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Trail Tales - the Travels of Gabriel MacGuinness
I was conceived when the wicked Lady Helen arranged for a Minotaur named Krog to rape my fair mother Heather MacGuinness. The despicable deed was arranged by her henchman, William the Red, who I came to call Smashface. I survived my birth as did my mother. Three other would be minotaurs did not. Their births had occurred in a week that had been prophesied to result in their death. Tymora's coin landed on edge when I was conceived and I was born just after that dreadful week.
I was abducted and taken to Helen's court. I was, after all, her new toy and she had waited oh so long to play with me. After her pasty, powdered guests had tired of me and succumbed to Morpheus on a river of wine, I plied the catacombs of her castle. I wandered the twisting tunnels with an uncanny ability that prevented me from getting lost.
My liberation came at the hands of an overconfident fop. He decided that my presence would make his lord's court all the rage, so he abducted me. Helen's men tracked down his party on the road out of town. They were evenly matched and I escaped in the carnage.
I was discovered by an Elf scout, or so I am told. He had heard of the courtly minotaur and took me back to his lands, where his elders arranged for me to be returned home to Heather and her husband Angus, in Briargrove, my birth place.
They took me in but soon decided to hide me for my own good. I was delivered into the care of Rangers, wilderness warriors that wandered the wood lands seeking out threats to the good folk of the land and the land itself. I learned to find harmony with nature and I learned a great deal about the forest. I also learned to track things, a skill that was greatly enhanced by my sense of smell.
I spent some time in an outpost on the border of elven lands, White Oak, named for a bright white oak that was reputedly the home of a dryad that was scared to death. There I was taught by a real character, Carwynne. He was a warrior and a mage, and he taught me magic. Unlike many humans and elves that shunned me, Carwynne seemed to revel in my oddity. Teaching me delighted him to no end. I always seemed to surprise him with my ability, but when you are a minotaur, you get used to it. I met Caoilin Browne there.
Caoilin was also a pupil of Carwynne, having recently "escaped" from magic school in the elven lands. She was trained as by her grandfather with roguish abilities, much to her father's displeasure. Her Dad was nouveau riche and wanted his daughter to look it; she did not agree. She is something of a brat, but she is a cute brat and I sincerely think that deep down she wants to do the right thing.
At Carwynne's advice, I visited various hedge wizards and rogue wizards to complete my arsenal of spells for adventuring. In my travels, I learned that Helen had arranged the death of her husband, the good Lord Roderick as well as the entire priesthood of the temple of Tyr in Roderick's castle. She had seduced and married Roderick, knowing that he was about to gain a great increase in land and title. Thanks to her henchmen, she had managed to arrange fatal accidents for messengers to Roderick, delaying the news until after her marriage to him. After the news arrived, she managed to use a rare, perhaps magical, poison to kill him and the priests. She sent Roderick's son of to a monastery "for his own protection." She arranged another unfortunate accident, but luckily for George, his personal guard was quite skilled and discrete. George was spared and secretly transported to the temple of Tyr at Falcon Glen.
I also found my friend Rock during these journeys. He is a fine horse and a good friend. He can be a bit temperamental with some people and has been known to bite more than one. He stands about 17 hands high. His breed is Clydesdale, a breed common to my homelands, and from what I have seen, a larger breed of horse than most.
I managed to find and communicate with Krog. The best way to describe him is a wounded beast. He has the blood frenzy in him at all times. I know that frenzy, but where I seek to master he, he seeks to be mastered by it. I did learn the language of minotaurs from him. It is a bestial tongue and my time with the animals of the forest and my minotaur tongue made it an easy one for me to master. Compared to common, it is quite a simplistic tongue, basically a complex battle language, and it is much more efficient than common when the topics of discussion concern combat, dominance, and mating.
I decided to journey to Falcon Glen and try to aid George in regaining his throne. The people of the land had been forced into starvation and banditry by Helen's decadence and excess, and I wanted to help put an end to it. I met up with Caoilin and she insisted on accompanying me. I was glad to have an arbitrator for buying supplies on the trip, so I agreed. We headed out to Falcon Glen and arrived with little incident.
We found George and begin to devise plans using my knowledge of the tunnels in the castle and his knowledge of the castle's temple of Tyr. A young priest of Tyr, or Holy Justice as they call themselves, volunteered herself to aid us. Her name was Serena. She enlisted the aid of a childhood friend, a heavily muscled woman fighter name Hilda. Hilda, in turn, brought along someone she had met in the taverns around town, a gruff dwarven warrior named Krieg Warstone. To top things off, a Chauntean cleric showed up out of the blue, claiming to have had visions from his goddess that directed him to adventure with me.
Serena is level-headed, brave, and trustworthy, a good companion. She isn't very strong, but she makes up for it in wits, as much as anyone can. She has a good heart but she is a little too constrained by her passion for the law at times. I respect the law and I try hard to obey it, it's part of being civilized. However, there are times when justice can not bow to the convenience of the court. I am curious to see how she acts in such a situation. I suppose being a representative of the law makes it easier for her. She can mete out justice and comfort herself with her books of law.
Hilda is not as level-headed as Serena, but she is remarkably strong and brave. She can also restrain herself if need be. She is one of the strongest humans I have met, and she is definitely the strongest woman I have ever met. I hear that there is a half-breed cross of orc and human, a half-orc, that is renowned for great strength, but I wager most of them would find Hilda a handful. Her strength is directed through her sword skills. She wields a bastard sword as easily as I would and with greater speed and accuracy.
Krieg is quite strong for his size, but he is also quite small. The size of his axe is almost comical when compared to his body. I doubt his foes find it humorous, but I most definitely do. I am still waiting for him to topple over some day. That said, or written I suppose, I must say that he is a stalwart fighter. His impulse to kill his foe can be a little misguided at times. He seems to be a little greedier than I expect a dwarf to be, but I have had little contact with dwarves in general, so I am not well equipped to draw such comparisons.
Alan is an unremarkable fellow in general. He is a human man, but he is not very strong. His battle skills are reasonably good. He does have a gift for healing which is a boon to us. In his own passive way, he serves as a measure of when we are getting out of hand. As a very plain man, he stands as a stark reminder of what is normal when things are very strange. He is like a spiritual lighthouse, which I suppose most clerics and priests endeavor to be. Strangely enough, he is not literate. It seems that the life style he came from was a simple one indeed.
