The Lance of Marduk
Thoughts, Ruminations, and Old Stories
The 18th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
This has been an eventful past month. (and a long time since I have written here). The path of an exile does not leave much for me to do in my free time other than my job as a paladin and running from bounty hunters…
I encountered a drunkard Tiefling and a crook Halfling; I had to drag them out of Bern. Yet there is no motivation for me to reprimand them, just to make sure they stay out of trouble – they behave just like my younger brother and sister. The resemblance is uncanny. So, for my brother and sister, I accepted them into my family. I’ll be damned if I am unable to protect them..
Second, I got into a fight in town, in the Great Cathedral of all places! So be it. The fool that started the brawl was a rotund wizard with the most red eyes I have ever seen. He seems rather crafty and has an enthusiasm for fire (as noted due to his use of fire spells in general).
It turns out that a Half-Elf was searching for a party to go explore the area around…what was it… .Winter…? Winterhaven? Ahh…I remember Winterhaven, now. It has been far too long since I have ventured there. Perhaps during my next wanderings that I will visit there more often. I digress. The town has appeared to be the host of necromancers. for several years. I have heard the rumors around the Cathedral, but there is nothing there for certain..
I best return to the watch. It grows late in the night.. I have a rather uneasy feeling about what’s to happen.
The 5th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
We have reached Winterhaven, but at a great cost. Vairis has fallen in an ambush set up by Kobolds.
It happened in a flash. They stormed from around the trees and flanked us from all sides. I was immobilized with what appeared to be a crude glue. I tried to hold the front and shield our band from the heavy attackers. , Phenex, our Halfling named Vairis, and Mykhail tried to hold the rest of the forces back. Vairis tried to escape from the pincer that the Kobolds formed around him and I. However, they predicted his action and knocked him clean off his feet – he had the misfortune of landing on a rock and falling unconscious. It is what our pyrous and lardaceous friend, Mykhail did next that was the worst thing. He tried to sear the front with fire magic – he did, too well. I was burned, and the two Kobolds next to me were incinerated.
At my feet, I saw the charred remains of Vairis, .
There was a bitter taste of Kobold blood, and it tasted as sweet as it used to.
Another death that I could have prevented. If only you were not so rash, friend.
It grows late now. I shall recall what has happened since we have reached Winterhaven. We found Bjorn, Vairis’ boy toy (or was it the other way around? Whatever) and delivered a message from Vairis to him. Aye, he was not happy to find out about his death. We have Bjorn and Phenex settled down and drinking now – I swear, we could irrigate a farm with the tears they shed, but enough teasing them, it has been a long day. We plan to head out to an old keep that is supposedly occupied by goblins – the rumors stated that this would be a good place to start searching for that damned cult.
The 6th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
Just a day’s walk and we’ve reached the keep. From there, it is just a regular day as a soldier again. Except with more death (not us of course) than I’m accustomed to. First we skirmished with a small force of goblins – just as annoying as I remember them to be. I cannot believe that they were as lucky as they were: we took several severe hits. We survived well enough, but one escaped. Either way, he is hurt. He won’t last long without help.
But the fun did not end there. We encountered reanimated corpses,. The first ones were rather old and decaying, but as we proceeded further, we fought more… intact ones, for lack of a better word, that were bearing the crest of Bahamut – strange considering how Bahamut does not like the undead. This is concerning. Perhaps I will find the answer tomorrow. Either way, we have resolved our conflict simply by asking Bahamut to protect us – I should have guessed this in the first place. We are resting for the night; We need the rest. I could barely stand earlier – the dead are more deadly than I remember them to be.. Yet something bears ill. My scales do not sit well. I should steel myself for what I may need to do.
The 19th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
Aye a strange day indeed. We run into the first non-aggressive undead for the first time, and Bjorn has to go into a faith-charged assault.. I’ve never had to hit an ally with so much force before. He did not leave me with much choice. That and Ser Keegan would have torn us to shreds – his bones were moving too smoothly for an undead.. While I sympathize with Bjorn on the undead aspect, I noticed that Bahamut had left him intact when I prayed at the altar outside of the room yesterday – he was on the good side as far as I know. After our detaining of our now unconscious dwarven bag of potatoes, we had a strange discussion regarding raw grain consumption – I’ve never heard of such names for grains: Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs and the sort. Afterwards, we got down to business and Ser Keegan began to elaborate about the dark forces that once plagued this keep. He cracked a few jokes. I forgot that the undead still have some sense of humour. They are rather Humerus at times (hehe…).
In the process, we managed to find out about the origins of the rumors to our necromancer problem – a cult of Orcus. We WILL run into some problems with them. Ser Keegan has entrusted us with solving this problem as well as Marla, and as proof, he bestowed upon us his enchanted blade. Aye, what a fine blade, with the crest of Bahamut nonetheless! But I felt that Phenex would make better use out of it in the long run – her old blade is a glorified mace at this point.
