Campaign The Second: Reign of Winter
Tomorrow when I break camp, I should be able to reach the town of Heldren by midday if all goes well. My travels thus far are uneventful if not just a bit harrowing for a city elf such as myself. I find that even though I have read about this area and studied it on maps, it’s a lot different than I imagined it. So much of my life I have spent pouring through books, sucking up the information the way those ocean sponges (the ones the scullery cooks use) soak up dishwater. Well now I understand that there is a vast difference between reading something and experiencing it – let me tell you!
I believe I have a great imagination, but even all those details I dreamt up while reading could never really prepare me for real life on the road. Oh by great Nethys, the dirt – it gets EVERYWHERE. I can’t imagine this. If I didn’t think my other cantrips were more necessary for my safety, I would be casting prestidigitation left and right to keep myself and my meager possessions cleaner. The wind is damned cold, too, especially for this time of the year. I find my simple scholar’s robes do not fend off the bite of this wind that blows down from the north. I’m so cold and so very lonely. I miss them so very much. No. No, I can’t think about that or I will lose my sanity and my willingness to keep moving.
I arrived in Heldren today. I went to the temple, but apparently it was midday and all the folk in town were on a lunch break. I made my way to the local tavern and had a quick refreshing drink (poor quality, though) and was about to return to the temple when something happened that led to an interesting series of events. Apparently there was a wounded man that was brought into town. I heard people whispering feverishly about it all. He was a mercenary of sorts in the hire of some noble lady named Argentia.
I followed the crowd when I saw they were heading for the temple. I made my way to the front of the group and listened to what transpired. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with an interest as several others lined up to speak with this Ulan, while he had his wounds dressed by the acolytes. I waited outside the room he was being tended to in and eavesdropped on the conversation. From what I gleaned, the Lady’s caravan was attacked by bandits and some kind of fey creature that shot arrows of ice. It all sounded dangerous yet fascinating. It wasn’t the first time since I left Oparra that I panged for a library of books to delve into. I would love to read more about these fey and their connection to the planes, but I digress. What seemed like a whirlwind of activity occurred after this transpired. I can’t truly remember all the details as it all happened so fast, but to my surprise I found that I was propositioned by a local halflling (tall for his race, too!) to join a group that was going to investigate the ambush.
I truly had no plans to actually go to the location where this caravan was attacked. As interesting as the fey sounded, I would much rather read a book about them instead of going traipsing up into dangerous areas to be shot at by icy arrows. No thank you. I was just going to slip away after we got on the road and continue on my journey. I guess that attitude changed when, while meeting with the city council, they promised me full access to the library at the temple! Oh my goodness, I was so excited I forgot my fears and followed the rest of the group in our preparation for the journey. Apparently it was snowing up in the area, which was completely abnormal, and so we needed snow shoes and some nice, warm furs. We finished by eating a nice stew at Found’s house with his family. The stew was very pleasant, but most of it ended up on my lap as my usual social graces kicked in during the meal.
I really should have listened to myself. What was I thinking? Dumb, dumb, dumb, I don’t even know where to begin! Okay, no that’s not true I will begin with this – It’s freezing. No, it’s more than freezing. I cannot get warm no matter how much I bundle up! I may also now include the average freezing time of vomit to the large list of interesting factoids I know. Well, what I am supposed to do when two dead bodies come lurching out of a carriage and bite a chunk out of Found’s arm? And then the way Regulus smashed its head in. I swear one of the putrid flecks of its brain actually got IN MY MOUTH! This is why I should not go on adventures. Oh, I don’t even care how many books that temple has – this is not worth it! Unfortunately, I am stuck here for the time being with these brave souls, two of which seem to hate me with a passion that I do not understand in the slightest. We have made camp now after being ambushed on the trail several times. I need to gather my thoughts and figure out how to survive this. We are following the bandits trail to try and rescue Lady Angentia. Well, who will rescue us, I ask?
We broke camp and headed down the path that would supposedly lead to where this human female noble, Argentia, was being held prisoner (we hope) . Coming up to a small, frozen creek we were greeting by a talking snowman forbidding us to enter. Then that huge brute of a human called Regulas went straight over to it and smashed it with that huge hammer he carries with him, only to set off a horrendous trap that literally made my ears bleed! As if this trip wasn’t miserable enough without having to deal with someone whose answer to everything is, “SMASH.” So uncouth.