We set out for the castle and restored George as ruler. There was little difficulty and the team's skills complemented one another quite well. Smashface escaped temporarily but we caught up to him and I subdued him with a Sleep spell then turned him over to the tender mercies of the citizens of Briargrove that he had wronged so many times. It was a great act of will, as I wanted to snap his neck and tear out his heart when I caught up to him, but I managed, as I usually do. Helen, or more accurately, Helen Westgate, was turned over to a very nasty prison in the capital so that she might enjoyed being used as she used others. Brutal justice is often the most satisfying kind.
We headed back to Falcon Glen to escort Serena home. It was there
that we were offered a job and decided to embark on further adventurers.
It was then that I started this journal.
Serena, Hilda, and Krieg have also decided to go, and Alan still believes that he must go where I do. Thankfully he does not interpret that too strictly or I might have to hurt him.
[Day 1] We have formally accepted the task. Rock has agreed to carry the chest and myself, Serena, and Caoilin have inspected it. We found nothing amiss.
[Day 13 ] We seem to have entered Haranshire.
[Day 14 ] We have been ambushed by a man leading five thugs. The leader and two of the thugs were killed in the battle. The thugs masqueraded as farmers and feigned surprise when archers attacked from the forest. I hastily called up a Wall of Fog to obscure us from the archers' positions at about the time the farmers flanked and attacked us. The battle was over quickly and I sustained minor wounds in spite of the fact that two of them ganged up on me. I have become accustomed to that. Maybe we need to get an even bigger axe for Krieg so that he will seem more threatening. Everyone fared well in the battle. We don't seem to have any real weaknesses, although Alan was a little awkward responding to the threat. I find it a little distressing that the first thing he did after the battle was to heal one of the thugs, but I have not said anything to him about it. We found nothing informative on the bodies, but some aggressive questioning of the thugs revealed that their leader's name was Carlanis. They claim that he hired them to stop us from delivering "evil magic." We have dismissed that as a ploy he used to recruit them without complaint, for a good man should have tried to talk to us first.
I have opted for pushing on until we reach Milborne, which should be within about twelve hours' travel, and taking the remaining thugs and the body of their leader to the authorities there. The party concurs. A mildly disturbing exchange occurred when Krieg unconsciously riffled through the bodies and collected the money from them, only turning over the coins when asked. We have decided that it would be in the party's best interest to make it a practice to give such moneys over to Serena for safe keeping.
It is late, but we have arrived. We had to ford the Churnett River to get into town, as their bridge is only half built. Although it makes a good fishing spot, it is useless as a bridge. There is a temple to Tyr in town, run by an excitable-looking fellow named Semheis. I waited outside while Serena and some others spoke with him. We were directed to the town constable, Garyld.
We awoke Garyld and his companion, a dog named Dutch. He took custody of the body and the thugs. The thugs were apparently just random men from the area that Garyld recognized.
Rock and I are staying in the stables while the remainder of the party stays at the Baron of Mutton. The stable boy seems frightened of me, but that should help insure he does not molest Rock. He handles a grooming brush like a clumsy stone, I will probably try to tend to the other horses in the stable when he finally departs. The stable is a sturdy one. The town only has three stone buildings which I am told are the mill, the granary, and the mansion of the Carman family.
[Day 15] Garyld has informed us there will be a trial. I am not keen on the idea of having a stranger judge our group of strange, heavily armed adventurers, especially when the wrongdoers are locals. I hope the trial goes well. I have not yet had to act contrary to the law, and I do not want to start now. I would probably have to hurt the judge, Serena, Garyld, and/or Dutch to maintain my freedom, and I do not want to do that. I pray Tyr guides them well today.
The morning has brought new worries with it. Over breakfast Garyld, my friends, and I heard from Andren, the man who tends the bar at Baron of Mutton with his brother Barthelew, or Bart for short. He was worried about the apparent disappearance of his girlfriend, Jelenneth. Her father, Haldelar, was especially worried because she had left her bag of spell components behind. It turns out she is an apprentice to Tauster, the mage we are to deliver the chest to. The circle of life is amazing. We checked her room and I looked for tracks outside her window, but nothing of significance turned up. I kept her bag of spell components for the moment, in case she turns up in the company of Tauster, as Bart has suggested. At this point there is no real information to go on, so it simply becomes a conundrum to ponder as we worry about the tasks we have at hand.
The trial is over. I even participated in our case, pointing out that we were attacked with deadly force first. It certainly does not hurt to have a Holy Justice among us to lend us credibility. Darius Carman served as judge. He was rather unsociable and distant, talking mostly to Garyld. The thugs have been sentenced to three years in the mine and we are cleared of any suspicions. I hope the mine is especially unpleasant. It seems a weak punishment for men that tried to kill us, but I suppose it will have to do.
I have heard of some of what happened in the Baron of Mutton last night.
There was talk of an old retired dwarven miner named Old Grizzler that
has a penchant for drinking, story telling, and offering opinions.
Someone mentioned that he is a fisherman too. Perhaps I will meet
him on the "bridge" someday.
[Day 16] We have seen few people along the river. None of them have seen Jelenneth. Some don't even know her.
[Day 17] We are almost at Thurmaster. Still no progress on finding Jelenneth.
[Day 18] It is late afternoon and the chest has finally been delivered. We arrive in Thurmaster a few hours ago; it is a hole. A lean to is a better accommodation than this place. The town is quite small, consisting of about a dozen buildings inside a poorly maintained wooden palisade. A sturdy kick would be an adequate battering ram for their pathetic defenses. Outlying buildings beyond the wall appear abandoned and in disrepair. The ones inside are not much better. The town looks like and old, crippled animal that needs to be culled from the herd and killed but it has so little meat that no one will visit such mercy upon it.
We spoke to the two guards at the gate and aside from lowering our opinions of the quality of the town further, they had little information. We did gather that one of them had seen Jelenneth about two weeks ago. They also told us a little about the local history, thanks to Alan's nigh incessant questioning. Apparently the land is owned and ruled by one Count Parlfray, a man that lives in a manor about ten miles away, in the Halfcut Hills. The area the town is in was plagued with lizard men in the past and the Count hired a group of fighters that killed them. From what I can see of the town, it looks like natural selection should have been allowed to take place here.
