Earthdawn - Who Really Kaers?

Battle Record of Soko Korose Shinu 7/22/2011

First battle since leaving home
I arrived at Ardine having hunted along the way to preserve my supplies and to keep my skills sharp. One must always be very careful when traveling alone. I chose a city far from my clan. When I arrived at the city they were hiring for caravans. I accepted a contract with a small company, only one wagon. The details were to get the wagon to the destination before I would be paid $150 silver. They made me wait a day till they found several others to back me up. An archer, a user of magic, and an obsidiman smith.
They were nice enough but didn’t seem to have the same level of discipline that is standard in the clan. We started the trip alert and ready. By the third day the others had started to get a little lax in their vigilance. Being the vanguard I was focused on my area and so missed the rider out to the side on top of a hill. The person who was supposed to be watching for signs of ambush didn’t think a rider in the middle of a wilderness watching us from a hill was important enough to notify me.
The 8 horsemen charged out of the rocks on our right straight for the three of us in view, the archer, magic user, and myself. I quickly discarded the idea of throwing knives at the riders because of the chainmaille that they wore. I grabbed my axe and as the first rider quickly reached me I swung it hard at his chest. It broke through his maille and started the blood flowing. He was stunned as he hit the earth and I brought the blade down to finish him off. I then Jumped directly at the next rider surprising him with my aggressiveness. They thought that three little orcs were more than enough for a troll of the Shinu clan. I doubt their intelligence we very great. Knocking the second warrior off his horse I used one of my favorite strikes and finished him before he even hit the ground. Then I unhorsed the third one who had foolishly charged me.
I took a moment to see what was happening with the rest of the group. I saw the Elf, bloody, knock him self out trying to hide under the wagon. The magic user was running toward me away from three orcs and the rock man was coming around the horses with a bloodied weapon. I turned back to the third orc who had risen to his feet and quickly took him out. I then aggressively charged the three the archer was trying to escape from hoping that they were more of a challenge than the first three. I took two quick slashes at the orc closest to the elf killing him. And quickly finished off the next orc who the elf had wounded, before I could deal with the last orc the rock man dispatched him with more skill than I expected out of a mere smith.
Looking around I saw one dead horse and no more immediate threats. I checked the five orc that I vanquished and found two still alive but near death.
“You fought with honor,” I whispered over each and I sent him on to continue his journey in whatever heaven their kind receives. The passengers and driver screamed in horror as they watched me finish off the wounded and then calmly cut a finger from each. They had fought with honor, even though it was very poorly, and I would honor their death. Our clan makes beads from the bones of our defeated enemies. I record information of import on the bones with my rune carving.
Placing the fingers in the special red pouch on my belt we gathered around the two remaining orcs that were still alive. The orc magic user spoke to his kin in their language but didn’t get much from him. Then the Rock man started threatening him with his sword and cut him once. The Orc started to talk then but the only useful information was “they were paid to attack us.”
We stripped the bodies of any goods that we could sell and ended up with a nice pile of chain maille armor, shields and weapons. I started to butcher the horse meat when behind me someone asked, “What are you doing korose?”
“Getting us a very tasty dinner. It isn’t as good as goat, nothing is but horse makes for a fine stake roasted medium rare over the fire.” I replied without even looking back. I soon had some help.
That night after the passengers had their fill of horse, I placed the five fingers in the coals and watched the meat burn off. Cleaning the bones I took my knife and cut one bead about a quarter inch in length from each finger. I returned the rest to the fire. I carved the following runes into the bones; 5, Orc, horse, and easy. I then strung them onto the necklace around my neck.
It was an uneventful night on watch which I shared with the Rock man. We were the least injured and quickest to recover from the short battle. I kept myself awake by running the battle through my head over and over analyzing ways to improve my technique. All in all I had fought well. When my shift was over I slept equally well.
Mid-morning brought a pillar of dark smoke off the main road a ways. It reminded me of similar occurrences near my clan home. The rock man became upset.
“I am going to go check out the smoke.” Cortex said.
“Why” Gerneck asked.
“It is something bad from my past.” Cortex said.
“We are half way to the city, can’t it wait?” Benoni asked.
“No I have put it off for 3 years now and I cannot pass up on this opportunity.” Cortex said.
“What happened?” Gerneck asked.
“I had a bad experience.” Was all cortex would say about it.
Now we were left with several choices; 1. Continue on without the rock man. 2. Split the party and half go with him and half continue with a weakened guard. 3. All of us go with the rock man to investigate the pillar of smoke.
I wondered what would cause the rock man to break his honor.

The Quest and the Question
The past ever present

These last few weeks have been wonderful as I’ve learned more and advanced in my weaponsmith training. Due to my poor showing in combat, I spent time developing my skills knowing that should I embark on my own, many dangers awaited. But I didn’t have a chance to set off before another task presented itself.

Joran approached us with a particularly odd mission. I didn’t want to alarm the others but I know that typically only a couple of defenders per wagon would be plenty. Most caravans travelling between Ardanyan and Bartertown only employed a single sentry. I know that Joran has been underground for his whole life but surely he could have gotten adequate information to tell him that this road is well-travelled and rarely attacked. To ask all four of us to go along and still put out advertisements for hired hands means we are not just accompanying standard trade fair. Whatever is in this single wagon is very valuable.

However, I put my concerns aside in hopes of being wrong. We gathered at the wagon and met a troll who had signed on as a hired hand. I spent the first two days with my sword in hand. Eramus spent a good amount of time sitting on my shoulder telling tall-tale after tall-tale. Eventually, my confidence bolstered and I sheathed my sword knowing my trusty hammer still hung easily at my side.

On the third day however, I glanced over to the left and saw a figure on a horse some 50 or so yards away from the road. This road is travelled enough that in most cases there was no reason to leave it. We hadn’t seen anyone else that far off the road since we left and my internal alarm went off. I moved closer to the horses and caught Gernak’s eye. I pointed out to him the rider on the hill and he moved up to tell the troll while I started slowing down to let Benoni know. As I did though I noticed 3 flashes of light, like a reflection off of armor or a sword. But I didn’t have much time to contemplate things before the ork-scorchers were upon us. Eight of them came riding from behind the rocks to the right of the road.

