Category: RPG

The Borderforest

8th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

Our night’s rest was interrupted by howling of a pack of wolves. I had only just traded my watch with one of the others and taken their place in one of the tents were had pitched. The sounds of their baying took me back to my homeland, where, before the war, wolves were considered to be the scourge of the countryside, much more so than orcs and trolls were. Large parts of Damara are nothing more than grasslands, with sparse bits of trees to contrast the wide open spaces, for rides across. They used to say that if you headed north from Steppenhall, where I was born, you could walk on grass until you reached the point where land and sky met, only encountering wind, wolves and plainstriders. When the war came, and Damara was flooded with Zhengyi’s troops from neighbouring Vaasa, goblins were seen riding grotesque black wolves that we soon learnt were called Wargs. These creatures had an intelligence and malevolence to them that was unknown in normal wolves. I always thought that they were normal wolves, trained and bread for war, but when we were attacked last night, I realise I had been mistaken. A dozen or so hungry wolves set upon our makeshift camp, most likely lured by the smell of our food, and the blood of our hunt. I briefly mistook two large ones as the leaders of the pack, until I had engaged one and truly noticed their size and cunning. While the camp erupted into a flurry of activity as everyone was contributing what they could to our defenses, I realised that I should have a talk soon with Abel, for I would greatly appreciate his leadership in all matters, not just matters of negotiation. We were all caught out fighting one or two wolves and nowhere was a concerted effort made, no formations were kept, and no attacks were concentrated on a single target. Roland was, like me, paired up with one of the Wargs, and wasn’t faring so well. I would’ve come to his aid if it hadn’t been for the stiff opposition my own enemy was giving me, and before I could reach him he fell under the onslaught of the large wolf. It seemed the only person to be doing well in the fight was Abel, unleashing angry bolts of searing hot light upon any wolf that stood in his way. There is a strange duality to him in battle; on the one hand he has to power of the sun at his beck and call, and on the other hand he’s so frail that it seems like I could punch a hole straight through his chest if it pleased me.

Eventually, we managed to dispatch all the wolves, but not without sheding some blood of our own. I was hurt and still bleeding, and so were Roland, Wren and Ebon. I had tossed the carcasses of the wolves off the ledge where we had made camp and went to tend to my wounds when I noticed Hazel was looking after the others. I had noticed her response to the scrapes and bruises we brought into the Teshford Arms the first evening back from Anathar’s Dell, and her willingness to tend to them, so I suspected she knew her way around a fleshwound or two. I wasn’t so keen to be treated by her as it would’ve meant I had to remove my armour and expose my body. My scars are mine, and I’d rather avoid explaining how I came about them. The story is incredible anyway, and I would hate to be laughed at by my companions. No, it’s best to keep them to myself.

I had considered, some time ago, to see if Abaddon would grant my his healing powers to remove the damage to my leg and torso, to get rid of the scars and repair the limp. I decided against it because it was that fateful day, north of Talagbar, where my inexperienced, undermanned contingent was vanquished by Zhengyi’s troop of Orcs, Ogre and much worse, and I was found, broken and torn, by Heron, priest of Abaddon. It was there that I felt Abaddon’s touch. In a way these wounds lead me to Abaddon, and so I shall not turn away from them, but cherish them and carry them with me until the end of my days. I might not be as fast as I used to be, I get frequent feverish spells as the pain in my legs return, and those scars still itch and throb, especially on cold days, but they were the key that opened the door and lead Abaddon into my life. He gave me new life and left me with these scars and aches to remind me of that.

The rest of the night went by without incident, though I did let Abaddon’s healing energies flow through me and into some of us who were most in need. We still have a task to fulfill, and a forest to patrol, so I believe my prayers to Abaddon were not in excess.

