Gathering of An Army

Chaos
Session 15

Barregen Cromwell’s personal journal …

Day 87

The plan we devised to sneak past the brutish creatures, crudely named ORCS, had failed miserably. We had been spotted and thrust into engagement. The first assault lead the majority of us to be wounded, and myself once again rose to the occasion. With Marion-Rusk tied, the battle waged. We had been tripped up by these creatures entanglements. Harmon and myself wounded. The others, for the exception of the little one. We were in bad sorts. It came to the point of a valiant effort by us, that we managed to survive. Just barely. Helping the others dispatch the vile bastards. Alas another wave of these abominations headed toward us, most of us in bad shape, we had to think quickly. Earlier, for our plan I had decided to fashion an explosive device just in case of situations out of our control. This was now that time. As the others ran to a cave opening I had decided I had, in fact, had quite enough of these things. Running towards them I lit the fuse then threw the charge at them. I did not stay to witness my handy work, as the thunderous boom, was enough evidence for me.

I was not sure about some of these people I had accompanied, but I was grateful for the efforts of the small one, Shy. She had brought me from the brink of death. The warrior female, Falltoo, amazing in her adept display of carnage, had a helping hand in finishing off the last bout of Orcs. For which Shy may have never had a chance to save me.

Fearing going further into a cave system that may lead nowhere, Kal and I decided to leave the group to their usual incessant bickering, and try to see if we had evaded more assaults, and possibly find away out of this expanse. Kal managed to find a ledge way far above us. After assessing it as a viable option, I retrieved the group, and within a short time we headed up two by two. Having some close calls a hundred or so feet above the Orc encampment we finally made it to the end of the ledge. The only way down known now, was a treacherous decent.

This next part sincerely pains me. I was starting to rely on some of these people, and this would take a tragic and disturbing turn. Kal far above the rest of us, who had already made it down, lost his footing. Out of all of these strange strangers I have met, I felt Kal and Harmon could be allies. Kal especially. His life abruptly ended from his stumble and free fall. The rest of them just stood there mouths agape. Years prior, my service aboard the sea vessel “The Conundrum” had instilled fast thinking. I had seen much death, and My Captain, Captain Bartrain had always taught me not to falter for even for a moment. For those moments can cost your life, or the lives of others. We were still in very dangerous territory.

I had gathered anything useful off of Kal and started to head away to get my bearings. Without warning that psychotic delusional misfit Marion-Rusk charged me to the ground. Screaming about Kal’s sword. I told the crazy bastard to get off, but then Harmon stood over me yelling as well. At first I thought he was coming to my aid, I was wrong. More shouting about some damned sword. Harmon drew a blade then sank it into my left shoulder. Pure madness I thought. Marion-Rusk claimed the sword, and Harmon walked away. I fashioned a bandage from poor Kal’s mask to stop the bleeding.

Then I had realized, I had gotten complacent. I had failed a test, that I had passed years before under the charge of Captain Bartrain. I had gotten caught up in need, and allowed a small yet growing blind trust in the face of survival to cloud my judgement. I was starting to trust these people, for which I have no grounds to justify.

I smiled at Harmon and Marion-Rusk. I exclaimed “You got me on this one.”
I did not smile out of weakness, or admission of guilt. I had made a mistake, shame on me. Foolish of me. I laughed at myself for such an amateurish botch of character.

They themselves had just made a very big mistake as well. And so…

I smile.

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Crags & Valleys
Session 14

Barregen Cromwell’s personal journal

Day 83

It had been quite sometime in these dark corridors, until I stumbled upon a very odd group. They had engaged some rather bizarre foes. I was deciding to let them play their fate, but realized they may know a quick route out of here. I would enter the fray and take my chances with these strangers. After dispatching the ugly beasts, I introduced myself, and they in turn did the same.

Marion Rusk, I thought was his name, but to find he not only had two names, but two personalities. This condition is merely insanity. How this group puts up with this theater of ridiculousness is beyond my comprehension. He is definitely a liability. He is either going to get some one killed or get himself killed… which does not sound that bad of a notion. I will be keeping an eye… a distant eye on him. Fallto, the giant female warrior, honorable yet … very strange, maybe because of the length of time in these dark caves. I feel her pain, walls feel as if they are closing in. Have to keep my wits. Shy… well that explains it all. A small creature known as a gnome. In dire combat, flees for safety. Can’t really blame her as she is knee high to a field mouse. Friendly to everyone… even an enemy. I will not rely on her for anything, poor creature how she wound up with this group is probably pure calamity. Kal and Harmon, probably the only ones I have any real chance at survival with. Harmon is level headed, Kal is very brave. Qualities I can appreciate. Although Kal tried to murder Rusk… or Marion.. whichever. I probably would try the same and blame it on dementia.

