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February 1, 2004

Knocking on Gruumsh's Door

Areon's Journal

Kythorn 9, 1373, Nether Mountains

Greycastle wasn’t kidding when he said it was a “small caravan.” In fact, the caravan consists of 3 wagons (including the one Antonio bought) and 4 guards (other than our little band of adventurers). I am even more concerned about our safety now, as 200 gold pieces to guard such a small caravan seems to be a little overkill.

We set of however towards Everlund. I set off slightly ahead of the group so I would be able to spot anyone approaching us. It may seem a little paranoid, but I prefer to be ready, just in case we should come upon a group who would want to take our goods without any compensation….

Other than passing a few Silver Knights shortly after we left the city, I had a relatively uneventful trip, until the storm, that is. It hit almost without warning. We stopped to camp and wait it out, but the wind was keeping the fire from being lit, and we were worried that we would be too exposed to the cold. We set up into the mountains a little, and found a small cave to keep shelter in.

We had settled in and began watches. In the middle of the night, we heard a scraping sound, and then the horses started whinnying. I jumped up to see what was going on and found — Orcs! These were not live orcs though, they were zombies raised for some foul purpose, I brought my greatsword down, ending one’s unlife, and Theona shot the next one to emerge from the secret door we had missed. Deitricha turned the remaining few, and Antonio tossed a “cocktail,” (as he has dubbed them) lighting them on fire.

Now I’m normally not too picky about how a person fights, as long as it is effective, but I don’t think Antonio is picking the best option. His “cocktails” are merely some oil in a fragile bottle with a burning rag sticking out the top. There are far too many ways for him to hurt himself, or us, because of an accident. Not to mention where he throws the bottles. In the cave, it is not so dangerous, but in the woods if he were to do the same thing he could cause irreparable damage. I swear that if something like that should happen, I will consider him just as much of an enemy as any orc that I have meet in the Coldwood.
Anyway, Antonio, Tassar and I followed the passage down the way the Zombies had come, and were ambushed (albeit poorly) by living orcs. We fought our way out of the ambush and discovered that our attackers were fanatical followers of Gruumsh, made obvious by their single remaining eye.

We returned and told Theona and Deitricha about the live orcs and Theona immediately agreed to help us clear the caves, Deitricha reluctantly agreed to go, but I am sure that she would have been just as adamant about killing these orcs, had she seen the things they have done, like I have.

We made our way until we came in to a room filled with undead orcs. They shuffled to attack us and we did our best to hold them off. The orcs proved to be too much however, and soon I lost consciousness. When I came to Theona had dragged me out of harms way and used my wand of healing on me, then given me a potion of healing she owned (I will have to pay her back for the potion).

We returned to the cavern to rest, and Theona jammed the secret door shut with a few copper coins. I tried to rest, but the constant pounding of a zombie on the opposite side of the door kept me wary.

Morning came, but Drake did not want to continue our trek until the storm broke. Much to the horror of Deitricha we decided that we would un-jam the door and deal with whatever came out. When the coins were removed, a lone zombie came stumbling out, and Theona and I each shot our crossbow and bow, respectively, at it. However, Antonio decided it would be best to try and light the zombie on fire, and so he managed to catch both my arrow and Theona’s bolt in the back. He dropped to the ground, but not before catching himself, Tassar, and eventually, the zombie on fire.

We returned to the hall of the big fight we had the night before, and found it to be empty. Theona checked about the room, and after much debate Antonio set a tapestry of Gruumsh on fire. I am now beginning to be very concerned that Antonio may start fire before he thinks about their consequences…and I am afraid I am going to have to be the one to point it out to him. I was about to start, but Tassar claimed that he heard guttural speech down the tunnel from us, and I immediately headed that way. It has been entirely too long since I used this sword as I had intended to….

Posted by Tim at 22:43 | Areon’s Journal

February 2, 2004

Two Eyes are Better Than One

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 11, 1373, Everlund

...and found ourselves face-to-face with four one-eyed orcs standing around a fire in the middle of a cavernous room. Before we’d even assessed the situation, Tassar ran headlong towards them, only to fall into a pit trap. He was obviously unhurt, as we would occasionally see an arrow fly out into the flank of a passing orc.

There were a lot of orcs, some undead, some just binocularly challenged. I took out several with my crossbow, and saw my companions making use of their various fighting skills. Deitricha spent her time between dusting the skeletal orcs and reviving Antonio, and one time had to quickly search for Areon’s wand to revive him. One orcish adept said, apparently (as Deitricha was the only one that could understand the guttural language), “This is how you cast a spell!” — an insult meant for Antonio, who had collapsed while attempting to cast one fiery spell. Of course, the orc’s spell had no effect on us, so it was an odd threat. I replied for Antonio with, “This is how you use a crossbow!” and sunk a bolt into the surprised (and now dead) orc’s brow.

The last orc standing bolted out of the cavern, and by the looks of it, out of the Nether Mountains entirely. We hauled our halfling out of the pit, and searched the bodies in the area— I of course grabbed the crossbow off the orc that had obviously not known the quality of the weapon he carried— it’s at least as nice as the one I’d just purchased in Silverymoon. I did a quick look around for more traps (I guess Tassar managed to find the only one), and we followed one of two paths out of the cavern. Finding it lead to the outside of the mountain, and led to dozens of orc tracks, we realized we could not fight an entire mountain full of orcs. We could see way markers (skulls on pikes) indicating whatever it is that orcs feel they need to mark to show who is in charge of an area. Areon was obviously disappointed, but we can come back to finish them off at some other time. Tassar scurried ahead of us to the other tunnel leading out of the cavern— it split into a Y— he took the left and I the right. He found nothing but foul smelling pelts in a small room, while I found— Dante! Dante D’mato, who was quite possibly the friendliest person I’ve ever met next to Antonio, was standing alone at the end of a corridor, behind a set of bars— a crude but effective prison cell. The only reason he wasn’t immediately shot was his eyes— there were two of them. For all Dante’s politeness and obvious happiness at seeing me, he was quite definitely an orc. While my curious friends caught up to me, I gave him a quick quiz, and discovered he was a bard from Waterdeep who had met with mishap that resulted in his human appearance being altered to its current orcish state.

Now, maybe it was the contrast of the friendly, cultured voice with the hideous visage, but I was immediately intrigued, even fascinated, by this creature. A few more questions convinced me that, looks aside, he at least didn’t have the temperament or inclinations of an orc, and before Areon could say anything, I found the keys and released Dante from the cell— Tassar pointed out we could “kill him later” if he turned out to be a follower of Gruumsh.

Dante assured us he was not, but did give us some information on his captors (who apparently didn’t find him orcish enough either)— this particular band of orcs is led by Grom, a necromancer said to be blessed by Gruumsh himself, who has a stronghold in the Nether Mountains. As we walked along, he told us of his time with these orcs (most of which was against his will), We found some barrels of wine and some water stained silks— not much in the way of treasure, but no one in our group would dream of leaving a drop of alcohol behind, so we lugged those back to the caravan with our new companion. Dante showed his gratitude by healing Areon and Antonio of their remaining injuries from our earlier battle. Our caravan group didn’t seem to be disturbed Dante’s presence, though we did agree not to give him a weapon till we knew his intentions better. He took it all in stride. Within seconds of arriving back with the caravan, we heard drums in the distance, no doubt an orcish call to arms or a ritual we’d prefer not to witness. So, we left in the 30” of snow (thankfully the wagons’ wheels were tall enough to allow the horses to pull them), Dante in the last wagon with Antonio and the rest of us ranging a short distance away.

We continued on at a rather slow pace due to the sheer amount of snow, and eventually had to stop when two of our horses gave up trying to pull the wagons. There were no sheltered areas to be found, so we opted to keep the river at our backs, hoping anything that chose to attack us would do so from the landward side. We just finished setting up camp when the howls of wolves, which we’d been hearing off in the distance, evolved into actual wolves, keen on tearing us apart. One of the crossbowmen had his throat ripped out by one. Dante was able to peg one with my borrowed crossbow, while shouting an inspiring tale over the howls, and he managed to survive being hit himself— not by a wolf, but by an arrow from Tassar! Assured it was an accident, he never the less gave Tassar a wider berth after that. He moved just in time too, since some stray fire spell of Antonio’s passed through, hitting only Tassar.

There was nothing to be done for the lost caravan crossbowman. We did skin the wolves and use the meat— not the best eating, but there was plenty.

It took us two more days to reach Everlund, but thankfully things were easier with no more attacks. We agreed to meet up with Drake again in five days— we are hoping that the snow will have melted off by then.

We were able to sell off our haul (old orc weapons, the wine and the skins) for about 350 gp. We’ll have to buy Dante a rapier and some travel gear, as he had none when we found him and he’s interested in traveling with us. I was relieved to see that he actually knew people in town who were able to verify he really was a human transformed into an orc.

We are staying in an inn called the Stone Griffin, which has a large petrified griffin in its center. We let Antonio do the haggling for our rooms— I was surprised to see that he put Tassar in with Deitricha, and Dante in with me! I know Antonio is young and apparently not wise in the way of certain things, but he’s just asking for trouble by pairing people up in that fashion. I was also surprised to see that he and Areon each got a single room, though Tassar and Deitricha have been giggling about remedying that. Here’s hoping whatever remedy they’ve chosen doesn’t result in the inn being burned to the ground.

Posted by Kristin at 15:36 | Theona’s Journal

February 9, 2004

Finally, Everlund!

Deitricha's Journal

The party dashed merrily into the unknown ahead of me, which left me free to glare at them all. We made no effort at stealth; I soon heard orcs’ voices - getting ready to meet us! The party turned a corner and found four one-eyed creatures and a campfire in the middle of the cave. They all had only one eye. It really does seem silly to worship a god who requires such senseless mutilation!

As everyone ran forward (Antonio nearly fried Tassar with a spell, I fear), the orcs shouted for reinforcements. Not good! Then, Tassar dashed ahead - and fell into a pit trap! Two of the orcs flung javelins at us, which downed Antonio right away, so I dragged him from the fray and healed him while Theona killed an orc, and arrows shot from the pit with a fair amount of accuracy. I was glad to know Tassar was OK. Areon killed a second orc, and the last two raced up and attacked - Antonio, again. More orcs, both live and undead, ran into the room as I pulled Antonio out of the fray a second time. I saw an orc stabbing a long spear into the pit, but he was rapidly shot to death from below. I healed Antonio and got him on his feet just as Areon killed two more orcs and succumbed to his wounds.

I prayed that Areon could hold on and turned the undead before I went to him - turned them right to dust, an amazing feeling! Antonio got into a battle of spellcasting with an orc, but neither really did much damage before Theona’s deadly aim removed the orc from competition. At least Antonio stayed on his feet.. and the rest of the orcs were killed, except for one which escaped us as I healed Areon. I called to Tassar and found out that he was fine, and fairly pleased with his orc tally, all things considered. The others took their time searching the bodies, but I got worried about the last survivor - would he be running for more help?