We decided that the creek wasn’t exactly safe to cross so we headed down stream a bit and tried to cross at a more solid section. Found, that really tall halfling (and the only one of these people to treat me with a modicum of friendliness) went first and unfortunately was attacked by two small ice elementals. Thinking back, I believe they probably were following us after being attracted to the huge sonic boom that Mr. Smashy set off earlier. Found continues to put himself right in the middle of danger, whether intentionally or not, and is paying the price for it. We barely got him safely over to the other side of the stream after dealing with the ice elementals. For all I complain about that huge hammer and its owner’s smashy tendencies, it is pretty nice when it’s squishing dangerous creatures trying to kill us. Except when it gets zombie brains in your mouth. By the all seeing eye of Nethys I cannot imagine I will ever forget that taste.
We continued our trek towards the Sentinel’s lodge and ran into three bandits arguing about their shares. The others were discussing what to do when I stepped forward and dared any of them to stop me from taking down the bandits. Well, at least that’s how I will remember it. I strode forward, gathered my magical energies around me just like I read about in ‘The Practicum of Magic Volume IV’. Before I knew it, two of the bandits went down, caught in my magical net of sleep. The others rushed in to finish the last one off, but as soon as my sleep spell was cast, I already focused on my next spell, drawing from my readings of ‘Baron Xyzack’s Litany of Elemental-Based Magics’ to create a dart of pure acid that shot out and put the mangy bandit out of his misery. I stared down my two accusers, Oksana and Regulas and dared them to speak badly about my magic again. Or at least I would of if there was enough time, but we had a noble lady to rescue!
After stringing up the bandits for interrogation, we really…okay wait I just have to mention this. Oksana is really good with a rope. Is that what inquisitors do? Tie people up? It was eerily proficient the way she did it and I swear I saw a little gleam in her eye as she was lifting the last one up to hang from the tree branch. Remind me never to give her that opportunity…with…me..wait I’m losing focus. We totally interrogated those bandits really well. I’ve never done any interrogating before, so I don’t have a lot to compare to but I’m pretty sure if there was an interrogation festival or something, and there were a bunch of interrogation games, we totally would win a lot of prizes that day. Ugh, I’m meandering again. Long story short, these bandits told us everything they knew about taking out the rangers and then assaulting the caravan. They kept blaming these crazy fey but I could tell they totally were into it. I mean, they were arguing about splitting up their loot when we came upon them – that’s what bandits do, right?
At last we approached the lodge where the rest of the bandits and the fey were supposed to be. As we got closer, Oksana spotted a crossbow trap and disabled it for us. We tried to make our way around to the front but we were noticed by some sleeping bandits. Guess that shows how stealthy we are as a group, huh? Found was able to bluff his way past it, though. Boy is his tongue quick and glib. I bet he talked his way out of a lot of shenanigans when he was younger. We had to stop by the stables were Found also just had to feed the horses. I think he was doing it so they might be friendly to us if we needed to make a quick escape but with that and the way he fed the talking stag I think he just likes animals, really.
We finally reached the front of the lodge where we caught the attention of a half-orc lady who must have been a cook or something of a servant. Once again, Found talked our way out of the situation and we entered the lodge only to find five bandits eating at a table inside. They hadn’t seen us so the rest of the group literally begged me to use my incredible magic again to help take care of the situation. This time I used an astral focal point technique I read about in ‘First Wars – Battlemage Techniques and Criticisms’ to center my cone of color spray. I whipped around the corner and blasted at least half of them in a majestic wave of nauseating colors. I screamed this really awesome war cry that I don’t quite recall, but needless to say once again my spells won the battle. I am really beginning to think that I am on my way to greatness. I am starting to actually think this is what I was made for. Even that big lug of a man, Regulas, put his hand on my shoulder and gave me his seal of approval. I think I even caught a fleeting glance of Oksana being impressed with my magical prowess. I could lead this rag-tag band onward to great things. I will learn more and more about magic and I will throw myself into the throes of greatness, one bold step at a time. Okay, I need to wrap this up. We are about to go upstairs to search for any others before we declare this a victory! I am feeling SO good about things!
