The Chronicles of Etinerra

Victory at the Fort
Balto's Journal

Marshal Roehm rallies the town behind him with a stirring speech. Even those of us not of the faith could not help but be inspired, and everyone is heartened by the men and resources the Marshal had gathered.

Our party assembled – Mazlor, Grel, Ja’Kar, Fergus, myself, the ranger Raygar, and Belaldur, an elf who’d been with us when we scouted towards Irecia. After discussing tactics with the Marshal, he tells us another local magic-user, Parabellum, has news of Pyria. We go to Parabellum’s bookshop.

The Striped Mage, it turns out, required Pyria’s presence, so she asked (and handsomely paid) Parabellum to assist our party – and he leaps at the chance to join us. Grel receives advice and a healing potion from his patron, Joran. Ja’Kar picks up some supplies in the market. We are ready to go a bit before the main forces – 70 cavalry, 120 footmen – so we set off for Atanuk’s cave. We rest until the Marshal arrived, then we synchronize our hourglasses and Ja’Kar leads us into the caves. Ja’Kar gives Atanuk the pork he had brought, and they banter a bit, then Atanuk lets us pass through his rat farm into the tunnels below the fort. We return to the healing fountain and everyone who can fills up empty flasks and bottles. Ja’Kar and Raygar tear down the rubble blocking us from the well and we move into that room.

The well smells disused and scummy. For whatever reason, the opening to the outside was covered up – the orcs don’t use this well. Ja’kar pushes on the boards with his staff and they are loose. There are a couple of closed doors at opposite ends of the room, and Belaldur heard goblins outside one of them. We decide that I will climb up the well shaft and see what is happening. Ja’Kar would follow close behind if it looks like we can make a diversion. Fergus goes to guard one door, Grel the other.

While at the top of the shaft, I eavesdrop on the orcs as they discourse on the presence of the Marshal’s forces. The orcs are all around the well so I reluctantly admit Grel was right – I should look, not jump out. I move a board slightly for a quick peek.

The well is a good ways from the stables, so the plan Ja’Kar and I had of sneaking out to wreak havoc won’t work. It looks like there are more than 100 orcs and goblins right in front of me, with the cavalry ready to head out the back and the foot soldiers forming up to emerge from the main gate with the orc chieftan and shaman backing them up. Both towers have squads of orcs keeping watch. I drop back down and give my report. Beladur tells us he only hears 2 goblins chattering a ways outside one door.

We make our way through that door and over into what looks like an armory and forge. There are stairs leading up from the armory, and 2 goblins sit on these stairs. Ja’Kar, Belaldur, and I sneak in and attack. I wound one goblin, and Belaldur wounds the other. They scream in pain and fear – but the noise of the muster above covers this up. Ja’Kar kills one guard where he stands; Mazlor knocks the other down and he pleads for his life. Ja’kar, though, coldly dispatches him. “Dead goblins tell no tales.”

We head upstairs and emerge into the center of the compound, facing the East gate. Amazingly, no one notices us until Parabellum blasts the gate with a fireball. Then, there is a lot of confusion, but the orcs and goblins mostly stick to their battle plan. The cavalry go out the West gate; the foot soldiers go out the front.

The shaman turns to cast darkness upon us, but Grel counters with his magic sword. The Marshal’s forces engage the enemy, and meet with enough success that the shaman rushes to his leader’s side to try to turn the tide. The orcs guarding the tower head our way, though, so we can’t get outside to strike from behind. We quickly dispatch the first force, but the second one keeps us busy for some time. We finally prevail after an orc cavalry force flees through the fort, distracting the remaining guards.

Meanwhile, the Marshal finishes things up outside, personally killing the orc chief – it is an impressive victory, with orcs and goblins all slaughtered or scattered. The fort (and all the weapons in the armory) is in our hands, undamaged except for the blasted gate. The only dark spot is the loss of nearly the entire force of human archers, ridden down by a wing of orc cavalry. The heads of the orc shaman and leader are tied to the West gate.

Our party checks the largest tent, shared by the shaman and orc chief. We find some human skulls containing spell components – we keep the powders and such for Pyrea but Ja’Kar plans to properly bury the skulls (though I think we could get some money for them). The big prize, though, is an ornate chest containing several treasures. I claim as my share an ebony and wolfskin stool. There are also some orcish letters and religious edicts, which we give the Marshal.

We volunteer to go back into the dungeon to finish mapping it. We go through the armory to some barracks and press on to an area Mazlor remembers from an earlier excursion. Unfortunately, he does not remember until after three of us are injured by traps. But we all survive, and the Marshal declares us to be heroes of the Barony – and Ja’Kar, bringing 3 pigs for Atanuk, has become a close friend of the kobold.

