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.