Theona and Antonio were bickering over that very thought - enough that I gave him a pinch to hush a moment! Finally, at least, he was willing to go back to the caravan, but Tassar was off searching the last tunnel already. We followed; climbed, found ourselves outside in the storm! Footprints led to a trail up into the mountains, and we could see the caravan trail below. Tassar and Areon were ready to head up the trail, but - finally - the rest of us convinced them that the orcs would still be there after we got done guarding the caravan to Everlund and back. Thank Tymora! We all left the lookout post, and searched the last couple of tunnels before returning to the caravan.

The first tunnel, shockingly, contained an orc in a cell, who told Theona that she was a sight for sore eyes! Our lady elf proved quite susceptible to flattery, letting him out simply because he spoke common, spoke it well, still had both eyes, and told quite a story! Then again, I don’t know how many orcs would try to say they were a human bard from Waterdeep, under a spell due to a “misunderstanding”. Assuming that Dante is telling the truth, it’s good to know what we’re dealing with up that mountain; an orc necromancer named Grom who is amassing undead armies and taking over the other orc tribes. He managed to hit on Theona outrageously at the same time; a bardish accomplishment?

Areon, naturally, is watching Dante like a hawk. Tassar isn’t too comfortable with him, either. Antonio left the question of bringing the orc bard back to the caravan to us, and made a bonfire of the orc bodies. At least the stench got us moving; we found some wine and trade goods in the last tunnel, and made our way back to the caravan. Thankfully, they were still there, and safe. They told us that Dante was our problem, and he made better friends with Areon and Tassar by proving to have some healing ability. Tassar and I have agreed that he really shouldn’t be armed, for now. He took over Antonio’s role as driver of our wagon, instead.

Antonio and I, again, had the same thought; if one orc had escaped up the mountain, perhaps the hordes were already on their way to avenge their comrades? Even though it was night, the weather had improved. We talked the party into setting forth in the darkness - as soon as they heard the drums begin to pound, it was no trouble at all! We traveled all night, listening to the drums and waiting for an attack, but made it to sunrise with no change except a sudden silence. We decided to keep going as long as possible, but that wasn’t long; two horses went down. I could hear the howl of wolves approaching, so we circled the wagons against the river and did our best to ready ourselves for a defense. We had time to eat a little and feed the horses (Tassar even gave Dante some rations), when I caught sight of the pack approaching. Even Dante got a crossbow at that point!

He quickly proved his usefulness as a bard, cracking jokes to relieve the tension as the wolves charged in. At least they appeared to be normal wolves; I’d feared the orcs had sent their terrible beasts after us. We did our best to do damage from a distance; Antonio was flinging fire, of course, but even my little sling was in use! We did some damage, but the first wolves leapt into our circle and attacked. This made for confusion - Antonio tried to set Areon on fire, and Tassar shot both Dante and the wolf attacking him. Antonio then managed to fire on Tassar. We did defeat the wolves, but not before I lost my temper and accused poor Antonio of trying to kill us all!

At least it made for better relations; I prayed over our one casualty, a dead guard, and Tassar offered Dante some of his precious ale in apology for shooting him. We decided to spend the rest of the day there to give the horses (and us!) a proper rest. Tassar finally got to cook something; he cooked a wolf! It wasn’t too bad, although not my first choice in meat! The next morning, we all felt much improved. The sun was out, the wagonmaster thought we might make the city by nightfall, and even Antonio’s strange addiction, coffee, was a warm drink to start on. I started a snowball fight but quickly got knocked right off my horse - halflings have deadly aim!

We slowly made our way to Everlund, without further trouble. Once at the city, Mr. Drake decided to postpone our return for a few days to let the snow melt. I wonder if we can pick a different route? I wonder if those orcs will be lying in wait! Still, we settled at the Stone Griffin tavern and tried to think of things to do. Firstly, of course, we needed rooms; we left it to Antonio and he promptly rented one for himself, one for Areon, one for Tassar and me, and one for Theona and Dante! Theona looked a little embarrassed, but Tassar and I merrily took advantage of some privacy. Theona, in fact, had to bang on the wall a few times at four in the morning. Oops! Of course, we had to get Antonio back, so Tassar gave ten gold pieces for a fine young lady to sneak in and share Antonio’s bedroom. He has quite a glow, now!

We also looked up a friend of Dante’s, who couldn’t help him out, but at least was able to reassure us that this person was usually a human. Theona was awful curious about what he looks like when not an orc! We decided to bring him back to Silverymoon; with all the magical colleges, there must be someone who can help him! We sold the orcs’ weapons, the wine, and the wolf pelts, and then went shopping! We needed arrows and ale and food, and Tassar got me a wand of healing, since Areon’s has proven so useful when I run low on holy magic. He’s really very thoughtful!

Posted by Kate at 14:33 | Deitricha’s Journal

February 12, 2004

I Learned A Lot

Antonio's Journal

I don’t remember much of the fight, but I do recall one of the living orcs running away. We pursued a little only to find a way outside. There was a path going further up the mountains, and one going down to the caravan. There were no tracks leading down so we took some time to explore other paths we’d passed up. In one room we found an orc behind a set of bars, now most orcs are evil but there is always an exception. I was willing to believe this is one, but I wanted to be careful about it. The story he told was amazing, and later on confirmed. Poor human bard was transformed into this hideous creature. Well we went back to the caravan and convinced them we needed to go now. We traveled the rest of the day and all night. When we finally stopped for rest we were attacked by wolves. I really need to work on my aim.

We finally made it to our destination, and we had to stay five days before we could go home. Someone decided I needed some entertainment and paid a lot for it. Far be it from me to turn down a gift, so I took advantage of the situation and learned a lot my first time out. Well, we leave for home soon, I’ll write again later.

Posted by Fred at 06:42 | Antonio’s Journal

February 15, 2004

Of Orcs and Arrows…

Tassar's Journal

The party tightened together as we traveled up the path towards the voices, soon we would be upon them. As we get closer we were bathed in the light of the Orcs camp fire, yet for all of our encounters in this cave, the four orcs around the fire seemed unaware of our presence.

A resounding cracking sound went up the hall as someone behind me kicked a loose stone into the wall, the orcs were immediately alarmed. With me and Areon in front and the others following close behind I was confident we had the upper hand. I yelled for Areon to follow me and ran at the orcs. It is here that things went a little astray. It seems for all the hatred that had been twisting up inside Areon no longer drove him to want to wade into the fights with sword drawn. No, a new Areon is emerging, an archer. I came to this conclusion as I raced toward the orcs alone.

It was strange, the orcs stood their ground. As I neared them I discovered my folly, cursing myself as I fell through a trap door slamming myself into the floor of the 10 foot pit.

The party took up a defensive stand in the hall, and launched a volley of arrows at the orcs. I think I heard Deitricha yelling for me, her voice sounded a little different. The orcs screamed out, both in pain and for help which soon arrived. As the cobwebs cleared from my head and I realized my position, I decided that climbing out was impossible, so why not just fight from here? I quickly pulled by bow out and examined it for damage from the fall, I could not hold back the smile when I saw it was unharmed.

As I nocked the first arrow one of the orcs tried to run past the pit and attack my friends, well he did get by but the arrow it put in his shoulder would surely hinder him in the fight with my friends. Soon another tried to pass the pit, this one seemed to be one of the undead orcs. No matter; I shot my arrow and removed its life. “ONE!” Yes I may be in the pit, but they will sting of my bow if they think they can pass me to get at my friends.

Soon a group came up to the pit, three passed me on the left as one on the right tried to run me through with his gisarme. After barely avoiding that well-aimed attack I returned it with my own, soon the orc with the gisarme was falling over backward with two arrows through his heart. “TWO!” I turned my head for a second listening to the roar of the battle as the three that had gotten by me were met by the party. I heard some weapons clink, the sound of sword on flesh and some bodies hit the floor. It is strange, but one of the noises, a “flumping” sound of wind leaving lungs seemed familiar. Then I realized that Antonio must be down again; I can’t believe I have learned the sound of him hitting the floor.

Another group passed me as again, one orc came at me with its long weapons to distract me. This orc too found the error of his ways as he hit the floor and the life drifted away from him through the arrow in his neck. “THREE!”

Chants, this is bad, one of the orcs must be a cleric. I look up and see a small ball of fire go past, harmlessly into a wall. Antonio is awake again. The orc cleric is standing above the pit, between the party and me. As he starts another chant I teach him the folly of forgetting the halfling in the pit. My aim was perfect, through the lower back of his skull and out his forehead. Tempus will be pleased.

The orc still stands? I do not understand. Then it begins to chant once more, and I realize how strong the evil of this place is. Before I can nock another arrow my face is sprayed with a mist of blood. Looking up I see the cleric orc has found one of Theona’s bolts, and it is through his eye, then the cleric finally dropped.

The battle was over and soon Deitricha and Antonio were helping me out of the pit. The group seemed to be not too bad off from the fight. I was relived to see them in such good shape. Areon said that one of the orcs got away, and he pointed to a tunnel off to our side. That was all he needed to say as the fire from the battle still raged in us both, we ran up the hall looking for more fuel to settle our lust for battle. Unfortunately all we found was an exit from the cave out into the mountains.

I was all for chasing the last orc down but the party argued until I too could see the foolishness of the chase. I hate when they do that. Anyway, we went back in and destroyed the orc bodies; the one-eyed god will not use these orcs against anyone again. Then we set off to examine the other halls we had not gone through; we had grown tired of being attacked from behind and it seemed a good idea to check every corner for future trouble.

Of Orcs and Lust……

We traveled to one hall that split in two. Theona had begun to search for traps. A good thing I guess, but her thoroughness bordered on insanity so I walked past and went into the hall on the left. I find barrels, and bags of moldy grain. As I turn to go and check out the other path I hear voices, and one of them is not from my party. I run, sword drawn, into the next room to find Theona talking to an orc. An orc in a small cell. An orc that talks common. As I look around I notice that only me and Areon have weapons out— this is getting weird.

“Dante” is his name. The talking orc says he was once human and was changed into this shape by an angry wizard. Dante says he was a bard from Waterdeep and that this was the result of a tryst with a magic user’s daughter. Antonio and Deitricha talk Areon and me into lowering our weapons, they believe him and want to let him out. Theona too says this opinion, but the look on her face is not of concern for saving a bard, no she seems to intent on something else, lust. I have seen it on the faces of elves before, the tall freaks couldn’t hide it if their lives depended on it. Forget weird this is getting sickening.

Theona claims personal responsibility for Dante and we let him out. Dante tells us this is just the forward guard post of a huge orc army. He tells us of a new orc leader who is uniting all the clans into one massive army. He tells us more, but I am distracted by the bile rising in my throat at the thought of such a large force attacking Silverymoon. The city could be wiped out by such a force.

