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March 7, 2004

Upside-Down Tower…

Tassar's Journal

Shortened plans…

As I begin working my way through the meandering streets of Silverymoon, I find myself aware of each and every shadow. Glimpses of something, and nothing. I am not paranoid, just highly aware and prepared for the inevitable meeting with town guards. My only hope is that Mr. Bucket is with them; broad daylight and public streets be damned, that man will pay and pay dearly for his actions.

First I will see Lady Brenin and assure her all is well; the last thing I need is the pressure of that sweet old lady being worried about me. Besides, her voice and overall grace will put me a little more at ease. I don’t know what it is about her, but I feel very comforted by her presence.

My thoughts are distracted by the pattern of footpads behind me. They seem to be gaining on me, not walking at normal speed. I take a peek over my shoulder expecting to see a group of town guards only to be pleasantly surprised by two of my companions. Theona and Areon have found me, hmm, again. That Areon could probably track me through all Nine Hells and back.

After a short greeting, in which Theona kept calling me Mr. Otto (rubbing the salt into the wounds of my fears) and they insisted that we head back out of town. Apparently Theona had found a mage seeking to join our group. I asked her if she did the “follow me” routine to test him, she said that she did and that the fellow passed with flying colors. She went on to explain that she searched his belongings and confirmed him to be a magic user of some kind, and more importantly he seemed honestly broke. She explained that part as trying to make sure no one was hired to follow us, but to tell you the truth she likes picking pockets despite her insistence that she is not a thief.

I informed my friends that I wanted to at least see Lady Brenin and pay her the next month’s rent. They agreed only if they could come along and that we would leave soon after.

It didn’t take long to find the house and to my great pleasure Lady Brenin was home. She welcomed us and talked a little. I introduced my friends, at which point I got the impression that Lady Brenin and Theona knew each other, yet they seemed to act as if it was the first time they met. Well time was running and Areon wanted out of the town so we said our goodbyes and were on our way. The last comment that Lady Brenin made is sticking in my head though, she told me to stay away from things with long arms. Now I am forced to realize that she is aware of a great deal more than I thought she was. I hope she will be all right while I am gone; I will have to have another walk with her when I get back.

The new guy…

At the edge of town we meet our friend Deitricha and the almost human-looking new fellow. Deciding to not waste any time on formalities I went right up to the lad and informed him that his spells are not to be torching my backside. In a courtesy I told him to get a shield and carry it over his rear end, as this group has been known to shoot each other in the rear, not the back mind you— just the rear. Then he tried to tell me his name but I cut him off, “you are just the new guy, until you prove yourself, and buy me some ale also.” He then explained that he was broke; truly not a good start for him.

After a few more moments of conversation we headed out through the gates. In part to be on our way to the tower, in part to get through before they detained us.

Soon the road was at our feet and once again it brought comfort to my party. The road seemed to be where we belonged, as if it too was part of our group. The road offered a chance for us to think about our lost friend or the new one we found. In fact, it was a comical point as Areon realized that no one had seen the new guy ever cast a spell. Theona who claimed to have checked him out was forced to admit having never checked that vital part out. We could be going into danger with a buffoon apprentice for all she knew. Maybe this fellow couldn’t even cast a simple spell without disastrous effects. Too late now; this will be good.

The party soon found that the rain and mud forced those walking to get on the packhorses. The pace was quicker and we actually found that little town, I can’t remember the name, just before nightfall. Not a bad day’s travel in the rain. We decided to hole up the night and stable the horses for some much needed rest. Rarely have I seen something worse than a horse that was rode hard and put away wet, but Deitricha pushed passed that point. She had begun a bit of whining an hour before we hit the town, her horse had been behind the new guy’s warhorse and had gotten a lot of mud flung her way. Having only passing skills at riding, she was just happy to keep the horse moving the right direction.

We found the inn to be empty beyond ourselves and the one innkeeper at this hour, for most sane people did not travel in these conditions. I saw Deitricha get a room and go stomping up the stairs, flinging mud in every direction as she continued cursing her muddy clothes. I decided it would be much more comfortable curling up by the fire in the great room and joined the rest of the group there. It was a hard floor and the log I used for a pillow must have still had some bugs in it, for I was forced to toss it in the fire after being bitten a good dozen times.