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The Assault on the Orc Fort
A Great day for Mankind

For many seasons, we have watched passively as the Orc incursion continued. Finally, we have taken the first step in pushing them back!
Yesterday during the summerfest fetivities, the Marshal summoned my companions and I to make final plans for the incursion. We agreed to time the assault. My companions and I would take an hour to get into position. After the hour was up, the marshal would start his diversion. He would give us one hour to blow the gate or he would pull back and abandon the assault.
We were a bit surprised and alarmed, that Pyria was no where to be fond. The Marshal asked about her and we were forced to admit that we hadn’t seen her. He then told us that Parabellum had been asking to speak with him about a matter of great importance relating to the assault. We assured the Marshal that we would talk to Parabellum and see what he knew.
As it turned out, Pyria had entrusted the fireball scroll to him and convinced him to aid us in the assault. So that night we set out for the Kobald’s hole to make our assault.
At dawn, the Marshall’s forces were in position and we synchronized our hourglasses. We had one hour to get into position and then one hour to blow the gate. Everything was in our hands, the fate of Mankind could very well depend on our completing our mission!
Fergus, Mazlor, Balto, Ragar, Belatur, Jakar, Sally, Parabellum and I entered the hole. Atun the Kobold was alarmed at first, but we reassured him with some pig meat and Jakar promised to bring him live pigs to breed. He was quite pleased and allowed us to go our way. We made our way to what we believe would be the best entrance, under the well.
We quietly unbricked the blockage and made our way into the room below the well. The well smelled awful, and there was a boarded up opening in the ceiling. Balto felt it would be an easy thing to climb up to it and remove the boards and thus we would all be able to ascend.
Just as he was about to remove the boards, he heard some Orcs talking about movement in the woods. Luckily for us he thought better of his plans and decided to heed my advice and wait for the Marshal to begin the assault so that we would have a diversion.
Soon enough we heard the horns blowing and knew that the Marshal was in place. Suddenly we heard the sounds of many Goblins running through the corridors nearby. Luckily, none came into our chamber. Balto decided that this would be the perfect time to see what was going on outside. Luck was with us as no one saw him peek his head around, because he told us that the opening was completely exposed. There was almost no chance of us getting up without being seen.
We decided there was no choice, but to make our way towards where the Goblins went, as they had clearly gotten outside with no difficulty.
We made our way forward and encountered two goblins who we made quick work of. They had bolted the entrance to the outside. However, as we were inside, there was no difficulty opening the way. We opened the doors and could see straight ahead the orc forces were all arrayed in front of the gate. We had a clear line of sight on the gate!
We told Parabellum to cast the spell immediately, as there would likely be no better opportunity than this.
The fireball took out the gate with no problem! The Leader and the Shamen who were right in front of us were clearly upset. The leader immediately ordered his forces to advance while the shamen cast darkness at us. Clearly he didn’t know who he was dealing with, I held forth my sword imbued with the light of Tangadorin and his darkness was no match for Tangadorin’s light. He fled from the light of Tangadorin and sent a squad of orcs after us.
We slew the orcs and chased after him, but again he sent another squad to defend him. These Orcs were much better and it took us a while to defeat them. In the meantime, we saw the Orc cavalry who had charged out of the East gate slam into the archery regiment. The goblins were repulsed by the infantry and ran away. Another regiment of cavalry attacked the Marshal and soon sir Reynauld attacked them from behind.
Within a few minutes the Orc infantry was running away and then the orc cavalry too. The shamen was defeated and then their leader stood alone! Marshal Raeynes struck him mightily as did the infantry and Sir Reynauld and the leader was no more!
We had done it!! The orcs were defeated and the inn was ours!!!

To top off this incredible day, Tangadorin blessed me with my full paladinic powers and told me that I had done well, He was pleased with my efforts!!!!

A GREAT day for Mankind!!!!!

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An Unexpected trip to the Monastery
Damn - I missed the battle

As we prepared to aid the Marshall in the battle to take the forts from the Orcs I began to feel this compelling urge to visit the Monastery. At first it was just a thought, but soon it was a a driving force, it took all my resolve to not take off into the night. I had to do something, I had the scroll needed to blow the gate, I had sold my soul for it. Without me there was no-one in the party who could read it. Between the urge to leave and the nightmares of seeing my friends trapped inside the fort, my sleep was non-existent. Clearly I could not be in two places at once and obviously I was going to be at the Monastery, I had to find a solution.

