Entry 5: Return to Sterngate
We made our return to Sterngate after alerting the authorities of Stariluskar of the need for more troops. It was painful to see Sterngate in such a state, even though the Brelanders were my enemies not so long ago. I worry for those people. If the goblins of Darguun are bold enough to attack such a fortified stronghold, who knows where or when they will strike next. Rumor has it they are readying for another assault on Sterngate, and the camps we found seem to support the theory. I only hope Lt. Lorask has the men and the wherewithal to handle it.
That was not the only ill tiding we uncovered. The changeling spy Fristan seems to be an omen of worse things yet to come. He himself hails from Stariluskar, yet he was rallying goblins outside of Sterngate. I hope Lorask can get some answers out of him, something that will help turn the tide before it’s too late. If the goblins have infiltrators in Stariluskar, who knows what all they have their hands in?
Of changelings, we had another run in with Kaleb, the “goat herd”. The snit was impersonating a fat merchant… idiot almost got us killed. I hope he feels the bruised jaw I gave him for a while. I feel bad for letting him have it, but I’m not going to risk my men for his sake even if he did say he saved us from Faestius… hell, Kal even vouched for him. However, I still don’t trust him completely. Why not just come out and greet us as friends? He’s got something to hide, and yet he’s following us around trying to get answers.We’re finally heading back to Aruldusk. It’s been too long. I must send word to Jeralt and find out any news from eastern Thrane. I’d like nothing more than to have a drink or two with Barnes… he’s always good for a laugh and some, um, interesting stories. I need to work up the nerve to speak with Lilya as well. If I’ve learned anything over the last few months it’s that time is short and I need to take a chance now while I can. I just hope she’ll forgive me for being gone so long.
I finally have a chance to write again. A lot has been going through my mind lately, but how much is dreams and how much is reality, I cannot say. According to Fangrim “The Wolf” Gwennson and Elrick The Orange the rest of us were put under a spell by the kobold priest, Ashface, leader of the Greenfang Clan. That explains the bad dreams… Lilya kidnapped, Barnes slain by bandits, Jeralt accosted by the Silver Flame. I hope none of it comes true… I’ve lived enough nightmares lately. I am happy the kobold was laid low and his sleep spell broken, although reality wasn’t much better.
When we ventured into the Seawall Mountains I knew there was the possibility of running into Faestius, Blackdeath, the dragon-scourge of the local folk. The old man from the tavern had told us as much. I suppose I should have counted us lucky for not running into her on our way to Alcanane’s lair. Still, I never thought I’d wake up in her treasure chamber, beset on all sides by her minions, my friends fighting for their lives. In the end it was worth it… we got quite a hall, but my conscience is heavy. The stranger, Kaleb, threw himself between us and the black wyrm, giving us a chance to flee. I couldn’t leave a lone man to die such a horrible death so I ran back to fight by his side. However, he was no longer Kaleb. His face stretched and shifted into that of a kobold. I’ve never seen a magic like that; surely he was not the simple goat herder as he pretended to be. Jeralt once told me of a creature he met in Sharn that could change its form to suit its needs; he worked as a spy for House Orien. Was Kaleb one such creature?
That was not the last we’d see of the Greenfang. They pursued us for several days, finally holing us up in a cave. We were able to fight our way out, but only by the skin of our teeth. Somehow Kal Elis escaped and found us just in time to sway the battle to our side. Still, our party is short one as Elrick The Orange has disappeared. I was loathe to leave for fear Elrick The Orange wouldn’t find us, but as before I had no choice if I wanted to get the others back alive.
Our return to Sterngate was a shock. The city is in ruins. According to Lt. Lorask, the highest ranking officer of the garrison at the moment, goblins form Darguun attacked the stronghold without warning. The defenses broken, and the people at great risk, Lorask asked us to deliver a request of assistance to Starilaskur. Even though I would have called the Brelanders enemies only a couple years ago, I could see their need and felt obliged to help. I hope we can make it back to Sterngate before the goblin’s next assault.