The 20th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
Not much time for writing later today, so might as well get it done now.
Aye, we’ve made it back to Winterhaven. I’ve set down our dwarven friend back in the inn – he is fine, he’ll be up proper later today. We’ll also be setting out later today to quell the rest of the local Kobolds – a request from the local noble. Of course, we will receive payment. Before that, I’ need to make my way to the market: we need some extra gold for supplies, and three platinum statues of Bahamut would give us some extra money (we of course kept two. – one for me and one for Bjorn, and it sounds like he has a plan for the platinum).
Oh, there’s a new sight. Phenex is up early.
Aye, ‘t’was Phenex. She’ s up and about buying supplies, and it looks like she is preparing breakfast again. Her cooking reminds me of my sister’s – she might as well be my sister’s doppelganger! And like my sister, I do not want to disappoint her, but there is no clean way to tell her that I cannot grant her request for the aid of my Riiae – I affirmed that I would ask, but I did not bluff well enough, I feel.
That being said, there is no clean way to tell the others that I am an exile. What a burden and a shame for me… my comrades know me honourable, and I am justified in that title by my Riiae and actions. Yet, the title “Exile” bears such a weight that I cannot truly escape. “Exile. Exile.” Such an odd word, now that I think about it. So fleeting, such a bitter and sour taste when spoken.
I wonder how my family is. . . .It will be a long while… how much I miss them…
Aye, but this is no time to get too sentimental, I still have my duty to do. I only hope that Bahamut guides me well.
The 21st Day – The Time of Cool Winds
Aye, I don’t have to man the watch this evening, but I just cannot sleep or be calm – ‘tis already past the witching hour. The expedition will be a failure if I don’t try to rest, at least. Perhaps continuing in this chronicle will help me at least relax.
I’ll at least take the time to talk about my comrades – I’ve only been explaining our actions up until now. The only one, dear reader (if someone else reads this), that I have addressed would be Phenex, for obvious reasons stated already. I look forward to consider many of my comrades to becoming my adopted family – I would pledge my life to them when that time comes.
Let’s start with our Halfling, Vairis. I had found him tr’ying to steal Phenex’s belongings while she was in a drunken stupor. He has passed. No doubts about that anymore. He behaved exactly like my younger brother. So mischievous and always getting into trouble with everyone, especially the dwarves. He was rather nimble with his fingers, stealing things, gambling, whatever, you name it. But at the end of the day, he was a good-hearted fella – meaning well, but controlled by his impulses. I have a sense that he had to behave that way. I’ll never truly know now. Sleep well, brother. Aye, how he came to travel with me? I’ll tell that now with Phenex.
My sister’s doppelganger, Phenex. I found Phenex on the outskirts of Bern as I was departing the lands – it was the end of the third week of my exile. As you have read, Vairis was trying to steal her belongings, I stopped him and knocked him unconscious. Aye, the minute I paused and gazed at the whole scene. I saw my sister. Always drinking, always fumbling around and sleeping wherever and whenever she could drink no more. Aye, a problematic habit, but she was such a sweet-heart and a formidable mind. I could never get mad at her. I had no idea how she would behave when I first encountered Phenex. Either way, I could not leave her there, and it would not be wise for a Halfling to be left to the wolves (figuratively and physically). I slung both her and Vairis over my shoulder and they have been traveling with me since. Her skills are interesting – she has the Power of Tirlor, a rare and treasured gifts among the Dragonborn. I cannot truly explain it, but to put it simply: she has a way with words. Her combat skills are rather good too, I still feel that she need some more technical refinement though.
Aye, next we have our Half-Elf, Aryawnn. I know you reader. I know you are thinking that she reminds me of another sibling. Not this time. I do have an elder sister, but she behaves more like me, and is generally far more successful than I am (AND NOT EXILED).
I am technically under Aryawwn’s employment, but she sees me more as a peer than anything. I’ve missed this type of interaction with people – just an appreciation of skill and knowledge between two people as equals. I met her in Fallcrest – I was recruited to investigate the strange-goingson in Winterhaven. I’ll be joining her as a peer this time around – a hired arm is less effective than a comrade if you ask me. She is rather quiet and straight to the point. I like that in people; the more direct, the better thoughts can be formed, if you ask me. There is much more to her than it appears, but her mind is guarded well. I cannot read her on occasion because of that. This should not be worrysome, she follows logic more than emotions (though there is a time and place for emotions). Her skills are formidable and rather convenient at times. The problem is that her luck is not so high – she misses quite frequently. She has the skill, but something is nagging me that something is interfering with her full power. To put it in perspective, if she and I were gambling, I would win frequently. I am horrible at gambling.
