A Troubled Economy

Captured, blindfolded, marched & rescued

This is only the second time I have been on a boat. Such wonderful creations. The skill involved in making one, not to mention the skill to float it along the waters, propelled by the winds. It is truly a wonder to behold.

During my travels, I noticed another boat join us. At first, the crew was nervous, but when they saw the flag, their tensions eased. Something about pirates. I do not understand what pirates are, but judging by the reactions, they must be boat bandits. These I am familiar with.

The ship managed to gain on us, then it was revealed that it was indeed a boat bandit. We worked hard to avoid capture, but we lost to their skill and might. They were too many for me to fight.

I was taken captive, and held in the bottom of the boat. Sometime later, days? I lost count. Myself and the remaining survivors were sold to orcs. They are a brutish lot, and I had only heard stories of orcs, and have met a few half orcs. None of that prepared for the sheer brutality of the race however. I was blindfolded, and marched. We all were. We marched for days. It was in the evenings, when we were fed and watered that the blindfolds were removed. I recall traveling through a hot desert for a long duration. Then mountains. During the march, we ran out of food and water. This did not stop the orcs. They simply killed a captive, harvested him and fed themselves. Us captives were fed as well. I cannot speak for the others, but I am guilty of accepting the sustenance. I pray Ubtao will forgive my desire to survive this situation.

We arrived in some cool place. So cold I began to get chilled. Suddenly, our blindfolds were removed. The orcs carried torches, then pushed the remaining four captives, including myself, into a shallow pit. The orcs started laughing, as we felt the very ground begin to move. Soon, large insectoids emerged. They were quite large, and latched onto the others. I managed to avoid their grasps. The orcs were laughing and passing coin. Apparently we were nothing more then an amusement for them. They left me there, with the sputtering torches burning out. Wondering on my fate, I tried to once again free myself from the manacles. As I laid there, growing ever thirsty and hungry, with the knowledge that I could alert the Ankhegs of my presence, I heard voices.

In my delirium, I called out, asking if they were spirits. I did not hear anything in reply. I think I may have passed out. Soon, I heard the voices again. This time I yelled, as best I could. I didn’t even bother to wait for a reply.

It has been too long since I last ate. I don’t recall the last time I had anything to drink. I was on the brink of death. Through lack of water, starvation or a meal for the Ankhegs. It was not or never. Trusting in Ubtao, I called out. In my delirium I swear I heard questions asked of me. I answered.

Ubtao be praised, I saw people arrive, just as the Ankhegs appeared. I screamed and rolled around until I was grabbed by one.

The sounds of battle could be heard. I don’t know if I was being saved, when suddenly hands started grasping at my feet. I quickly froze. Not knowing if this person wanted to help, but by not resisting, I increased my odds of helping these strange hands. Within seconds, my feet were freed of the fetters. Understanding dawns on me. I am indeed being freed!

I turn over, as best I can, offering my manacles to the hands. Soon, I am free, from my manacles and the Ankheg. I roll out in time to see one of my saviours getting dragged down in the sand.

I quickly run over and break a couple legs off from a fallen Ankheg, and begin rubbing them together, trying to imitate the sounds of baby Anks, in the hopes that will draw the remaining Ankheg back. At the same time, another of my saviours jumps into the sand and begins digging himself down to follow.

I beging working the sounds, and I stay with it. I cannot tell what is happening below, but want to help these people as best I can. I need to show them my appreciation, in hopes that I can gain further assistance.

After a few moments, both men emerge from the sand. Once everyone is safe, I am lead with the group back to their camp. Enroute, we are attacked by a cold darkness. We run away. The spirit is able to pass through the door and continues to attack. I picked up a dropped weapon, to come aid these people, when they successfully stopped the attacks.

I immediately returned the weapon, hilt first, to the owner. I wanted to make sure they knew I was not a threat. The person readily accepted the weapon back, asking me if I liked tea. I do enjoy tea. I was not aware of it’s importance, but this man appeared to find it incredibly important.

I then settled in, and told these men what had happened to me. I am happy to help them in what they are doing.

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Back underground.
Ankhegs, Weshtek, and a Shadow

On my campanions fought! The newcomer, Rakor, looked into a side-chamber and I did the same. There was a sarcophagus inside, with desecrated Tormish writing on it. No doubt it was looted by the desecrators. I heard cries of despair and looked back into the main chamber where the battle raged. I saw Sahil surrounded by the restless dead, and surely near to death! They would have chopped him to bits. In a desperate act I shouted the command word for the holy staff I carried since we found it by the assassin vine. It had saved us from the foul demons that turned Danjo and Shino to jelly, and back again. This time I called upon it’s greatest spell. I knew it would obliterate the undead, and maybe harm the fountain too.

The searing light that exploded in the room was beyond the bright sun at noon in the desert! It was white hot and it burned my eyes and my exposed skin! It probably killed all my fleas! I reeled, dropping the staff and momentarily forgetting where I was. There were cries from my companions…of pain? Despair? I knew not, so I opened my eyes and the world was all dark! It was not the dark of the deep underground. It was not the dark of a black cloud. It was utter, complete, and implacable nothingness. Slowly the realization sunk in. I was blind. I blinded myself with the spell. From the complaints I could hear, I blinded everyone else and nearly killed some. I heard Rakor’s voice. He told us the skeletons were all destroyed. He took control. He took me by the collar and led me away. I followed him…blindly! We ended up in the room we passed earlier. We decided it had been the chamber of the care-taker. We locked the door, and started to talk of werewolves.