We delivered the chest to Tauster and talked to him of the bandits that attacked. Serena, in site of the bluntness of her request, obtained permission to use the power of her faith to try and sense evil within the chest. She felt nothing from the chest or Tauster. Of course, a tool for evil is not necessarily evil in itself, and I no of no spell component that is evil, but I know of many stories of wizards using them to evil ends. As for Tauster, of course he would not have evil feelings right now. He's happy he has his chest and we pose no threat to him. So I plan to keep my eye on him, if for no other reason than respect for the power of my fellow mages and the danger that represents.
Tauster paid us our remaining 10 GP apiece. Upon hearing of the disappearance of his apprentice, Jelenneth, he offered us 10 GP, total, to deliver a letter to Kuiper, a man that he describes as knowing a lot about the region around the river. Tauster professes that if anyone knows where she is, Kuiper does. We agreed to deliver it. Tauster has also offered us 50 GP apiece as reward if we find Jelenneth is safe and let him know. Krieg, in a fit of mercenary greed, asked about rewards if we find her dead. I didn't hear Tauster's response as I was resisting the urge to hit Krieg. His soul has a dark complexion for a would be hero.
Tauster offered us a free night at the tavern in town, the Fox and Tails, while he composed the letter to Kuiper. Although I was ready to leave immediately, my companions found the lure of a night in a warm bed too great. That lure was soon tarnished. As soon as we arrived at the tavern, Krieg had a dispute with the bartender because the price of ale seemed a little high. It didn't seem high to me in light of the lack of civilization in the area, but Krieg drinks a lot more ale than I do, so he should know. Either way, the transaction ended with Krieg throwing the ale in the bartender's face and walking out. Luckily for Krieg, Serena quickly paid the bartender and apologized before Krieg was held accountable for his actions. He is a strange little man.
Needless to say, we then decided to leave immediately. Serena obtained the letter from Tauster and we headed out to find Kuiper.
[Day 19] We arrived this evening and found Kuiper's homestead. It is on the north bank of the river, south of the southern tip of the Great Rock Dale, and west of the point where the hog brook meets the Churnett. We delivered the letter and explained the situation with Jelenneth as well as the bandits. I mentioned to Kuiper that I am a Ranger and he revealed that he was also. Kuiper told me of some of the lore of the local lands:
[Day 20] We made it to the Hog Brook where we happened upon what could only be a Druid. She was a woman with an almost feral disposition, I liked her. Her two wolf companions seemed friendly enough towards me. She and Kuiper talked privately and Kuiper told us that she was looking for a local boy named Maxin that had become a werebear, apparently a family curse. Kuiper enlisted our aid to help hunt down the boy and capture him. He gave Krieg, Hilda, and myself nets for this purpose. We are heading out now.
It's night fall and we have not found the boy. We are setting up camp and hoping the boy will do no harm during the night.
[Day 21] It is morning. We were attacked during the night by a dozen orcs. It was a comedy of errors. I spotted them first and yanked Kuiper to his feet while raising the alarm. I drew my blades and called for everyone to circle the fire, hoping the orcs would decide an alert party of adventurers was too much of a danger. I was mistaken. I spotted archers preparing to fire. I yelled "Archers!" and charged the ones nearest me. It was as if my companions were still asleep. I had barely brought my blades to bear on one of the orcs when their leader rushed up and engaged me as well. Two on one again. It was familiar, but this time it was deadly. The leader struck me solidly, a blow that would have felled a normal man. My swords found only air. The archer dropped his bow and cam at me with a battle axe. Luckily, Kuiper engaged a third one that threatened to worsen my odds even further. I heard the familiar words of a Sleep incantation from Caoilin and the clatter of arms and shields falling to the ground. She had dropped three of the creatures, leaving the short-legged Krieg with no opponents. As the blade of a battle axe bit into my side, I heard Alan calling for a blessing from Chauntea. I remember the words "Fight damn you!" screaming in my mind, but they were cut off by pain and drowned in my own blood. Hilda and Serena, apparently unaccustomed to such situations and perhaps confused by the shadows and suddenness of the attack, faltered for a moment as arrows rained down on them. Oleanne and her wolves engaged three other orcs.
Chaos reigned supreme as Krieg and Caoilin moved in to kill the sleeping orcs while Hilda and Serena continued to hesitate and have arrows rain down upon them. Oleanne and her wolves managed to down one of their orcs and the other two were not long for this world. The archer and the leader moved like cats. I could not seem to get my blades into either of them. It must have been the same blood frenzy that sent me charging out here instead of ordering a more organized resistance. I couldn't see straight and my mind was starting to give itself over to instinct. Hilda moved up to engage the archers firing upon her and Serena tried to Command one to sleep, but he was saved by his own ignorance as he did not seem to understand Common.
I finally dropped the archer, but not before I had been struck again. I should have fallen by that point, but somehow I was still standing. I swung wildly at the leader one last time and he stepped into me, thrusting his blade deep into my gut, a wicked smirk on his face. I fell to the ground clutching the wound, hearing the rustle of Kuiper's cloak rush by me as unconsciousness claimed me.
I am told that soon after I fell, the party rallied and finished off the last orcs. Alan and Serena called upon their faith to heal my wounds and miraculously I awoke without a single scratch upon my body. My companions found some loose coins and the leader's shield which, like the others, had an unusual insignia on it. It looks like a skull with an arrow entering each eye socket from below and a small axe caving in the top of the skull. We have kept the shield for now. We are rested and ready for battle. We are going to break camp and try to find Maxin now.
After finding a blood trail, we tracked the boy down and found him in bear form, but he was wounded. Kuiper was unable to calm him down, so we engaged the bear. Kuiper worked to distract it and give us a better angle of attack. I was lucky and got my net on the bear right away. I got cocky and tried taking a swing at it while we waited for Krieg and Hilda to net it. I remembered an earlier discussion that I could contract the magical sickness of lycanthropy if it scratched me, so I backed off. After what seemed an eternity, Hilda's net caught and we took the bear down, but not before Kuiper was wounded. Kuiper poured a flask of liquid across the bear's wounds and they healed before our eyes, no doubt a healing potion of some sort. Alan tended to Kuiper 's wounds and headed to the boy's farm.
