Hello everyone. Yes, I know. The events of this log happened AGES ago. I’m sorry. I’ll try to do more frequent (and less out-of-date) logs from here on in. The log has been broken into discrete segments, so only read what interests you (as most of you would have been there for those events). Everyone should definitely read the segment on Lev, however. -Skewed
Alas, but I have been most lax in the recording of recent events. What would my father say of such piecemeal and haphazard record-keeping? Ah, I am in sore need of his counsel in these troubling times. But never again will I hear his voice, never will I learn more of his wisdom. Karj, you thrice-cursed spawn of a runt troglodyte and a mind-addled goblin! May hour eyes rot and your beard be consumed by mange, may your skin taste the thousand lashes of fire, may your arms be torn from-
A long spray of ink mars the page, as if the writing implement had broken. The writing continues further down the page.
Curse you forever, but such anger gets me nowhere, I must calm myself, and order my thoughts. As it has been awhile, I think I shall separate each event in my mind, and see what I can remember of each.
Reading back I see that last I wrote of Theren stealing his way across the trees to the camp of the filthy lizardfolk. Despite a tense moment when a broken branch caused one of the warriors to investigate, Theren’s stealth allowed him to gain the lean-to without incident. The same could not be said for Zepher, however, who fell loudly and attracted their attention.
Battle was joined in the usual fashion, and giving a blow by blow account would serve no purpose here except to fill these pages with dross. Sae to say it was a difficult battle,w ith enemies in all directions and a dangerous slime-creature that the lizardfolk had kept in a pit.
After the battle, we rested in the cave that had housed the lizardfolk shaman, which was regrettably filled with bones of various creatures, including humans, and a couple live iguanas. There was also precise stacks of gold coins, arranged in the geometric configuration peculiar to the malicious tribes of the Nentir Vale. While I knew that the supposed ‘Curse of Nature’ activated by placing these coin stacks along the ley lines was nothing more than superstition, Amos had no wish for any of the coins, and the dwarf was as untrusting as he is untrustworthy, so we divided the coins amongst the rest of us.
After some difficulty in restraining Amos, and finding a peculiar bone totem in Theren’t pack )which was summarily disposed of), we rested and set out to find Concorde and continue our journey. The creature was near death when we found it, but after a bit of healing we could continue on our way.
Soon we were accosted by a voice, that of the leader of the elf squad that had earlier accosted us, before being scared off by the dread bear. With extreme confidence Zepher assured us that the elf was not a threat. Thus Kat spoke with her, reporting that she had left the clan secretly to thank us for the bear warning, as well as for eliminating the lizardfolk in the area. Impressed by our heroics, she made us a gift of some herbal tincture to cure Theren and ¬_the dwarf_, both of whom had worsened during the night.
Upon finding the road we made good time, ‘til we came upon a strange sight. A skeleton, eyes aflame, freshly tied to a tree beside the road. Unlike the usual mouldering barrow-guards, these bones still clung to glistening wet flesh, and Zepher informed us that this skeleton had likely been flayed but recently. The bones bore no battle sign, but we could feel a dark energy, that very same that stole the vitality of Mosook the hobgoblin in the Twisting Halls. The sorry creature was cut down and despatched before we continued over a crest to the village.
As we approached it was painfully clear that not all was well in the village. The well had burst, the green had been churned into a black mess and the wreckage of tables and other furniture was piled high upon every door. There was movement, human figures trudging too and fro, but all were the frames of listless skeletons, batting idly at the doors and debris. There did not seem to be that great a threat, but of course, ‘tis never the overt threat that kills you.
No sooner had we charged the town with sword and magics than a great scintillating flare fell into the town, driving the skeletons into a fury. They began tearing at the doors of the town, and we could hear the screams of terrified townsfolk within. We charged into battle, but it was not just skeletons we faced. From the well clambered the quick-rotted corpses of former adventurers, and from the roofs burst most fearsome flaming skeletons. Yet that was not the worst of it. Not for me. For one of the decaying faces from the well was all too familiar. This shambling horror was Mikal! Mikal who I had shared a fire with, who I had fought beside, who I had befriended. Even in death he did not forget who he was, calling again on Erathis, though she strike him down as an abomination. This next shames me to speak of, but it must be said. As the battle raged, and the others struggled to save the innocent townspeople, I did not aid them. I could have rushed to the townspeople’s aid, burst them from their prisons and spared them the blades of the skeletons. But I did not. I was too focussed on my one time companion, wheedling, cajoling and finally threatening him. I told myself I was providing a distraction, that I was preventing from using his foul perversion of magic, but in my heart of hearts I know that I was merely obsessed with the death of the dead, rather than in rightly preserving the life of the living. The others did things I would not agree with, things I would consider foolish. But how can I judge them, when I am so sorely lacking. What will happen if this situation arises again? Is it better to remove evil from this world to prevent further suffering, even if innocents must die for it? I know not the answers.