I started running to the front of the wagon to protect the driver. But I didn’t get very far before the first one was on me. He threw his spear at me and it grazed my shoulder. My new stone-disc armor deflected most of the damage. I closed the distance but missed on my first swing. I parried his first swing and crushed him with my second strike, knocking him off his horse and either dead or unconscious. I looked up and saw a scorcher staring at me. He had no weapons and after looking at the ork I had just unhorsed, he took off. I noticed that the troll had taken out several of the scorchers on his own and was running to the other side of the wagon.
I followed him and saw several scorchers off their horses and I attacked the nearest one dispatching him in one swipe. The troll took out the other two swiftly with his axe. I still had reservations about him but I was glad he was on our side. Benoni and Gernak were quite injured in the battle. We stripped the scorchers and put their gear in the wagon. Then we bound two of them with rope and killed the others. We woke him up and attempted to interrogate him. The anger threatened to boil but I remained calm as I set my sword on his should to let him know I mean business. He gave us little information but he did say that they were told to specifically attack us. I had been afraid of this. A sinister plot is unfolding.

Once we had gleaned what we could, we dispatched him and the other one. We kept moving and finally came to a crossroads where another group had set up camp for the night. We joined them and got some rest. In the morning we set off again. Around mid-morning, I spotted black smoke rising from probably a farm several miles off the road. Lerod!

They had not been on my mind for most of the trip but now…this was fresh. The billowing smoke told me I might even catch them in the act. But I had signed a contract. Surely this would take just a few moments. Only an hour or two lost. I took several steps to the side of the road. But I need help. I had not found many clues and the experience of my companions might turn up more.

I turned and asked the driver to stop the wagon. As my companions came to me wondering what was wrong, I pointed to the smoke. They don’t know of my quest. I have never been open about it. So I struggled to speak of it. But the urgency of time struck me and I found words and spoke quickly.

“When I first detached from my life rock I encountered a farmer and his wife. They took me in, taught me about this world. I consider them what most name-givers call ‘parents. It was they who brought me to my first forge and guided me to my second home among the pounding metal. On my last trip to my life rock I stopped and spent time with them. A year later as I emerged, I found their farm burned and my father slaughtered in his field. The black smoke smoldered among the buildings and I could not bear to seek out his wife. I doubt she was kept alive. The attack had been recent and I gathered what I could to help me learn who did this. Ever since, I have been doing things solely to aid me on my quest for revenge. I have my armor now, I’m more prepared to fight those who killed my parents but I do not have the training to recognize all of the clues.

“I know you all have contracts. So I do not ask this lightly. But will a couple of you come with me to see this farm. There may yet be people alive. There may yet be their attackers still around. A couple should stay with the wagon but I must go. I feel shame that I have neglected their memories for so long. If none of you will come so be it. I understand. But I must go. With luck I will be gone but an hour or two and will meet up with you again tonight. What say you?”

A Nethermancers point of view on councils, nonmilitary take overs and death

The door shut firmly behind me and Cortex. We could finally have a rest. I glared at Benoni ready to cast a spell in case if he started to attack us again. It seems like he got control of his arms again, he at least wasn’t drawing his sword or throwing something at us. He started to mumble gibberish again but then decided to write on the ground.
He said that he had lost control of his arms. He could see is arms doing something but he had no control over them. We started to talk about what went on and what our next steps could be. We filled Cortex in on what had been going on for the past fifty years. He still looked a little shocked about all that was going on. As we started to talk about what our next course of action was we all started to be able to understand each other again.
We decided not to go back the way we came so our only option was to head for the weapon shop. On the way towards the shop we decided to try and get a message to Joran. We were able to make our way to the trapdoor. I decided to climb up the ladder and hear what was going on in the shop. It sounded like there was a customer up there with the same ork seller.
After the customer left I timidly knocked on the door. The owner sounded startled and came over to the door. I quietly talked to him in orcish that everything was ok and that we needed to talk. He moved everything away from the door and opened it up. He was startled again when he saw me and we told him that we needed to talk to Joran. He said he could get a message to him but it might take some time. We told him that we would wait. He shut the trapdoor and went out to get Joran. We moved back towards the room with the cell and waited for Joran to arrive. My nerves were on end but I had learned to be patient all my life. Greatness doesn’t come in a quick manner.
It must have been at least an hour before we heard the trapdoor being opened. Joran called out to us and we told him to come to us. He had the two guards he had with him before. He was shocked to see us but we got straight down to business. He wanted to know what happened to us and why we didn’t contact him from the other side of the gate.
He filled him in on our story about the outside world and the town of Ardanyan. He was dumbfounded to hear of our travels and to look at Cortex. We told him of the betrayal of Leldrin and the elves. Benoni was seething at that point but we were able to keep him calm. When we came to end Joran was almost in a state of unbelief. He tried to get his thoughts together but I could tell it was hard for him. We tried to get him to talk by asking what had been going on as the kaer.
He told us that he branded us as criminals and put us in prison to hide our disappearance. He said that since our arrival and our strange mutterings there were mobs running around the kaer looking for us. We asked about the masters but he had no idea where they were.
After we talked about the happenings we got down to making a plan of action. I could tell Benoni wanted to run out, find Leldrin and kill him. Eramos wanted to find his “hot” master for some reason. Cortex was still in a state of shock about being in a kaer. I just wanted to find my master and go back to our lake and fish.
After debating for a while we decided to go before the council and let them know what was going on and what had happened. We all got into the council chamber and awaited the return of its members. Joran introduced Cortex and explained that our wards had been breached and we were at risk. He then retold our story to the council. I had my eye on Leldrin as the story was retold but saw the genuine look of shock and disbelief on his face. I knew what we had seen was true and that Leldrin had a secret passage from his home to the outside world. When Joran came down to the end and accused Leldrin of all of the lies that have been fed the kaer for fifty years, the council was shocked and a few called fro proof. Cortex stood up and said that he would lead the council to the secret passageway to the outside. From there the council was led to the house of Leldrin with Leldrin heavily guarded. Cortex got it right most of the way but Benoni had to point him in the right way a few times. Cortex was able to find the right book to open the secret bookcase and it only took him a couple of wrong tries but made it work in the end.
The council stared awestruck while they walked through the tunnels of the cave. After a little bit of time Cortex, the council and our group emerged in the room with the illusionary wall. We recognized the room but the council stopped to stare at us when we walked towards where the wall was. The council didn’t believe us about the wall until we started to walk through it. I could see the concentration on some of their faces but slowly the illusion was broken over the whole council. The council as a whole turned their heads to Leldrin. He stood there shocked about it as the rest of the council was. As the guards came to secure him properly he shook his head and the face of Leldrin and was replaced with the face of one of his apprentices. He said that Leldrin usually would place an illusion on the face of one of the apprentices during the boring council meetings and he had done the same thing that morning.
With the truth behind us, the council quickly deliberated and decided to send a group of guards to see in what state the council chambers were in in the town and see what they could do to supplant their rule. We went up with them and noticed that the chambers were empty and most of the elves in the city had left. The rest of the city went about their normal work day. With the council under control in the kaer and in the town our group went back to go find our masters. A group of guards found them in a grove of trees no more hurt then they were before.
The kaer council was able to take charge of the town without too much difficulty. Our group was well paid and was able to take control of the mansion that Argathiel lived in. We’ve been spending some time training up but now with a whole wide world out there it seems like we are missing so much of it. I like Brelduin but after seeing what happened to him, my faith in his power has wavered some. He always said that Nethermancers had the power over death. After seeing him so close to it it reminded me of my parents and how much I never want to get that close to it. There is a part of me that wants to cheat death. But what am I talking about. I started learning about nethermancy to learn more about death and the first thing I learn was that everything dies. I know what my mind is telling me but I also know what the powers in my body re telling me to. At this point I don’t know what to believe anymore.