The tower…

The next morning after a couple of nice breakfasts, we set out onto the road to the tower. The party had left the mounts at the town, except for me who kept Otto with me. The walk to the tower took nearly two hours. The only real distraction was crossing the path where the troll had been days earlier.

But we soon came over a small rise to see the tower. Now to all my learning and experience towers go up, but this thing showed no more than ten feet of wall at its highest point. It appears that it collapsed long ago. I took this chance to rekindle my mocking of the vampires, which only seemed to anger Theona more. The new guy seemed nervous too, but not from the vampire story, no he had spotted a wolf. He began to warn us about wolves. A point that Areon must have taken to heart for he began moving us to the ruined tower immediately.

Some fifty feet from the tower the lone wolf returned with some friends. I shouted for everyone to get to the tower and put their backs to the walls. Before we could do much more than step in that direction the wolves where upon us. Areon and Theona made it to the wall, but the rest of us where soon engaged. A game of attack and retreat began, and the new guy went down quick. I had my hands full so I shouted to the others, I meant to yell that our new companion was in danger, but it didn’t come out that way. “New guy is down.” came out of my mouth with a chuckle.

Soon the battle was in full force, I killed one or two before being pulled off of Otto by one of the beasts. The wolves are a difficult opponent; they don’t fight with any sense of honor, more of a weakling’s approach. They come in numbers and only fight long enough for one of the others to come up behind you, and then they back away.

After regaining my feet, which was difficult due to the one foot having spent a few minutes being gnawed upon, I sent Otto to Deitricha’s aid. Then after finishing the current wolf I went to her also and we stood back to back. Areon had blazed by in an effort to save the chew toy I called the new guy, while Deitricha and I fought on. Every few seconds or so a bolt from Theona would whiz by and sink into the side of a wolf.

Eventually we killed off most of the wolves and scared away the others. It wasn’t till then that I realized how bad Deitricha was wounded. I guess a day without drinking had loosened my tongue a bit as I told her she look like hell. She seemed a little hurt, but what else could I say after that, so I wondered off to see Areon and help him bring the barely alive new guy back to safety.

We made a little camp within the walls of the tower, the new guy proved to not be too good at fighting, but he could skin a wolf like a pro. Soon we had some meat cooking and the party was getting healed up. Theona did eat a little, but spent most of the meal reminding me that it had only been two hours sinse I had two breakfasts at the inn. Try as I might I couldn’t understand her point.

As we packed things back up the new guy said he found the stairs. Now this fellow seems to be ok, but in the hollowed out ring that we were in, the only thing standing up more than two feet was the stairs. Everyone had seen them; they stuck up almost six feet.

Anyway, we went over and Theona lead the way, for a bit. I was first to the bottom. I apparently was too busy still eating a nice cut of meat to watch my feet on the rain slicked steps. Most of the party slid down and slammed into me at the bottom. I think Theona, the first one on the steps was the last one to come off the steps.

Theona began searching for traps. It was a good full minute before I got bored this time and wondered off on my own to check things out. I think I am getting better at the patience thing. As I burned away some cobwebs I heard a scream from Theona, and then one from Deitricha. I wanted to go right out and fight but the new guy was standing in the doorway blocking my progress. I need to teach him to let the fighter through when there is trouble.

When I finally got into the hall I found both ladies being attacked by some kind of half bat — half mosquito things. I rode up to them and began slicing the little creatures up. They were easy to hit, but they seemed to be hurting the ladies bad. I got a couple and then prepared to slice the last one up when a glowing ball of magic flew, just over my head, and hit the last creature. Unfortunately this one had been drinking some blood and exploded when it was hit. I think it will take the ladies some time to clean up their hair and faces. Luckily they got most of the goo. I backed up and the three of us men kind of chuckled quietly as the ladies peeled the mess off of their bodies.

Posted by Jim at 07:10 | Tassar’s Journal

Public Enemy #1

Areon's Journal

Kythorn 11, 1373, Everlund

We rounded a corner running right into the orcs’ campsite. Tassar started across, falling into a pit trap, and I decided it would be better to use my bow, rather than risk falling into another trap.