Travelling to Daggerburg
After the battle at Harkenwold and a small rest period, we decided to journey to Daggerburg keep. Theren had disappeared with Lev, but left us with a trail to follow. There was some difficulties, making a welcome distraction to my heavy thoughts. Eventually after some small happenings on the road Lev veered off the track to the ruins of a once great tower, now a sunken hole full of near-solid black oil. According to his excited ravings, the only drains once in a span of years, revealing the treasures and fiendish puzzles that lay within. I shall not speak overmuch of this, save to say that we all revealed ourselves to be following Lev, and that we could only manage to recover two of the many treasures that lay beneath the oil. Lev immediately claimed one of these, and it looked as if a fight may have been in the offing. Eventually he was persuaded to guide us to Daggerburg, at the price of the treasure he held and my oath of protection.
That night I set up a watch roster between myself and Kat, one of us to keep active watch, and the other to trance, while still keeping an eye on the campsite. Lev had decided to camp separately. I was in mid-trance when I noticed something amiss. Lev, crouched down before me, easing the treasure out from under my gaze. A quick glance around the camp showed everyone sleeping soundly, including Kat. It seems that our cousins the elves are more different than I had at first thought. It hardly matters, despite being interesting, but I wonder why Kat would not have corrected my error, unless she was merely embarrassed about having to slumber like a mortal.
Thus I was alone in having to resolve this situation with Lev. As I had only become aware of him when he was already upon me, he had the advantage. However, he merely relinquished his hold on the treasure before glaring at me furtively from behind his armoured shoulder, which he presented to me. Not wishing violence, I attempted to talk to him, and managed to extract a promise from him that he would not again attempt to steal the treasure from me. It seems I had also scored some small victory over the prejudice that roils in this land, for he no longer seemed to hate me for my race alone. In fact, he suggested to me that I should use my appearance to gain entry to the lavish eladrin estates in Fallcrest. We each returned to our rest, after Lev asked me for a promise in turn. He beseeched me that I not reveal his attempt on the treasure, for while he accepts me he is unsure about my companions. As I had already sworn to protect him on our journey to Daggerburg, I saw no harm in the thing. I wonder, though, if I made the right choice. I have no wish to lie to my companions, even if it is by omission. Nevertheless, I have sworn and I shall not become an oathbreaker. All that I can do is accept responsibility for my foolishness, whatever the cost may be.
The next morning, however, I fell victim to a strange affliction. The world around me blurred, seemingly overlaid with another, more vibrant land. This other land seemed to have an almost painful clarity. The light was brighter, strong colours unabashedly blazing wherever the sun fell. But the shadows, oh the shadows were deep, they pulled at the mind with their tendrils of darkness. My companions became vague and insubstantial. I think they tried to speak with me, but I could barely hear their muted murmurs amongst the knife-edged whistling of the wind. I followed them as best I could, for although there were a few glaring discrepancies I had to navigate, the otherworldly land I was travelling in seemed a reflection of that I normally inhabited. Or rather, the world I normally travelled in seemed as a pale and washed out reflection of that I was now travelling in, a place I had known only for seconds at a time. I was in the Fey.
The Fey, what might have been my home, had my father not fled with myself as a babe in his arms. I know not how I came to be following the ghosts of my friends through the Fey. I had stepped through before, but ‘twas for mere moments, not for hours on end as it was now. However, it seems I was not truly in the Fey, for I could still see my companions and their world, and I passed unnoticed by many of the Fey denizens. It was beautiful, and I perhaps now understand why Eladrin seem aloof. If one had lived in such a place, with such colour and verdant life all around them, how could one come to terms with the gray bleakness of the human world? I do not condone whatever else my kind has done, but perhaps I begin to understand this.
