The Dark Ages

Another trip to the Monastery
Life of Pyria

There have been strange things happening, the Marshal, Jorann and Mazlor have been having strange dreams. Jorann has been tased by her god to cleanse the stain of the corruption!

The group gathered for the trip to the Monastery in an attempt to close the portal, Myself, Jorann, Sal, Mazlor, Balto, Fergus Ja’Kar and Belador left the town. Everything was normal, the farms deserted, the tower just floating there. When we arrived the camp was still set up, we decided to leave alone, it could be useful if we needed to stay for an extended period.

Entering the monastery we came across bodies of mercenaries and red goblyns, wherever the bodies of mercenaries touched the goblyns there was a strange melting effect and the presence of red goo. Mazlor insisted we moved the mercenaries away, once done he said a prayer over their bodies and we returned to the goblyns. We discovered the goo could be burnt….

Jorann using the map from previous visits lead us to the crevice, on the way Mazlor and Sal walked through a wall and disappeared for a while, apparently there is some secret entrance to a sacred shrine.

Reaching the crevice we found three ropes suspended in the air with what had once been a structure over the crevice lying in ruins on the floor. Mazlor, Balador and Ja’Kar went down and the rest of us followed, suddenly there were a group of misshapen goblyns upon us, led by a Shaman, we were outnumbered. I cast sleep and they all fell, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

We continued with our exploration and found a cage with 10 goblyns inside, apparently of the Green Iron Fist, it seems they were called there. There had been more, but some had been taken away one by one, never to be seen again. I fear here is the source of the grotesque red goblyns we have seen. They did not seem capable of doing much and we had a long debate over what to do with them. Finally Ja’Kar and Balto decided they were going to take them back to the camp we left outside the monastery.

The rest of us continued and coming to a large cavern with big pool of shallow water in it we saw another floating rope leading to a hole in the roof. Mazlor and Jorann said this was they way. Balador climbed the rope, only to suddenly come tumbling down. Balto said he could climb up and had prepared a flask of burning oil. After he through the oil into the opening several explosion happened followed by a shower of blood and goblyn body parts. Following his declaration that it was clear we all went up, to find a strange sight indeed, the water was flowing uphill. Following the water we eventually come to a large cavern of stalagmites and stalactites.

Entering the cavern we were attacked by a pair of Dark Manatees, with a bit of effort these were taken care of. Ja’Kar decided to make a rather horrifying cloak out of one of them. Carefully crossing the river, we hear voices calling out for help, warily we move towards the sound. We come across four red goblins guarding some of the Marshal’s men. The goblyns are defeated but Ja’Kar falls, fortunately we revive and heal him, I would have missed that strange Monk. We free the men, who tell us about a Shaman and spiky Orcs,and continue with our search. Coming out of a passageway we are confronted with five humans and five goblins. Belador quickly lit a flask of oil and threw it at them then we successfully engaged them. there was no time for a rest, we heard the sounds of more enemies coming down the passage, quickly Sal spread some caltrops inside the opening and we positioned ourselves ready for battle. The caltrops did the job, the goblyns were slowed and Mazlor quickly killed one, which to my utter surprise exploded, fortunately none of us were hurt. I then saw the most bizarre thing, another goblyn exploded, and another…. and so on.Suddenly there were no more goblyns. This may explain the explosion we heard after Balto threw the earlier oil flask.

Jorann led us down the passage, telling us there was a Shaman’s room further on, seemed like a good place to find him. We found the room and the Shaman, unfortunately he was not alone and was prepared for us. He was already casting a spell and with him were three chaos humans and orcs, all with large spikes protruding from their bodies, this was not looking good. His casting finished and suddenly several of our party ran away (I shall not name them in fear…… that their reputations will be damaged). A magic missile took care of the Shaman and in rather spectacular fashion if I do say. We rid ourselves of the other, after Jorann had held the humans I took care of them with my blade.

In the room was a globe of chaos, with what looked like deformed goblyn writhing inside. Jorann destroyed it with Holy Water and we desecrated the alter.

Tired, bloodied and out of spells we agreed it was time to head out. All was quiet and we arrived at the chamber below the chasm to see that the walls are on fire. I am not sure if this is good or bad. We can get to the ropes without danger and climb back up into the monastery. As we head to the entrance there is a feeling that we are being watched. Jorann dispels this feeling with a few words.

