Land of Suldaire

This Maze (Carsys)

So after much navigation of this maze we finally found our way through two rooms, several hidden walls and pit traps into a room with some statues. It seemed as if the rugs on the floor would take hold, almost like quicksand. We did find our way to a room with mummified corpses though. It seems whoever is behind this is one creepy individual.

I have a bad feeling we are being messed with. I wasn’t brought up to speed too much on what the party is doing here, I just joined them not too long ago, offering my blade if they needed a hand. So who they are after and why is beyond me. I just want to see these orcs dealt with for having no regard for the lives they have destroyed outside.

So here I am following this group of people deeper into this cave, with honestly no understanding of why and what…or who they are after. My instincts tell me this chained woman we have been leading deeper into the cave is not who she appears to be. She is almost too innocent in all of this. When it comes right down to it, Master Duskwalker always said be wary of outsiders and always trust your instincts. As a result, I don’t trust her. While the others have given me no reason to distrust them, as well this woman has given me no reason to distrust her. I just can’t shake this feeling. Perhaps when we find a time and place to rest I will meditate and pray on it. Mutters to herself as she writes Master I could use your guidance right now.

Well, I will write more later. We have some things to finish up here.

Fun times at the pub. (Carsys)

(Taste Test Dummies)

So that was fun. Trying new drinks, getting a bit jumpy. I was eager to try the potions only to find out what they could do. Good thing no body was seriously poisoned. That could have been a bad situation for everyone. As she looks at the jar of spores on the table

After doing our sipping tests we had to absolutely without fail clean up the corpses and give the undead a proper burial. May their souls rest in peace. After wards we are to press on. How good it will be to get out of this cave and enjoy the fresh air under the canopy of the forest.

The Big Guy
After rummaging through the Witch Doctors things we moved on. We found a room with a large curtain, ultimately cut down by angry Orcs. These Orcs look bigger than the rest and one has a girl chained up. He seems to keep her close. I think it is high time we dispatch these Orcs once and for all. With excitement I sound the charge!The biggest Orc carries a large weapon. He uses it well. This is him, the boss Orc these boys were talking about. I can’t wait to see how we handle this fight. Of course, I get myself beat up pretty bad, those Orc guards hit hard!

Midnight, oh my Midnight. He is such a good wolf! He tore up the leg of one of those orcs, knocked him down and continued biting him hard. If I didn’t know any better he made a new friend…Or Chew Toy! Squishy Orcs, bet they don’t taste too good.

I will write more next time.

Pot Chuggin (Khord)
Never again

I have won drinking contests against dwarfs, fellow warriors, and even full fledged giants… But THIS was the worst idea, though the best at the moment, I think we ever had.

While some were preparing the bodies for a burial of sorts, we found a stash of potions. So… we starting sampling. The following is an approximation of what we got. It will be best to let Marcus see a few of these, or even the town alchemist.

2 vials of thick yellow liquid. Smells sweet: Possibly a strength increase. Marcus may know more
4 vials of stick brown liquid: Tree sap. nothing special (maybe good with pancakes?)
1 clear cylinder: Probably water.
3 clear flasks, bad smells with tiny flecks of dirt: Evil tainted water.
2 small clear vials: Possibly holy water
2 vials of bubbling ruby fluid: Possibly a potion of jumping?
3 Deep amber fluid…. Lamp Oil. DO NOT INGEST (has stomach ache)
2 vials of sapphire fluid with ebony flecks. smells like vegetables; NO EFFECT
3 light watery copper fluid vials; HEAL POTIONS (same as the orc drank)
1 watery ivory fluid, smells of perfume. (very weak healing potion)
1 Orchid color frothing vial (potion of shrink??)
1 gray smocking spicy hot vial.. Most likely potion of rage.
1 flask white and glowing vial. DO NOT DRINK. I felt sick afterwards. nothing positive about it
2 small ceramic pot, with thick black paste, kinda goopy. (same substance was on the shamans weapon
1 small jar that is sealed (FOR A REASON!) contained a light violet powder….. We were…. very trippy afterwards. (once had that in contact with me before. BAD idea to open this)

DAMMIT (Marcus)

I was so close! Dammit, dammit, Dammit, DAMMIT! I needed answers badly, and I’m fairly sure that damn shaman was the only one who could give me any.

I need to calm down. My patience had been strained, and it’s taking it’s toll on me.
Much better. I suppose I should start where last I left off.