Tassar was not giving up, however, and I could see arrows flying out of the pit to stick in any orc who got too close. I admire his fighting spirit; it reminds me of home. Antonio fell almost immediately, and Dietrecha did her best to drag him out of the way and get him healed. Theona killed a few orcs and an orc spellcaster with well placed crossbow bolts. Although I had killed several orcs, I had been wounded as well, and I lost consciousness then.

When I came to, all the orcs were dead, save one, who had fled. We decided that it would be best not to chase the orcs, as this little group seemed to have a lot of backup. We settled for just searching their cave. After a few minutes of traveling side tunnels, Theona found something: An orc in a cage! This one was quite different than the others. He was more than happy to talk to us, and did so so eloquently, that I became worried that maybe he was bait to a trap. Theona opened his cell before I said anything, and though I made no objection, Tassar said that we would kill him if he turned out to be an orcish helper.

Dante (as we had learned his name through Theona’s questioning), insisted that he was a human bard who had been on the wrong end of a polymorph spell. I don’t know who his “friend” was who did that, but I sure don’t want to meet him. He also provided us with some intriguing information the group of orcs we had found was an advance post of a small army led by an orc necromancer known as Grom. He is apparently blessed by Gruumsh and had managed to even build a stronghold in the Nether Mountains.

We heard the sounds of war drums in the distance, and decided that our little cave probably wasn’t going to be a safe haven any longer. So we set off in snow too deep for Tassar to even move in, he took it well, though, standing in the back of the last wagon, bow ready, should anything decide to sneak up behind us.

Our horses soon gave up on dragging the wagons through the snow, and we made a camp next to a river, so that if we were attacked, the attack would not be from more than one side. Almost as soon as we had finished setting up our little campsite, we were attacked. Not by the orcs that we had thought we were being chased by, but by wolves.

As the battle ensued, I could hear Dante shouting over the din, telling jokes. I know it sounds odd, but having someone who can loosen up a party in the tense moments of a battle is a priceless member of a party. We all fought better because of Dante, though one of the other caravan guards was killed by a wolf. Antonio tried to add more to the body count, but fortunately both Tassar and I are a little too powerful to be killed outright by his ill-aimed spells. Honestly, someone is going to kill him if he hits them at the wrong time.

After we had dispatched the wolves, Deitricha gave the corpse of the caravan guard a blessing, and Tassar skinned a wolf and began cooking it. I wanted to stop him, as the smell would surely bring in more creatures to fight, but I decided not to, and just hoped that anything coming it would be able to be chased off or killed.

After an uneventful rest, we traveled the rest of the way to Everlund. It took us two days, all through the deep snow, but we did not have to face any other type of attack. We split in town with Drake, agreeing to meet in five days; hopefully the snow will have melted by then.

We quickly found an inn, named The Stone Griffin because of the massive stone griffin in the middle of the lobby. Antonio arranged the rooms, setting up Deitricha and Tassar together (big surprise there!) and Dante and Theona together. Tassar and Deitricha had quite a laugh about that, and I heard several off color remarks about the rooming arrangements. I couldn’t help but be relieved that Antonio did not have Dante room with me, as I do not think I could be comfortable with sharing a room with an orc.

I am worried about Theona being with Dante though. It isn’t that I don’t think Theona can handle herself, because I know very well that she can. But I still fear that Dante may not be telling us everything we should know….

Kythorn 18, 1373, Everlund

A knock on my window startled me during the first night. I was even more surprised to see Theona kneeling outside the window motioning for me to let her in.

When I did she explained to me that Dante was a Harper, and that because of his current form, he could not make a contact as he needed to. Theona had volunteered us to make the contact for him and gotten the rendezvous information. We slipped into the night and headed outside town, almost an hour away to a tree that Theona had been directed too. There we would wait for two hours and having seen nothing of interest, we headed back to the inn so we could slip in and rest for the next day.

This pattern continued each night up until our last evening there, when we found a small piece of paper tucked into a bough of the tree. We returned to Everlund and slipped the note under the door of Rand Tallwood’s shop and then returned to our rooms.

I didn’t mind getting out of the cramped room, though our work seemed to be designed to get us as far out of town as possible in one night. I guess I just worried too much. I did however get to know Theona much better with all our time to talk privately. She seems pretty driven to find artifacts, though she kept alluding to one in particular that she was looking for. I’m still not sure what exactly it is, but perhaps she will trust me enough to tell me someday. I almost told her about the Tiger, but I decided that it would probably not be the best time to ask her. We already have more than enough on our plates.