I was not alone in my wanderings, however. I felt another, a presence that followed me as I followed my friends. It worried me, at first, but after several hours nothing untoward happened and I began to relax. This presence seemed more curious than anything else, and when I began to play my lute the presence followed me all the closer. I could feel it, in the back of my mind, trying to communicate with me, whispering in the back of my mind. Slowly, slowly and image took form in my mind. This creature, whatever it was, diaphanous and ephemeral , soaring amongst the highest winds, screaming with the thunder and falling with the rain. Almost, almost I understood what it was like to be this creature. It was then that I felt it. I could feel a great shout well up within me and burst from my throat. The creature roared exultantly along with me.
The rest of the day went much like that, with me playing and my friend whispering, now and then both of us roaring triumphantly together. It was tiring, mustering the energy for that, but my voice is a hardy thing, and I feel I could do it many times a day, if necessary. Soon enough my companions came to a dark edifice of stone, and the presence that had travelled with me fled.
After a short time in the stone edifice the blurred and indistinct forms of my companions became agitated, and with a sudden wrench that left my head spinning I was cast out of the Fey and into a fray. My companions were in the midst of battle with a band of hobgoblins! I will confess that in seeing such an enemy all prudence was tossed out the window. I rushed into the fray, fuelling my shout with the rage within. Perhaps the Fey had weakened me, perhaps my sudden expulsion had disoriented me, or perhaps I thought only of their destruction and not my own preservation. Whatever the reason, in attempting to use my newfound power I was impaled upon the foul ‘goblin weapon, leaching my lifeblood onto the cold stone. The battle raged on around me, as Zepher came to my aid. I saw Amos, blades flashing. Then I saw Kat blast the goblin warchief with power, sending him running hysterically into a pit in the floor, the sickening sound of splattering blood and snapping bones echoing back to we who stood above. But it was not this that horrified me. It was the blood-red motes of light that streamed from the corpse and into Kat’s sword, it was the shiver that took her as the sword drank, and then the unholy vitality that lightened her limbs and gleamed in her eyes. There is a term for what happened there, and I am loath to speak it of a friend, but though it seems like a goodly while, I am reminded how truly little I know of these people to whom I have entrusted life and limb.
The hobgoblins fled after the death of their leader, but not before another was cut down and fed on by Kat and her unholy sword. After this, we all split up to investigate the keep. Obviously meant to defend from outside attack, there were also makeshift barriers across many doors leading further into the keep, as if to keep something in. Likely more of the dead had been snatched from the grave and sent a-walking. While the others investigated a storeroom I found upon the desk of the warchief a map of the first floor. This goblin seemed remarkably intelligent for its kind, for the map was covered in their crude script, detailing the undead attacks on the barricades, the ranks of rank hobgoblins that had been lost, and the chief’s plans to retake the keep. Amos helped me decipher the map, for his knowledge of the Goblin nouns was far greater than I. I shall have to ask him about that at some point.
The storeroom was filled with garbage, all piled high against two walls. I came in just in time to see one of them lift a dwarven corpse from a barrel by its braided hair. I kept my distance, for it likely smelled in death as it did in life. A note on the barrel informed us that something called the Stormtower is being rebuilt in Fallcrest, under the jurisdiction of a town guard by the name of Nathan Ferrengray. It also informed us that this particular vermin had stepped into a trap on the King’s Road.
After some dithering about our varying levels of knowledge, we squeezed ourselves through the cracks in the corner, pliant and compressible due to having drunk water from the fountain in the storeroom. We squirmed our way through the thin cracks, occasionally seeing tracks of wizard and man when the way opened up enough for us to see tracks as more than narrow marks on the ground.
Eventually we emerged in a lower level, following the tracks to a collapsed section of the hallway. The rocks seem to have been tumbled from the ceiling on purpose, though whether to keep something in or out I could not say. Zepher and I began to investigate the other side of the collapse when we heard the distinctive sounds of battle. That fool dwarf had wandered off and triggered the guardians of a crypt. To be fair, the blasted thing does despatch them rather well. That is no excuse for being foolhardy, however. Eventually the waves of animated bones pouring one after the other from the sarcophagi lining the walls forced the issue and thus everyone slipped through the collapse and into the other crypt.
