Gathering of An Army

A New and Troubling Land
Session 18

Their spirits battered, yet they still carry on.

Their bodies broken, yet they still carry on.

Their minds torn asunder and devoid of focus, yet they still carry on.

I wonder what is in them that allows their continued destruction yet ever surging persistence. They rest their bodies at the foot of the mountainside for the night, now with their supposed freedom in their hands they begin to drift apart once more. The stone one wanders about, lost in this new world. The magic one attempts to cope with an existence without purpose. The warrior stares gawk-eyed at her new surroundings. The wanderer thirsts for the taste of sour berries. The Oracle retreats into herself at the frightful appearance of the wilderness. The only one to hold himself together is their leader… Possibly an important figure at the end of this all.

Harman struggles to keep the group in line and on task, as they all begin to drift down their own paths. The stone one pushes him to take the reins of their companions, stating that someone has to and in all possibility there are no others up to the task at current. He is not wrong in this. With the brain of Harman and braun of the Melog, they turn to the group and begin to steer them to safety, announcing that they will be turning their faces into the sun in the morning, heading to the river they had spotted at the mountain’s exit. At dinner, they set camp and prepare for their travels, and at night they sleep. Waking in the morning, they begin heading to the east.

A handful of days travel finds them at the shores of the river. Frozen waters welcome them, though Falltu gazes upon them in wonder. Never seeing such vast amounts of water in her lifetime, she dives headlong into the chilled waters. Also never feeling such cold upon her skin, she jumps from the river and forces the group to camp at the shores for fear that she might catch her death. The one thing they will not be catching is any fish this day, so their food supplies begin to dwindle.

The night brings Ruskenporah scouting about and in the hunting grounds of a dangerous foe. He finds himself wandering about the spindles of a wolf spider – a deadly ambush hunter whose trap the soldier has found himself caught within. The creature springs from his burrow and latches onto the prey, ever slowly pulling him closer to death. He cries out, yet I fear that the party is too far off to hear his pleas.

They beckon to his cries and manage to fell the beast with only mild injuries. However, it appears that their personalities and strategies are in just as much disarray as they always have been. I do not see these containers keeping hold of their souls for too much longer.

Pity.

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End of Travel, Beginning of a Journey
Epilogue

Apparently these inexperienced and inefficient travelers are more competent that I had originally perceived. During my absence, it appears that they have picked up another adventurer who carries some sort of magical weaponry from far off. Barregen they call him. Somehow, the name sounds familiar. It also seems that they have taken on the assistance of a stone elemental, though how he got to this plane is beyond my understanding. I had thought that their pathway into this realm was blocked, but perhaps this is something that I must study once again. In the meantime, perhaps I shall follow this lot in the slight chance that they do manage to find their way through this maze of tunnels and valleys. While they are out of sight while in the tunnels, I have a clear view of them within the valley of the savages. Though their time within this valley is coming to an end. I will have to wait to see if they manage to find their way back into the open spaces on the other side of the mountains.

And it appears that I have yet again underestimated their value, as they seem to have made their way past many of the trials and tribulations that the Hidden Pass provides weary travelers, and that their journey as a whole has provided.

They have made it past Argus and his beasts. They have trekked along the mountainsides and to the edge of the plains. Bandits and basilisks only seemed to periodically slow them. Even the gholdako could not entirely stop them However it did manage to dispatch of one of their kind. Escape from a hydra seemed all too easy, and the silver-tongued devil Harman too deftly talked his way into the graces of Barderox, gathering the services of Ripnugget and his remaining tribe. They rescued their lost friend and successfully located the temple in the mountains. Destroying most of the monks within the temple, they once more evaded the killing blade of Argus. And now, they have made it into the mountains and possibly even found their way out.

And now, there is nothing standing in their way between them and freedom from the confines of this earthly prison, except for an ancient iron gate. I believe that this is something that will have to be corrected….

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The Time is Now
Session 17

Barregen Cromwell’s Personal Journal

The outside air, my god, I never thought I would be so happy to see open space… We are tired, we are sore. I write this journal entry briefly, as mustering the strength to do much more is hindering.

It was truly apparent that this manifestation, whom calls itself the Dark Prince, meant every word of his threat. I had never encountered anything like this before, only heard about them in legends and night time stories to scare the children and women. This vile creatures figure faded into a mist then faded into the black before our very eyes.