We get back to the cave with the wagons and inform our companions of the dilemma, the orc that got away would be bringing back help, lots of help. If we stay here we will have to defend the cave from hundreds of orcs. If we travel out now, we battle the weather and possibly hundreds of orcs. The decision is made to run for it. We load up the wagons and head out. We put Dante in our wagon and asked him to drive while me and Otto sit in the back. Neither Otto or I could travel very fast through three foot high snow, so we stood watch at the back of the wagon.

Of Flames and Arrows …..

The party was soon underway into the snow and driving wind. The going was slow even though each man driving the carts was yelling and whipping the horses in a furry. It wasn’t long before we heard howls and yelps behind us. Something was coming, either wolf or worse, we all feared it could be the howls of worgs. We traveled as far as we could in the storm, but finally we realized that we would be caught from behind, so we took the wagons to the water’s edge and made a defensive position.

We made a nice little fortification with the wagons. Antonio made a fire in middle to help keep us warm. Theona and Deitricha insisted that we arm Dante. I only agreed to give him a crossbow if he was in the front and I was behind him. We took up positions and waited as the howls got closer. Theona and Antonio were walking around giving encouragement and coffee. If I didn’t know better I would say that I saw Theona give Dante a kiss for luck. I am not sure because at that moment Antonio was giving me the coffee.

Coffee, this is the vile liquid that Antonio discovered and was always handing us. While it is warm and seems to help me stay awake, it has an acrid smell and taste that brings pains to my stomach when I drink it. None of us have had the heart to tell Antonio that we don’t like it, it is an expensive and hard to get item that he shares with us out of friendship. I thank Antonio for the coffee and turn back to watch for the enemy. It is then that I spilled some on the one wagon, and watched the paint be eaten away. I hear the howls again, they are very close, so I put the coffee down next to me, I will use it as a weapon if I have the chance.

Soon we see the wolves, a large pack coming right at us. Just as we began to tighten up our muscles I heard Dante. Dante was telling jokes, and his humor is relieving the tension in the party. Maybe this fellow is really the bard he says he is. When the wolves get about a hundred feet away we open fire and cut a few down, but soon they are upon us. I hear a yell of pain and smell burnt flesh. I look over to see Areon fighting a wolf, Areon seems pissed. A closer look and I see a large burn mark on his back, then I look to Antonio who is trying to apologize for it while Deitricha is smacking him in the head.

My attention is returned to the front of me as a large wolf leaps at Dante. I fire two arrows which make solid contact, the wolf and Dante howl in pain. It was an accident but deep inside I was laughing at the irony of it. It was enough for Dante though— he backed away from the wolf with a slight limp from my arrow stuck in his thigh.

I drew my sword and charged into the wolf, slicing its underbelly open as the heat hit me. Yep, Antonio hit me with a fire spell again. If he doesn’t learn to aim those damned things soon, someone is going to kill him. As I look over my shoulder at the once again apologizing Antonio, I notice that one of the caravan guards has his crossbow aimed at Antonio and his eyes are looking at me for permission to fire it. I shake my head no and return my attention to helping finish off the last of the wolves.

Of Rooms and Company ….

We rested for a while and then the caravan got back on the journey. We found the town a day later and told them of the new orc army that was growing. Drake said we will wait for the snow to melt and told us to meet him in five days to go back to Silverymoon. We went to the Stone Griffin for rooms. Antonio arranged for the room— he told us he got one for Deitricha and me. I looked to her and was pleased to see that she had no objection. Then Antonio announced that he had gotten one room for Dante and Theona, neither of them seemed to mind, in fact Theona took the key and Dante’s hand and went right up to the room. It was noon and we didn’t see them until the next day.

That night was very nice, the only disturbance was the banging on the wall near morning when Theona, who was in the next room, was yelling at us for our bed had apparently been banging on the wall all night and she couldn’t sleep. This only brought a gleam of challenge to Deitricha and I am sorry to say, we had to pay for a new bed the next day. That poor bed didn’t have a chance.

Over the next couple of days there seemed to be a bit of competition, as who could stay up longer, ummm, I mean stay awake and busy longer. Each morning Deitricha arrived for breakfast having won that nights competition. Dante was looking worse for wear, poor fellow must be having a tough time with the elf’s endurance. Not that five hours should ever be thought of as not able to do enough, but that seemed to be the poor fellow’s limit.

Before the last night Deitricha and I agreed to get to sleep early, to be ready for the trip. But we had a surprise for Antonio, he had mentioned his complete lack of experience during one of the conversations the day before, so Deitricha suggested that I go and find him some company. I did, a ravishing red head named Lirna, who was a finer, higher-priced companion. I told her to wait for Antonio in his room and surprise him.

That night Deitricha and I went to sleep early. About two hours before dawn she woke me with a giggle and a thought. She mentioned that it would be a shame to let Theona and Dante go to breakfast thinking they outlasted us. So we spent the rest of the night jumping up and down on the bed and making noises. It was well worth it when the familiar knock on the wall came from next door.

The next morning we were all down stairs before Antonio. When he finally came to sit and eat I asked how everyone slept last night. Antonio was just starting to drink his coffee when I said it, which was a problem because he looked up at me and tried to gasp, only to find the coffee coming out of his nose and spilling all over his plate of breakfast.

We all laughed. Antonio didn’t say another word all morning.

Posted by Jim at 15:38 | Tassar’s Journal

February 17, 2004

A New Day

Antonio's Journal

As we left Everlund for home I couldn’t get Lirna out of my head. It’s a shame she’s in that profession. I liked her, but my parents would not approve. That’s when I realized I can’t tell them of Lirna. I really can’t tell my parents about most of the things I’m doing. Dad’s always telling me there’s a place working with him on the town guard when I’m old enough. Telling him I’d rather adventure with my friends than work with him would break his heart. I was deep in thought pondering these things when Dante asked me if I saw anything. “Not yet.” I told him just noticing the sun setting. We were getting close to the place we camped during that last storm.

I was very relieved when Morn Drake had agreed to traveling straight through instead of stopping to be a target in the middle of the night. We traveled for a while when we I smelled the familiar sent of burning wood. Looking ahead we all saw what appeared to be a bon fire in the middle of the road. We stopped the wagon as Tassar and Areon went ahead to check it out. From back here we could see people get up, but when they called for help I realized that it was a trap. Theona and Deitricha went up to help, while Dante and I stayed with the caravan in case the orcs attacked. It’s amazing watching these guys fight.

When the enemy ran the caravans moved forward. We were thinking about how to clear the road when the zombies came back. The fight was brief, but when the horns sounded from the mountains I knew we needed to go. I asked Deitricha if she could create water over a wagon to put out the fire, she did and enough of one was put out to move it so I tried to push. I couldn’t move it myself and in a minute others came to help. It was slow moving but after the half burnt wagon was out of the way we got on our way in a hurry. Tassar insisted on being in the last wagon as Dante drove, so I got in the second. Everyone else rode horses, except for the caravan drivers. I heard commotion behind us and looking back I saw a large orc in chain mail pick an arrow out of his shoulder and I thought, “we are going to die.”

We basically ran for what seemed like an eternity. The sun rose and noticing the road was empty behind us we slowed the horses and breathed a sigh of relief. It was like a weight dropped from our shoulders when we went through gates into Silverymoon. I practically ran home to see if the mugs were done, and my mother handed me the package and asked where I’ve been. I told her I’d explain later, but I had to go. On the way I stopped by the smith who made the silver mugs and gave him an additional 5gps for the beautiful work. Then I went to find my companions. The expression on their faces when I handed each of them a personalized pint sized silver mug: it was priceless. We went to get the rest of our pay, and then went to the bar.

Early the next day we met then went to Dante turned back into a human. I knew a few great spellcasters at the school and one was willing to help, especially since he was giving a class on breaking spells. It worked and Dante was a human again. Theona however didn’t seem happy about it. So when we got to the bar, I decided to get both of them drunk and drop them off at Theona’s house. Tassar kept saying we shouldn’t do this, but I was having fun and not listening. After that three of us went back to the bar and the next thing I knew my dad was lifting me out of the chair. He looked very angry as he practically dragged me home.

He told me one of his friends saw what we did earlier that afternoon and the only reason we weren’t all picked up right there was because of the position he held. He also told me that if I was going to stay under his roof I was to stop seeing my friends and get a steady job. He said I’ve been changing ever since I started being around “those people” and he knows something happened on that last trip. He can’t put his finger on it, but I’m not acting like the kid he raised. Now maybe it was the alcohol talking. Maybe it was because he called me a kid. Maybe I have changed. Anyway, I told my dad very simply that I was going to the tower outside of the city then when I get back I’ll get my things. I then walked out, went back to the bar and rented a room for the night. I didn’t see Tassar or Deitricha at the inn when I got back there, and I don’t remember if they were there or not when I was dragged away.

Lying in bed my mind drifted back to when I was eight. That was the first time I could control my ability. I created fire in my hand. I ran home from school to show my mother the new trick and in my hast accidentally set a wool blanket she was making on fire. I felt so bad but mother told me it was ok and after guiding me to the fire place had me repeat the trick. The next day I was taken to some special classes to learn about magic and how to speak draconic. That was the first time I heard about Bahamut. I asked a lot of questions about The Platinum Dragon. It was soon after I started to worship him. That was about the time I drifted off to sleep.

I dreamed I was flying. I had wings of gold, and golden scales. I didn’t know where I was going but the landscape seamed familiar somehow. I landed on a ledge close to the peak of the largest mountain in the area. I woke with a start and felt ok. I went downstairs for breakfast and waited for everyone else to arrive.

Posted by Fred at 09:12 | Antonio’s Journal

Balancing Act

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 18, 1373, Silverymoon

This room arrangement worked out better than I thought, since there was a window available that led to Areon’s room. Now, I guess I’d better explain my suspicions.

One thing I have not told my companions (other than Areon, being neither human or currently involved with a human), is that I saw a Harper symbol scrawled in the corner of Dante’s cell when we found him. This is the most exciting thing I’d seen in about ten years of watching the town guard watching the Harper agent watching the town guard (I suspect they are both Harpers that don’t know each other is a Harper— a tale for another time). I’ve always been fascinated with the Harpers, mainly because they work against the evil Zhents. The more Zhents move into the area, the more Harpers arrive to keep an eye on things....

As it turned out, I was right about Dante, and he really had been polymorphed into an orc by a wizard— and had the means to turn himself back before reaching Everlund until Grom took his belongings and locked him up. That also explained why Rand Tallwood, the “shopkeeper” that we’d gone to talk to and re-outfit Dante, had given him such good quality armor and rapier when he only paid for basic goods— that was, in fact, his contact in Everlund. Thanks to our bizarre room renting, I managed to get Dante aside to get that much info (or rather, I told him that much and agreed to keep quiet to all other than Areon, who, of any of my friends, would notice if I was behaving oddly), if I could help. He is obviously a good judge of character, as he agreed.