The following day we broke camp and continued journeying deeper into the Borderforest. It had previously occured to me that while my bandages are professional, they could be improved. While working as a medic in the armies of the Bloodstone Gate, Heron often supplied me with different herbs that prevented infection, soothed wounds and eased the pain of the wounded. While I remember many of their names (dreamfoil, earthroot, silversage, plaguebloom, wintersbite, and so forth), I never gathered them, and always handled them in their crushed form. I wouldn’t know how to recognise them, or process them and distill their useful components. Hazel’s druidic knowledge proved to be an immense source of information about the different forms of plants and the restorative qualities, and I am determined to learn what I can about these plans in order to improve upon my bandages. I realise that Abaddon grants me the power to heal wounds, minor as well as serious ones, and even cure blindness and diseases if it pleases Him, but if I am capable of a mundane way of taking care of these things, I feel I should. He teaches us to persevere, and if I were grant everyone His blessing, I would take away the honour and pride one can derive by persevering.

And so, while Hazel spoke, I listened. So did Ebon. He seemed very interested in plants and herbs that were harmful to the human body, and I’m slowly starting to get an idea of who he is and what he does. While Abaddon doesn’t perscribe a particular morality, I, myself, are only too easily reminded of how King Virdin was betrayed at the Ford of Goliad, by Felix, his lieutenant who was secretly in league with the Guild of Assassins. After King Virdin’s defeat Zhengyi and the guild leader quickly consolidated their victory by slaying many of the powerful Damaran nobles by sending their assassins to claim their lives. I have no love for death-dealers, but as long as I don’t start to get suspicious of the kid’s intentions towards me and mine he can do as he pleases.

After we had decided on a patrolling pattern through the part of the Borderforest we had been assigned to we quickly came upon a dried up riverbed. Hazel noted that the forest had turned quiet – too quiet, and we quickly went to investigate. Abel sent his cat to scout, and with a nod, Ebon was moving up the embankment to the most likely spot for ambushing. Pretty soon we discovered a Zhent camp up ahead, and we heard that piercing screech of Zandos’ flying bird overhead. It seems we were destined to meet once again.

The Zhent camp holds a handful of soldiers who are building a platform much like the one we had found during initial forray into the Borderforest. Zandos was there, but left relatively soon after we discovered them. We were trying to form a plan, but first we’d have to get more information, and so Wren and Ebon went scouting. They have just returned with a more accurate layout of the camp, and we’re now discussing what the best time to strike is.

New Work: On the Road Again

7th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

I woke up early today and found myself eager to check the weather. I’ve been desperate for some wind and turmoil, and I’m feeling restless, like there’s a storm brewing deep inside. I went outside and found it misty and quiet, with the exception of the ever-present roar of the waterfall. I spent some time in communion before going back inside to find some food. As soon as I headed inside I noticed claw-marks on the door of the inn; large, deep rents in the wood much the same as the claw-marks found during the wolf attack on Eagle’s Eerie. I guess whatever it was that was up there is still around.

I was joined by serveral others over the span of the following hour, notably by Ebon. (Reminder: I’ve lent him two gold pieces to stay the night at the inn.) I showed everyone the door, which certainly got the conversation going. By the time Abel had come down together with Roland, Hazel was trying to convince Thorim that something needed to be done about Marron, the man living outside of Daggerfalls that organises the dogfights. I don’t know why she’s so sure that he’s behind it, and I’m also not so sure she cares much for the victims of the attacks so far, but more for bringing Marron to some sort of vigilante justice. Far be it from me to get involved in these affairs. At least not until the time is right. Depending on whether or not my companions get involved, I’ll pick my side in the conflict.

After having eaten we decided to hoof it up to the garrison to see if captain Durmarck was available. We found her at an archery range practicing with a massive composite longbow. She is a very accurate shot, and I’m sure her skill is sublime. I don’t care much for ranged weapons like that, so I wouldn’t really know how to judge her skill, but to this layman it looked impressive. I wonder if she could shoot an arrow as clearly and accurately if she was put in a live situation? After some deliberation, I believe she could. She doesn’t seem like Sir Ariton, her face is more weathered and she has more callous on her hands.

