Legend of the Silver Crescent

Al'Der'eth Writes to the Priestess Delenia

Highest Delenia, Priestess of Ioun and all that is good in this world. I write to you asking for guidance, and if an answer it is not yours to give then pray to the gods that they will guide me through tough decisions, and keep my objectives noble and just. We have left Northbridge after dealing with the kobold problem, as it turns out there were kobolds and a young dragon by the name of Smokesnare that was behind the raids and killings. “King” Meebo of the kobolds is under oath to cease the raids and killings now that the hobgoblins and their wizard leader are returned to the deepest layers of the eternal underground and the dragon has retreated. I fear that the kobolds are up to something, for they worshiped this dragon, and claim enslavement by the hobgoblins but no signs of abuse. And what of this Smokesnare, if she comes back the havoc that will be wrecked upon the lands!

I am starting to understand why you wanted me to join these other noble people on a journey, it appears most of us seek what I seek, answers to the meaning of life, what we are supposed to do, and our pasts. The elf cleric Delana holds her convictions with Pelor most high, for she refuses to take a life even during battle. The dragonborn Gaervesk, our leader at times, keeps a cool head in even the most stressful times, there is much I can learn from him. Rukh our physical force is quite the mystery, I am still shocked that orcs, half-orcs rather can be Paladins. Without him, we would not have gone this far. And Eisenheim, for his role in our group I still not know, but a brother in the Arcane is always good to have around and understand you.

I plan to tithe at every Temple of Ioun I reach, I know this is not required, but I feel it is just. I do not need much, I hope to get some better robes soon, and that is it. I thank you for this opportunity, it really was just what I needed. Time to rest now, for soon it will be my watch and then daylight. I hope this letter reaches you well.

Yours in Ioun Al’Der’eth the Pious

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Delana's story - Day 4
Delana journeys with her companions, conversing on matters of future procedure

I woke up early this morning, still troubled by the events of yesterday. I went to Galen’s shop, and purchased some mystic salves and rare herbs, for use in the rituals I am able to perform. By the time I came back, my companions were all ready to go, and we set forth westward, through The Feywood. It was quite lush, and as we traveled, I was able to collect quite a bit of food for all of us to share.

Rukh asked us to tell us a bit about ourselves, and I briefly told him about my being orphaned as an infant, found by Elder Jonas my adoptive father, and how I was raised in clerical arts. I also explained my journey all the way from Cedar Hollow to Northbridge. Having learned some of my companions’ background, the conversation changed to more serious matters. We decided on how treasure and gold would be split up; gold would be divided evenly, and items and equipment would be given out on a ‘need’ or ‘benefit’ basis. We talked about the fighting of monsters and the handling of prisoners. My companions asked me about how I would fight in battle, and I said I would not kill, that I did not feel it was my place to decide who lived and who died. This sparked a philosophical debate about the intentions of the gods, but I knew I could never betray my beliefs in doing good and alleviating suffering wherever I may find it. As for prisoners, it seemed we were at an impasse. I could not give a captured monster up to be executed, but letting it go was not necessarily the wisest choice either. I know it would be best if I was not involved in the decision-making, but what else could I do? I said I would look away as my companions made their judgment, but I knew I could only do that if I were physically unable to stop them in taking action contrary my beliefs.

The talk of prisoners brought up who should speak for the group, as it did not seem that dissension between us would not look proper in front of strangers or enemies, such as the captured hobgoblin, or our first talks with king Meebo. We should appear unified, and my companions all agreed Gaervesk provided the most neutral voice among us. They voted for him to speak for us, but I abstained my vote. It was not that I did not trust Gaervesk, I knew he was fair and spoke well, but I would have wanted to put forth the most compassionate face first. Whereas I could suffer a slight, Gaervesk would likely not, and I would want to expend all diplomatic routes before resorting to anything else, even the least bit harsher.

It was getting late, and we looked for a place to bed down for the night. We came to a bridge over a river, and Eisenheim thought it would be as good a place as any to stop. However, it seemed bandits were not uncommon on these roads, so we looked for a place off the main path. In the distance was a clearing, with a ruined structure in the middle of it. We went there, and saw it was empty and had been abandoned for many years, but there was a rough path that lead to the house. Apparently, we were not the first to make use of the place.

Before laying to rest, I took Gaervesk aside and apologized to him, that I meant no slight in not giving my vote to him. I told him I did trust his abilities, and whatever he decided in the future, I would follow. He understood I meant no insult, and he respected my views. I thought about how our adventuring band would engage with others, both friendly and hostile to us. Gaervesk was not insensitive and surely tactful and careful enough, but I was likely to have greater empathy than my dragonborn companion. Perhaps I could be of some use in the discussions, giving him insight as to intentions and attitudes. I will talk with him about it tomorrow.

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The Beste Show on Earthe

Hello my brother!

So I saw a dragonne. And we beat him soundly. They aren’t really as bad as the tales say they are you know? Gaervesk said it was only a young one, but how much worse can the old ones be? This one was like a golde bag that you strike and strike until a treasure hoarde falls out. He managed to get away though, but we will be back.

My group in general works well in the heat of combat. Sometimes I can tell that they are for the most part a very young group of people. Tactically their decisions aren’t always sounde, but they get the job done, and are getting better. Too bad that the lessons they learn are paid for in bloode. This makes me appreciate those many nights spent playing chess with you my dear brother. You have saved me paine and money, since my adventuring outfit has never been bloodied.

My companions are finally starting to see things my way on how to deal with prisoners of the evil variety. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar as the old saying goes. Luckily they all actually think that I’m the one who is starting to see things their way! It’s delicious.

