps were under attack by Ice Flyers. Trawet looked at us and asked us to help stop the attack. Some of the villagers immediately began to argue about whether or not we should help them, the rest began arguing about who should help us. We wisely left them to their arguments and followed Trawet to the fish traps. We made short work of the Ice Flyers, killing three and driving off two more. Trawet was wounded during the fight, but not grieviously so.We helped him back to the village. Along the way back to the village, Trawet thanked us for our help and apologized for not trusting us. The villagers were still arguing, albeit less strenuously. We took our leave and started up the trail to Ridge.
Veltum 13, 1506
We have been walking our horses and cart for the past 3 days uphill along a rocky and occasionally icy trail. For most of this day we have seen the village of Ridge sitting above us, perched at the top of the slope we have been climbing. All day the rest of the party has been talking about how good it would feel to get some hot food and a cold drink in the village above us. When we finally topped the crest of the ridge, the sun was just beginning to set, turning the patches of ice and snow orange and gold. When we turned towards the village we were greeted by 20 villagers carrying a variety of knives and farm tools, including 5 bowmen, arrows nocked and pointed at me.
The elven woman at the front of the “welcoming” party said simply “Your kind are not welcome here. You may pass by our village but you may not enter it.” When Scipio asked why, the villagers gave us a hard stare and grew noticeably more agitated. We decided that perhaps our reputation had somehow preceded us here and that we should indeed pass this village by. We travelled until darkness set in, followed part of the way by the welcoming party.
Veltum 17, 1506
We found the life rock late yesterday and camped nearby. My companions could not understand how I could be so sure that this was the liferock and not one of the many others that stood nearby. I told them that were they also a rockbrother, they too would know. Lathryus seemed to accept that answer and then, so did the rest of the group. After breakfast this morning we began our examination of the liferock in search of clues. Right away we found a gash in the rock, running deep into the ground. It was big enough for a rockbrother to climb into. Gunth asked if that was where rockbrothers were birthed. Once again, I explained that we emerge directly from our liferock. Gunth’s answer once again was ”Yeah, That’s what I mean”. Apparently, I need to learn more about how other namegivers reproduce in order to better describe the differences between our races. The opening had been intentionally blocked by a large boulder, for carved into the rock above the opening was one word:
This was in throalic and apparently meant as some sort of warning, for there at the bottom of the gash I could feel the presence of a hibernating rockbrother.
Why he did not merge with his liferock was a mystery to me, because surely he could not have survived this long in hibernation without some aid from his liferock. Which also meant that this liferock was not completely dead. That it still had some life force left within it. With this in mind, we decided to roll the boulder away and climb down. I required only a little help from Ja’ Kar’A’Gar to do this. There were hand and foot holds carved into the rock, making it easy for us to climb down into the opening. The troll and I had very little trouble carrying the hibernating rock brother out of the chamber he was in. We placed him next to the liferock to await his awakening.
Celdic Burran Veltom 20
This afternoon, Gunth found a hole in the far side of the liferock, opposite the opening. It was buried under a snow drift and inside he found a battered old chest. Naturally, he opened it before telling us that he had found it. Inside was a bone scroll tube sealed in wax. It held a scroll that was written in old or’zet. It was then that he finally showed it to us. I have placed our translation here. Lathryus wrote a second note and placed it along with the note from the Seven Spokes back in the scroll tube and resealed it. Gunth then put it back in the lock box and placed it back in the hole. We are still waiting for this obsidiman to wake up. Sun said it might take as long as a week or ten days due to his obvious injuries. Now we also have to worry about whether or not this obsidiman is crazed and horror touched. Joy.
To those who may follow,
We are the Generally Errant Adventuring Kaniggits of Serendipity. Centuries have passed, and the dominion of the Hororors has waxed and waned again since our predecessors, the Seven Spokes, came to this place.
In our ignorance, we bound our group’s fate to the daggers that had belonged to the spokes, and in so doing, we awoke the evil which destroyed them. We know that they came this far in the search to destroy that evil, and that they left from here again. Where and how far, we know not, but we do know that their search was, ultimately, in vain.
Their quest, though, is ours now, and we must finish what they began. If this scroll is here for you to read, then we, like they, have failed, and our path ended here. May your luck be better.
Lathyrus vorPatril wrote this on this, the 20th day of Veltom, in the 1506th year since the founding of Throal.
Veltom 20, 1506
It is an odd feeling…doubt. I have always known that I had the conviction of being right and that my actions were aimed at an honorable and valorous outcome. As I am sure you have read in our captured journal, we have been entangled in evil tendrils of multiple horrors. We have always proceeded in a direction that we believed was good but when does our decision making ability become tainted by our close proximity to such pervasive evil. When does the corrupted stop being able to make uncorrupted decisions?
As you know we had a companion that have since vowed not to name. Our friend fell under the influence of a foul influence and began to do things that were wrong but we were too close to our friend, unable to judge him. Had we been able to separate ourselves from our friendship we could of perhaps provided him with an honorable death…instead of the befouled and hunted fate that was meted out to him. Just as our friend professed innocence, so do we but I understand that perhaps we are now too close to evil that seems to corrupt those untied to the daggers that we have accidentally unleashed. So I ask you to judge us and decide if our actions are still honorable.
If you decide that we have been affected I have a few requests. Primarily, do not let the evil of the daggers continue both for the GEAKS and for the 7 spokes. Find a group to complete the mission that has destroyed us and the 7 spokes of Cara Fahd. Also be wary. The thing that is connected to the daggers may be unleashed with our death. Thirdly, seek out the Dragon Icewing, who is aware of our plight and has been of help in the past. He may have information that is of value if he trusts you enough to share it with you.