The crypt was dark. Not in a tangible way, nothing solid that could be dispelled. The torches and sunrods we held still cast the same light, but their light seemed dimmer, the shadows they cast longer. A single sarcophagus dominated the room, the lid carved in the likeness of some ancient warrior. No sooner had we stepped close than the lid flew from its place, sending a great cloud of dust billowing around us. Standing ready was a tall skeleton, the blazoned emblem of Bahamut upon its breast. With a strident voice the skeleton questioned us, stating that its would protect something called the rift at any cost. Amos informed us that the skeleton must be near a century old, and further told me the tale of Sir Keegan, the knight in command of Daggerburg who went mad and murdered all of its occupants. Such a story, it makes me wonder what else I may have missed while in the Fey. Nevertheless, I have some small knowledge of the portals between realms. If there is a rift in Daggerburg, it would be a gargantuan source of shadow energy, enough even to allow access to the shadow realm. For certain something that must be protected at all costs. However, there is danger even in that. Stand too close and who knows what may reach out and snare you, and Sir Keegan himself is an example of the virulent madness such rifts inevitably spread.
In a most strange turn of events, Sir Keegan showed himself to be rather enamoured of Fenstrom, believing him to be a good man whose only goal is to seal the rift forever. Zepher and Theren attempted to tell him the truth of the matter, only to be met with increasing hostility. I convinced him that with my knowledge of such rifts I was capable of closing it, but the skeleton was suspicious of the others. In an odd twist of events, it was the dwarf who finally convinced Keegan that he should trust us. I suppose even the foulest of creatures can have the sweetest tongues, the better to lure in unsuspecting victims. The dwarf spouted some waffle about his god, which is to be expected. What worries me is his purported knowledge of healing, especially of the mind. It is well-known that healers and others who know intimately the secrets of the body and mind are the most skilful in breaking them.
Keegan was less knowledgeable than I would have liked about what faced us ahead. Meanwhile, Amos asked him about his sword. Keegan regaled us with the tale of Acris, and became quite eager to have it away from his corrupted grasp and once more into honour. He was unable to give it away easily, however, and wished it to be pried from his faltering grip after his honourable death in battle. I was not alone in wanting to grant this lost soul his wish, so battle was joined with the mighty Sir Keegan!
Battle is battle, wherever you go. This one was no different, so I shall merely recount things of note in this record.
Firstly, perhaps by watching me or through some addle-brained idea of his own, the dwarf has decided to try his tongue at song. Needless to say it pained both my ears and my sensibilities. In addition, despite his vaunted use as a healer, were it not for my hurried reminder he would have neglected to heal Kat when she was sorely wounded. Much as I am worried by her and her sword, she is nevertheless a companion I am loath to lose. Unlike the dwarf himself.
Keegan was the most odd skeleton I have ever encountered. In addition to his intelligence and his ability to speak, he was filled with a corrupted black ichor which he sprayed over a wide area. Those sorely wounded who were unfortunate enough to stand close to him had their blood stolen until they were weak with its loss.
Perhaps it was because we were finally engaged in a fair and honourable fight. Perhaps it was the challenge we faced. This time, above all others, Amos showed his true skill as a swordsman. ‘Twas he who wounded Keegan, ‘twas he who landed blow after mighty blow, and ‘twas he that finally expelled the poor skeleton’s soul from his mouldering bones and laid them to rest, claiming the sword Acris.
Not all is well, however. Not to my mind. Keegan was unsure of how quickly the madness of shadows took him, be it weeks or perhaps even months. But he was a knight, supposed to be a paragon of purity and honour. How quick then, for the shadow to corrupt someone who has not dedicated their life to such ideals? I speak of Zepher, who during the course of battle turned on the dwarf and laid him low, even as we all battled Sir Keegan. I will be the first to say that I wish nothing to do with the dwarf, and that I have no doubt the world would be better without he and his ilk. Yet, despite what he is he has done nothing overt against me, and I know better than to fight amongst ourselves when there is a greater enemy. With regards to Zepher, I am not sure what I wish the truth of the matter to be. Either contact with Keegan corrupted Zepher and goaded him to attack a companion, or he is so petty and cowardly that being unharmed, having the skeleton pushed close to him by the dwarf’s magic caused him to spitefully strike at the dwarf. But perhaps it is merely madness, for even now Zepher talks to himself, and is now jumping upon the dwarf, then tearing the golden pendant from around his neck and throwing it at the dwarf. Strangely, the gem that once graced the chain is gone, and the gold seems less than it once was.
A mystery that shall not be solved soon, I fear. Now we must return Sir Keegan’s bones to their rightful resting place, and continue on our way.