We looted the coin and gems from the underground laire. Everyone else was just going to leave the stuff hanging around, so I also piled arms and equipment from our vanquished foes onto a floating diske of my creation. I distributed the the wealth from the coin and gems evenly to my companions, but kept the loote from the vanquished hobgoblins. Those reagents to cast these rituals aren’t cheape you know? If they find out about this I will probably be in trouble, but if they won’t hurt kobolds who murder, they certainly won’t hurte me. Besides, I’m much more worried about Snidley Whiplash’s thugs who will demand my debt paide than I am about the people I am with now. My new companions think I’m greedy….wait till they see Whiplash.

Hopefully the lorde of this lande pays a kings ransom when he finds out that we saved a towne from certain destruction, and I can pay my debt and head home.

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To Alern

I hope this letter finds you well. It has been several weeks since last we saw each other, and though I have not written to you much recently, much of that is because my fate has been a bit boring until recently. Which, I suppose is not a bad thing, but like anything, has its time and place.

I assure you, the fates had their hand that day. I responded to a call by a cleric of Pelor. It seems that a town a goodly distance away called Northbridge required assistance. Given the times, I have to confess, I am not surprised. On the way there I joined several people who were also answering the call.

I am sure you remember Eisenheim from the troop. Of course, like the few eladrin I met, he seems none the worse for wear. And though I know he means well, I do still find him a nuisance from time to time, and more than a little brash. Once again, as usual. However, having something with me that is familiar is reassuring, and all aside, I am relieved that he is here.

There was another that joined us. Al’Der’eth the Pious was his introduction. I had thought something was slightly off, when clerics are out and about, I rarely see them in something more substantial than robes. I realized very quickly that Pious did not mean cleric in his case. He is a wizard, and though inexperienced it would seem, he has most certainly proved his worth. His most amusing trait is his theatrical nature. He seems to be seated very deeply in his emotions, a trait that makes me fail to understand him at times.

The one that perhaps puzzles me the most though would be Delana. She is a young elf devoted to Pelor, and seems very bright, if more than a little naive. We have had a number of instances where she has shown more mercy than is wise. Though I see her point of view, and respect even, her wish to revere all life, it is fate that one life will eventually conflict with another life, and as such one must be extinguished. The key is, learning when it is one life that will kill another life, or one life that will kill many lives. This is something I do not think she completely understands. She also seems to worry about what others think of her a little too much. However, I see her as a breeze of freshness in our group … or I believe we have actually become an adventuring party as of this writing, though we shall see how things will go from here.

And the final member of our party. I feel a certain kinship with Rukh Redmane, and aside from us being … somewhat monstrous at first glance, I am not entirely sure why. He is a holy warrior to a deity by the name of Tuan, who seems to be some kind of valor or strength god, though to be truthful, I have never heard of him. Rukh has proven himself the rock of our group. He is the opposite side of the coin from Eisenheim, and the two have definitely been at odds on a number of issues. I have to genuinely say, he and I operate on a similar mindset, which I find refreshing.

Introductions finished, I am sitting here at the inn in Northbridge writing you this letter. We have finished the task we have set here to do, and are leaving in the morning to travel to see the local lord to receive our recognition and whatever rewards he is deeming us worthy for.

The task seemed simple enough to begin with. Northbridge and several farms and small towns nearby have been terrorized for several weeks now by small beings with red eyes, which turned out to be Kobolds. Of course, my parents had taught me most every basic thing about dragons and their kin. From the Platinum Dragon, to the lowliest … scaled brethren. I sighed at the thought. From what I remember, kobolds are cowardly, though tenacious. Dealing with them would be bothersome. After investigating a farm and consulting some of the folks in the area, we found out the direction the kobolds were likely in. We set out that way in the morning.

Our searching took us to an old abandoned keep, which very quickly turned out to be something of a makeshift stronghold for the kobolds. What we found there were also some brutish hobgoblins. My companions quickly proved their prowess, and we dispatched all of the inhabitants. We did find a small gnome child from one of the local villages that had been raided. Some searching and the boy pointing us in the right direction revealed a tunnel out of the keep that eventually lead to some caves where there were more kobolds. We dealt with them, and then, while searching for the heart of their lair, found many of their women and children. Unfortunately I was the only one who was able to communicate with them. Though I am glad I had the ability to, I have to admit, I felt a little … sullied by the fact that I had to. I did manage, however to get them to lead us to their “king”.

Meebo was a small kobold, and I honestly wonder how he got to be king of his people. We found out that they were being bullied by the hobgoblins to attack Northbridge and the surrounding area. What frightened me however, was not the fact that the hobgoblins had a wizard as their leader. What unnerved me was that the hobgoblins seemed to be in league with a dragon named Smokesnare. The name made me think of a black dragon, but I also realized that it was possible it would have been a red dragon. The task suddenly became not so simple anymore. The kobold showed us a safe place to rest, which we did. I shall have to write more of the glade we stayed in some other time, as even thinking on it now, words still fail me.

We woke refreshed, after some odd dreams regeared ourselves and headed to take out the hobgoblins. After a foiled boulder trap (effective, but not original, I might add) and two archers, we managed to get to the wizard and his other lackeys. It was a tough fight, though once again, my companions proved themselves. We managed to defeat them and then went to go back to the kobolds and let them know what was going on. It was a little troublesome, but Meebo demanded we go kill the dragon. Which, though we would have had to rest quite some time to recover all of our powers that we used against the hobgoblins, we felt fairly confident in our ability to persevere.

