Category: RPG

By a Bare Thread

8th day, 3rd ride, March, 1372 DR

Nice, stormy weather rolled in after mid-night. Up until then it was quiet and uneventful. Abel still wasn’t talking much.

After a couple of hours Roland started to lag behind again. Abel was completely unresponsive and I had to act fast. I tried to get Roland to catch up but I saw his strength was spent. I knew then that I was ready. I offered up a prayer, out loud, for help, asking Abaddon to strengthen my companion. Surprisingly enough, Roland straightened his back, quickened his step, regained his composure and even offered thanks to Abaddon.

When the sun came up we moved off the road and both Abel and Roland collapsed. I covered them with their blankets, barely enough strength of my own to manage that, but there was no choice but to take watch. I wasn’t certain that I’d stay awake through all of this, so I took to an old trick I learnt from the Dwarves in Ironspur; stucking a dagger into your thigh.

After a few hours Abel woke me, I think. It’s all vague, I just remember him guiding me for God knows how long to a lovely fire. I think Roland was there, too. I was so damned tired. Abaddon give me strength!

I woke up in the late afternoon to the smell of a nice herbal soup. Not exactly filling, but at least it was warm enough to thaw out my limbs. Roland went to sleep after telling me Abel wanted to take a day of rest. I didn’t agree; every day we spend out here is one where we’ll lose energy and resolve, even if we do spend a day in rest we’ll be more tired by the end of it. At dusk, I woke them both with soup. Ten minutes later we were on the road again. I was very impressed by them. Hell, I was very impressed by myself, too.

Fatigue Setting In

7th day, 3rd ride, March, 1372 DR

We made camp during the day, which was hard on Abel because he’s not used to sleeping during the day. I was forced to wake both of them up as Zandos and his bird were circling our position. After a few minutes his scouting routine moved away to the north. In the lull of his circling we moved further west for ten or twenty minutes. I am unsure whether or not he knows where we are. It might as well be that he’s trying to keep us pinned down, and afraid to move. Perhaps he’s just stalling us, not sure where we are.

We decided to continue our journey for another two hours, deciding on another four or five ours of rest after that, so that we were a bit more rested when night would fall. Roland looked a lot better than yesterday, but with his measly two hours of sleep, Abel didn’t speak much.

We made camp again. Abel didn’t do much except fall to the ground and fall asleep. We made a small fire to cook some water and warm up some left-overs. I filled a waterskin with the hot water and shoved it up against Abel’s still sleeping body, afterwards covering him with his blanket. Roland and I had the food. It seemed like a fair trade between Abel and us.

After four hours, at nightfall, Roland woke us up and prepared some quick soup to get us started. It wasn’t much, more like warm water with some chunks of soggy bread and some spices, but it did the trick. We cleaned up and made our way along the river.

A Change of Routine

6th day, 3rd ride, March, 1372 DR

The night was uneventful with the exception of four horsemen coming from the Flaming Tower. Roland was on the verge of collapse so we let him sleep some before the horsemen arrived. We decided to change our routine and sleep during the day and walk during the night. It was getting to be quite cold, so walking during the cold and resting during the warmth seemed logical, also, this way we hoped we’d go largely undetected. We didn’t want to make Zandos’ task too easy for him. When we left camp and continued on our trail we encountered the horsemen again, this time heading back towards the tower. A little further up ahead we found their abadonned camp.

Late at night we spotted an Orc camp along the river. Roughly six Orcs by Roland’s guess, too many for us to handle, so we moved into the woods and passed the camp carefully.

Seeing the horsemen got me thinking; I love horses. I have always dreamt of owning a horse…riding a horse…grooming a horse. Before the war Damarans were well known for their horse-riding. Perhaps not quite as formidable as the Riders of Narfell, but Damarans have always had a close bond with horses…it’s been in our blood for countless generations, and though I’ve never owned or ridden a horse, I feel a nostalgic longing, perhaps a sense of national pride, and I would like to purchase a horse, soon. I want to learn how to ride.

During the war all healthy horses were used for war, and all the old ones were used to flee, and later for food. In the beginning of the war you’d see officers riding horses across the battle-field, and even whole charging units of riders. Near the end of the war, and for years afterwards, horses were scarce, and only the richest or most formidable warriors were able to afford them.

I promise this to myself and to Abaddon, that the next time I see Damara and my beloved Steppenhal, I will be on horseback.

The Flaming Tower

5th day, 3rd ride, March, 1372 DR

We knew that our approach to the Flaming Tower was imminent, so I recalled some of the mercenary bands and their history for us to adopt as our own. We decided on a band called Leon’s Pride, out of Yulash. Leon, the commander of the group (or Pride, as he likes to call it), was a high ranking officer of the Yulashi troops before they were overrun by the Zhents. Coordinating an effort to reclaim Yulash from the Zhents together with troops from Hillsfar he got increasingly jaded when not only the effort to expell the invaders failed, but also when he saw the troops from Hillsfar had no intention of ever leaving Yulash once recaptured. He and his men joined the underground Yulash freedom fighters, but quickly fell out with the leadership and claimed they had a lack of vision, tactics and were too trusting towards what he by then came to call the “invaders from Hillsfar.” By the time he left, many of the men had become loyal to him instead of Yulash, and they left with him. Since then he’s been roaming the Dalelands and around the Moonsea, hiring the Pride out to whoever could afford it.

