While this journal does not start at the begining of our campaign for adventure. I Petra a monk of the Order of the Dawning Sun, began to keep a record of our travels and adventures directly after one of the our founding members of "The Talons" adventuring company had passed away at the hands of an evil lich name "Dread Watcher" it would forever change the lives of some of the members of our group. Below is my record.
Entry Date -
Starday the 20th of Neth
I dreamt of the ocean several nights ago. I could feel the sway of it against my legs, the taste of salt water on my lips, and the sound of seagulls crying out. But the colors were muted as if I were watching the world from inside a cloud. The blue sky, white and the water, a dark grey. I then woke in a dripping sweat, thirsty and parched despite the moist, damp air down here. It seems as if it's been months since I have felt fresh air filling my lungs.
So now I meditate more than sleep. I am becoming annoyed and frustrated much too easily. I wonder if anyone feels the same as I. My party and I have not discussed the obvious fact that we've been tricked to come here. It seems that each fight we have encountered, each enemy we have faced has been ready for us. I do not know what awaits us but I am certain we do not have the advantage of surprise. I do know that the last battle could have been avoided if we hadn't stopped to camp. We could not go on however without taking time to mend, to reverse the crippling disease that the zombie's had inflicted. Fenris is still with us. We are all still standing.
After camping, a few of us became sickened. This is not surprising given the state of our surroundings. When ready to continue Hugin scouted ahead and came upon several hobgoblins trying to beat their way through a huge crate that was blocking the corridor. He tells us this and then Lady Cendrine declares that we must give them a chance to surrender. She is filling her new title admirably. Hugin engages the goblins despite her instruction. Either he does not hear her or chooses to ignore her. Perhaps it is the latter. Fate is in his favor however because he trips a trap causing the crate lid to fall over on one goblin, taking it out of combat for a time. Inside the crate were dire rats and a wererat. We then engage; Euphrosyne fires bolts of magic, Hugin slashing wildly at rats surrounding him and I tumble into battle striking the wererat which bites into my thigh. The pain is great but I am able to keep my footing. I then turn on one of the direrats which I miss and fall sideways, striking my temple into the wall and my vision blurs. I manage to see Fenris and tiny Largeir dispose of several dire rats using their bows and sling.
Through my double vision I can make out a sword sticking out of the inside of the crate wall. Long black steel, glowing blue runes written on the blade. I catch a glimpse of Lady Cendrine to my side and her bastard sword, glowing red underneath the dark vermin blood meaning the sword in the crate is filled with evil magic. Then bright, white light fills my vision and I see Fenris crumple to the ground, his body motionless. I want to help him but I cannot move. I close my eyes tight, shake my head and open them. I see more clearly now and in a blink the crate is gone and in it's place a huge, four legged, skeletal beast snarling at us with long, needle sharp spikes growing out of it's back. Behind this creature I see others; a half-orc, more goblins and an decrepit shell of a man staring us down, in his hands barely lifting it off the floor is the evil, black steel runic sword.
As Largeir leaves battle to heal Fenris I tumble in quickly but fail to surprise the creature and it snaps at my limbs, grazing my shoulder with it's razor sharp teeth. It shoots several spikes at Lady Cendrine who is behind me. I see Hugin ahead of me on the other side of the creature between it and the half-orc. He is trapped but fighting. I tumble away behind Lady Cendrine just as I see Largeir's single sling bullet catch the creature in the face. Hugin and she barrel into the creature. After several well placed blows it disappears.
Ahead of them the half-orc is now holding in his hands a sphere of liquid silver, glowing and emitting a deep hum. I have seen the sphere that the orc is holding from one of Euphrosyne's many tomes on magic. It's a shrapnel sphere and it can devastate anyone who is near when it's thrown. Lady Cendrine declares that he surrender or perish. The orc grins then at me; thin green lips over his rotten, jagged teeth. I tumble up and aim a blow to disarm him knowing that if I succeed and he drops the sphere I could die along with Hugin at my side. I miss and the orc throws the sphere over me and into my companions. It hits the grounds and explodes, tiny pieces of metal now embedded into the floor, ceiling and walls around us. Among all of us Dwybryn and Fenris take the impact of the shrapnel at full force. Euphrosyne sends a bolt of magic, more powerful than I have seen at the orc. Fenris, despite his injured state, finishes the orc with a skillful bombardment of arrows.