One Chapter closed, only to start another Anew
an account by Benoni

It has been a long road but we are now were we should be!

After entering into the hidden passage I was finally able to gain control of my arms and stop trying to attack everyone around me. It felt good even though I could not talk. I soon realized that our party was all here, even Cortex who did not seem happy to see me. Yet he was kind enough to return one of my Throwing Daggers.

Since we were unable to talk we started to write what we should do next, this was a Loooooong process and the Windling’s words were so small I could barely read them, even with my sharp eyes. But eventually are speech returned.
We had decided to continue down the passage and see if we could contact Mr. Cage, the tunnel was shorter then I remembered the first time we come down it, on our way out of the Kaer. Gerneck went up the ladder to talk to the shop owner. After several minutes they both came down and we asked the shop keeper to get a message to Cage. I guess I was a little on edge by the dirty looks my companions gave me when I threatened his life, if he betrayed us. All I can say is it has already bee a frustrating morning, and I did not want any more unexpected gifts.

To help calm down I went to the adjacent room to perform my Karma ritual and gain some focus. When Cage finally arrived, we told him everything that happened from the time we left to the present. And can you believe that the first thing he said is that he needed proof that I was not Tainted! Was this guy for real, after everything we had been through for Him and that is all he can think of…… well I guess the Karma ritual was not calming enough, that was the worst looking arrow ever made.

Anyway the plan was set to have us enter the Hall under the disguise that we were chained. Our case we presented and Cortex lent proof by showing himself, an outsider within the Sealed Kaer. For further proof we lead them back to the traders house and into the secret tunnels beyond. When it was proven that for the last 50 years we were all being deceived the fake Hero was taken, only to find out that it was just his fool apprentice.

Wanting to make sure that the masters were ok, I was torn between finding them and staying to prove the further crimes of our former Legend. But in the end, I saw that everything possible was being done to find the masters and I would be more help leading the guard to the Council House in the world above. At first glance I could tell that we would not find much, the place had been cleaned out, which meant the traitors were gone.

Upon returning to the Kaer we were welcomed by news that the Masters were found and they were being healed, and in the next few days the city beneath would join with that above. We were given the choice of all of the empty Mansions above, it would seem that all of the cowards had fled. In the weeks that came later I spent a lot of time training and while I was not in the yard with bow or sword I was away making arrows for my new War Bow, but not any arrows. These were special for on each one was a name. A name that matched a traitor, one arrow for each one, for I will not miss and they will know that the arrow that killed them was meant Only for them. Two arrows stood out above the rest, marking them as special, one bore the name of the Former Hero, the one that stayed and lead us all live in fear. The other was marked with the name of my Birth Mother. You see we found a book that told of all the people that had forsaken their people and their Father’s before them, and in its pages was my Mother, marked with the date of the event and even how her Fake Death was done.

It makes no difference to me that I was most likely to go with her, that I would have lived my life above ground. On that day she had turned her back on her own and that cannot be forgiven! Nor will it be forgotten! For all of you traitors out there, let it be known that you will be Hunted, you will be Found, and you will Die!!! But this time there will be no tricks, no Illusion, Just the Hard Cold Grasp of Death!

The End From The Beginning
Where do I go from here?

After the door closed, we were plunged into darkness. Then I saw a light and moved toward it. Benoni seemed to have calmed down and they started writing in the dirt to communicate although they babbled at the same time. We started to plot our strategy from here and shortly after that, suddenly Benoni started speaking normally again. Finally! I was getting tired of trying to make out their scrawling in the dim light. And Eramus’ writing is really crappy.

I returned Benoni’s knife to him in a much gentler manner than he gave it to me. We decided to press forward to try and contact this Joran who sent them out. We finally came out into a jail cell where the door hung open. Then a short tunnel led to a ladder. Gerneck volunteered to go up since the owner of the store above was also an ork. I prepared to pull myself up since the trap door wasn’t that high up and the wood ladder really couldn’t hold my weight. But after some knocking the owner opened the door and came down. He agreed to go get Joran and left.
While we waited, some did Karma rituals and I paced nervously. I had come into an unfamiliar world and now I sat here with Name-givers accused of being escaped prisoners. I didn’t know what to think anymore. I needed answers. They needed answers. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened and we saw people coming down the ladder. It was Joran and a couple of guards. I readied myself for battle. I was really disliking guards.