Entry 3: Where is my mind? -
We were so close… but the little bearded bastard slipped right by me. We went to hunt down Alcanane and were met by some of his guards. The funny thing is all the dwarves looked just like him. That guy has serious self-esteem issues. We fought them off one by one, but they kept coming. It was as if he kept making copies of himself, over and over again. Something was not right, for any of us. First I led a charge, only to stop short and go on the defensive. Then I left an opening for the dwarves to pin my companion Batalash. Despite a few good blows, I was certainly not myself. It was like I was in someone else’s body and did not have the usual clarity of mind and battle instinct I usually possess. Then I fell. Like Ronen’s, I can only assume my body crumbled into dust. But that’s just it… It wasn’t my body. It was an abomination; one of that twisted alchemist’s creations. I was relieved to find my true self strapped to a stone slab; I was horrified to see more of Alcanane’s foul magic at play. All of us were trapped, but where had we been? And then the memories came flooding back. My cottage in Aruldusk… the Silver Flame’s request to seek out a new evil… my new companions… Cardinal Patoria… our travels on the lightning rail and through the mountains… Lady Eliura…
Lady Eliura… I hardly knew her, but I felt a very strong connection between us. I saw her body, strapped down as well, but just like in the watery tomb she was as cold as ice. Who knows how long ago she passed or why for that matter? Alcanane will pay for her murder. I’ll see to that.
Ronen let me loose, but before I could help the others I had to take on the guards and by us some time. Then more came, and finally Alcanane showed his cowardly face. Eventually we finished off his guards, but we couldn’t stop him from fleeing. Not even Elrick knew how to use his teleportation circle and we didn’t have much time. Alcanane left a present for us – some sort of explosive device. There was no longer any doubt whatsoever: this was one psychotic dwarf. Our main objective to bring evidence of his evil plot back to the Silver Flame in Aruldusk was nearly thwarted; luckily I was able to grab the metallic brain-orb as we ran out of the compound just before it exploded.
Now what? Back to Aruldusk I suppose, but it won’t be that easy. The explosion surely grabbed the attention of the kobolds that inhabit these mountains. No doubt they will want to offer us up as dinner to their dragon god. Like before we’ll be ready. I’ll be sure of it. My companions and I have fought well thus far. They have surprised me with their battle readiness even though they are not trained soldiers. All seem ready to attack at my command; I will try even harder to make their strikes hit home. They have seemed to take well to my leadership, which is a boon. I have to rely on them to stay strong physically and mentally; should their courage falter I will do all I can to inspire them.
… Perhaps Barnes was right. Maybe the military doesn’t have a need for me any longer, but I am loath to give up the sword so easily. If the Silver Flame is my new patron, so be it… I just hope Cardinal Patoria doesn’t expect to see me at the weekly services. I don’t know why, but I also feel I owe something to Lady Eliura. Her death is an ill omen indeed.
Entry 2: Blue Dragon Surprise -
Always trust your gut. That is what I learned on the fields of Thaliost, and it saved my life more than once and more than one good soldier too. Then I wake up one day in a glass bucket full of cold water and everything goes to hell. “I should have left the dwarf in his coffin” I said to the others. Of course I didn’t listen to myself. Since when do I immediately trust strangers, especially those that hardly say anything and seem much too eager to help out? Alcanane you son of a bitch!
That was too close. A blue dragon? Much too close. I was clearly out of my element, fighting a monster like that. I’m trained to lead men into battles against other men, not against dragons. I just hope the others didn’t notice. They need my confidence. Thank the Flame Elrick’s magic was enough to slay the beast… with help from Kal-El’s acid, Ronen’s prayers, Batalash’s dagger, and of course Fangrim’s mighty axe. I was hardly any help myself, at least with my blade. I had to change tactics in the middle of the fight after the beast almost took me down. Positioning myself between the dragon and the magic users proved effective, if not suicidal. Regardless of my current state, it worked. Hopefully Batalash will be willing to throw a couple of his healing concoctions my way should we face more threats.
Fangrim dealt the killing blow… I wonder what Jeralt would think if he knew I had faced a dragon and survived?... and also found that half of the dragon’s heart was missing, replaced by some sort of artifice device. By his own admission, we are not Alcanane’s first test subjects. It makes me wonder what he put into each of us? I need to give myself a good once over and make sure I don’t have any ragged scars from his experiments.
Now there’s only one thing left to do: track down that dwarven bastard and gut him… and if the others are lucky maybe I’ll wait just long enough to find out why he took us before I run him through.