All while this is happening, the wizard with the runic sword had been peppering us with arcane blasts. Largeir casts his roiling orb of flame towards one of the mirror images the wizard has created of himself. The image dissolves along with the others. Lady Cendrine, Euphrosyne and myself encounter the goblin that didn't surrender as Largeir takes aim at the wizard who then vanishes. Now we see three more half-orc's enter the fray. We dispose of them quickly. Hugin, in a moment that looking back now is amusing, had brained himself with his own weapon while in battle with the orcs. As a result he has lost any memory of the last few hours and seems very confused. I would feel worse for him had I not seen it happen.
We then carry on and into the next room. Through the acrid, smoky air we see a dead body hanging by a noose, a bag over it's head. The surrendered goblin tells us about this room, offering us some of the halfling simmering away in a cauldron. I can see Hugin is struggling with the situation, clearly wanting to kill the goblin because it had eaten intelligent flesh. The idea of halfing stew is disgusting to me but to someone or something it may be their only source of nourishment. I cannot punish a living being for simply wanting to keep from being hungry.
We turn our attention to the dead body and upon closer inspection uncover a note. It says that his rations had been poisoned. After removing the bag from his head we discover that he is the merchant from Cillimar who had sold us rations before we left. I feel cold suddenly, freezing, in spite of the stale, searing air around us. My insides churl and even though I do not think I am poisoned the entire situation nearly brings me to my knees.
Fenris does not linger and moves away from the group and into the next room, checking for any hidden traps. He finds a peephole in the furthest wall and a catch in the floor underneath it. As he tries to disarm the trap on the catch he trips it but isn't hurt. The secret door grinds open slowly revealing a small alcove carved into the stone. The air is moist here but cool. I see Fenris step in cautiously and walk up to shelving that holds a small coffer. He detects a trap on the coffer, aims to disarm it and is sprayed with acid that burn his skin, leaving tiny trails of smoke from his hands. As I write this, Lady Cendrine is bandaging him using his own bandages. We shall stop here but only momentarily to gather enough strength to continue.
- Petra -
Entry Date -
Fireday the 19th of Neth
"Trying to break out of the Tempter's control, one's mind writhes to and fro, like a fish pulled from its watery home onto dry ground." It has been six months since I wrote here last. My companions and I have been busy studying, working and learning new techniques in Cillimar. Other than the lack of an ocean view this town is not unlike the many port towns I saw in my childhood. It is dirty, crime ridden and where it would cause most people to feel unease, I feel secure. It also reminds me of Cap or rather Captain Red Alday of The Poisoned Cutlass. He was and is still the only father figure that I've had in my life. Staying here for so long reminds me of him and that life I led so long ago before the monastery. Between my hours of meditation and training I've become restless however and have taken to the streets every day performing my pan flute, earning a gold here and there. As always it helps to focus on the music, driving out all other distractions. "If he is unsettled in mind, does not know the true Teaching, and has lost his peace of mind, a man's wisdom does not come to fulfillment." There are times when I realize that staying at a balanced temperament is becoming more difficult. I have seen so much and feel so much also. I do wonder if what Largeir said to me once is true; that the party is 'rubbing off on me'.
Towards the end of our training we were approached with a new task. An aristocrat's daughter in Cillamar has gone missing. We have heard from the thieves guild that a slavery ring in Soulgrave may have her. Finding her and bringing her home would surely be a selfless task and setting an end to slavery there would be a dignified act. We shall not be returning to Castle Whiterock for some time. Lady Chauntessa seemed clearly dejected with our decision. She also tells us that stories of our progress in the castle have been spreading and others are forming their own adventuring parties. I have a new reverence for those that seek out danger for bettering themselves or the lives of others. I am not naive though. I know there are some that only seek fortune and fame in doing good deeds.