In the distance a chain sways from the ceiling, no doubt the pulley system to the large gates at the end of the cavern. As I went to take a step a digging sound arose in various locations around us. I knew this was not going to fair well. From the dirt and rubble, shambling figures immerged. Former men, now just husks of decayed flesh, rags and clamoring bones. I would fancy a guess of a parting gift from The Dark Prince. The warrior Falltu, fast footed moved right toward these abominations, readying her strike. I fired off a shot and the one that my shot hit crumbled and collapsed to the ground. Everyone had a horror to engage, we were surrounded. Falltu smashing them to bits, Harman firing bolts, Melog swinging wildly. Marion-Rusk had thrown his weapon missing his target, as he ran by to retrieve it I noticed Fransisco without Shai. I looked back, and the mount was trying to back step. In an instant this skeletal creature tore at her beloved lizard. The animal was wounded, but I had other things to deal with. I turned away to dispatch another creature with my sword, with a quick glance back I had seen one of the shamblers collapse to the ground in a heap of burnt bone. A strike from something out of my peripheral it seemed to be.

Then the realization, more of these things were spilling forth. We were all in the fight. This was truly it, the fight for our very survival. I could tell how tired we were; tired of this hell we had wandered around in for what seemed like ten eternities. Yet, we were not beaten. We all wanted out, none of us wanted to die here, maybe sometime down the road, but not here not today. Shot after shot, swing after swing, fist after fist we could see the numbers of these undead dwindle. My spirits lifted… then.

Something landed between us and the door, a giant something… a giant ugly something. Even the skeletal creatures backed away from it, I couldn’t blame them. This thing looked like it was conceived in an orgy of the damned in the blackest pit of hell… and we must have been standing in its cradle.

The hulking creature threw large rocks, hitting us. Falltu tried to go toe to toe with this ogre-ish beast. It had grabbed her and had a firm grasp. Marion-Rusk went to her aid, but the creature used her body as a weapon knocking, Rusk down. This beast was not going to go down easy. It was going to take everything we had to kill this thing. Rusk was knocked unconscious with the last blow. The big man Melog was soon to follow. With nobody within his reach, the beast flung Falltu with ease directly at me. Getting to her feet, she ran back in to battle with the tunnels guard, though she was soon knocked to the ground as well. In a last ditch effort, and with my last throws of hope, I let a bullet fly. Blood sprayed from the ugly bastard’s neck as what little color in its cheeks flushed and it dropped to the ground.

When all was said and done, the beast was dead, and we were all exhausted. Somehow we managed to gather or wits and strength. Shai came back from her hiding place and brought Rusk, Melog, and Falltu back from the brink of death. However, the now felled beast had left us with a hole in the ceiling and a broken chain. Rusk and Harman fashioned a rope to the chain while Melog, Falltu and I dragged the ogre-beast with the rope tied to it, using it as a way to hoist the gate. Rusk was pushing rocks underneath the gate, just enough for us all to get out. As a group we rushed out into the open, down a ways to see a forest, and the sky, the first breaths of crisp, fresh air in a long time. We really didn’t say much, but I felt that we were all happy to be alive. I also think, we may have been a bit happy we all were alive. I must admit, I was. They may be a rag-tag mismatch of sorts, but… we got out alive. Together.

The outside air, my god, I never thought I would be so happy to see open space… We are tired, we are sore. Some rest will do us some good.

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Forced Reflection

From the mind of Marian-Rusk

I can feel my body swaying side to side as if I am walking a great distance but can see nothing of my surroundings. I can usually see well in the dark, even with no light at all, but this is different; every direction is pure blackness. I don’t know if my vision is gone, or there is just nothing to see. The darkness, however, is nothing compared to the silence. Almost tangible, it wraps around me, cutting me off from even the sound of my own breathe, my own heartbeat. My body walks for what feels like days, but could be seconds, there is no way to know in this horrible void, this lack of sensation. The swaying finally stops. Am I now resting? The darkness seems to dim slightly, but after a time I start to think my mind imagined it. Then the images appear in the air around me, causing my eyes to blink away the sudden attack. Sounds assault ears that have been strained by silence for so long.