Breakfast came, somewhat of a relief it meant a new day, now to find a solution. Obviously I could not go to the square and boldly ask if there was a Mage who happened to be free and be willing to undertake a risky adventure. However, a few discreet inquiries brought up the name Parabellum. He owned a bookshop but apparently he had magical powers and was tolerated because of the service he provided. I found his shop and entered, an interesting place. The conversation was long, complex, heated at times but came to a fruitful conclusion, Parabellum would go with the group and blow the gates using a fireball scroll in exchange for his own scroll to copy the spell. He takes a third of my soul and gets all the fun.

Leaving the shop I at last feel I have done all I can for my friends. Collecting my belongings and supplies I give into the calling and head to the Monastery. The journey is uneventful. I arrive at the monastery expecting some hustle and bustle, but all in all it is quiet, obviously the main group has gone to aid the attack on the fort and the remainder are guarding the first level….

I enter the building, all is quiet, no voices, no chatter, nothing. Ahead I see a pile of weapons, not stacked in readiness but just there on the floor. As this sickening feeling develops in the pit of my stomach I move forward, still no sounds, more weapons. I move further, more of the same, it is clear the men are gone, nobody is guarding the Monastery.

The desire to move forward recedes, I return to the entrance, it seems both Geas and I know it is pointless for me to move forward on my own. I head back to the city, feeling more scared than when I left.

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Songs of the Bards - Summer 1, 58AD

Gather close, Enonians, and let me tell you a tale of great bravery and victory!

On the first day of Summer, the 58th year after The Doom, the brave Marshall Roehm, his valiant companion Sir Reynald, a large company of knights, cavalry and foot soldiers crushed the Orcs who had set up a fort on the site of the old Dalewoods Wayfarer’s Inn. Aided by a brave group of adventurers who snuck into the fort unseen and blew open the gates, Roehm’s forces soundly defeated or drove off the orcs. It was the Marshall himself who speared the Orc Chieftain with his lance, ending the battle.

The adventurers, who’ve now been named Heroes of the Duchy of Irecia, had discovered a way into the inside of the palisade walls that was unknown to the Orcs. One of the adventurers, an elven mage by the name of Pyria, struck a dangerous deal with the mysterious Striped Mage for scrolls of Fireball, in order to blow the gates open and provide a clear path for the Marshall’s forces to overcome the defending Orcs.

The Marshall gathered his forces – knights consisting of nobles and landowners from around the vicinity of Enonia, militias and men-at-arms sworn to his service. Sir Reynald, brother to the Duke of Irecia, also joined the forces, bringing his mercenaries and his own retinue of knights and cavalry. Nearly 200 brave men and women marched at a double-time pace to the fort, making the trek in under 6 hours for what normally took 8 to 10 hours of a walk. Unfortunately, for the adventurers who would again enter the palisade to surprise the orcs, their mage Pyria was nowhere to be found!

The group was approached by a former adventurer by the name of Parabellum. It seemed that Pyria had been compelled to do something else, but wanted the attack to succeed, so she bargained with Parabellum to join the attack. He eagerly agreed, packing only a few things, the precious Fireball scroll and several pipes to keep his courage up. With their plan still intact, the adventurers set off with the attack force to begin the battle at dawn!

The adventurers entered the dark dirt tunnel. Their group consisted of the Might Mazlor – Curate of The Light, Balto and Fergus – the littleling and human friends, Ja’kar – the Fist of Mesha, Ragar the Ranger, Bel-a-dur the enigmatic elven warrior and Grel, Paladin of Tangadorin the Light Bringer. Joining them were Sally, an Adept of the Light, and the pipe-smoking, frying-pan toting Parabellum the Mage. Negotiating with a crazy kobold shaman who had a rat farm at the entrance to these dank and dirty tunnels, they bribed him with shanks of freshly butchered pork. He eagerly let them through and they negotiated familiar tunnels until they reached the basement walls of what had been the Inn.

The adventurers pushed through rocks and rubble that had been used to plug the tunnel from the basement. Creeping inside, they discovered that the orcs and goblyns had been busy! The former tunnels and small storerooms had been opened up into large workshops and barracks! Clearly, the bestials were looking to make this simple fort into a much larger facility, one that could support a thrust into the heart of the remaining human lands!

The adventurers found an opening to peek through, the stealthy thief Balto avoiding being seen. Horns blared as the Marshall began a pre-arranged feint, distracting the Orcs so that the adventurers could get in position to use the Fireball and destroy the gate. Deciding that the opening was too risky, the adventurers found the main doors from the workshops to the outside, but guarded by two goblyns! Bows thrummed, fists flew and swords flashed as two goblyns fell quickly. The adventurers crept outside into the middle of frantic Orc activity! The cavalry was about to ride out the East gate to sweep around the fort and flank the humans. The goblyn and orc foot soldiers massed at the West gate, ready to smash into the human lines.