As we prepare for our departure I learn that Glokta the Beguiler will not be joining us. For what reason I do not know and will not inquire. He need not justify his parting with me. In his place our party oslter who's trained in bow, Fenris, is joining us. From seeing him in battle he requires a good sparring partner. Perhaps I can offer to assist him sometime.
Before we leave for Soulgrave we are told that the city is a venerable haven for criminals and that taking with us too much gold could get us robbed or worse. So we only take the essentials as we enter through the portal from Cillimar. We must meet someone named Gotlieb at the inn there who will lead us to the entrance of the slavers operation. I can say that he may be the filthiest person I've ever met and I lived amongst pirates. His behavior as he leaves us at the entrance is unsettling but we must continue on.
Fenris discovered a trap in the first corridor and fails at disarming it, poisoning himself and others. We come across a hidden crawl space there that leads to a door. Beyond that we are met with four goblins and a priest summoning a bearded demon. We learn that the priest is evil; a credit to Lady Cendrine's sword which burns red when it is near an evil presence. We engage but not soon enough before the demon is summoned. The priest escapes as I exchange blows with a goblin and Largeir summons a wolf to distract the demon who is combating anyone who is nearby. Lady Cendrine and Hugin then battle the demon who slashes and creates wounds which will not heal on their own. We overcome the goblins and finally the demon and then carry on.
In the next room of the dank and miserable place we come upon rows and rows of slave pits. Each pit contained undead and when disturbed would come to life then tear and slash unthinkingly at any foe. Largeir, my friend, then attempts to traverse the pits to get to the other side. He falls in and Fenris then goes to collect him and falls in as well. He is close enough though to determine that on the other side of the room are more goblins, an halforc and the priest from earlier. Lady Cendrine using all of her strength then rescues Largeir but Fenris stays and we hear the halforc call out for bringing down the walls of the pits around us. While this is happening, the goblins have cover and are peppering us with arrows. I manage to evade one or two and without second thought I tumble down into the pit fighting alongside Fenris then return an undead to death. It is a brilliant moment that leaves me proud of my training. To feel pride I must also feel fear and so I must feel neither. Balance is the key to enlightenment. Not pride and fear, they are the key to sorrow and disorder.
As the pits gave way more and more undead are brought to battle. Goblins then come forward and we all take to the area below. Largeir uses healing spells which harm them. Euphrosyne and Hugin bring a part of a door to use as cover. I learn then that Hugin is fearful of the pits because he was once a slave. I suspect he may benefit from meditation on his fear. I will discuss this with him. The last of the pits give way then as the halforc and two goblins flee leaving the priest. He directed once last blow to Lady Cendrine and then collapsed, defeated.
We have made camp in the summoning room for the night. Many of us are in bad form. I need to take some time to focus on the inner balance that is slipping away, slowly but surely. "You are now like a withered leaf. Death's messengers themselves are in your presence. You are standing in the jaws of your departure, and provisions for the road you have none."
- Petra -
Entry Date -
Sunday the 11th of Gozran
It has been two days since we have arrived in Cillamar. My companions and I have agreed that we shall train now before we continue our exploration of Castle Whiterock. Our return here finds each with our own new scars. Some that can be seen, some that cannot. As for I, my body is bruised, my face scarred, and yet the balance that I seek is me with always. I have found that I can draw on the teaching that I received so long ago and use it to strengthen my resolve against any evil. This is no new revelation but an affirmation. I have seen more than I ever imagined I would and still my journey has only begun.
Our last night in the castle before leaving for Cillamar was spent battling a dragon named by the madman Benthoc as Cinderalis. He (or she rather) had been held captive we learn by Benthoc and forced to foster the troglodyteís young by warming the eggs with itís fire breath. The dragon had escaped itís cage during our battle earlier in the barracks and taken to the troglodyteís living cavern where it had killed women and young who had not managed to flee.
