After Banagher receives a moment of divine inspiration, the party proceeds to their destination. Following some deft tracking, they inadvertently interrupt a troll in the process of eating his lunch. Most of the party has difficulty getting over their fear, leaving Gronk to fight the troll near singlehandedly. Once the troll was slain (and Gronk severely wounded), the party proceeded to the goblin cave, where they encountered a small contingent of branded goblins, some orcs, and two chaos dwarves. After clearing the caves (during which Gronk becomes even more critically wounded), the party discovers that the chaos dwarves were exploring a previously unknown mine, combining both dwarven and elven craftsmanship and designed for the purpose of mining star-metal. It seems that the final destination of this material is unknown, as all of the tunnels leading out of the mine were collapsed or flooded.
Oh, and Diego sprained his ankle and stayed with the horse.
26th of Nachgeheim, 29 NC,
journal entry 1138
Today was not a good day. Early in morning when I went to relieve myself, an unstable rock gave way and I lost balance, falling and straining my ankle. Though no serious injury, in my current condition I would’ve only slowed the party down. The fall dirtied my clothes, but fortunately they were not damaged. It wouldn’t be easy to replace in these parts.
I decided to stay with the horse, which belonged to the elf, and the supplies left behind by the others. Oddly enough the elf hadn’t tied the horse to a tree, but left it grazing in a meadow closeby. It doesn’t seem wise, but the animal turned out to be well trained and did not leave on it’s own accord. Sitting idly by our supplies had drawn my attention to the beast; there wasn’t much else to do. It is a northlander breed of horse, dappled grey.Not the prettiest of colors, but a proud specimen nonetheless. Not knowing what it’s name was, I settled on ‘Spot’. Spot reminds me of the race track back home. It’s been a long time since I last rode horse.
Before long I decided to take Spot for a stroll. My companions wouldn’t be back until nightfall at the very earliest, I figured. No harm done. Spot didn’t agree, though. She was hesitant at first, not allowing me to come too close. Shyness, I presumed. Confidently I stepped forward and grabbed the reigns, just as I’d done before on our horses back home. She flinched and reared her front legs, then nearly ran over me, throwing me to the ground.
Alas, I thought, let’s try that again. I stood up and slowly approached Spot once more, this time with more care. I thought I’d try the more gentle route, and it with Penshinite finesse, it worked. Soon I’d mounted her and was riding small circles across the meadow. It felt good.
Suddenly the horse seemed tired of my commands, and stopped in it’s tracks. It’s eyeballs rolling back to face me questioningly. I had only a second to ponder it’s meaning before it reared it’s legs, stood on it’s hind legs, and then galloped off into the forest. With all my life I held on to the reigns, tree branches smacking into my face and body as I saw the trees zooming by at dangerously high speeds. My vision was blurred, from both the speed and the intense bouncing around on the horse. I remember hoping Spot wouldn’t make a mistake and run into a tree. I wasn’t about to let go and return to the others with the news I’d lost their horse, though. So I held on as she jumped across small creeks and fallen logs, or zigzagged in between trees and bushes.
Then suddenly I felt the sun shine on my face and the bouncing stopped. I opened my eyes, only to glaze upon the meadow we started out in. Spot, by now, had returned to her grazing, bristling some hot air but otherwise acting as if nothing happened.
I let go of the reigns and slid off the horse. For the remainder of the day I kept my distance. This horse is not to be trusted. Is it it’s elven upbringing? I cannot help but feel like I’ve been the victim of it’s twisted joke.
By nightfall my companions returned to find our camp safely intact – including horse. I dismissed questions about the scratches on my arms and face, or why I was walking o-legged.
End journal entry. Signed,
Poppyâ€™s soliloquy of lamentsâ€¦witnessed by the slug stuck to the side of the rock she sat upon
I still haveâ€¦
The blanketâ€¦still very drab
The weaponsâ€¦minus several bolts
Dinner stuffâ€¦which seems out of place considering everyone prefers their fingers
A few goldâ€¦sadly, none to add to the few lonely pieces.
My clothingâ€¦ with the unwelcomed addition of Gronkâ€™s blood on my cape.
Morielâ€¦quite unharmed, but quiet. Perhaps the strange humans worry her.
Affairs have been quite messy as of late. Dwarfs bleed too much.