A loud cheer erupted from the humans as the palisade gate blew apart in a fiery burst! The orcs, shocked, all turned to look at the adventurers now in their midst! Parabellum stood with a disintegrating parchment and a proud grin at his handiwork, while the rest of the party drew weapons and prepared to fight for their lives.

The Orc Chieftain bellowed out orders – ATTACK! – and the orc cavalry swept out of the fort in one direction, the complaining goblyns and dour orcs out the other to face the humans. Little did they know that a trap had been laid by the cunning Marshall… most of his knights were waiting for the orc cavalry to sweep by and he would crush them from behind!

The tide of battle shifted decisively when the orc foot soldiers broke and ran! Seeing the Marshall himself hold up to the charge of the cavalry, watching their orc mates die quickly, the foot soldiers’ resolve broke. They followed the goblyns, who never regained their morale, into the Dale Woods and back east towards orc lands. They ran past the charging knights of Sir Reynald, who had swept from the woods and were bearing down on the orc cavalry from the rear.

The orc cavalry crashed into the archers and into the guard of Marshall Roehm. The poor archers held up bravely, but were overrun, all dead save for three souls out of twenty. The Marshall, his knights and the orcs traded blows, and although the Marshall was injured, he kept fighting.

The orcs had been defeated! With the body of the fearsome Orc Chieftain laying dead at the feet of the Marshall, any hope the remaining forces had of regrouping vanished. Orcs and goblyns fled into the woods and back to the lands they came from. The men and women cheered long and hard. The victorious Marshall rode into the fort and the soldiers followed.

“We have taken the day!” the reinvigorated Marshall shouted. “We have bloodied their nose and sent them running! Long will this day be remembered for the bravery and stoutness of human hearts and arms! YOU are the victors and this is the first blow we strike against the Darkness! And to you, brave adventurers, we salute you! This day is because of your achievement and drive to find a way for us to take the fort. By my authority as Marshall, I name you all Heroes of the Duchy of Irecia!”

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Looking for the Back Door
Balto's Journal

Grel showed us a map indicating a secret entrance to the old inn, the inn that had been converted into a rude orc fortress. Ragar and Beláldur had other business, but Ja’Kar and Fergus and I agreed to join Grel in searching out the entrance. We added a few others to our party – the illusionist Mazlor and his hireling Sally, the cleric Alana, and the elf mage Pyria – and set out on foot for the orc stronghold.

It was a miserable trek into the woods. The thunderstorm was unrelenting and the orcs were still patrolling, so it took most of the day to get to the area around the inn.
It looked pretty much as I remembered it from our last trip, if a little soggier: The orcs had roughly cleared the land around the Inn and used the felled trees to put up a rough palisade around the buildings and tents. There were still stumps and brush around, so I was pretty confident we could keep hidden, particularly with the noise of the storm. Of course, the same would be true of the orcs, so Pyria and I kept our ears and eyes open!
Grel thought the map showed the entrance to the underground levels of the inn were to the south of the road, so Mazlor cast a spell to roughly locate it. The orcs were still patrolling, and keeping a lookout from their towers, so we waited until after nightfall to make a more formal search. It took about an hour and a half, but 20 yards from the palisade, I found a sinkhole that led down into a room with three exits. I came back up to report.

We dirtied up a rope, and went down by turns into the room, which was roughly triangular. We took the north exit first, and found a pool of healing water in the cavern that led too. We also found stirges! Four of them surprised us, and they just about killed Ja’kar and did some damage to Fergus, who had fumbled his weapon away in the melee. But we were at the healing pond, so all was well.

I looked around for the stirges’ nest, but Ja’Kar had seen them coming out of a crevasse in the ceiling and swarmed up the wall before I knew it. He found 10 gems and gave one to each of us, reserving three for himself. There was a tunnel leading off from the nest but it was closed off by a pile of rocks.

We head back to the entrance chamber. We move through a crack to the east into a kidney-shaped room. We hear animal noises from the tunnel that leads off from this room; I offer to scout ahead, as Grel checks his map and says, “Hey, badgers!” A couple adult badgers lunge at me and hurt me pretty badly. I fight back, mostly to get them off me. Sally heals me as Ja’Kar, Fergus, and Mazlor try to stop the badgers from attacking. Fortunately, as we back away, the badgers quiet down – they were just defending their lair and cubs. Alana heals Fergus, who also had taken some hits. We make our way into a chamber, and find 4 more gems, lots of copper pieces, and some skeletons and maybe a vanquished zombie. We definitely locate ourselves on Grel’s map, but run into another blocked corridor.