(wet drops smear and splatter the following words)
I miss my Mom so much. She was so smart and beautiful. My Father, too – he was handsome and so very talented. He could turn a jagged pebble into three birds walking up a beach, his sculpting prowess was so great. My mother with her lilted speech and bright sparkling eyes. They were always so bright and glossy. Wait – what am I saying? Why were they always glossy? That’s right she was constantly high on something. And my dad, that barking laugh of his when he was ripping apart a fellow artist with scathing criticism, warranted or not. So very NOT tender-hearted and kind. Oh – and those times when they made sure to spend so much extra time with me, their only child and son. You know, like every other Wealday when sitting down for a rushed lunch in the garden before they prance off to one of their little art shows a.k.a. ‘Reasons to Start Drinking Before Noon.’ Spending most of their time with me just arguing with each other or blaming each other for my bad traits and claiming the good ones. Okay, so maybe I didn’t exactly love them very much. They did the best they could, I suppose. But they cared so little about anything but themselves. But they were my parents and they were taken so very, very quickly from me.
(the pages here have small rips in them coming from the edges, as if someone was gripping the journal too tightly)
I should have had so many many more years with them. Who knows how things might have changed in that time. Maybe they would have changed into what I wanted and needed them to do. I bet they probably would have. I could have made them proud of my through my magical mastery. I could have looked on their face and seen approval instead of the haughty distaste that seemed to shadow their visage whenever they looked at me. But now they NEVER will. They are DEAD and forever removed from me. Damn him. Damn him to all hells. He says his name is Rokar but I only know him by what I call him: My Vengeance. I want to do things to this man. Bad things. Painful things. I will. I must.
We defeated his skeleton minions. Regulas almost died. I…almost killed him. I wasn’t thinking straight. If Found hadn’t gotten a quick heal in, it could have been over forever. Am I not doing the same things I hated my parents for? These people around me – Found, Oksana, and yes even Regulas. I’ve been through more incredible events with them in this short time than I ever did with my parents in my entire life. More than I ever did with the zero friends I grew up with. I need to treat them how I always wanted to be treated. I may have gotten off to a bad start with some of them, but I think they understand me better now. I will make my best effort to protect and befriend them all. My heart clenches in spasms of anger and sadness thinking about what I will do to Rokar, who stands behind that door. As I wait for Found to bring Regulus back from the brink of death, I scribble these words onto paper, glancing furtively at the door that holds itself between me and my vengeance. Ah, now Regulus awakes. He seems strong and healthy, too. Found’s magic must have healed him well. I am ready now. I feel the fear and dread in the pit of my stomach, wrenching my soul and making me question my will and my desire. What will this next moment hold for me, I wonder?
I sit down for a respite from the madness which has just occurred. Before I realized what I was doing this journal was open and a pen appeared in my hand. I suppose this has become a therapy for me of sorts. Well, time to put this therapy to the test. We found Rohkar. Well I suppose you could say that he found us. As we went downstairs looking for him, he sprung an ambush that consisted of re-animating the bandits that we had tied up. Seeing as when we last saw them they were still alive, I assume that he murdered them just to raise them up as zombies to fight us.
If that wasn’t bad enough, those bandits that were sickened with a plague also joined in the surprise – firing arrows from the other room. I tell you this, I am quite shocked that I or anyone in the party is alive. The odds were quite stacked against us. I tried to do my part. I was able to put the sick bandits down with another of my sleep spells. That incantation is proving quite useful to be sure. I won’t go into many more details on the fight. It was a violent and bloody affair and the outcome, while victorious for us, was not to my satisfaction.
The bloody bastard Rohkar mewled for his pathetic life after we beat him. He spoke boastfully enough in the fight, bragging about killing my parents and belittling my new comrades whenever he could. And as with most braggarts, he turned it around quickly when defeat and death stared into his eyes. For now he remains alive. He may prove useful as a tool against the fey to be sure. That is the only reason I have not fired an acid dart straight down his throat. That and what my new friend Found mentioned to me as he was holding me back from strangling Rohkar to death. If I kill him in the same murderous fit that he enacted upon my parents, then there is nothing separating me from filth like him. I understand that in my head. In my heart, I cherish a thousand ideas of death for Rohkar, each one more unpleasant than the last. I must come to terms with this, though. In all things, I lead with my brain and not my passion. It is what will keep me on the path to greatness. The best wizards of the stories used their intellect to win the day, not the foolish whim of emotional urges.