Lastly and perhaps least importantly, attempt to judge us fairly for we may be the best chance of removing the threat of this evil from the world. We have already absolved ourselves to dealing with the problem until it is seen through to the end. In our defense, we have sought to limit our contact with Name Givers at every point in our journey. Our capture and incarceration was a spark of madness that burned brightly. The madness perhaps burned brightest in our Windling friend. Untied to the daggers, he was susceptible to the same curse as those around us and our capture was the ignition of insanity. While not a defense, it is a rationale behind his actions. We have corrected this by doing the only thing we could, by allowing him to tie himself to the group, thus gaining the same protection to the madness.
I am sorry for all those that have been lost in this time of trouble and we are sorry that the evil that follows us was unleashed upon them. But the battle is not yet done and I still hear the drums of battle. We are called and hope to answer but I leave it to you.
The Battle rages
Blood, an endless sea of foes
Bleak but I fight on
Veltom 22, 1506
Today, the obsidiman awoke. Apparently this triggered the emergence of his remaining brothers. As Asmersious (as we later learned he was called) began to stir, 7 things emerged from the liferock. Judging by their size and shape, they must have been obsidimen at one time. Now, they were something insect-like out of our worst nightmares. These things had insect-like skin, claws and a venomous bite that was most potent. The battle was close and hard fought. Were it not for Scipio’s swordplay and Sun Tzu’s battle skills, our attempt to end this curse would have ended badly a few short hours ago. J’ Kar’ A’ Gar was the first to succumb to their paralyzing venom, then Gunth and I. Lathryus fell, wounded and unconscious as Scipio and Sun killed the last abomination. While ministering to our injured, Sun stopped Asmersious from merging with the liferock by administering a healing potion. Asmersious has told us the horrors name – Betrayer! By the Passions, I pray that we end it’s reign of terror.
Veltom 28, 1506
Near Rock River. After our battle at the liferock, my companions and I were not eager to retrace our path back down the mountain and revisit the villages we passed with an even stronger curse about us. In our desperation, we opted to continue farther into the mountains in search of a high pass through the mountains. While the path was most treacherous, Asmersious assured us that we could cross over the Tylon mountains and gain the Tylon river on the other side. It took us nearly 6 days to travel the distance equal to a days ride on the plains. We are camped a half day’s walk outside the village of Rock River, hoping against hope, that we can rest long enough to finish recovering from our injuries without tainting this simple village.
Rua 5, 1506
A large portion of the journal was water-damaged and is currently unreadable. Lathryus is going to try and repair it with his magics. Only the Passions know what possessed Gunth to take the journal with us on the river raft when we finally destroyed Betrayer.
Rua 6, 1506
It is done. We have defeated Betrayer. I know I should be filled with joy, but I am not. In our quest to free ourselves, to free Barsaive of this curse, we have enabled Betrayer to work it’s foul influence on all of those around us everywhere we have travelled since finding these cursed blades. It is the nature of these foul beings to work their evil in subtle ways. While we discerned the nature of this evil early in our research of the blades, nothing could prepare us for the events that followed every decision we made, every piece of information we discovered, every battle we fought.
Rua 7, 1506
Rings bought from traveling peddlar Gilroy. Between town of Ulrich and Tallendau. Gilroy
is 40-something human. Travels in a 5 wagon trade caravan. About 20 people with the caravan,
about half are guards. The other half are teamsters and built like it. Sturdy 4 wheeled wagons.
Pulled by 2 horse teams, plus a string of replacements/trade stock. Nothing special or outstanding
about the wagons. Area he travels tends to be the plains between Kraddis, The Liaj Jungle, Scavia.
I just scribbled this down in the tavern…I had just sat down to my meal when I noticed a couple of newlyweds at a nearby table, consumed with their joy. “That was me a few years ago,” I thought to myself, when my eye caught the glint of gold on their fingers, and I saw their rings. Our rings. Clearly ours, made with our own hands, strands of our own hair braided together in their cores. I didn’t need to take the rings off their hands to read our names, carved in Sperethial on the inner surfaces, the scripts twined together in a pattern that joined them together as one thing for so long as gold endures.
I did not take the rings from them. My love is dead, and my heart with her; I don’t need the rings to bind us anymore, and their love is young, and fresh, and alive. Let it remain so for now. Let them enjoy what they have for as long as they have it, for this world will rip it from them soon enough.
No, what I took from them is information. They told me who sold them the rings, where he trades, how he travels. He will lead me, by short paths or long, to those who took them from me. Who took her from me. And though they cannot give back what they have stolen, I will take from them all that they have.
The World According to Hannelore
I arrived in Rock River, a smallish town compared to what I remember of towns, but still the most structured civilization I’ve seen in a long time. Traverus told me I needed to “walk in unfamiliar lands, holding unfamiliar hands,” but to be honest I’d prefer it if I could find a hand that’d known water’s touch in the last week – I don’t think I’m like to find it here. I found a stable with some healthy horses to admire when I overheard a pair obsidimen (REAL obsidimen, here! Amazing!) talking about how they were going to tell the rest of “the group” that they were leaving. This would be a source of dirty emotional drama that a smart stranger might avoid, but I am a brilliant shaman in need of experiences in the wilds. This should be interesting.
Day 1.5: It’s come to my attention that windlings, while technically a namegiver race, might do very well with a pinch of genocide. To explain my brand new form of hate, it should be declared that I’m now one of the somewhat-known troupe of adventurers called (what I can only hope is a term of endearment) the Geaks.