The story was told to an overwhelmed Joran. I confirmed that Argathiel and Handreaux still lived. He struggled to take it all in. But the reality seemed to finally sink in and a plan of action was proposed. We would be led in chains before the Council. I didn’t like this, despite Joran’s assurances. After much debate, it was decided that those three would come up in chains and I would conceal myself among the gallery in the council chamber to stand forth as proof of the outside world. I liked this because then I could take action should I have to. However, acting inconspicuous when you are as tall as I am is a fairly difficult task. I tried sitting but smashed the chair. I finally just leaned against the back wall, and pulled the cloak close around me.

Once the council was assembled, my new friends were brought in and Joran explained to the council what we had told him. Then I stepped forward and removed my cloak as proof that life existed outside the kaer. There was a lot of commotion understandably. Joran asked me to lead the council to the tunnel we had come in through. Uh, crap. So with a lot of help from Benoni, I finally led them to the house of the illusionist and then to the library. I swear I remember what book it was we needed to pull to open the door but the one I pulled didn’t work. I felt so dumb. But I couldn’t let my friends down and I knew we had come through here so I searched and realized I was two books over. After pulling that one the secret passageway opened.

Some of the council members scoffed but I led them down the tunnel to the large cavern. I forgot that there was an illusion cast here and so I walked right through it. But the council members only saw a solid wall so that gave them quite a start. When I turned around and saw all of the commotion I remembered and returned through the illusion. This helped as slowly all of them disbelieved and the wall vanished. At this, they ordered the guards who were with us to seize the illusionist as he was a member of the council. But the face quickly changed and it turned out to be his apprentice who was often asked to masquerade as his master to meetings his master thought pointless. The illusionist had escaped.

While the anger seethed inside me, I knew we needed to further the case so I volunteered to accompany a group of kaer guards back up the tunnel to the council house. I figured this would give me a good opportunity to vent some of my anger on any soldiers from Ardanyan. The others wanted to see their masters but decided to join me in returning. We were greatly disappointed to see that the treasure room and shrine had been cleaned out. There were no soldiers anywhere. We found the rest of the master’s slaughtered in the cell so I’m glad we made the effort to save some of them. However, the loss of innocent life angered me further. We took the kaer guard up the stairs and let them look out the window to see the outside and then returned to the kaer.

I brought one of the dead master’s back so that they could see his death and it was verified that Argathiel had taken part in their murder. Joran insisted that the kaer council go above and take over the council house in Ardanyan. I resisted but finally gave in and went with him and others to sercure the council house. After a sweep through the building, we found nothing of interest. The place had been cleaned out in a hurry. I left and went to Handreaux’s forge. The building was boarded up and all he left behind were tools. Coward.

The next day or two passed in a slight blur as the kaer opened and their people rejoined the city of Ardanyan. My friends and I were given Argathiel’s mansion as our own and his forge was turned over to Elmar Firehammer, a master weaponsmith. He took me as his apprentice and I finally have been able to train up to Circle 2 as a weaponsmith. It was good to hear the pounding of the forge again. I also finally had time and experience to meditate upon my talents and learn them better.

With all of the excitement, my thoughts had been drawn away from Lerod and Mary. But with things calming down, the town residents who had not fled with Argathiel adjusted to the new government and the kaer residents sought homes and employment, once again I had time to think. So many more innocent lives had been lost now. Where did Argathiel flee to? Vengence surged inside me again but now my focus has been torn. For so long all I cared about was Lerod and Mary. Now I had friends again. Surely they will join any expedition to hunt for Argathiel and his lot. I should go with them. But it seems like every step takes me further from finding the killers I have sought for so long. This experience of living feels much different than I thought it would.

Is my Whole Life a Lie?
an account by Benoni

I wish this was just a bad dream, but I know that it is not.

We have just escaped the Jail cells with our Masters out through the tunnel behind that Evil Passion and soon lost the sound of pursuit. Although if our night would have ended there I would be fine. But instead we found a Table with two chairs in the middle of the tunnel, and by the lack of dust in seems to be used often. I thought then that this might be a secret path back to the Kaer that we thought might exist. Yet Knowing that a path might exist and finding out that someone from the Kaer was working with the people on the outside was something totally different.

My greatest fears were known when Cortex found that the tracks from the table lead down another corridor and that corridor lead us to a stone wall that opened to a small personal library. I quickly wished that I spent more time in the class room instead of learning the Bow and Sword, for I realized that the books were in Elven, by a few characters that I recognized, but I never spent the time in school to learn how to read or even write in Elven. I always thought why bother, even speaks dwarf anyways. Boy was I wrong.

Feeling foolish about not being able to read the books I turned my head a found a small window that showed us the outside, it was full night but to my keen eyes I could clearly see that we were back in the Kaer. In fact the family that raised me would only be a few miles away. Eramos wanted to search the house that we were in, but I was anxious to get somewhere safe and to do it quickly. We were all tired and the Masters could hardly stand let alone walk for much longer.

To the great disappointment of the Windling we quickly located the front door and left the house, once outside I took a sharp breath. It could not be what I thought, I quickly turned around again to see the house and then back to the courtyard leading to the street. But it was the Elf that everyone knew, the Elf that I respected, the Elf that was a Hero, the Elf that survived where everyone else did not, the Elf that I knew now as some puzzle pieces fell into place was a FAKE. The Hero really was the villain not only that but I soon realized that all of the names of those on the outside that we knew from the Kaer were all Elves, what have my people done! How could they lose their Honor.

I had no more time for ideal thoughts as four large Creatures burst from cover, was it a horror? No, I knew whose house this was, and I knew that he was considered one of the best Illusionist, if not the best, in the Kaer. So I tried to close my eyes and disbelieve what I had seen, it was not really there, but the more I tried the more my angered burned. The Elf whose home was behind us and those on the outside have made my people and the whole Kaer live in fear, they would pay and the will pay in Blood. When my eyes opened the creatures were still there, but I no longer cared they were part of the deception and they would die, like those behind them.

I quickly bared my swords, I needed to feel the metal cutting the flesh of these beast, and charged the one closest to me. I attacked and it went down, but during the skirmish another one of the beast got behind me and hit me. That was a mistake, now I knew where it was and I was faster, I slipped around to the side of the creature and attacked with all my might but as the creature fell it disappeared. In fact looking around they were all gone, was it an illusion after all? Gathering the others I quickly lead them down the side roads to the farm I was raised on, not wanting to attract attention we carefully sneaked into the barn. Once there we tried to make the wounded Masters comfortable, Gerneck even started to work on the worse of the wounds.