Upon leaving the cave with our newly found companions, we headed back to our makeshift bivouac, where we had left the horse and my captive. Imagine my surprise when justice seemed to have been met onto him without the villagers getting their satisfaction. As it turns out, it’s our new animalistic friend, Carsys, who meted out punishment on a tied up and helpless foe. At first, I was fairly upset about this, not only for the loss of the captive, but because it’s one less piece of closure that the townspeople won’t have. It was tempered by her rebuttal; apparently, the badgers we killed were her ‘charges’. At first, I thought her insane, but looking back at her actions and abilities, I reassessed my opinion. I now think her to be some sort of nature priest; I may ask Trent about that later.

Fortunately, we managed to capture an even better source of information in the form of Grishold. How fortunate to find an orc that speaks common and is angry at the current order within his little society. We also fed the two other captives and sent them back to Cajem on the horse. I can only hope they manage to get the message to the town captain in time; even if I can get no answers from any of the orcs here, I only need one of the Gideons in custody. Then, he’s subject to OUR laws. Thank the Gods the guard captain knows of the order out here, else that would be all the more difficult. I will of course let him sit in on the proceedings; after all, his town has suffered as much from this traitor as anyone.

At any rate, I was obviously not in my right mind when I asked Grishold to draw a map. I should have known better than to expect that from him. What a waste of time. After Trent was kind enough to point out my folly, it was decided to bring him along as a sort of guide to expedite the eradication of this threat to the countryside. He’s turning out to be quite useful, since he’s led us straight to the shaman, and presumably to the ‘leader’ of this band. We first found the animal pens, and, hoping to cause a diversion, I suggested that we let the animals loose and stampede through the cave, giving the rank and file something to do other than harass us. This seemed to please Carsys as well; perhaps she’s some sort of exotic Ranger? I worry about Sharn though; we caught him trying his level best to frighten the slaughtered carcasses into charging.

After pointing us to the officer’s, eh, wing, of the cave, we were immediately set upon by some more experienced warriors and spearmen, which was a welcome surprise, and confirmation that we were going in the right way. Sharn showed his usual poise in battle by taking the van, with Khord (I knew I heard that name wrong!) once again proving himself a very capable warrior. It’s quite obvious the man was out of his element, being almost doubled over, but still managed to kill a few on his own. Sharn took quite a nasty hit, and I think I lost my composure and ran into the front, against pretty much all of my training. Fortunately, my fan of fire and my new-found utility in Anaphon’s amulet managed to make quick work of all of the remaining orcs that my brave companions had wounded. Fain seemed to be doing better as well, which I am happy for. We all have personal demons to overcome, something which I am well aware of, but I’m glad my friend has seemed to put things to rights with himself all the same.

After dealing with the front guard, Grishold warned us about the elite barracks up ahead (I thought at first he was turning traitor by the way he was running ahead, but he’s quickly gaining my trust as a guide. I hope to have the town to agree to his release after all this; maybe we can use him to enact some sort of change within this group for the better.) We managed to wedge in a spear to stop another horrible firefight incident like our first foray into the cave, and passed the storage chamber, no doubt full of ill-gotten goods from the villages. I plan on guiding the town guard back here and getting them back as much as they can of what they have lost from the raiding.

Finally, we found the shaman’s door. It was fairly obvious, what with all of the intimidating and arcane-looking symbols scrawled across it. We spent too much time discussing things for our companion Khord’s liking though, as he and Sharn managed to destroy the door, with Khord rushing headlong into the cavern. Before I could shout a warning though, he was nearly chopped in two by the completely predictable trap that was lurking in the hallway. He may be big, and strong, and certainly talented as a close-quarters fighter, but I think he doesn’t know the first thing about military strategy.

After Trent patched up our big friend, we headed into the cavern, where Khord seemed to feel more in his element, since he could stretch out to his full, impressive height. Sharn also took his usual position in the van, with Carsys’s wolf pet doing his damnest to kill the orcs that confronted us. We were soon beset by zombies as well, which we all found abhorrent, but Trent managed to save the day with the power of his god and a blazing blast of light that simply vaporized the foul abominations! Of all the things I was anticipating, I never would have thought of that!

Neither, apparently, did our assailant, since he let out a gasp of surprise at having his whole front line eradicated right before his eyes. I think Sharn surprised all of us by dropping his spear and charging him though. After falling on the shaman, I knew what he was trying to do: a classic and infuriating problem for casters is that if we are pinned and incapable of chanting properly (from say a broken nose or mouth full of fist), we are just quivering sacks of meat waiting to be subdued or killed. Something seemed to be making Sharn incapable of holding him down though, and our shaman managed to mutter off a spell that I recognized as a Sanctuary spell, meaning we were all going to have a hard time hitting him. The rest of us were simply frustrated that we were unable to attack him, especially Khord and Fain, who seemed to respectively want to cut his arm off and blow his head up, as he had so admirably done to one of the orc zombies. Sharn seemed to realize the futility of his position and rolled off of him, whereupon the shaman simply stood up and laughed at our attempts to attack him. What’s odd is that Khord managed to get off a swing that should have made contact easily, but was nearly stopped by a miasma of sickly light, which I later identified as a protection spell, meant to repel those of good spirit. What a wonder; all that bookwork finally comes in handy!