It was Makota who brought them up. We started to think about how we could defend ourselves in the werewolves tracked us here. It was as obvious as a frigate among sloops, we had no chance of surviving that fight. We decided our best bet was to disguise the cave entrance as the den of a dire bear…a bigger predator than a werewolf, and hope they wouldn’t come in. We gathered foul blood that sprayed from the fountain using Malakai’s old shirt. I cast a spell to disguise the cave front and I sat “watch.” I concentrated on the illusion for bell upon bell. I’ve never tried to sit and maintain an illusion for so long. Makota stood watch outside and passed us a signal when the werewolves showed up. I created growling sounds of a dire bear, (I remember the sound quite well). Soon Makota was among us and he said the wolves had left.

The next day I woke in a cold sweat. I dreamed of the port in Assur, and collecting fees from incoming ships. When I woke, I had forgotten I was blind, until I opened my eyes and could not see. Then the cold sweat broke out and I think I was shaking. I know Sahil was blind. He was talking, praying, when suddenly his voice…changed… somehow, it took on a deeper timbre, it was more resonant. His words became unintelligible, and somehow “more holy.” I was enrapt by the sound, then his hand, or rather, a hand, rested on my shoulder and another draped across my eyes. Slowly light appeared at the far limits of my sight. Gradually, around the edges, the light filled my vision more and more. Holy Chauntea, Curna, and Ilmater!! Sahil restored my sight, and the sight of everyone else! Maybe Sahil was merely a vessel, or maybe he was the well itself! It’s beyond me to know, and I’ve never concerned myself with matters of the gods.

After resting fully we decided to explore deeper into the caves. I cast a spell to reveal secret doors and discovered one right outside the door of our room! We passed it many times but it was cunningly wrought. Only the magic of my spell was able to make it obvious. We opened the door and suddenly skeletons appeared around us in the hallway. Sahil, Rakor and I quickly raced into the newly revealed hallway. Seeing how narrow it was, I knew it was the perfect choke point. I knew that one might fighter like Danjo, with support from Sahil and Shino, could stand in the gap and defeat the nearly mindless skeletons one-by-one with little danger to himself.

Apparently the pair from Waa are ignorant to such tactics, or, they see me only as a person who needs protecting. They ignored my suggestions for them to enter the passageway and fight one at a time. As a result they were being attacked on both sides by skeletons. Makota was next to enter the secret passage, after Rakor and Sahil headed further in to explore an escape route. Unfortunately for Makota, there was another cunningly wrought creation, but this time it was a wickedly built pit trap 30 feet deep! Rakor fell unconscious at the bottom and slowly the doors of the trap started to ratchet closed.

I made an incredible effort to divine the working of the contraption but some unseen power prevented me from disabling it. Thinking quickly Sahil formed the shape of a tree and fell into the gap of the closing trap door! While the unthinking brutes in the hallway battled the skeletons, I nimbly crept under the trap doors and discovered how to defeat the trap. I called for Rakor, who gave me a hammer from his backpack and I finally disabled the trap door. I was able to barely make out Makota’s unmoving form. Finally, after a fight that was much harder than it needed to be, Danjo and Shino defeated the skeletons and came into the passage. Not before Shino got his heel tendon cut! I’m really glad they decided to ignore my sound tactical advice. Otherwise he would never have experienced the pain of a severed tendon. Anyway, We rigged a rope around Sahil’s form and he changed from a tree, back into himself. Then I lowered myself down to Makota and gave him a healing potion and we were both lifted from the pit!

As we sat, breathing heavily and taking stock of our situation, Rakor said he found a doorway not 75 feet away. He said it had strange writing and torches that lit by themselves at his approach. We also discovered some levers just inside the secret door that had concealed our passage. They levers opened and closed the secret door, and reset the trapdoors. Realizing this passage was very cleverly hidden and might protect us should the werewolves overcome their fear of the “dire bear,” we closed the secret door and delved deeper. No shit, there was a heavy iron door with a very good lock on it. I was able to unlock it with my special tools and we discovered an empty cave beyond. We entered the cave and saw an iron cross-bar with which we could bar the heavy iron door. PERFECT! This should keep those werewolves out, should they discover the secret door!

The cave was small, with two visible exits. One was a similar iron door, and the other was a small waterway. Looking into the darkness with a spell of illumination we observed some human-size frog-like creatures in the water. The fled from sight, luckily. I’m sure if I had suggested we stand on the shore and fight the frogs, Danjo and Shino would have waded in over their heads and drowned.

Makota attempted some surgery on Shino’s leg, and Danjo went into a fervent prayer that lasted hours, it seemed. Suddenly we were all in some sort of shadow world. We appeared before strange creatures. I’ve not seen the like since, you-know-when and I was a prisoner of you-know. There were tiny fey beasties all over in this mushroom forest. They seemed to thrive on suffering, which Shino certainly was doing. There was a strange woman on a cruel throne. I think we saw an image she wanted us to see, not her true form. She said she would heal Shino, but he would have a debt to pay. I was just glad to have him healed again. Like I said before, I don’t meddle with gods, or fey, if I can avoid it. Suddenly we were back in the cave. Oh joy…

So we were back in the cave. We were debating on our course of action, when we heard a voice beyond the iron door which we discovered in this room. The voice asked if we were spirits. I did not reply. Sahil and Shino, I think, did. They said “no, are you?” Then we heard nothing. Makota really wanted to explore down the waterway and get the hell out of the caves and away from the werewolves. I cast a spell on him to allow him to walk on the ceiling like a spider. He really liked that. He explored the waterway and said it only goes another 30 feet or so, and there is an underwater tunnel going into darkness. He went into that tunnel to explore.