Entry 1: A Watery Tomb -
I woke up naked in a glass coffin filled with ice-cold water. Last I remember I was chopping wood outside my cottage thinking about… Lilya… Thank the Silver Flame I was able to get the lid off and escape. I was dead shocked to see my half-orc friend Fangrim in the same room, along with five others: Elrick, Batalash, Kal-El half-elven, Alcanane the dwarf, and the strange black-skinned humanoid named Ronen. We made nice and quickly setting about finding an escape route. Batalash seems to have some knowledge of magical devices and so examined a strange mirror-like device through or from which passed arcane energy in arching silver streams into our… water tombs. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Bastards! Whoever did this will pay, but not until I find out why they did it first.
Elrick opened the door to freedom, or so we thought. The door led to a filth-ridden chamber packed with ravenous kobolds. Fangrim rushed in a broke their spirit… er…hunger. The poor vermin were starving to death. The only information we could get out of them was that a “short man and a tall man” told them to kill us should we escape. Guess we foiled that master plan. Who leaves kobolds in charge anyways?
We left the kobolds behind and went into the “bad place” as they called it: a torture room. The blood-soaked rack and assortment of cutting tools left no doubt about the room’s purpose. Ronen found a strange metallic “brain” and Elrick found some notes about the brain’s anatomy. Gibberish for all I care. I want answers.
Outside were too statues of warforged standing on either side of a mural depicting the creation of the constructs. Interesting… but not as much as the great sword that one of them was holding. Finally, a real weapon! Thanks to Elrick’s magic and Fangrim’s strength we were able to get the sword and an unwieldy two-headed axe. Of course Fangrim took the latter. I think he’s the only one who could do any good with that thing anyways.
The passage led to the right and the left and both were covered with curtains. Not wanting to waste any more time I took the group down the left passage. The burst of fire I led them into didn’t win me any friends… sorry Wolf. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. I will have to be a bit more cautious as I am sure there are more traps in this place.
We came upon a plain room with four single doors and a set of wooden double doors. Fangrim was able to break one lock and Batalash found a way to manipulate the locking mechanism on the door itself. Little good it did us. I nearly had my head torn off by a pair of starving bears! At least the panther in the next room was already dead… long dead. It appears whoever runs this place hasn’t been around for awhile.
Finally we went through the double doors into a domed room filled with… a jungle? The tangle of vines and greenery was nearly impossible to see through. All I could make out through the shrubbery were three kobolds in cages jeering at us in their cursed hissing language. Before we could even react, a large swarm of needle-nosed insects rushed at us. Fangrim charged into the room and took a mighty swing at them with his new axe, but his blade sliced harmlessly through the air as the swarm split in two. Ronen, the paladin, rushed in next but couldn’t keep the insects at bay and was taken down. Elrick and Kal-El cast spells, but the insects were too quick to pin down. “We need to get into that room,” I shouted, rushing to protect Ronen, and pushing the insects back in an attempt to make space for the others. Unfortunately, no one could get through before several writhing, thorny vines lashed out and hedged us in, keeping most of the group trapped in the adjacent room. From the ground more vines erupt, ensnaring my legs and constricting with unnatural strength. I screamed out and broke free, but not before Ronen, Fangrim, and Alkanane were all ensnared as well. Amazingly, I was able to spot the puppeteer of the vines. Seeing my companions in dire straits I threw caution to the wind and rushed into the verdant labyrinth, cutting down vines left and right. Finally, I made it up the slope to the puppeteer, a mass of gnarled vines wound into a humanoid shape. I sliced into it, drawing its ire away from my companions. Batalash summoned “something” that aided me as well. Together we flanked the creature, and with a series of vicious blows, aided by magic from Kal-El, I was able to take it down.
The others finished off the rest of the vines and the insects, but were soon facing a new threat. A flying creature I’ve never seen the likes of before flew up to the chamber’s ridge. Through some evil trickery it assaulted the minds of Elrick and some of the others. Fortunately, my companions were the stronger in the end and were able to slay it. In its nest Batalash found some coins, a rune-scribed knife, and a shield.
I wouldn’t mind having a shield, but a sword is more important at the moment. When I find the sons-a-bitches that brought us here I want to thank them personally.