Following Aryawnn, we have Bjorn. Aye, the team continues to get more diverse. He may be small, but the power that he wields is great – he is affiliated with the Ravenqueen, one who I recall to bestow great strength to her more devout followers. He is a rather hearty fellow. A thirst for life (figuratively and actually) that I have rarely seen. I don’t know much else about him right now except that he was Vairis’ lover and his combat skills are… well… I’ll say that I am not looking forward to being hit by him in any way if it reaches that point.
There is also Mykhail, our pyromaniac wizard. Most of us don’t like him, but we acknowledge his power. Either way, he is currently sitting…hanging… in a jail right now. We will probably fetch him eventually.
Aye, the fatigue has at last set in. Farewell for now.
The 22nd Day – The Time of Cool Winds
Aye, what a fight. I’ve just woken up, the second after Phenex – she seems to be preparing food again. I would just like to say something. I do not mind being the decoy, as I have the armor for it and I want to protect the others, but I cannot say that I will get used to it. My head is throbbing and I can barely hold my quill. I’ll write before I forget this story later.
We approached the waterfall, only to be ambushed by kobolds. They were not terribly strong, but they managed to overwhelm Bjorn. He shortly got back up with aid from one of us. We rested once more before we challenged the lair.
When we entered the cave, we saw a horde of kobolds charge at us. Everyone except Phenex managed to escape the wave of crude spears. I breathed a wave of acid that bathed our adversaries, searing the flesh from their bones. We branched from there, trying to strike down the kobolds. A strange sight though – a goblin with twin battleaxes began skulking around us; rumors from town dubbed this mysterious leader of the kobold pack as ‘Irontooth’ for that iconic helmet he wears.. He closed in slowly as we were wravelled in combat. Bjorn charged at him with that reckless abandon that I’ve already grown fond of. Aryawwn and Phenex swung at the other Kobolds with some success. One fell, two fell. There, the battle plummeted into a scene I still remember with my bones.
Aye. The smell of blood and the taste for combat. I fight out of anger at times, but only in one occasion have I had such a bloodlust. No reader, when I lost Vairis, that was not it. I best be careful. I don’t want those around me to fall to it again. I don’t think I could lose one again…
I digress, but all of a sudden, I felt a sudden urge to flick off whatever was above me; I noticed my comrades did that too. Weird.
The kobold sorcerer made his move, throwing fireballs of a rather pathetic heat compared to my fire-breathing Riiae. I was unlucky, I took several to my head, as did Aryawwn and Bjorn. The army of rats tried to surround us, trapping Bjorn and I between their ring of death. I called down the power of Bahamut and swung at Irontooth to my left. I barely scratch those glimmering molars that smile at pain – lucky bastard. In response, Irontooth and the kobolds swiped at Bjorn and I with a combined brutish force. I passed the test, my armor managed to deflect most of the damage. Bjorn was not as lucky, he was knocked unconscious…again… Phenex and Aryawwn did their best to repel the other kobolds, yet the rats remained there, tenacious bugs. I eventually fell to them as well. I was just barely conscious, then I felt a surge of power in me. Some of my wounds healed, Aryawwn has my thanks for that. Irontooth shifted his attention to the two, I swung at his feet, cutting away part of his thigh. I stood back up, blocking the attack of one of the nearby buggers. I steeled myself for the next round. Irontooth rushed by me, swinging at Phenex. I believe there was a ploy to protect Aryawwn from more damage – she was on her knees, still slinging spells. Aryawwn was not so lucky in the end, a fireball whizzed by my face and hit her square in her stomach. I was ready to act. My morale was high – I would not let us lose to those fleas. It escalated higher when Bjorn managed to stand up, barely, but with that same ferociousness. I bellowed out, challenging Irontooth. He turned to face me, and as he did, I cut off his jaw with the teeth of the helmet intact as it flew away, breaking that sinister smile of his. We tried routing the remaining forces, but Bjorn then I fell unconscious before everything settled.
I’ll hear the story from Phenex later, after everyone is rested.
I can’t feel my left arm, I saw some herbs nearby that might offer some medicinal aid. I should also spend some time checking everyone’s bandages. Phenex did the basics right, but now that I have the time to, I should try and apply the proper treatment while our healer is still unconscious (Phenex looks exhausted, and should try to do a minimum amount of work for now).
I feel strange though… I should rest some more later. I do not wish for this bloodlust to resurface – There is no way for me to quell it right now, and what makes it strange is that there was no trigger for it this time. Well, a little indulgence would help maybe – to leave the corpses of the kobolds to rot… no, no, no. I shouldn’t do that… I don’t know. I will consult the others about this. A little more positive news though, I feel that my skills have finally returned to me after so long. A month without proper combat has left me very rusty. I feel as if I could take on an army again..