On our way to the boy's farm, Kuiper told me of the other Rangers in the local area and answered some of my questions about the land.
Jeremas died about 7 years ago, during what the locals called the "bitewinter", which was a particularly harsh season. It drove large numbers of goblins and hobgoblins out of the Great Rock Dale, to attack the human settlements in Haranshire. Jeremas died defending Count Parlfray's Keep. Although he was successful in staving off the attack, his wounds were too great and he died shortly afterwards. A priest hired by Count Parlfray tried to raise Jeremas without success.
Talyan is actually only presumed dead. He disappeared in the Shrieken Mire about 12 years ago, and has not been seen or heard from since.
Oleanne simply lives in the Thornwood moreso than patrols it. She is known locally as the Wild Woman of the Woods. She is not very trusting of anyone, but trusts Kuiper more than most. There used to be an elderly druid who lived in seclusion in the Thornwood, but he hasn't been seen in some years, and is presumed dead or at least gone.
A summary of the dangerous areas:
[Day 22] The night was uneventful. Kuiper appears to have returned Maxin to his farm. We will set out for Milborne.
[Day 23] Another quiet night, we should reach Milborne today.
Serena, Alan, and I checked in with Garyld and told him of what had happened on our journeys. He sent a message to Shiraz via crow. It seems that he has a reliable communication system via these crows. He has no more news of Jelenneth. Caoilin stopped by the store in town and she reports that it is stocked with unusual items. Hilda and Krieg stopped by the Silver Crown, the other tavern in town, and were later joined by Caoilin. I hear Krieg did not far so well gaming there. The bar owner is Thimpson. Miners make up the bulk of the customers there.
I searched Jelenneth's room more thoroughly and still found no clues. Andren was crestfallen at our lack of information. He continues to entrust his locket of Jelenneth to Serena. I talked with Garyld at some length and we have no solid leads on Jelenneth, nor even a route of investigation. I have talked with him about investigating Harlaton or the mines for information, but he is uncertain of the benefit. I discussed these notions with my companions but they seem uncertain or uninterested. It's quite frustrating.
The town seems to have quickly become aware of our exploits. A merchant, Alan, has approached us to guard a barge for him during its trip upriver to Thurmaster. Apparently he was equally impressed with stories of our skills as well as stories of the dangers arising in the land. I reluctantly agreed. Krieg showed us his ugly side again. In a fit of greed, he insisted on more money. The Cleric Alan quickly agreed to give enough of his share to Krieg to meet Krieg's demanded wage. He tried to thinly veil it as an agreement with the merchant, but he was not nearly subtle enough in that task. He is a strange fellow indeed. All in all, I'd rather patrol the lands than accompany a barge of nonessential goods up a river, but they are my traveling companions, at least for now.
[Day 24] We will depart on the barge shortly. Serena and I will lead our horses along the south bank of the Churnett, scouting ahead of the barge for would be ambushers.
[Day 25] Nothing eventful. The only thing we have fought on this trip is boredom. I hope my companions enjoy their gold. I long to spill the blood of evil.
[Day 26] We have finally arrived in Thurmaster. Serena and I paid a visit to Tauster. He paid us the 10 gold for delivering the letter to Kuiper. He still has no information about Jelenneth. I inquired about his ability to scry her location, but he claims he can not. We immediately headed back out of town towards Kuiper's farm and Milborne.
[Day 27] The night was calm except for Hilda's snoring.
We have arrived at Kuiper's farm. It is night time. He is out patrolling and not expected back for days.
[Day 28] We are heading on to Milborne.
[Day 29] Another quiet night except for Krieg. Trail food does not seem to agree with his stomach and the smells his body produced are remarkably foul. Sometimes my sense of smell is a curse unto itself.
We arrived back at Milborne around midday to find an auction in progress. The Denfast family was forced to auction their farm land and equipment. They speak of a the New Mire expanding and ruining their land for farming. I gave them some money to ease their burden, as did Serena. Alan did not seem as interested as I had expected for a Cleric of Chauntea. Now that I think about it, it is unusual the way he seems to hide his holy symbol. I'll have to keep an eye on him. Maybe his deity is something else entirely.
As if on cue, we were summoned to Darius Carman's mansion. He spoke of the New Mire. It only appeared a couple of years ago and became progressively worse. He hired a Diviner at great expense, but the only information obtained was that it was related to magic. The magic was not evil, but "something gone wrong." He has hired us to investigate the cause of the expanding New Mire. He has offered us 25 GP each to explore it, 50 GP each if we find the cause, or 1000 GP total is we resolve the problem. Although my companions' eyes light up with anticipation of wealth I am just eager to do some good.
We also received our payment for the barge escort.
It is early enough to reach Harlaton tonight, so we are departing Milborne now. I spoke to Garyld of our plans before we left.
We have reached Harlaton and will rest before commencing our investigations.
[Day 30] Harlaton has turned up little useful information. We discovered the Picther & Pitchfork Tavern and learend that the Patchwork Hills earned their name because they have a mottled, patchwork appearance during the fall. The hills blend into the western edge of the Thornwood.
[Day 31] We have started exploring the Patchwork Hills. The Terraces are remarkable. They are steps cut into the hills. On these steps are farms. The farm land on the Terraces is reputedly so fertile that the land is handed down by heredity only. There are no signs of changes in water flow towards the New Mire.
[Day 32] We have finished exploring the Patchwork Hills and are moving to the New Mire area. We have seen nothing that explains the problem yet. We will make a general sweep of the New Mire then explore the length of Cutter Brook, which runs through it. The only thing I can think of is some change in the drainage into the brook that is unbalancing the natural flow of water into the land of the New Mire.
[Day 33] The New Mire is a serious threat to one's feet. The water level keeps our footgear immersed almost constantly. We are taking breaks to dry our feet and change out our foot gear as needed. I fear the prospect of disease in this place. Thank Sylvanus we have two healers with us.
[Day 34] Caoilin should go hoarse soon from complaining about the New Mire being wet. Krieg and Hilda have handled the situation well with quite stoicism. Serena and Alan have handled it better than I would have expected. Soon we will begin searching the stream, where I expect to have the greatest chance of finding a solution.