We decided that we weren’t ready to flee, so we opened the iron door and ventured down to a T-intersection. We could hear a voice with a strange accent telling us he was tied in a pit and giant insects underground were hunting for him. It sounded like a trap. That damn Makota got us all jumpy by talking about a creature called a leucrotta that mimics voices and lures fools to their death. Well, the more it talked the more I realized it was a Chultan accent mixed with a Calishite accent. No damn leucrotta would know that shit. We finally found him, a human with very dark brown skin, chain in a pit surrounded by ankegs! We fought the ankhegs. I got in close and stunned some with a spell, then I removed his shackles amid the battle! It was exhilerating, but I don’t want to do that much more often! He calls himself Weshteck, and he seems to be a formidable fighter and spellcaster.

As we were recovering from that battle, the air got suddenly cold! A dark, shadowy form emerged from the stone floor and attacked Makota! We fled back to the room and barred the door, then it attacked through the door! We fell back and I started looking real close at the waterway! Somehow Rakor, Shino and Sahil used their powers to destroy the shadow. I examined Makota and he was near death. He couldn’t even hold up is head. Then we heard some werewolves (that’s what I assume) come down the stairs and bash on the barred door. I was ready to flee at that point, back into the cave where the shadow came from, because we can bar that door behind us. Plus, if we went in the water, Makota would drown.

My companions convinced me that the creatures on the other side, would not possess the power required to bend the steel bars that hold the iron door closed. We decided to rest and a few bells later the werewolves left. I really hope they don’t wait around for us. For now, we rest. Sahil has said he can supply us with food indefinitely. We have fresh water. We can stay here awhile. Makota had earlier suggested we wait until the leucrotta starved to death. I think Weshteck is glad we didn’t take that advice!

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Rakor's Journal, Marpenoth 13th

Marpenoth the 13th

Today I finally find myself with a moment of reprieve. I’ve had quite the journey in the last week, even met a few new acquaintances. I stumbled across my old friend, Tuck in an adventuring party of all places. A bit out of place for a dockmaster, let alone a Hin of his stature. A whorehouse or tavern, sure, but from my memory, in the homes of wolves is not a place he would often stray. His friends were hesitant at first, but after some reassurance from Tuck, they accepted my presence for the time. Not many are so quickly welcoming of a half-orc, for this I am appreciative. I stumbled across the party in the Valley of Shrines. The valley would be a good home for a trade outpost, but currently there resides both undead and werewolves to be a problem. These will have to be taken care of before I can attempt to establish an outpost and possibly begin my mission of getting The Gemstone Chaka and the natives to at least get along enough for the sake of coin. Damned stubborn dwarves and equally stubborn savages don’t understand the improvement of life when trade is involved. My new acquaintances are from equally as impressive distances as I am. Danjo and his companion, Shino are both from the far east. Still human, from the land of Wa. Malakai, not quite as far as them, but also not a native to these lands. Finally Sahil, still an mystery to me, but he has proven to be quite intuitive on several occations, so I am glad to have him as an ally. The dockmaster has a way of meeting all sorts it seems.

Tuck convinced me to join up with their group, safety in numbers as he said, and I made off witht heir party. I marked down the general location of the valley to return to when matters are settled in the area. Tuck made a brief connection with the werewolves, leading them back to us as he returned. He was breathless and red, looking as he had run for his life. The wolves wouldn’t approach the temple beyond a certain point, the general thought to be of desecration of the grounds. The group made mention of a burial ground they seemed to think may have some answers to the undead in the area, after deliberation, decided to investigate the tombs. After a couple days’ travel, though a harrowing blizzard, we arrived at the grounds. The weather here is quite bizarre, changing from an arctic blizzard, to a crisp spring in the course of days.

We approached the hillside, a peaceful day with little to bother us. There were large obelisks of Tor and the Red Knight, if my memory serves me correct, outside the entrance. Both were flame scarred heavily, but not much else was worth noting, so we decided to enter. Danjo and Shino entered and slightly after they entered, we heard a loud explosion. Before we could even enter to check their saftey a secondary explosion triggered, rendering me breathless and on the ground. Upon recovery, I saw Malakai on the ground, a large rock embedded in his head, the wound bleeding severely. He was the first of these strangers to actually inquire of my past, and I enjoyed a small chat with him over one of the campfires of the past few days. A fellow follower of Waukeen, a shame to not know him better. The group decided to put his body to rest inside the burial chambers, so after recovery, we continued in.

Within these chambers, he have encountered a seemingly endless fountain of undead. After defeating many waves, and nearly falling into their ranks, Tuck pulled out a magic staff of some sort and obliterated their ranks using the power of the sun. Makoda had to lead us all into a retreat, as the aftermath left us all blind, but Sahil prayed to his deity and miraculously healed all our blindness, a feat that he should not have been able to accomplish, but I am grateful he could. Tuck, being a curious Hin, decided to check for any hidden doors down our path before we returned the room and boiling blood and bone. Strangely enough, he found one, heavily hidden. Upon opening the door, it triggered another fire ball trap, leaving myself, if not others close to death a second time in hardly a day. Immediately after, a horde of undead appeared magically, and I made my way down an unknown hallway, fleeing for my life. With only forward to go, and some solid fighters protecting my flank, I made my way into the darkness. I came across a door with magic torches that illuminated when I got close and luminescent moss growing out of some heavily desecrated runes of Tor. I couldn’t make a full translation, but from what I gathered, I would need at least the nimble hands of Tuck if I were to persue further interest of what lied beyond. Returning to the group, I discovered Shino and Danjo to be succesfully keeping the undead at bay, Sahil had turned into a tree, Makoda was in a spike pit, struggling for life, and Tuck was attempting to stop a trap door from closing ontop of Makoda. Shino managed to severely wound his leg, but he and Danjo defeated the horde. Danjo helped me raise Sahil from the pit while Tuck disabled the trap and we recovered Makoda, we did not have another body to rest this day.