The 23rd Day – The Time of Cool Winds
We’ve made it back to Winterhaven in one piece. A small token of appreciation from the lord of the town, enough to snag myself a new blade – not much sharper than my old one, but far sturdier. We’ve also begun the search for a spy among the town. They’ve been monitoring us since we have arrived. No one seems to have knowledge of a spy as far as we can tell – it is too soon.
On a side note, Mikhael is no longer with us either. Fool decided to go wild again. Bjorn settled the matter – swift justice. Even Phenex added a light touch of her own.
We begin the search officially tomorrow. I cannot think much right now and my wounds still ache some.
The 24th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
We have found the spy. Bjorn promptly crushed her head in. It was the elf that Aryawwn had encountered earlier. She had already taken several townsfolk to the graveyard and began an arcane ritual – they were sacrificed, poor souls. We fought off the dead fairly easily, and cleansed the area – no more dead shall rise from the yard. The problem is far from over, but the immediate issue is resolved.
I find myself at a loss. I noticed my companions are held by something, but tonight, I found what holds Phenex and Aryawwn. I was lucky that I did not break that moment. I do not think that we would be able to know more about each other if I interrupted. I owe the two of them some extra ale later – not now though, considering they’ve had a good amount already…
Lilin – a name worth remembering. I will tell Phenex in the morning that I have met her. I will get her to Zarathustra. But not now. We currently have a larger matter to deal with, the cult of Orcus…
The 25th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
The Keep is as dusty as it was earlier. We’ve made our way through to the hall where we were before, with the undead we initially encountered. There was a section of the fort that we have not explored yet – and it was a good thing that we did not. Ancient runes littered the floor, an eerie menacing light hovering about them. For the most part, we struggled with passing them – Bjorn did not have too much issue with them though, surprisingly. We had the misfortune of triggering two of them – it reminded me of how Elder Tirado softened the recruits during training to say the least. Following that, we wandered into more of the undead. Easily dispatched.
Ahh. I do not believed I’ve mentioned our new companion, Sydienne, a half-elf. She manipulates her form into that of a dire-fox. Her skill with other magics is reassuring as well. I am glad we have a new companion – the odds are now a little more fair, granted, they never seemed fair in the first place. She wears her burden on her sleeve, not literally of course – she constantly has her hand on one of her pockets. But again, it is not wise to press matters that are not to be weaseled into – that and she has made it abundantly clear that she does not wish to discuss the matter.
Once our predicament with the undead resolved, we took a short respite – turns out there was more to be done, a secret door was promptly found by Bjorn and…/sniff/ opened rather quickly. A false wall concealing more undead dissipated before our eyes as Aryawwn walked through it – she is becoming more brazen lately, I wonder what the matter is? Could it have to do with the matter I heard that evening? Either way, I digress – the undead here were promptly disposed of as well. Phenex took some rather drastic actions against Aryawwn, I hope she knows that Phenex cares for her as I saw her sulking a short while ago. I hope I am just imagining that she is sad.
Something caught my eye – one of the blades on the wall of the secret room. An unusual design. Sigurd would love to see it. It reminds me of a scimitar, but not quite… I’ve seen this design around, just not this variant of it… I believe it originates from around Zarathustra… a shamshir?
Ahh. Speaking of the room, there was a riddle to solve – I’ve never been particularly good at them, but I actually knew the answer to this one. Granted I did not solve it, but I knew it in the back of my head. Bahamut will have mine if I don’t remember that in the future…
The riddle gave us the banner of the 5th. Just by looking at it, there is a magnificence emanating from it – imagine what it would be like if we were to fight under its shadow!. Aryawwn took it with her – I trust her to make the right decision, even if I don’t agree that clerics should be on the front lines with us. My, my. Where is my head today? I forgot to mention what the riddle asked for as well. It asked what goes forth like a herald, what many seek and all value and cannot be found on the bottom of a chest. Honor, as Sydienne said, or reputation as Aryawwn.
Honor… it is still strange for me to say it.
It still tastes bitter, but much less than before. My son, Sigurd, has sent me a response to my letter. Lyra and Jorkur are getting by well. Lyra will soon be of age to take on Council Guard for the Hall or the Cathedral and has begun training. She will make a splendid warrior. Sigurd is under the tutelage of Irir, an insane mind who I served under, thankfully, for a short time. Sigurd has also been working to learn the trade of blacksmith in his free time. Jorkur has taken up the path of Ars Arcanum – runepriest training. He has always had a proficiency for the more arcane skills.