The fight was tough. As I had thought, Smokesnare turned out to be a black dragon, though a young one. She was definitely clever, and moved around, using the pool she stayed in to her advantage until we had grouped together more. We did manage to defeat her though, however she revealed her cowardly nature and ran. Unfortunately she was too fast to keep up with though. We, however, had basically succeeded in our task. We wound up returning to the kobolds and let them know the news.

It was refreshing returning back to the town. I have to say, I am glad that we had managed to save it. And I wish I had had the pleasure of living in a town like this growing up. But I am where I am because fate had placed me here. Fortunately that put me in the position to aid these people. On this note, I must retire. We leave for the lord’s keep in the morning, and I am more than a little tired. I have a feeling that I will be writing to you of events more often in the future, and I hope to hear from you as well.

Stars be with you, Gaervesk

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Rukh's Journal 3
In which Rukh ponders on a vision and recounts more glorious battle in the name of Tuan

Dear Master K’rrg,

As I indicated in my last journal entry, we took the uncertain hospitality of the kobolds. The passage they showed us led to a glade, thick about with many trees, and defended from all spots but above. I was a little concerned that the dragon they spoke of might come on us in the night, but, as we settled, we all had a strange feeling. One of safety, perhaps…or maybe sacred awe would be a good way of putting it. We prepared some food, but there was little talking. I think we were all weary; I know I was.

As I slept, I had a strange dream. In it, I saw myself and the companions I now travel with fighting together against strange foes…abominations and undead, I think. My memory of it is hazy. I do recall a feeling of invincibility. I think I may even have begun to sing in the joy of battle. But then I heard my name called…and I realized Al’Der’eth was waking me up. I almost had to chuckle, as he was standing outside of axe range. I wonder if he thinks I sleep with it under my bedroll.

I had, with some pretense, made sure there was water nearby. After my watch, when Delana woke to take hers, I went to the waterfall caves the kobolds had shown us and took my ablutions. Delana looked at me a bit funny. I just have no desire to explain my morning rituals to someone. No doubt, to an outsider, they would seem strange and archaic.

We returned to the kobolds when everyone was well and ready, and then we set forth. We were to seek out the hobgoblins and bring them to an end, and then, we thought we would ponder on whether to continue against the dragon. We found that the water running through the caves trickled down from upper caves where the hobgoblins dwelt. As we proceeded up the path, keen-eared and eyed Delana shouted a warning. She may well have saved us. A huge boulder was rolling down the path at us, even as hobgoblins began shooting arrows from above.

Thank Tuan for the cleverness of Gaervesk. He suggested I use my shield to spill some of the waterfall’s water on the path, which I did, trusting he had some plan. And indeed he did. He used his icy breath…have I mentioned he has icy breath? Just like one of the ice dragons of the tales! He used his icy breath to freeze the water on the path. Seeing what he was about, I dug into the rock with my toes and angled my shield. I almost jumped when I felt hands behind me. I realized the others were bracing against me, to lend me strength. I felt something then…I’ve almost never had anyone else to lean on, but I felt…I don’t know…friendly towards these odd people. I let them brace me and leaned in as the boulder crashed against me. Between the ice, the bracing, and my Tuan given strength, we were able to knock the boulder from the narrow path. I felt triumphant. Laughing, I stepped carefully over the icy patch and ran towards the hobgoblins. This seemed to unnerve them, and they fired many arrows at me. Even as they did, my companions used their magics to slay them. I was mildly disappointed, but I suppose my running up to them was a distraction of sorts, so I did my part.

I did more than that in our next battle against the hobgoblin leaders. Warriors, archers, and their chief…a terrible hobgoblin wizard!...sought to defeat us, but it was no use. I held them back from my companions as best I could, while the rest of our company dealt powerful magics against them. I know that the phantom shadows Eisenheim used pinned them in place, while Delana’s rays of light and Gaervesk’s curses worked havoc upon them. Most vividly, however, I recall that Al’Der’eth bravely strode forth and cast out waves of thunder and lightning that drove the enemies back. This proved to be most fortuitous, for there was a chasm in the cavern. The hobgoblin wizard strode forward to duel Al’Der’eth, but a blast of thunder sent the wizrd reeling over the chasm’s edge to his doom. After that, it was a simple matter to lay the rest of the hobgoblin warband low.

Although we were rather well off, Delana had used a powerful healing magic she would not recover that day, so we decided to exercise caution and return to the kobolds. There, however, their chief seemed most agitated, warning us that, if the dragon sensed that the hobgoblins were gone, it would flee, and some other village somewhere would bear the brunt of our hesitance. With a sigh, I turned to depart. We heard Al’Der’eth making speeches of valor at the kobolds and practically had to drag him off with us. We found the dragon’s lair soon enough. A dark, forbidding chamber with a black pool. The wizards cast light down into the pool while I began to examine an upward-slanting ramp. I heard a cry and turned to see a shadow moving under the water. My companions were below, and I could not get between them and the dragon before it attacked!

(To be continued…)

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Al'Der'eth's 2nd Journal Entry
We Have Come A Long Way

Alas our adventuring troupe has become unified and successful. I still do not trust this “king” Meebo of the kobolds, for I fear he is setting us up for a trap of utmost severity, where death is the only outcome. We camped out in this wooded clearing at the back of his caverns, during the night I had such strange dreams of fighting undead creatures of most abomination. I could not tell exactly what they were, zombies? vampyres? demons? I hope this vivid dream was not a premonition of the future to come. I pray to you Ioun for your guidance, that your eye watches over me and guides my actions and leads me to safety battle after battle.