Sun Tzu was leading his fellow travelers to breakfast, and as I followed to learn where the obsidimen’s bomb would drop, a windling puts its knife to my neck and pushes me forward. They are the GEAKS, they do fight the horror, and they are breaking into two different paths. Lathyrus and I get in a debate on social protocol when introductions are made for a while, and is distracted when it hits him that his two top map readers are gone. Now, I don’t read maps much, never having trouble finding the dirt at my feet, but I can spot great places to sleep, great places to set up for ambush, and I know the difference between the little red berries that kill and the ones that don’t. The elementalist asks me if I know what redundant means, and I tell him that it’s picture jumped out of the dictionary and put a knife to my neck. He tossed me a coin and told me to get a red tunic and bring my horse, they leave within the hour. I suppose Gunth (the windling) is as popular and respected among the others as he is with me. Lathyrus sold me his spare ride for 100 silver leaving me one silver to my name. Maybe I should call the horse Bud: Bought Under Duress.
Rua 21, 1506
Lathyrus – Rock River
I guess Hannelore should have named her mount BUD: Bastard Up and Died. Of course, that tends to happen to horses when you unleash 5 jehutra and a wormskull on them.
We left Rock River in the early morning hours of the day after I saw my wife’s and my wedding rings on the hands of a young human couple, planning to move downstream to the neighborhood of Kratas and then westward into the plains, seeking this Gilroy. My urgency started to fade almost immediately; my thirst for justice will not be slaked if I get killed because I confronted the reavers unprepared. When, 3 days out of Rock River, a village too small to even have a name asked our aid to deal with a thing that was killing their livestock, I was able to put aside my personal business for later without qualms.
The thing turned out to be a basilisk, and, if nothing else, our encounter with it proved to me that I am still underprepared for my business in the West. We tracked it for half a day from the nameless village, to a cave in the hills, and decided (foolishly, it turned out) to beard it in its lair, thinking it would be at a disadvantage in the daylight, since it had only ever attacked at night. Did I mention we were fools? The thing’s mere gaze nearly killed Scipio and Gunth before they had gotten far enough into the cave’s mouth for the shadows to cover Scipio’s boots. At that we were fortunate, for they were close enough to the entrance that Ja Kar’A’Gar was able to snatch them up and drag them to what we hoped would be safety outside the cave.
It did turn out to be safe, while daylight lasted, and we healed our wounded as best we could and attempted to set up an ambush for the creature when it emerged at dusk.
We still, at this point, did not realize the nature of the beast we faced, or what tactics to use against it, and the fight went badly for us. The beast had only to look at us and all caught in it’s gaze bled away their life essence as if their souls had been flayed. We hammered away at it as best we could, but in the end it was a very close-run thing. I succumbed to my wounds and fell into oblivion well before the end of the fight, though I am certain I hurt it badly before I fell. In the end the death blow was dealt by Hannelore, of all people (correct me if I’m wrong on that one, folks –mpn). It was during that fight that I bagen to realize just how much we had relied on our mobile bastion, Sun Tzu, to anchor us in combat. Without his considerable strength and skill at our core, we are considerably softer than we were. That lesson, though, sank in only slowly, and the final realization came only last night. But I get ahead of myself.
Would that we had left it there, with the dead basilisk at the mouth of its lair, and continued on our road, but, well, if we were sensible folk we would all be in our home villages learning honest trades, not wandering the wilds as we do. When those of us able to move explored the beast’s den in the morning, I noticed that the walls had been hewn by the hands of namegivers. The “cave” was the beginning of a tunnel, which had been blocked by a cave-in long ago.
Since we weren’t going anywhere with some of our number too wounded to travel, I spent the next few days trying to clear a path through the rubble, with the aid of both tasked spirits and those simply in the neighborhood to whom I called out for assistance. There were some miscommunications, and a minor mishap with the wrong sort of spirit entirely showing up, but in the end we did finally win through to the open tunnel beyond the cave-in. Where things once again went badly for us.
Scipio was leading the way, and to his credit he did spot the trigger for the trap that nearly killed us all (again_), but when he called for the thief to examine it, Gunth was too addled by his wounds (as opposed to his usual addlement) to recognize it for what it was and gave the all clear. Scipio took one more step and we were all flattened by wave after wave of powerful mana blasts. All was turmoil as we scrambled to retreat from the tunnel, and it was only when we’d re-emerged into the outer chamber beyond the cave-in that we realize Scipio was not with us.
Did we do wrong by not rushing immediately back in to find him? I don’t think so. We were, all of us, sorely wounded by the trap: our ears ringing, vision doubled, thoughts sluggish and scattered, guts heaving. Had we returned to the tunnel in that condition I am certain we all would have perished. Whether or not that would have been such a bad thing, in retrospect, I will leave to time and posterity to decide. At this moment, as I write this, the verdict would not be in our favor. But again, I get ahead of myself.
No, we took the time to heal ourselves as best we could, and it was only after hours of rest that we ventured into the tunnel again. This time, armed with the certain knowledge that there was indeed a trap there, Gunth was able to find the safety for the trigger, and we found Scipio, still alive in the space between this trap and the next, which he had also cleverly identified for us.
Again we retreated to the basilisk’s old lair, and again we rested and recuperated, and again we passed up the opportunity to simply move on and leave well enough alone. The next day, we advanced again into the tunnel, this time giving Gunth ample time to examine every inch of corridor for traps, triggers, and switches, and marking the safeties clearly as each was found, and we made it past them all with no further trouble.