My “job” was not that interesting, but I did accomplish it! Each night I had to sneak out of the Stone Griffin unseen, and I had to slide past Tassar and Deitricha’s window to get there (thankfully they were always doing something that prevented them from noticing a female elf back lighted by the moon climbing past) to Areon’s quarters, and climb in, then go out the window on the other wall of his corner room. I really surprised him the first night, but he was so relieved by my explanation of my behavior that I regained his confidence. Areon and I would then slip out of town and walk for nearly an hour, to get to a specific tree. And wait. For two hours! If we didn’t see anything unusual, we’d just head back and sneak back into the inn again, our friends none the wiser. I thought this would allow Dante to get the extra rest humans seem to require (the poor guy had barely slept while in Grom’s captivity), but he always looked even more haggard when I came back in— the two occupants in the rooms on either side of him would keep him awake! So, each morning when I got back into the room I’d bang on the wall if things were too noisy. This seems to please my friends immensely.

The last night in Everlund, Areon and I finally completed our Harper “assignment.” When we went to the tree, we found a small scroll of paper stuck in the crotch of the tree. I confess I did look at the note, but it was in some code I could not completely make out. As promised, Areon and I took the note back to the Tallwood’s shop and slipped it under the door. I was sorry the person leaving the note had not wanted to show himself, but hopefully someone will put in a good word for us if Areon or I ever want to join the Harpers on a more official basis.

The next day we departed for Silverymoon, with Dante and the caravan. We decided to go straight through, considering that any campsite would likely receive attention from orcish attackers. We surrounded the caravan in the same fashion as we had on the way to Everlund, Areon at the head, Deitricha watching the river, I watching the mountains, Tassar galloping ahead on Otto and then waiting until the last wagon caught up, which was driven by Dante and in which Antonio was preparing for any situation that needed firepower— literally.

About halfway home, in the darkness, Areon came upon a burning wagon right in the middle of the road. He and Tassar went on ahead to investigate, and when we heard commotion, Deitricha and I followed to find two burning wagons and four human zombies (not yet burning), which were attacking our comrades. Tassar had fallen off of Otto, but luckily Deitricha had seen and was so incensed that she turned the zombies, who shuffled away from her as quickly as they could.

The rest of our caravan was coming forward as the zombies shuffled back into view. We peppered them with arrows and fire, and Deitricha fell off of her horse in the fracas, I sped off to catch the horse, and did so, but by then I was away from the fire of the burning wagons. I noticed movement a ways up the mountain— humanoids about one hundred yards up the sloping surface on a ledge. I grabbed the reigns of the frightened horse and returned to the party. The zombies were dispatched and they were moving a charred (and stripped clean, apparently) wagon off the path so we could squeeze by with our caravan. As I began to tell them of the movement ahead, we heard a call to arms in the form of a horn blast.

We moved off as quickly as we could, though at one point a dozen orc warriors led by an orc in chainmail riding a dire wolf was close enough that we could see the evil glint in their eyes. Tassar took a potshot at the leader and actually managed to lodge an arrow in his chain. Of course, he also shouted his name so that Grom (for that is who we think it was) would know who to seek revenge on.

We kept up what amounted to a forced march until we saw the Moonbridge leading to our city.

I had got to thinking of Dante as a Harper rather than an orc, so I felt almost guilty as we walked through the streets of Silverymoon, where all eyes turned a disapproving stare on him. Antonio disappeared (we figured he was already shopping again!) and soon returned with beautiful silver mugs each engraved with our first name. It will be doubly handy if I meet up with a lycanthrope in a bar.

Dante spent the night in my tree home with me— my house is much too small for more than one person, especially when one is a hulking orc. I peeked out now and again, since I don’t need sleep, and I swore I saw Areon keeping watch on my place. For some reason, that makes me feel more secure, even though Silverymoon is the safest place I can think of. He hates being cooped up indoors — even when the house is a tree, so I don’t invite him up. I think he spends most nights “hunting” though I don’t know just what all he hunts for.

The morning came and we all met at the Bright Blade Brandished for breakfast, where Antonio seemed intent on making plans to go to that abandoned tower I’d heard rumors about. We eventually left to go over to the Greycastle estate to collect our pay. Unfortunately Lord Greycastle was not available, but his butler was expecting us and provided us with our earnings. I was surprised that Antonio already had an idea for spending our money— he knew someone at a local magic college that could polymorph Dante back into a human. I was immediately confused by conflicting emotions. First, if Dante was human again, he could go back to doing whatever exciting things Harpers do without my assistance any longer, and well, he’d be human, the N’Tel’Quess that most often follow the Zhentarim ideals. Even more confusing to me, the two humans in my party were the ones that were pushing to make his appearance human again! I knew my reasons were selfish though, and kept my concerns to myself, even paying a third of the cost of the spell.

He was changed instantly back to his human form, and though attractive for a human, just not what I had expected. For one thing, his vanity level increased 200%— the clothes we had provided weren’t right for his image. Luckily Deitricha was willing to take him shopping. I needed a drink!

I must have had too much to drink, because, when I became conscious again, I found myself lying on a bearskin rug in front of my own hearth in my home, with Areon characteristically pacing the perimeter of the room. I must have really worried him, as his expression unexpectedly softened briefly when he saw I was coming around. He only said, “We had a mishap with our N’Tel’Quess companions.”

Posted by Kristin at 17:23 | Theona’s Journal

Theona's Home

Adventures, DM's Notes & Maps Theona's Journal

Copyright 2004 by Hugh and Kristin Johnson

Theona’s Home in Silverymoon.

February 21, 2004

Family ties

Deitricha's Journal

Yet again, Antonio and I were thinking the same thought - that we should do everything possible to keep from stopping near the orcs’ cave on the way home! Even better, Mr. Drake felt the same. We decided to travel straight through, and hope for the best. The day began well, with sunshine and warmer temperatures. Night fell, still clear, and a quarter moon to drive by. We were in the same arrangement as before, watching for trouble, when the animals became nervous; soon we all smelled smoke.

Tassar and Areon rode ahead as soon as a glow became visible; as I watched them approach two burning wagons, I saw several bodies rise up from the snow and stagger at our friends. Tassar was soon hollering that he had them surrounded, which is never a good sign, and next thing I knew he was knocked off his dog and into the snow at the feet of the undead! That was enough for me - I rode up and turned the zombies, probably the poor former caravaners. The rest of the party attacked the fleeing creatures while I checked the wagons for any sign of life. No luck - stripped of valuables and set ablaze, obviously a trap.

We talked briefly about whether to turn back or push onwards, and moving on seemed the better idea. The undead began to stagger back into the firelight as we worked out how to move the wagons. Tassar began giggling even before Dante started telling jokes, which earned him an odd look or two. I’d just decided it wasn’t worth it to turn them again - they’d be back long before we got the wagons moved - when Tassar told us all to just light them on fire instead. He’s been learning from Antonio! We shot at them before they came into burning range (I even killed one very damaged one with my sling), and all were destroyed except for one which went for Tassar again. I tried to ride over and swat it with my staff, but only succeeded in falling off my horse and getting called a copycat by Tassar. Theona went after my horse while the last zombie chased Tassar and me around and eventually burned to death.

Unfortunately, we then heard a horn sounding in the mountains above. Moving those wagons became a real priority! I created water over one of the wagons, puttng out one end so we could push the thing out of the way of our own caravan. Theona returned with my horse, and news of movement on the mountainside - we didn’t have much time! Thank Tymora, the way was soon clear, and the horses needed little prodding to race for their lives as a band of one-eyed orcs arrived on the scene. One of them was riding a dire wolf and wearing armor - the feared Grom himself? We may find out; Tassar shot him with a well-placed arrow even as we raced away, while shouting his name and where to find him. We got a hail of javelins embedded in the backs of the wagons in return. Luckily, they didn’t follow, and we made it to the gates of Silverymoon by the next day.

The guards didn’t much like Dante - we should have known! Luckily, he was well able to speak for himself, we all vouched for him, and, of course, we had a very interesting story to tell of Grom and his hordes, which was a lot more important. We left them talking over the news, stabled the horses, and were pleasantly surprised when Antonio ran off and returned with a set of silver mugs engraved with our names! Tassar handed Dante his “old” mug so he didn’t feel left out, and we headed for Lord Greycastle’s for the rest of our payment (I hope Antonio has something left over for himself after such a gift!). The butler still refused to fill Tassar’s mug, and said the Lord was out of town, but he did have authority to pay us. We decided to split up and rest, then meet the next morning to talk over Dante’s situation and Theona’s rumor about the tower outside of town. The Temple was a welcome sight!

Meeting for breakfast the next day, we realized just how many awful looks the locals were giving poor Dante, and decided that he had to get “fixed” before anything else. Luckily, Antonio knew some people (if not, I was going to ask Mother or Father for help), and Dante got to be the subject of a class lecture on removing such spells. It cost us plenty, but it worked! He’s a human, again, and very relieved. Theona looked faintly disappointed, so I gave him clothes money so he could make a better impression. She still didn’t seem happy when he met us back at the tavern in his new gear, so we decided to get them both drunk and leave them at her place to let nature take its course. Unfortunately, they both passed out, so we left them at her place and headed back to the tavern to party. It didn’t take long before I was under the table, too.

I woke up at the Temple, with an aching head. And my oldest brother sitting at the end of the bed, glaring at me. I guess I know how I got home - he’s a member of the Guard, and very good at what he does. I’m always hearing of another promotion! Unfortunately, he’s also rather suspicious of my calling, or, at least, some of Tymora’s tenets. He thinks we’re all getting a bit wild, and that it’s all MY fault. Don’t I wish he could have been along with us on these little adventures when no one would listen! Before I got a chance to defend myself, though, he sobered me right up by accusing me of getting Antonio kicked out of his house. “I work with his father, Deitricha, and what could I say to him? You’re making quite a scene! Getting drunk and disorderly and dragging folk through the streets” ( I guess that was Theona and Dante), “not to mention running around with an orc yesterday, I don’t care if he’s really a human, you could have handled that a bit better! And as for your ‘fling’ with that halfling, now you’re dragging Lady Brenin’s name into this!” Well, I gave up trying to defend myself and ordered him out of my room. I was so mad that I went and threw sling bullets at the target post in the Temple practice area to let off some steam. One of my brethren came by and was surprised at how much my aim has improved, and told me I ought to try Tymora’s shuriken again. All the practice I’ve gotten recently has really improved my throwing skills!

I guess I’ll have to think about my brother’s words some more. He has some points; I just wish he didn’t think he had to fill in for Mother and Father with all us kids, just because he’s the oldest. We’re all adults, thank you!

Posted by Kate at 06:49 | Deitricha’s Journal

February 22, 2004

I Hate Families….