I must remember never to play with trolls. I donâ€™t much like them. They throw my game off. No clear shots. Then of course, Gronk hogged the troll. Then the tree became involved. No one ever told the troll that an entire tree shouldnâ€™t be used as a weapon. You get too tired swinging it around and you eventually lose, as he did. Moriel would have taught him that, and then she would have scolded him for yanking an entire tree out of the ground for the purpose of hitting Gronk with it. A complete waste! I think thatâ€™s why she sat back too. She was just too horrified at the tree being abused. I sat back for a while because Gronk was in the way. No room to plunk. My game was completely off. The entire affair was so boring, and unfair I decided to let the dwarf have his fun. I just didnâ€™t play. Then after Gronk was done, my cape got dirty.
Iâ€™ll have to tell Gronk that if he insists on bleeding so much, he needs to be more tidy about it. Also, the one they call Banagher is very much out of place, kind of like a dirty dwarf in a dress shop. I wonder if he knows that the game isnâ€™t played with booksâ€¦well I guess it could be if he was in a position to bonk someone over the head with it. Iâ€™ll have to net an orc or something to see if heâ€™ll use the book. Iâ€™ll set a fine example with my Hittinâ€™ Stick, weâ€™ll have a fine time bonkâ€™en and a bashâ€™en. Then we have the spirit worshipper, the one that gets a boo-boo on his ankle and chickens out of the orc game, and the one that stares at Moriel. They all play differently, but Iâ€™m not sure theyâ€™ll win. I shouldnâ€™t complain since it gives me and Moriel more of a chance.
And then to top it all off after dealing with dark caves and dirty, smelly orc dung, Moriel took me away from a potential prize! A prize above all other prizes! Better than a shimmering, pink fountain of fluffy, flowing skirts to call my ownâ€¦.
I could have had a star. Well, not a whole star, but a piece of one. But, thatâ€™s no matter, because a starâ€™s a star and even a piece is a glorious thing! Imagine, a star, just for me! Iâ€™d tack it to a ribbon and wear it in my hair. Iâ€™d glow! Someday, when Morielâ€™s not looking, Iâ€™ll go back and find my star. For now Iâ€™ll just have to settle for the same old, and getting older drab items in my pack.
Perhaps tomorrow things will show signs of improvement.
To Arms and Bounty!
Poppy hops from the rock and shuffles off, leaving the slug, as a slug should be, securely attached to the side of the rock, being unaware of anything except that it is content being stuck to a rock.
(Continuing from the last report)
So the next day, they all wanted me to lead, made sense to me. I had everyone pack up and move out as quick as possible.
Later we found some tracks, one of the directions lead toward a troll, I knew it’d be faster to just go kill the damned thing than to argue the whole way with the trollslayer, so we went and killed it. The trollslayer did take a few hits there, but his wounds are from more than just that, he’s got pretty damned strong skin. If he’s going to spend much more time with us, I’m going to have to take a few more field medic courses, cuz none of them can do it.
So we went to the cave, killed every greenskin that was in there but we found a surprize, chaos dwarves. Looked like the greenskins had knocked down a wall into a mine that these chaos dwarves were walkin around in. Inside we found dwarven walls, and a ring covered in elvish runes. According to the elf, it would have held something called star metal or warpstone. After we found nothing else we came back.
Faith and fear, I’m almost certain now those are the boundaries of my life. And how aptly they played out today. To waken to such indescribable connection (is that the right word?) to Her and then, hours later, be smitten not by the claws of a troll but by its very appearance.
I do not know that I can describe in human words what it was like be touched by the divine. The living memory of Her appearance will stay with me for eternity. Somehow though, I know it won’t get any better or easier–well, indeed, that was Her message. Rather, I was promised that things will, indeed, get worse. And I will doubt, which, of course, a byproduct of fear. All that though cannot compare with the wonder, the power, the knowledge that all is good and right.
She showed me the power in my hand and gave me a glimpse of what I will become.
I have not shared this with my fellows. It did not seem for them just yet. Perhaps, in time, as our road becomes clearer, I will.
I found out quickly enough how weak my faith could be. As we traveled through the forest, a huge troll assaulted us and I simply froze. I am not too proud to admit it, but I simply stood there and peed my pants, hoping the beast would not see me. I am ashamed now to admit that I secretly hoped that it would snatch up the dwarf and make off with the poor fellow as a meal and leave me be. Such was the terror that swept away my faith.
I pray for the strength to put fear behind me.
Indeed, later on at the goblin cave, stuck behind the others as they hacked the foul little creatures, I asked Her to guide me. At first, all I could hear was “You’ll die, if you get involved in this fight,” and “let the real fighters do their work.” But soon, Her small voice assured me that no harm would come to me and I, with not even a scratch, slew my portion of the little devils.