My friend in the arcane, Eisenhiem, has proven himself as a master of magic and has this uncanny way of avoiding the blows of our enemies. Since being “convinced” by the might of our group, his antics have settled down greatly. Gaervesk, I have come to respect much more, although I am leery of his kind, for I do not know much about dragonborn. He has been a formidable ally on the field of battle, taking much of the damage and dealing much of the damage as well. Finally, I have spoken to the half orc Rukh, he is not as scary as I first thought, but I made sure to wake him by voice and not touch, for fear of being smacked. There is much to learn about him, for instance his god and the fact he is an orc and a paladin! When the storms of war settle, perhaps we can sit down and discuss our lands and our people. Without Delana, we’d all be dead by now I fear. For she has healed us time and time again, a most trustworthy cleric who we have given the task of guarding our money.

There was much blood shed today, first we were ambushed by two hobgoblin archers who sent a giant rock trap upon us as we ascended the stairs. Rukh and Garvesk were very canny in sending it aside using a shield and much brute force. After defeated these archers we entered a cavern where there were many more foes, two more archers, two swordsmen, and a wizard, all hobgoblins I’m afraid. We combined our forces focusing on the wizard and despite my first attempt at sending him and his swordsmen back to their makers, we triumphantly defeated him and then went after his swordsmen who kept attacking us, finishing with the archers.

Oh how you have blessed me today in battle Ioun, rewarding me with such an artifact. When I no longer need such an implement of destruction, I will learn of its creators and return it to the tomb where it belongs. This lightning shock staff gives me more control over the storms above and I feel my connection grow strong. I still yearn to learn why I possess such specific powers. I pray that I use this might when needed, and not for wrongdoing. I shall gladly die before letting evil regain control of such a weapon.

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Delana's story - Day 3
Delana writes of her vision of camaraderie and how it came to fulfillment

After talks with the kobold ‘king’ Meebo, we asked if there were a place we could rest for the night. The kobold Kalrax showed us of a secret passage that Meebo swore the hobgoblins did not know of, a large clearing surrounded by thick forest. It was calm, and strangely uplifting to my spirit. Before I could contemplate the place, my fellow adventurers had went back into the cave to fill their waterskins. I followed them, and Kalrax showed us to a natural spring. She did not follow us in, saying she did not like the water. Gaervesk took a drink, claiming it was some of the best water he had ever tasted, so we all filled our skins with it. The pond was clear and cool, so I decided I could take the opportunity to bathe. By this time, Eisenheim had left to go meditate, and Al’Der’eth as well. Upon my taking off of my outermost robe, Rukh left in a haste; I did intend to inform him I would be disrobing, and would have asked if it could keep watch by the entrance. Instead, I turned around and saw Gaervesk had already taken up such a position, his back turned to me. He did not seem at all interested in gazing upon me, so I unclothed myself without fear of being spied upon.

I strode into the water. It was not deep, coming up to about my midsection. It was cool but not cold, and very refreshing. I tilted my head back to immerse my hair, rising again and shaking my head a bit. I then washed myself, praying to Pelor that in the cleaning of my body in the pure waters I would also, if only symbolically, keep clean and purify my soul. The ritualized cleansing did not take more than a short while or two, and after getting dressed and picking up my belongings, I noticed Gaervesk had not moved from the entrance, his back still turned toward me. I walked up to him, placed my hand on his shoulder, and thanked him for staying while I bathed. We then both went back to the clearing with our other companions.

Before going to sleep, we decided in what order we would watch for danger while the others slept. Eisenheim said he would not actually sleep all night, rather entering into a sort of trance that would replenish him. Gaervesk went first, then Al’Der’eth, Rukh third, and finally myself. Before going to sleep, I sat in deep thought, trying to understand the mystery of this place. I sensed it was perhaps of some importance once, long ago, but I could not say exactly what for. I took note of this feeling, and then laid my head down to sleep. My rest was not entirely without some disturbance. I had what I can only call a vision of some sort. I was awake and standing in the field, fighting against what seemed like an undead army, my holy symbol shining brightly. I laid to rest several of the creatures, and as the darkness receded, I turned and saw my companions around me. They were glowing with a golden aura, fighting with glorious fervor. I felt a strong bond with them, as I saw we were all fighting together. I had never thought so of myself before, but it now seemed clear to me that I, no, we were all meant for some great purpose, and our meeting was not mere chance, but destiny setting it’s course. As suddenly as the vision had come, it was gone, and I returned to a deep, dreamless sleep.

I was awoken by the sound of Rukh’s voice, I opened my eyes and turned to him, saying I had the most unusual dream. Rukh claimed he had as well, which surprised me. Had we both dreamt the same vision? I got up, and saw it was getting close to dawn. I wanted to explore and forage from this place. As Rukh laid to rest, I went to Eisenheim who was still his trance-like state. I said this place seemed to be peaceful and without danger, and I would be off to forage for a bit, and thus asked if he could watch over the others in my absence. He agreed, and as I turned to leave, he said, “May I ask you a question?”

I turned my head, surprised and puzzled, and replied, “Of course.”

“Would you ever kill, say, a skeleton?”, he asked.

I pondered for just a moment. “Well… they have no life in them, having been brought back through some unnatural or necrotic means, thus you cannot actually ‘kill’ them, but rather lay them back to rest. And I would do so, yes. I imagine undeath is far worser a fate than death itself. How can a soul rest when the body does not?”

He seemed content with my answer and asked further, “What about a demon?”

I thought about it for a bit longer. “Hmm… demons and devils are not like the living, they are the very embodiment of evil, the antithesis of the gods and angels themselves and all they represent. I cannot imagine it is possible for them to change their ways, for their very nature is evil. If ‘kill’ is the right word in defeating them, then yes, I would. There is no good to be had in doing otherwise as far as I can see.”