Once the shock is over, I realize I know these scenes. They are the sights and sounds of my childhood! But not seen through my eyes. I see them now as a cloud or bird would, looking down on my younger self and my family in our yard in Hylley. There is Tyler, with that red handled axe he is so proud of, standing shoulder to shoulder with Iosua. They are steadily and slowly spreading out to surround me. As Iosua moves to the left, I look past him and see Eoghan and Siobahn similarly engaged in a practice battle. Before my two younger brothers can completely surround me, I watch myself start a simple three move attack routine. I know this moment in time! As I see myself finishing the move I scream out to mind where I place my feet, but it is to no avail. No voice came from between my lips, for there is no sound where I am. There is only sound in the memory, or dream, or whatever this is playing out in front of me. My younger self stumbles into the hole and, just as they did 6 years ago, my brothers waste no time on taking advantage of my error. Iosua knocks into me to knock me further off balance, while Tyler uses the back of his axe to knock my sword from my hand.

The event that changed everything is coming up and I try to turn away from the pain, but it doesn’t work. The image simply swings in the air to always stay directly in my field of vision. I can’t help but see Tyler’s axe swinging back in to finish the second half of the horizontal move or to see my younger self form a spike of blue light in my right hand to block the oncoming axe. Everything freezes, but one figure. My father walks over to have our talk. The one where he tells me that I am adopted and that my life for the past 13 years has been a lie. But this time is different. The story is exactly as I heard it then; the ending is still the same. But this time I notice the details my younger, angrier self could not. I see the pain, no not pain, the relief in my father’s eyes as he tells me the truth that he has kept from me all these years. As he tells his son, because that is what I now realize I have always been, that he was not his flesh and blood, but that he was indeed still his son. I hear him tell my 13 year old self “Collect your thoughts like I’ve always taught you. Your mother and I will still be here when you are ready.” and this time I actually listened to the words. I finally understand that the first 13 years of my life weren’t a lie. I was still a McKeon. No, I am still a McKeon. I watch as my father walked away to give me space and, as he did, the image faded and I was once again left in darkness and silence, but with a new understanding of the past to think on and pass the time.

The void had not been back for too long before the swaying begins again. I don’t know what this means, but I think possibly I am unconscious, knocked out during the ogre battle, and am being carried by my companions. It would explain the swaying and the visions. I sit there for some time, contemplating what the rest of the group must be going through. With what happened over the past few days, I am amazed that they are even bothering to carry me along. I would have figured Cromwell would have just left me for the animals, not even bothering to put me out of my misery. Misery. I was no stranger to that. But did I bring it on myself? As I start to think back on some of the people I had lost, the swaying stops. They must be stopping to rest for the night. I hope everyone else is alright. I would hate to lose anyone else. There have been far too many lost already. And then the images start to appear again. I am almost expecting it this time so my eyes and ears are a little more prepared but my mind is not ready for this particular set of images.

It starts simple enough. Once again I am staring down at myself from above, but this time my younger self was walking through the woods. I am a few years older, dressed in leather armor and forest garb with a shortsword hanging from my hip. I watch as my now 18 year old self comes to a clearing and begins to walk around the edge. If sound existed in the void, I would have let out a low moan. This is where my platoon was wiped out. That exact clearing. That exact day. I watch as the images continued to follow me walking through the woods, then the sounds of steel on steel and the quick cries of the wounded as steel connects with flesh. I watch in horror as my younger self sprints back to help out and comes upon the pitched battle that is my entire platoon against a larger force of goblins, hobgoblins and orcs. They fight valiantly, and I fight right alongside them.

As the last orc battles against my platoon leader, I strike down the last of the goblins, my shortsword shattering in the process. We are the only two left, my commander and I, and even before the goblin’s body finishes its downward decent, I am already sprinting across the clearing, mindblade forming as I run. I scream at the orc to fight me instead, but as he turns to face me, I see my commander slump to the ground, a bloody gash across his entire torso. I scream again and fling the mindblade as hard as I can, slaying the last of the killers of my platoon, my friends. I watch as my younger self races over to the body of my commander to check for a pulse, but know it is hopeless. As I know the frantic checking of the rest of the platoon would be hopeless as well.

From this vantage point, however, I can see the total scope of the battle. My platoon wasn’t just outnumbered, but grossly outnumbered. There are at least 4 times as many goblins, hobgoblins and orcs as there are soldiers. It was a miracle I survived at all. They had been lying in wait for us. It wasn’t my fault they died. Well not entirely. There was no way for me to know they were there, and no way to change how it happened. I did the only thing I could in the circumstance, I killed the things responsible for all that carnage. I avenged my platoon. My eyes snap back to the images at that moment, just in time to see my younger self bend to pick up a tiny lizard. The name “Cara” reverberates through my head as the images begin to whirl.