During my watch for the night my thoughts went back to what I knew, what I thought I knew for my whole life. How much of it was a lie? Was this mysterious disease a way that the Elves were taken outside? Or was it away to Kill those that found out too much. Was the poor Dwarf that died 50 years ago while seeing if the scourge was still present really killed by those that he trusted? Was the Horror that was seen killing him all fake. How much blood was on the hands of the Elf we all praised as Hero? I decided that it no longer mattered, one innocent lost was too much. Not only that but the race of the Elves had been disgraced but their former Hero, and others that then had respected and looked up to. if it is the last thing I do, I will hunt those responsible and kill them!

As dawn broke, we left the barn in two smaller groups, not wanting to attract too much attention. And even though my face was covered the guards at the entrance recognized me and the two heroes I was assisting. They said something about the Prisoner and two of the Masters had returned, but when I tried to find out who they meant was a prisoner only gibberish come out of my mouth. But not only mine but that of my companions too, I quickly wrote a note to the guards but as they looked at it the fled in terror. Then not realizing what I was doing I pulled a throwing dagger from beneath my cloak and threw it at Eramos, what was I doing? Thankfully it missed him and Cortex and did no harm but while I was still trying to figure out what was happening, my Bola was twirling through the air to entangle Cortex. Then I heard that most of the others could not talk either, except for Cortex, he was saying something for the others to tackle me. Before I knew it those with me tried to hit me, I quickly evaded them but then my arm swung my sword the last attacker dropping them to the ground. Now when did I grab my sword? Then Cortex was there trying to hit me with that great hammer that he wore at his belt, the thing must be heavy because the attack was not difficult to avoid.

Not knowing what else to do, I broke into a run for the Council House, I needed help and that was the best chance. Cortex ran past me to meet a group of people, surely that was not a mob. And as I ran past him I noticed what looked to be one of my good daggers sticking out from his back, what was happening? There were so many people around I went for the secret door and then I was SICK, Really Sick. I lost everything that I had eaten or ever thought about eating. But between my bought of sickness and running I was no longer attacking anyone. I made it to the door and found the way in quickly. Once inside I felt better but I still could not talk and I was not sure if I would attack again, so I started to run down the corridor. I hope that this was not a mistake.

Is it an illusion?
Nope, I really do suck at combat.

I realized that it would take some time for the rest of the group to help the wounded down the tunnel and I was not a very effective fighter with my hammer so I ducked back into the treasure room to search for a weapon and perhaps some armor. I didn’t find any armor but I did find a big two-handed sword that should give me a much better chance at actually hitting an enemy. I followed the rest of the group down the tunnel helping the slowest as best I could. As we continued to descend I noticed something seemed wrong and discovered a pit in the middle of the tunnel. We were able to go around it and continued down to where the tunnel forked. I utilized my tracking skill and found the most common path went into a larger chamber. Gerneck, Eramos, Titoo, their wounded and myself stepped into the room only to find that behind us was a solid wall. I went up to it and pounded on it. It seemed real enough but for a wall this size to move into place after we passed would have been very noisy. This must be an illusion. As soon as I believed that the wall disappeared and I could see Benoni giving me a curious look. I stepped through where the wall had been and told Benoni to come with us. We both re-entered the chamber and to mark the spot, I carved some runes into the wall in an inconspicuous spot.

Benoni found a secret door to a library. Everything was in elvish and even Benoni didn’t understand it. Eramos grabbed a book and I carried it for him. I offered to help his master as he is so small. He decided to sit on my shoulder and regale me with his many stories. I already knew of his ego and so I took most of his tales in proper perspective. Still it helped lighten my mood some and soothe my anger slightly. As we left the library, there was a window and my companions realized we were back in their kaer. What?? Argathiel really was from their kaer. He had probably recognized the masters as from the kaer and imprisoned them unjustly. He had a secret tunnel back to the kaer and Benoni informed me that Handreaux had also been in their kaer but supposedly committed suicide. I felt betrayed and the battered condition of these innocent Name-givers filled me with rage. I began to wonder how much of the riches of Ardanyan really came from the kaer and Argathiel only loved the city because it kept him wealthy stealing from his own private treasure trove. That also meant he kept these poor Name-givers in fear to keep them as slaves stuck inside the kaer. If he and I meet again, I will seek justice with my sword.

We left the house and Benoni seemed intent on getting away from it. But four large black creatures emerged. And if I’m saying their big, you know they are huge. But my rage now boiled so close to the surface, I could not restrain myself and I ran at the closest one. I missed, which shouldn’t have surprised me. Luckily, I still managed to avoid their blows. Everyone else joined the fray and on my second swing I finally landed a solid blow. I realized I needed to spend more time meditating on my melee weapon talent.

Before I could strike again, the creatures vanished. Another illusion. But they wouldn’t vanish on their own. The illusionist must be near. I joined Benoni in the urgency to get away. Eramos had taken a horrible blow during the battle and so I put him on my shoulder and we hurried to a barn that belonged to Benoni’s adopted family.

Inside Gerneck took to bandaging the wounded. He has impressive physician skills. We all took turns at the watch and got a little rest. At dawn we set out to find the man who sent my companions on their mission. We sent Benoni and his masters ahead with Titoo and his dwarf friend. Benoni’s masters had been famous members of the guard so perhaps they could sway them. But then the guards turn and fled and Benoni attacked Titoo’s friend knocking him to the ground. We started running and asking what was wrong but everyone around me just spoke jibberish. What happened?? Then Benoni threw a knife at us. It missed so I looked back thinking he was throwing at something behind us. Nothing. Then he threw another one and it bounced off my chest. Some powerful magic had been cast and Benoni wasn’t himself. I needed to stop him before he hurt others. I barreled toward him yelling for his masters and Titoo to tackle him. Somehow they understood me, perhaps I had broken the spell on myself. They weren’t good enough to grab him though and when I got close enough I took a swing at him with my hammer trying to knock him out so he would stop attacking us. I failed, as usual.