The dragon was only a juvenile but even so the battle that ensued was great and commanded each of us to gather all of our courage, our conviction, and to exercise cunning in battle rather than fear. The caverns of that area of the castle are very dark so we decide that one must sneak as best they can to the mouth of the cavern to locate the dragon and then report back. Dwybryn then decides that she is best for this task. She may be fearless and possess splendid vision however she is not furtive and so the dragon hears her. She tries and fails to cast a spirit weapon and she is bitten. We then enter the cavern slowly knowing that the dragon could come upon any of us without warning. We must take positions that keep some distance from one another. Glokta and Euphrosyne battle the dragon with magic while I and Cendrine attempt to use our crossbows to damage the beast. What happens then I cannot explain. I find myself on the ground, my attempts of using my crossbow have failed. We can see the dragon now in the dark cavern and although it is large it is difficult to hit.
We maintain our distance from the dragon as Dwybryn continues to battle up close. I recall momentarily losing myself in emotion as I watch the dragon bite, claw and strike her. I must seek guidance in meditation about remaining balanced during battle. Nonetheless, Hugin then provides aid to Dwybryn. He is able to execute several tactful blows upon the dragon as Drwybryn exits the cavern for a moment to recover. Before too long the dragon shows distress and then takes to flight moving around the cavern some. It lands on the treasure the troglodytes had set down for it, the treasure that is at my feet. It looks down upon me, towering, blood dripping from itís nose coming from a cut above itís eye, itís great wings unfurled above me. For one moment I believed it would strike me but rather it takes in a single immense breath and then breathes out fire, hot and bright, lighting up the cavern and enveloping me for only a moment as I then elude most of the flame. One moment later itís my turn to strike. I instead move away. I feel fear for the first time during this battle. It rests upon my shoulders and it is heavy as if it is an object.
My companions battle the dragon to completion none suffering more harm than they can overcome. They collect treasure from the dragon as I take a moment to reflect, meditate and try to heal the injuries I bear.
We save the young from death that the dragon had been fostering with the troglodytes fire pits. We would not allow the unborn to die before they are given a chance at life.
We return now to the corridor which had been sealed off with small rocks. Inside was a large cavern, unlike the caverns around it. There stood a natural flowstone formation in the center of the room, stretching from ceiling to floor, carved into an organ embellished with ivory keys. We then are contacted by a spirit that is imprisoned in the organ. It recites a story for us of how it became imprisoned and why and tells us to release it we must locate three instruments, one of which I possess, and play them in the reverse order than which they were played to intern him. Glokta locates the notes that must be played within the stone bench by the organ. In this cavern as well Euphrosyne senses magic and discovers a hidden entrance to The Clockwork Academy.
We left the castle that night for Cillamar, all of us none the worse for wear.
- Petra -
Entry Date -
Wealday the 7th of Gozran 7:18pm
With some effort I am making a journal entry. I would prefer to forget the battle behind of us and focus on the one ahead but I know that reflection is as important to oneself as preparation. It has been a harrowing morning. Is it morning? I admit that I am having trouble keeping track of time without the sun to guide me. I guess it matters not if it is night or day.
After rest earlier we discover a corridor off of the main chamber from where Benthos was performing his rituals. I did not know what was down there but I had a feeling it wasn't Benthos' sleeping chamber. I decide to take the rear as we make our way down. Soon we discover that it is the nesting place of a monstrous spider. Not only that but a mother spider. So incredibly large that for a moment I am unable to move or breathe. I know I must control those emotions. "One is not a learned man by virtue of much speaking. He who is patient, without anger and fearless, he is to be called learned." Glokta spots a pit trap just ahead of the group. I then gather my courage and using my quarterstaff determine that the pit covers the entire width of the corridor and is very deep. Then in a moment so brief that I could not react the spider appears, traps me in a web, and pierces my shoulder releasing venom that poisons me. The pain was so great that I could not withstand it even with all of the years of strengthening my mind and body. Finally I move slowly out of reach to recover some as the others take any shots they can make. The spider ascends into her chamber and out of sight. Largeir creates a flaming sphere which he guides into the area where the spider had been. Hugin and Glokta then draw the spider back down, she bites Glokta but then is burned by the sphere and expires. The battle leaves my body and mind weakened. I then make a decision that I now regret.
