Beyond a few grammar/typo errors I'd suggest working on a tempo or cadence to how you want to tell the story. Sometimes it reads like a journal entry, other times a straight forward play-by-play, and sometimes some great bit of dialog or thought. I see that you try to break your sections up a bit which is helpful but perhaps think about establishing a voice for the entry (or each section). It may help things flow a bit more nicely.
Don't be afraid to just work on part of the story or just share one scene, unless your intent is to chronicle each session in it's entirety.
Host of the HTL Podcast Series: http://www.holdtheline.com/media/category/htl-podcast.6/
This is part I of the adventure we had last weekend. I missed out on one game as I was both hung over and with a fever. I kinda want to write something fun, however I do need to choose a style and not just soft of jump from one to another.
It was early spring in Llorkh. The snow was starting to melt and like unto the body once found in bed, the ground was slowly being revealed from its slumber. Jenn looked out across the narrow window out to the hill that overlooked the town.
Llorkh had once been a frontier town to the Zhent, from here the black banners of the Zhentarim would unfurl, leading its covert wars against the region. The prisoners brought back would be taken into its dungeons, some never to be seen again. This was all over two hundred springs and the cataclysm of the spellplague ago. Now the ruins of castle sat on this hilltop, brooding, its interlopers, orcs with their blue and white colored penants with their skull tattoos squatting on its realm.
The stories of the castle echoed from a time when she was but a gelt in this town. Her companions would not understand, she has spoken this being her hometown and their indiference showed their own mark of her. She had grown from that and that girl that ran with laughter was dead. She had died the thousand deaths in the slave pits of Luskan, the gaols of Waterdeep. The latest singular deaths being near naked challenging the brigand Barsch in a refugee camp and by poison admistered by her own hand in her own home in Loudwater.
She sighed and looked out through the window once more. Steam of breath of clouding the window only revealing her ghostly face. She was short and slight by even half-elf standards, with a fluted bone structure and alabaster skin, she looked younger than her twenty odd years. The eyes though told of someone who had grown old quickly.
She moved away from the window and packed up the last of her things. They had just been in Llorkh castle. Even though only overgrown ruins were left of the ground level, deeper down it was another story. It was about dank tunnels, black casements, of chittering monsters. It was about the miasma of oppression that they struggled with every step they went lower into its darkened holds. They were seeking the key of Mystra, a key to an eldritch artefact of a dead god. Jenn snorted at that her mouth twisting as if tasting something bitter.
She looked down into the common room of this rude tavern. The bar was crudely built from lashed barrels. The planks across its top, shining from the polish of untold elbows. The room itself was quite empty, while late in the day, it was still too early for anyone not working. Only her companions were sitting at a table with mismatched chairs. The orcs would often come through and make sure everyone was in their work parties. A drunkard would not last long in a place like Llorkh.
The bartender looked up and down at Jenn as she approached the bar. He was a tall man with a pot belly. His bald pate outdone by the flaming red mustache covering his lip, the upward two curls plastered against his cheeks. She nodded and he drew a beer from the tap and offered her a plate of hard dark bread and smelly cheese.
With these in hand she approached her companions. There was Alec, the only male in the group. He was big and beefy, a human son of Loudwater quarried from earth and chiseled through the training of its local militia. He wore his crimson armour, looted during an adventure from an abandoned keep in the north.
Then there was Sari, robed with a pointy hat. She was reading an arcane tome with a pince-nez perched atop her nose. She was a wizard, schooled in the Arcanum Tower of Waterdeep. A school known for its world trembling graduates.
Ka'an was the lusty one of all of them. Wearing blues and reds of the garish colours, she wore her hair in elaborate curls when possible, showing off her pointy ears and the many earrings in her ears. Even know she was talking with a melodic voice that grated like a rasp against Jenn's nerves.
Jenn listend in as they talked about going back to Llorkh castle. Jenn silently agreed, leaving such a place unsearched would be foolish. They had initially had their fill of fear and now they were ready for more. They talked about rituals and gods to appease to give them the strength to press on with such an overhanging gloom. Alec had been unaffected by it, while the rest, Jenn included had been covered in its lethargic fog.
As Jenn was about to say something the door opened up, reaching in a cold draft. The woman walked in a road dusty, frost covered cloak and underneath fine chain glistened in the moment of clouded late afternoon sun. She pulled her hood back revealing fine red hair and the face of a half-elf. She walked purposefully to the barkeep and asked where might she find the Grayvale Guardians.