We go back to the entrance chamber to try the third exit. This last passage gradually curves to the north before splitting into three. A bad smell has been building for some time, it is strongest to the southeast, or towards where we think the Inn is. But it is getting late, so we head back to the entrance chamber for the rest of the night.

Mazlor has an idea that we can learn something from the zombie body. He tries a spell to talk to the dead, but he is immediately knocked out. It turns out this was animated by the soul of a necromancer, so Grel pours holy water on it and the body dissolves. We go back to the forking corridor. Two passages seem to lead to a trash heap. The last takes us to a chamber with all its exits trapped with tripwire. These traps would be easy to disarm but we don’t want to alert the orcs, so we avoid them and move along one corridor to a rat farm tended by an ancient kobold, Atunok.

He loves his rats, hates the orcs, fears the darkness, and really, really wants friends. We give him some food, and he shows us the way out, through his home and into the forest. So now we know two secret ways into the Inn! I climb a tall tree to see inside the palisade and we make up a basic surface map and match it up with Grel’s underground map. We decide to head back and talk to Yinivax, see if we can get a larger force to clear out the orcs.

But Yinivax has gone, on his way to help the forces in Ericia’s North Keep. We report instead directly to the Marshall, who begins planning the assault on the Inn. He asks Mazlor to seek help from Sir Raynald, so we head to the monastery (and, I am told, a floating tower!).

Sir Raynald has secured the first level under the monastery, dispatching the mud demon and a spiky goblin. He found a chapel of floating ropes, a zombie-secured iron door, and a large network of caves he has his men guarding. He asks us to help him clear the monastery but we are committed to the assault on the Inn. He invites us to stay the night in his camp.

The next morning, Pyria is whisked away to meet with the Striped Mage in the tower. Pyria comes back with a few spells in exchange for a geas: Kill the mage’s old apprentice, who has opened a portal that threatens to destroy humanity. Oh, and the elves plan to go to war to take the human’s land.

I need to take some time to think, maybe get in touch with my family. Plus, I want to check on my pony and cash in my treasure, look around the town. First stop will be that jeweler, then maybe I can find some other littlelings – or at least a bar with decent cider!

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The search for the entrance to the Inn….
Grel's Journal

It was a gray and miserable day when my companions and I set out to find a secret entrance to the Inn. I had been doing my best to convince my companions to aid me in my search for the secret entrance. Many of my fellow adventurers were eager to go exploring in the Monastary, but I eventually convinced them that we could scout around for the entrance and still have time to adventure in the Monastery.

So we went to speak with Sir Yinnivax and inform him that we were setting off to find the entrance. He was glad to hear it, but he was very busy in that it he was preparing a troop of men to relieve the King’s guard. He said that he might have to lead them himself.

So we set off to find the entrance. With me were three clerics of the light, Mazlor, Alana and Sal, the monk Ja’kar, the fighter Fergus, the thief (expert treasure hunter?) Balto, and the mage Pyria. As it was a gloomy day with continuous thunderstorms, we decided to make use of the weather and scout around the inn with the further cover of night. Mazlor had come prepared with a locate object spell which he felt would help to find the entrance.
We were extremely fortunate, within a few minutes of casting his spell, he felt that he knew where the entrance was!!! Unfortunately, it was only 20 yards away from the palisade wall! Nevertheless, we had Balto use the cover of darkness and the muffling effect of the storms to sneak around and find it. We timed the patrol and found that the orc patrol circled the palisade once every half hour. With this information, we devised our plan. Balto tied a rope around a nearby stump, we covered the rope with mud to disguise it, then Mazlor cast silence 15’R on a coin so that we could clamber down the rope silently. We went two at a time and everything went as planned!! We were in the caverns below the Inn!
We then set out to explore the area to find an entrance. I consulted Jorann’s map, but found it difficult to determine our location. After many hours of mapping, one brief encounter with Sturges who latched onto both Ja’kar and Fergus. We were finally able to align Jorann’s map with our position. It should be noted here that while Jorann is my mentor and I have the greatest respect for her, her mapping skills are decidedly inept!!!
Nevertheless, we were able to find the three access points into the Inn’s basement. It only remained to try to find a concealed entrance that would be more accessible than the hole we entered by. We decided that instead of trying to escape the way we came in, we would rest here and continue exploring.
In the morning(?), we continued exploring a likely seeming branch and eventually encountered an extremely old and wizened kobold who appeared to have a giant rat farm. Instead of attacking him and his rats, we talked to him. As it turns out, this was a wise move as he showed us the way out. He had a concealed entrance inside the cover of the woods. A perfect entrance to bring in an assault force.
We rushed back to town to inform Sir Yinnivax that we had succeeded! Only to find that he had already left with the force to relieve the King’s guard. We were shown directly to the Marshal himself.
I tried explaining all that I had found, but I fear that in my eagerness, I did a poor job. Luckily, my companions were able to help out. The Marshal was very gladdened at our news and began to plan for an assault. He charged us with creating a diversion inside and, most importantly, to open the gate!
As it was going to take him about a week to summon his forces, we decided to visit Sir Reynauld at the Monastery and see what was going on there. The Marshal gave Mazlor a message for Reynauld, presumably to join in the assault.
We found Reynauld and his personal guard by the Monastery and he told us that his men were below and they had almost succeeded in clearing out the first level. They had avoided the fountain room and had encountered a headless body that they seemed unable to defeat.
We decided that we would go down and see what we could do to help …..