Nevertheless, Khord managed to nearly take off the shaman’s arm, something I was not too happy about, as I was yelling with Trent to try and take him alive. He did, something, as well, when he took that swing. I could have sworn it was magic, but I felt nothing. Well, he’s from a foreign land; maybe he’s some sort of warrior cleric. Just another thing I would like ot figure out.
The damn orc danced away to his table and drank a potion of some sorts, and looked almost as though nothing happened to him. Thankfully, we were able to use the time to close on him and surround him, while I hung back and prepared to release an orb of fire on his chest, hopefully incapacitating him. I managed to miss though, to my extreme frustration. Khord and Carsys’s wolf managed to finish him off though, with us no worse for the wear.
Khord did manage to cut off his head though. At that point, all the frustration finally got to me, and I spent a good deal of time kicking the corpse simply out of frustration. He was hopelessly outnumbered and surrounded! Why didn’t he yield?!

I’m afraid we shall have to piece together the rest of this puzzle on our own, since I’m sure this band leader had no real idea what the shaman was up to; he’s just the muscle, so to speak. Still, if I can cow him into submission by throwing his beloved caster’s head at his feat, maybe I can make him back down. Orcs respect strength more than anything, and maybe I can confirm some suspicions I’ve had. I also need to speak with Trent, probably at length. And I REALLY need to get ahold of Anaphon for any number of reasons. I still need to spend some time studying this amulet as well; I think I should devote a day to it’s study.

The end of this mission is almost at hand, hopefully. And hopefully I will have proven my worth to be called a Scale within the Order.

Khord's log
Revenge at last

These adventure’s that rescued me are quite the party. Definitely will ask them if I can join them after the finish these orcs off, if they have me.

Though, I probably could have told them that most orcs cannot draw a map, but at least this one will be a useful guide. After a few hours watching the orc Girshold attempt to draw a map we just forced him to come with us.

The animal diversion seemed like an idea. Not sure how useful it will be, but it seemed to make the Nature One happy.

We did have a nasty encounter with some guards, Took me a while to get to combat, due to trying to protect our rears, just in case more orcs come. Trent’s healing arts are definitely a great asset. Sharns battle tactics are great, but there is nothing like running into battle sword swinging. That Marcus character is a hoot. I wish I knew someone like that in the arena. He would have made an entertaining partner.

After barricading another barrack and bypassing the storage (and rum) room, we got to the door I have been waiting for, the witch doctors. The door was obvious. I was getting impatient about the debate of “Should we kill him now or later?”…. “He isnt really a bad guy.”…..“Oh we dont have the key.”.. I was getting cramped. My people were not cave dwelling dwarfs. And as soon as I could stand, I could use my blade to the full of its Potential. So I rushed in, and took a trap in the torso that would have cleaved an orc or two. Once I received a healing spell I was ready to go.

This room had to be the witch doctors, the bodies of the humans seemed familiar, they were of the prisoner’s that were dragged away near death from the jail. These orcs that we were fighting seemed to be empowered by some twisted experimentation. We all could hear the snickering of the orc in the shadows, and even with my attuned eyes I could barely see…. BUT I could stand.

Fain and the others were yelling about keeping these orcs alive. I knew these orcs would be more peaceful in death… and well…. that witch doctor knocked me out, now its my turn to subdue him. Maybe a limb or two shall be sufficient?

Not before long there were UNDEAD walking towards us… that was the exact moment I knew that this witch doctor had to go. Trent easily blew away the undead monstrosities with a brilliant light, that disorientated me for a moment and caused the orc to escape. But in a moment of either brilliance, or shear stupidity, the Paladin ran forth, dropped his sheild, and flopped on top of the orc. It was a brilliant idea… until the orc casted something that made it difficult to strike…. I knew my mind was stronger than the others, but even I had a difficult time striking the beast. Eventually I got a shot at his arm, Infusing my blade with my powers, my blade stuck it so hard his limb was barely intact. This orc managed to escape and drank a potion of some sort…. but the battle did not last much longer after that, as I finished him off, by lobbing off his arm and then his head.

I was going to offer the head to Marcus to bring back to the village, but he was too busy kicking the body. So I lashed the witch doctors head to my sword. Perhaps we can convince a few orcs to run away, or perhaps join us in the fight against these orcs that the others are looking for. If Girshold fears the head, Im sure other will as well.