One of the masters was mumbling and pointing toward the chamber we needed to get into. I saw a large group of Name-givers running toward us. Oh great. Since I was the only one no longer affected by the spell, I stepped through the gate and tried to get them to stop. Gerneck had disguised me as one of the two Obsidimen in the kaer. They didn’t stop though. I felt a stab in my back but couldn’t be distracted by that, I took out my sword and started swinging it in hopes of slowing down the group so they would listen. This also failed and they surrounded me.

Over their head I saw Benoni running to the council house followed by Eramos. Benoni seemed sick and puked but kept going. I noticed Gerneck also running in that direction and I decided to follow since this mob wasn’t listening. I broke free and ran after them. Eramus ducked through a secret door and I followed. When Gerneck came in he pulled a lever I didn’t notice and the door slid closed. My weight against a sliding door wouldn’t do any good and Eramos was still heading after Benoni. I looked at Gerneck and we knew we’d better follow.

What will happen to the wounded masters and Titoo? I don’t know. I hope they found cover and can wait it out until we come up with a solution or until this evil spell wears off. Only time will tell.

The Fallen Logs
We Found Them But Things Have Changed

I don’t have much time. Even as I write this an angry mob is waiting to break down the door. I know its shocking that a mob would be after such a charming, good looking guy like me. Believe me, I am as confused as you who read this.

When last I wrote, we were trying to get back into the kaer to get help. The magic crystal thingy was broken, so no chance of contacting the kaer. Gerneck spoke the magic words and the outer door opened. We entered to find a troll banging on the inner door. We just stood in surprise as the outer door closed, sealing us in with the troll.

I immediately had a bad feeling about this guy. My fears were confirmed when he turned and made light of my wings. How Rude! Its a good thing my friends stepped in or I would have had to teach him some manners! We learned that he was apart of our masters company and that the were indeed captured.

There was some debate about what to do. Benoni wanted to rest for a day or two, but we decided to head after them right away. We backtracked back to the entrance of the cave. This time there was no sign of the elves. Or perhaps there was. You see we were distracted by the blue sky. And the Sun! Despite the pain I couldn’t help but look. Gradually we noticed some smoke in the distance. We headed off to investigate.

They smoke came from a city! We aproached the guards, and I gave them my best first impression smile. I amazed them with my acting skills. They were so impressed that I got a discount on my entry fee. We asked the guards were the best place to look for some “friends” would be. They directed us to a “cheaper” section of the city. On the way we ran into a strange obsidiman. We was brown! I was sure they were only black or gray. I must have impressed him as well, he offered to buy us drinks and directed us to an inn and told us that he would meet up with us after he finished some business.

The tavern was a major bore. The bar keep was an ornery t’skrang, and the other patrons just couldn’t appreciate a decent story. Benoni totally got cleaned in dice, so I had to show him how it was done. Since I’m not a greedy guy, I stopped after winning enough to cover benoni’s loss and my entrance fee. I wouldn’t want to leave those poor men penniless.

Cortex finally showed up. We again introduced ourselves and benoni and the troll started dropping the most obvious hints that we are from a kaer. I mean really, a little more tact please… Cortex pointed out that our clothes were old fashioned. He also showed us a wanted poster. I couldnt believe the poster called me ugly! He agreed to help us find our masters, but I suspect he had alterior motives. We decided to head to Cortex’s forge, but trouble was brewing.

Cortex stepped outside to find guards swarming around the tavern. I wasn’t about to let Cortex have all the fun, I flew at the closest guard. Once again being the nice guy that I am, I was offering suggestions on how to improve his flaws as I took him out. We were in the thick of it then. We managed to take down the first group only to discover Cortex had fallen and more guards were coming. We were at a loss, Cortex weighs a good 800 pounds. How were we supposed to move him.

We were preparing to defend him, when some guy yelled for him to follow us. We had no choice, we followed vowing to rescue cortex later. We followed through the twisting alleys, until we arrived at an abandoned house. We rested and bound our wounds, while our host (Titoo I think his name was) went to get supplies and new clothes for us. Titoo returned with supplies and news that Cortex was alive and free. Benoni sent titoo t deliver a note as we discussed events. I went through some sword routines to center my focus, while we waited.

Titoo returned with a response from Cortex to join him. We met up at his forge. He told us how they let him go. Cortex then asked titoo to keep watch. When titoo was out of earshot, cortex informed us of the trap. Everyone knows the best way to get around the trap is to spring it. Titoo returned and we began to make final plans. Gerneck had some sort of pet that told us there were four guards at each entrance, so we decided on the roof. Titoo suggested a party in three days would make good cover, but we couldn’t wait that long. We would free our masters tonight!

I flew up to the roof and secured a rope for Benoni and Titoo. We entered through the roof and quietly snuck down and opened a window for Gerneck. Cortex was too big for the window, so he took up a guard position. We then made our way to the cellar. There we managed to get the drop on a couple guards. Before I could react, Gerneck got a lucky shot on one guard, while Benoni dropped the other. Once again im robbed of all the fun. We discovered a treasure room, where a found a ice looking Scimitar, that was just my size.

Titoo said he heard something from the other room. There we found our masters! They were beaten to near death. When we untied them they wanted us to leave without them. Yeah right! Suddenly cortex appeared saying guards were coming. We were help our masters when we heard guards. Cortex suddenly threw his weight against the door. Now that is a doorstop! Benoni led us to a secret for he found. There was an ugly shrine and a cave entrance. With nowhere else to go, we headed for the cave.

We followed this for an hour or so, when found a couple chairs. Courtex found tracks that led into a wide cavern. I entered the cavern, and looked around only to find the way I had come was gone. Gerneck, Cortex and I were in the room, but there was no sign of Benoni. I stared looking for a lever or switch, when Cortex disappeared, the reappeared a moment later with benoni. They must have found. Secret door in the wall. Benoni found a secret door on the other end of the cavern. We went through on found ourselves in a small library. I found a book that had no dust on it in like all the other books that have been untouched for awhile.

We soon discovered we were in a house and back on the kaer! I wanted to search the house, but Benoni had a scared look on his face and wanted to leave. We exited the house and were beset by some monsters. I stepped in front of gerneck and dove into the fray. I dropped on of my best lines, but the beast just drooled. Tough crowd… I managed to nail the beast quite a few times before it landed a solid blow on me. OW! That’s going to hurt in the morning. Just wait till the barmaids see this scar! Before I could retaliate the monsters disappeared!