We met Shiraz as night approached. The New Mire is part of the area she patrols. She knew me on sight, apparently having received information from Garyld. She is quite a woman. Self-sufficient, at one with the land, and sturdy. The highlights in her hair strike a stunning contrast to her deeply tanned skin. We spoke of the problem and the conversation turned to other watery concerns. Shiraz speaks of a nixie, called Shenjurath, that lives in the Eelhold and controls a water elemental that lives there. This nixie must be the "pixie" that some of the locals think control Shiraz's actions. Anyone who saw this radiant, independent creature would see how ridiculous this claim is. I asked her about sources of water and how the flow of water into the New Mire region might have somehow been increased or perhaps the drainage decreased. She mentioned that Shenjurath was having some difficulty controlling her water elemental, but we all agreed that the Eelhold was too far away to be the cause. Besides, its drain off, via the Oldscutt River into the Churnett, was far down down river of the Cutter Brook. We shared her fire and set camp.
[Day 35] Shiraz has headed north to speak to Shenjurath of the water flows in the area. We are now traveling along the Cutter Brook, looking for drainage anomalies.
During the night, there was a cry for help. Caoilin and I investigated quickly and found a young boy being threatened by a mountain lion. I calmed the lion while Caoilin calmed the boy. I fed the lion and sent it on its way. We took the boy back to camp with us. He explained that he had followed the "faerie folk with pretty pictures on their faces" in to the mire, expecting to have a wish granted if he caught them. Between Krieg, Caoilin, and myself, we deduced that he was talking about goblins. The strange thing is that he described them digging for roots, which is quite odd for goblins.
[Day 36] We had the boy show us the spot where the goblins were digging then we took him home to his parents. After we dropped him off, we returned to the sight of the digging and I picked up the tracks. We followed the tracks back to a cave and were confronted by two goblin guards. We parleyed with them and reached an agreement - Krieg would stay outside and the rest of us would go in. We could have easily bullied our way in, but there was something strange about the goblins, they were not only few in number, they were strangely agreeable. The dichotomy between their willingness to talk and Krieg's blind desire to kill them without discussion was almost surreal.
Inside, we met the chief and shaman of the small tribe. They all had an unusual symbol on their foreheads, two blue wavy strokes moving horizontally. It looked a lot like a symbol for water, which immediately made me suspicious. The shaman Burukkleyet, had the same symbol with a circle about it and a ring with matching symbol. I confronted him verbally about it and he looked very nervous. Suddenly, I grabbed him. His goblin friends advanced, so I put a blade to his throat. He asked to speak to us alone, so I backed out of the room to the entrance tunnel with my companions. He told us that he had actually found the ring in a deep cavern. He believed it was a gift from Maglubiyet, the goblin deity. We tried to convince him to give it to us and failed.
We had no desire to kill the goblins based on their actions thus far, so we returned to the room and parleyed a trade. The chief, Grendlegek, agreed to a trade of magic for magic, but we had no magic items that we knew of. The goblin shaman looked at us and detected that the shield we took from the leader of the orc ambush in the Thornwood was in fact magical. Taken aback, we convinced them to wait for morning so we could confirm this.
[Day 37] Krieg is still quite miserable at not having the chance to kill the goblins. Caoilin has assessed the magic of both items and determined that the ring is more powerful than the shield. We agreed to the exchange. We also promised to take the ring to be analyzed and if it was not the problem, we would bring it back. The fact that they did not want a unit of soldiers to come take the ring by force and the chief's desire to have a magic item he could use both sealed the deal. We will set out for Tauster's home immediately.
[Day 40] We arrived at Thurmaster this night and gave the ring over to Tauster who has agreed to analyze it more thoroughly for us. We will camp in the wilderness outside. We feel safer there than in Thurmaster.
[Day 41] Tauster has confirmed that the ring is magical and confers the ability to influence water and creatures of water. However, it seems to be "leaking" from the plane of water into our plane. We are bound for Kuiper's farm with the ring.
[Day 42] We reached Kuiper's farm around midday and found him there. He has received word from Shiraz instructing us to rendezvous with her at Eelhold. We are setting out for there immediately.
[Day 45] We reached Eelhold and met Shiraz. Immediately the problem was obvious. A raging waterspout occupied the center of the Eelhold. We explained to Shiraz about the ring and what we had learned. She called Shenjurath and gave the ring to her. With it she was able to regain control of the water elemental and Shiraz and she are confident that the Eelhold can handle the leakage from the ring. We said our good-byes and our now heading back to Milborne.
[Day 47] We arrived in Milborne in the afternoon.
I stopped by the Temple of Tyr privately and gave Semheis 10 GP. I also offered to help him fix up the building in the future when time presents itself. I have finally started making real progress on a bow tailored to my strength. If I can just find the time, I should be able to level the plain of battle and more aptly respond to the archers that continue to ambush us.
When I returned to the Baron of Mutton, I learned that a Priest of Lathander, named Lafayer, had come with a message for Alan. He has been asked to journey to the home of Count Parlfray to meet pilgrims of Lathander journeying south.
The merchant named Alan offered us more work on his barge. To avoid confusion, I took him aside and secured a decent wage from him for the trip, 25 GP apiece, ten up front, and none of this nonsense of paying Krieg some of another's wage. He wasn't ecstatic, but he agreed, especially in light of the long trip and our growing reputation, which I made certain to point out to him. I didn't push harder because he has arranged for a detachment of guards to meet us at Thurmaster for the final leg of the trip. I did neglect to mention that we were headed in that direction anyway.
[Day 48] We have set out on the River. Two men, Kurr and Steven, are also guarding the barge. They seem reasonably competent and not too frightened of me.
[Day 49] Another glorious day on the barge, wasting time that could be better spent patrolling the lands. I fear Krieg will start gambling with himself if he does not find a game soon.