I told them of the door, and they all followed. The door, as I suspected, was an easy foe for Tuck and opened to a chamber in the Underdark. Curious, as I’ve only tales from the Mithril Dwarves back at Many arrows, I am intrigued by these halls. Allthough, with my current companions, I am unsure if delving deeper is for the best.

Knowledge or not, I’ve only lived this long by a very careful and lucky life…

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Weshtek's Journal
Alzhedo then Common

[[The language format did not translate propertly. It should be read right to left]]
وفقا لناصر، لقد كنت في كاليمبورت لأكثر من عام واحد فقط. إن معرفتي باللغة لا تزال تنمو. الآن أنا أن أكتب في هذه المجلة لنمو معرفتي هذه الكتابة من الكلمات.

اليوم، ذهبت إلى السوق وشراء بعض الفواكه. كانت طازجة جدا وحلوة. يجعلني الجوع لبلدي الفاكهة في تشولت.

بشرتي سوداء جدا، جلود الناس هنا ليست كما الظلام. فهي البني جدا، والأماكن التي لا تلمس الشمس هي أقل البني. كم هو رائع.

قيل لي أننا في فصل الخريف. أستطيع أن أشعر درجة الحرارة الحصول على أقل. أنا مندهشة كيف الباردة يحصل هنا خلال الليل، ولكن حار جدا خلال النهار.

أنا تماما الفضول هنا. الناس يريدون دائما أن يغسل أو فرك بشرتي لمعرفة ما إذا كنت أخف وزنا تحتها.

أنا لبدء دراستي في غامض قريبا. لقد كان العديد من المواسم منذ وصلت. أنا متحمس جدا.

أعطيت استراحة اليوم من فصولي. لقد كان من الصعب جدا فهم الأشياء التي يتم تدريسها عندما لا أعرف اللغة وكذلك فكرت.

لقد مضى الآن قليلا أكثر من 2 سنوات منذ أن بدأت رحلتي لتعلم الفنون الغامضة. لقد كانت فصولي شاقة. أنا لست أسرع عندما يتعلق الأمر استيعاب بعض المواد، ولكن من خلال الدراسة أنا أتعلم ما هو مطلوب. طبيعة لا يهدأ لا تناسب بشكل جيد مع العديد من الأشياء التي يعلمونها. لقد تحدثت مع الناصر عن العثور على شيء من شأنه أن يصلح بشكل أفضل.

لقد تغيرت دروسي اليوم. أنا على البدء في تعلم كيفية ممارسة الأسلحة. أنا أعرف الأسلحة من المنزل، ولكن الآن يبدأ التدريب على ممارسة جميع أنواع الأسلحة وجدت هنا.

7 سنوات مرت منذ تركت قبيلة بلدي. 7 سنوات منذ لقد كنت في الوطن. اشتقت لك أم. اشتقت لك كثيرا جدا.

لقد أكملت التدريب. أنا لم يعد لديك لتأخذ الطبقات. لقد أتقنت فن الغامضة ومخلوطة مع معرفة الأسلحة.

أكثر من سبع سنوات منذ جئت إلى هنا، إلى كاليمبورت. لدي بعض الذهب، ولكن أنا لا أعرف ماذا أفعل. معظم الناس لديه نوع من العمل الذي يمكن أن يذهب إلى بعد المدرسة. ليس لدي مثل هذه العلاقات. أعتقد أنني سوف تأخذ أول وظيفة أجد. أوبتاو على استعداد.

لغة كاليمشان تصبح أقل معروفة في مزيد من الشرق أسافر. كنت قد سمعت من هذا، ولكن لم نتوقع ذلك قريبا. هناك لغة التجارة التي يتحدث بها معظم الجميع. تختلف لهجات، واستخدامها من العبارة يمكن أن يكون مربكا. سأبدأ إعادة تدريب نفسي باستخدام لغة لم أستخدمها لفترة طويلة.

I was approached today, by a Wizard. He was incredibly agitated. The caravan I just arrived in would not hire him because of how cheap I offered my services. I am aware that people need to make a living. Once again, I find myself slipping into habits of old. I apologized to this person. I paid him the difference and told him to go ahead and take the job. I will begin charging an appropriate amount for one of my services. We do not come at such a low cost.
It has been a long time here. The village has grown to accept me, reluctantly. I pay for my lodging and food. I help in any capacity they will let me. Still, an entire year has passed since anyone has been willing to hire me. I am said to bring the bad luck if I am hired.
Success! I have been hired! Another caravan, this one traveling further east, and for the rates the Wizard suggested so long ago. I hope to fix my errors moving forward.

Each caravan is different. This is not always a bad thing. Some duties are less arduous then others. I have discovered that I enjoy cooking. Ari has taught me much in the way of her cultures cooking. I have taught her some of the craft I know for finding tasty herbs during our travels.
I do not know if I can keep with this caravan. They are incredibly rude to me. I am watched all the time, and treated like a criminal. I may ask for a portion of my wages and leave. I understand I look different. I even accept much slander to my person. I can only take so much before I have to leave or cause a problem. Harmony must be kept in a tribe. This is no tribe. I will not risk my harmony for them.
I stumbled upon the remains of the caravan today. It looks like bandits attacked and were successful in taking everything of worth. I do not want to feel justified in my desire to leave, but they made me dislike them so very much. Still, I wish we could have gotten along.

