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At journey’s end

Tassar’s Journal

After a night of playing a hunting game with the kobolds, the party was starting to stir. During the night the ranger and I had killed another handful of the beasts and wounded a few more. Areon and I had been up for near 24 hours and were in need of rest. Theona and Antonio took a turn at watch while we rested. To our luck, the kobolds too needed a break from battle; they have also been around the clock. I myself was in the most need of sleep, to give true measure of my condition; I was near falling unconscious anyway.

When I awoke I immediately checked on the condition of our healer Deitricha, she was still unconscious. I gave myself a moment to curse my failure to protect her, then set about to check out our predicament further.

Some time passed with little action, although old fire-bug did have another chance to get knocked unconscious as we took two more of the kobolds that attempted to sneak up on us in the darkness. The party was looking worse for wear and I pondered to myself if anyone other than I and the ranger had a chance to get out of this mine alive. I look at my friends and see a look of defeat on their faces.

Finally it was a stirring from Deitricha that gave us hope. She was weak; apparently she had been wounded far worse than any of us expected. She used her powers to heal herself and us a little. It would be a while before she could help us with that again, I was just happy to have her to help fight. Moments later Antonio woke again, for the first time in nearly two days the entire party was awake and moving.

As I sized up the situation, the kobolds have been coming in smaller and smaller numbers and were too familiar with our surroundings for us to sneak up on them. This led me to believe we needed to take the attack to them to use our skills and strengths, if we continued to just sling arrows at each other the kobolds will kill us. If they had charged us during the last 12 hours with their full numbers, we would be dead.

I told the party I needed a chance to go and scout our surroundings, to get a better understanding of their positions and numbers. Truth be told that was partially true, but we needed to weed a few more from the enemy’s numbers to stand a chance. The party is clearly without a leader and the only two that didn’t want me to scout ahead had proven to me they do not understand battle as well as I, nor do they see the power of our enemy. I was handed an ever-burning torch which I hid under my cloak as I slid along the walls of the mine. Eventually I got far enough ahead to sense both the presence of others and the fact that I was a fool for walking blindly into the dark. The final clue that it was time to take the torch out was the stone bouncing inches from my face with enough force that it took a bit of the wall with it.

Quickly I pulled the light out and tossed it on the floor and prepared to fight. Truth be told in hand to hand I could stand against them for a long time, and that was my hope in going out alone. I shouted to the party to let them know I found a group worth fighting as three kobolds rushed me with spears from a lower ledge and three more attacked with slings from a higher one. Quickly I sank an arrow into one on the ledge and dropped the bow to pull my sword for hand to hand. To my amazement my arrow had found the mark of the one kobold, sinking to the feathers into his chest, and the kobold didn’t seem to flinch at all.

I turned my attention to the three rushing me, cutting them down with more ease than I expected. Between the inability of the three on the ledge and now the four that charged to their death on my sword, I began to wonder if all their experienced fighters may have fallen to us already. As the last of the four fell I switched back to my bow to help Theona who had rushed to my aid fight off the three on the ledge. I sunk another arrow into the one I hit earlier and he turned and ran. As quickly as this tougher one began to run, his two remaining companions’ faces turned to horror; I think we have found the kobold leader. Before the other two could turn and run I released two more arrows, felling another of the kobolds.

Sounds of battle from behind sent Theona and me running back to check on the party. While I had fought in the front the kobolds launched a counter attack in the back. They had some success for Antonio was again slumped on the floor with the look of anguish on his face. I turned the corner to find the last of the kobolds running, apparently the ranger and cleric had given them enough to cut down half of the raiding party and scare the other half away. I am impressed with this ranger; he would make a fine fighter if he could just learn to sit still long enough to learn better tactics.

Again we found ourselves camping to regain strength and bind wounds. I do not think anyone got more than up to 50% of normal, but we had to continue our task, so after about a day of hiding on the shelf and playing the defensive sparring game we set out to finish our enemy.

We went down the passage that I had found earlier to find it unguarded. This further proved to me that we had the enemy on their heels so we continued down the ladder which the four kobolds had used earlier. We had formed up for scouting and Theona had taken point, followed by Antonio, Deitricha and Areon. We had not gone far when disaster struck in the form of a trap.
Although we had found and disarmed an earlier devise, this one escaped Theona’s eyes. As we passed a corner she stepped on a trip wire releasing a thunderstone from the ceiling. Theona and I both tried to catch it once it started to fall, but it was too late and the thunderstone hit the ground with a mighty explosion. Clenching our ears in anguish we realized they now new we were coming.

Quickly I jumped to my feet and took the front position, trying in vain to get the party to turn around and go back. As it turns out only Areon could hear and didn’t want to go back. Realizing our party was stuck deaf in a small hallway I decided to forge ahead and try to find a larger room or the enemy, whichever came first.

After traveling 30 or 40 feet in the twists and turns of the mine, I came to a large room. I was not the first one there though as I was greeted by a group of seven kobolds. The battle ensued; Areon and I tried to form up a front line to let the others attack from a distance. As the fight began it was obvious that this would be the last battle, but it was not obvious which way it would go. Our enemy had us right were they wanted us. To our front we were confronted by two normal kobolds and one larger one which wore armor. Behind him stood another who seemed to be chanting some spell, a cleric to my guess. Then behind us, and up a ten foot rise, stood three kobolds with slings.