For now, I am trying to stretch my back. It is odd trying to stab with my sword, but it keeps getting better. And perhaps I can revel to them what I really am.

Grave news (Trent)

Dear Gavin,

It seems that these orcs are much better organized than I remember. I mean you can keep them in line – more or less – with a little brute force and a strong chieftain, but these orcs are actually organized. Not that I’m in need of an orc army any more, but I will have to find out what it is that makes this Haydion so good at keeping them in line.

So after escaping from the orcs the first time, we were able to find a secluded vale with a small stream running through it to make camp. While leaving we picked up several newcomers. One half-giant with something unusual about him. He is a warrior, however, he carries a sword made of some dark crystal. Perhaps some day I’ll be able to examine it in more depth. I’ve seen it glow in combat, whether it is something he does to it, or some property of the sword, I am not sure.

The other we gathered along the way seems to be perhaps a druid. Carsys travels with a wolf companion, unusual in its own right, but from what I understand a mark of a nature priest. Also her command of the plants and animals around seems to indicate a druidic heritage. The other two we rescued decided to travel home instead of accompanying us back into the danger. Both were badly injured through torture, and probably would have been more of a hindrance than a help.

We spent the early part of the evening getting acquainted with the new comers, while bandaging wounds and getting food. After a relatively quiet night sleep we were able to rise in the morning feeling much better and prepared to face the orcs. At this time we questioned the orc we rescued as well. Though his common was poor at best, we came to understand that he simply wanted the leader eliminated so their tribe could return home. I think that though orcs are evil by nature, it would be the kind of act befitting our Lord to let them live, after all his sun rises on both the good and the evil alike. Perhaps in light of your kindness and the consistency of our Lord’s holy light they may turn from the evil of their ways.

Returning to the cave, Grishold told us the first door to the right was a stable of sorts (well storage place for the ‘live’ food). We spooked the cattle and sheep, hoping it would keep the orcs busy for a time. In the mean time we took the door that would lead us to the area where the leaders primarily were. As soon as we opened the door, we were set upon by the guard. Kord and Sharn led the assault, while the rest of us provided cover. I was fairly quickly put to use tending to wounds, and by the grace of Lathander, I was able to guide his healing light to the worst of the wounds.

Proceeding down the hallway, at Grishold’s direction we did not enter the next main door as this was apparently the barracks. With the trouble we had at the previous barracks, it seemed more prudent to bar the door, which Marcus did easily. They should have some difficulty breaking out of the door.

The next door appeared to be the witch-doctor’s Grishold was terrified of this room, and rightly so. The door itself was marked simply with common runes used to inspire fear in followers, as well as a few simple decorations to scare off all but the strong-willed. As the others prepared an assault, I attempted to open the door. This failed miserably as the door was locked. So we took turns throwing ourselves at the door until it burst. Khord in a fit of fury rushed down the hall promptly falling prey to a viscious blade trap. Fortunately he was immediately halted by some orcs. It turns out they were undead minions of this evil shaman. I was able to provide healing to Khord while the others took down the orcs. However as they all rushed forward around the corner, they soon discovered the remainder of his undead army. I understand the use of undead, however, after coming to Lathander’s graces, I have come to see that they proceed from the same mistaken assumptions I once did. Though the fodder for the undead army is easy enough to find, keeping them whole in the face of even a modest cleric such as myself is difficult. As soon as Caidren alerted me to the presence of these undead, I called on the light of Lathander to drive them off. Perhaps my ire at their presence was greater than I thought, or perhaps they irritated his holy light, either way, the flash of brilliance from the symbol you gifted me with was so great they burst immediately into flame, and were reduced to cinders on the spot.

Sharn’s crazy charge of the witch-doctor was brilliant, tripping him and then falling on him to keep him from casting spells. However he had effected a protecdtion from good spell which made it difficult for us to even attack him. Eventually we were able to defeat this menace, fittingly with Khord nearly severing one arm and then finally taking it completely off.

We have spent some time gathering bodies for burial and sorting the remaining items in the room into piles we will take with us and piles we will leave as fitting gifts to the dead. I have taken a moment to put some thoughts on paper while we gather our strength for the next stage in the assault. I pray that Lathander will continue to keep me in his good graces. Fortunately I am able to see where I had been wrong in my previous alliances. Perhaps now I can be a part of a true force for good in this world. This band of men and women certainly seem to be on the right track for that.

From the Journal of Fain
Waking as if from a dream

Day 30… 31?: I’ve been having a reoccurring dream lately. I’m standing on the edge of that town, Tyrisany, and I’m watching it burn to the ground. Again. But this time it’s different. I’m not feeling that same, gut-wrenching feeling I feel every time I reflect on my last day as a Boltcaster. I don’t feel sorrow for the town or even yell in vain at the burning, smoldering people running past us into the woods who are too much in pain to know they’re dead. The only thing I feel is regret.