We are planning what to do next as the night moves on so very slowly. I will try to get some rest so I can prove useful to my new friends. I don’t know what the future may hold now, but I recognize that this is a pivotal turn of events for me, no matter how tragic they may be. What happens these coming days will forge me into what ever I am meant to be.
Rohkar oh Rohkar. Quickly catching up to when I last wrote in this journal, it seems like so much has happened. Shortly after my last entry, we had found Lady Argentia and she had requested that Rohkar be kept from death for now as he could help us with our next big problem. Apparently there is a large camp of fey to the north. Most likely they are scouting out the area and are even more likely to be the vanguard of what could be an invading fey army. Lady Argentia requests that we try to deal with it in the only way we can: attack. It seems that it’s just not possible that less than a month ago I was running from Oppara, seeking an escape and a new life after my parents were killed. Now I am part of something bigger and, frankly, I’m not sure how it all came about. But I do know that I owe my new compatriots a lot and I plan on repaying them. I’m not sure where this is all going to lead, but I will follow my fate until I am no more. If anything, it certainly has made my heavy heart a little less pained.
Enough of that. Where was I…Rohkar. Funny how I wrote about killing him in a very specific way. Turns out that’s exactly how his pitiful life ended. We made our way to the fey camp and decided to split up. Guess that was our first mistake. It seemed so tactically wise, especially all those old books I read on war and battlefield strategy. Flanking your enemy force seemed to win the day more than most any other technique. Well, I guess that was a lesson I needed to learn about the truth of books versus the truth of the world. As I’m about to write this, I realize that I don’t want to go into detail. Both the embarrassment of being had by that bastard is too much to live through again, as I barely survived as it was. Let’s just say that fate must have other plans for me, as I could very easily been killed. Instead the betrayal of Rohkar ended with my acid dart being fired into his mouth and sizzling into his brain pan. Dead is dead I say. And I wanted him dead. Truthfully, I think I would have tried to kill him after we raided the fey camp anyways. After thinking about it, I really couldn’t justify not doing it. This whole idea Found has about not stooping to their level just doesn’t quite add up philosophically. Do you not put down a mad dog to minimize it from hurting or killing anyone? Of course, and if anyone I have ever met had the mentality of a mad dog, it was that rotten bastard.
After we dealt with Rohkar, we made it to the fey camp and defeated the forces there. We are quite a formidable bunch, if you ask me. Though that giant hammer of Regulus has split more skulls than I care to remember, it’s still Oksana who unnerves me the most. I realized I had lived a sheltered life before my parents were killed, but something tells me she has really been put through the ringer. And Found, dearest Found. I find myself looking up to his cheerfulness and good intentions. I very much admire him and hope someday to find the happiness he’s found living his life.
So I meander off topic again. After we defeated the moss troll and his fey cronies (I do so love that word), we find a portal of sleet and snow and out pops this Black Rider guy (see how I capitalize his name – he must be important). He binds us to this quest to save his mistress, Baba Yaga. On one hand, his pact has significantly increased the processes in my brain. It was like I could ‘feel’ myself getting smarter. Thoughts were more crystal clear and quick in their appearance. Quite an interesting bargain, though I feel that it might bite us in the butt later. Anyways, we agree to do what the Black Rider asks of us (the guy had a giant icicle thrust through his chest and was handing out magical favors – it’s really hard to say no to all that!) and we pop through the portal to arrive in…Irrisen. First thing is first – by the flea-ridden scrotum of Uasgatorh (I read that in some awesome book in my Dad’s library) IT IS COLD. Not the kind of ‘oh I’ll just slip on my wool cloak because the fall wind is getting a little chilly. I’m talking about the cold that takes a grip of your soul and tries to turn it into a bowl of one of those yummy frozen fruit slushes they sell in the square near my old apartments. Yeah, that cold. So we sit here by a campfire in the company of some people we met/saved on the way. I have no idea what we are going to do here, but it’s too cold to sleep and I thought I’d catch up on my journal before my ink gets too cold to write with. Until next time then I suppose.