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Pyria's Memoirs
The Day I sold my Soul

Pyria

Today was a turning point in my life, I sold myself into bondage to the Striped Mage for a few meagre spells.

The week had been promising, a group of us had searched for an entrance to the Inn to thwart the Orcs. Mazlor, Sal, Alana, Grel, Ja’Kar, Fergus, Balto and I walked through the woods in the rain and thunder to the clearing by the Inn. Using locate object Mazlor found a place we might enter, unfortunately it was close to the palisade. By observing the Orc patrols and waiting until dark we managed to gain entrance, while entrance may not have been the most elegant we all survived with nothing but a little battered pride.

We were distracted by a pool of clear water that had some selective healing properties allowing several Stirge to sneak up on us. Fortunately we managed to beat them off and heal our injuries, Clerics are wonderful companions. Our explorations continued, a couple of badgers proved annoying and there was a nervous time while Mazlor dropped into a coma after trying to speak to a corpse. Fortunately there was no lasting impact.

As we explored we found three potential entrances through the Inn into the camp, all were walled off but a good shove should clear the way. Continuing the exploration we came across a very old Kobold, who was definitely a few rations short of a meal, looking after a rat farm. He was harmless enough and provided a path out of of the labyrinth into the woods, a better way back in than the one we found.

Under_the_Inn.jpg

We returned to the Enonia to report our findings to Yinivax but he had left with forces to free the Kings men. We found ourselves in front of the Marshall. We explained our findings and he formulated a plan of attack but needed some time to raise the forces. Reynald’s men were needed and we were dispatched with a letter to bring him back from the monastery.

Arriving we learnt that they had cleared the first level but were having difficulty with a headless creature. Given that it would take the Marshall some time to raise the forces we decided to stay and help with the headless creature. This is where my troubles began. I decided to see if the Striped Mage could help us, maybe give me some scrolls to help with the Orcs.

I called him and the next thing I know I am in a strange room with him. The room is somewhat chaotic, I soon realized why, he has no apprentice. Welcoming me he assumes I want to be his apprentice, we get over this misunderstanding and begin to discuss the affairs of the world. He tells me his previous apprentice Ro is responsible for opening the portal but is not strong enough to keep it open for a long time, the question is whether it is long enough to end the world? He tells me Ro is below and to close the portal he must be killed. As we discuss the state of affairs I learn the disturbing news that there are factions within my people who want to bring war with the humans, they think the conclave will not find the homeland and we should take what we can.

I steer the conversation back to the immediate problems of the Orcs to the East, The Striped Mage dismisses them, they are not the problem it is the portal and the Dark Forces coming through. Ro is struggling to keep the portal open but he may keep it open long enough. Nevertheless I asked for help, some scrolls to help with our plan to attack from inside and outside the Inn simultaneously. He asked what I had to offer in return, nothing right now was the answer.Unfortunately he saw things differently, he offered me the spells for the right to put a modified Geas spell on me compelling me to kill Ro and close the portal. What is a girl to do? Based upon what I know, this portal has to be closed or we all die, this way I get a few scrolls and perhaps a mentor with a vested interest in helping me, maybe even keeping me alive. Still, it does not sit well knowing you have little choice in what you do.