Tassar's Journal

After an entertaining breakfast of eggs and potatoes, we decided it was time to find Drake. We gathered our possessions and headed toward the stables to find that Drake had already gotten the horses, and Otto, around for a quick departure. We were even introduced to the new member of the caravan, a young human named Staven.

After the few words of greetings we took our positions and headed out the gates. I was thinking to myself that this little town seemed nice; perhaps I should return one day to see more of it. Snickering to myself I realized that I had been given a good opportunity to just that, but had wasted a good portion of each day napping to regain my strength from the nights activities.

Not that I am complaining, it was a grand time. But it may soon become hard to continue to please Tempus on the battlefield in the day, after pleasing Deitricha in the night. Both endeavors seem to take all my strength and agility. I am just trying to figure out which one is more likely to kill me.

Journey into the night …

With a slight shift in my saddle and a strong pat on Otto’s head we are on our way. It feels good to be on the road again, almost like home. Even the dust and muck from the road gives me some measure of ease.

The day’s travel was mostly uneventful; in fact we only stopped for rations and to feed the mounts twice. Good thing I had Otto’s saddle bags to hold plenty of rations to snack on while we rode. The more I am around these tall folks the more I am amazed in how much they don’t eat. How in the Nine Hells they get so tall without eating properly is beyond me.

Anyway it was a beautiful spring day, and the rushing water and returning birds seemed to give hope to the area. Maybe a false hope if these stories of a new orc leader are true. I have not been around this area for that long, but I can’t imagine an orc leader so strong that he can gather such a force as what Dante described. It is just not in their nature to work together for very long. In fact it has been the one constant that we depend on to help keep their forces at bay.

Drake had informed us that we would ride through the night, while I see the point of it; I also see the possible bad. But I have gotten used to keeping my opinions to myself, tall folks, especially humans, just don’t seem to take the word of little folk seriously. Anyway we ride on as the day turns to dusk. I can’t see too much of the caravan from my position, I keep moving side to side and looking in areas that may be covering would-be attackers. At least I had one good moment of humor provided to me by Antonio. At one point, when I rode near the back wagon, I heard Antonio trying to tell Dante a story about how to cast magic. His story ended with a couple of hand gestures that left his cloak on fire. He put it out quickly, but Dante’s laugh lasted for a few minutes.

On we rode until Areon stopped the caravan. I rode up to the front to see what was going on, it was then that Areon pointed out a faint light in the distance. He said that it was a burning wagon and that the two of us should ride up and check it out before the caravan gets there. He said he had gotten close and it seemed like a trap.

We moved quickly up toward the burning wagon, not on the road but in the brush and trees to provide us some cover. When we got within a hundred yards we noticed four forms lying prone on the ground near the wagon, actually wagons. There were two wagons apparently put in position to block the road, and then set on fire. Areon said the bodies looked like caravan guards, so we moved in closer to see if any of them survived.

As we got closer the bodies got up. Not like people normally get up mind you, no these got up with great laboring effort. I shouted out to our friends and rushed in to attack the undead. I tried the new move I had worked on with Otto, I just wish Otto had been trying the same maneuver. I guided Otto in hard to the left of the first zombie and then pulled his reigns hard to the right, and then I hit the ground headfirst and rolled to the feet of the zombie. I spit out a mouth full of dirt and pick up my sword. Otto continued to the left and ran on into the darkness. I think I will have to have a talk with him about this.

The battle was on! Areon let loose a couple of arrows on the zombies to the left while I hacked into the two on the right. Soon Theona and Deitricha came up from behind and joined in. Theona fired her crossbow with amazing skill; soon the one zombie on the left would have two of her bolts in its chest and three of Areon’s arrows. Yet it kept coming.

Deitricha rode up near me and promptly fell off her horse, I knew she was all right by the mixture of laughter and curses that she let out. I fought over to her side and helped her up, the two zombies I was fighting were slow and cumbersome, but were not going down easy. After regaining her senses Deitricha pulled out her holy symbol and held it high. The zombies turned and fled at the sight of her power.

The Orc king?

The rest of our caravan came up then to find a way through. While Deitricha joined them in moving one of the burning wagons; Areon, Theona and I finished off the zombies that had wondered back into the area. Theona then rode off to get Deitricha’s horse.

Otto had returned during the second part of the battle and actually stood by me and fought very well. While I was impressed at this, it made it harder to yell at him for dumping me on the ground. I pulled Otto to the side and tried to talk to him, he is an odd dog. For one thing he bites a lot; I am telling you he bites a lot. Anyway, he seems to pay attention to me, but sometimes I think he is just humoring me and he will do what he wants when the time comes.

Just before Theona arrived with the lost horse in hand we heard the sound of a great horn, somewhere nearby. Theona arrived with a look on her face like she had just seen a ghost. She spoke so quickly that I could barely understand, she said there is movement just a little up the mountains side. The thing she said clearly was “HUNDREDS.” That was enough for us; the caravan mounted up and started off. I put Otto in the last wagon and climbed up with him. Next to me I put all of my arrows and prepared my bow.

We had gotten about eighty feet away from the burning wagons I saw a group of orcs ride into the fire light. At least a dozen warriors led by the largest orc I had ever seen, and he was riding a worg. This large orc wore chain mail and had an aura of evil that I could feel even from this distance. This may not be Grom the new orc leader, but he was obviously of great importance.

The opportunity was too good and too short; I pulled my bow and fired one arrow. My aim was true and I hit the large orc. I shouted my name and told him that I would be back for him. The dozen orc warriors seemed really angry that I attacked their leader, now at over a hundred feet and moving, they all threw their javelins. A couple where good shots and their javelins stuck in the wagon to my right and left. Dante let out some kind of curse at me, at least I think it was a curse, it was in a language I didn’t understand. But I am confident it was meant for me.

Now nearly two hundred feet away, as the fire grew small in the distance the big orc let loose his spell. A bolt of light came at me with stunning force. Praised be Tempus it missed me. But Dante let out several more curses due to the fact that it did hit the wagon and he almost lost control. Wow can that fellow get mad.


The caravan rode hard all the way through the night, even the horses didn’t want to stop. In fact we may have just ridden through the city gates to the bar if they had not stopped us. We told them of the orc attacks and of the building horde.

Boy, were they disturbed about Dante. Before we could plead very much of a case for him they let us in. I had to chuckle at the few guards they sent to follow us, it is if the word “hide” was unknown to them. I counted at least seven of them.

Next thing I knew Antonio was off for a minute and then back again with gifts for us. Not much of a surprise, he could have at least wrapped them, then we wouldn’t have seen them coming from fifty feet away. Pretty things though, the mugs were, all silvery and with our names on them. Theona and me looked at our mugs then each other and said at the same time, “There is not ale in them.” At which point Antonio promised to buy the first round.

Poor Dante seemed to feel left out. And seeing how I already had a mug in my backpack, and there was no need to carry two, I gave Dante my old mug. He thanked me and offered to buy me a round in the future. I could tell he was lying, bards never buy a round, they just drink other people’s drinks. I smiled anyway.

Then we were off to the Greycastle place to get more pay. I don’t like that fellow, to me he seems too shifty. When we arrive we are once again greeted by his overdressed butler who seems to not like me very much. He informs us that his master is out of the house, but he had left our payment with the butler. After that I asked for some ale for my new mug and the tall freak turned me down again. And I am very certain that there is a good amount of spirits to be drunk in that house.

Oh well, I let the others talk to the butler and I look around again at the town guards that are following us. Hmm, their numbers have doubles. No problem, I am sure they will be confident in Dante before long.

I liked him better as an orc…

Soon after leaving the home of Lord Greycastle, Antonio led us to a place where we could try to get Dante turned back into a human. At first Theona and Deitricha organized a fund for us all to pitch-in, that lead to chaos as we put in too much money. Then everyone started arguing about how to work it, so I took my money back to help them figure it out. I am not convinced that Dante seems too eager to get his body back.

As usual the party argued amongst themselves for a while, so I again turned my attention to the guards, who seemed to be still gaining in numbers. This is beginning to give me the creeps. Some one high up must be really angry to have sent so many men to follow one orc.

Next thing I knew the deed was done and we were looking at a human. Not a particularly tall, strong, or good-looking fellow. But his humor was still there. Theona seemed disappointed. Theona offered to get him some clothes and Dante threw a hissy fit. He wanted fine clothes and anything else would be an insult. And people call me a jerk some times. Areon too had seen enough and went off on his own.

The failed drinking party…

We all went back to the Bright Blade Brandished to have a few and talk about our recent adventure. I challenged Dante to a drinking contest, he almost got two in before he passed out. It seemed all the group was trying to drink with me and soon was three sheets to the wind. I tell you there is nothing worse than watching people who can’t handle their ale.

When I looked up I noticed that Deitricha was helping Theona up and Antonio was helping Dante, thinking that they were going to help these two to a place to sleep things off I helped. As we walked down the street I began to understand their true intentions. I did my best to try and talk them out of it, without any luck. To tell you the truth I was a little tipsy, not drunk mind you I had only had seven ales, but I found it hard to pay attention to what I was arguing about. I was definitely too drunk to remember all the extra eyes on us at the time.

When we got to Theona’s place I had regained a bit of my composure and I tried to talk Dante, who had begun to wake up, into running. My two friends convinced Theona to climb up to her apartment with a little help. Then they threw a rope down for me to tie around Dante, so they could pull him up. I refused!

This did not deter them in the slightest as Antonio climbed down and tied the rope himself before climbing back up to help pull him up. I took the opportunity to try to put real fear in Dante. I told him some things to try and make him run, I even told him that they planned on killing him. All to no avail as Dante was too hammered to do much more than drool.

After a few minutes the two pulling the rope had gotten Dante off the ground five or six times just to drop the poor fellow on his face. At this point I pulled one of my daggers and cut the rope. Antonio promised not to do it anymore and like a fool I believed him. When I took a minute to go around a corner to relieve myself, Antonio and Deitricha hauled Dante up somehow. I had had enough and told them so, and went back to the bar.

After a little bit the would-be cupids joined me at the bar for a couple more rounds. I relaxed a bit and we drank, and drank. After a little Antonio was asleep on the table. Then went Deitricha; in fact she fell asleep latterly. I picked her up and put her in her chair, then leaned her head on the table. I ordered three more rounds and finished them too. After that, things got a little fussy, so I leaned my head against the table.

The forgotten guards…

Some time later I awoke with the need to relieve some of the ale from its imprisonment in my bladder. I was still a bit woozy, but I did notice that my two friends were gone. Oh, well, nature called so I walked around to the back of the bar to the ally to let some pressure out. Just after pulling my pants back up I was grabbed by several sets of powerful hands. I had been in a few back ally skirmishes, but this one caught me unaware.