Lyra has forgiven me, as did Sigurd, but Jorkur is still overcoming his anger – he did make it clear he misses me though. It makes me so happy…but it does not matter so much that you forgive me completely, my children. The fact you still care to talk to me warms me – it makes the exile all the more bearable to know that you still care for me…
One last thing and I must rest, the hour grows late and there is very little to guard against. I spoke to Phenex about Zarathustra, and I told her what occurred there with Perth. She was surprised, unsurprisingly. We will make the journey there as soon as this whole debacle settles down, and that will not be for a while, my gut is telling me. Still, it is probably one of the more positive things for Phenex to hear in a long time.
The 26th Day – The Time of Cool Winds
We awoke this morning expecting to reach the root of the issue of our adventure, and that was, as always, far from the case.
We proceeded to make our way further down the keep. We were greeted with the sight of Hobgoblins, and they quickly prompted us with a call sign. We answered incorrectly. I thought that was the case – the response we found with Ninirin sounded a bit odd. They proceeded to charge us, blocking our advances from the staircase. They swung at Bjorn and I wildly as Phenex, Aryawwn, and Sydienne pelted the rallying hobgoblins from afar. The hobgoblins were unfazed and linked shields with each other, a phalanx. A clean one, these hobgoblins knew what they were doing. They began to take advantage of the wall they forged, and began attacking us with flails. They swung so often that I could hardly get a counterblow in, but there was a moment of weakness as one of bastards so weakly swung that I caught the flail and ripped it out of his hand – a short sword was promptly drawn. They may have trained to use a phalanx but they have no idea what a Phalanx is capable of. Formation broke, and a large spider charged at Bjorn. The bugger snapped at Bjorn and brought him to his knees, choking on the venom. Time seemed to pause for a second and saw Bjorn take a quick swig of a potion, he was back on his feet swinging away at everything that exists. We slowly advanced, removing the rubbish from the wayside gradually. I managed to fell the spider, the eight-legged bastard lost a leg earlier, and I took the remaining seven and his head. Phenex charged from behind us and slashed away at the rubbish as well. She managed to kick one of them into a nearby well during this fight. We promptly cleaned up the rest of the battle, and captured the fallen minion in the well.. He was named Gruck., a coward by hobgoblin standards – I required almost no effort intimidating him.. He lead us to the tomb of Ser Keegan’s family.
It was old, yet not so dusty. Something felt off. Aryawwn, Bjorn, and I began consecrating the burial sites – the dead do not like to stay dead around us. Bjorn finished one and the other two burst open, revealing the children of Keegan. A rather sad twist as the Keegan line had been corrupted as far as I know; Bahamut granted me the strength for this encounter. I swear I could have heard “roll for initiative” but I must have been hallucinating for a second. We managed to dispose of one as Gruck began cackling madly – I turned around and he only needed to seee my eyes. He immediately quieted down, but still cried out “We shall perish together!” A Gelatineous Cube shimmered into view – Sydienne and Phenex were engulfed, and our attention suddenly became divided. Aryawwn and Bjorn handled the remaining Keegan as I shifted my attention to help our suspended allies. Phenex managed to break out, but Sydienne was not as lucky. I challenged the Cube, right after stabbing the cackling Gruck in the throat – I cannot focus on something else when there is a cackling idiot next to me. I breathed acid at the Cube, to no avail. Following that, the Cube retaliated against me. I never knew a block of gelatin would hurt so much. We then proceeded to the old stand-by, swing at the thing until it dies. Phenex entered and exited the cube at regular intervals during this time and Sydienne finally managed to break out of the ooze.. The cube was slain at last with a radiant cut with my blade. A nearby room held a chest – an old symbol appeared to be carved in it. It looked like a symbol of Bahamut, which makes sense considering Ser Keegan’s armor. Inside the chest itself were several belongings to the Keegans and a strange amulet, it had a light enchantment on it – everyone said it was fine for me to have it. I found myself smiling after the whole ordeal wrapped up. I saw that everyone else was in high spirits as well. I will say that this is the most enjoyment that I’ve had in a long time. Our wounds are patched up, and we are taking a short rest before resuming our romp through this keep of horrors.
I’ve begun to move on from your death, Perth. I’m beginning to fully enjoy living again. I’ll fight to live all the more for it – I’ll live for your sake as well. Here’s another round to your life and the life I will find for myself in the future.
I honestly think that we are getting closer to our goal of killing Kalarel, the bastard. Let’s just hope things turn out as well as they have been for now.