Arriving at the camp we find the goblyns brought back by Balto and Ja’Kar, they appear to have no will of their own and will do anything you tell them to.

We have survived another day and learned new things, unfortunately I fear this is just the beginning.

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From Glory to Goo
Balto's Journal

I gave the Marshal that wolfskin stool I took from the orc chief’s tent. He gravely but respectfully accepted it, telling me that it would be the official seat of the fort’s new commander. I appreciated the symmetry and rough justice of having the stool of chaos become the stool of law. And I was glad he treated me like any other person in his command – I’m a little tired of everyone subtly checking their purses and counting their rings as I go by. I don’t steal from my friends and allies. I’m not stupid.

Anyhow, we headed back to Enonia in triumph – all except Ja’Kar, who slipped away to the temple his group is building. But he rejoined us not too much later. On the 10th day of summer, a new adventuring party forms. Grel is away, tending to the flock of Tangadorin, but in his place is Joran, another paladin devoted to the same faith – and the person who provided so many helpful maps. Belaldur, Fergus, and Mazlor and his apprentice Sally are with us as we drink with Pyrea.

Pyrea has been sent back to us by the Striped Mage, and tells us that the time has come to close the portal. We need to throw the acolyte Roh into the portal he has opened. And Joran and Mazlor grimly tell us of the nightmares they and the Marshal have suffered – dreams of encroaching chaos, twisted red goblyns, the damned. So we make plans to go to the ruined monastery of St. Eggyx, where we should get some help from the guardsmen left there by Sir Reynauld. Several of us chip in some gold to purchase holy water and healing potions.

When we reach the monastery, we see the camp outside it abandoned. The only sign of life is an owl, that seeks to suborn Belaldur. Mazlor, though, holds his holy symbol up to the owl, who dissolves into a red slime that drips to the ground, burning away the grass as it soaks into the ground. The resulting black circle reminds me that there is supposed to be another dead zone, that looks burned but within whose bounds nothing will grow. I am upset, but I hide it pretty well. Still, this is worse than even the forest-clearing the orcs had done.

We make our way into the ruins. Just inside, we find the bodies of several men and chaos goblyns. Where the goblyns touch the humans, the humans are melting! We lay out the humans apart from the goblyns, Mazlor and Sally saying a few words. I burn the slime away, but when I try to burn a goblyn, it makes a greasy, vile cloud of heavy smoke. We move on, aided by maps from Mazlor and Joran, but we still get a bit lost. Eventually we make our way down some magically suspended ropes to the next level.

We almost immediately engage a group of chaos goblyns. They were preparing an ambush, but we’d come up too fast. It’s a hard battle, made worse by the arrival of reinforcements led by a goblyn shaman. But we prevail, and heal up. At the far end of the chamber, we find a dozen or so goblyns of the normal sort – except they are very passive. Most of the party wants to kill them, but Ja’Kar and I insist on taking them back to the surface. On our way back, we meet the ghost of one of the guardsmen. I give him my wineskin and he vanishes.

While we are gone, Belaldur blunders into an ambush. We get back to find him stunned and gasping on the floor. I climb to the opening in the ceiling he’d tried to get through and throw a Molotov cocktail in. That sets off a chain reaction of exploding chaos goblyns, covering me in guts and goo. Ja’kar cleans me off. I’m really starting to like Ja’Kar. He also seems free of prejudice.

We continue to an underground river, fighting off dark mantles and piercers along the way. We hear cries for help from across the river, so we make rope bridge and go to the other side. We see some human guardsmen in cages, with goblyns between us, so we kill the goblyns and free the humans.

Many more humans and goblyns have been changed into chaos beasts by the goblyn shaman. We need to stop him, so I sneak down passageway to scout thing out. I find chaos humans and chaos goblyns blocking our way to the next chamber, but we surprise them. The battle noise draws reinforcements, though, and we hear more approaching. Luckily, we dispatch these new foes, mostly through another chain reaction of exploding goblyns.

The penultimate battle against the shaman and his final forces does not cover me in glory. His spell of fear drives half the party, including me, away, but Pyrea, Mazlor, Ja’Kar, and Joran slaughter the enemies. We go on into a the next room to discover a chaos shrine. I find the shaman had been wearing a flexible glass armor that fits me and does not impede my movements.