I picked up a small job in Yeshpek. I was happy to get any work, after traveling many days on foot to reach this city. I was to join a small band of mercenaries off to sell themselves in the neighboring town of Tulmon.
Tulmon was not a happy city. Once it became clear I was a arcane caster, I was told to leave town. Apparently there is a arcane caster that rules the city. How odd, that an arcane caster would rule rather than help his people. So many different cultures, I am grateful I was allowed to leave. I continue my travels southeast.
A large ruined city of a name that is known to the locals I imagine. Sadly, there is no one with me as I walk, so I do not know what place I pass. Fortunes smile on me, and I find a boat service willing to take me across. It only cost me a gold coin. I think this price is high, but I am in no position to bargain.
The other side is a small village. The people seem withdrawn and guarded around me. Considering what I have seen as I traveled in these lands, I cannot claim surprise. I am very open, and slow to move. I do manage to buy some supplies. I do not see myself making it far without something to help. I was able to learn from Jorah that autumn will soon be arriving. This means winter will not be far off. I need to find a place to stay.
I arrive in the city of Ormpur. I am able to secure myself lodging, and I even managed to find a job. Nothing glamorous, but it will help offset the cost of my stay during the next few months. I am to help the kitchen staff prepare meals. My arcane abilities make the duties light and Borus happy. I eat well, and I keep myself busy during the winter.
Spring is soon to arrive, and that means the caravan season is starting once again. I am lucky to find a job with a caravan. Borus is unhappy with me leaving, but understands that I have my own life to live.

We pass the village of Sheirtalar, to the south of Ormpur. It is a small village that doesn’t offer much. Steil picked up some things from a villager. It looked like something that has happened before.

A bandit attack in the mountains. Steil calls them the the dung hills. I do not know why the name is so odd, I cannot smell anything off about this area. No matter. The bandits set up an ambush and succeeded in killing 2 horses, a oxen, and 4 people. I was wounded as well, but managed to help fight off the assault. I am waiting for the word on when we will travel again as loads are redistributed.
We are attacked again, this time in the forest to the east of the dung hills. Steil was prepared for this one, and warned us. Apparently, banditry is common here in the forest. Was the attack on the hills a surprise? No losses on this attack. Since I was prepared, I was able to better aid our fight against the bandits. Steil tells me I may get a bonus when we reach our destination.
We arrive at a village. Kormul. Nothing noteworthy, save that we did a small bit of trading. We take a 2 day break, then head out north.

Shaarmid is different from many other cities I have visited. It is a small city, defensively built. They do not hold to all the tribes. Many I have come across during my travels in this land. They know of the dangers out there and wish to protect the caravans. I am questioned about my home land. Not in disgust, but with interest. I share much of what I remember, happy to share my life with others. They share theirs in return. The week the caravan stays here, due to tribal wars happening, is a highlight in my travels.
Steil informs me that his caravan is actually returning. I do not wish to travel back just yet. So I wish him the best and go searching for another option. It takes a short while, but I am able to hire on as a guard for with a man, Albus traveling east. It is just him and his cart. He doesn’t offer much, but I like his personality, so I accept. I have made good with my money, so I do not feel a need to charge the correct rate.
The travel is long, with periodic stops at villages along the way. He seems to know everyone, and they spend the time sharing news of their locations. It is a peaceful journey.
We approach a city, a city of iron Albus tells me. They call it Khorval. The smell of all that iron tingles my nose. I am in awe at the abundance of iron. The very buildings are clad in it! I have seen much iron used since arriving in Calimport, and in my travels. Yet nothing prepared me for how prevalent the iron is in this city. Albus tells me that he is going to pick up some things and return. So, this is the parting of our ways. I feel guilty, but he assures me that he has traveled this route several times and doesn’t really need a guard. He just wanted some company.
I manage to find a job with a trader heading east to Delzimmer. I hire on. Not as a guard, but as labor I soon discover. I am worked hard, barely fed and treated like some manner of beast. It is not an easy journey, but one I tolerate. I am fed, and while it may be sparse compared to what people here are used to. It reminds me of my life back in Chult. I had gotten so used to big meals that I was losing my touch with Ubtao. I used this time to remember where I came from. I did not go hungry, and learned to take time during my work to get some food as well. My trapping skills are rusty, but with perseverance I should be able to get a small creature to cook and eat.
We passed by a city called Earthheart. Gold Dwarves live here. There is some trading, but it is quick, quiet and over before anyone even has a chance to stretch. We are told we are not stopping for a rest, but have to continue on. There is much grumbling, but after looking at the heavily fortified walls, and all the armed dwarves looking at us, people quieted down and moved onward.
We arrive at Delzimmer. A large city. Filled with all manner of people. I have not seen a city like this since Calimport. I am dismissed. I did not get paid. I tried arguing about it, but I quickly felt I was not going to succeed. If anything I might end up in jail. So, I left his company, and began searching for some work. I was able to find a job as a cooks assistant for a halfling caravan traveling south around the Lluirwood, then east to the capital city of Beluir. I readily accepted, hoping that the halflings would treat me better than my previous employers.
Life with the halflings is slightly better. I am treated the same, but my food and care is better. I am no more than an errand boy. It irritates me greatly. I have such skill and ability. I have traveled very far. Do they not grasp my importance? The time drags by, a little faster than before, but not by much.
Beluir is an amazing city. Farms surround the city, the place is lovely. Sized for halflings, but lovely nonetheless. I am paid, so that is a surprise. Even a fair wage, considering. I am told to head to the docks, for that is where tall folk keep.
I spend a couple days resting, and getting my supplies in order. I have to get new clothes made. The ones I have are all worn and tattered. I can imagine why I am treated so poorly when I look like this.
It takes some effort to get my clothing done, they are not used to the Calimshan style this far east. Many think that is my homeland.
I find a small trader with a few wagons. He will be traveling to Shoun, he mentioned how there would likely be someone traveling further east. He could not make any promises. I accepted the chance to leave Beluir. My time with the halflings, while not as bad as some trips, left me feeling uncomfortable around so many of their kind. I think it is their size.
As the trader promised, I have found a trader traveling East. His destination is Assur. I am told this is a long leg of a trip, and will be filled with many bandit attacks. I accept this, and prepare to meet whatever challenges present themselves.