This group is like wild mildly retarded cannibal monkeys each covered in their own favorite condiments. Not only will I have to be leery of unknown threats, but those I travel with as well. Maybe running fathers business wasn’t such a bad Idea after all…

Day 85

I have been travelling with this strange group for a couple of days… or rests, I suppose. We’ve finally made it out of the complete darkness now, to find ourselves in an open grassy area. We have also found a group of orcs who are in our way. The only way we can go right now, other than back. I really hope that I’ll be able to take another sip… I wouldn’t have made that crap piss-water ale my last drink if I knew that it would be my last.

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Down Below
Session 13

With the group recouped, in body though not entirely in mind, they appear to be heading down into the caverns beneath the Temple – They tread on sacred ground now. They show severe caution as they make their way through the water-slicked pathways and observe each nook and cranny of the rock. Rusk appears to be taking the forefront of the discovery process, as he investigates each coffined alcove as they edge deeper in. Meanwhile, Harman shows forethought as he sends a goblin in either direction every time they come across an intersection or divide – Very wise choice. One space is dedicated to the ancient god once associated with this temple for the last couple centuries; until the men came in and asserted their position.

Curious indeed. Apparently the ancient monks built passageways leading in and out of the temple all those years go. Or the serpentfolk. The female warrior leads the way through the first, which apparently connects these burial grounds with the Abbott’s meeting area. A ways down, Rusk also discovered another staircase which allowed the monks to traverse between the underground and the guest housing. This one was perhaps the serpents doing.

The underground spring peaks through the rock around the corner, making the limestone nice and slick. Apparently a surprise awaits within the bubbling soil, as a large black slug reaches out to the warrior as she lay upon the ground. And our evening grows even more curious, as apparently there is some arcane energies left within this world, after all. Harman’s bow lets fly a bolt charged with lightning and thunder, nearly destroying the slug. The warrior and Kal manage to finish off the creature with a combined blow.

Slowly spiraling down into the rock, the come across another offshoot path. Making their way up, a very intriguing room, very well crafted with an innumerable amount of ancient symbols and What is this?! This room. So many ancient texts, languages, phrases. Door? Gate? Life? Eternity? This cannot be. Who? What? THE GATEWAY GATE gateway gate way

… They have made their way out of the tunnels, apparently. In the valley. Too much to do. Walking Dark Prince. THE PASS.

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Hidden Temple
Session 12

Locked within the study, the party finds themselves in a fair predicament – Themselves on the inside, with the rest of the rectory outside. At first, Kal and Harman attempt to reconcile with the monks and come to parting terms, however it appears that the members of this temple are not willing to settle the dispute so easily. After some words, the party retreats back into the room to discuss further options amongst themselves. Though the peace is broken by loud noises outside of the door, as apparently the discussions had gathered the attention of their minions.

Flinging the door open (not without the warrior also dispatching of the monk attempting to bar them in) they find the monks, warchief Ripnugget and the rest of his soldiers at odds with each other. Joining the fight, the overnumbering group quickly slays the monks – That is, all but one. Kal manages to keep one alive to interrogate, though his brash tactics of gathering information end in blood. With Rusk wanting to further inspect the library, and Shai not safe in the open, the two leaders and the warrior head off in search of other hidden treasures within the temple.

The end up finding another rather large library, with the bodies of several lizard men ( as apparently “dispatch of the bodies” means something completely different to other people ) stacked in the far corner. Their inspection of the adjacent rooms has Harman discovering that this temple does in fact have its secrets – doors, to be exact. A hidden doorway that leads out to the terrace, which overlooks the valley which the temple is perched atop. Circling around, the warrior finds another monk hiding within an altar room, however this one does not take any chances. The others soon find out that she has been taken over by a symbiont as they then struggle to get the situation under hand. Harman attempts to remove the creature from his compatriot, though not before Kal begins cutting away at both the creature and the woman. Finally, the creature is removed as she is brought to unconsciousness.

Their exploration then took them into the main altar room, where two more monks were easily dispatched of. The next room found them a barred door, which the warrior easily brought down. However, on the other side was an axe-wielding monk ( Whose weapon does look fairly familiar. Is it possible that he had survived the ordeal, after all?). A fervent fight insued, finding both Kal and Harman being brought down at alternating points. At one point, the identity of the monk was revealed as not much of a man of the cloth ( Yes, indeed he did), as he apparently recognizing our dark friend. Erastus manages to escape his situation, running through the main altar room and into the surrounding corridor. However, he is still pursued by the group and ends up turning the corner to face the Oracle. This gives him pause, and gives his pursuers enough time to catch up with him. A final quick battle ends with the warrior pressing Erastus up against the bell, violently with her hammer.