The battle was short but devastating. Deitricha, Theona and Antonio took on the three on the ledge. Areon attacked the larger fighter who appeared to be their leader. I took out the two normal fighters in front of us while Antonio took out the cleric. Then seeing his cleric downed, the armored one launched a furry of blows against Areon that he could not defend. Areon dropped and I feared him dead with a nasty gash in his chest.

Seeing Areon drop inspired us; with a couple spells from Antonio and swings of my sword the kobold leader went down. It was then I noticed that Deitricha had also fallen so I moved with Theona to bandage and try to stop their bleeding. This left Antonio with the three ineffective kobolds and their slings. Antonio killed one which left the other two to run for their lives.

Tempus was looking on us this day, for if the kobolds above us had any skill they would have easily defeated us. I can not tell a kobold’s age, but I would guess they were the last of the adult males and they had no experience in battle. This was definitely a blessing.

I walked over to an edge of another drop off to look for more to fight. What I found was a huddled mass of scared women and children kobolds. I told the party of this and Antonio came over to help. Never ceasing to amaze me, old fire-bug could talk to them. He told them that they had to go and never return to this place. In return they offered what treasure they had to thank us for not killing them. Though I doubt any of the party would have stomached the slaughtering of any children, we gratefully accepted their treasure. We may be kind but we are not stupid.

Deciding that we needed to get Deitricha back to town for help soon, we made a skid from one of the ladders and immediately headed off to find her temple. When we got there they were glad to see her, though not too glad for her condition. I think the clerics there seemed to blame me for this. Maybe they were right.

As I began to feel worse for seeing her so torn up it appears that Antonio read my eyes and dragged me and the rest of the party off to celebrate our success. As promised he bought the first round and I bought the next. I did my best to brag and tell of my kills, which numbered either 10 and ˝ or 11 and ˝, I will need time to sort that out. But I found not much heart in it after a more experienced fighter came over and told me “It is not a measure of my skill to kill the enemy, it is better measured in how the party comes back.” It took another ale to sink in,; I had never like that dwarf, but his words rang true.

The party was in full force now that Antonio was standing on the bar telling our tale. That man can tell a tale, and seems more at peace being the life of the party than crawling through a mine. Never the less I have decided to call it a night. I have much to think about. I said my goodbyes and headed out into the evening air.

It was a quite night in Silverymoon, a nice spring night with only a touch of a chill. As I walked back to my room I was reminded of the tale of woe that kept me here. When I first arrived here a good year ago, I had stopped in a store to get some supplies, intent on traveling on when I met the sweet human that I now call Lady Brenin. Lady Brenin is short for humans, maybe five feet in all, and has long hair as white as silk. I have never asked her age but I would place it around 65. I watched her place a note on the community board in the front of the store and then wonder off, muttering something to herself.

Intrigued by her I went over and read the note. It was for a room. I was soon joined by one of the town guards. He had seen my reaction to the lady and told me her tale. Lady Brenin was young and in love with a sergeant of the town guard nearly 50 years ago. They had just married and bought a home of their own when he had been killed. Krin, her husband had gone out on the city with a patrol to check on a story of trouble in the woods. Krin and his men found no thieves though, it was a band of orcs. The patrol was not prepared for such and encounter but did their best. It was said that when the bodies were found that the five-man patrol had cut down 14 orcs before dying. Her husband’s body was never found.

In all the years since, Lady Brenin has kept a candle lit in her window in hopes of his return. She even opened her house up to boarders in hopes of hearing a new traveler tell her of seeing her husband alive. The local barracks had taken turns renting from her whenever the room was empty for a while, in duty to both her and her husband. It seemed that her last tenant moved out the week prior and she was putting a notice up again. The soldier was about to take the notice down and go there himself but something inside me wouldn’t let him. I told him I would take the room for now.

Startled by my action he invited me to a local bar for a meal and to talk. He wanted to make sure that I was the right sort I guess. Lady Brenin had become like an adopted mother to the men of the barracks and he wasn’t going to let someone move in and take advantage of her. In our conversation, he explained that the men of the barracks would do severe things to anyone who brought an ounce of pain or misery to her life.

After the meal and feeling good enough about me to let me rent from her, he sent me on my way. I do not know exactly what I did in that conversation, but for the first time in my life someone seemed to think me ok. This fact amazed me. For some unknown reason this guard decided that a grumpy, spoiled and arrogant halfling may be good company for someone. Yet for all of my efforts I couldn’t see how I had been different from my usual self. Nor could I figure out why this woman and her life took so quickly to my heart.

I met with Lady Brenin that day and bartered for the room. She wanted two gold per day for the place and it was easily worth it. Not setting out to argue, but only to make less obvious that I wanted the room. After some tea and couple of cookies we agreed on a price. Seventy-five gold a month and not a penny less was the deal. It was only a couple of days later when I realized she had taken me on that one. I could have gone and argued it at any time, but the truth is she doesn’t care for the money, to me she just wants the company. And it was also about this time when I figured that her cooking alone was worth the price difference.

In the past year we have developed a real close relationship. Her sight is starting to fade so I have been trying to help her around the house more and more. We even go for a walk together every once and a while. She tells me of the changes the city has had in her years and stories of great heroes that have passed through. I have come to relish these walks with my white-haired beauty. In all my life I have never had such a bond with anyone.

Posted by Jim on January 13, 2004, 22:26 | Tassar’s Journal