We left from Everlund the next morning. Drake conversed with the rest of the group, and we decided that it would probably be best to spend the nights traveling, in hopes of making it to Silverymoon without having to stop. We did manage to do just that, though not at all in the fashion that we wanted to.

As we were traveling I saw a flickering light on the path ahead. Worried that there may be a trap ahead, I took Tassar with me to investigate. We cam upon two burning wagons, and out of the snow rose four zombies! Tassar tried to engage while still on his dog, and only managed to drop himself onto the ground. I used my bow to stick arrow after arrow into the zombies, and Deitricha and Theona came running forward soon after to help us out. Deitricha channeled divine power through herself and the zombies lumbered away from the show.

We were determining what to do when the zombies overcame their fear of the divine and returned to harass us. This time we destroyed them with force of arms. We put out the fires on the two wagons that were blocking our path and moved them out of the way.

We then heard a horn blast, which was surely a call to arms. Not far away from us we saw a dozen or so mounted orcs led by a huge one, riding a dire wolf. Tassar fired a potshot into the big orc, and buried and arrow into his chainmail. As we fled, Tassar shouted out his name, telling the orc (who we believe is Grom), who had injured him (if of course he had). It is amazing how little Tassar thinks about his actions sometimes.

We traveled as quickly as we could back to Silverymoon, and though we were safe from the orcish warband, our trials were not over yet.

We had forgotten the orcish form of Dante while we were out of town, but once we had returned to civilization, we discovered that Dante was looked upon with suspicion and mistrust. So much for this city being accepting for all races.

Antonio had disappeared and reappeared a few minutes later bearing all of us silver ale mugs. I put mine in my backpack, and though I appreciate the thought, I doubt I will ever use it.

We decided to split up and rest, and meet in the morning. I noticed that Dante had gone with Theona, and while I do trust that he isn’t really an orc, I am still not sure that I trust him, especially around Theona. I didn’t wander too far that evening, as I wanted to be close in case something did happen, but I didn’t stay the entire time, knowing that anyone intently watching just one home would arouse suspicion. I did see Theona poke her head out once, and I think she may have seen me. I hope she doesn’t think that I am stalking her….

We met the next morning at the Bright Blade Brandished for breakfast. After which we headed to the Grey Castle Estate to collect the remainder of the pay. Antonio suggested we take Dante to an associate of his and get him returned to normal. I went with the group and watched Dante’s transformation back to his human form, then slipped quietly away to be alone.

I traveled out of the city for a little while again. It just feels so much better to be out of the hustle and bustle of things. I knew I had to return to find my friends, but the few hours I took was time for myself, and I am sure that any of them would have understood.

I returned into the city a little after dusk and wandered back to the Bright Blade Brandished. As I was approaching, I saw Antonio, Tassar and Deitricha dragging Dante and Theona out of the tavern. I followed at a distance, as I knew that something was up. I realized what they were trying to do when they raised Theona and Dante up into Theona’s house. I couldn’t believe what they were doing. After they left, I climbed up into Theona’s house, and found Theona and Dante in a heap on the floor. I picked up Theona and laid her down on her bearskin rug. I prayed that she would be the first up, but did not feel I had time to wait around to find out.

I headed back to the Bright Blade Brandished to find Tassar alone passed out on the table. I didn’t see anyone else, and assumed that they must have gone home. I figured the best plan for me would be to watch out for him if he left so I found a good vantage spot away from normal view.

Not to long after I had climbed up to my vantage point. I saw Tassar wander around the building, apparently to relieve himself. He didn’t see Antonio’s father, or the six other men, who followed him into the alley, then proceeded to knock him around a bit. After a short conversation, one of the men knocked him unconscious.

I left the vantage point as quickly and quietly as I could, and rushed back to Theona’s house. Now that I think about it, I should have followed the group of guards to find out where they were taking Tassar, but I though that if I were fast enough, Theona and I would have been able to stop the guards.

When I arrived back at Theona’s house, she was still passed out. I decided I would pull Dante into her side room, just in case he should wake up first. After I did that I began to pace, and not long after I did, Theona started to stir. Once she was up, I told her that we needed to get going, because one of our friends was in trouble….

Posted by Tim at 09:54 | Areon’s Journal