The 27th Day – the Time of Cool Winds
A rather rude awakening today, I would say. Phenex was on watch, ever so slightly half-asleep – I had just woken her for her shift. A short while later, loud yelling and clanging woke me. All of us stood up, still dazed from our rest. A hobgoblin patrol stumbled into the small treasure room. We assumed a wall, protecting everyone in the back, while Bjorn and I stood at the forward. The hobgoblins were just as annoying as they were a short while earlier. Another soldier slid into view in the doorway. He leered at Aryawwn – she began walking forward on her own. I jumped in front of her, and I was taken up front instead. I stood in the doorway holding my ground while everyone else fought off the remaining troops in the alcove. They tried to best me and get into the room – I would not yield. The scaled hobgoblins swung at me repeatedly only to fail miserably. The mage tried to strike me down but his efforts did not have the power. Archers tried to shoot past me at my comrades, but I could see the shots clearly and stopped them from advancing further than my position. I only faltered momentarily by the mage and the massive shockwave he conjured, but I was immediately returned to consciousness by Aryawwn while Sydienne pelted at the foes with her flames. Before standing, I took the opportunity to aid Sydienne as she had taken several blows upon my awakening. This mage we faced was the hobgoblin patrol’s captain. I loosed a wave of acid and seared away at a number of the patrol. The mage hissed at me – he was having a rather bad day at my hands. Slowly our party advanced out of the room – I was not sure as I was in and out of consciousness. I mustered what energy I could and regained my composure, I struck at the mage, cleaving the annoyance in half – the rest of the patrol realized I had nothing but eyes on them. They would dare attack anyone else? Farewell. The conflict resolved, I dealt the final blow against the two archers.
We moved to another pathway, unexplored. We ended up in a room filled with odd contraptions and traps. A mechanized statue that swung on regular intervals with a stone blade. Two dragon statues that knocks those who enter a certain range back. I had the misfortune of being the first victim to the dragons. Towards the exit, a set of cherub statues. We passed the former two and reached the exit. The statues loomed over us, we checked to make sure what we were dealing with, and we did not notice too much. Just to be safe, I began to smash the statues, Bjorn had the same idea. We managed to destroy both of them, and I thought it safe to advance now. I was wrong. As Aryawwn approached the door, the runes dimly glowed brighter. Bjorn and I were sealed off from the rest of the group who was in the small passage. The room began to rapidly fill with water and spinning – the balance of the flow was off since we destroyed two of the statues. I tried to yell to our allies trapped in the swirling maelstrom: “break the statues!” I don’t know if they heard me, but Phenex affirmed by waving that they would. They finally managed to break the statues while I continued to tackle the barrier in a rather futile hope that I would be able to break it. Aryawwn managed to break the final statue, and the runes were undone. We moved onto the next room.
A horde of zombies shambled into view. Among their ranks a ghoul with sharpened talons and a homunculus that twitched ever so slightly. The ghoul rushed forward, swiping at Phenex. She took a nasty gash, then the ghoul’s jaw unhinged and tore into her skin with its teeth. The homunculus then stumbled into view and a light emanated from its eyes and Phenex stumbled from an unseen force this time. The undead began sliding forward towards us, groaning all the more. Bjorn moved forward to support Phenex, and I stepped forward to take the brunt of the upcoming swarm. Sydienne began to throw fire at the homunculus and for some reason, it redirected towards Bjorn. The benefits still applied to us, as usual, but we still had the misfortune of having Bjorn being hit. Bjorn recovered and promptly reduced the homunculus into what resembled a smashed plant pot.. A second swift movement, and Bjorn pummeled the ghoul into a pile of rubble. Aryawwn moved up next to me and tried to lash at the zombies, she missed. I turned to the right, grabbed Aryawwn’s head and pushed her down and let loose another wave of acid – the zombies whittled into dust as the acid ate at them. The remaining zombies stumbled towards us. A quick clean blow from all of us and the matter settled.
We are resting in a small alcove now – a bag of holding. This will come in handy for later adventures We rest now – I feel something big is coming up.
The 7th Day – The Time of The Fading Green
A grand day, as it were usually. I would be enthralled to say that our victory was a success, and it was. but a great cost to me.
We awoke from our slumber in the alcove and delved further into the bowels of the Keep. The smell of death pierced our nostrils even greater than it had before. A familiar smell; a painfully lonely smell. I gathered myself as we moved down the stairs – the room was too dark for me to see – I only perceived a few enemies in the distance. Bjorn lept at the opportunity to crush the unholy priest at the far side of the room, opening himself to be surrounded by vampires. The bloodsuckers wounded Bjorn with slashes across the back – the lacerations were deep. I had to make the dash to try and help him recover – it was then or have him succumb to the dead he detested dreadfully. I lay my hands on him and channeled some of the divine power in me to heal Bjorn. A quick swing and I lay a grievous wound on the priest. He was chanting when we entered, and he chanted louder as the laceration began to bleed more. The priest began stumbling his way towards Aryawwn and Sydienne – I could not see Phenex in this haze. I fell to one knee and prayed to Bahamut – Sah Grah Dun – A bolt of divine lighting erupted from the ceiling and struck the priest with luminescent force that crushed his will. All the while, two foes saw me kneel and struck at me, one of the blades pierced through the gap in my armor – it was worth the effort to see the priest writhe in pain – it also made it easier to cut him down. As he fell, the priest tried in one last ditch effort to crush me with his mace. It did not matter that I blocked it, the mace still made contact with my arm, and the strength in my shield arm deteriorated. Bjorn moved to crush the remaining foes and Sydienne and Aryawwn began dealing with the berserkers that remained a thorn in our sides since the beginning. A dark one shifted into view as we began shifting our focus – he was quickly dispatched and left us a parting gift of darkness. Well, I politely declined the gift as it would not be practical in killing the berserkers. The two axe-bearing ladies were not willing to cut us a break and proceeded to enter a trance – their wounds were empowering them. They cracked swings at all of us, we were lucky; all of their strikes were shallow. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally managed to slay them, and took a short respite before jumping headlong into the fray.
