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The Storm Approaches

Tassar’s Journal

Up early for the day’s trip, I found myself with a few extra minutes to think about things. We have a trip to the south, but something feels … off today. I can’t put my finger on it, maybe we are traveling too soon. Maybe we are being paid too much for this work. More than that, definitely more than that, but for the life of me I can’t think of why. I begin gathering my gear and getting dressed when I notice my boots, still covered in the dirt from the mines.

I thought about my boots for a bit; they are getting a little worn. Maybe if we have a little layover in Everlund I will have time to visit a cobbler. If I ever find myself in Waterdeep again, I shall have to buy two more pairs of these from that shop on the docks. By far these are the best boots I have ever owned. Indeed, this pair of boots has been with me longer than anything I own, guess that makes them my oldest friends.

After realizing I wasted half an hour looking at my feet, I got up and headed to our pre-determined meeting place. Upon arrival I notice that I am the last one to get there, but I am also the only one who already owned his own mount and I had to stop at the stables.
I ride up to our group as they are talking to some of the men from the caravan. First things first, I point out that the ale is mine and I don’t expect to see them in it. Then I rode around the wagons we are to protect. Strange, we are guarding two wagons…. I have rarely seen such a small caravan.

Inspecting our new comrades I continue to be discouraged. I can see that I will have to keep my opinions to myself on this trip, not one of the party has seemed alarmed about the oddity of this trip. The caravan group is four men of an unsavory appearance. One driver and one guard to stay with each wagon, yet they still pay us a handsome wage to travel with them. One of the two men armed with crossbows seems a bit familiar, yet I can not place him. I have a couple hairs raising on my neck and we haven’t even left yet.

Finally the party gathers to plan where who rides and what we may do in specific situations. It is a normal conversation for such a trip, yet the heavy fog that surrounds us is putting us in a bit of a foul mood. Even the normally quiet but good spirited Areon nearly backhanded me when I called him a “tree hugger”; all three times. Eventually though we get started, Areon in front and me to the rear, Theona and Deitricha in the center, all of us moving in preset patterns to maximize our protection of the caravan. Antonio is driving our wagon, no one wanted to tell him, but his large profile would stick-out more to the possible thieves than if we had set one of the wagons on fire.

On we travel into the fog, and as we advance into the morning it never lifts. Eventually the weather breaks, nearly breaking our backs that is. From nowhere a fierce storm attacks us with unrelenting snow and wind. We tried to keep moving but within a short time the snow is over a foot tall and we are forced to find shelter.

Areon quickly finds a cave large enough for us to put the entire caravan in. Not that I will ever doubt his skills, at least to his face, but it seemed a little too convenient. Three of us scouted the cave to find it secure, yet disgustingly filled with bones. We quickly get the caravan in and put the horses in an alcove where they are tethered and fed. We split up watches and begin to try to get some rest in hopes of setting out the next morning.

After me and Areon finish our watch, we wake up the women for second watch. Then I find a comfortable spot by the fire and close my eyes. That’s when it began I guess, the noise from near the horses. I notice the party trying to work there way into the cove with the horses and tried to yell warnings to them as I got under the nearest wagon. Now don’t even think I was hiding, I was just using my head. As the group of scared horses began flailing out in every direction and started to tear their tethers loose I tried to warn them of the potential stampede.

Being a little fellow I have long been aware of situations like this, if I tried to release the horses I would be killed by them. Horses are notorious for not paying attention to little people when they get scared. Many a halfling and gnome have fallen for the attempt, and I was not about to be one.

Finally the horses broke free and were cut free by someone leaving free the view of the doorway that opened in the back of the cave. The party had put down the first of the intruders, an undead orc. This is so wrong, this cave must be their trapping spot. As I go to help defend the opening we are faced with several more of these creatures, each one seems to be missing one eye. This is a bad sign, a sign of evil that must be driven from this land.