Inspecting the final altar room of the Abbot, Harman comes across something interesting – Unlocked by a switch on the side of a large shrine of a demon, a hidden area underneath the floor opens up. A long and spiraling staircase leads him into the rock, finally ending at a corridor carved within the mountain. Feeling that this would be better explored when they are in a better physical and mental situation, the group regroups and attempts to recoup themselves.

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Into the Mountains
Session 11

In pursuit of their “friend”, the group has had their goblin slaves lead them into the mountainside of the Breaching cliffs. Unfortunately, there is nothing from the dark one to tell what their progress is. However, it does appear that the soldier’s travel up the mountain has finally gained them ground, as they have soon enough caught up to their target – A noise ahead spooks one of the goblins. Harman chooses that they should investigate in a small group, taking a couple of his slaves with him. As they approach the kidnappers, they see two of the wolf mounts playing with their food before they devour it. Getting a bit closer, Harman realizes that their soon-to-be meal is actually their acquaintance. Going back to regroup, he gathers the slaves and the two soldiers as he forms a (somewhat impressive) strategy on how to destroy the wolves.

Their plan successful without a single casualty, Kal’s bodied is recovered. Unfortunately, his soul is still attached to his body as the Oracle is able to bring him back to consciousness. After a restful night, they continue on their journey deeper into the mountains. With the weather becoming increasingly complex, possibly they are hoping for protection and cover in these supposed caves Kal was being taken to. Finally, they arrive at a strange sight at the end of the road through the mountains.

A large temple built into the side of the cliffs. A large staircase leads to the doorway. Two hooded figures sweep away snow at the base. They welcome our visitors and take them into the comfort and safety of the temple. Escorted to the guest chambers, they are shown where they will be staying for the night, and asked politely to stay within the chambers during nightfall due to the fragile nature of most of their ceremonies. However, Harman and Kal do not heed these warnings and choose to wander off through the temple without supervision.

After adventuring into a few of the chambers (including the monk’s and abbot’s personal dwellings), they arrive in the meeting chamber. Harman ventures through the scrying chamber and the armory, while also rummaging through the storeroom. Eventually, he comes across the guard of the chamber and chooses that this place is not for him to casually explore.

As he meets back up with the dark one, they both decide that this is not a place for them to rest (At least not for the night. Possibly a longer rest would be more adequate for him though). As he sends Kal to retrieve the rest of the group, he decides to place himself where he does not belong just one last time. His trespasses lead him to the training chambers, where a few of the monks are located. A scuffle ensues as they attempt to remove Harman from the area, however things quickly become violent as something from underneath the hood of the monk displays it’s power. Their actions and response had been odd, this giving full explanation for the events. One of the monks escaped the fray as Harman gathered the rest of his companions. Attempting to explain the situation, he takes them into the room where the altercation occurred and showed them the creature that had been sitting atop the monk’s head. However, at that moment, several of the monks approached the group and began to explain that their situation was not optimal to their expectations of how people should act within their sacred grounds.

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Through the Enemy
Session 10

They wait in their hideaway, hoping for a plan to come to them. Finally, they decide on ambush. A plan is formed for the three sneaky critters to attack on all sides, with the massive one and Oracle to follow behind. Their plan begins flawlessly (almost impressive).

The team prepares for an attack in hopes of capturing at least one of them. They have their goal, and they know that their lives and their family’s lives certainly depend on it.

The one in black disappears, though seemingly teleporting to the back of a soldier (perhaps he may prove useful, as well). Battle insues, as the trap is sprung. Smoke is stirred by the Oracle finally displaying some of her power, though I certainly would not call it impressive or all-mighty by any stretch.

During the confusion, one manages to make it off with the dark one (They will be taught a lesson for this mistake), though not alone as they are followed by Rusk. Grolluck and his pet make headway towards the camp to safety with their capture in tow, however they have been unable to lose the attention of the other one. He gives chase.

After some time, once the situation has been realized between all of them, Harman manages to convince their captor that he is a messenger for the Dark Army, and is taken to the camp. His silver tongue gets him access to a slew of minions and rations to rebuild their supplies. Just hours after, they begin tracking their lost companion towards the west.

