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For starters

Alayi’s Journal

I’d been living around Mossmantle for a while, having heard of some trouble with their supply caravans. When the town council made an announcement at the local inn, I made sure to be there to hear it.

Bandits have been attacking folk on the road between here and Varnar; they need to find out who, and put a stop to it! The council looked for volunteers, and I was quick to step up.

The others who wanted to help are a mixed bag; an elven Silver Flame paladin, a young human named Tomas, and a warforged. I thought about calling him Al, but he wants to be called Defender. Because he wants to defend someone. Thankfully, he chose the Silver Flame (Alune, I think. No, Alunys is it).

Although there was some talk of getting horses (or a wagon for the warforged), we walked out of town on our own two feet. “Getting to know you” talk quickly left me wondering about Tomas - he seems half juvenile delinquent, and almost proud of being warned out of town before sunset. Eventually, I scouted ahead of the others, leaving Fang to “track” Tomas. Better to keep an eye on him - and I thought I’d be watching out for the Silver Flame on this jaunt!

We agreed to continue walking past nightfall, partly in hopes of meeting one of the caravans, and partly in hopes of finding trouble before it found us. Tomas thought this was heresy. Apparently “people sleep at night” (I mused aloud if he wanted us to sleep so he could “share” our stuff). The Silver Flame passed her time in converting Defender... sort of.

Eventually, I was distracted by a glow off to the east; it seemed like a fire well off the trail, and I wanted to check it out. The others wanted to follow, but they were not very quiet! Alunys and I outpaced the rest quickly, and soon heard shouts ahead. Over a rise, the glow was brighter, and from the top of the hill we saw a barn and farmhouse in flames. There were local farmers throwing buckets of water at the structures, too.

When we came down to help, we asked about the owners of the farm, but no one knew where they were. When Tomas and Defender caught up, I asked the warforged if he could withstand the flames to check inside. Apparently warforged can be damaged by fire, but although he was willing to look, the places were collapsing in on themselves - too late! Alunys asked aloud if anyone knew what had happened, and an old man stepped forward.

He was from the next farm over; on seeing flames, he’d sent his son to call out the neighbors and come to the farm himself. As he got closer he saw a group of men heading north. Hmmm... we saw no one on the road, the group must be off across the plains, somewhere. Alunys began looking for signs of magic, but I pointed out that Fang and I make a business of tracking...

Fang had better luck than I, quickly scenting a trail to follow. We left the farmers to finish putting out the flames, and headed north to see who and why the farmstead had been attacked in the first place. Some four hours later, we reached the wood. Sure enough, these bandits were using the forest for cover.

Once inside the treeline, we came upon a low hill with a cave entrance half-hidden among some boulders. I called Fang, and we waited while the whole party discussed the best way to approach the situation (and Defender pulled out a sword and attached it to his arm. Hm). We had little in the way of stealth, of course, and before I knew what was happening Tomas was looking innocent as Defender strode across the clearing and down a narrow passage. Thanks for instigating this, Tomas!

I quickly followed, quietly as I could. Forty feet in and the passage widened slightly, finally opening to a rough cavern. On the far side the passage continued, but forked left and right. Defender fetched up here, unsure of which way to take. I tried using my skills to discern which passage was used - both, of course, although the right-hand side was the most popular. Fang was unsure, herself, as was the Silver Flame who was sensing for “evil”.

I decided to take the right-hand passage, and the others followed, so I emphasized to the warforged to stay with the Silver Flame. After many twists and turns, the tunnel opened into another larger cavern. This one had water dripping into pools, and mushrooms and fungi growing on the floor. A path was worn across the stone, leading to yet another tunnel, from which voices could faintly be heard. I told the others to wait, then sneaked across for a better look-and-listen.

Defender blocked the passage, conveniently enough, since Tomas still wanted to follow! I snuck up the passageway until I reached a curtain, pulled across the path. I muffled my torch until only a faint glow, then crept up to the curtain and gently lifted a corner. A small cavern was revealed, another curtain across the way, and several large purple mushrooms to each side. How lucky that I can see in very low light! Shrieker mushrooms, just waiting for movement or light to give the alarm!

I gently lowered the corner of the cloth, then snuck back down the tunnel to tell the others of my discovery. The Silver Flame was all for calling them out and attacking them openly, I was hoping we could sneak across somehow, and Tomas made a quick trip for himself in the hopes of finding a secret passage around the trap. Unable to find anything, he returned, and we decided to explore the left-hand passage instead.

Back to the fork in the tunnel, and Defender first in line with his torch held high. I warned him to stop quickly if he saw anything at all, so I could go ahead and check it out. I might have saved my breath; we were walking along when I heard “Oops” as he walked right through the tripwire, breaking it! A wood-framed gate crashed down from the ceiling, trapping everyone except Tomas. From up ahead, we heard another crash - and then a low growl.

Here came something - a large panther, with tentacles! It blurred and shifted as it growled at us, and then Defender stepped up and blocked the hallway. I managed to squeeze in next to him and shoot at the thing, but my arrow passed right through its body. Alunys was trying to shoot it, too, but her arrows went wide - Defender was in her way. He was quickly in combat with the beast, so I put my bow away and pulled my scimitar.

Unfortunately, I had to pull my bow again due to the trouble Alunys was having. I told Fang to stay back, while the warforged and the Silver Flame argued about the meaning of “defending” - he wouldn’t let her fight, although he was taking a beating. He even got hit by one of her arrows but it didn’t make him let her by! I started shooting past the argument and into the fight, even though I knew the displacer panther was only half-likely to notice. As Defender got more beat-up, I decided to ask Fang to trip him so we could fight, too.

It took a couple of attempts, but finally Defender hit the floor and I pulled my scimitar again. I heard the sound of the wooden gate opening, too, and hoped it was Tomas! But with no time to waste, I sicced Fang on the beast, and shifted into the fight. We traded blows for a short time, but then the Silver Flame told us to back up - despite that, Tomas suddenly tumbled through the battle and popped up behind the beast - and then Alunys began to throw fire at the panther.

Tomas was swinging and hitting it from behind, while also yelling that we were “leaving him” and calling the paladin names. He seemed to be surprised that she was throwing fire at the beast with him behind it. As she seared it with her spell, I finally got some shots in with my bow - and finally finished it off. While they argued over battle tactics, I pointed out that he was acting like a kid. Unfortunately, that’s what he is...

Posted by Kate on February 14, 2007, 00:54 | Alayi’s Journal