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Choices, to investigate the Burial location, or wait out the Werewolves
Malakai ibn Obaidullah ibn Alnuwayasir's Final Entry

The day opens to a weather that is nice enough. As we start to exit the shrine, we notice a figure hiding in the doorway. We take stances, not certain of this persons intentions.

After some back and forth, we each step clear and discover it is an old, aged orc. Rakor I believe he said his name is. He is searching for locations to turn into trade outposts. Why he would be out in the middle of nowhere is beyond me. He is a follower of Waukeen, as I myself am a follower.

Tuck recognized him, and introduced him. It appears there is a known connection and we can trust him. Probably as far as we can trust Tuck, but considering my options, I don’t feel I have a lot of choice in the matter.

We discuss our options for the day, between exploring the grounds around the lake, or traveling north and west to investigate the burial grounds. After some deliberation, we decided to explore the burial grounds.

We begin our march, but are stopped short by very loud howls. Tuck decides to investigate further, allotting us a 3 hour window to wait. As he moves south to investigate, the rest of us move back to the shrines to wait in the comfort of shelter.

A little over a bell later, there is some howls and we notice some grass parting as it moves directly for us. I am unable to determine what is moving through the grass, but soon we see 3 humanoid bestial shapes appear on the edges of the forest. They begin moving forward, giving chase to what we can only assume is Tuck.

As the thing in the grass gets closer, we are finally able to discern that it is indeed Tuck. I prepare for battle, by placing some spells in anticipation of the path the werewolves are running. They pulled up short, nosed around a bit, then turned and left.

Tuck was kind enough to inform us that there is likely several of those werewolf creatures out there, they seem to answer to a leader of some kind as well. Once again, the options for how to proceed are presented. There are several present, myself included, that do not like the idea of wolf creatures attacking us. We also feel a pressing need to discover more about this area.

We agree upon continuing with our task from earlier, and hope that our time away will give the wolves enough time to move on or disperse.

During our travel north, we stumble upon a dead lizardfolk. No discernable marks, but it appears he has passed from exposure. While I am magically bolstered against the cold, I still feel the icy chill of death sweep over my soul imagining the circumstances this lizardfolk person experienced.

We travel until we find another of these trees they call a Wayward Pine. It is cozy, intimate even. Very little room to fully stretch out, but outside of the weather. Such things require a cost and I will gladly pay a bit of stiffness and cramping to stay out of this dreary weather.

We travel on the next day, noticing a change in the forest. Progressing from small needled trees to large branch, big leaf trees. This has a mixed blessing we discover. That evening we cannot find a Wayward Pine. So we take the tents we have, fashion a sort of wall, anchor it down as best we can, and pile up some dirt and leaves. We create a shelter of sorts, protecting us from the worse of the wind and cold.

It was to be a miserable night and the following day was worse. We spent the day, huddled in our bedrolls, only venturing forth for necessity.

Once the storm passed, we gathered up our gear, and headed onward. By mid morning, we come to a rise, and that rise leads to 2 large obelisks that stand to each side of a large entrance into the hillside. Upon closer inspection, we determine that the obelisks have religion runes marking out Torm and Red Knight.

As we continue to explore the immediate area, I [journal ends]

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Death of Malakai
March of the blind

After a long day searching the shrines of Torm and the Red Knight my companions and I settled down to rest. It was a very profitable day, since the shrines yielded 31 scrolls and 5 healing potions. Very nice indeed! The scrolls are divine in nature, which makes sense. Luckily we have several casters of divine magic, most noteworthy being the humble Sahil.

We woke the next day to incessant howling of what we assume to be werewolves. These worry me greatly. I fretted about them all morning as we discussed our plans. I suggested we go to the location of the burial grounds which we saw on a map. That was back upstream in the direction from whence we came. As we talked, I noticed a shadow in the doorway to the shrine. I called everyone to alert and soon discovered we had an interloper in our midst. I was quite surprised, to discover it appeared to be Rakor Blakthorn from the church of Waukeen, in Assur. He said he was trying to open trade and encourage civilization on behalf of his patron amongst the savages and natives of the hinterlands. I was very pleased to discover it was not an illusion or changling, but seems to be Rakor himself! He said he had many difficulties in his travels (as I can well imagine, the painful sting of remembering Setibyr and Enalda still festers). He decided to join our band, after I made introductions. I tried to set everyone at-ease by telling them I’m familiar with Rakor.

I remember his arrival in Assur on the Kestrel’s Wing. He was not the most noteworthy passenger, but I immediately saw his wit and invited him to dine with me. I showed him the places to eat and whore safely, and did my best to help him get established in his new city. It’s always good to have friends these days, in fact, civilization depends upon it!