The barkeep's hand had pointed at Jenn and the group as they broke off all conversation to see this new interloper. She ordered a cider and requested to sit with the. Hesitantly they agreed as Ka'an nodded her head, her eager smile pressing across her face. The woman, introduced herself as Io, as someone sent by the loose confederation of towns and their mercantile agreements - The Limbian League. She was an invoker of the heavenly host, able to call on shards - aspects of her goddess. That's what she told the group around the table. They talked in that stilted conversational tone of people not eager to trust someone who came so unannouced.
With a touch of rudeness Ka'an requsted Io to leave them for a second while they would have a private conference. Io withdrew to the fire with her cider, while they sarted up their hushed argument.
Ka'an was the first to voice her distrust of anyone coming close to her group. Jenn even drew it further, bringing about the consideration that she might be a spy for Barsch, instead of simply the Limbian League. They looked over at her, her equipment and its subtle power, they and knew the best way to discern between friend and foe was through careful observation in the closeness of the group, an agreement was made.
Ka'an carefully walked over and talked with her apologising about their affectation, a certainty of the after effects of visiting the donjons of Castle Llorkh. She walked with Io and drew into the group with quick introductions of each member there, she filled in about our adventures into Llorkh castle and the cloud of oppression that continued to hang over it. The talk returned to the conducting of a ritual, an arguement of who would be the best god to offer to, who would smile at us the most kindly. Sari finally offersed to conduct a ritual to Ioun, a god of magic and knowledge. A god Jenn had never heard of before.
By the time they made their agreement, the workers from the press gangs filtered in, their tongues lapping the local ale and with the press of more people their voices raising from their mugs. Alec by this time was in his cups and had at times fallen asleep at the table, only to be woken with vocal jabs of Ka'an and sometimes with physical shakings of Sari and Jenn.
The agreement would be rest, followed by the approach to Castle Llorkh and a ritual before entering its maw. They left Alec downstairs as he found his second wind, ordering more ale as he recounted his story of killing the dread black dragon, the head of which he brandished from his bag. Jenn followed the rest of the women to their room. The beds, matresses of hay with thick woollen blankets piled on them. The fire was lit, the cold driven from the room. The black night pooling through the window damping away. The fire left to burn to embers, Sari blew out the candle as they sought to find rest in dreams.
Jenn slept the troubled sleep, she dreamt of a wintry white forest with its cracking trunks. The light is muted. Somewhere up ahead is the refugee camp and in the middle is the tent of Barsch. He would be there, she knew. She moved carefully around snow banks, creeping ever closer. The tree line was close near hands breath away. She heard the voice of a child singing to itself as it walked among the tree trunks. It was picking up sticks and collecting them into a small bundle. Jenn staid still until it was close by. She lunged and grabbed the child, hand clamping down on the small face, feeling the panic struggle of a wriggling body. The knife flashed in her hand crimson, staining her cover as the struggle stopped. The body rolled from her grip to lie face skyward. The child, a girl must have been no more than five, an half elven face, the face was hers - of Jenn's.
It was night and the moon was out, the sound of a creature baying at the moon and the sound of things moving towards her, of flashing teeth. Her flesh stripped in long black strips from her, her body shadowed and sinewy, breath was no longer needed. She was shadow now and she ran to, ran away from the braying monster that was Barsch. She saw him from the corner of her eye brown fur, red eyes and flashing teeth as it struck her against the ground. Teeth flashed in the twilight, burying her in their fetid feeding.
Jenn's eyes opened, listening carefully for any sound. Except for the sound of heavy sighing and the slumber of Sari, Ka'an and Io there was no other sounds. She waited carefully before turning her head. She did not need the dying embers on the hearth to peer through the shadows of the room. She quickly got dressed and left her bedding as it was. Creeping down along the corridor to the steps into the common room. Alec was laying on the top of the table they had left him at in the evening. He snored with the hard vigour he showed when awake. A careful look around was enough before she slipped into the darkness outside.
Capturing a crow, even asleep is not an easy thing. She had to find one perhed on the roof of an abandoned building. She used a piece of string and once captured she plunged it into her bag. The crow fought inside the bag as she withdrew down from her perch.