And it’s directed into my own soul.

In the flickering flames and twisting smoke I can see afterimages of slack-jawed, dead-eyed badgers. Above them, in the clouds that are too dark for the actual time of day, I can see Jed – my aging mentor – standing impossibly parallel with the ground below me, his feet anchored in the clouds. His face is Jed’s but his body… his body keeps swirling in and out of the form of Obad-Hai’s leaf-covered tunic. His eyes are dead, his hand cold and accusing as he points at me. I am not the ranger I should be.

And I know it.

My days are melding together, and I’m not even sure if the others I travel with have noticed that I’m not really there with them. Then again, upon further reflection, Marcus may have some inkling. He was able to make the perfect shot with my own crossbow whereas I couldn’t even land one bolt. I watched, a prisoner in my own flesh as he loaded an air-runed bolt in to an orc’s head. Instead of feeling ashamed at my lack of performance, I was numb. I could only sigh the internal breath of emptiness.

I will go to sleep now. Jed/Obad has a date with his failure and who am I to deny them?

Day 32… I presume: I dreamed again last night.

In the dream I stand outside of the cave myself and my companions are currently in. In the clearing just beyond the opening the edge of Tyrisany stands, unmarred by flame or rule. It is night. The forest we trekked through to get here is gone and in the place where I stood, watching the town smolder, is a large, leaf covered man.

I try to speak but cannot. I try to move but I am frozen to the gravel below me. The green figure before me speaks, his voice one with the ground, synonymous with the wind.

“You live in torment for your own failures,” the man says with the world around him. The trees sigh at his inflection. “I cannot watch a follower of the Natural Path destroy himself. Be free of your mistakes only be accepting them. Make them a lesson and not a punishment.” The figure lifts his arm, revealing a large sapling carved into an impressive quarterstaff. In the direction of the staff’s end marks the entry of two large, hairy beasts emerging from the intact buildings of the fictional Tyrisany. “Behold, your charges.”

The two animals step into the moonlight. They are the badgers I helped to end without thought to their natural balance in this forest. Their eyes are closed but their noses twitch and I know they are filling their lungs with my scent.

“They move freely, here.” The man sets his quarterstaff down and turns and I can see in the pale, silver light the long, wrinkled face of Obad-Hai. “You, in the land of the living, should do so as well.” The moon casually crumbles out of the sky and I wake up.

I sat there, in my bedroll, covered in sweat and gasping. Each breath was like a new one, every smell of this forsaken cave a novel and noteworthy nuance. I felt around me, taking mental note of my belongings. Everything was there and, as I began to relax, I realized what I was really looking for. I expected to feel the butt of a staff in the dank dirt below me, holding up the weight of an old god.

As I start to march now with Marcus, Sharn, Trent, and the new comers – the half-giant behemoth Khord and the lithe one Carsys – I wonder… how much of that was actual divine intervention and how much of that was my own coping mechanisms?

As I heft the weight of my crossbow and feel the click of a clip being loaded, I realize I don’t care.

I am a ranger.

Day 32… I presume: With a renewed sense of vigor, I marched through crowded rock tunnels with our unlikely crew (Minus a Mot, I was glad to note. I wasn’t sure when he left, but I was glad of his absence.) and kept one wary eye on our orcish guide, Grishold. He’s as mentally dull as most would expect of his race, but it is his experience of these caves and the network of the ‘orcish ranks’ that we are relying on. It is his natural line in this I will let him run its course.

Grishold led us away from a barracks and gave us brief and unsurprisingly list of things a storehold held. It wasn’t until we reached the door leading to the magic weaver of these caves that Grishold clammed up. Evidently the grip of fear this magic user had over these orcs was enormous.

After a long and unremarkable conversation on what the door’s marking meant, the conversation turned to how to open the door. I examined it to try to find a hole to put my mirror in but it was uncharacteristically well made with no room to wiggle anything through. Up to this date I have yet to find such craftsmanship in a cave. It was… odd.

Finally, as most things do with a group such as this, it turned to brute force. Various members through their weight on the sturdy, perfect example of cave-system carpentry and they succeeded in busting and splintering a fraction of it away. I took position with my back against the opposite way and made an off-handed comment to the giant, Khord, that we could have used the expertise of a hack and slasher, motioning to his sword.

I never intended him to take it to heart as he did!