“Okay, just curious”, he said, before returning to his trance.

I shrugged, hoping I had satisfied his strange curiosity, and went on my way. I found fruit hanging from the trees, but I could not reach it, and the forest was too thick to enter. I returned to my companions a while later, as they were just waking up. We readied ourselves, then headed back into the caves. After a short talk with Meebo, and learning there would be seven hobgoblins to deal with, we followed his directions to where the hobgoblins could be found. Kalrax’s tiny son tagged along behind us, and Gaervesk turned to talk to him. Clearly he could not come with us, but I could not communicate with the child. He seemed reluctant to leave, but Gaervesk managed to turn him away, not too harshly I hoped. We continued on our way. Taking the passage through the caves Meebo had told us of, we came to a large cavern, with a small waterfall cascading down from the top of a cliff. We had to scale the the wall somehow, but thankfully there were stairs carved into the face of the rock, winding up to the top. There was a light at the summit. We walked single file up the stairs, rounding a bend, then another. Suddenly, I heard a quiet rumbling, like the sound of the waterfall. I looked up and saw a large, round boulder rolling down the stairs, headed straight for us!

My companions were surprised, but I was not. I called out to Rukh, who took up the lead position, to watch out for the boulder. In addition, two hobgoblin archers appeared at the summit, and I threw a lance of Pelor at the nearest one. They fired at us from the top of the cliff, as the boulder continued on its way, and I heard Rukh and Gaervesk formulating a plan of some sort. We counterattacked the hobgoblins, and the stone was nearly upon us now. Rukh used his shield to direct some of the waterfall’s water onto the steps, I could not imagine why. Suddenly, Gaervesk inhaled deeply, and exhaled an icy blast, freezing the water and creating a large ice patch. Rukh then called out to us to brace ourselves, and we all pushed forward against him, however my being at the end of the line, I am not sure how much help I provided. Rukh held his shield tight, braced against the wall at an angle, and the large rock seemed to slide on the icy patch, and finally struck Rukh’s shield. We were pushed back just a bit, but Rukh held fast and the heavy boulder was successfully deflected! We all cheered Rukh for his strength, but the fight was not yet over. Against our combined strength the hobgoblins could not defend, and we defeated them, myself knocking one of the beasts unconscious. He was subsequently roped up by my comrades and I tied a decent knot to secure him tightly. We found some gold on the hobgoblins, but no one wanted their longbows, so I emptied their quivers, reminding myself to blunt or remove the sharpened arrowheads later.

We rested for a short while, then went into a narrow passage with a small stream running along it. It was well illuminated, and inside we found two rooms, separated by a crevasse and connected by a bridge. The supposedly five remaining hobgoblins were awaiting us, an archer had overturned a table and was hiding behind it. Rukh was first to go in, but was met by two flail-wielding warriors. As he fought them, the rest of the party moved their in, and attacked. Upon seeing two of my companions injured, and feeling this would be a difficult battle, I prayed to Pelor for a beacon of hope. I felt my healing powers would be much strengthened. My companions attacked fiercely, and I supported them as best I could. I did contribute some to the fighting, but was not able to knock out any of the hobgoblins myself. Poor Al’Der’eth, he cast a thunderous spell twice at the enemy wizard, and missed both times quite badly. He was able to make up for it however, casting the same spell and throwing the hobgoblin wizard backward, into the pit. I felt we came together, fighting alongside each other, each of us trusting the one beside him or her. What might have been a very rough battle seemed almost effortless.

Finishing up the encounter, we searched around the two rooms. I again emptied the hobgoblins’ quivers for arrows. Al’Der’eth climbed down into the crevasse, Rukh holding the end of the rope and acting as a steadfast anchor point. They recovered the hobgoblin wizard’s body, and found a good amount of gold and silver upon his person, as well as a magical staff and a potion of healing. Having found and been given one the day before, we gave Eisenheim the second potion. A garnet jewel was found as well, and a desk cluttered with papers and a map, and a locked chest sitting beneath it. We managed to open the chest, and inside was a large amount of gold and silver and an emerald jewel, all of which I was given to hold.

We rested again, and remembered Meebo told us of a dragon the hobgoblins had captured. Rukh, feeling we should take an extended rest from combat before facing a dragon, suggested we should head back to Meebo’s chamber to find out more about this dragon. I surmised that perhaps we shouldn’t fight the dragon, as he may be the kobolds’ deity, from the large obsidian statue we saw in the kobold caves. With the hobgoblins all dead or captured, the dragon might not pose a threat anymore. Gaervesk applauded my honorable words, but knowing more about dragons than I, said any dragon remained a dangerous force. We returned to Meebo’s throne room, and asked about the dragon. It’s name was Smokesnare, and indeed Meebo wanted us to defeat it for him, with some immediacy it seemed. We asked what would happen if we did not fight the dragon right now, and he said we must or it would fly away. I was not in favor of fighting the dragon, putting forth that since the dragon had no one to control it, it would return to its natural den and leave Northbridge alone. The others did not agree with me, and rather than let the dragon escape, they wanted to face it. I reluctantly followed my companions, feeling as though I should keep them safe and strong to fight.

We went the same way we had traveled before, passing the living quarters of the hobgoblins we had fought, continuing down the passage and following the stream. We came to what looked to be it’s source. A large pond faced us, a small island sitting in the middle. We saw no dragon. Along the rightmost wall was a set of stone stairs. Rukh went up the stairs, and Eisenheim and Al’Der’eth set stones they found alight and cast them into the water, which seemed black. They sunk and illuminated the depths, but still we saw nothing… at first. A shadow passed over one of the glowing stones, and suddenly a large black dragon rose out of the water, and was now staring at us. It was time to fight the mighty beast we had heard so much about, and I prayed to Pelor that he give us the strength and courage to come out victorious in this confrontation.