What we found on the other side was, at first look, an empty kaer. There was no sign of violence. The departure of the people appeared to have been orderly, with dishes and tools properly put away. I believed at first that the kaer must have been vacated through another entrance; that what we had entered through had been a back door, and the inhabitants had long ago re-emerged into the world above. Would that it were true.
Our first indication of trouble came when we were attacked by a jehutra-o! how I hate jehutra! – while picking our way through a long-dead agricultural cavern on our second day in the kaer. We fought it, and after a time it fled. I now realize that it did so purely to lure us onward. The pair of these abominations that we fought when were but newly set on the adventuring path, after our moderate success as caravan guards, must have been ill or inexperienced or badly made by their creator Horror, for had we faced creatures such as this we would have died then, in the foolish pride of our first circles. But our judgement was clouded by the ease of that earlier encounter, and the swiftness with which this beast turned and ran from us, and, in the no less foolish pride of our fifth and sixth circles, we pursued.
Straight into the lair of its master, a horror, a wormskull, whose name I am pleased not to know. It was clear when we saw the chamber what had happened. The people of this kaer had not put down their dishes and tools to go forth into the sunlight and help rebuild the world. No, they had come down here, to the deepest of their caverns, and wrought a great magic, fueled by the very lifeblood of every last man, woman and child, to cage this thing for all eternity. Their bodies lay in a large ring, so long dead not a trace of odor or moisture remained in their corpses, and in the ring of power defined by their blood and their dying will, the wormskull waited for fools such as we to find it and set it free.
What can I say of what followed? We fought the Horror while its jehutra, five of them, kept their distance. Clearly, in retrospect, they had herded us here, and likely would have joined the fray only if we had tried to leave it. Despite my solemn advice to under no circumstances cross the circle, my companions marched blithely into it one by one until I could either abandon them all or join them, so join them I did. We fought it as, one by one, we fell to it, unconscious in the sand of its prison. Until only one of us was left awake. And that one did the unthinkable.
Hannelore bartered the Horror’s freedom for our lives. Where the hundreds of kaer dwellers had willingly died to keep the thing here; when I would have-grudgingly, yes, in light of my unfinished business-given my own life to prevent its escape; she, in her youth and inexperience (I will be charitable) chose to free it for a handful of near strangers.
And what can I say of what has happened since then? Our horses were the first victims of the newly freed horror and its spawn, so we have been painfully slow in our pursuit. By the time we have arrived at each village, empty but for the dead and the vermin that feast on them, the bodies and fires have been cold. We pushed ourselves to the limits of our endurance to reach this place we left with such purpose less than a fortnight ago, and in all that distance saw not one living thing larger or more savory than rats and crows. And now that we are here, it seems to be just in time to watch this town, too, die.
The jehutra attack each night and take 5 citizens, and they have been helpless to stop them. Last night we wounded one, but when we pursued it this morning we were ambushed like children and played with like toys. Passions how I wish the obsidimen were still with us! Their strength might be enough to overcome the icy prisons the jehutra seem to delight in using. Without them, we must somehow devise a more cunning plan, or this town, like the others, will die, and us with it, and our legacy will be the trail of suffering, corruption and death left by this Horror until some other, worthier band of idiots adventurers stops it.
This, hedge wizard, is why we never bargain with horrors, even for our lives.
Rua 23, 1506
Lathyrus – Rock River
A change in tactics seems to have been a qualified success. We had established that going onto the jehutras’ turf was, well, suicide, and also that the village was indefensible with the manpower at hand. So we stacked the deck in our favor.
We solved the indefensibility of the town by not defending it, instead gathering the people into their meeting hall and otherwise abandoning the buildings to their fates. We then took up stations around the meeting hall and waited. The jehutra followed the same attack plan they had used before, entering the town at separate places so no concentrated defense could cover them all, but with no prey in the village at large, they had no choice but to retreat or attack where our forces were concentrated and, coming from different directions, they were unable to cover each other’s advance. From my perch on the roof of the meeting hall I was able to fireball one of the beasts three times before it came within striking range of Scipio, who was providing ground support on that side of the building. By the time it was close enough for him to engage, it was already severely damaged, and he dispatched it handily.
Sadly, the battle did not go as well elsewhere. On the opposite side of the building, a jehutra struck Hannelore a mortal blow and left her for dead before help could reach her, and elsewhere in the village Gunth discovered that flight is an insufficient protection against spiders. I counted them both as lost, and felt that losing two of our own to kill one of the horro-spawn a poor bargain indeed.
Praise Garlen, for, though the situation was every bit as bleak as it seemed, through Her mercy our comrades were not lost to us! I swear Hannelore’s heart wasn’t beating when we hurried her body into the temple of the passions and asked teh village’s Questor to pray for intercession. Before our eyes, in that hallowed place, she drew breath again, the blue left her lips, and settled into mere sleep.
In the morning, things improved still more. Gunth was found wandering in the woods, where he had awoken stunned and sorely injured, but not dead, and Hannelore’s condition improved steadily through the day. Adding my own efforts to the Questor’s, I bathed her broken body in healing fire, and by midday she was completely restored. Truly a miraculous recovery, in the most literal sense!
What gnaws at me, though, is that we have seen no sign of the jehutra or their master since that attack, and two nights have passed uneventfully since then. While it is true that we needed the rest, and the time to recover, I worry that they are using this time to similarly gather strength for a hammer blow. Or that they have simply left us here to find easier pickings elsewhere. How many innocents must die for our foolish curiosity?