Llorkh was a ruined town, those not razed by the orcish press gang lying in ruin. She walked into her old family home. The one she left so many lifetimes ago. She cleared out a space and scraped into the floor boards two concentric circles. She carefully painted the central one black with a piece of charcoal. In the centre she placed tinder and lit it. The tinder with careful coaxing turning from firelight to black smoke. She placed it carefully in the centre. The crow was wrestled from the bag, she held onto its neck as it struggled in her hand. She focused on Llorkh castle, she focused on the gloom. She hoped that the sacrifice of a creature that emobodied so many aspects would please Shar. Shar like the crow, represented shadows, secrets, magic and evil.
Jenn held the crow, her fingers clutching at its neck as she looked into its eyes. She saw the faces of her companions, the smile of Sari, the laughter of Ka'an, the boyish grin of Alec, the sneering face of Barsch. The fingers gripped ticher as the crow frantically flapped and scrabbled at her arms, the neck finally snapping as it slumped, muscles relaxing. She dropped the crow in the middle of her circle, a symbol of her life. The adage of Shar coming to her mind: There is no love - only hate. She prayed with that hate, the bitterness that wrapped her soul.
She awoke in the morning as the pale fingers of the sun brushed away the night. She found herself in bed at the inn, recolections from after the ritual dim. Ka'an was long gone, Io was putting on her equipment giving her a small smile. Sari was still asleep. Next to her bed was the bag she had used for the crow, it was weighty and smelled faintly of a corpse smell. Jenn dressed herself and followed Io down into the common room, the bag with the crow body hanging off her belt.
Alec was asleep on top of the table, it took three girls, Io, Sari and Jenn to wake him up. A judicious application of a bucket of water was needed to force him to a lively wakefulness. Ka'an came back as Alec was still drying his hair, his other hand eating a dried strip of meat roasted last night. She had a radiant expression of someone who has finally made her peace - for she had communioned with her goddess of Melora and it had brought new strength. She did not even say one wicked thing to Alec during this time.
While the rest were breaking fast, Io prayed to her goddess for light. She did it quietly, no over sacrifice was necessary, no painting of profane glyphs. It was simple communion. Jenn looked at this action with distrust.
They trudged up the hill as the sun shed further light on Llorkh. Among the ruined buildings, new buildings were built or old ones reconditioned. There were smiles on their faces and some of Jenn's companions even returned the waves. She drew the hood lower and walked on.
They walked past the ruined gatehouse, the orc guards nodded at them, allowing them to pass. To the left was once the castle barracks and stables. Now they were the cobbled fortification of the orc Cloud tribe. They governed this town and sometimes even worked side-by-side with its demihuman counterparts.
They resolutely walked under the careful orcish eyes, deeper towards the ruins of the main keep. Here they had broken through the brick wall into the levels below. Sari gave a small prayer to Ioun as they slowly descended through the rude hole into the darkness below.
We re-entered Llorkh castle through the rude hole Alec opened up previously. The place still smelled of a dank earthiness, the oppression of the place settled on our shoulders.
We passed along abandoned defenses. The dust along the ground only marked by our footsteps. The breathy gloom of the place settled harder on us. We gripped our weapons and led down in a long quietly dirged procession.
When the insect creature attacked, it was in some way a relief, the thing came at us when we proceeded through a heavy iron banded oak door. It chittered at us and we vented our fears on it. It ran when our fear turned to anger. Alec dispatched it quite quickly.
We progressed further seeking again to go deeper and lower into the castle. Previously we had passed into level that had been turned into a mine. What the Zhents had been mining in this dismal waste of a land was beyond me.
There was a way which we had not explored. Shadows would move and whip with our torches. Ka'an's laughter at times was not boisterous but nervous. It was becoming harder to think.
We stopped to search three rooms. Barracks rooms for guards long left and dead. There was not much to see. Wrought iron beds with moldy straw beds. Basins now graveyards for dead insects. The fine powder of brown and gray dust covering everything.
Poking through the rooms three gems were found. I wondered about those gems, who was it that had placed them there. Was it a guard who had saved his earnings. Perhaps he had won them in a game of chance. His fellows envious had sought to find them and instead had died by a knife to the gut. Now these blood tokens were ours. I felt confused, I felt the real fear of my time before. It was a fear of my mercurial master. His hand offering, his hand taking.
Along we progressed past the rooms, looking further on this level. There was a portcullis ahead of us, blocking the way. Unlike the previous mechanisms we had encountered. The turn wheel was on our side. This was meant to keep whatever was in, not us out. I grasped the hem of Alec's cloak and tugged lightly. I smiled at him, he patted me on the head as a master would to his dog.