[Day 50] It seems my desire for combat was answered. Just before dawn we were attacked by four archers in leather armor, two fighters in chain mail, and a man in black robes with an eye patch. I was on guard and fell back to cover, answering their arrows with my own. I used Wall of Fog to give us a moment to collect ourselves and we charged forth to engage our ambushers. Caoilin managed to get off a Sleep spell just before the fog went up. As I broke through the fog, I found one of the archers waking up one of the fighters. I closed with them and felled him with two mighty blows of my swords. The rest of the party fared well. Krieg and Hilda cut a path through our opponents, backed up by Serena, Alan, Steven, and Kurr. Caoilin engaged one of the archers I passed, but I still faced the fighter, now ready to fight. The man in black tried to magically Hold Serena, but her faith was stronger than his will and she continued to fight on. I circled the fighter to engage the spell caster and spotted his flail and chain mail below his cloak. He was a priest. I managed to get past his defenses and draw blood, but I didn't drop him. I decided to try and grab him, but the branches in the forest floor caught my foot and I missed a step. As I regained my balance and prepared to lunge forth and crush the Priest, the fighter sunk his sword into me and wounded me heavily, as have most of the warriors we have fought in this land. A dangerous place to be sure.
Alan and Serena brought me to consciousness with their magic and I noticed a strange smell like fish on the thugs. The party had managed to capture one thug and save three more from death. I wonder if the smell indicates the Shrieken Mire was the source or not. The Mire is in the same rough direction as the forest from which they attacked. I will discuss this with Kuiper or Garyld when I have a chance. Serena and Alan are certain that the priest worshipped Cyric, the blackest god of Evil to foul the pantheon of this land. The priest escaped by turning his cloak into giant bat wings and fleeing through the forest canopy. I will rest the rest of this day, at the insistence of our priests. Steve is resting this day as well, having fallen valiantly from a cowardly rear attack when he also tried to attack the priest of Cyric.
[Day 51] We have arrived in Thurmaster. The cargo was loaded onto land craft and I dropped off the letter of credit to Tauster. He was so surprised to be compensated after he agreed to do the task for free that he settled for the 50 GP letter as I had hoped. If we can stimulate greater altruism in this shire, then we have already done a good thing for this land.
Caoilin agreed to look at the loot acquired from the bandits and found a magical short bow and a magical long sword. The party has agreed to give Caoilin the bow and me the long sword. I look forward to turning the blade back on our foes.
Because we have arrived early and the ministrations of our priests have returned us to full health, we are heading on to Parlfray's today. We should reach it by evening.
We have arrived at Parlfray's. He has accepted our mission and offered us good hospitality. When I showed him my face, he recognized our party. It would seem our reputation is spreading. From his response, it is a good reputation. His home is a sturdy and well-defended keep. The air of the place is quite martial. A wise approach when one lives near the Howler's Moor. It is a remarkable keep in general, being built into the wall of one of the Halfcut Hills. The hills look very much as though some god-like being cut them right down the middle and took half of each hill away. The local myth is that the chief deity of the Dwarves, Clangeddin Silverbeard, did this. They are effectively a series of cliffs with gently sloping rear approaches. This makes the Count's keep quite defensible from typical siege strategies.
[Note: Caoilin was approached separately by a boy named Lyntern that
told her of a priest that led a band of assassins in the Hardlow wood about
a hundred years ago. Lothar Parlfray vanquished them. The bodies
of the fallen were sucked into an inky black ooze in the forest.
Dalrath, one of Lothar's warrior followers who was sucked in to the ooze,
reputedly wore magic armor that was gilded and shone like the sun.
Lyntern wants to join our group and seek out the site of this treasure.]
I worked on my bow most of the day and sparred with Lyntern some. He is a decent warrior.
[Day 53] We have heard tales of 4 people of Thurmaster being bludgeoned to death near the edge of the Shrieken Mire. Huge foot prints have been found. The Count has asked us to investigate so we are heading out immediately.
After looking at the foot prints, I am certain that there were four giants, two large and one or two smaller ones. They clearly came out of the mire, clubbed the people to death, then returned directly to the mire. The bodies were not taken. A local claims to have seen a dragon flying over the mire. We will return to the Count soon with the news. First we will try to convince the people in the area to tell others to stay away from the mire.
The Count is understandably distressed at the news. After much discussion, I see no realistic way to deal with the threat. The Count can only spare about ten men. Even with archers and good luck, I fear that four giants would kill most of us. For the moment, we are still worried about the pilgrims.
[Day 54] The Count has become more concerned about the pilgrims, as have we. With the size of the moor, we are hesitant to go out searching blindly. We have asked the count for help with the search and he has sent runners to Thurmaster to hire help. My bow may be finished sooner than I had hoped.
[Day 55] We will head out tomorrow if the pilgrims have still not arrived. I am continuing to work on my bow. It is going well after the donation of good wood from Garyld.
[Day 56] We are heading out with 5 search parties of four people and one armed guard each. I convinced the Count to part with the guards to speed up our progress and help insure the safety of the people.
We have had little luck today.
We were just attacked by two Ogres. We used great skill and teamwork to vanquish them with a minimum of our blood shed. They seem to be a random occurrence.
[Day 57] We found a warrior from the pilgrims' group. With his dying breath he told us of the abduction of the Priests. Before we could follow up on this, we were attacked by a pack of eight hellish beasts. They were the size of a small horse and had two heads apiece. We vanquished them all, but we were heavily wounded in the process. Unfortunately, Krieg and Serena's wounds became infected after the battle. It was an unnatural ailment, that much was obvious, as the wounds almost immediately showed signs of disease. We called the other search parties to us and I followed the tracks of the abducted pilgrims. The tracks soon faded, but they seemed to go in the direction of the Hardlow Wood. Krieg's and Serena's wounds were worse when I returned. I offered to carry them back via force march with litters, but they resisted.
[Day 58] We have returned to Parlfray's keep. I talked to the Count and he mentioned that Lafayer might be able to heal the disease as local legend mentions that he has done so in the past. I borrowed two mounts from the Count and rode along the path that Lafayer usually travels. I found him in the evening and convinced him to ride back with me through the night. When we arrived, he immediately treated Krieg and Serena. He mentioned that they were almost crippled by the disease as it was. He will stay tonight and tomorrow to insure they recover completely.
[Day 59] I donated 150 GP to Lafayer for his services. Other party members did likewise and we totaled 1000 GP for him. Strangely, it seemed like he was doing us a favor even with that large amount of gold. I wonder what he does with all of that gold after all.
[Day 60] Krieg and Serena are resting and should be ready to travel after today. I worked on my bow while they rested.
We discussed bringing Lyntern with us. Caoilin convinced Count Parlfray to entertain the idea. Myself, Serena, and Hilda were staunchly against it, unwilling to accept the risk
More news of another attack by the giants of the mire. This time
there was a witness that claims that two were about thirteen to fourteen
feet tall and their were two more that were about nine feet tall.