If tonight is as quiet as the last, in the morning I shall see if I can enlist the aid of an air elemental to seek out the beasts, so we can know whether to remain here and fortify our position, or to move on in pursuit.
Rua 23, 1506
I think it is getting to be my time to move on from the group and seek my fortune elsewhere. This is not a disishon I make litly but it seems that they have all turned against me. Ever since we found the Caer in the back of the cave, I have been growing more discontented with the situation that I find myself in. Lathyrus in particular in getting on my nerves. His fixation on the cloak I found seems to be the root of the problem and he continually antagonizes the party against me. I believe that he is jealous of my new item but perhaps it is simply a growing schism and the cloak is simply the focus of the malcontents.
I suppose a bit of summary is in order though so I will detail the events of the last several weeks. It began in the cave. We finally punched through the back of the cave and into Caer. We found very little and it seemed that the cave was abandoned quickly. The traps were still active though and the party tucked tail and ran, leaving me on the floor bleeding in the dark. This may have been the outset of my troubles with the group. Except for the traps, we turned up nothing until we stumbled upon several Jahutra. So much for the Caer being sound and simply abandoned. The Jahutra where different from those we fought in the past. We ran them off and proceeded to follow when I found the cloak that everyone seems to desire. It has the ability to shift its appearance based on the desire of the wearer. It is qute mavellous. I began wearing it immediately.
The Jahutras led us to their master. A Wormskull of significant power. We fought and fell one by one until only the newest member of our band remained. With no one to council her, she made the poor decision to negotiate with the Wormskull and freed it. After awaking, we rode hard for the town we left several days earlier. It was destroyed. We followed the trail of destruction al the way back to where we started our journey. It was closed and attacked nghtly by the Jahutra, who were carrying off townspeople.
After a failed attempt to track them during the day which led to an ambush, we decided to set up our own ambush. We got everyone into the same building and waited. One of the Jahutra was killed by Lathyrus but another killed Hanalor. This seemed temporary though as the next day Garlan bless her with added life. It makes me wonder when people return to the living and I will be keeping an eye on Hanalor from now on. She seems different to me…perhaps it is her ‘death’ or her blood pact with a Horror or the fact that she has sided with Lathyrus against me but I do not trust her any further.
Anyway, at this point, I started to notice the sideways looks from everyone. I would overhear my name in discussions that quickly stopped when I was notced. Most interesting, Lathyrus wanted to go drinking and offered to pay for everyone…very strange. I am onguard, day and night. We are headed out again after the Wormskull but I think I have to keep my eyes and ears open. Watch out for what is outside the campfire light and what is inside the camp.
I expended some of the magical essence granted to me, uncovering those devious traps in the kaer and making sure they wouldn’t bring us to our knees on the way out as they had taken the river’s flow out of Scipio when he entered. Beyond the traps… there was a chamber… there was freezing. There was darkness.
Rugged travel through the hills.
Flying toward a Jahutra.
Shaken about in hurried travel.
I felt like I was being tossed about in a cyclone. Pete appeared to me in the eye of the storm. His red eyes peered into my soul, and his voice entered my head. “Cannot continue as is.”
The voice in my head seemed to come from beyond the stars. Pete’s voice then rang from my very essence. It boomed through every fiber of my skin, every drop of blood.
“You cannot continue as is. It will bring about your destruction. It will not serve my will.”
I was positive Pete was going to consume me in fire. I went limp and waited for certain immolation.
“Your path will go over new roads,” Pete not so much said as commanded.
Then, my eyes opened. I was in the Temple of Garland. They were all there: Scipio, Lathyrus, J’Kara’Gar, even that little girl who almost got us all killed.
The members of my band went out into the village and its surroundings to contemplate on their place in this world and to strengthen themselves for service to their Passions. Day after day, I returned to the Temple of Garland to sweep floors and patch holes in the thatch roof. I didn’t dedicate myself to advancing my thievery circle. Rather, I contemplated the new paths opening up before me…
Scipio’s behavior has become increasingly less socially acceptable. Maybe some orcs tolerate eating flies, but the rest of civilized Barsaive frowns on those shenanigans. Whispers around the campfire suggest Scip’s new threads may be Horror-imbued. Horrors bad. Passions good. It is my duty as a fist-stabbing servant of the Passions to save my friend from his fashion sense. I snuck up on him as he slept, the Blade of Cara Fad in my hand. Scipio sprang awake and drew his sword. I did not back down. The rest of the camp woke up.
“What do you want Gunth?” Scipio hissed.
“This is an intervention, Scipio,” I spat. “Your behavior has become a problem. Friends don’t let friends turn into horror constructs. We think the cloak is doing this to you. You need to get rid of it.”
Then, something that has never before happened in all of Barsaive history occurred, something that made the Passions sit up and sing: Lathyrus agreed with me. Then the troll sided with me. Despite our best efforts, Scipio refused to part with his new robe.
It’s been about a week since the intervention. We’ve been on the trail of those Jahutras.
“Scipio, I think we’ve discovered how Jahutras are created.” Lathyrus was addressing Scipio, who had been caught snacking on flies once again. This time, he relented and allowed us to take the cloak. Except, tendrils now bound the filthy rag to his body. Carefully, I surgically removed the tendrils from his lizard flesh.
Lathyrus tried to burn the cloak. It wouldn’t catch. He summoned a fire elemental who seemed quite happy to take a stab at consuming the cloak. The cloak consumed the elemental. Scipio’s only hope seems to be us finding the wormskull horror again and putting it out of our misery.