The madness began here. The only path forward was down. Old blood-covered chains dipped into the darkness below – I felt that our descent would only be painful. I was right.
We landed in the acid of the stomach. of the figurative beast. We slipped on the blood on the way down – my weakened arm was no help here at all. The only one to safely arrive was Aryawwn. She deployed the banner before falling – if we stuck the landing, that would have been a sight to behold. The amulet I was wearing slowed down my fall towards the end, but I was still feeling pain from that landing. We all stood up – a strange wind flowed through my body and I willed the majority of the injuries gone. Kalarel stood there, dumbfounded at the sight of four collapsed warriors and a nimble cleric. By the time we had collected ourselves, skeletons and a wight had surrounded us and Kalarel started laughing at us, proclaiming that generic villain speech that I’ve heard more times than I like to care. A portal glowed and hummed ominously as ethereal tendrils swung back and forth. The struggle began. I moved to strike the skeletons. They fell easily, but the nearby wight shot necrotic bolts that regenerated the skeletons. I immediately shifted my attention to the wight. The skeletons moved to intercept my advances on it, slowing me down with a strange arcane power. Bjorn and I managed to corner the wight and crush it while Phenex and other took swings at Kalarel. Throughout the entire fight, the strange hum traveled the air, drawing some of us closer to the portal. It was soon my turn to succumb to the hum. The hums were the whispers of the portal that tempted me with illusions of things I can never regain. It failed to grasp me a few times, but I could not fully resist the enticing dreams that the portal whispered – a whole load of sweet nothings. The rest of the fight blew by quickly, Kalarel soon fell to the party, and the skeletons were disposed of but the portal remained open. I tried to help undo the ritual at the altar that Kalarel stood at when we encountered him. I failed, and a blast of energy knocked me off of my feet. I was losing consciousness.
The portal whispered all the more at me. False hopes and promises of returning home with Perth. I knew it was not real; bait to try and catch my soul. It was the hell I had lived through – the portal showed me my past. The past I thought I had moved forward from. The wonderful times before everything changed. Followed by the bloodied encounter with destiny at Zarathustra. All the while, whispers of making this reality disappear. What would I gain by listening to a portal of death? Nothing. But the way it talked to me, in the voice of beloved Perth. There is no way I could deny her voice. I thought I might break from the anguish. My left hand throbbed and twitched violently from the imagery, or was it the wound the priest gave me? I am not sure. I struggled to break free of the spell the portal had placed on me, but I could not move at all. My eyes were shut tight, my mouth was gagged. The smell of death burrowed deeper into my skull. The darkness enveloped me – I felt as if I were drowning.
I heard cheering. Cheering of joy. It slowly broke me out of the nightmare. I came to. I could see that everyone was cheering Sydienne. It turns out she was the one that broke the ritual – she has more than earned her cut on the last two encounters alone. They untied me from my bindings – bound to the altar… in more ways than one I suppose. We consecrated the room – Phenex was desecrating the statue of Orcus. She missed part of the eyes, but cut off the nipple – worked better than I originally planned. We made our way out of the damned keep, collapsing the structure once we had exited. Nothing shall escape – be damned to eternal solitude. Upon our arrival to Winterhaven, the guards entered formation. An impromptu honor guard was formed.
I spoke: “You don’t even have to ask…”
“It pretty much sucked.” Bjorn quickly followed.
I stopped by the smithy and commissioned a bastard sword – it is high time I fully retrain myself. We gathered at Ser Padraig’s manor. He thanked us for our services and offered anything we might wish. Phenex took the opportunity to request a lute and a bucket of paint. Sydienne was also formally introduced to Ser. They seemed to have hit it off well. We all returned to the inn and cleaned up. Upon our arrival to the main floor, the whole town seemed to have gathered there. A standing ovation for our success ensued. It was well earned, and something nice to remedy a while in a personal hell. Everyone was celebrating with the rest of the town. I sat in a corner of the tavern – a few people approached me, and spoke philosophy with me. But for the majority of that evening, I sat there, writing with a flagon of ale next to me.. Another letter to my children was sent before departing Winterhaven. I received that bastard sword I commissioned, and have been training in secrecy during the night. Onward and forward, with this rag-tag group of companions and friends I have made.