We get ready to explore further, but hear an odd chirping that Mazlor says comes from machines with rays of death. So we head out, feeling we are being watched, even violated. Joran summons the powers of Tangadorin, and we feel better. Outside, the goblyns are still dazed and confused.

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Meditations of Ja'Kar
The Rescue of the Little Ones

Much has happened since the events at the monastery. The most important thing, besides the fighting of Chaos, is the aid I have brought to a group of goblins.

We found a total of twelve goblins within the deeps of the monastery, but unlike the rest we encountered, these twelve were devoid of ego, will or desire. Their minds were blank, and they showed no signs of aggression, let alone motivation.

As typical with most of my companions, their first reaction was to kill them. I find it amusing that those who espouse to have faith and goodness in their hearts, when faced with a situation they fall back to killing. If this is the “holy light” of Tangadorin, I must ask is this god nothing more than a tool of evil? Those espousing their faith seek to destroy, regardless of the evidence they see before them.

If it was not for my actions, and those of Balto, these innocents would have been murdered. Much to the chagrin of our companions we rescued the goblins, and took charge escorting them out of the monastery. Once the in safety, we feed and made them comfortable, and returned the side of our companions.

The events within the monastery are not important, we still have work to do. What is important is the goblins.
I took them in my charge and guided them to Turgan’s temple to Meesha. Though Turgan wanted to help, the residents at the temple, did not want to bring the goblins aid and sanctuary. It was then that I took matters into my own hands. I remember it clearly, and the words still linger within my mind…

“I hear your words and know you to be a believer.” Turgan said. "But sometimes the faith of these others is less about Meesha and more about their collective interest. This might prove to be too much. What would you have me do if they choose to not let them stay here? I may have to choose between goblins and Meesha’s flock.”

I looked at the man, who has become my friend, and someone I respect greatly. I spoke him simply.

“Turgan my friend, I understand your fear and worry. I understand the fear and worry of Meesha’s flock. Not only do I understand it, but I accept it.”

“However, think on this, we have a chance to be different. We have all come to this place because we have heard a calling. Perhaps this is a test, a test to judge if we will take the stream that shows anyone has the power to change.”

Excusing myself, I walked to the center of the temple complex. In a flourish, I demonstrated my skill in the martial arts. I worked the forms with staff, glave, fist and feet.

Water flows over the mountain, to Ice Breaks Upon the Earth, into The Rain of Spring Rebirths, into Ice forms into Spear_, then into Wave breaking the shore_, and finally into Pebble creating ripples. I did this to mediate, and gather my thoughts. Working the forms, and there were many more then those, helped clear my mind and strengthen my resolve.

I finished with a leap into the air; driving my glave blade down into the earth. It stood straight and true, quivering with the aftermath the display. Standing there, next to the glave with my arms crossed, and my arms in my sleeves. I spoke. Like a torrent the words flowed.

“For most, you know me. For those who are new, I am Ja’Kar, the fist of Me’she, the Defender of the Stream, Protector of the Weak, Guardian to the threatened, Disciple of the Balance, and now Warrior of the Iron Staff.bq).

In my time here, in Enonia, I have done my part to bring balance to this land. I have fought enemies, I have aided in the over throw of the orcs of the fort. I have rescued those in danger at Icea. I have lived my life to the tenants of Shuǐ zhī lù, or in your language The Way of the Water. My order believes that life comes from the water, and that all who live, travel their own stream, following the currents where it takes them.bq).

At times this stream runs straight and true, which represents the good. Other times it might be a fast moving river tumbling over rocks,. drowning all in its rapids, this represents chaos. Still, at times the stream is a combination of both, it is neither too straight and steady, or too twisted and rough, this represents Zhōnglì, or in your tongue Neutrality.bq).

My order works to insure Zhōnglì, we do so because unless the balance is maintained, life is threatened. If there is too much Law, then the concept of peace, love, creativity, and the like is threatened. Law is about order, order that is imposed upon you. bq).

If there is too much Chaos, there is no change, there is no peace, and there is no life. Everything is destroyed, or enslaved. Chaos is destruction.bq).

You need both Law and Chaos, and it is Zhōnglì, which keeps the balance between them. It is because of Zhōnglì that you have free will, you have art, you have life, and you have love. bq).