After the door was broken, the hulking figure ran massive-sword-first into the opening and was swallowed by the gloom beyond. Only a click, a swoosh, and a cry from Khord let us know the way ahead was trapped. We all rushed in – except our orcish charge, who most all seemed to forget about – to check on Khord (and of course this hindsight, but I don’t think the trap was intended for such a large target…) and was promptly ambushed by two orcs that were in prime position to kill us. They were massive, armored and especially ugly. These were orcs meant to maim.

My first instinct was to to capture them, at least one of them, and I set upon to do so. My reasoning was to learn more about the magic user in these caves by using Grishold as a mediator of sorts. I loosed a lightning bolt intended to stun and possibly knock out the first and closest orc, but with aim that almost righted itself mid-shot, I drove the crackling, blue-white bolt into the orcs skull and fried him from the inside. My first internal response was that I had failed but… I swear it seemed right.

After my ‘failure’, I pleaded with the rest of the group to leave the remaining one alive. One of us, the female Carsys (who commands a wolf, it seems. I must admit the action seemed most fortuitous…) had major qualms about doing so, but after showing her that the orc may yet be useful as a source of information, she consented.

Just as a wave of recently-dead men arose from their resting place and proceeded to thrash the party.

I knew that some, such as Trent and Sharn, had gods on their side so I yelled for one of them, if not both, to turn them. Both stood silent and grim as they realized that they were not yet strong enough in their faith to perform such miracles. (I assume.) But then Trent, in a deity-driven rage the likes of which I have never seen, unleashed a wave of holy power that laid to ruin every opposition in our path. Both the orc and the wave of undead were destroyed. In the flash I caught a glimpse of another figure deeper in the cave before the light proved too much for my darkness-weakened eyes. I was struck dumb.

It was only after the battle I found out that the rage of battle I heard shortly after the holy smiting was the group coming together to take down the magic user of the caves, a witch doctor.

I lay here now, pen loose in my fingers. I feel rejuvenated and drained all at the same time. I will learn more of my victory when I wake tomorrow. For now, though, I’m just too exhauste___________________________________________________ __ __

Introductions and death of a many orc. (Carsys)

After much resting we finally took the time to introduce ourselves. I thought those Humans would continue wasting time with that Orc. Having an Orc draw a map with his own blood is like asking a pigeon to swim without drowning!

Finally, they realized the Orc is worthless at drawing a map, so we finally decided to move on after a good night of sleep. During the night I think I spotted a bear, but he seemed to be docile and happily strolling along. I didn’t want to fight a bear. After all these humans are guests in the woods; the bears home. He left us alone, so we were not required to engage the mighty beast.

After returning to the Orc cave the next morning the humans thought it would be best to cause a stampede with the livestock in the cave. Against my better judgement I agreed, better we set them free and the poor animals kill some Orcs on their way out than to be slaughtered and left to rot. So in the end, it was not all bad.

The ruckus alerted some Orcs, not necessarily to our presence, but at the very least to the stir up of the animals. They came, we slaughtered. These humans are a lot tougher than I thought, especially that big guy…Khord I think his name is. That sword must be very special he wields it with great effectiveness!

The others held their own too, the other big guy especially. When I cast bark skin on him, he seemed to already have a thick skin. Granted I couldn’t help but to laugh when he had a few twigs growing from “strategic” locations.

At any rate, we had to fall back and rest for the night and to recover from some wounds.

I shall write more later.

Progress! (Marcus)

By the gods, what a series of events! It’s not exactly how I had hoped the situation would evolve, but I can’t say I’m disappointed. If anything, our situation has become even stronger than ever.

After killing the meager entry guard to the cave and discovering the poorly hidden entrance to the back of the cave, we ventured further in, hoping to eradicate the group as quickly and quietly as possible. Unfortunately that was not meant to be, it seems. After entering an antechamber, we were met by a choice of 4 doors to progress through. After picking a likely candidate, we all proceeded down the tunnel. It should be noted, that two highly armored holy men do NOT make for the best sneak thieves. Predictably, we were noisy, and, with fate having my old sense of humor, we had managed to stumble into the barracks. Needless to say, we woke up a large number of orcs.

Clearly, the surprise of stumbling onto a regimented barracks caught my allies off guard, as we were a bit sloppy in our execution; thank the gods these fellows were sleepy and unarmed as well as unarmored. Being low on arcane assets, I had to think quickly to utilize my abilities to cause maximum terror, rather than lethality. After all, when faced with a numerically superior foe, a good warrior will cow them into believing that their numbers are meaningless. Therefore, I unleashed a fan of fire at the largest massing of the foul brutes, hoping to finish off a few of the weaker ones and frightening the others. I worked beautifully; the few I hit directly were terrorized into fleeing into the dark, and the others remaining that my companions had been harrying broke and ran, their spirit crushed, and a fleeing enemy is a broken enemy.