Past the portcullis and a second great door was a long corridor. The ceiling was domed and high as the corridor was wide. From the walls and ceilings, hidden in shadows faded exhortations for the Black Brotherhood I could see. Across from each were cell doors. Some open, most closed. I heard the sound of moans and cries, a mist seeped through the cells and bled into the far wall.
From the wall a giant appeared. It was garbed as a dwarf would do. His beard long and thick. His hammer great for his size. He looked at us and raised his hammer. Madness shined from his eyes and he said something undecipherable.
Groups of bat like things swarmed out from the cells and with an earth shaking bellow he ran at us. The hammer landed next Alec and then I understood how large it was. The hammer the size of Alec. It was close to us. Its essence tugging at our soul, wanting it - needing it.
The bat things were mere irritants, cleaving them was a simple process, but it distracted us as Alec fought ghostly dwarf. The hammer's owner fueled by uncounted years of undead rage causing the walls to chip from its force. A single blow would have killed Alec.
When I feared the worst, of the strike of the hand, Io freed herself of the bat things. Io spoke and gestured, her body radiating light, I cringed as it hungrily lapped around my soul for that brief moment before it was directed at the dwarf. The light burned the creature and Alec's blows driving the creature further back. His sword glowed with a combination of dripping aether and light as he landed the telling blow. The creature fell into dissipating mist.
The cells were empty of anything value. The walls covered with scratchings of its inmates, some marking out patiently their days, others their descent into true madness. How I wondered if the dwarf had suffered the same fate. A death here, twisting his soul into loathsome hatred. His power growing with the loss, until nothing remained except for the hate of all things.
We descended further down, I descended further into the madness of Castle Llorkh. I do not remember how long we walked. We reached the place where our footsteps had last faltered. The location was the opening to the mines, rubble had been piled to the sides. Boulders the size of demons lay ready to be lifted. The bands and loops for shackled slaves hung ready to admit the next respiting work gang.
I had not noticed it, but I had scratched my arms, from anxiety, the rhythmic clasping and unclasping leaving dark blood streaked welts on my whitened skin. We stopped, sinking to the ground, the chains over head looming ominously.
Io started praying, Ka'an sang a song to herself, a song of Melora. Alec looked on, drinking from his wine skin. Sari took out a book, making her notations. We became engrossed in our individual world. And I too became oblivious of my companions. Thought was hard to piece together. My mouth was dry, my tongue leaden.
I took from my belt, my amulet, my talisman. Formed in the night, with secrets my heart. Opening it fully revealed the carcass of a crow, its feathers glistening black. The mark of Shar clearly seen. I had hoped it would help me through this time. I had lost all to fear. Unbidden I remembered the words of Shar, "love is a lie. Only hate endures."
With my thoughts hurting, I looked at my bloody forearms. I took my knife and bled over the corpse of crow. My blood making the feathers wet. I kissed the corpse and whispered my great fear into its ear. When I raised my head I felt calmer, the peace of darkness enveloped me.
I could feel the work of something on us. Each of us had been touched, Io had a lit aura around her. Alec smiled a bit, Ka'an sang a ribald tune about seven swordcoast ladies. Sari offered me a lit pipe and I puffed at it while she looked on in a blissful state.
I passed the pipe on. I whispered to the darkness as I ritualistically plucked feathers from the crow, twining them into my hair until a naked blood soaked bird was left.
The gloom of the upper levels was nothing compared with anarchy of mentality in the mines. In the upper levels it was the thud of gloom, here it was a cacophony of echoing emotion. I stopped and listened, the song was discordant, unharmonious as it sought to twist our essence. A part of me recoiled, that which held the keys to my mind looked on with vague amusement.
The mines were guarded by portcullises which we readily bypassed. The mine's central gallery was split into three paths. Each one an open black hole further into the wormed interior of Toreil. The left hand spur was a dead-end, the third path after a bit of time had a red glow around it. The rock itself glowing with the memories of its potentials.
Time was shifting in this place. Each twist taking us further down along. The cacophony of my mind at times becoming sonorous, other times still with anticipation. The rock also began to pulse as if memory was not enough. Sometimes the light moved as if shadows of things impossible were swimming inside the veins of these rock formations.
Io warned us about the sentience of the rock. Something which I had felt before, but she added the warning of touching them. For me their existence was an antithesis to my being, so of course I would agree to her prognostication.
The place we reached, the redness of the rocks intensified. We could see that this had been further excavated. The rock hewn with eagerness, the timbers to hold the ceiling in place hastily erected. Bits of unfathomable mining machinery lay on the ground. The tunnel continued on past here. The foot steps of something approaching could be heard.
