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May 17, 2005

Back in the Battle Again

Theona's Journal

Eleasis 5, 1373 DR, near giants’ fortress

While Areon and our comrades helped the two humans out of one pit, I tried to talk to the troll in the other. In fact, we all tried to figure out its guttural language with no luck; thankfully a quick bit of healing (after a bit of screaming “It’s him!” directed at Beowulf by our rescuees) restored the wits of the two human caravan guards, one of which happened to speak enough “troll” to act as a translator.

Trolls, it seems, have a lot to say when given the opportunity to talk. Gral, as he called himself, was in a pit for “dereliction of duty.” In this case, “dereliction of duty” meant that Gral was opposed to the servitude of his tribe to some giants from further north, which were making the trolls raid caravans in search of a “shiny cat.” This “shiny cat” had apparently been found in the most recent caravan raid and was now on its way to the giants. Gral was more than willing to be our guide on the three day trip north in exchange for being let out of the pit. Unfortunately, the caravan guard that spoke troll was not willing to go along, even for a hefty sum of gold. We were torn between needing to continue after the silver tiger and knowing the two guards wouldn’t stand much of a chance attempting to slog to Yartar on their own. Rosorc stepped forward at this point, and offered to guard the guards on their trek out of the Evermoors. In a way I am sorry to see him leave us, but there has been almost constant tension between him and Areon, and that is not likely to change.

We all spent one last evening as a group. After determining that the exit in the troll sleeping quarters where we’d battled simply led outside, I looked at some of the stranger items that we’d collected but not yet identified. We’d found two scrolls, one of which no one else seems to be able to read— I’ll keep that. Tyan took the other scroll. We all agreed that Areon should keep the greatsword and ring found in our last battle— we think the ring provided the troll leader with some sort of immunity to fire, but have no idea what powers the greatsword has. We also obtained a crystal wand that no one could identify. I figured out quickly that it can shatter things— like the back wall of the cave we were resting in. Tyan can have it.

The night was blissfully quiet. And, thankfully, Deitricha’s deity provided her with spells that allow her brief communication with our troll guide, so after they worked out a way of signaling each other that they needed to talk, we were able to be on our way.

After traveling through swamp land for eight hours, Gral signaled to our cleric the need to speak with her. He smelled giants! Luckily we were able to hide before they reached us. There were three of them, all twice my height and with a slightly simian appearance. Turned out that Deitricha’s spell allowed her to understand giants too— she heard them complain that their leader Krank was following hobgoblin orders to collect certain items. And that some leader named Grom was an ass. Now, that part was interesting— could there be more than one Grom in these parts? If only we’d been able to finish him off in the Nether Mountains!

We decided to make camp without a fire. I took watch for the first half of the night, and Areon the second; though various times throughout the night someone else sat up watching Gral (who had no trouble sleeping). Once, Areon saw some lights in the distance, but they may have just been swamp gasses.

The next day we traveled another eight hours without seeing a soul. We had just made camp and I was taking the first watch again, with Beowulf staying awake to watch Gral. I heard a noise in the distance that sounded like a lot of creatures walking towards our camp; Beowulf obligingly turned into a bat to go take a look, while I roused our friends. The druid was back a few moments later to inform us that there was a band of at least 16 orcs just a few yards behind him! The unmistakable sound of “Charge!” in orcish confirmed it and we quickly made ready to meet the enemy.

Tyan took out a half dozen right away with a fiery spell. Two orcs attacked me; I was able to drop one and Areon finished off the other. I saw magic missiles coming from the darkness beyond our melee and began to shoot bolts in that direction— it was probably a shaman of some sort though I never got a good look at it. Soon, all the orcs lay dead at our feet— and we found that Gral had been torn to pieces by a dire boar at the same time. I asked everyone to gather up the limbs— thankfully, Gral was still alive and by placing the limbs close to the remains of his torso, his amazing healing abilities allowed him to reattach the limbs. Soon he was munching happily on the remains of the boar.

We decided we’d best move on a bit before camping again— a half-mile walk seemed like a safe enough distance should any other bands of orcs be following after the group we fought with.

We had another eight hours of travel across a bleak landscape before coming to the edge of a river. In the distance, we could see a crumbling fortress with a bridge connecting its two sides across the waterway. Gral indicated that we had arrived where the giants live.

Posted by Kristin at 00:50 | Theona’s Journal

May 25, 2005

The Weaker Sex

Theona's Journal

Eleasis 6, 1373 DR, near giants’ fortress

Well, the good news is, Areon and I are still alive. Unfortunately, Beowulf is not.