I was pummeled for a few minutes by who I couldn’t tell. All I did know is that they all had the same clothes on, almost like a uniform. CRAP!!! Now I remember, now if I can just figure out what I did this time I should be ok. “Calron I surrender!” I shouted. Only to become more confused because the man who was usually the head thug wasn’t in front of me, no he was one of the men holding me.

“Let me just finish him and throw him in the water by the docks.” came the plea from Calron. I knew he didn’t like me, but just what in the Nine Hells could I have done to make him want me dead?

“Not yet.” came the reply from in front of me. It took a second to focus my one not swollen closed eye on the speaker. It was Antonio’s father. I had seen him before but I couldn’t remember his name. Over his shoulder I caught a glimpse of someone on a rooftop. It looked like Areon. Maybe he will save me.

Feeling a bit of the alcohol still, and thinking I had some backup, I ventured out an opinion, “Well I see you are a real tough man, you need six men to hold down a halfling so you can have a chance.” Then everything went black, real quick.

Twisting in pain…

Some hours later I was awaken by a bucket of water being thrown on me. Let me tell you that is not a good way to be waken up. Then it got worse! I realized that I was hanging upside down, and that my ankles seemed to be bound to a rope attacked to some rafters. I didn’t recognize the place, but mind you I could only see out of one eye and my body was wracked in pain. In fact I think most of my ribs and my nose have been broken.

“Think you’re a tough guy huh?” came a voice from behind me. I twisted my body around to see who it was only to face three humans that I have never seen before. One of them had the uniform of the town guard, the other two seemed to be dressed in leather. The one in uniform was the tallest, and seemed to be angry.

“Halflings are meant to be with halflings, do you understand?” the uniformed one said. I may not be smart but I could figure out what was happening here.

“I am surprised that so many town guard, and of such rank, have been called out to inform me of this. In case you missed it, I have already been beaten.” After that I even managed a smile thinking my ordeal soon over.

“That wasn’t my business earlier.” the man said gruffly, “You brought that on yourself, I just asked to have you when they were done.” The man then smacked me in the head with the empty bucket, as if to press in the point.

Unfortunately this just added to my difficulty in understanding. I tried to ask for more information but all I got was a gag pushed into my mouth. The next hour was very bad for me. I tried to block out the pain; it was severe. After about an hour I passed out from the pain. There is only so much a man can take. I did accomplish one thing though; I burned the image of the three men into my mind. Sometime in the future they will get their due. I do not know what I did to deserve the first beating of the day, but at least they had the compassion to stop after a while.

I do not know how long passed, but I was once again waken by a bucket of water. This time I couldn’t see out of either eye and had no idea of who was going to beat me this time. In fact I was expecting to not survive this one. Then a couple sets of hands held me as my feet were freed from the rope. Some kind of liquid was poured into my mouth that stung at first, but eventually took much of the pain away. I was very weak though and was about to pass out again. Just before slipping back into the darkness of slumber I heard a voice giving instructions on what temple to take me too, and to avoid the guards. I did not understand all of what was being said, but I did understand that the one giving orders sounded a lot like Areon. I will owe him big for this. I will owe him even more if he can tell me more about why I went through all of this.

I am starting to hate this town.

Posted by Jim at 08:23 | Tassar’s Journal

February 24, 2004


Theona's Journal

Kythorn 21, 1373, Silverymoon

Having friends is hard work— I had been a loner for years and never really minded that lifestyle. Areon was not kidding about the trouble either— all of our little circle of companions were having problems, which in turn were causing each other problems. Let me explain as I go, as my thoughts are in turmoil.

I quickly grabbed my backpack and followed Areon out of my house, leaving Dante to sleep off his drink. I didn’t even stop to wonder why he was unconscious in my side room, trusting Areon’s belief that time was of the essence. Areon took me towards our favorite tavern, and then stopped and cursed like he’d lost something. He hurriedly explained to me that we were looking for Tassar, who had been ambushed in the alley by a group of town guards. By the time Areon had climbed down from his view of the incident high up in the trees, the guards were gone, as was our short friend. Areon is normally an excellent tracker in the wilderness, but hasn’t learned all the nuances of following quarry within the city limits. Luckily I had sobered up enough to help— I spotted some drops of blood and drag marks leading from the alley behind the Bright Blade and we picked our way carefully, following the sporadic crimson trail. It was a long trail to follow, and we had to work together at a few points, because, though I could see that someone had been bleeding and dragged through the alleys, I wasn’t always clear which way they had turned. As much as he dislikes cities, Areon is learning to look for these differences when tracking, and between the two of us, we muddled through. When I asked him why we didn’t stop for Deitricha or Antonio, he indicated that they were the last two people that should be with us when we caught up with Tassar— Antonio’s father and Deitricha’s older brother, both members of the town guard in good standing, were apparently the ones that had beaten him and left him for dead!

It was nearly dawn by the time we found him. We had walked more than half the length of the city, backtracking multiple times, to eventually find him in a deserted building in the dock area well past the Moonbridge. We found Tassar strung up by his feet in an otherwise empty room, though a full bucket of water was on the floor below his hanging form. Tassar had bruises and congealing blood on nearly every bit of exposed skin, and his face was puffy and swollen. Areon was just tall enough to reach the knot on the rope to get him down, and I splashed some water on the halfling to revive him a bit. He didn’t seem altogether coherent and I was afraid he’d pass out again, so I used my remaining healing potion on him. Tassar just wasn’t coming around and I had suggested to Areon we take him to the Temple of Silver Stars (I’ve actually found work through them before and knew the Moonmistress would help Tassar, even with my limited gold). I started off with the halfling right away and Areon agreed to follow us at a distance to make sure we weren’t being followed.

Tassar needed a bit more healing than I realized; apparently, small folk have as many bones to break as us “tall” folk. Two clerics cleaned him up nicely for the 22 gold I offered, though of course Areon and eventually Tassar donated some to the temple afterwards. I must be sure to thank Selūne for the pleasant nature of her priests.

Tassar was hungry, of course, and it was time for breakfast, so we went back to the Bright Blade and found that Antonio was already there, and Deitricha had also just arrived. Antonio was clearly upset and begged us to get ready to leave town immediately. Deitricha just had a look of general unease, though we hadn’t yet told her of the night’s events. I had to go back and find Dante (who was not, apparently, eating with us) to see if he was going along to check out the ruined tower, or moving on with his Harper business, so we agreed to meet at my house midmorning. When I got home, Dante had departed without so much as leaving a note, though I didn’t think to look for any hidden symbols; it appears he was in even more of a hurry than Antonio, so we grabbed some supplies and departed. Antonio brought the horses and Otto around, but did not want to spend the time getting the wagon ready.

We were already well on our way out of town when we all finally got to discuss the events of the night before. I think that perhaps Tassar wanted to spare Antonio and Deitricha from some of the details, so he was a little vague with some of the story. Antonio admitted to having a falling out with his father, and Deitricha seemed to be aware that her brother was not comfortable with her relationship with a halfling, but no one was really making the connection. When we made camp later in the evening, I took watch with Deitricha, and managed to give her the rest of the story. I feel bad now— I thought I was doing her a favor, but now she is struggling with what appears to be divided loyalties. She believes her brother is a good person— we can only wonder what Tassar could have done to make her brother behave so horribly.

Being away from home seemed to have the desired effect for all of my companions: Areon is always happier when we are away from the city, Tassar looked a lot less paranoid, and even Antonio and Deitricha seemed to lighten up a bit. We were all maybe too relaxed— we almost tripped over a dead cow in the middle of the trail we followed. We hadn’t passed any farms, and there were no visible tracks to show how the cow had arrived and been slain and the cow was devoid of blood. It was injured prior to its death; that much was obvious, it just didn’t have any blood on it, nor was there any where it lay. Antonio insisted it was a vampire, but as none of us has ever seen a vampire (and Tassar doubts their existence altogether), we began to look around us for any obvious signs of blood sucking creatures of the night.

It was late morning, and the sun was shining. No vampires appeared that we noticed.

Another few miles down the road we did come to a farm, and I wanted to stop and let the people know of the mutilated cow. My friends were in a hurry, I think, but when Tassar thought he smelled freshly baked pie, he began running towards the farmhouse with Deitricha in tow.

The two men we found out working in a nearby field thanked us for finding “Nellie,” and said there had been a rash of killings on the neighboring McNam and Narl farms too, over the last three nights, with cattle found in similar conditions. Antonio asked if we could camp on the farm, and as I pointed out it was still only mid-morning, the friendly farmer mentioned that the hamlet of White Haven, just up the road, had a nice Inn that we’d probably prefer anyway. We thanked him and, seeing our other companions emerging from the farmhouse, headed back to the road leading west.

We soon arrived in the quaint little farming community and stopped at the Frosty Mug for a bit of lunch. Afterwards, my friends started fanning out one or two at a time, looking for places to shop for supplies, while I grilled an older human named Marl about the tower up the road. He took such a round about way to spit out the information that I was sure we’d all expire from old age long before he finished. Topping off his beverage of choice kept him interested in the conversation, but he remained painful to talk to. After several hours, I managed to get this much information:

The “old” tower is 100 years old. The wizard Kantrell disappeared 70 years ago when the tower blew up.
Rumor is that the tower was built over a gate leading right into one of the Hells.
Strange lights are seen around the ruined tower at night.
A band of fortune seekers went up a month ago and never came back. Group consisted of an elf, dwarf, gnome and something not-quite-right.

I presume that Marl is still telling the tale to anyone that is willing to listen, but, seeing that my friends were ready to forge ahead, I thanked him and hurried off.

We soon were heading west again, anticipating our imminent arrival at the tower. A seemingly random encounter brought our travel to an abrupt halt. We were traveling close to the River Rauvin and noticed some rather large footprints in the dirt headed towards the water. Curious, we walked a distance until we saw a huge troll, its back to us, facing the river. Now, none of us had ever killed a troll, but we knew they were bad news, and Antonio was fairly sure that fire was the answer (isn’t it always?). Areon and I let loose with arrow and bolt, while Tassar ran up to the beast and began to hack at it. Antonio used a magic missile while Deitricha, realizing the troll was regenerating from the damage, ran forward to throw oil on it (getting hit by an arrow from Areon in the process) and pulling the staggered Tassar away from what would surely have been a killing blow from the troll. Running to stand close to Antonio, I shouted to him to light my next bolt so we could safely ignite the oil from a distance. He started to agree, but then, inexplicably, ran forward and lit the troll with a spell that required him to touch the giant creature. Flames shot up from where he touched it, catching the beast on fire, which, in turn, enraged it. We couldn’t move fast enough— the troll’s claws ripped Antonio apart, killing him instantly. The monster succumbed to the flames moments later, never to rise again.