Darkness and a bone-gnawing chill filled the camp around midnight. The poor, simple troll abandoned her watch details to succumb to a midwinter’s slumber. Then, a voluptuous dwarf approached me. “Hello Gunth,” she said.
“Hi. Who are you?” I asked.
“Do you not recognize me,” she asked.
Realization flooded my soul. I dropped to my knees. “Garlen, it is you.”
“You do not need to do that before me. You know what I ask of you.”
“Heal the sick. Take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.”
“That is right. If you follow my ways, I will appear to you again.”
“I will, Garlen. I will.”
And then the Passion was gone.
I raced over to the poor simple slumbering troll and shook her awake. “Garlen was here. Garlen was here. She wants me to follow her path!”
The rest of the camp woke up. “If Gunth is deluded to follow Garlen, it might not be bad for us,” Lathyrus whispered.
Earlier that night, Scipio had begun to mutter about his cloak again, apparently not remembering us having to surgically remove it from his body. “No!” he hollered. “Where is my cloak?”
“Somewhere if you try to follow it, we will destroy you,” the elf threatened.
“You can’t hurt me. You can’t destroy me!”
“I can,” the cursed little druid child said. “Can’t I?”
Later, as the poor, simple troll and I stood watch, the troll noticed Scipio trying to wriggle free of his bonds. He received a poor simple troll foot on his chest to stop his shenanigans.
The next day we abandoned our tethered horses and climbed the elf’s sky lattice into the mountains. The poor simple troll neglected to let us know about the mountain lions in the area. Poor horsies.
We spent the entire day watching the cursed little druid child and the poor simple troll repeatedly lose the Jahutra trail. Thankfully, I was there to lend my insight. I found a dry river bed with what seemed to be Jahutra tracks. I called the trackers over, and as the sun got low in the sky, the poor, simple troll confirmed they were Jahutra tracks. We stopped near the river and unbound Scipio’s arms so he could take a bath. He dove down and stayed down a long time.
The cursed little druid child stripped down, putting on a show for the horny elf. She dove in and turned blue. The cursed little druid child floundered, trying to get back to shore. The poor, simple troll followed and likewise turned blue. As they returned to shore, Scipio popped back up from the depths, looking happier than I’d seen him since he started eating bugs.
We went on until the elf found a magnificent campsite we just couldn’t pass up.
Mawag 10, 1506
Much has occurred since last I was able to put quill to parchment. It’s possible Gunth has writen of some of them in the hen scratchings on the last few pages, but until some Chosen One is born who can read it, the world must remain ignorant.
As may have been predictable, the elemental I finally, after a few false starts, managed to summon turned out to be less than helpful. It did, indeed, rush off in search of the prey I had set for it. It simply never returned. We finally had to simply risk another ambush and track the jehutra as we had before; relying on the talents and skills of Ja’Kar A’Gar and Hannelore to follow their path.
There was no ambush this time, though we lost literally days in our pursuit cautiously avoiding one. The trail led us back over our own backtrail, straight to the gates of the (freshly re-sealed) kaer of the Pale Ones, then away from them again, and straight up a cliff into a narrow cleft in the face of the mountain. We felt that cleft was too obviously a good place for an ambush, so retreated to the gates of the kaer and encamped in the shelter of the entryway.
As we had travelled, Scipio’s behavior had been getting more and more erratic. He began skipping meals—even his favorite dishes failed to entice him—and instead chose to eat flies which he caught through some agency of his cloak. When the cloak had fist demonstrated the ability to kill all the flies in an area en masse, we’d thought it an odd, but handy, power of the thing. WHen Scipio started eating those dead flies as his sole source of sustenance, though, it no longer seemed handy at all. We asked him at that time to give up his cloak until we could have it examined and identified, and he refused as if we had asked him to give up his grandmother for the cookpot. We let it slide.
It was on our first night in the shelter of the Pale Ones’ portico that a further development arose; while the rest of us slept, Scipio apparently spun himself a web in the corner. That was when I realized what the cloak was, and uncovered the mystery of where jehutra come from. We tried again to get Scipio to take off the cloak, and again he refused. So the next morning we drugged him and removed it from him.
It was not so simple a thing as removing a garment. The thing had begun to take root in his flesh, sending tendrils through his skin and into his muscle. I have no idea how painful it would have been to remove it from him had we not already rendered him unconscious. As it was it took hours and great care to peel it from him, and for all our care some of those tendrils broke off and remained embedded in his body.
Then another nasty shock: we built a large bonfire and threw the cloak into it. I hit it with fireballs. I summoned a fire elemental to destroy it. The only result was the waste of a fair amount of firewood, and the destruction of a poor unsuspecting elemental. I don’t think the cloak destroyed the elemental itself. I think something reached through it.
In the end, we felt all we had done would be wasted if, when Scipio woke up, the cloak was anywhere where he could reach it, so we built a cairn for it, there in the portico of the Pale Ones’ kaer, and wrote warnings in Sperethiel, Throalic and Trollish about the danger, and requesting that they take measures to seal it away until means could be found to destroy it, and we moved on—leaving our horses hobbled in case we were to return quickly—into the cleft halfway up the cliff face, into the mountain, in pursuit of the jehutra.
There was no ambush in the pass, and it eventually leveled out and let us out into woodlands. We continued to follow the tracks through the rest of that day. The next morning, just as I was preparing breakfast, we heard the sounds of battle…or, more accurately, of slaughter. We suited up and rushed toward it, but by the time we arrived it was over, and a wild beast—JaKar A’gar called it “skeorx”—was already feasting on the fresh corpses of half a dozen villagers, who could not have known what they were going up against when they set out in light leather armor with cheap, peddler-trade quality swords.