We fight our way into the tunnel and find the undead running, and we almost fell into the trick as several not-so-undead orcs attack us from a side tunnel. We fight off the ambush and set off to track down the source of this evil. Areon is nearly in a barbaric rage, he seems to be frothing at the mouth at the chance to fight these monsters. I feel driven to do it as well, but his fury is almost scarier than the thought of what is ahead.

Running down twisting paths we come out suddenly to a large cavern with our prey gathered together. Ok, in hindsight this was a bad idea, but you had to be there. We engaged the undead orcs, all twenty some of them with their falchions. Areon and I took the front while the others attacked with ranged weapons around and over us. For a second or two we seemed to make progress, then the reality of the situation took hold. Areon collapsed when a flurry of blades bore him to the ground unconscious. I tried to hold the front myself with everything I had, seconds later as the party began dragging Areon to safety, I was hit for the fourth time with their deadly blades and fell to the floor.

Before I could do anything, Deitricha picked me up and began running down the hall leaving Antonio to guard our rear, since Theona already was running with Areon on her shoulder. I took one of my potions and broke free from Deitricha, insisting that I should guard the rear, never should a mage be left to slow the onrush of these monsters. A part of me did notice that Antonio has done more damage with fire than the rest of the party, but there are certain principle that any fighting man needs to hold to. One is the matter of honor, and to be honorable I have to protect the party’s retreat. For the gods, never should a mage be left against such odds while men of blade are around.

As I got free and ran to guard the retreat I yelled at Antonio to run, to which he finally did the part of a true mage, he ran. He got no more than five steps before my attempt at saving face found me looking at two blades imbedded in my chest. I didn’t even see the move, I guess I was so concerned with being in their way I wasn’t paying attention to their skill. As the creatures glared at me with their undead eye, or eyes as each creature only had one, I felt a smile come across my face, then everything went black.

Maybe an hour later I awoke in the cave that we had been protecting, the entire party made it here and had blocked the door from the enemy. The creatures had apparently followed us there and were pounding on the door. As my senses began to clear I realized that once again Deitricha had come to my rescue. Now this wasn’t just a casual observation, no I gathered these facts from the screaming that Deitricha continued to yell at the party. While she had a good point, and maybe we should have listened, we found ourselves as a group determined to put an end to these monsters.

We didn’t just ignore our cleric, we camped for a while and thought about taking the caravan out to continue the trip, only to be trumped by the weather which continued to rage with a fury, as if the gods had suddenly declared a weather war on this part of the realm. And I think as the decision to stay in from the storm came from the caravan men, several of us began to believe that we will never get out of here without the destruction of whatever cleric of Gruumsh is causing this weather. Yet, none of us spoke of it, as if it was such a obvious thing in our way that speaking of it would only be an insult to each other.

Later that day after the fire-bug had rested and prepared his spells, we decided to open the still pounded door and finish our enemy. With continued the comments of Deitricha ringing in our ears, we opened the door and killed the only undead orc there. As we continued back to the large room that we had found earlier, we passed burned after burned undead. Even the great Tempus would have a hard time getting the smile off of Antonio’s face at that moment. He before us realized that he had set enough of them on fire that their unthinking attack on us would prevent them from putting themselves out. As they had apparently tried to rush the door to the cave, they spread their fire to each other, and killed themselves.

We found the large cavern empty, save for the tapestry to the one eyed god of evil, Gruumsh. The party argued over burning it or not, only to give in to Antonio’s begging and let him put his torch to it. As the party discussed options and talked among themselves I walked away to check out the two other tunnels out of this room. A short distance up the first one, I heard voices. Easily figuring out that the undead don’t talk, maybe this is the where the evil cleric will be found, I went back to the large room to inform the party.

Then in an unspoken agreement Areon and I started up the tunnel. We were followed by our companions, but I think we would have gone on without them. Areon for his hated blood enemy, and me to mainly clear my conscious to Tempus for the way I had failed in battle the day before.

Posted by Jim on January 31, 2004, 14:33 | Tassar’s Journal