I say this in order to explain to you why I believe in what I do. Life is Zhōnglì, and Zhōnglì is life.bq).

In each one of us, we have the potential for great good or great evil. No one, man, woman, orc, ogre, goblin and the like, is born good or evil. Their stream, or life, offers them a journey of uncertainty. It is how you sail upon this stream, that determines who you are, not what you are.
For example, you walk through the village and see the person in front of you has dropped their coin purse. Your stream has now forked.bq).

Do you quickly grab the purse and keep it for yourself? Or, do you pick it up and give it back to the owner? bq).

Each fork has consequence. bq).

Taking the purse as your own, someone could see you, and seek to have your arrested. Giving the purse back to the owner, you discover it belongs to a wealthy merchant, who is so touched by your decency, he tells you to keep the purse, and he offers you a job.bq).

Zhōnglì. Pínghéng. Yīnguǒ bàoyìng._ bq).

Or to put it another way. Neutrality Balance. Karma.bq).

These goblins, are innocent. Their stream has been cut, severed. They are helpless. Yes, you are frightened, yet put yourself in their shoes. What if this was you? Devoid of self worth, docile and lacking free will. Would you want someone to treat you with kindness? How would you feel, if instead, someone choose to kill you, either by weapon, or by abandoning you?bq).

You are now at a fork in your individual streams. Do you do the right thing, even though it is uncertain, and show kindness by giving these goblins shelter? Or, do you do the easy thing, and kill them, staining your souls, and slowly leading you to Chaos?bq).

If I thought these goblins were evil, or a threat, I would have killed them right away. Doing so would help restore the balance somewhat. Instead, seeing their plight, and seeing their helplessness, I realized that it is by kindness and compassion the balance is titled away from Chaos. bq).

I ask of you, look into your hearts, look past your fear, and embrace the chance before you. You can show Enona, that your faith is different, that your act of mercy and kindness is what will help tilt the scale away from Chaos.bq).

Know this as well, if you choose the fork leading to the death or abandonment of these innocent goblins, my stream will diverge. No longer will I look upon you as allies and friends. No longer will I view you as servants of Zhōnglì.bq).

I leave my weapon here, as a reminder that I am always here. It serves as the fulcrum which you now rest upon.bq).

Give these goblins shelter, and you will serve as an example of what true faith is.”bq).

Once finished. I stood there, waiting for their reaction. My expression was like rock, neither happy or angry.

The reaction I received brought much joy to my heart.

Turgon’s mouth was agape as he watched my speech and the effect it had on the assembled. Although some grumbled, they agrees to accept the goblins, “As long as those critters don’t act up or turn on us!” A couple of the followers were more enthusiastic than the others in their acceptance.

Turgon taking me aside after the goblins are lead away, spoke. His words still fill my ears.

“I did not know the depth of your spirit or belief, truly you are called by Meesha. It could be that you are to become her champion!”

“Mistake not someone who is quiet, humble or lacking of pride,” I said. “Faith does not require you to speak loudly or be boastful. A lot of my companions are clerics and paladins and all they do is boast of their god, and put their needs in front of others. Let your actions speak for themselves. Live your life with purpose and dedication. This will show all how solid your faith and belief is in Meesha. bq).

We are still learning about this goddess. We honor her in what we do, not what we are. You have done a brave thing my friend, and I know it is not easy to accept the goblins into the group. I know you look at me as if I am strange when I mention my friend the kobold. Again, his stream is different, and all of my dealings with him have been rewarding. He might be strange, but I sense in him great potential.
I will never bring harm to you or the others.”bq).

I walked around the shrine area, talking to whoever I see, and introducing myself and learning their names. I thank those who are helping the goblins, and I ensure the ones who remain skeptical that there is no hard feelings I understand their fear. I tell simply told them:

“Your fears are understood. I know my actions might confuse you. I harbor no ill thoughts, or ill will toward you. Treat the goblins kindly and put away your prejudice. In time you will see that what has happened here is not only the right thing, but the honorable thing.”

Entering the shrine I meditated.

As I mediated within in the shrine, I sensed someone watched over me. Words filled my ears, and the voice of that could be no one else but Me’sha. She offered my kind words and I got the impression that she was pleased.