Such is the fickle nature of faith and fear.
When they awoke the next morning, she was almost surprised to find that they were all still alive, and that noone had wandered off during the night.
At least they dropped the silly idea of making her leader. As if she felt like leading anything but herself and Poppy. Instead they seemed to decide she was their scout, but they kept following her close enough that anything she would be able to spot, would hear them long before she could spot an enemy.
‘I wonder what they would say if I told them I don’t even know the way.’ Well, she did have an idea of where to go, but no more. The map was nothing she was used to, and she did not have a copy. She did not, however, want to ask if anyone else brought a copy. She was an elf, she was supposed to be…well, something. Old, wise, and way too clever to forget something like that.
They had walked for most of the day, when they came across two sets of tracks. One looked like a couple of days old orc tracks, the other set was fresh, and probably a troll. The dwarf, of course, wanted to chase after the troll and kill it. The rest seemed eager to follow. She was not sure if they were ready for a troll, but she doubted it would help any to object.
The tracks were easy to follow; almost as easy as following the tracks the dwarf had made. But they were getting close, and the others were still chattering. Of course, even when they did _not_ talk, they made so much noise the troll would most likely hear them from miles away.
Suddenly, a troll came charging out of the forest. Moriel froze, along with most of the others. The troll was huge, wielding what looked like a whole tree.
Everyone but the dwarf seemed frozen, Moriel spent several seconds trying to convince herself to actually do something, apart from being terrified. She finally wrenched her nerves under control, and started firing. Her aim was bad, though, and her arrows did not even seem to distract the troll, far less do any damage.
As the troll finally fell, the dwarf having done most of the job, she kept an arrow trained at the body, while one of the others doused it with alcohol and set it on fire. At least she had gotten off a few arrows, even if she had done little harm to the troll. She had, she hoped, not looked too much like a fool. Not that many of the others seemed to have done much either, but still.
With the troll dead, they picked up the orc-trail. Those too were fairly easy to follow, it did not seem as if the orcs had tried to hide their trail. She and Poppy led them straight to a cave, with a couple of goblins outside.
They killed the goblins quickly, then entered the cave. Not far in, a door blocked the corridor. “Is it locked?” Noone answered her. Instead the dwarf and one of the humans prepared to kick the door in.
They could hear voices from inside the door. At the count to three, the human and the dwarf tried to slam the door open, but the door was more solid than it looked. The voices on the inside stopped, though, and Moriel suspected that it was only a matter of seconds before whoever it was sounded an alarm. She leaned forward, over the dwarf, and pushed at the handle, and the door creaked open.
Three orcs were standing there, staring at them. Moriel got off one shot before the orcs charged; well, two of them anyway. The third ran off, probably to get help, and out of sight before she could get off another shot.
The two remaining orcs died, but they could hear the chattering of voices down the corridor where the last orc had disappeared. They were not disappointed, all too soon, several snotlings, a couple of goblins, and one orc came running down the tunnel.
The one advantage to this fighting, was that the enemy was pretty much bottled up inside the corridor. The dwarf and two of the humans seemed fully able to keep them inside the tunnel, and Moriel was starting to think they could get through this without anyone getting seriously hurt, when they heard voices from the _other_ tunnel. And suddenly, the dwarf ran off towards the voices.
As the last of the goblins fell, Moriel tried to get a clear shot at one of the … dwarves? fighting their own dwarf, but then decided it was better to keep an eye on the first corridor, to make sure no other goblins or orcs surprised them. There were enough people down there to deal with the enemy. Still she did keep an eye on Poppy, just in case.
After what seemed like an eternity, the sound of fighting died down, and there were still no sign of anyone else coming down the corridor she was watching.
The dwarf looked badly hurt, but waved away any attempts to help, and since Moriel had no idea what to do anyway, she pretended not to notice, avoiding looking too closely at him as they investigated the area the goblins and snotlings had come from.
They found no more enemies, though they did find the hole they had probably come from. Hopefully, the ones they had killed were scouts, and there would be no more coming through when these did not return.
The other corridor, the one the chaos dwarves had come from, was more interesting, though. They found no more chaos dwarves, but the area itself looked dwarven made.
One of the rooms hid quite a surprise; in the middle of the room, there was a circle, one that was used to contain star metal, or warp stone. But the symbols used were elven, not dwarven. The dwarf stared at her, clearly expecting her to say something. Her only problem was, she had no idea who made this, or why elves would be involved with this at all. Not, of course, that she could tell him _that_. So instead she smiled slightly and walked out of the room.