From the opening across from us a humanoid insect appeared, covered in chitinous plates. The arms were long and lanky, two of them ending in pincers, the other two in mockeries of human hands. The hands carried a rusted, black iron trident, blood welled along the tips.
At its feet two creatures followed. They had the stumped bodies of blackened, winged babies. Their heads though twined with horns, its mouth a glittering array of barbed teeth. Their cry was that of a child in primordial hunger as they saw us.
Before the trident bearing demon could react, Alec was already in the fray attacking, hacking this creature, pressing his advantage of monomachia. However he was soon flanked by its children and then hemmed in with one of its claws grasping him firmly.
Little did I care for my own safety as I charged into the fray as the combatants were distracted. I pushed back the veil of my flesh and forced myself into the attack against the creature, my shadow twining around the monster halting it. Alec struck it a telling blow and I from behind stabbed it to a permanent death.
As I surveyed the battlefield, one of the child-demons was dead. The other had disappeared in a puff of smoke, to whatever realm it came from. Alec took the head of creature and the trident, adding it carefully to his collection. I felt the head to be loathsome and the trident vile. But they were powerful objects and I would not disagree with that.
We continue on further. The mine's exterior becomes more rough, near organic in how its shaped. Ka'an told us with Sari agreeing that it was raw chaos seeping into this world. The veins were alive due to the warping character of chaos. From further along a sighing could be heard, it seems to twine around the ever increasing redness of the rocky surface, melding into the choir of voices pervading my mind.
The light of the rocks ever getting brighter, it hurt my eyes as we squinted to spy a large cavern up ahead. The pastiche of sounds and voices mind and aural invading from this location. We all looked at each other, and I volunteered to go ahead, to find the source of the sound.
Ahead I see a deep chasm, two creatures stand guard in front of the chasm. And beyond in the reddish gloom a demon squatted on a pile of stones. This creature looked like a massive, roughly humanoid toad with arms in place of forelegs. Its wide mouth has rows of blunt, powerful teeth, and long spines run down the length of its back. Occasionally it would pick one up and replace it to a new position.
The chasm glowed with a ichorish red, the pulse of raw chaos was palpable, the root and heart of the stain of reality, the scrabbling and screamings of our mind originating from this abyss. It was looking at us, ravening for our set flesh.
I carefully moved away back to the darkness as shadows are wont to do.
We discussed for a while and we agreed that I was to lure the demon out. I was afraid of these creatures, the potential of such raw chaos, and every advantage we should press for it. I would seek to lure the creatures into the other cavern.
I approached and crept closer. Until I was certain that I would be seen. I rose from my hiding place and stood in full visibility of their loathsome eyes. No movement except the angling of heads and the licking of mouths. I threatened and cursed their name with all the vilest holy names I knew. No movement as they gritted their teeth. They stood as if rooted to their places.
After a while since I was not heard from the rest of my companions appeared, as I sought to rant and rave at them. Ka'an quite aptly pointed out that if the fight could not be drawn to them, they would take them fight to them.
Io at this point, looked at them resolutely, with great reverence called on her god for help. A light merged away from her being and fired into a dazzling array across the chasm. From the center of this light an angel appeared.
I had never seen such a divine creature. It had blue skin and long carefully tipped wings. It had a sword of great power and size. To look on such a creature caused black tears to well in my eyes. I knew at that moment that I would never see one again, nor could I feel such emotion. The chaos at the gates of my mind thrown back.
The reaction to such a creature was complete and utter loathing on the previously frozen demons. They spurred into action against the creature, and the largest, something green and horribly toad-like grabbed the angel and ripped into with its claws. The angel such struck recoiled and landed great gashes against its foe. However the demon was angrier and more dangerous, finally ripping him apart with its clawed ands. The Angel was drawn back into the light of Io's being. The chaotic cacophony assaulting my mind returned.
The melee between us and three demons was long and protracted. The toad-like demon grabbed Alec at one point and forced it to attack us. Luckily Alec fought it every step of the way. Alec was a great warrior and his blade could have been the death of us. The battle fought Alec landed a death-knelling blow on the creature. It fell into the chaotic abyss only to re-appear on the rocks across from the Abyss.
I had at this time sought to come to the pile of stones. To see if there was a reason why it protected this place. The stones were not stones, but skulls of various sizes. The demon appeared upon the top of its abyssal pile and sued for peace, it offered us a wish.