We were all in shock, but agreed that, even though he was fighting with his family, returning Antonio’s body home was the right thing to do. We turned around and headed right back to Silverymoon. We didn’t talk much on the way home, but at some point we realized that Deitricha, human cleric that she is, would be the best spokesperson for giving the sad news to his family, as there was no way we could begin to pay to have him raised, if it was even possible. I went with her, while our male companions waited for us nearby; if Antonio’s father had seen Tassar, somehow he would have been blamed for the tragic death. Deitricha smoothed over the incident; she described the incident to Antonio’s mother well enough, but she glossed over why we had left town in such a hurry to begin with. I just handed the grieving parent Antonio’s silver engraved mug (she didn’t ask for anything else he’d been carrying), and admittedly, I muttered a few things about why he’d left home the day before. Deitricha was mortified, though I doubt Antonio’s mother was even listening.

I am certain my companions will want to leave town again and head for that tower, but some of the thrill of the hunt has gone out of me. Realistically, we need to find an arcane magic wielder we can work with, and hopefully, get along with, to even make the attempt. Having a group of companions that I can trust and enjoying being with is a rare combination for me. I wish I had the calm determination Areon always seems to have— even with the tragedy that has befallen us, I felt safer having him close by.

Posted by Kristin at 21:39 | Theona’s Journal

February 26, 2004

William's Bio


William, image (c) Kristin Johnson
Born in Silverymoon, William is an only child. His mother died during his birth and he was raised by his aunt till around the age of 6. When he was older, his father thought it would be good for William to learn how the world works and decided to take him on some travels. It was rough sometimes, but William and his father seemed to make a good team. They went with different caravans to all the neighboring towns, and even as far away as Ten Towns. One day about five years ago, shortly after William’s 20th birthday, his father came down seriously ill while on a long journey. William’s father never did see Silverymoon again. William continued guarding caravans, but now with the 5-year contract being up, he wants to do some traveling of his own.

Character sheet: William Devono [Aasimar Warmage]

Cause of death: dire boar searching for the chewy nougat center.

Posted by Fred at 10:27 | XPCs

February 27, 2004

Looking for Adventure

William's Journal

I got home late last night from my last trip. I was paid as usual, and asked if I would like to sign on again. I refused; I told the Captain it’s too boring, but I’ll keep it in mind. I went down to the Bright Blade Brandished Inn for some dinner and a few drinks. Listening to some rumors I found out an old acquaintance had died during a short-lived adventure. I thought about it a little and decided I’ll find his companions, offer my sympathies, and any help they might require. I know some might find it wrong, but it still seems to be a good opportunity for me, that is, if they don’t mind my company. It only took a few questions to get some names and an address. Theona Galanodel seems to be the reasonable one to see first. Elves, are after, all a bit more sensible then most races. I’ll stop by her place around mid-morning. I only hope she’s home.

Posted by Fred at 11:58 | William’s Journal

February 29, 2004

Lessons of Tempus…

Tassar's Journal

Hurried breakfast…

I hurt, even with the wonderful work of the clerics I am in a lot of pain. I find myself limping to the Inn to find my friends. I am going to see if we can leave town for a few days. I am needing a break. Huh, come to think of it I didn’t even make it back home.

As I reach the bar I find I am regaining my sight quicker than I thought. In fact I am only seeing double right now. My right arm still feels broken, but the clerics insist it will be fine in a couple of days. My left knee does not want to bend, and both ankles still burn from the rope. My ribs feel like apple sauce. And I got a knot on the left side of my head that throbs with every breath I take. That was the worst beating I have ever had in my life.

I see Antonio; he is always the first one here. He seems disturbed by my appearance. I try to pass it off but he presses me for some information. So I inform him that I had had a run in with some town guards, and that it wasn’t anything major. This seemed to make him even more edgy than he was. Strange, I never mentioned his father, yet he seems to be making the connection anyway.

Moments later Areon, Deitricha and Theona arrive. Deitricha seemed to be in a bad mood before she noticed my bruises, and got even more so afterwards. I quickly give her the same excuse I gave Antonio. She seemed quite appalled that the town guard could do such a thing. This brought a smile to my lips, it hurt to smile but it felt good too.

When no one was looking I thanked Areon and Theona for their help. The clerics had filled me in on my friends’ great efforts to find and help me last night. They seemed to act like it was a common task to save a friend’s life in the dead of night, I on the other had think it was a wonderful deed that shall not be forgotten.

After a bit more of discussion on the behavior of town guards I found my self being the only one arguing for them. In my opinion they have a lot of responsibilities that most people never see. It becomes part of their nature to use force to resolve a few situations. I did not like the methods they used on me, but they certainly got their point across. At least most of them did, I still am trying to figure out the last part of the night. I have been corrected by town guards for a few different reasons over the years, but never for dating a human. I think something else is going on and I don’t have all the information yet.

Eventually the conversation returns to the idea of what to do next, or as Antonio wanted, when to do something. I agreed with him, I could use some distance from this town for a little bit. Maybe things can blow over by the time I return. In any event on my return I plan on getting a little information about Mr. Bucket as I have decided to call him. Him I will make the time to deal with.

The party has decided to go to the west, something about a tower. I admit I wasn’t paying the closest attention again. All I know is they all seem to agree and who am I to get in their way? Antonio and I went to get the mounts and then meet the rest of the party after they see if the bard Dante is going with us. In all the excitement I forgot to find out what happened to him last night.

Smooth trail …

We head out and find it to be a delightful day to be traveling. The weather is nice and so many things are blooming. Spring is truly the season of rebirth. Being out on days like this raises one’s spirits; the entire party seems to have a little bounce in their steps. Even the edgy Antonio is smiling. Back to normal, it is just the five of us since the party’s friend Dante has decide to take off without even much of a thank you. It is better this way; he didn’t seem to fit in much after he got changed back to human.

In a pleasant bit of comfort, we travel the first day without so much as seeing a couple of farmers and travelers. Areon finds us a nice spot to set up camp for the night and I quickly settled down to get some rest. After all, it had been a couple of days since I actually got any sleep. I think I have been generally awake since leaving Everlund.

The night went peaceful as well; I am starting to get a good feeling about this trip. Maybe it is just what the cleric ordered. Over breakfast my opinion changed. Apparently during their watch the ladies were talking and Theona mentioned a bit more about my encounter with the town guards than she needed. It had Deitricha in a feisty mood. It was during their conversation, which had renewed over breakfast, which I heard Deitricha mention that she didn’t think it was her brother. I almost couldn’t eat my breakfast. I asked her to repeat what she had said, and she did.

Now the pieces are falling into place, Mr. Bucket must be her brother. Oh he is going to pay for this. I disagree with what Antonio’s father had done, but that I understand. He is trying to protect his son. But I haven’t brought any harm to Deitricha; in fact I think we have been good for each other lately. Just another tall freak that hates little people. I can understand wanting to protect your sister, but from dating? And the fact is that he beat me relentlessly. He beat me until I passed out, just to wake me up and start again. I would have died if Areon and Theona hadn’t found me when they did. No he took things too far, and I will have to teach him a lesson. One that he will never forget.

Fresh pie and fairytales …

We set out after breakfast, one that disturbed me so much I barely had room for seconds. Other than Deitricha and my new simmering anger at Mr. Bucket, the rest of the party still seemed to be in good spirits. I even caught Areon whistling a little tune to himself. I would even go as far as to say that he was doing more daydreaming than watching where we were going. It became obvious to the rest of us when he nearly tripped over a dead cow. I don’t think he heard our snickers, he was to busy trying to look intrigued by the cow.

As usual I began to let my mind wonder while they looked at the body. But the rest of the party was taking it as if it was a great sign from the gods. In fact I only joined their conversation when I heard them say it must be a vampire. Ha! There is no such thing, and I had to tell them. While they continued to tell each other stories of vampires; I walked around them and mocked them, using my fingers as fangs. It was bad enough that they wanted to see a tower with a supposed ghost, now we are to believe a vampire came to the area. And it came to feed on a cow in the middle of nowhere. HA!

Shortly after they finished the stories of creatures THAT NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN, we continued on our path to the tower. This leg of the journey was shorter then the last, for as we rounded the very next bend we spotted a few small farms. The party wondered if they should go down and talk to the farmers, a bit of time wasting I was not interested in, then I smelled it. Oh yes, fresh baked pie. I told the group that they definitely needed to talk to the farmers and started walking to the nearest farm. This was the one with the pie; I could smell it a mile away. And after all, it had been so long since breakfast.

When we were greeted by a couple of the farmers near a small barn I let them try to ask their questions, I really did. But sooner than I could help my belly made me ask about the pie. The rude farmers didn’t even listen to me, I think the simpletons thought I was just a kid. Before I could get angry Deitricha grabbed my hand and dragged me to the house to inquire about the pie, a fact that probably seemed to confirm the farmer’s opinion.

The lady that answered the door was a very kind and talkative lady. She, unlike her family seemed to recognize a Halfling and talked to me like an adult. In fact the kind woman refused any pay for the pie, insisting that, “Anyone who visits this house will find friends, not an innkeeper.” I like her, she even gave me a couple of extra rolls when Deitricha was distracted, telling me that she understands how halflings need to keep their strength up. While Deitricha tried in vain to offer the lady some payment for her kindness, I took a few silvers and put them under my napkin. My guess is that she could definitely use the money, and I found the kindness worth more than the food. I only hope to get away before she tries to give the money back.

Tourists …

After we move on away from the farmhouses, my friends try to tell me of the stories they learned from the farmers. This only led to me mocking them more. I just can’t imagine grown adults believing in such stories. Things like vampires and ghost are just made up to keep little children in line. I have had enough of it.

Theona says we are traveling to a town called Evergreen, or was it Wintergreen, …Everwinter, oh it was something like that. It is no more than two hours from the farmsteads and she said we should make it there quickly.

True to her word we found the little hamlet just after peaking a small hill. It is a small town; one bar. This is nearly unlivable to my standards. How can the people of this town survive with only one bar? No wonder I have never heard of this place.

We stop into the bar and get a drink, oh it feels good to wash the dust from the road down. After a quick bite I thought we would be going, I was wrong. Antonio and I were done eating and ready to go when Theona and Deitricha decided to get some information about the tower. They found a local who was happy to tell them anything they would like to hear for a few ales.

Now, having traveled enough to see the futility of this act, I left the bar with Antonio, the last thing I needed was him paying for more rounds of ale for the story teller. You see, in every bar there is a person who will give you an exiting tale, for ale that is. And if you don’t know any better, he will drink all your money up without telling you anything real. I have seen the look of these people before, and Theona’s new friend has that look.

Figuring to have some time on my hands, as Theona had lots of coin to offer for ale, I took Antonio to the general store across from the bar. Two minutes later, after seeing everything the town had to offer, we decided to go to the edge of town and wait for our friends. I began teaching Otto to bring me my backpack. It was amusing, and led to a couple of games of chase. I think Otto is teaching me the game instead.

After the second hour of doing nothing, we were joined by Areon who had finally had enough. He mentioned that the man had been repeating the same stories for a little while, but Theona seemed not to notice. The three of us, and Otto, settled down under a large oak and took a nap. It was a nice little nap which lasted about an hour and a half before the ladies had their fill of the story teller.

