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Nether Region

Theona’s Journal

Kythorn 9, 1373, Nether Mountains

I hate just sitting around, doing nothing. At least if I’m sitting in Silverymoon, I can listen to the constant murmurings of the townsfolk as they discuss the minutiae of their lives— much of the time here I just get to listen to the wind howl, and occasionally, one of my companions howl.

Yesterday was exciting enough— our group met (Antonio with two horses and a huge wagon filled with our stuff) and Tassar riding a dog. I had heard rumor that the temperature had been steadily dropping outside of Silverymoon, so I used my earnings to purchase winter clothing for us all, tents, and extra rations for our trek. Areon of course, had spent his money on a wand of healing, and Deitricha, well, she brought a note. But she didn’t share it with us— she gave it to Tassar! I’ll have to remember to read that later.

We met up with the Caravan Captain, Morn Drake, next, and discovered that in addition to two caravan wagons, there were four humans (counting Drake)— two drivers and two crossbowmen. They also had nine horses in addition to Antonio’s, four to pull their wagons, and 5 for us to ride! Of course, Tassar was on Otto already, and Antonio needed to drive our wagon, which left three for us to ride and two horses to change out as needed. Areon took point, which was fine with me since we were leaving the city limits, Deitricha kept an eye on the river to our right while I watched the mountains to our left. It was quite foggy, and of course, cold. Two hours out we passed some Silver Knights returning to the city; they had no news of any hazards ahead of us.

We made good time and were about halfway to Everlund when the snow began to fall heavily, and the winds became gale force. We attempted to form a camp a little ways off the road, but there just wasn’t enough shelter to keep a fire going, and the temperature was dropping now that the sky had darkened. We had seen lots of little holes dotting the sides of the Nether Mountains. We quickly found a cave that just had two caverns in it; Tassar called Antonio and I up to check it out, and, other than finding some frozen blood near the crushed skeleton of an ogre, it seemed like it would work. We put the horses in the “side” cave and the three wagons around the edge of the main cave, with a new fire in the center. We split up watches; I took the second watch with Deitricha in the middle of the night.

Though I had read her and Tassar’s little diaries (I always keep tabs on N’Tel’Quess companions, lest they get subverted by Zhents or otherwise fall under an evil enchantment, as I hear happens fairly easily and often), but I didn’t really have a clear enough picture of why they had been drinking so heavily of their own volition. I can understand why humans fall for Tel’Quessir so often, but I am genuinely confused about a human and a halfling (and vice versa). Deitricha must have been too sober to discuss it though, as she didn’t offer me much information, despite my repeated attempts at friendly cross-questioning. Suddenly, I heard a decidedly odd noise from the direction of the horses— the sound of rock scraping on rock. By the time I leapt to my feet, and started to run over to them, the first panicky whinny erupted, followed by the screams of at least one of the horses. Areon managed to get there and kill the orc coming through a concealed door before I did, but I managed to shoot the one following it! I noticed as I did so the lifeless glaze of its eyes— the only thing worse than orcs are undead orcs! Fortunately, Deitricha was able to turn them, and as they shambled back the way they’d come, Antonio hurled one of his “cocktails” at them and they lit up like torches.

Areon, Tassar and Antonio followed the zombies, while Deitricha went back to the main cavern— two of the horses had fled the orcs and were injured— as Drake’s men brought them back out of the storm, she was able to heal them. I resigned myself to rechecking the entire cave for another secret door— I usually can easily see the crude doors made by N’Tel’Quess and feel terrible that I missed that one.

Our male party members returned shortly, indicating that they had found several live orcs, each with one eye socket scarred over, in the tunnels beyond the secret door. I had considered blocking the secret entrance, as Deitricha wished, but the thought that there were more orcs, one-eyed orcs, no less, was too much— I had to go and see if we could clear them out.

We found two tunnels— one ended abruptly with a cave-in, and the other (now strewn with charred zombies) led to a larger chamber. The chamber held four blazing sconces, a tapestry depicting the one-eyed orc deity Gruumsh on the far wall, and— twenty undead orcs. They turned, as one, to attack us. We fought with everything we had— bolts and flame, sword, and divine wrath, but there were too many for us. Areon went down, and then Tassar. Deitricha urged us to fall back, so I grabbed Areon and she, Tassar. As we dragged them down the hall, Antonio hit the pursuing zombies with a fiery spell. As Deitricha was busy fussing over Tassar, I remembered that Areon has that healing wand on him, I found it quickly and attempted to use it on him. It must have worked, as his wounds seemed to stop bleeding, but he was still unconscious. I figured it would be quicker to use something I was more sure of and dumped my only healing potion down his throat. That worked!

We managed to get ourselves back to our relatively safe cavern and I used my copper coins to wedge the stone door closed. Areon and I sat and watched it while the N’Tel’Quess got some sleep. I could see he was as impatient as I to be away from this place. To make matters more unbearable, we could hear the steady thumping of a zombie on the other side of the door—clumsily attempting to gain entry.

Morning brought more bad news— the blizzard was still raging and Captain Drake wasn’t willing to risk continuing on to Everlund until the storm broke, especially with 18” of new snow since we’d taken shelter in the cave. So, with protests from Deitricha, we gathered at the concealed door and removed the coins. A single zombie lurched out. Areon and I had been standing back to get clear shots at whatever emerged. Unfortunately, somehow Antonio had jumped right in front of the opening to light the zombie, and in his enthusiasm lit himself and Tassar, who of course was then unable to effectively hit the zombie. Deitricha’s attempt to turn it must have failed as well. Areon and I struck true, but as I said, Antonio suddenly appeared in front of us. Antonio’s arrow hit him square in the back, and my bolt split the arrow neatly down the middle. Antonio dropped. Ironically, the zombie then did fall, having finally caught fire from Antonio’s little concoction.

Deitricha revived Antonio, and we went charging back down to the room where Gruumsh’s worshippers (or thralls) had been. They were gone! I appraised the tapestry, and finding it wasn’t all that well made, allowed Antonio the satisfaction of setting it to blaze. I then examined a spot below it that looked like a bowl was meant to be placed under the tapestry beside rectangular, blood-stained grooves in the floor, but before we could figure out what, Tassar remarked that he heard guttural voices of what was likely live orcs down another passage, and with that, we all had to run to keep up with Areon as he started out towards the sound....

Posted by Kristin on January 27, 2004, 19:42 | Theona’s Journal