We didn’t waste time and fled the scene. benoni led us to his family’s barn. Here we sent the night. Come morning I was shocked to find my wounds had vanished. Again we debated what to do. Finally agreeing to head to the council hall then play it by ear. Benoni took his masters, titoo and titoo’s friend and went ahead. The rest us followed behind with the rest of the wounded. As the gate came into site, we saw benoni attacking titoos friend and speaking gibberish.

I yelled out, asking what he was doing, to my horror only gibberish came out. I tried again, still gibberish. What was I supposed to do! With out my voice I’m only a shell! An incredibly good looking shell, but a shell all the same! Cortex seemed uneffected, as we could understand him. We tried to stop benoni, but we heard a mob coming and benoni took off. I pursued him with the rest of my friends following close behind. Gerneck tried to slow Benoni by making him sick, but all that did was stop him from attacking random people. What had come over him. Cortex tried to scare the mob back, but only riled them up more. Seeing it was no use he turned and followed us as well. Of our masters there was no sign, I’m sure they hid when they saw the mob. If only I could speak, then I could whoo this mob into silence.

We managed to make it to the secret corridor that led to the kaer entrance. Once the four of us were inside Gerneck hit the switch and the door closed just as the mob rounded the corner.

We gained a brief respite as we wait for these evil spells to end. We can only wonder what has happened over the last couple days and did our masters reach safety…

I sure hope this is not a Dead End, pun fully intended
an account by Benoni

We Finally lost the City Guard that has been chasing us, thanks to our new found Friend. I am not too sure what I think about helping and being helped by a Thief, but our choices are limited and he too is wanted. It appears that the City guard caught his friend and now the Thief Guild wants him dead now too. Plus who am I to judge, some may not see us as the Good Guys after those Guards fell, but we know that we are not the ones to blame.

Our friend even found us some clothes and disguises to help us get around without being noticed, he has even been to the Prisons where they might be holding our Masters. But the best news that we found out from him is that Cortex was released, at the time we were relieved to hear the news and sent him a note to see if he would want to join with us. At dusk we went to meet Cortex at the barn that he was going to lead us to when we were attacked. Cortex brought us in and asked our friend to keep watch, little did we know at the time that Cortex was released only to lore us into a trap. But he, not wanting to trust our New found Friend, told us of the trap and when we decided to go anyway, he went with us.

Thanks to Gerneck we know before we got there that the guard had been doubled but that our plan to gain access through the roof would still work. When we got to the building Eramos flew up and attached my Grapple hook and the thief and I climbed quickly up, not even slowing down enough to see if the second floor was occupied. I guess that the thrill of getting the Maters out made me forget that this still was a trap. We made it down the stairs to the main floor and opened the window for Cortex and Gerneck, after helping the ork through Cortex realized that he would not fit, and it was decided that he wait outside.

Without delay we continued down the stairs and carefully opened the door, we could see two guards playing dice. Not wanting to make much noise we quickly attacked the Guards and Gerneck must have been more excited to see his master then I was since he almost single handedly took one guard out by himself, I mean this IS Gerneck the one that just shoots spells at people from afar. But boy he has some pack to his punch. I did not too bad either, dropping the other guard on my first hit and knocking him out with the second.

After tying up the Guards we first went to check the door that lies opposite the cells, just to make sure that there were not more guards waiting for us, trapping us against the cell doors. To our surprise it was a strong room holding all kinds of precious minerals, silver coin, weapons and much more. We hesitated just a moment at the door when I saw a bow, knowing that it was better fashioned then mine I took it, and when I was ready to turn back around, I noticed a hidden door in the wall. I was just about ready to open it when our Friend started to get very nervous about saving his friend. So we went back and opened the door leading to the cell.

In the last few days we have heard several stories, including many about people that were believed dead in KA. All in all, I was starting to feel that there was more to what we have always been told and that there was an Evil behind it All. Upon seeing our Masters I know by the way they had been beaten and wounded that Evil truly had a hand is this work, and maybe even the disappearances and the sickness among the Elves back home. While the thief opened the cell I heard footsteps approaching from the stairs, it was Cortex, but what was he doing here, was this the trap after all?

Cortex quickly told me how he was caught and informed me the guards would be coming soon, very soon. I told the others to hurry up, and tried to think of a way out, remembering the hidden door I told Cortex where is was and asked him to check it out while I kept guard at the door. He returned and told me that it was some type of shrine but that there was a tunnel that lead away underground, Our Way Out! It was then that we heard the Guards approach the door, thinking of what I could do, Cortex quickly put his weight against the door, talk about a door stop, anyway I broke the key off in the lock to hinder the guards from unlocking the door, then went I told the others that it was time to leave and that we needed to leave now. Helping my Uncles out of the Cell was difficult, their wounds keeping them from quickness, my anger sparked again and I took each of them under the arms to try to assist them, we did not make it this far only to fail.

When we entered the strong room I turned and broke off the last key in one of the locks, I sure hope I will not need them in the tunnel. Cortex was right there was a Shrine and unholy one at that, if we were not being chased and if our Masters were not so badly wounded I would have torn it down, but instead I turned my attention to the tunnel and to our fate. Whatever stands before us, I know that we will make it, and if we can find time to mend the wounds of our Masters, I have an extra Bow and two swords for them to pick up and help us fight this evil or help us back into the Kaer.

Choosing sides
between a rock and, well....a rock.