We fought the skeorx, and I must say I cannot recall ever seeing anything move so fast. It could go from sinking its teeth into one of us to being clear out of spell range in the time it took me to channel energy into a threadless spell and cast it. It had to close to fight, though, and when it did we hurt it, but it fled before we could finish it.
We took the time to bury the poor villagers, and after a brief discussion decided that we could not afford to be distracted from our pursuit of the jehutra. We followed the tracks, and toward nightfall we found that they ended at a huge bone circle; end pursuit.
We camped just over a small rise from the circle, and tried to keep an eye on in throughout the night, but apparently not a very good one, because when the morning grew light enough to see, the circle had been destroyed. All tracks led into it; they had gone through a portal and pulled the welcome mat up after them.
With no hope of finding the jehutra or the wormskull we’d released until they chose to come after us again, we turned to the other problem at hand: we resolved to go notify the village of the loss of their hunting party, and return their weapons. En route, we encamped again, and those on watch at midnight fell asleep.
That was when the skeorx attacked us again. I was awakened by JaKar A’gar’s screams as the beast tore chunks out of her thigh. We fought it off again…again it ran off once it was wounded, and we were unable to finish it. We were in pretty sorry shape by that time, with both JaKar A’gar and Scipio unconscious from their wounds. Those of us remaining couldn’t possibly protect them if the skeorx attacked again, so I came up with an idea to keep us all out of its reach. I created a sky lattice high enough that I was sure the thing couldn’t jump up to it, and cast Lighten Load on our unconscious brethren so I could haul them up and bind them to it to sleep.
The rest of the night went peacefully and in the morning the wounded were able to wake enough to drink some broth I heated for them. We moved on, and in due time the dead men’s backtrail led us to their village.
I managed to sneeze when my turn came to perform my artisan skill to gain admittance to the village, and with the most awful screech you can imagine the reed broke off in my flute and lodged itself halfway down the airway. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting at the Meeting Post and carving a new one while my companions went in to speak to the headmen and see about organizing a defense.
Since all of the most effective defenses we could plan seemed to circle around my magic, and I was, in the villagers’ eyes, horror touched, the defense plan “agreed” on seemed to be “you guys go kill it for us. We’ll wait right here.” So that is what we did.
I again cast a sky lattice for us to sleep on—I am unashamed to say it, but I refused to sleep at ground level while that thing roamed nearby in any case—but this time we set it up with clear fields of fire, we tied ropes to it for quick descent, and we staked a goat out just barely far enough away from directly underneath it that we would not be caught in the rising cloud of a fireball cast on it. And we waited.
It was barely into the first watch of the night—and in any case few of us were sleeping, as we were wearing our armor in anticipation of a nocturnal fight—when the goat gave a single, truncated bleat. Again the skeorx moved too quickly to engage, but it seemed unaware of our presence, and felt it was safe enough to stop and beging to eat its kill just barely within range of my fireball spell. I hit it, and hit it hard, drawing on my blood charm to increase the heat of the flames I hurled at it, and it screamed.
Had it run again at that point it would no doubt still had lived, but the beast’s habit seemed to be to fight until it had been struck several times, and I am not certain it identified the fire with the T’skrang just then dropping from the sky…it attacked him.
Scipio fought back, and JaKar A’Gar joined him, and together they held the beast in combat while I moved closer, since the ball of fire was the only spell I had handy that I could hurl at such range, and Scipio gets so testy when I cast it on creatures with whom he is in melee. The timing worked out well, for just as I reached a good position it turned to flee again, but this time its injuries slowed it to the point where I was able to keep it in range, and smite it with another gout of cleansing fire. It didn’t move after that, but I channeled flame onto it a third time just to be sure before we claimed it dead and the threat gone.
That was last night. My reception in the village seems better, this morning (although the new flute I carved while waiting yesterday may have something to do with that, as well), and the villagers have invited us to stay a few days to rest, as some of us are clearly battered, and we are all exhausted, having been running non-stop for so long the days and weeks have all blurred together in my mind. I am not even sure what season it is, or when the next will turn, as this land and these mountains are strange to me.
Ekaterin, I have not forgotten you, nor given up on your justice, but I know you will forgive me these detours, and not begrudge me this rest.
Elemental turned out useless. Tracked jehutra via JK’s and H’s tracking talent/skill. Led us to the entrance to the pale ones’ stronghold. Plant near the door says 4 jehutra went in, 3 came out. Kaer is re-sealed. Camped out in front of the door for 2 or 3 nights hoping to lure the jehutra to us, but they didn’t come. We drugged Scipio and removed his cloak…had to cut it off his body because it was putting tendrils into his flesh, merging with him. Cloak proved indestructible by fire. We built a cairn over it and wrote warnings over the cairn in every language we knew how to write in. Hopefully the pale ones won’t hold it against us. Followed jehutra tracks up a cliff to a higher plateau, but the tracks ended in a huge bone circle, and we had no way to follow. By the next morning, the circle itself had vanished.
On the way to the bone circle found a Skeorx munching on the corpses of a village hunting party. Fought it, hurt it, but it ran away before we could finish it. Same happened again a few nights later; it likes to attack us in our sleep. Decided to start sleeping on a sky lattice so the thing can’t reach us.
Found the village the hunting party was from, returned the dead hunters’ gear, explained about the skeorx and offered to help kill it. Managed to hurt it badly enough this time that it couldn’t run away fast enough to escape. Crispy Critter. The end.