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Trip to Irecia
Balto's Journal

I joined a small group of adventurers planning its next move – to clear some monsters from a monastery? Look for a gold mine? Scout around the old inn in the middle of the Dalewoods? Or head east through the woods to Irecia, abandoned (with its treasures) to the beasts and Damned decades ago? We chose Irecia.
The party –myself, a fighter named Fergus, a roguish elf fighter named Beláldur, a paladin Grel, a monk Ja’kar, and a ranger name of Ragar – reached the bridge over the forest brook by midmorning.
Aware of the danger of the orc patrols, Ja’kar scouted ahead on the road while the rest of us faded into the woods to his south. I was pretty stealthy, so were Beláldur and Ragar, but Fergus and Grel made quite a racket. Pretty soon, Ja’kar called us back to the road, where we saw clear signs of a recent battle: branches down, grass torn by many hooves, dried pools of blood in abundance! Ragar told us it appeared aboiut 50 mounted orcs and 50 mounted soldiers from Enonia had clashed, and Enonia had carried the day.
We heard the drumbeat of hooves in the distance. No doubt an orc patrol, I was told – they ride out from the inn three times a day, in both directions. Most of us took to the woods south of the road and armed ourselves, but Ja’kar sat down in the road and began to meditate, bo stick across his knees.
When the orcs rode up, he offered a drink to them and was rebuffed. As one reached for him, he fought back. The rest of us then ambushed the patrol. I was pretty good with my slingshot – I missed once, maybe. I was too busy picking my targets to notice much what else happened but I did see Ja’kar pulp the head of one orc before braining himself with his bo stick. We did remarkably well, dispatching 8 of the 10 orcs, though Ja’kar and Fergus were injured. We collected the orcs’ weapons and armor (and heads, at Ja’kar’s insistence) and, mounted on captured horses, rode east.
We all slipped into the woods and worked our way around the inn. They were having some weird rally in there, all about killing and glory to their god. We had no trouble sneaking past that – even the humans would have had a hard time getting noticed in that din! Once well out of earshot, we made camp for a couple of days to rest and heal.
We rode out of the woods into a vast grassland – no buildings as far as the eye could see. We left the road to avoid the orc patrols and discovered a hollow with a pool of good water by a crumbling well. Why a well by a pond? Clearly, this required investigation. Fergus gave me a boost up so I could peer into the well – but I could see nothing. Ja’kar dropped a stone in and it hit something hollow. Beláldur climbed down to have a look – and part of the well wall looked odd to him. He started pulling out loose rocks and dropping them, which set off the spike trap on the floor, but no one was affected. Beláldur had opened a hidden passage into the tomb of Carmella, Queen of Irecia!
We wandered through this very odd tomb – not much of value there, and Grel and Ja’kar were watching to make sure nothing was disturbed. There was a chamber with mosaics of her life, a martial chamber with her armed and armored statue, her burial chamber, a chamber with 6 posing statues, and a chamber with a weird fountain with golden bowls and small sarcophagi. Beláldur confided in me that he was a thief as well as a fighter. We went up to make camp, and I arranged to be last out, taking a good look around.
We spent an enormous amount of time with that fountain, even staying over a day to refill it. It never seemed to do anything. Late that afternoon, we chose to push on, as our rations were getting short. We took a short detour to camp by Vanir’s Stone, carved with ancient runes in a language none of us could read. Early the next day, as we were breaking camp, a writhing mass of nasty, emaciated rats approached and we hightailed it out of there.
We soon reached the outskirts of Irecia. Not a structure was left standing – just burned and smashed dwellings and farm buildings among overgrown fields and orchards. As we moved into the suburban areas, things were a little better. There were a few surviving wooded areas. The area had been systematically burnt and wrecked, but the buildings here were more substantial and held up better. As we got closer to the city, Beláldur and I could see camps and movement around the keep guarding the West Gate. He, I, and Ja’kar made a stealthy reconnaissance and verified that orcs held the keep and the camp.
We’d left Beláldur, Fergus, and Grel at a ruined suburban villa. There, they were surprised by Wordred and Turgar, two of the King’s soldiers. These fighters had slipped away from the besieged keep by the North Gate to Irecia, hoping to bring relief from Enonia. They filled our party in on the general situation: Orcs held the East, West, and South Keeps and were trying to push into the City. Irecia is occupied by the Damned, and the orcs may have their hands full here. Still, the North Keep is hard pressed. We passed all the food we could spare to Turgar, who rejoined his men. Wordred rode back to Enonia with us to ask for aid.We dodged an evening orc patrol and made a rude camp in the grasslands.
The next morning, we broke camp early. By late that afternoon, we saw the woods on the horizon. The sharper-eyed of us also saw orcs making camp, so we detoured a bit south and entered the woods. We camped close enough to the road to hear the patrols – including one at midnight, which means the orcs patrol at least four times a day now. The next day, we passed the inn. The orcs were jumpy but not too alert, and we slipped past unnoticed. By midday, we made it to Enonia.
We attracted a lot of attention riding in, and the presence of one of the King’s men and the orc heads got us in to see the Marshall quickly. The Marshall was pleased and rewarded us for our victory against the orcs, but I stayed in the background – I never like to attract the eyes of the authorities. As it happens, he also let us know Queen Carmella was notoriously vain, and an ancestor of Sir Reynald and his brother the Duke. He arranged to have 40 men sent to the North Keep, to resupply or assist in a withdrawal. He patiently endured imprecations from Grel and Ja’kar, then explained how thinly spread his men were. He planned to move up an attack into the Wayfarer’s Inn – but knew a frontal assault would be costly. Grel produced a map of the caves under the Inn, which indicated a secret entrance, and the Marshall asked him to locate it and maybe bring a party in to clean out the dungeons and surprise the orcs.
The Marshall sent us on to Sir Reynald, preparing for a move into the haunted monastery. He also rewarded us, and invited us to join him in the attack. He confirmed the vanity of Queen Carmella, and warned us sternly that if anyone found their way to loot the tomb before we could head over and block it back up, he would blame our party. I trust if anyone did a little pilfering, he’ll be discreet.