Sahil determined that very cold weather was about to set it. We ruminated on the briefly, but I was still fretting about the wolves and decided to scout them out. I left my friends in safety and ventured to the woods. I could hear them all around me, and I took steps to mask my scent. Finally I got closer and I got the strong suspicion that I was detected. I began to creep away, and a huge, vicious beast, half-man half wolf came after me! He looked ravenous, but I tricked him into thinking his master was calling. He left in response to “his master’s call” and I hastened from the woods. Never losing my cool, I kept up a rapid pace. Soon, I had three of the beasts after me! Again, always in control, I continued with my rapid advance in the direction of my companions. I made back to the shrines and found my companions all looking in the direction from whence I came. They seemed worried. I saw three of the man-wolves running toward us then they stopped. They paced back and forth, growling, then they retreated to the woods.

I suggested we leave the shrines under the cover of darkness, but Malakai was afraid the darkness would hinder us more than the wolves, and no one besides me thought the wolves would follow us. We left upstream after highsun, and it was not long before the weather turned bitterly cold. So cold, in fact, that we found a lizardman dead from it, and an enormous constrictor snake frozen completely to a tree branch!

As we turned west from the main river we were approached by a blue sprite. She warned us that we were being watched, and she was quite threatening. I felt threatened. After she left, three more sprites emerged from trees and I realized there were many more of them than I expected.

The snow was blowing heavily and it was very cold, of course, we were all protected from the low temperature with divine magic. We struggled to find a wanderer’s tree, and the snow was way past my waist! Danjo carried me above the snow, which I appreciated very much. We finally used our tents to create a barrier from the wind and we waited out the storm. After another day-and-a-half the storm subsided and we got bright clear skies. We continued following our map and eventually found a steep hillside with a carven arched doorway flanked by two massive stone obelisks fifteen feet high and five feet on a side. They were blackened as if from flame and were heavily desecrated just like the two temples in the valley. We glanced around and headed into the cave beyond the stone archway. It was worked stone floors, walls and ceiling. Fifteen feet inside was some sort of protective rune that exploded violently on Danjo and Shino! Simultaneously the two stone obelisks exploded in fire and force on everyone else! We were all deafened from the blast, and some were slightly stunned. I cast invisibility on myself and looked around. Malakai’s head was penetrated by a large piece of stone, and blood gushed all over the scorched ground.

Sadly we realized that Malachi was dead. We got Malachi cleaned up and moved inside, after I belatedly checked the passageway for more traps. There were none. Sadness fell over everyone. Focusing on work, I headed into the complex. I searched down the main passage, coming to a side room then I continued to a very large room about 70 feet by 80 feet. There were two passages exiting each of the other three walls. The space was completely dominated by a huge dry fountain. The main bowl of the fountain had a larged winged man and above him another bowl of the fountain rested on the tips of the wings. Using light spells and dancing lights Shino and I looked it all over. There was a large, indecipherable rune on the fountain. I cast a spell to comprehend language, but it was of no help. Then I cast a spell to read magic words and it was no help.

Finally I stepped into the room and suddenly the fountain was full of roiling blood. It didn’t fill with blood, it was full of blood! Then a loud booming sound began, and screams, and four skeletons launched from the fountain and came at us! I ran back and Shino drenched them in flame while Danjo, Sahil, Makoto and Rakor all came to join us. We defeated the skeletons and walked into the room. Four more skeletons came forth. We destroyed them, and four more came forth! The bizarre rune pulsed with an evil light and menacing words echoed over and over: “You will die here and your soul will be trapped her forever to serve the purposes of our dark lord!”

The skeletons keep coming on…

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Into the temple
and Danjo's cowardice

So we decided to head back over to the temple of Torm and see what we could do about moving the statue and going into the undercroft. Using a spell to command the statue of Torm out of the way, we gained access to the undercroft and were able to use the spell scrolls attained from the temple of the Red Knight to gain entrance to the side rooms. A room for teaching and reading of text, no doubt religious in nature, and two other rooms used for storing belongings of various nature. Scrolls, armor, arms, and bottles believed to be filled with holy water; these were among the things discovered. Of note, there was also a really nice suit of armor of the olden days.
We, as a group, decided that it would be best to leave anything we would not find useful here, as looting a holy temple for personal gain seems acquisitive and would likely incur the wrath of some kind of deity or another.
This brings me to another thing, Danjo. I do not know what is going through your mind Danjo, but it would seem that you are either pulling the wool over this Torm’s eyes, which seems very foolish to try and deceive a deity, or that you are truly subjecting yourself to his will in order to save own skin which is a less than noble path. Cowardice I would go as far as to say. This change of heart you are having, and furthermore you are subjecting yourself to a foreign god even. Not only the acts of a coward, but of one who betrays their homeland for a sense of security. Danjo, you have always been someone I look up to, someone I aspired to be like, whether that was good or bad, it is, or was. I’m not sure anymore my Danjo, my father like man. Glorious in battle, covered in the life blood of your foes, who would lay broke in body and spirit before and beneath you.
Now I believe I see a man who was, who is, so afraid to lose his life that he would submit to a god, valorous as this Torm may be, who has no real touch in our lands. Danjo, what is it that you are becoming?
We decided to rest for the night and in the morning we are planning on heading to an area of interest not far from here, before heading back to Asur to report in. May the kami protect us on our journey

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Journal from the September Session
Discovery of 2 Desecrated Shrines

The weather turned decidedly wet! It reminded me of some squalls I rode out when I plied the coast on the Goldwater Queen under Captain Dornather. To be sure, after the hellish desert, this downpour is very welcome. They gray skies and gray mood settled heavily on my stalwart companions, especially the newcomer Malakai. The loss of Setibyr and Enalda still weighs heavy on us all, and I thought, nay felt, this was an opportune time for us to remember the beautiful twins, and to grieve a bit. From my days at sea I know a crew needs time to remember the fallen.