Regrettably, we were not quiet about this. Figuring that our altercations would certainly bring down attention to our actions, we quickly acted to make ourselves a makeshift barrier of the bunks and tables to block off the rest of the orcs within the barracks, while Trent quite ingenuously blocked the door we entered through with coins in the jamb, buying us some time and a much more defensible place to hold off the hordes. Someone up on high loves quiet Sharn though, as he managed to notice a weak spot in the wall that was a VERY cleverly concealed crawlspace! This, as well as the barracks, is giving me more pause as to who exactly is organizing this operation.

I volunteered to go ahead and scout this new path, hoping it would open up to the outside at best, and at least somewhere more defensible. Thankfully, I got my wish; it actually opened up on a guard station that was fairly lightly guarded. Heading back to give the good news, Trent managed to warn me of a small number of orcs breaking through our makeshift barrier. I knew it wouldn’t last too long. It also seems that Sharn has some experience in group combat; he made for a textbook phalanx defensive position while Fain did his best to keep those vile fiends at bay with his trusty and lethal crossbow. Hoping to capitalize on the fear I instilled in the savages with my fiery assault, I grabbed the torch from Trent and charged the barricade, in an attempt to drive the assailants back through sheer fear of another arcane attack, which we have learned scares the crap out of them. Predictably, it worked almost too well, with the would-be attackers breaking and running off in abject terror, giving us enough time to escape down the crawlspace.

We all got into the space, albeit not comfortably, while Trent rather cleverly called upon his divine powers to conceal our entrance entirely. Hopefully, this will confuse the orcs and add to their fear of our prowess. Regardless, when we reached the far exit (also blocked in), my friend Fain was making ready to loose a bolt into one of the two guards, but my noble companion seemed to be harboring some ill thoughts that had been distracting him throughout our assault on the den, which was causing him to miss more frequently than could be attributed to natural bad luck. Knowing that we must strike fear into our targets to minimize the chances of them sounding the alarm, I begged the crossbow from Fain, and utilized the last of my strongest foci on enchanting myself and ensuring the shot would not be missed. Would that I could have cast it on Fain; a bit of confidence would have done wonders for him right now.
Regardless, he must have had a trick or two up his sleeve, since the results were not quite what I expected. I had hoped, at best, to make an arrow sprout in one of the orc’s eyes, and reduce the other guard to gibbering terror. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected the orc’s head to quite literally explode! The other guard was immobilized with fear, allowing us to quickly subdue him and get a set of keys off of them.

We were in for quite a surprise, as we had found the fiends’ jail cell, which was being well-used. We found a couple of captives nearing death, which Fain and Sharn tried to heal up as best as they could; unfortunately, they were both as sorely in need of rest and recuperation as I was. Fain had found a large and impressive set of armor, and a very large sword, seemingly forged of crystal! I shall have to try and study it, if it’s owner will allow me.
We found the owner of said sword as well, and what a man he is! Something of a giant of a man, he was found fettered in the rear of the jail. He says his name is Corn, but I’m sure I must be misunderstanding him, possibly due to a difference in dialect. He was very grateful to us for freeing him, and seems to be no stranger to violent conflict, as he wields that sword of his very skillfully. We also found an orc chained and caged in the back. His name seems to be Grishold, and he speaks common. Finally, maybe we can get some real intel on this situation, and formulate a serious plan of attack, instead of blindly flailing, since our luck is sure to run out eventually, and I would like a plan in place.

Our only exits were either back the way we came, leaving us in the situation we just left, and through the door to the north. Deciding we needed to regroup and recover, we determined to leave the cave as fast as possible, and reformulate our plan of attack. I’m hoping that I can use Grishold to wring more relevant information from my other tied-up captive, and get an idea of numbers, layout, and any other nasty traps that might be in the way.

Fate had one last trial for us though, as the main fighting force seemed to be funneling out into the initial antechamber we had entered through. I was down to my weakest spells, and I know Trent and Sharn must have been hurting as well. Sharn again comported himself admirably, making himself a formidable and nigh-unassailable bastion of steel and stabbing. Corn, however, seems to be a brute berserker; he managed to cleave one orc, and impale another so thoroughly with his sword that he managed to get the body stuck on the blade! He’s truly formidable, and I feel lucky to have rescued him. Perhaps he and I have some common ground in training; I would like to get to know him better, and see what I might learn from him.