The dragon attacked us first, namely Al’Der’eth and I. Al’Der’eth was able to get out of the large dragon’s claws way, but alas I was not so fortunate. It clawed at me, and for the first time since I started this adventure, I was injured. I saved my healing prayers, my companions might need it more than myself. And thus the battle begun. I prayed for Pelor’s lance to strike the beast, but it was a most agile creature, and not easily hit. My companions each attacked the dragon in their various ways, with not much success. It seemed this was a hopeless battle, the dragon was too strong for us. It submerged under the water, and reappeared in a different location, attacking my companions. It created a dark shroud around itself, and disappeared from our view. We attacked the darkness, but hit nothing. Again, we heard it submerge and it soon reappeared in a new location. It exhaled a poisonous cloud at Al’Der’eth, and he was gravely injured. I ran closer to him and healed his wounds. Whether bravely or foolishly, we attacked the black beast again, this time craftily lowering the dragon’s defenses. Now was the time to have at it. We dealt several strong blows, but the creature was still strong to fight. It again breathed an acidic cloud onto us, and I healed Al’Der’eth once more. Yet I was feeling weak myself, and Rukh’s touch healed me. Standing strong, I bolstered my companions, praying to Pelor that they strike true. We again hit the beast with everything we had, and she was finally bloodied. Perhaps feeling the tide of the battle was turning, our dragon foe beat a hasty retreat, flying away out a hole in the cavern. We tried to pursue, but she was too far away by the time we saw her again. We had won, albeit the black dragon was still alive. Hopefully she would fly far away, back to her lair, and would rest for a good long time, leaving the villagers alone. However, I could not shake the feeling we made an enemy today.

I collapsed to the ground, I had done all I could to aid my allies and set Pelor’s divine radiance upon the dragon, yet I did not land a single blow. If it were not for my allies, I would have stood no chance against a black dragon, even a young one. And perhaps in some small way, I help keep my companions in relative good health and able to fight. It was clear to me that alone we were weak, yet fighting along side each other we were formidable. Having caught my breath, I saw all my companions had swam to the middle island, apparently they had found something. Gold it seemed, and magical items. Sadly, the bones of several gnomes were also found. I prayed their souls find peace at the sight of them. Having collected everything, we went back to Meebo, telling him we had driven the dragon away. He seemed not entirely happy, but we had done our best. We sternly told him not to raid Northbridge or any village or farm again. I myself requested that should he and his people raid, not to hurt anyone. At this my companions all laughed, and I was deeply embarrassed, I clearly had not chosen my words well, for as honest and good as my intentions were. After some confusion with proper wording, we were satisfied that Meebo understood, and left the kobolds’ caves. There was the matter of the prisoner we had taken, the hobgoblin archer I rendered unconscious, we did not know what to do with him. The others looked to me, it seemed he was my prisoner. My companions each made suggestions; to bring him back to town and let justice be done, give him to the kobolds and let them do what they would with him, or to simply kill him and be done with it. I knew all those options would inevitably end in the hobgoblin’s demise, and I could not bring myself to knowingly send a living being to their death. I felt overwhelmed, I did not know what to do.

The hobgoblin was glaring at us this whole time. I untied the gag keeping him silent up until now. He spat in my face the first chance he got, and I calmly wiped it away. I asked him if he could understand my words, but he did not answer, eying me with hatred. Rukh angrily demanded he answer my questions, and after a pause he said he understood well enough. I told him that he and his fellow warriors had been defeated, and that if I were to set him free, he should return to his people and tell them of this defeat. It seemed his kind were not the sort to admit defeat. Rukh said that regardless of his beliefs, he had been bested, and he would do well to accept the mercy I was willing to grant him. I asked the hobgoblin his name, but he would not tell me. Calling him ‘nameless one’, I told him not to confuse kindness with weakness, and instructed my allies to let him go, leaving his hands bound. Before releasing him, Rukh grabbed the brute and thrust him against the cavern wall. He threatened that should he hear that nameless one did villainy again, he would come for him. The nameless one did not seem to take Rukh seriously, and he reiterated his threat more angrily. Tossing him away, nameless one ran off, towards the direction of the ruined keep. I did not feel satisfied with this resolution, I was conflicted about how to do the most good, and was not sure if I had done so.

It was dusk, and we headed back to town. I separated from my companions, feeling as though I had to talk with Father Tyran. I went to the temple of Pelor, and tested the door, but it was locked. Hearing a rattling and seeing me through the window, Father Tyran came and opened the door for me. He inquired as to what I wanted, and I asked if I may speak with him. He invited me in, leading me to his study, and we both sat down. I explained the situation with our hobgoblin prisoner, and how I doubted that I did the good and right thing. He told me that I should not doubt my decisions, to trust that Pelor would guide me to take the proper action, and to pray that the most good had been done. I replied that it seemed my allies did not always seek to do the most good, and he said that I should trust that one’s motivation was for what one believed to be good, if not their actions. This confused me, for what if someone were to do unquestionably evil acts but believed themselves just? Was that truly good and right? Father Tyran admitted he was not as well-trained as I in these matters, but I thanked him for his words, and bid him goodnight. Walking me to the door, I bowed and said a prayer before I left, and headed to the town inn, still not feeling fully resolved.