We exit the main chamber and take to the winding tunnels which brings us to a cavern where we discover a lone troglodyte. He tells us his name is Grizzlisk and then asks us to bring forward out greatest warrior. Cendrine then asks what he would have with us. Grizzlisk offers a proposition. If Cendrine could best him in a battle one on one he would take us to his true leader. I am doubtful of his true intentions but say nothing. Cendrine then engages and for a time it was truly an even battle. Cendrine makes an impressive strike which disarms the trog. Without his club she is able to subdue him and he agrees to take us to his master. I know that being right or wrong is irrelevant but I was right. He had taken us to his barracks.
These troglodytes are armored and seem to have tactical preparation. Something we had not yet seen. We engage and very soon are trapped by a large net which had been pulled up to the ceiling of the cavern. Perhaps only by chance I had been outside of the area where the net had fallen. Cendrine and I battle trogs in one room while the others are trapped by trogs in another. Glokta and Euphrosyne spider climb onto the ceiling to get an advantage. Hugin and Dwbryn are being pierced by javelins while trying to get out from under the net. Glokta delivers the final blow to Grizzlisk and not too soon after he falls magicks the image of Benthos into the cavern to baffle the surviving trogs. It works and they scatter. Then we are able to fight down to one who had been blinded in the battle. I help tie him up.
I prefer to lessen the bloodshed from battle. I know what must be done but I also know that we are not all blameless. Moments after the battle we are startled by two troglodyte children running into the chamber. One had been very badly burned. I am dismayed to learn that there is a young dragon loose in the living chamber and it's killing innocent women and children. Our decision to leave the ritual cavern without uncovering the dragon and eliminating the danger has otherwise caused danger and death.
We healed the child, healed ourselves and are resting now. Cendrine is discussing some tactical options with the others while I make this journal entry. I have never fought a dragon before. I have never even seen one.
- Petra -
Entry Date -
Wealday the 7th of Gozran 4:00am
At the monastery growing up I heard this phrase quite often: A single leaf working alone provides no shade. My master often used short phrases like this to inspire me. It rarely worked and usually left me feeling frustrated. I didn't want to believe that I needed anyone to help me accomplish what I set out to do. I wonder how I could have been so stubborn.
Starting from where I left off in the previous journal entry, we continued down the corridor, Glokta checking for traps ahead of the rest of us. The corridor is very narrow and really only single file. My friend, Largeir, is behind us all and falls into a pit trap in an area of the corridor none of us had checked. This seems very familiar all of a sudden. While I help pull Largeir and his dog from the pit by rope everyone else watches for enemies. Soon we encounter three lizard like beings who are apparently living here. Their stench is nearly unbearable. I was able to withstand the stink thanks to all the years of living in a smelly shack at the monastery. Then three more block off the corridor behind us. Glokta successfully sleep spells each except one. He escapes. As this is happening Cendrine is fighting more lizard men in a larger chamber alone. I tumble forward to assist and we subdue those as well. I then find Largeir among three of them that had been sleeped but now dead. I'd rather not put into words what he had done. I know and although I do not object it distresses me still. He and I tie up the remaining sleeping creatures.
Glokta then harvests glands from those that we killed. I watch and take notes but cannot stomach the sight of so much blood. I get very light headed and decide to leave him to the task.
Then the lizard man that had fled returns with a wyrmling by a chain. The wyrmling swallows him nearly whole! I remember forgetting to breathe at that moment. It must be an horrible way to perish. Cendrine and Dwbryn make quick work of the wyrmling, striking it in the ribs and skull. Hugin as always takes what he calls trophies and pockets the wyrmling's teeth and claws. As this is happening Largeir and Euphrosyne force one of the lizard men to draw a map of the area for us. Cendrine takes lead and using the map we explore the nearby caverns without incident.
We come to a very large cavern which seems to be the main living chamber inhabited by women and young. From there using the map we head to the area defined as 'leader'. We find stairs leading down. I sneak down and come upon what I can only describe as a summoning. There is a large rune surrounded by six beings. Across from me at the far end of the chamber is someone speaking in a tongue that I can't understand. I only know that we must stop this madness. I return and prepare tactics with the others. I take a short time to meditate. It's time like these when I still feel fear. I wonder if there will come a time that I don't. Perhaps it's good that I do.