The images become a whirling cyclone of colors for several seconds and then, just as abruptly, stop. This new image is confusing at first. I simply see myself leaning over a pack. Then, as I see myself bring forth a small bloody figure, it all becomes clear. This is when I lost Cara and truly became the last remaining creature to walk away from that battle. I do feel some pain upon seeing her again, but it is blunted by time and now I can truly appreciate the river funeral I am now watching.

The images quickly swirl around me and I hear a deep pounding, like a giant heart. Thump. Thump. Thump. The whirling stops and I see a one eyed giant bearing down on our small band. Siobahn, my only sister, stands with her hammer at the ready, begging the huge brute to get close enough to hit. As I watch, he moves close to within striking distance, knocks Kal aside like just an annoying fly, and then heads straight for Siobahn. She strikes a mighty blow with her hammer, but it is not enough and he brings his giant fist down on the top of her head. With a sickening crunch, her body crumples to the ground. As a pool of blood quickly forms under her broken body, the giant is finally taken down. Her death had bought the others the time they had needed. Although tears now rim my eyes, I have finally come to realize that she died doing what she did best, protecting those she cared for. She would not have wished it any other way. I can barely make out, through my tear filled eyes, the images as they start to blur and whirl away once more.

When the images finally stop, I am staring up at a high stone cliff face. I shudder knowing what is coming next. I see myself from just a few days ago; watching in terror as my childhood friend, one of the only people left alive that meant something to me, plummet to his death on the ground in front of me. It hurts, but like the rest, I have to face this. I have to stop hiding from everything that hurts. Yes, I lost Kal. I lost Cara. I lost Siobahn. I lost Eoghan. I lost my platoon. But I realize now that I never lost my family. My parents will be waiting for me when I get home and if I never wake up and get on with my life and this mission, then I will never make it back to them. They will never know what happened to their only daughter or oldest son.

Suddenly a rapidly spinning object appears in front of me. It seems to be changing shapes and colors as it spins; a large red hammer one second, a small green sword the next, then a small orange axe, then a blue starknife. It starts to spin faster and faster, becoming more weapons than I can count. I begin to get dizzy watching it and feel myself falling over. No, I growl, not this time. I reach up and grasp the handle of the now shapeless mass of energy the shifting weapon had become and start to push it with my mind. I feel like I am 15 again, just learning how to control my mindblade. I exert my will on it and force it to take the shape I want, instead of the other way around. It slowly rounds to a solid handle that sits comfortably in my hand. After that I concentrate on the upper half and form it into a short sharp blade. The spinning colors are the last part. I focus on those and they slowly stop spinning and then slowly a dark green color starts growing from the handle to envelop the entire blade. When I am done, I hold in my right hand a perfectly formed dark green version of the short sword my father gave me to carry all those years ago. With the ghosts of the past behind me, I can now look to the future.

I spend the next couple of hours practicing to regain the skill of reforming the mindblade into different forms and different colors. I am enjoying a nice mental break when suddenly the floor shifts out from underneath me and I tumble down into the abyss. I bounce down for untold minutes and suddenly hit a hard bottom. I open my eyes and find that color and sound have returned to the world. I am in a cave. Shai stands over me. For the first time in a long time, I am truly awake.

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Strange Encounter
Session 16

Barregen Cromwell’s personal journal…_

Day Who The Hell Knows

Hours have passed since the “altercation”. I am damn near frothing mad. What’s making this worse, with this motley collection of asylum patients, is I have been dry since my incarceration in the belly of this stone and earth beast. The group gather around the poor deceased Kal, they say kind words, then Shai, the ‘little one’, sends him to the beyond in a blaze she created with some unseen… albeit unknown means to me. I felt I could trust Kal, now he’s gone, in hells name who am I kidding. Lucky bastard, he’s probably far better off now then what awaits this crew down in the darkness.

I keep my distance, I will have satisfaction. I plot on multiple levels. I plot for the unknown down these corridors, I plot my escape from this dungeon, I plot my revenge against my assailants.