The road to the tower…

It didn’t take long for the men in the party to get around and ready to leave, in fact we practically dragged the women out of the town, in fear they wanted to talk to the drunk again. The tower should be close, from all stories it is within two hours of this town. We hit the road and start a nice conversation. Areon is beginning to get a sense of humor, he doesn’t even get mad when I call him a tree-hugger anymore.

Things are going quite nice, bordering on extreme boredom, until we came across a set of tracks. Areon said it is troll tracks, just one though. He then gets down on his knees and examines the tracks closer. He tells us they are very fresh, then mumbles something in another language. Being the first thing to do in days and really itching for a good fight we head off to follow the tracks.

It didn’t take long, the troll was by the river, just a couple hundred feet from us. He was big. I have never seen, let alone fought one of these, but I still think this would be a large troll. It stands nearly nine feet tall, it has a greenish yet brownish skin. Deep eyes and the largest nose of any creature that I have ever seen on two legs.

Tempus’s call is strong so I shout at the creature and begin towards it. The rest of the party apparently did not hear Tempus as clearly, as they lagged behind. The beast was upon me before I could imagine. It has a speed that defies its large size. Luck is with me as I get first blood. My short sword digs a deep gash in its thigh, which begins to heal almost immediately. Truly the stories about these creatures have not been wrong. Before I can level my sword and dagger for defense the massive brute strikes with speed and power that I will never forget. In one quick action it hit me with both of its massive claws and then if that wasn’t enough, it sunk the strikes in and twisted them in my flesh. This was the greatest hit I have ever witnessed in my life.

I was nearly knocked from my feet. It took everything I had to remain standing in defiance of the creature. I think that may have bought me a few minutes for the creature seemed to study me in wonder as how I didn’t fall dead from his first move. I was left with a bit of a slump, my left arm nearly useless and my vision blurred by both my blood and the fact that my mind was screaming in pain. Somehow, from deep within I gathered strength and lashed out with both weapons. Mind you they were weak swings, but my blades did taste its flesh and send a clear signal that I was still in this.

Over the next few minutes we traded swings, mine mostly in parry for I was nearer to death at this moment than life, but something told me if I fall here my friends will be slaughtered. I stood my ground. Every few seconds an arrow would fly by, luckily not hitting me, but most missed the massive beast also. I felt the presence of someone behind me, I could not tell who as I was using every ounce of my resources to fend of the deadly attacks of the troll.

It was Deitricha, she shouted something and flung some oil on the beast. I shouted for her to get back, I told her I had it under control. To tell the truth my body was begging me to give in to the creature and stop the pain. I think I was about to pass out from the blood loss when Deitricha grabbed me by my armor and dragged me away from the fight. Everything in my soul shouted “NO!” but my body truly did not have the ability to listen. Just then the horrible happened, Antonio rushed in to a short distance and cast fire on the troll. To most creatures this would have been bad, but to this troll, in the midst of battle rage, this was an unforgivable act. The troll was in flames, both the oil and its natural flammability had the entire length of the creature burning. It didn’t seem to care about me anymore, it was going after Antonio.

In the same swift and devastating attack it had brought on me, it struck Antonio and rendered my friend to pieces. The heart of the party broke, I broke free of Deitricha and launched my dagger into the creature as Areon and Theona launched their arrows and bolts. The creature soon fell, succumbed by the combined wounds and fire damage. But its damage was done. The party stood in silent awe at the loss of our charismatic friend.

I was prepared to bury my friend right on the spot, but Deitricha said we should take him back to his family. So they can grieve properly. I could see the honor in that, but seconds later, I realized that this could lead to my death. Oh his father will want some retribution, and who else will he want to feel his pain but his new punching dummy Tassar?

The silent trail…

The party traveled an unobstructed road back to Silverymoon. Every inch of the way I felt more and more fear for my life. I have never feared before, and was having a hard time dealing with it. I kept mostly to myself the day and a half it took to reach Silverymoon, lost in the thoughts of my lost friend and the upcoming consequences. We got to the gates of the town and a part of me wanted to be shot down at the spot, I have had a growing feeling of guilt ever since the battle with the troll. If I had stayed in combat with the beast, Antonio would be alive. I am filled with shame and anger.

After entering the city, I went to the nearest Inn and registered under the name of Otto. Once in my room I block the door and prepare my weapons for battle. I truly believe that I shall have a troop of town guards at any time. I just keep rocking back and forth thinking: I am going to die, I am going to die.

Lessons of Tempus…

After a few hours of panic in the small room I fell into a sleep. The hours on the road and lack of sleep the last two days overtook me. I dreamed of the battle, again and again. I dream of seeing Antonio’s eyes in the moment of his pain. Then I dreamt of a man, he was a cleric of Tempus. He was very angry with me, he said my friend would be alive if I had not been such a coward. Tempus teaches us that we must stand against our enemies; any ground given is given in a loss that takes a bit of our soul.

The cleric then tells me that no worshiper of Tempus would hide, caved up in a room and shaking in fear. Then the man touched my cheek with his hand and all the fear I had went away. In fact I was filled with an inner strength and a sense of purpose that I have never felt before. I asked the man his name, he shook his head and said, “In time, little warrior.” Then in a flash I was awake. It took a while to put all the pieces together in my mind. This couldn’t have been just a dream, no, I still feel the power of the man’s words.

Slow at first, but then with more speed and confidence I unblock the door and gather my belongings. I have not seen Lady Brenin in over a week. I will not be in town twice and not see her. She must be worried about me and I can not let that be. I check out of the Inn and began walking home. For that is what Lady Brenin’s place has become, my home. As I walk I begin to plan, I will have a meeting with Mr. Bucket. Yes, he shall pay the consequences for his actions. Before that, I shall have to give my respects to Antonio’s family. That shall be the order: Lady Brenin, Antonio’s family, then Mr. Bucket.

Posted by Jim at 13:17 | Tassar’s Journal

A terrible time, altogether.

Deitricha's Journal

Well, I finally left the practice grounds and headed for the tavern. Everyone else was there already, looking grim. Antonio immediately said he wanted to leave, and so did Tassar, who looked awful! When I asked what happened, he just shook his head darkly and muttered that “the guard is evil”. What? Somehow, it came out that Antonio’s father and some other guards had beaten him up. Suddenly, Tassar wanted to know all about this brother of mine in the Guards, too. Impossible!

We did all agree to head out of town and let things settle down. Theona and I set off for her place to tell Dante to go (I guess things didn’t work out, I was too distracted looking for my brother to ask), but he had left already. Tassar and Antonio soon arrived with the pack horses and we headed out of town (with no trouble at the gates, thank Tymora, but no sign of our family members, either. Antonio must have been in quite an argument with his Dad!). We traveled all day, set up camp, and I finally got to quiz Theona about Tassar. It wasn’t good. I could just cry - and I’m definitely telling my parents!

The night was quiet. The morning was bright and clear, and Antonio gave us all some coffee. I tried to apologize to Tassar about my family, but he just seems to want to forget it all. We hadn’t traveled far before finding a dead cow by the side of the road. Curious, we checked closer, and found that it had been drained of blood, yet there were no prints to show what had done the killing! We gave up looking and went on, but it was a quiet walk - I was pondering just what may be in this tower, after all. When we saw some farmsteads, we decided to tell them about the cow and ask for any news of the area.

As we walked up to some farmers by the barn, the smell of fresh-baked pie wafted from the house. We told the farmers about the cow, and they were unsurprised. We started to ask why not, but Tassar was so distracted by the smell of baking, I left the others to the task and headed for the house. I asked the housewife politely for a slice or two, and she was glad to oblige. Tassar soon had a big glass of milk and plate of pie in front of him, and I think she was pleased with the compliment to her cooking - she wouldn’t let us pay her for the treat! Full for the moment, we headed back to our friends, to hear that we were still heading for the ruined tower. At least there was a small town and tavern before the place. Tassar was already looking for some ale. Halflings and their famous appetites!

I found that the farmers must have mentioned something vampiric, as Antonio was racking his brain for ways to keep the things off. I fear his advice will be taken with a large grain of salt, since Tassar decided to mimic him behind his back. I did my best to restrain my giggles, and finally, we were back on the road. We reached White Haven by the end of the day - a small hamlet, but the Frosty Mug tavern was ample for our needs - food and drink! Theona went into information-gathering mode, but didn’t find out much. The tower’s a hundred years old, the wizard who built it disappeared when the tower blew up but may also be haunting the place. Strange lights are seen there, and the last party of adventurers to visit haven’t returned.

I wonder if the last party even made it to the tower; we certainly did not! The horses became nervous as we walked, and then all of us could see the large tracks crossing the road. Troll! We quickly talked over whether to follow it, and Tassar made up our minds again - already almost out of sight before we knew he was going. The troll was not far away, with the river at his back. Hoping to slow it down, Theona began shooting at it from a distance; it charged, and was met in battle by our Tassar! The others kept shooting at it as I ran to the horses for one of Antonio’s flasks of oil. I turned back in time to see the troll doing an incredible amount of damage to Tassar, who kept right on stabbing, even as its wounds healed up.

Well, it was my turn for crazy heroics, I guess. I raced up to the troll, getting shot from behind by one of my cohorts (was that Areon yelling, “sorry!”?), and splashed it with the contents of the flask. Tassar was staggering badly, so I grabbed him and ran for our lives. Of course, he was shouting at me, but this time it was different - I turned in time to see Antonio run up to the troll to set it on fire. I guess he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss, but it cost him his life. The troll, enraged by the flames engulfing it, immediately tore him to pieces! It was a terrible sight. Areon and Theona shot the thing, Tassar threw his dagger, and the troll quickly burned to death, but there was no joy in the victory. Antonio was beyond my help.

I healed Tassar and prayed over our friend. I realized the others weren’t entirely sure what to do next - but I had no doubts. The tower must wait; we must take our fallen friend home. The longer we waited, the harder it would be to face his family. It was a very sad trip. I told the guards at the gates to send Antonio’s father home, and brought him to his mother. I told her how he had died, saving our lives, and bore with their grief as best I could. We weren’t there long, which turned out to be a blessing, since Theona blames his father’s behavior for causing this, somehow. Lady Tymora, I hope they didn’t hear her in the street! We then separated for a little while; I wanted to pray at my Temple, and then I went and told my parents about my brother. They agreed that he’d overstepped his bounds, but since he’s out on patrol, I’ll have to have words with him later.

Meanwhile, Areon’s watching over Tassar, who’s holed up somewhere in town in hiding. He’s probably right that the guards will find a way to blame him for this, no matter what’s the truth. I’m hoping to see Theona soon; until then, I’m just going to wait in the tavern to see what turns up. Poor Antonio! He was a really good guy.

Posted by Kate at 13:21 | Deitricha’s Journal