The Time of Fading Greens – The 9th Day
I have gathered my thoughts, and I can now write. We arrived in Milo a short time ago. Where we were greeted by a party of knights raced past us as soon as we finished. Aryawwn was summoned to the keep, where we encountered her father sitting upon what appeared to be a glorified chair. We spoke our greetings and Sydienne, Bjorn, Phenex, and I were ushered out for an evening meal; Phenex stayed behind and waited for Aryawwn. We finished our meals and were escorted to our quarters. Something exploded as we were walking; we rushed over to investigate the scene.
There appeared to be no damage as we approached the wall. Upon speaking to a nearby guard, we discovered the rebellion we had heard so much about was still in progress – the “defeated” faction was still conducting guerilla warfare against the city. There appeared to be capable mages in the group as the nature of the explosion was magical. The minute we could no longer gather information from the guards, we began to advance towards our lodgings. I left to train with my bastard sword.
It was nearly midnight when I began to walk back for the night. A shadowy figure, who later was found to be Aryawwn sneaking out, skulked away from the house. I immediately took pursuit, however, heavy armor is not ideal for stealth. At all. The figure lost me once they reached the alleyways; it was too dark and there was no way I knew the layout of the city as well as they did. I rushed back and warned the others. We checked Aryawwn’s room when I made the observation of the figure’s figure. It turned out it was her running out for some reason. We immediately grabbed her gear and ran out to follow what little trail there was. We soon caught up with her in a small glade outside of town. There was magical residue, but there was no clear indication to what type of spell it was. Aryawwn cried out and slashed at her arm with the knife she kept with her – something has been bothering her since we arrived and it finally erupted out her.
The following day, we attempted to follow Aryawwn to her father’s castle. She dismissed us without saying a word to us – calling on the guards to prevent us from entering. We departed, and decided to pursue a different method of investigation. There was a trail left from the explosion and we decided to follow it, why would a bunch of suspicious people be able to gather information from the secretive population. We encountered some of the rebel forces and they were not very receptive of the idea of us not peeping a word to the higher-ups. We engaged in rather one-sided fight, without Aryawwn we suffered quite a bit. We were captured and thrown into a prison hut. I managed to get out of my bindings but the guards quickly discovered my escape and rebound me – they did not expect me to pull out trick 43 from the handbook as they retied me.! My silent triumphing was cut short as the guards took us to their leader, who quickly released us. We were quickly thrown back into the hut where we stayed for a while until all of a sudden, everyone began scrambling and packing everything. We exited the hut once we were sure that everything was clear for us to come out. We found our gear neatly piled over by a nearby tree. Bjorn had his suspicions, and he was right to have them. I felt uneasy about this convenient piling, but there was no immediate danger near us. We had to get out of here before something else happened.
We soon found out that we were rescued by Aryawwn and her band of friends. A strange man named Doric approached me from the group. He quickly challenged me to a sparring match. During which he began to yell strange things about his allies. This was no time for a match, but I welcomed a challenge as a reliever before something worse happened. Everyone else seemed to think so.
As we arrived back to the city, guards in black armor approached us. The one in command told us to follow him. We did – after we dropped our stuff; they were kind enough to let us do that. They were also kind enough when they brought us to an interrogator. He may be doing his job, but that is far from what a normal interrogation should be. Back in Bern, they would be much more violent with prisoners, and I couldn’t help but sneer and mock him in silence.
Upon our release, we went our merry way. Alcohol, merriment, and relaxation, at the tavern. Yes, we stayed at the inn. Phenex and I had a discussion about a symbol she had burned into her door. A personal discussion too personal for this journal I’m afraid. Perhaps I’ll write it later if it weighs lighter in my conscience. There was a good reason we stayed at the inn. Our quarters were ransacked when returned in the day. Everything was set back in order and we started our work.
We played the investigation game some more yielding some rather interesting things about our friends in the black armor.
There was a scream as Aryawwn dashed away frantically. We gave chase, but we should have tried to calm her down, retrospectively. It was her misfortune that we ran into tenku as we caught up with Aryawwn. She was badly injured and we began our counterattack. These birds were much tougher than we anticipated. Their coordination was extraordinary – we resorted to techniques that were much more deadly than normal. The birdbrains knocked me out but we were able to take down two and receive some very useful information from them. Phenex and Aryawwn gave chase. The trail was lost, rather it was everywhere. We have to change our tactics to a more… aerial point-of-view. By that, I mean using Bjorn’s devotion to the Raven Queen to our advantage. We begin soon.