I awoke chained in a strange room. My master Handreaux sat before me. I felt a great burden of conscience. What had become of the others? Handreaux questioned me about these newcomers. I realized that lying had gotten me into this situation so I was honest with him about all I knew and had deduced. He listened and left. He returned with guards and Argathiel, the leader of the Council. I grew nervous. What could the leader of the Ardanyan Council want with me? He bade me follow him and he led me through the council house to the tax collector’s office and then down some stairs. There were two guards and a heavy door protecting this carved out chamber. I noticed two doors but only one of them did Argathiel order the men to open. He then led me in, told the guards to leave and removed my shackles. In this room lay tons of treasure in raw materials, money, weapons and other items. Argathiel called it the riches of Ardanyan.
He then laid out for me the history of Ardanyan in brief which I record here for purposes of sharing with my brotherhood at my next communion:

“Even before the Scourge, Ork Scorchers attacked this area when it was nothing more than a settlement – when this area had far less to offer than this. Before that, this crossing was the site of a shrine devoted to Rashomon – a place where the questor Ardan Yan blessed travelers with courage and endurance for the rest of their journey. Ork Scorchers became interested in this site when it became palisaded.
“On a clear night, they attacked, razing the place without mercy, and slaying the few warriors brave enough to take up the fight. Ardan Yan died along with them. The scorchers took everything they could upon their massive thundra beasts.
“After the scourge, history has repeated itself. Ork Scorchers became interested in Ardanyan again. In the early years, they harassed villagers in a small raid. They took lives, gold and food. Full of pride, they even announced their return.
“I had little time to prepare. I managed to hire a coven of Elementalists to erect a protective wall encircling the village. Still, the fortification was too small to prove a hindrance to the ork chieftan at the time. His men were hungry for battle and he called upon them to raze Ardanyan to the ground. But you know what I did? I had another surprise for them. I had earth elementals buried in the ground which emerged during the attack, throwing those scorchers right off of their mounts and forcing them to retreat.
“For a time, nothing happened. Soon, settlers returned and Ardanyan began to prosper again. I knew the ork scorchers would try something again someday. I bought the fire cannons that are on this building’s very roof from the t’skrang down river. When the scorchers did finally attack again, and they DID attack, Ghatz Bloodeyes, the ork chieftan, was the only target. Once he was dead, the ork scorchers fled never to return.”

He then offered me a deal. I would be pardoned for my involvement and possibly get some of the materials to make my own armor. In exchange, I have three days to find this group of new comers and lead them to the other room behind the other door. He said I needed to do it, to prove my loyalty to this city.

I truly felt that these Name-givers were not a threat despite their assault on the guards. They seemed earnest in their quest. Even the windling, despite his ego. But I would be of no use to them or to Lerod and Mary locked up here. Even though I would outlive Argathiel and could be freed later, my consolation would only be that I knew whoever had killed then would be dead also. But I could not stand the thought of more innocent lives being lost. So I agreed reluctantly to the deal with a resolve to inform them of the plot before it happened to give them a chance to flee should they choose.

Argathiel gave me documents and maps of the council house to enable me to assist them getting inside. To help me locate them he also spread word on the street that I had been released and would return to the forge. I left with a heavy heart. Argathiel seemed genuine but I felt like I was being used in ways I could not agree with. I returned to the little room off the barn behind the forge to rest and recover from my wounds.

I was awoken at dusk by a human. I pinned him to the wall until he produced a note from Benoni, the elf with the new comers. He asked for help. I knew we needed some privacy to plan and I wasn’t sure I liked the look of this human so I sent a note back for them to join me and we could talk. I could not believe my luck.

Shortly after that Benoni, Eramus (windling) and Gerneck (one-eared ork), arrived at the forge in disguise. They had acquired more updated clothing which I took for a good sign. The troll was not with them and they did not mention him so I presume he was killed, captured or abandoned their quest. The three informed me of their plan to break into the council house tonight. I could tell from their determination that I could not dissuade them. Still unsure of the human named Titoo’s intentions, I suggested he keep watch while we plan our assault. I then revealed to them that this was a trap but they remained determined to find their masters. And I decided to help them.

During our conversations they mentioned stories that the council had been unjustly imprisoning those that seemed to succeed in the city. That many were executed without trial. I began to suspect that the group Argathiel had claimed were Theran spies and slavers, may indeed be these masters. If indeed they were, I could no longer throw my lot in with Argathiel, Handreaux or anyone in authority in Ardanyan. I also learned that Argathiel may actually have come from the Kaer as well on an earlier expedition and duped those inside into believing they had all been wiped out.

We made our plan to have the three most agile, climb to the roof and go down the trapdoor there, to the ground floor and let Gerneck and I in through a window. This worked almost flawlessly except I was too big for the windows. I helped Gerneck in, told them I would keep watch and wished them luck. Then I waited. I’m not sure how much time passed but I was startled by a guard walking around the corner of the building. At first, I was tempted to bash him but he seemed to recognize me and before I could stop him, he called the other guards over. They apparently had been let in on the plan.

They asked me what I was doing there. Going against my nature, I lied and told them that I was waiting for the group to arrive but they were running late. Sadly, I’m not a good liar and they dispatched one of the guards to get Argathiel who was still in the council house. I continued my bluff and appealed to their logic to get most of them back to the entrance. They did post one guard on the corner but I knew we could handle one guard.

Argathiel came out and I repeated my story to him. He invited me inside and I protested feigning concern that this whole plan could fall apart if I am not there to meet the Name-givers. He assured me they would warn me of the coming and I should go inside. I agreed and followed. He then instructed me to go down to the treasure chamber and he would join me shortly. Still I held to my story in hopes of buying them more time and then went down the stairs to warn them.

They had handled the two guards left to guard the chamber. They were busy in the other room but Benoni saw me and came over. I told him that Argathiel was coming and possible some more soldiers. He told me of a secret passage in the treasure room he had seen and asked me to go check it out. I did so to discover it led to a shrine to some passion or god and a tunnel. I came out to inform Benoni of the tunnel to see him up against the closed door. I could hear the sound of people on the other side. I knew he alone could not hold the force of many guards. But I could. I walked over and put my weight against the door to hold it shut. Benoni shoved the key in and broke it off. It was then that I saw Titoo come out of the prison area with his friend that he came to rescue. And as Eramus and Gerneck escorted their badly wounded masters out, I knew that Argathiel could not be trusted. I waited as they all moved into the treasure room.

I could not tell if others would come but I knew we needed to go and that I could help carry the wounded if I needed to. So I left the door and followed them into the treasure room. I felt no love for those who had horded this treasure and so I grabbed some silver coins and a bunch of precious ore while Benoni broke off another key in the door to the treasure room. I followed them into the shrine.

There was only one way to go now. Wherever that tunnel led would be our fate.


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