I thanked her for her kind words, and a promise of a boon she offered me. I told her that I want for nothing, and there is no greed or selfishness in my heart. I also told her, that I might not be the most typical of those who come to her, but I respect her. I also see her as needed. Chaos and evil flourish, and the more good we can bring into the world, the more the balance will be restored. Finally I tell her when I call myself her warrior, I mean it. I might be the unlikeliest of followers, but I will ensure her and her followers have my staff protecting them, as well as fighting for them.

I leave the temple with hope and sadness within my heart. Sadness because I find much peace and tranquility there. Hope, because I feel the right thing has been done, and I feel that these actions have helped tilt the scale slightly away from Chaos.

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Back to the Monastery
An excerpt from Jorann's Sermon

My dear friends, I know that over the last few seasons I have been telling you all that my days of adventuring were well behind me and that I could finally devote myself to the advancement of the Temple. However, I must now tell you that I was wrong!
Tangadorin has been sending me dreams about the forces of Chaos at the Monastery, and while I was planning to send Grel out to further the fight against Chaos, Tangadorin had other plans. He came to me and told me in no uncertain words, that the “Stain of Corruption” is growing and that now is the time for it to be cleansed! He told my that it was my duty to see that it was cleansed!

Furthermore, the Marshal, Averin and my good friend Mazlor have all been having the same evil dreams. The Marshal summoned us all to discuss what this meant. He also tasked us with finding out what is going on there and dealing with it.

So my Friends that is why I have strapped on the Holy Scepter of Tangadorin, polished up my armor and shield and set off with my old companions, and some new ones, to the Monastery.

It was the 10th day of summer, that I set out with Mazlor, Sally, Pyria, Fergus, Beladur, Balto & Jakar.
The journey there was uneventful. We found the place deserted with but a few empty tents outside.My dear friends, I know that over the last few seasons I have been telling you all that my days of adventuring were well behind me and that I could finally devote myself to the advancement of the Temple. However, I must now tell you that I was wrong!
Tangadorin has been sending me dreams about the forces of Chaos at the Monastery, and while I was planning to send Grel out to further the fight against Chaos, Tangadorin had other plans. He came to me and told me in no uncertain words, that the “Stain of Corruption” is growing and that now is the time for it to be cleansed! He told my that it was my duty to see that it was cleansed!

Furthermore, the Marshal, Averin and my good friend Mazlor have all been having the same evil dreams. The Marshal summoned us all to discuss what this meant. He also tasked us with finding out what is going on there and dealing with it.

So my Friends that is why I have strapped on the Holy Scepter of Tangadorin, polished up my armor and shield and set off with my old companions, and some new ones, to the Monastery.

It was the 10th day of summer, that I set out with Mazlor, Sally, Pyria, Fergus, Beladur, Balto & Jakar. The journey there was uneventful. We found the place deserted with but a few empty tents outside. The elf Beladur had an odd conversation with an owl that wanted him to be his familiar, but it melted into goo when Mazlor presented his holy symbol. So we entered and began our adventure. We found some of Sir Reynauld’s men dead with some dead chaos goblins. What was truly strange was the way the dead humans were melting wherever they were touching the goblins. We separated the men and gave them peace.
I lead the way with my map, but since it had been so long, I took us to the wrong location and we had to backtrack to get to the crevasse. The three ropes were still hanging in midair, just as Grel reported, so we climbed down them. Almost immediately we were attacked by chaos goblins, but they were no match for us! We killed a shamen with a strange chaos staff, but Pyria did not hear the activation words, so she couldn’t get it to work. I destroyed a chaos shrine with holy water and Jakar took the ten regular goblins, who seemed to have no will of their own left, and led them out of the monastery.
We continued to the rope where the water flows upwards, and our brave elf Beladur climbed up it. We heard a couple load thwaks, and Beladur fell to the floor bleeding.
When we revived him, he had no idea what had happened. We were sure that the way was guarded and were not sure how to proceed. The brave littling threw a molatov cocktail through the opening after climbing the wall. We heard a series of explosions and goblin guts rained down. When we climbed up, there was no sign of anything alive, so we continued on our way.
We came to the river and encountered some more goblins, much to their regret! We heard some humans calling for help from the passage to the left so we followed it, killed some more goblins and freed some humans. We fed them and helped them escape. They told us that there was another shamen and about thirty goblins, including some big spiky guards for the shamen.
We continued on and found more chaos goblins with some chaos humans guarding the next passage. A fierce battle ensued, but once again, Tangadorin was with us and we prevailed!
We continued to explore and eventually came to the shamen’s chamber. There we found the shamen with three spiky goblins and three spiky humans! As we entered he had just finished a spell which gave me a queasy feeling of dread. I was able to hold the three chaos humans, but the shamen cast fear on us and Sally, Balto, Fergus and Beladur fled for their lives!!! Pyria killed the shamen with a massive magic missile and then set about killing the held humans, while Mazlor, Jakar and I fought the chaos goblins. Just as we killed the last one, the rest of the party returned, looking sheepish.
In front of us was another chaos shrine with a sphere of chaos energy swirling around a trapped goblin writhing in pain. I brought forth the Holy Water of Tangadorin and desecrated the shrine and disrupted the chaos which melted away.
We decided to scout a little further to the river, but when we got their, we heard a strange sound the likes of which I had never heard. Mazlor told me that it was the sound of some strange flying beasts which shot death beams. We were all hurt, and our spells were depleted, so we decided to head back, rest and return soon…..