We engage the beings around the rune first with surprise. I with my bow and Glokta with his wand. There seems to be no effect! They continue to stand at the rune. Cendrine, Hugin and I then walk down the stairs and into the area of the rune. I come face to face with one of the beings and realize that they are undead and being controlled by a dragon bred lizard madman! Largeir, Glokta and Euphrosyne continue to engage by ranged attack as we three battle the dragon bred dement. He breathes fire upon us along with three of the undead. The undead fall as we hold strong despite being painfully scorched. Largeir and Euphrosyne dismiss the last of the undead and come to assist us with damage and healing.
We find an opening and step back to take a quick breath. And then, our valiant leader, Cendrine delivers the final blow killing the madman! It is a thrilling victory over such bizarre evil.
At the alter of the room is a huge dragon statue with gemstone teeth. While Largeir climbs up to retrieve them with Cendrine's help I scale down into the pit in front of the dragon and discover more treasure.
Instead of continuing on we made camp here. We are awakened by ants which we dispose of and the occasional trigger of Euphrosyne's runes by lizard men that he placed on the chamber opening. Tomorrow we will cover the chambers below.
- Petra -
Entry Date -
Toilday the 6th of Gozran
After returning to the crypt we found our way back to the room containing the ghouls which were still entrapped by the wizard Euprosyne's hold portal spell. The door that was once there was now no more than splinters. We battled the ghouls without incident. Largeir the druid delivered the final blow in adept manner.
We discover that hidden in this room is the Sword of Conviction and Arden Brightheart's breastplate. We take these in order to return them in Arvale City. So then with care we carry Darsus from the crypt to Blessings-Be where we camp for the night. I, although in a somber mood, play for the public in the midst of the celebrations they were having for being relieved of the Dread Watcher's curse.
Upon break of day we set out for Arvale City. We arrive just before the next dawn. While in Arvale City we speak to those with Darsus' holy order about his passing and what must be done to consecrate the remainder of the crypt along with returning the sword and breastplate of Arden Brightheart. From there we traveled by the Druid's portal to Cillimar.
Shortly after returning to Cillimar and while I was enjoying my first tankard of rum in quite a while, several guards deliver our fighter Hugin to us who had been blinded and deafened. I for one was concerned. He was bewildered and angry although not speaking much. Our beguiler Glokta magicked him to sleep in order to investigate what had happened to him. The guards told us he was found outside the jewelers. The jeweler sold to us the piece of jewelry that Hugin had sold to him. We realized then that Hugin had stolen the item from the tomb and intended to sell it. He did not know however that the God Honorus was aware and stricken Hugin after he profited from his ill gotten gains.
Our newest companion and dear friend of Darsus Dwybryn knew that by returning the item and in some way serving Honorus Hugin's afflictions would cease. Making bad choices not being one of them unfortunately. Cedrine our fighter has now decided to become a paladin of Honorus, fighting in his honor. This is far more than was needed to appease the God. Soon after this she was given the Sword of Conviction. I am glad for her. I wish her the best in improving herself.
So then after returning to the tomb for the last time we leave the jewelry, go again to Arvale City then by portal to Cillimar where we resupply and prepare for Castle Whiterock.
We laid Darsus to rest in Fairweather. He had donated much of his time to helping them rebuild after the attack they suffered several months ago. He would have been glad to know how well they are doing now. I played for him during the service. He had always encouraged my love for music.
The day after the service we made the journey again to Castle Whiterock. It seems as if it's been so long since we were here last. We enter the area which we haven't discover so far and find what looks like a den. The ceiling there is infested with what looks like vermin but is dark mantles, beings with tentacles which attack and try to attach themselves around your head. They cast a magic darkness around us and we're only able to battle them for a few seconds before they disappear. There were so many! I begin to think the best action to take would be to move forward so I tumble ahead of one and find the beginning of a corridor. I call out to my companions telling them that to make haste to my area. We begin to make our way down and come to a pile of rocks sealing off the corridor. We decide to search for a way through instead of spending the time to remove the rocks. Cedrine finds a hidden door that leads to another corridor. We will rest here shortly before continuing on.