Alec would have none of that and was already rushing towards it. I told it we sought the key to Mystra's flame. The demon looked at me with its rheumy avarice filled eyes, it told me that the wish was granted and I was to "restore the balance". As Alec was in striking distance the demon disappeared. On the ground a necklace had appeared.
On the golden artwork, was a frame of ten skeletal hands by ten hands on a balance scale with different weighting platforms.
Alec attacked the skulls, when they would not be crushed he hurtled them away from the mound, until they started rolling back to their place. The skulls of the hill were only six sizes, each similar to the other.
The puzzle was almost given up until we noticed that there were indentations similar to the balance scale next to the mound of skulls. We solved the puzzle and the mound, unpiled itself revealing the treasure hidden inside.
We returned from the mines, every step away from the mouth of the chaos rift, meant one less strand of noise in my mind, one less assail against it's already blackened walls. Until the sky kissed my face in an early spring afternoon. My mind was now silent of the tumult of before.
We talk with cloud tribe, the orcs living so close to such chaos. They agree that something should be done. However, this would demand a great sacrifice. The building of a temple, the waging of a crusade, the devotion of a populace. It would demand a hallowed monument either of stone or deed.
Now we are back in the inn. We are to assemble with shaman of the tribe at midnight in a sweat lodge, we are to talk with the Raven Queen. Goddess of Winter, Death and Fate. I wonder what she would see if she was to peer in my blackened, seared soul?
Even more of the episodes of our game. I still have two more sessions to write.
I will see how much I can get done tomorrow.
I am dead and yet I dream. I dream of a warm bath. I dream of the hot water cascading across my scarred cold flesh. I dream of the recession of the water.
Rough benches lined the walls, a small copper furnace burned in the corner in which a large kettle of hot water boiled. In the middle of the room, a large keg had been turned on its side and cut in half to create a makeshift bath. There was even a small hand mirror which had been hung from a wooden pillar. A small window was slightly open to let in the cool spring breeze and let the cool steam out. The first flowers of the season had been placed in a jug.
I blinked away the tears, as I wrung out my hair. Looking back from the foggy mirror was a wan pale girl. It was the same pale girl I had seen in Loudwater, but this time the mouth was different, there was a determination in the down turned mouth, a pleasure. I looked closer. The eyes were black and started to smoke oily tendrils.
Startled I looked away as Ka'an began banging on the door ready to come in. There was a bit of words going on before the door opened up. Instead of Ka'an coming in who I heard stalk back, it was Io.
She looked me over and I pulled my towel more carefully over my body.
"Isn't it Ka'an's turn?" I said as I looked for my clothes. Sari had already taken all of our clothes in our bed chamber to cast a cleaning magic on them all. I carefully backed against the wall, feeling for it. A brief look away and I would be safely out of the room.
"Oh it was, but I argued her into going last, since they are making more hot water." Io poured some of the hot water from the pitcher into the tub. She winked at me and laughed.
"Could you give me a hand, there's a spot between my shoulder blades I have been wanting to clean for ages now." She pulled off her towel and lowered herself into the water. I carefully moved behind and picked up a soapy rag, as she pulled her golden tresses away from her back.
I wetted the rag in the tub and washed between her shoulder blades. I took the ladle of water to wash away the dirt and soap. I felt dirty looking at her skin. There were none of the ugliness of mine, there was no history besides unblemished purity.
"Is that alright?" I said wanting this to be over as soon as possible. "A little more. Could you go a bit lower?" Was her response.
She turned and looked at me for a moment before settling back. "Actually there are a few questions you could answer."
The rough wood of the inn's benches bit into my legs as they dangled over the edge. With Alec, the largest of us all he sat with his legs firmly laid on the thrushed floor.
Around us was our sorceress Sari reading. Ka'an with her songs and boisterous attitude. Then there was Io of clean and dainty behaviour.
The rest were happy with their cleanliness. Sari had taken our clothes and thoroughly cleaned them. She had mentioned that mine were becoming a bit tatty, for she could see mine had been mended a few too many times. The seams having been let out when I had grown into them.
We talked about the Flame of Mystra we had recovered from Castle Llorkh and about the chaos rift underneath it. We would need to do something momentous to close the rift, something such as building a temple to an orderous god who would then with a flick of his godly hand close it. In recompense we would toil under that maloderous hand for years if not a lifetime.
We also talked about Barsch, everyone was willing to leave back to Loudwater. I pointed out that we were becoming the guardians not of Greyvale, but of quests unfinished.