Entering the inn, Bronwyn the proprietress started to pour an ale, but seeing it was me and giving it some thought, she instead offered a cold water. My companions were all gathered together, telling me to celebrate and have a drink with them. Bronwyn recommended the mead, claiming it was not strong. It was fermented nonetheless, and I asked for a warm milk instead. Giving me an odd look, she fetched a glass for me. I sat by myself, listening to my companions chatter. Eisenheim tried to strike up conversation with Rukh, claiming he knew a man who worshipped Tuan, but Rukh saw through his lie, however he seemed amused and told Eisenheim of his faith anyway. My companions divided up the treasures we had found up until that point. I received over one hundred gold pieces, and they had also found a magical longbow and holy symbol in the dragon’s lair, and they gave these to me as well. I thought it was all far too generous to accept, but it seemed I was the only one who could use the items most effectively, so I thanked them and graciously took their gifts. The symbol was in the shape of a tree, it seemed to have life-healing powers imbued into it. The bow was more ominous, having an angry face carved into it. It seemed almost vicious, I was wary of using it. Still, so long as it would fire my blunted arrows, I could not kill with such a weapon.

It has been a very long and difficult day, and it has taken me a long time to write this journal entry. I feel my companions and I are connected somehow, and we are to head out again tomorrow morning. The journey will take a few days, no doubt I will have more time to get to know them. I am no more at ease now with the hobgoblin prisoner incident than I was before. I wonder what Father would say about it. I will write him as soon as I receive his reply to my last letter.

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Al'Der'eth Sends a Letter Home
What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Forgive me fathers, for I am questioning your decisions and my faith. I find myself among these “adventurers” and some of their ways and ambitions are rubbing off on me so to speak. I have found enjoyment out of smiting the kobolds, vile creatures from the depths of darkness. With rage and little control over my emotions I’ve had trouble controlling my powers that I still do not have a full grasp upon. Every time I channel the skies and the icy blue blast erupt from my fingertips, it is stronger and takes more of a toll on my body. I pray for forgiveness and guidance.

Speaking of guidance, that is what we need most at the this most unholy time. For I grow most impatient with the cleric Delana whom opts to render all her foes unconscious instead of killing them. For this is a very noble trait, yet part of me, whether basic instinct or years of savage humanity influences me to want to deal the final blow. Perhaps I want to put the pained creatures out of misery, or maybe I year to send them back to hell or wherever they came from. I hope she realizes she is doing more bad than good with this. There’s the illusionist Eisenhiem, who is more concerned with personal gain, than what benefits the party. We have become chummy due to our similarities in the arcane, but I feel like he is a dark cloud moving over me, bringing out my worst traits. The mysterious Dragonborn Gaervesk seems to enjoy the manipulation of people and creatures we run into, almost a bloodlust abut him, I cannot figure it out, nor do I know if I want to. I will do whatever I can to stay on his good side. And alas, the half orc Rukh, his presence scares me, I have not been able to communicate with him out of sheer fear. I will have to learn to work together with him if we are successful as a group.

It troubles me that these gnomes are being terrorized by the kobolds, my emotions keeping getting the best of me and all I want to do in annihilate the entire race of them. Yet others in my group have come to understand these things and want to release them from bondage hoping that there is some good left in them. I will send home to the temples any artifacts I come across, for they need to be in the hands of the rightful people and not in the caverns of thieves and raiders. I am going to rest now, I hope this letter reaches you well.

Yours in Ioun, Al’Der’eth

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Al'Der'eth's First Journal Entry
A lone bright soul in a dark, dark world.

My journey from the temple of Ioun, high in the mountains enveloped by constant blizzards was a long lonely pilgrimage to Northbridge. I still do not know why my fathers have sent me away from my teachings and into such a decadent world. I fear that my magical powers are mediocre at best, and my studies in faith and healing have just begun. Perhaps, my fate is yet not sealed… I pray that the eye of Ioun watches over me as I travel and protects me from the dark forces of this world, giving me mental strength to use my powers to aid those in need, vanquish evil, and keep a level mind.

I found myself in Northbridge faced with a yearning to help out these unfortunate people, their temple of Pelor was desecrated, and albeit he is not my god, I cannot stand for such injustices. The Mayor of Northbridge, Galen Ashford assembled a party of us to help out, there is Delana the Cleric Elf, Rukh the Paladian Orc… I cannot believe it either, an orc who serves the cloth? I have never heard of such things! There is another Wizard, an Illusionist it seems who goes by the name of Eisenhiem and a Dragonborn Garvesk who remains most a mystery behind his hooded cloak.

We set out to inspect where the farmers where having troubles with raiders and found kobolds which after many battles, thank the heavens for our brute force Rukh, healer Delana, and combined arcana of Gaervesk, Eisenhiem, and found a young gnome boy tied up ready for torture. What cruelty that runs rampart in these lands.

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Rukh's Journal 2
In which Rukh revels in the memory of battle and despairs for the strength or weakness of some of his companions...

I engaged the hobgoblins in glorious combat, taking on all three at once for a moment. Then I felt someone come up behind me, and Gaervesk was there. He is a strange one, and his magics are foreign to me, but he is a good sort in a fight. Al’Der’eth came up quickly behind, but he was struck with some wounds as he moved into position. I pushed in-between the hobgoblins in an effort to give him room and take their attention away, and I paid for it with many wounds, but Delana’s healing soon bolstered me, and it was well worth the ploy when Al’Der’eth cast some magic which caused the leader of the hobgoblins to plunge through a hole in the wall and fall to the ground below. I called a warning to Delana and Eisenheim…I was concerned that the gnomish child we’d seen captive below might be used as some kind of bargaining chip.