I started talking about the twins, and my fond memories, and debt of gratitude. Soon everyone was listening, then one by one, like the desert flowers I saw, they opened up in the rain. We had a good remembrance of them.

I decided to use the cover of the rain and clouds to sneak about and get the lay of the land. I spent hours outside the tent, scouting around and I found a creek that I felt would lead us where we needed to go. Alas my instincts guided us true! We had decided to travel east and the water flowed more-or-less in an easterly direction.

The high winds had subsided and we all started on our way following the creek-now-river. The water swelled at the banks and we followed it for days. Finally we crossed with Sahil’s magic and by working together. We finally came to a beautiful and serene part of the valley that was marked by several very large stone buildings. I’ve always preferred wood or brick, but no one can deny that a huge stone structure speaks of wealth and power.

We cautiously circled the buildings looking for tracks and signs of occupation or use. Our searches yielded nothing. Then we looked inside. The buildings were centuries old and had been abandoned for a very long time. In each one was a large statue. One statue of Torm and one statue of the Red Knight. Each of these different shrines, however, was completely desecrated with unholy writing, symbols, feces, and filth. While investigating the statues and the surrounding area we set off several warding glyphs. We also were attacked by a horde of undead skeletons, which we were able to defeat. We searched in a copse of trees near the shrines and found many shallow graves.

In the Shrine of Torm we discovered a clue to a hidden room, but we could not discern the answer to open it. We discovered a similar clue at the Shrine of the Red Knight but we correctly interpreted it and we found a secret stairway. Danjo and I were unable to descend, for some oddly vexing reason, but the rest went down. They said the found planning rooms that were probably over half a millenia old, or more. There was also ancient weapons and armor and a massive mural telling some stories of the Red Knight (or so they said).

Now, as they explore below and I wait here with the warrior Danjo, I keep wondering. What is so important about this location? What secrets are here? We certainly haven’t found anything of vital importance, or if we have, we have failed to recognize it. Surely if we spend enough time here we can learn the important secrets that the dwarf was hinting at, shortly before his murder. This could be the information we need to end the troubles, or at least get paid well.

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Discoveries in the Valley of Shrines
Mystery deepens in the Valley

The idle time has passed. As well as the cleaning. With our rest, we continue our investigation of the Red Knight’s underground chambers.

We have no luck gaining access to the other 2 doors, but now we have some interest in determining if the scrolls we uncovered will gain us access to Torm’s chambers.

Suddenly, we are met by Tuck. It appears he is able to enter after all. He claims it was his state of mind, and releasing his anger made all the difference. Donjo is still not able to enter.

Tuck is unable to further assist us in opening the doors, so we have a bit of a discussion. We decide to head over to Torm’s shine, and see if Makoto can gain us entrance into his chambers.

Before going in, Donjo prepares himself in his custom, and appears to make prayers to Torm. After a short wait, he gets up, and we enter. Makoto is successful in utilizing his magic’s to allow us to gain access to Torm’s chambers.

Below, we find a similar layout. The mural is different, but the doors are placed in the same locations.

With the aid of the scrolls uncovered in the Red Knights chambers, we are able to open all three doors. Inside, we find bunks, tables, and some other odds and ends. There area few martial items that look to be helpful to some of our members. The desire to leave things as intact as possible is strong with everyone, and the taking of what was left is kept to a minimum.

We did find more scrolls, equipment and books. The scrolls we used to gain access to the other two doors in the Red Knight’s shrine. We found some more historic items and a few odds and ends.

With these findings, we are now discussing the job the party was hired for. I, am working to help speed up the discovery so we may return to town. We have decided on a course of action of exploration. Wishing to uncover as much of what happened here as possible so we can update the Red Knight and Torm temples about the lost Valley of Shrines.

With the aid of Shino, I was able to discover several skeletal remains with ancient clothing on them. Shino pointed out that there were some recent scrapes & cuts on the bones that happened well after these skeletal remains had passed. Their location confirms that someone had raised these remains and used them. For what purpose is a mystery.

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Idle hands in the valley of the shrines

The storm continues to lash out. It’s anger and force having spent itself earlier, yet it remains prevalent.

My companions and myself while away the time trying to puzzle out the mural in the Red Knight’s shrine, as well as access to Torm’s secret vault.

There are rewards to be had. Nothing like the books make out, but still things we could sell.

I spend my time trying to make a very rough journal out of the paper I have found, and any thread I can gather. Either the leather cording in broken armor, or in frayed clothing. With luck, my perseverance will yield me a rough journal to save my precious spellbook and it’s rapidly diminishing pages.

I do not believe I will ever travel without a spare book or two from now on. Having access to paper to write notes down is incredibly valuable.

Donjo and Tuck are not able to enter the vaults under the Red Knight. A protective ward preventing people who do not hold basic values has prevented them from joining Sahil, Shinjo and myself.

Between the rudimentary journal, I am trying to roughly draw out the mural that surrounds the shrines, as well as the general area in the valley. Perhaps this information is stored elsewhere, but keeping this information for others to find is important. We must preserve what history we can.

I wonder if we will fully discover what happened here to have such a lovely, and fertile valley be so heavily desecrated.

My personal time has ended. I need to return to cleaning this shrine. While I will not be able to restore it to it’s proper glory. Hopefully, I can help unmark the desecration done to these noble gods.

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