We agreed that we would seek to find Barsch. Alec had gleaned a tale from one of the innkeeper's daughters. Apparently Barsch and his cohorts were lycanthropes. Men who would turned into monsters of beasts when the moon was in ascendance. Who would invoke Malar in blood rituals and hunt through the forests. Often those who went at night would not return.
This brought us to the orcs, who had taken over the town of Llorkh in the previous autumn, throwing out Barsch and his kin. Orcs had come down from the mountains due to the pressure of giants and they had taken Llorkh from Barsch's hand. Now the orcs were rebuilding the town with workforces levied from the town's populace.
There was a wish though to commune with the Raven Queen with the help of the orc shaman. For we also wished to close the chaos rift. The Raven Queen would be the best to support such a venture, for she was the patron goddess of the orcish Cloud tribe.
The sweat lodge was built a few hours walk from the town into the wilderness. A rude hut of canvas with an open hole at the top. Inside smoke was billowing, the coals alight. Around the hut were posted orc guards to protect the individuals dangers without and those that could be from within.
Of all the people only Io and Sari were finally invited after the Shaman looked at us. The only reason was that they were the only ones who knew about invocation and the gods. I am thankful the orc only looked at me with a raised brow and moved on. Sari declined, leaving only Io.
Io, the shaman and the shaman's disciples sat in the hut for three days. Not once did they stir from their place. When she came out she was limping and shaken. She had travelled a long distance, as crows, as wind. Of all the sights she saw only one was important for her. A black tower to the east of the mountains. This would have answers. I was however, which were the questions the goddess thought we needed answers to.
We talked further about the chaos rift. Sari and Io were in agreement that it would take decades for it to creep further. Even so the orcs considered it taboo. However, keeping all the doors open would be dangerous. If we could venture in so could others and that which can climb, can certainly crawl out. Having Llorkh turned into another chaos infestation would not be useful.
The conversation invetiably turned back to Barsch. And what we should do with him. We would talk with Uhrog, the chieftain of the orcish Cloud tribe.
Instead it was Alec. For we are all small compared with him. And they see physical prowess as important. Besides women are for children and cooking. I tried not to be sick at the thought.
The all-seeing eye of the shaman has a ritual that allows a person to know who is a moon-man - a were-monster. Alec asked if he could learn the ritual. The Shaman laughs heartly at the thought and makes a funny gesture, pointing with the tips of his fingers towards his heart and then the head. Sari and Io offer to learn the ritual, very politick of them. I relaxed my hand on the dagger in my sleeve.
While Sari and Io are learning the intricacies of the ritual, Alec and I help in sealing up the castle. The portculises which are all facing inwards, we close. While we expected to see some creeping chaos come upon us, nothing appeared in that cryptlike dungeon. The last was simply knocking down the roof to seal the entrance. While this could be cleared in a day. It would at least prevent a child and the curious to enter.
Finding Barsch would be the hardest thing to do. For while we had stumbled across his last camp. We did not know where he had relocated to. However, a large group of people as we saw when we met him the first time would leave a long trail. However, searching for him specifically may not be the easiest thing to do.
We instead employ the hand of fate. Asking three questions of this mysterious apparition would be a solution. We find out there are about 20 werewolves, they will attack us if found. We discover where the camp is approximately. I showed the hand a map I had been making while we had been adventuring. The finger pointed to a place, which was some way from the original location we had previously stumbled upon.
We gather our things from the inn and get ready at first light to move out, heading along the road towards the locaiton of the camp pointed by the hand of fate.
The hills near Llorkh slowly turn into flatlands of scrub and long grass. Soon we could see the large forest we will need to walk through to get to the camp. We stop at the edge, for it had already gotten dark, and unlike some not all of us could see in star shrouded darkness.
Even in the morning, the forest was dark, still. The canopies above kept out the sunlight, the vestiges of winter mist swirled around our feet. Still even here the signs of spring were apparent, the leaves were budding and a few green buds could be seen sprouting. The grass was dried from the winter, but wet. Soon it would turn green from the added moisture.
The trees would seem to move. There were times when it was not wind which was moving but the trunks and boughs themselves. We slowly became aware that it was not our minds playing tricks, but that the forest was alive. The forest was looking at the strange interlopers, gnarled branches upraised in silent threat.
In the true twilight of the forest, we made camp in a hollowed glen. We were very close the camp. Possibly a day more or less. We huddled down in the damp undergrowth. The mist leeching the heat from our skin and leaving cold moisture running rivulets down our backs. We dared not light a fire in this place, for the forest is easily angered and the camp could be too close for smells and sights of a fire.