They were described as being very ugly. Neither Krieg nor myself
are familiar with such giants.
[Day 61] We are heading into the moor, where we will pick up the tracks of the pilgrims and follow them into the Hardlow Wood. I have asked Lafayer to stay at the Count's keep in light of the likelihood that we will soon be taking on the giants of the mire. He agreed to stay in the area, but has left to minister to the farms he skipped in our ride to the keep. He expects to return to the keep in three or four days. Luckily, the Count still resists the notion of Lyntern accompanying us.
We discussed the prospect of bringing Lyntern with us. Serena, Hilda, and myself all agree it was a very bad idea. Caoilin was in favor of it and the person that brought it up to begin with. Krieg thought the boy should be free to choose his path, and Alan was weakly in favor of having him come with us. Ultimately, the Count was reluctant to let him go with us in light of our lack of agreement on the topic. Probably best for all involved since the Count has no wife and no other heir.
We have found the trail once again. We will follow it towards the Hardlow Wood tomorrow.
[Day 62] The tracks have faded. We are heading to the Hardlow wood in the hopes that we can pick up some trail there.
[Day 63] We have had no luck. There is no sign of where to go from the edge of the wood. We are heading south to Kuiper's farm in the hopes of sharing information with him and gaining some insight into what we should do next.
It's late. We are camping for the night.
[Day 64] We are heading towards Kuiper's farm. For safety, we will skirt the Hardlow Wood.
We have had some discussion of the events since we entered Haranshire. What we have seen so far:
Tauster came to Haranshire fleeing his guildmaster fifteen years ago. Martisse told Tauster to stay out of his sight forever. He showed him a slug in a small glass jar that was the last person he had a problem with and said that he dropped a bit of salt on him every day.
Regarding the Shrieken Mire, Tauster told us a tale of it. The name comes form Lord Artran Shrieken, who used to live in Milborne. He was a cruel and heartless villain that tried to get one of the Parlfray women to marry. She fled into the mire with her paramour and Artran followed them only to reach a watery death. No one knows what happened to the couple. The Shrieken Mire is cursed, Shrieken's spirit wanders the mire seeking to strangle the life out of anyone that enters.
Tauster has offered to train us in magic. We will take advantage of this tomorrow.
[Day 67] Caoilin and I spent the day with Tauster. I was unable to grasp the methods of Magic Missile, but fortunately Caoilin was.
[Day 68] An hour out of town, a crow delivered a message to us:
"Oleanne presumed kidnapped, meet at farm - K"
We have headed towards Kuiper's farm.
[Day 69] We arrived at Kuiper's farm in the afternoon. He was worried. He has a wolf with him, which he referred to as Belshar. Alan called upon Cahuntea to give him the ability to converse with Belshar and discovered the following:
Attacked at night by six goblins and defeated them handily.
[Day 71] Encountered an orc hunting party just before dusk bearing the same insignia as the orcs we encountered with Oleanne. We defeated them with little difficulty. Krieg tortured and killed one of them with little success.
[Day 72] We reached Belshar's "stone place" as evening fell. It was a keep in a clearing. The keep was 150-200 feet across and somewhat square with a clearing 100 feet around it. A connected watchtower rested on the northeast corner, which appeared to have tumbled partially, leaving a pile of stones on the ground nearby. The keep had two active chimneys, so we were convinced someone was inside. We waited for nightfall and saw no one enter or leave.
We scouted around and then Caoilin moved forward to investigate the area around the tower, taking advantage of the rock debris. She fell into a pit trap about fifty feet into the clearing. I tossed Krieg the end of a rope and he lowered himself in. I pulled them both out and Alan and Serena tended to her. They reached her in time and were lucky enough to revive her completely. We discussed tactics and I favored a more aggressive stance with the concern that the guards would see the pit in the daylight. Caoilin eventually returned to the clearing and started clearing a path once more.
About forty feet from the wall, she was attacked by a crossbow man. I moved forward and cast Sleep on him simultaneously with Caoilin doing the same. I was lightly wounded by more arrows and called up a wall of fog over the slits. I then rushed up to the wall and jammed my sword into an arrow slit with no effect. The rest of the party joined me at the tower and I tossed Krieg's grapple hook to the roof of the tower. I started to clim, but once I cleared the top of the fog, I was shot at, as was Caoilin who was climbing the wall beside me. Alan stepped out of the fog and held the two archers that were shooting at us and Caoilin and I returned up the wall again. I leapt over the top and started to move across the roof when I noticed the flooring was not secure. I moved around the perimeter of the roof towards the stairs as the rest of the party climbed the roped and Caoilin dealt with our incapacitated foes. I spotted a lever attached to a rod that passed down into the tower. I dismissed it as an alarm and left it alone.
[break until next session]
Serena joined us on the tower and healed my wounds. Caoilin had
finished dispatching our incapacitated foes by then and she moved down
the stairs ahead of me to scout out the tower. She found an empty
room and the rod turned into a wall, which it passed through. There
was a passage leading away from the room as well stairs that went farther
down to another level as well.
Parlfray's Secretbook keeping
We stopped in Millborn and talked to Garyld of our travels and investigated the disappearance of Semheis. I picked up tracks and we followed them north. By day's end, it was clear that the tracks were heading towards the Garlstone mine, but the tracks began to fade. Caolin and I pressed on following the tracks while the others returned to town to obtain information from Grizzler and whomever else about the mines. I managed to pick up the tracks again.
We picked up the tracks again this morning and followed them to the base of the Blanryde Hills. Caolilin and I waited for the party to catch up.
We have met up with the others and are continuing on.
Mine: G&C scout entry; all move into dream cave, then back out;
into Flitch of Bacon, G&C in lead; Wyvern Watch nails G; group waits
then advances with G, C, and K in lead, rest 50 ft behind.
Coswell and Tinsley (halflings); Ramor (red-headed man). Priests: Shilek (woman) & Imirn (man).
Advanced to lower level with G & C scouting. Advanced to Grand
Cascade, Alan hit by living stalactite. Down ladder, C in lead, Invisible.
Garlstone Cavern: Cabin, Giant Eel & hand with ring. Tunnel:
cabin for smelly warrior. The Dome: diseased body. Fairyland:
gravel. The Crab Petals: two Cave Fishers.