We were three of the Pride, who broke away in order to escort a merchant from Yulash to Teshwave. Our orders were to come to the Flaming Tower after our job was done, to hook up with the Pride. Leon claimed the Zhents were hiring and he was looking for a piece of the action. The last thing I heard the Pride was still locked up in Melvaunt, so the chances of running into any of them was slim.

The others took false names, Owen Drake (how pretentious) and “Rod.” I decided that the chances, though slim, were still shockingly big that I’d walk into someone whom I knew, or had worked with. Taking on a false name wasn’t such a good idea. So I was just Leman.

The Flaming Tower looks more like a large fortress. It’s probably twenty-five feet high, fifty feet broad and fifty feet deep. Abel quickly calculated how many people that could house, after a few seconds I had completely lost what he was talking about. I managed to figure out that the bottom line was; lots. At the top of the tower there was a large flame, shooting high into the sky. It’s odd to think that this used to be maintained by Fire Giants, with a large floating fortress chained to the tower. Apparently a group calling themselves the Knights of Myth Drannor put an end to the Giants’ rule, unchained the Flying Fortress and left the keep abadonned.

I unchained and undid many of the lighter pieces of armour that ocvered the scars, tattoos and marks showing the history of my mercenary affiliations. Abel, under the assumed name of Owen Drake, told the guards at the entrance of our trip from Yulash to Teshwave and our rendez-vous with Leon, bluffing our way to some food.

We were told to go to the mess-hall where a lot of soldiers and officers were eating, playing cards and waiting. Waiting. I have waited quite a bit in my life. I know how annoying it can be. You need something to distract you with, whether it gambling or talking, or taking up a faith, if you don’t, you’ll go stark, raving mad in no time. All that damned waiting.

While “Owen” was rubbing shoulders with the officers, I got him some food from the chef, making it seem like he was in command of our merry threesome. “Rod” quickly fell in line as the rookie, which he did very well by vomitting up all the booze we were offered by some of the grunts I got to talking to. I’m not sure he meant to, but it couldn’t have been better timing. While the grunts were laughing at him, I got a little heavy-handed with him, telling him to go clean up his mess. That broke the ice, and I found out a fair bit of information from the grunts.

Within the next two or three weeks, so one of them said, they’ll move up into the forest, closing in on Daggerfalls. They make between eight silver and two gold a day. There were about three hundred soldiers here, almost all of them veterans of at least one campaign. Having them sit on their arses was going to be costly, so it could never be long before the Zhents would move out.

“Owen” found out that there was a high priest of Bane in the fortress, named Manx, as well as a mage named Zandos, the one that flies around on a griffon the whole time. This seems to be a very well-oiled, well-funded campaign. Gunmar, the commander of the tower, has orders to rebuild the tower and get it into prime working operation.

We declined the “offer” of us staying the night at the Flaming Tower (for ten damned pieces of gold!) and found some lodging against one-fourth the price at the Zhentilar “woodcutter’s” camp. (Read: slave-camp.) I happened to offend Roland (again) and when I found him to apologise, he was carving a symbol of Hoar into the blade of his sword. The God of Retribution seems to be an odd patron for such a meek man.

According to one of the loggers, a woman arrived at the tower and was immediately permitted entrance. She sat down with all key people in the tower. Gary, the logger, decided to find out more about the woman and find us some provisions, at a price of course.

These travels, these hardships, these new experiences have lead me to a deeper, more profound part of my faith. I am a better, more loyal follower of Abaddon, trusting further in his patronage, trusting mor ein Him to guide me. Coupled with my renewed, mor profound faith comes with what I can only percieve to be my reward – not that I expected any, of course; I feel his presence inside of me. His energy rumbles through me in unimaginable ways. I feel so strong…so potent. Abadonned be praised!

The raven-haired woman, Gary talked about, came from Teshwave, though isn’t from there. She visited the tower once before, preceeding Gary’s arrival at the tower, and her name is Gwynneth.

After leaving the camp in the middle of the night we made our way to the edge of the woods and there “Rod” reminded all of us of the items and map we burried along the game trail we followed towards the Tower. (We thought it wouldn’t be wise to carry incriminating information with us into the Tower.) We spent little less than an hour trying to find the trail but gave up, decided to trust in Thorim’s ability to have reached Daggerfalls with the original map.

Dead Demons and Faeries

4th day, 3rd ride, March, 1372 DR

Took a cold bath in the stream nearby our camp before moving out. On the road we found tracks of a few riders, coming from the east, presumably the Flaming Tower. On that trail, which even I could follow, we found a dead satyr, or so Roland calls it, but I wouldn’t put it past him to make that stuff up. It looked to me like a small hairy demon, with cloven hooves and horns. Later we found two dead pixies, again named by Roland. I have no idea how to describe them. They were like Gnomes, only smaller, more frail, like butterflies.

At a certain point a large bird, as large as a horse, flew over head, most likely the mounts of the flying wizards of the Flaming Tower that we heard mention of. I’m beginning to think that the attack on Eagle’s Eerie was simply one of these wizards, who summoned the animals of the woods to his call with his nefarious magical powers.

Another hour later we stumbled upon an abandonned, yet semi-permanent campsite.

A few hours after that we moved about a hundred yards from the trail to make camp. No fire after dark. Two-man guard shifts. During the first shift, while Abel slept, we could see a soft yellow glow shine upon the clouds from a few kilometers to the east.