Days go by, until they finally make their way out of the desert and into the mountains. Another day and they find themselves at the abode of the old friend Liam. He holds them off for a time with his clever tricks, though their combined wits apparently outmatch his as they soon discover his illusion. Their travels past the guardians lead them high into the mountains, and on the red road.

Their orders have kept them on track at a steady pace, and they find themselves swiftly on their way to the Caves.

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The Horizons
Session 9

As they sit down for watch, another watches them. A creature flies above acknowledging their presence, before taking leave. In the morning, they continue their journey towards the horizon, which begins to grow ever darker. The skies flood with black as the lands soon follow suit. The ashed sand becomes drenched, though their relief only lasts but moments. The ground becomes soaked with the rains, which quickly fade away.

The softened ground allows the creature to feel his prey approach sooner still, though waits for the foolish one breaking from the group to trample overhead. It attacks, though barely missing its attack. Not out of discomfort yet for the creature, 5 heads of serpent red streaked with black and gold, tunnels from below to strike once again. Few blows are struck by the hydras fang, as the group is able to avoid its flashes. The soldier in black spends his time at the belly of the beast, striking away though in vain. Meanwhile, the Oracle is sent away to her safety yet again, as the barbarous girl jumps into the fray. The silver-tongued devil and the mage stand aside a safe distance while their companions throw themselves into danger.

Soon enough they are able to disable the creature, though too benighted to understand their enemy. Soon enough again it attacks, and again they strike with greater fervor. This attempt brings the same result, though with their quick retreat followed.

Their travels bring them west towards the horizon once again, and just again the horizon darkens. Though this account is brought upon by a cloud of dust risen by the army traveling once more across the desert. They take up refuge in a crevasse, underneath a camouflaged awning. It is here that they bide their time once more on the foot of a great power.

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Friends in Hot Places
Session 8

What is left of our friends finds themselves within the confines of a city. That is, if you can call a bunching of tents a city. However, they have posed quite a bit of a problem in recent ventures. Escorted into the tents, they are separated into not dead, dead, and almost dead. The almost dead (that being the so-called leader) is brought back to the conscious and delivered to his friends. They seem to be treated well enough, though who knows what the circumstances outside of their tent may be.

It appears that they’re situation is favorable, as they are treated to a feast in honor of their fallen ally. A contest of strength and will is had between the soldiers and one of their warriors. She easily defeats the two wiry ones, however the talkative one appears to have something up his sleeve, as he finds a way to at least tie the beast of a woman.

Several days pass in eagerness until the chief comes back with words of wisdom from his spirit guides (foolishness). They heed his words and travel off, lead by the warrior woman.

Unfortunately, not a step is stuttered as even the risen brother’s of the sand warriors cannot keep them from their journey onward. They continue towards our goal.

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Trouble in the Sands
Session 7

The morning wakes them with the sound of fighting. Not an external enemy though, but an internal one. The magic one appears to have come to a mental break as he fights for the survival of the lizard head. Him and the female argue, as the dark one attempts to break the tension. In the end, it is the Oracle who brings him to reality and causes him to break through, crashing back to the real world. After some further arguing between the oracle and the female, they continue on.

Coming across a bandit camp, the dark one decides to make friends. Approaching them, arrows are fired in their direction as they make their escape. Another attempt to approach with the cover of darkness again proves unfortunate, as the magic one and the talker make their escape with the dark one trapped within the camp. Eventually he is able to return to the group, though apparently injured in his escape.

Another days travel brings them to the graveyards. The event is set as the gholdaku charges towards their location. Guardians of the graves interrupt the effort as the two join forces to take down the giant. Their attempt is successful, though at a couple of sacrifices – The dark one finds himself on the edge of the vale, while the female has begun her journey across the River Stix.

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Rock to Sand
Session 6

They sleep for far too long. Dormancy is setting in. They finally begin to move, travelling north further into the mountains. He watches them from a distance. Biding time. A cliff poses a problem for them to move forward at a steady pace. They begin to climb, as he sees his opening to draw them out. They spot him in time to gather as the magic one closes in. He attacks, stirring the rest of them and pulling them over in the excitement of battle. Dust churns and traps are sprung, with the woman soldier is embraced by metal. He leads them away, though the masked one and another are the ones to follow. He leads them through the maze until they evade his traps. They cease pursuit and rejoined the rest of them. He will be letting them travel further. There are other ways. They travel for days back down the mountain and towards the desert. Finally reaching near their destination, they begin to walk the flatlands. They deal with the heat easily enough. The local fauna does not seem to be a risk to them, either. At least not at the moment, as they gather hide and meat from a basilisk. A few days of travel in the sands have started to take their toll though.

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