Down the stairs, I was able to see the hobgoblin leader charge in against Delana. I was then worried that Eisenheim might be already slain. I called to their leader, challenging him to battle with me. But he ignored my challenge to his folly. He struck at Delana, and Tuan punished him with His righteous wrath. The leader fell, as the rest of us made short work of his minions. I was surprised to see Eisenheim without a scratch. Perhaps Delana had healed him…I’m unsure. I was pleased to claim a halberd that one of the hobgoblins had carried. It will be a most useful weapon to me.

It was most distressing to see how the child reacted to myself and Gaervesk. I cannot blame him…he had been captive to monsters for who knows how long, and now two more monsters had come with axe and spell. I’m sure he did not think we came to rescue. While Delana calmed him, I mustered my anger and questioned the hobgoblin, who was now our prisoner. His strength failed him, then, and he poured out something of their plans. The hobgoblins had been manipulating the kobolds on behalf of one called Smokesnare. Gaervesk seemed startled at this, as if he knew the name. When I questioned him, he told me that all things related to dragons, even the little kobolds, were connected…he felt this name was a dragon’s name. This unnerved me…is Gaervesk a dragon? Perhaps they choose between two legs and four? When this quest is done, I wish to speak with him, if I can find a way to do so without offending him.

Our captive, I fear, got the better of me, calling me an orc. I felt a terrible anger, and I knew I must walk away then. When I returned, he was dead…apparently Eisenheim had let his anger overwhelm him. This bothers me…an unarmed, wounded, tied-up and helpless prisoner…there is no honor in his death…no show of strength in the slaying of him. I cannot deny that Eisenheim’s magics are most useful in battle, but I began to wonder at the mettle of his soul. It would not be the last time that day.

We learned that the boy’s name was Keane, and that his mother was imprisoned below. We located the trapdoor with his help, and we were able to open it. I am ashamed to say that we left the gnome prisoners down there a little longer than needed, as we were unwilling to continue until we’d rested a bit. Once Keane and his mother were reunited, we gave them some food and sent them on their way home. Tuan pray they make it safely.

We followed the trail of the kobolds to what seems to be their true lair…the caves near the Stone Table. I must tell you of this wonder, Master K’rrg! It is fully 300 feet high…I know of no titans that could have fashioned it even in their time of glory! But it seems to be natural in make…a wonder of our world.

At the caves, we ventured in, with myself taking point. When it was clear that we were expected, I did not wish the kobolds to be disappointed. I came forward and held the mouth of the cave with halberd and axe. At one point, I even hurled back a javelin that had been thrown at me. Delana kept my wounds at bay with the powers of her sun god, and the other blasted the kobolds with ice, force, and curse. It was a fine battle; five against over twice that, and yet we were still victorious.

We did see a hobgoblin peer in and then run off, as if to get help, and that concerned me. We moved on quickly, especially as one of the kobolds had run off to “Warn the King” according to Gaervesk. I cannot imagine how he sorts reason from their yapping, but he seems to understand it. Perhaps it is part of that draconic connection he spoke of earlier.

We soon found where the young and women gathered. We spoke with them a bit, and we were able to convince them that, if the hobgoblins were indeed behind the raiding, we could possibly help them. One of them – a mother called Kalrax – was especially bold and not very complimentary to the hobs. We asked her to lead us to their King.

Here, things were tense. I felt that she truly wished us and the hobgoblins gone, but I feared betrayal none the less. Still, she led us safely past kobold traps to their King’s hall. On our journeys, Eisenheim showed a great interest in an obsidian dragon altar. I saw the light of pillaging and greed in his eyes, and it made me sad. Again, I worried for him.

Their King, Meebo, is a smaller kobold than most of the rest, barely taller than Kalrax’s son, who had followed us. He keeps a large spider as a pet. While he seemed deceptive when questioned about the dragon, he seemed keen to let us take care of the hobgoblin problem, and he swore that the raids were something they were forced to do by the hobgoblins. From what he said, it seemed that the kobolds had been content to avoid the towns until such time as the hobgoblins and the dragon came. We made it clear that we would help but that the raids had to stop. Everyone seemed amenable to this. Almost…

Eisenheim’s strength failed him now for the third and perhaps saddest time. He wanted to leverage the king to talk more about the dragon, and he began to reach for the Kalrax’s son to threaten. Kalrax threw herself at him, clawing and spitting, and I feared a battle would ensue that would have been unnecessary to our goals. It seemed that none of my companions supported his move, however, and tempers were calmed…but not before I, myself, failed. In my anger that Eisenheim would show such weakness as to threaten a helpless child, I promised him that if he did not stop, we would fight. He did back down…I hope that, perhaps, he saw the folly of what he wished to do. Or maybe he simply did not feel he could defy the rest of us united. I do not know.

I apologized to Eisenheim, and I used a part of Vurt’s speech from the Saga of Kuhlg’har. I told him that I shared his anger but that to punish the kobolds would be like unto punishing the sword that had taken a man’s life. The hobgoblins were the true enemies. He seemed to take this idea to heart. I hope he saw that there was truly honorable battle in the offing and relished, as I did, the chance to show his mettle.

With things calmed between us and with the kobolds, we agreed to slay the hobgoblins and the dragon. The King showed us a secret tunnel to a hidden glade outside. We encamped and are taking our rest. I will pray to Tuan for the valor and courage to stand against a dragon. I always felt I would meet one someday, but I did not know it would be so soon. Tuan, Lord of the Valorous Axe, grant your servant the strength to overcome this terrible foe. If you will not, then grant that I might not dishonor myself in this battle…that none of my companions shall fall due to mine own failure. I commend my life to your service again.

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