We made a fireless camp far enough away from the fortress that we could watch it with little chance of it watching back. Beowulf, as normal, insisted on doing a “fly by” of the giants’ stronghold and turned into a bat, fluttering off into the twilight. I took watch while my companions rested. No, I take that back; Glitch found out I had a few flasks of ale and decided to keep me company— there is something wrong with that little fellow. A few minutes after everyone else had settled in, I saw non-bat movement swooping towards the camp. Beowulf was lucky that I had seen him in bird-form before, and have excellent night vision, else he’d have had a bolt through him— I was already waking our friends for the imminent arrival of something non-bat. As it was, he had been run through by a javelin, which only proved that the fortress was occupied. He assured us he’d led his attackers in the opposite direction before returning to camp, so we didn’t have to relocate.

Morning arrived with no further excitement, and it looked like the day would be unexciting as well. Areon decided to go “foraging” so I quickly agreed to go with him. Turns out he really wanted to go foraging. So there we were, foraging, when we both heard a sort of flapping sound, and looking up, saw something large and white coming right for us. Areon ducked down and hid quickly. I hid under him.

After a few moments, I pulled out my flask, realizing I needed a drink badly, which is odd, as I usually only feel like that in uncomfortable social situations. Then I realized it was Areon that needed the drink, and handed the flask to him— he must be acquiring some of my habits, as I am pretty sure he doesn’t drink! Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be sober from here on out unless there is something worth drinking in that fortress.

We eventually foraged a bit more and returned to our human friends and troll companion Gral. Luckily, they hadn’t seen anything large fly overhead.

We tried to rest until dusk, as we planned to all try visiting the fortress as a group. What a horrible mistake! I swear none of our companions have ever been able to be consistently quiet; they may as well just yell, “We’re here!” when we “sneak” anywhere. I’ll have to remember to repack their bags so things don’t rattle, and maybe Areon or I can show them how to walk without making a clomping sound. Even Tyan’s rat familiar sounds like he’s banging on something half the time. But for now, at least one orange-skinned humanoid knew we were coming, though it ducked out of sight before we got close enough to stop it.

So, we clattered over to the fortress and saw that there was a way in just about 15’ up one crumbling side. Areon quickly pulled himself up, and I followed; soon everyone was up the wall, except Gral, who wisely waited on the ground. Just as I was telling everyone to stand back so I could check for traps, I discovered that I was already standing on one. I managed to trigger it as Areon jumped out of the way, and fell a few feet into the pit that appeared below me. I’d have been quite all right had there not been so many sharp spikes at the bottom— I landed so that my right leg was skewered by two of them. To make matters worse, instead of a rope being thrown to me, two vials of fiery liquid (and not the kind I could drink either) were tossed in and I was rather badly burned. Thankfully a rope was dropped down next. Beowulf assisted me in climbing up while I simultaneously dowsed the fire spreading through my clothes, and then provided me enough healing to get me standing again. I saw that the two hobgoblins that threw the fire on me were being dispatched by the others and shot one with my crossbow.

Then, somewhere further into the fortress, a horn was sounded and more hobgoblins arrived. Tyan had cast some sort of spell on Areon that had turned him giant-sized, and he was making quick work of the monsters. Unfortunately, the larger size meant more creatures were able to encircle and attack him. As even more hobgoblins and ogres appeared, Areon started to look overwhelmed.

I quickly disabled the pit trap and got it closed, and just in time, as Areon had to back over the area as the hall filled up. One of the ogres was a bit different than the others; the difference became more apparent when it cast a spell that froze the entire group. Not froze as in frozen in place, but as in very, very cold! Areon fell down and I was sure he was dead. I figured if he died I’d die anyway, so I used the wand that provides curing on him— it was enough to get him conscious again. I turned to see that Beowulf looked bad, dead even; Deitricha said he was beyond her help. The rest of us would not have survived another spell from that ogre mage, but luckily, it had been just as damaged and fled the area. But, we had to leave too, as a hill giant had stomped into view.

We grabbed Beowulf’s remains and hauled ourselves out— thankfully Shadow was still following the last command the druid gave, to “protect” Tyan, though I’m not sure how the wolf will react when it realizes Beowulf won’t be giving it further instructions.

I feel terrible that this poor human has passed— they are just so frail! At least, the males are—could be why Deitricha prefers males from other races.

Posted by Kristin at 18:29 | Theona’s Journal