I however do need to keep these people close, there is still power in numbers. After the makeshift ceremony, Harman instructs the others to scout ahead, and as they travel some feet ahead Harman approaches me.

He offers an explanation and apology for what had happened. Even to state he knows an apology is weightless. I tear back at him with fervor. Yet, I understand, I am the stranger here. Also yet, this was handled in the fashion to make those ORCs giggle with glee. I fight the urge to return the favor and plunge my switch into the soft exposed part of his neck. I compose myself, and remember… power in numbers. We agree to work together and get out of this hell hole. I offer my hand, word is bond. Something my father and Captain Bartrain taught me, honor.

In time we find ourselves continuing in the direction agreed upon, when noise is rampant in abundance. Harman and I barely manage to make our dash, to see a gigantic boulder barrel between us. I look to see Marian Rusk in the front of the group, turned, looking up just past us. As we scramble to our feet, Harman and I see a brutish figure upon the ledge. A creature, from legend and stories told to me by father, and sea faring men. An ogre. I know when to stand and fight, I know how to gain an upper hand on an opponent with more assets than myself.

I remember when I was six, and Mildred the pie lady’s mongrel dog chased me away from her stand. For a fraction of a moment I thought to kick the dog in the snout, but during that fraction, to my dismay I had already took flight and ran.

I decided I would dust off this option. I ran. Harman Ran. We all ran.

We came to a barrier of boulders in which we hoisted Marian Rusk up to check over the wall, were in turn he startled a napping Ogre. We had no choice at this point. I had climbed on one of the rocks and taken aim at the beast which was grunting and huffing at us, as one by one we made it on top of the rocks. I found it odd however that Shai would leave her lizard, or should I say escape mount alone. No time to ponder the were-bouts of the pint sized practitioner of strange arts. I took aim. I fired. Hitting the grotesque beast in the head in a grazing shot. Marian and Falltu had joined the mix, battling away with this hefty foe. Harman had taken a shot over my shoulder. I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous. I still felt to trust him.. but could I? Then I realized this was an opportunity for me in which I could not pass up. In battle, things happen, good… and bad. Sometimes unintended targets, become collateral. I took aim and fired again. Hitting Marian Rusk in the head, there was an explosion of debris, blood, and dazzling lights. Falltu had dispatched the beast in her usual glory to gore. I am starting to like this Falltu. I then realize, they are not going to be happy with I did, so I jumped to the side to keep them in sight.

It had become apparent that Marion Rusk was immediately different, I had quelled one of the personalities. I believe Marion has survived, and is distraught. Out of place, in an ill mannered way. I rejoice.

Random journal entry. Shai appears out of no-where. This little creature is a sure curious thing.

After the dancing lights we noticed there was someone or something close to us, grumbling discontent towards Marion. Again… I rejoice.

This stranger standing seven foot tall, skin resembling slate, is named Melog. He is not a happy sort, and obviously not happy with this group, which is fine by me. I will stay off his bad side, I may now start to enjoy this.

After dancing with a few more of these horrific creatures, myself personally pouring one of the beasts primordial thoughts onto the cavern floor, we move further down. We bed down in a horrible smelling Ogre den, but the positive side is I have filled my pouches with gold and gems. Which oddly enough I had an interesting conversation with Falltu as she just could not fathom the workings of a monetary system, wealth and precious stones, metal and gems. Her loss. Lets see her try to buy a weeks stay at a stocked tavern with a chicken and bundle of lamb scrotum skin.
After some rest I watch the others interact with each other. Shai is strange as always, the stranger Melog is quiet and grumpy. Harman looks to be focused as always. Falltu seems to be fascinated by Melog. Marian, is very distant, hurting, melancholy. Disenchanted, depressed and in obvious anguish. I rejoice.

Marion holds up Kal’s strange sword and asks who would like to have it. Of coarse I piped up. Handing it to me and shrugging he slowly walks away. I make sure to make eye contact with Harman. I wink, and can’t help but smile.

I may actually feel better about this situation, fleeting I know, but for now I will take it… and play with my new toy.

We have days of journey ahead. We shall see what awaits.

We had a lovely stroll through a field of flowers and some all too life-like statues. This reminds me of some stories I heard as a kid, reading fairy tales of monsters and demons. Looks like they might have been a little closer to real life than I hoped. But, we made it through the valley and into another tunnel. Joy.

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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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