Finally, when we seemed to be stemming the tide enough to make an escape, we saw a set of wolves entering the cave! I thought we were doomed, having our only known means of escape being blocked, when one of the wolves leaped onto one of our attackers and ripped his throat out! The other then proceeded to shapeshift before my very eyes, and turn the flora of the cave against it’s residents! I didn’t manage to get our savior’s name, but she seemed dead set on venturing further into the lair. I was screaming for a retreat, as we were all exhausted and needed time to rest; thankfully our newest addition to our little band was overruled and we managed to beat a hasty retreat, with Sharn covering our escape.

So much has happened today, and I grow weary, and it is hard to see the writing anymore. I shall write more on the morning, perhaps with some new intel gleaned from our two captives! I feel that this incursion is coming to it’s conclusion, which is good, as I have other mysteries that need to be unraveled before I can return to Anaphon with news of success.

Narrow Escape (Trent)

Dear Gavin,
The last couple days have been quite interesting. We set out in pursuit of the orcs that have been raiding the village. With the help of some local scouts we were able to track them to an area in the hills north of the town. That evening we had an encounter with some dire badgers – what ferocious fighters they were! We continued on while they returned to the village.

It didn’t take long for us to find the orcs. Sharn’s sharp eyes spotted a patrol on the ridge. Taking no chances, we quietly waited until they passed before continuing on. Shortly after that, we discovered the trail to their camp. The orcs had taken up refuge in a cave, leaving two guards outside. I asked Lathander’s blessing on a stone, which began to glow with his holy light. Tossing this into the path ahead of us, it was enough to draw the orcs out. Then they began to fight each other over it. (They are still as dim witted as I remember). Taking advantage of this, we rushed forward and the battle was over before they knew what hit them, even the third guard who rushed out of the cave, was taken out by our warrior-mage before he could return to warn the other orcs.

However upon entering the cave, we soon discovered that they are being protected by some greater dark power. The cave itself was small, and barely used. At first I thought they might be an advanced party, but some careful searching discovered a ‘secret’ entrance to a much larger cavern network. It seems some intelligence is at work here.
We proceeded to follow a tunnel that lead down into the bowels of the earth. After a bit of travel we came to a large cavern with many doors in it. It seems they have taken up residence here. Carefully we opened one of the doors and followed it down. This was probably the worst choice on our part as it lead right into the bunk room. More evidence of a higher power as I’ve only ever seen orcs use bunks one other time and it took much cajoling to get them to use the beds.

As we prepared to do battle, it felt as if some heavy hand pushed me, I stumbled, bashing my shield into the wall, and making such a racket that the orcs sprang awake. Suddenly we were in a battle with a whole lot of wide awake orcs. Perhaps it was for the best. Sneaking around slaughtering creatures in their sleep was something I did in my former life, and perhaps it is better to do battle in the light of Lathander’s blessing instead. In the battle that ensued, though I could barely swing straight, and at one point even lost my grip on my mace. (I know, wouldn’t Freika be disappointed, her best pupil losing control of his weapon and throwing it halfway across the room!). Fortunately, Marcus came up with an ingenious plan, using fire to set some of the orcs ablaze and intimidating them into fleeing, this caused wholesale panic, and gave us a few moments of breathing room.

We were able to barricade both ends of the tunnel we were in, Marcus once again showing his military cunning, by creating a barricade out of beds, tables and mattresses that would keep the orcs at bay for a while. I jammed the door at the other end, so the orcs would be delayed for a bit.

Once again, Lathander showed his care for this humble servant by causing Sharn to notice some loose rock and a small but usable tunnel out of our area. While the orcs battered away at the barricade, we quickly made our escape. Arriving at the far end, we were near the ceiling of what appeared to be another guard room. Marcus with brilliant aim was able to kill one of the guards with one shot from Caidren’s crossbow, then we all poured into the room, taking out the other guard before he took more than 3 steps toward the door.

Here we discovered a prison. Several of the prisoners were dead, others it seems had been taken away to be killed in some ritual. (May Lathander allow me to live long enough to see then end of this barbarity!) Several were still alive, including a half-giant named Kord, whose items were still in the guard room (very recently captured). He has joined our quest to rid the world of these servants of the dark powers. We also found an orc left by his comrades to die. I am not certain what he did to deserve that, but we will question him in the morning.

Taking the wounded with us, we set out to attempt to escape and find a place to rest. Charging out into the main room, we were met by great resistance. It seems though that once again, Lathander is watching over his servant. A druid and her wolf companion rushed in to our rescue. Well, perhaps it was coincidence, however, it served the same purpose. We were able to make our escape with the former prisoners. After losing our pursuers, we found a safe place to camp, and set up a defensive perimeter. I believe Sharn may stay to watch over the prisoners, I believe he has felt the same dark power at work as I have. Fortunately my past has hardened me to its powers in ways his hasn’t.
I will write more later


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