In the early dawn Ka'an went out scouting. She found a clearing of cracked trees and deep furoughs. Apparently from the scaled embedded in the ruined trunks and and the spoor it was a dragon. She could not say how large the dragon was, but it had cleared itself a place nigh three days ago. We carefuly walk around the clearing, for the dragon could still be around. Perhaps this is what had awakened the forest from its still wintry slumber? Or was a greater chaos on the move?
Ka'an and I walked ahead carefully scouting ahead. I did not see the path that Ka'an saw, nor was I as nible through the confusing undergrowth. I tried not to curse as I focused instead on using my other senses. Sight, touch, smell and most importantly sound. Forests and their expectant silence unnatural to me.
Even a blind pig will find a truffle sometimes. We found the camp in the sunset of our second day in the forest. It was positioned close to the forest for protection, but not so close as to be enshrouded by it. The sounds and smells of the camp were obvious to us.
From my vantage point I saw the hemming of scores of people and three stout log cabins. The people were sitting around camp fires and their stew pots. Occasionally children would be seen running or walking around the camp. For me to see and hear them I would have to go closer.
I crawled carefully back and joined the companions further back. Pine cones and twigs became the huts. The scratchings on the earth the firepits, loose mulched leaves into throngs of people.
I was lying on my face in the heather outside the camp. My breathing held as booted feet walked near me. I could hear the tinkle of the belt and the breath of air as the man splashed out his bladder into a bush nearby. It was night and I could be found.
I kept my eyes closed as he finished his needs and joined his friend. They continued their walk. I waited 5 breaths before moving lizardlike closer to the camp.
Before I had come close the encampment, I had gatheried leaves, dirt and the greenery of the underbrush. I had festooned my clothing in the muck, attached the green and branches to my cloak until the girl underneath could not be seen, instead resembling somekind of shambling growth.
Master Jaeger Treach was in my mind. Murder. Barsch. Master Jaeger Treach. Death and the madness of it.
It was long past noon that I joined the rest. I had slithered back into the folds of the tree line. I could not find the way, so I slid under the boughs of a tree and fell asleep.
Ka'an nursed her shoulder and the wound there, for she had run into a patrol and was attacked by one of their hounds. I was not concerned for she was worried whether it would fully heal and if not what would the blemish look like. I had not seen Barsch, only his muscled lackeys.
Now we sat consulting the hand of fate, a blue etherial hand. A definite yes was given to Barsch being in the encampment. The rest of the questions were meaningless.
I still smarted from the fight with Ka'an. She was standing 10 yards away from me, behind me. We had just hidden the bodies of 2 dogs and 2 werewolves turned human. Now the blood was in the ground and on my blade, was I interested in the making of amends.
In front of us was a little fire with the illusion of ragged humans huddling and complaining of the cold, of hunger. They were our lure and 4 guards had already moved in closer to the fire. It was a quick and brutal fight.
Each attack whittling down their numbers. From Omega to Alpha, I wished, nay craved for Barsch's heart.
We never reached the village, instead we were chased by Barsch and his allies. We sought to reach a location of security, a clearing we could use. Instead we ended up finding our escape cut off by a great tree. The trunk flat against the forest floor still 8 feet above us. The branches still alive grasping towards the heavens, each finger thick as mighty oak trunks.
In that place we mae our stand. We fought with steel, with magic, we fought their assault. Each felled creature a victory. Until only Barsch was left. I threw caution to the wind and attacked him from above. I was but a distraction to his teeth and claws. Alec raised his sword and with a deadly reaping strike laid a telling blow on the head of creature.
He did not fall, instead he ran. He ran into the forest and we pursued to the camp. Our vengeance, our lust for blood great. We approached the village and laid claim to its people and they raised their hands to us and wrung them.
Barsch was in the village. He was in his lair of a hovel. We stormed to him. We did not feel the blood in our teeth. The bite of the wounds across our bodies as we rammed the door to let us in.
I was smaller and more agile than some, and I climbed in through the window. There was Barsch. Black hair windswept, his beard wild. He was lunging through his possession. His were rat assassin chittering next to him. I sought to reach him for a blow instead he rushed me with his sword. His two handed blade was blunt, even a club in his gnarled hands would have crushed my ribs the way he did.
I fell and lay on the floor. Poor little Jenn. What a useless creature she is. For all she is good for is dying. I was dead and yet I dreamed.