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The Aftermath of the Victory
The Meditations of Ja'Kar

As I sit within the shrine of Mesha, I ponder much.

I ponder the course of my life, and how it resembles a stream which slowly gains speed and forms into a river. My order teaches that life is water, and the longer the water flows, the stronger the water becomes. I have dedicated myself to this belief, and I find myself more committed to my order’s teachings then I have ever been.

The events at the inn, which my companions are still celebrating about, has shown to me, that my stream of life is stronger. I have braved the many challenges that have attempted to create a damn and end my flow, but water is stronger than a damn. Water flows, it adapts, and it can change shape to breakthru whatever obstacles are in the way.

Unlike the others, I did not celebrate the victory. Yes, I spent some time in the company of my companions, but the need to be honored is silly. I chose this path because it was the correct thing to do. I did not tread upon it for fame, rewards or to be a hero. It was the right thing to do, because the balance needed to be restored, and though this is a great victory, the balance is still unbalanced.

So I left the company of my companions, and traveled to visit Turgen and check in on how his progress is. I also wanted to mediate on Meshsa, and see if I could learn more.

I am happy to see the progress Turgen has made. I am also happy to see how more have flocked to him and they are at work on building a temple or church of some type. I am happy to see that the money I provide the baker has gone to build his shrine, and not gone to his pockets. I hope my continued friendship with him, helps him realize that wealth is fickle. It does not stay, it does not keep you warm, it does not make you happy.

I am also pleased that Turgen and his friends have agreed to provide the kobold with pigs.

Some might think my friendship with Atonok is strange, but it is not. No one is born evil, it is the events of one’s life that influence the course your stream takes. Atonok, though a kobold, wants nothing more but to live in peace, raise his rats, and hopefully raise his hogs. Who am I to judge him, or hold the actions of his race against him? Atonok is an example to all, that you can change the course of your life stream. My hope is that I can bring Atonok into the fold of Turgen’s people. I will show them that Turgen offers much, and that by befriending him, they will show their dedication to their goddess.

Speaking of the goddess, I spent many of hour meditating within the shrine contemplating Mesha. As I mediated I had the briefest of feelings that she touched me. The touch gave me the impression, even more so, that she is a fickle goddess and is tied into nature. I am still unsure of her intentions, and I will continue my meditations on it. What I do know is that I will do whatever I can to support Turgen and his growing followers. Turgen is another counter weight that will help to return this world into a balance.

It is time to return to the village. I have things I must do, namely purchase horses for Turgen and rejoin my companions. My stream is still flowing toward them, and I must do what I always do: flow.

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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 Pyrea. We go to Parabellum’s bookshop.

The Striped Mage, it turns out, required Pyrea’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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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 Pyrea – 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 Pyrea 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, Ataloke.

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 Ynnivax, see if we can get a larger force to clear out the orcs.

But Ynnivax has gone, on his way to help the forces in Ennonia’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 Raynault, so we head to the monastery (and, I am told, a floating tower!).

Sir Raynault 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, Pyrea is whisked away to meet with the Striped Mage in the tower. Pyrea 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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