Chamber of the All-Hearing Gods:
The Grand Cavern: 6+1 zombies, 4 skeletons, 2 Priests:
Caoilin, Alan, and myself scouted down the tunnel. We found a fork after an hour of travel. The left fork was more worn from travel. As we investigated, a large jelly-like cube [Gelatinous Cube] attacked us and engulfed Caoilin. I managed to pull her out with my bow. We retreated to the party and recovered from the cube's effects.
We advanced back down the tunnel, avoiding the fork that the cube was
Orc den entrance
Killed off remaining Orcs. When the fog cleared, the Orc leader and surviving Orc priest were gone, along with the body of the other Orc Priest and one of the bodyguards (possibly dead).
Rested & healed
Rested & healed up to full.
Entered the chamber and found no bodies. Moved on and found a fork to the left and right. The left fork ended in a nursery guarded by an Orc Priest of Luthig. She was armed with metal claws. She and the mothers were slain in combat. The young swam away into a lake at the back of the cavern. I kept the claws.
We backed up to the fork and went down the right side to another fork. We knew from the Orc Priest that the right fork led to the chieftain's chamber and the left one led to "brain eaters." The brain eaters are apparently a little taller than a man and have a beak for a mouth, surrounded by fish-like arms?
Chieftain and Priest attacked from Invisibility. I slew the Chieftain in single combat while the others attacked the Priest. Caoilin incapacitated three more Orcs that were guarding a chest. We rested.
I took a magic shield from the Priest, a magic battle axe from the chieftain, a Potion of Invisibility ( 2 sips), and a Potion of Extra-Healing. Krieg finally got a magic two-handed battle axe and magic chain mail that fit him.
Went down tunnel and found a strange race of gnome-like creatures.
They were a sad, unhappy, rude lot of people.
Giants - Elven bard (Pisel Goldenhair), Green Dragon, sheep q 2wks
Spell learning - Alarm, Charm Person, Chromatic Orb, Feather Fall, Invisibility, Web.
Gabriel Invisible, waiting 300 feet away from party. Will wait
for Trolls to pass and then fire a headless arrow towards the party to
warn them of the approaching Trolls. 4 Top Knot Trolls.
5 Trolls: Gabriel kicked ass!
Gabriel encourages Alan to wear armor. He picks him up off the ground, glares at him and says "Chauntea told you to follow me and I am telling you to put on some goddamn armor!"
Krieg to lure more Trolls. First try with Top Knots, no luck. Second try, Top Knots, no luck, Slatherers, lured a group away. Ran into Top Knots while fleeing Slatherers. Trolls fought some, but did not pursue.
Back to talk to Svirfneblin. Gnomes asked for advice; they reminded us of using food as a distraction. They helped Krieg and Caoilin to a lake and they caught four cavefish.
I suggested Caoilin use Boots of Levitation and her stealth to investigate Troll tunnels. She succeeded in scouting the Top Knot cave, but the guards at the Slatherers smelled her and came after her. They have a remarkable ability to leap off the cave walls to attack her Invisible form on the ceiling. The two pursue her down the tunnel. Serena's spell warns us of her situation. Krieg, Gabe, and Hild run down to save her. Downed two Slatherers.
We tried to lure out some more with Caoilin. We positioned ourselves about 100 meters up from the fork. The Slatherers would not follow her far enough. We moved up to about 500 feet away. This put is in the unenviable position of possibly having our retreat cut off by Top Knots, so we waited for a short time near the fork before advancing further to help insure that the Top Knots were not cutting us off. This time Caoilin was successful in luring the Slatherers to our position, too successful. Five Slatherers took the bait. I used Blur and Serena called upon Tyr to protect me from evil. The fight was a hard one. They charged our line, their claws flailing and their teeth gnashing; one of them leapt up the wall and attacked Caoilin who was at our rear, forcing her to withdraw. Krieg, Hild, and I laid into the beasts. Krieg managed to drop one of the two on him with mighty blows of his axe. Hild and I did not fare as well. We managed to drop the one on her and I wounded the one attacking me. Only one of them was lit on fire by Alan, who took a break from casting supportive spells on us. Caoilin seemed to be in shock as she stayed back and languished in indecision. Serena fought bravely against the one that leapt over our line. I moved in to attack hers after I dropped mine and Hild moved in to attack the last one on Krieg as he had fallen. Things got worse from there. The beasts started getting back up as Hild and I fell. Alan managed to get Krieg back, but he was walking wounded now. Serena brought me back to fighting strength and I downed the entire potion of great healing that I was carrying and bellowed at the last standing Troll. It took my challenge and almost knocked me back down, but now Hild was up and I was in no mood to fall again. We struck down the beast, and this time they stayed down as a weak and murky-minded Krieg pulled himself along the ground and burned their corpses. While I was down, Caoilin used one dose of the potion of Polymorph Self to change herself into a Top Knot troll, and she advanced trying to scare away the last troll, but it did not work and she was felled before I got back up. A strange story indeed; I am still uncertain if Krieg is pulling my leg, but the other party members verify the claim. I threw Krieg over my shoulder and we moved quickly back up the main passage. I made myself Invisible and scouted ahead to see if our route was cut off. I still had a few magical tricks up my sleeve if things looked bad. Fortunately, there was no desperate escape and we made it to a safe distance without further incident.
We retreated back up the tunnel and rested for two nights. The morning of the third day, we were attacked by five Ghasts. I was struck by one of them as I killed it but it managed to strike me before it fell and paralyzed me in spite of my magic. The stench was awful and I do not look forward to encountering such abominations again.
We rested for another two nights. The second night we were attacked
just before going to bed by a foul, ghostly creature. No one was
struck by the beast and we managed to destroy it.
|And then I got tired of keeping a journal. I snuck past the Trolls and found a gorup of trapped Troglodytes. Through magic and food, I was able to recruit them to fight with us against the Trolls. Most of them died in the process, but it was better than being slowly picked off by the Trolls or starving to death.|
|I talked with the leader of the Deep Gnomes about leaving the Troglodytes alone, hoping that because they were saved from a slow horrible death by humans, an Elf, a Minotaur, and a Dwarf, they might be a little less savage towards such people.|
|And for now, a summary that I may flesh out later . . .