Mawag 10, 1506
I feel that I have learned much since I left Traverus, but nothing so much as the nature of failure. I have made a deal with a Horror, I can do next to nothing to help my fellows in combat, and those same fellows have made it clear that my value to them is limited to my looks. By the time we made our way into the sealed town of Rock River to rest, learning that jehuthra have the place under siege and Scipio acting strangely since he found a curious fly-killing cloak, I was more depressed than I was before I found my path. It’s all I can do to put on a brave face, to banter back against my comrades, when in truth I know they are in the right. The night the jehuthra breached the town defenses was my low point. I wanted to die.
And then I died. One of those filthy spider monsters did the deed, and I thought it appropriate. It had a symmetry to it, a balance that appealed to my beliefs on the way the world works. I had failed, I made mistakes, and now I had paid for them. Maybe I was not “at peace”, as the expression goes, but I trusted that the world would ultimately be okay. The experience was actually quite liberating, so you can imagine how disrupting it was when I came back to life.
I give thanks to Garland, for that was the aspect prayed to in the ritual that restored me to life – I trust what I see, and so have been barred from most religions, but credit where it’s due. I learned during my recovery that the attack was repelled, and extra measures taken to secure the town; and also that the sentient bug didn’t have a good night either. Apparently the bug has taken it on itself to spread the gospel according to Garland, another reason for me to avoid conversion as who would join such a group that would accept Gunth as a follower?
Though I don’t recommend the experience, I found my death rather cleansing at first. I had a better sense of what I could do and what I shouldn’t try to do. While I was getting closer to my place in the world, Scipio was slipping further away. The cloak he found was changing his eating habits, he shunned food he used to eat gladly and was caught feasting on insects. The general agreement was to watch for opportunities to get the cloak away from him, but when we awoke one morning to find a fresh web that could only be found by a jehuthra, and both J’Kar’a’Gar and myself confirmed no jehuthra were in the area, we decided we had found at least one method for jehuthra propogation: the cloak changes the wearer into them. It took much cajoling and more drugs, but we did get the cloak off of him, and from indicators just in time; the cloak was beginning to take actual root in Scipio’s flesh. Destroying it was our first task, but the unholy force that designed it did it well: we went through three rounds of intense spellcasting and a fire elemental before deciding such a thing was beyond our current means. We crafted a small cairn and erected a warning in as many languages as we could carve to keep people away, then made off before Scipio could awaken and go back for the cloak in a fit of withdrawl. The first day was the worst, but after that he showed signs of fast recovery, including his normal appetite. It looked like he would be back to his normal self.
This came in handy as we tracked the jehuthra squad through the forest and came upon a Skeeorx. I hadn’t seen one before, but knew enough of the lore that our best chance of surviving lay in the creature never knowing we were there. We had a chance, as we caught it feeding on human flesh, but the skeerox isn’t a feared predator for nothing – it spotted us anyway. Through determination and some luck application of spells, we wounded it enough to chase it off. On closer inspection, the corpses it was feeding on were from a different village, a hunting party dressed for battle, for all the good it did them. We buried them, taking identifying articles so someone might know who had fallen, and debated about taking this side trip to find the village, but the general agreement was that focus was the most critical factor, and that we couldn’t afford the time. That night, when we made camp (near a necromantic circle, perhaps not the nicest spot but the one Lathryus seemed to like), Scipio and I had first watch, and just when I noticed he was asleep, I realized I wasn’t as cleansed as I wished from death: the THING from the cairn spoke to my thoughts again. I hesitate to put its words to paper, for seeing them might drive me back into despair, but it cannont be worse than keeping the words in my head: it has been taking note of our progress and believes its master will note our presense soon. It went on to say that it still appreciated its new freedom, and that if we turned around now, we could leave the area unmolested and without fear of being targeted. I found its logic questionable, its timing curious, and news of it being someone else’s master revealing, so on behalf of the group I declined. I released a Horror on the world, I will balance the scales before I die again. The group wasn’t thrilled when I passed this on, but believed me when they noticed the necromantic circle had disappeared in the night. The attitude among us is that if the enemy is trying to talk us out of pursuit, we must be close to cornering it. We continue tracking the jehuthra, and when we make camp the next night the skeeorx managed to catch us unaware and was able to severly wound our two best fighters before we could chase it off again.
At this point, we decided now was the time to find the village the corpses we found came from, and luckily we were able to track it down within the day. Everyone but Lathryus managed to prove their worth in artisanry – he broke his flute and was held outside to construct a new one. We were able to recover our wounded enough, and when that had been done the town elders brought down their decision regarding our “colorful” group: if we could kill the skeeorx for them, they’d know we weren’t Horror-touched.
Lathryus erected a sky lattice in a clearing for us to keep our vigil, and tied a goat off a ways as bait. The plan was for us to keep watch, and if any gods be merciful the skeeorx will carry its wounds to our bait, where we can pelt it with spells and such. The first massive fireball L. casts hits its mark, and as it makes to flee, Scipio and J. swing down from our perch to meet it – I suspect they want vengeance for being caught the other night. It runs away from them, but not in a direction that would take it out of L’s spell range, and two fireballs later the thing is a crispy husk. It’s a strange sensation, winning.
The town welcomes us back gladly, especially since L’s new flute works more or less in tune, and we decide to rest and absorb everything we’ve been through. I know I welcome the chance. Though the power of the group thread between us holds firm, and they seem tolerant of me enough, I feel apart from them. It will be many, many moons before I am able to fight effectively at their sides, but I sense I will never be on par with them in power or skill. Joke as I might, perhaps it would be best for me to find another group, one where I might make a genuine contribution.