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Meditations of Ja'Kar
Transformation of Drunken Fists into Righteous Fists

As I sit here and meditate I think on what my master told me.

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.bq).

For the longest time I felt as if being the Drunken Fist was what he meant. Now I think different.

Events are changing.

Chaos and decay infect this world. The balance my order preached, is no longer in balance.

I remain true to myself, but I am now the water.

Mesha granted me an insight that I lacked.

That insight is the world is rotting. Orcs rule Irecia. Evil festers the soil. No one seems able or willing to do what is necessary to fight this.

Talk. Talk. Talk. That is what they choose to do.

Those who should lead, lead for their own glory.

Those who preach their faith, do so for their own glory.

Mesha is a goddess, this I know. What I do not know are her intentions.

The land is rotting. Chaos and doom abounds.

I will be the water. I will be the Righteous Fist.

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The Journey to Irecia

Adventure called once more, and I gathered with some of my fellow adventures to decide where we should go. There was much debate, I urged the party to go to the monastery to help Sir Reynauld capture the monastery, but I was outvoted, the party felt that the monastery was too dangerous and decided to go to Irecia instead.
While I knew that Irecia was far more dangerous, I did very much want to go there to see what was happening in that region. Also, I had it in mind that if we could find one of the damned from Irecia, I could cure him and find out what really happened.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. We set out for Irecia, myself Grel the Paladin, Beláldur, Jar’kar along with a few new adventurers, a fighter named Fergus, a littling named Balto, and a ranger named Ragar. It was not far past the bridge that we came upon a large battlefield. The ranger told us that there were about 50 orcs vs about the same number of humans. The humans clearly won! This was good news, but made us cautious.
We continued on our way and heard the approach of a patrol. We all decided to take cover to let them pass, but the monk decided to sit in the middle of the road on the assumption that he could befriend the orcs. Things proceeded in the expected manner and we soon found ourselves engaged in combat.
We killed eight of the ten orcs before the last two fled for safety. We took their horses and weapons and continued on. With them galloping toward the inn, we knew that they would be on high alert soon, so we proceeded through the woods and around the inn.
After a few days of healing, we were able to continue on toward Irecia. Soon after we left the woods, we heard the sounds of horses behind us. We galloped for about an hour then went off the road when we heard they were still coming.
We accidently came upon what turned out to be the tomb of Carmella the Brave, Queen of Irecia! We investigated but did not find anything of great interest. The monk was adamant that we should not disturb anything, and I had to agree it did not seem right to take anything. In the end, we left the tomb to continue to Irecia.
The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful. We came to the outskirts and detected Movement in the keep! We found a ruined village to hide the horses, and we three fighters stayed behind while the thieves and the monk scouted the area.
While we were waiting, two humans, members of the king’s guard, sprung up and spoke to the ranger and myself. They told us that they had captured the north keep, but that the orks held the other three. They were outnumbered and could not last long. Their leader Turgard urged us to take Woldred to the Marshal to beg for aid.
As there was little that we could do here, we gave Turgard what food we could, a suit of chainmail, and wished him luck. Then we headed back to Enonia.
The return was fairly uneventful with the exception of the dozen tents full of orcs that had sprung up just outside of the woods.
We returned to Enonia, and immediately reported to the Marshal everything we had learned. He seemed genuinely encouraged by the developments and indicated that he felt it was time to take the inn, if there was just some way to get inside. I brought out Jorann’s map and told him that I had heard that there were caves below, and I was almost sure that there was another entrance from below.
The Marshal charged me with finding this entrance!
We then went to Sir Reynauld and told him our story. He then explained that Carmella was his ancestor and that he, and the Duke, would be very upset if we had looted the tomb. Luckily, we had restrained ourselves and thus were clear of conscious.
Now I must speak with Jorann and all the other adventurers who had adventured in the inn. Hopefully I can find the information I need!

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