Captain Durmarck told us that there were two jobs she had for us; scouting the Borderforest for Zhent activity, or going up to a village called Green Orb, an hour past Black Switch, and investigate the disappearance of a tax-collector. Apparently, the villagers of Green Orb aren’t so keen to accept the current rule and law of Daggerdale. The scouting run would net us two gold a day, while the run to Green Orb would only pay one gold a day. The job we were offered before, the scouting of Castle Daggerdale, had been offered to Chazz Sawyer and his merry band of halfling rogues in our absence. I can’t believe we’re losing work to fucking halfers! I’m all for competition, but sometimes I like being the only mercenary group in town.

We ended up decided to take the Borderforest run, not the least because of Hazel, who had told us the previous evening she was heading there shortly. We also talked Captain Durmarck to allow us to recruit her since her forestry skills would come in handy. I wasn’t so sure it was going to be a good idea taking a woman along on our trip, they generally cause trouble and are a drain on morale, but if she really is a druid like she says she is, her help could be invaluable.

Back in Damara there were druids in Rawlingswood and on the steppes. These people were a tremendous help for the refugees willing to take up arms against Zhengyi and his forces. They told me that normally they’d remain neutral and not interfere in the affairs of Man, but that the might and corruption of Zhengyi was something they could no longer deny. They were forced to fight, and forced to help.

While their neutrality was something I was comfortable with, their lack of real conviction once they had picked a side bothered me. All morality aside, I believe that if you pick a side, you should commit yourself to it, and consider your allies as friends. It does morale and cohesion of an army or group no good when alliances are that…flimsy. I wonder if Hazel feels the same as the other druids did. She’s much unlike the druids I’ve seen and heard of, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

I restocked my supplies, getting torches, rations (from the garrison quartermaster, a good friend of Thorim), and all the ingredients I needed for some proper bandages. I spent a few hours resting by the hearth at the Teshford Arms, making and preparing about a dozen bandages. They’re all soaked, wrapped and sealed in my pack. There are certain things you never forget, and making bandages is one of them. I remember well the days in which I first learnt to make them, under Heron’s tutelage after I was reborn as one of Abaddon’s chosen. He taught me how to be a medic and roam the battlefield in search for those who were still salvagable. I wore the sign of the snake, the sign of a medic, supposedly keeping me out of harms way. Of course, the bastards in Zhengyi’s army never paid any heed, and the curtesy of bandaging my fallen companions was never given to me, at least not willingly. I see now how bitter that made me, the countless times I was jumped from behind as I was applying a field-dressing.

We left that afternoon. Thorim, Roland, Abel, Ebon, Wren, Hazel and myself, heading north-east, roughly the same path we had taken to get to the Flaming Tower. I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got seven days in the woods ahead of us, and in that time we have scouting to do. We were assigned a territory, in which we will hopefully be able to do some good; gather information about Zhent troop movements and find and defeat possible Zhent invaders. The group we are moving out with is a lot larger than it was the first time we headed into these woods, so we should be a lot better prepared, and a lot more capable of keeping ourselves safe.

The going was rough, especially for me and my ruined leg. We made camp at early dusk, and food was gathered and tents were pitched (also curtesy of the garrison quartermaster.) Abel managed to kill a deer, and Thorim, Roland and him managed to drag it up to the camp, leading a bloody trail right to us. I asked for first and last watch, meaning I’ll get about four hours of sleep and the others six. I’m sure we’ll attract the attention of something big and hungry with that much blood on the air.

Back in Daggerfalls

6th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

I got up early this morning, hoping to greet a cloudy sky and forgetting about the bad night of sleep that I got. I’ve never been too comfortable standing in the spotlight, especially when I’m being ridiculed, and I think it left its mark on me while I slept. After having eaten well I went outside and even though the weather was calm, I managed to enjoy this little village. Black Switch is a small farming community, with a tiny village center surrounding a pond. I stood upon a hillock overlooking the pond while I prayed. It’s not often that I enjoy the peace and serenity of beautiful scenery around me, but while I reflected and prayed I did.

Priests of Abaddon, especially the Archons of Fury, are naturally drawn towards conflict. Like moths to a flame we gravitate towards the building tension between two nations, both sides having troops skirmish along the border until the first spark ignites the full fury of their battle. We all come from fields of conflict, and we always return to them, hoping to recapture that first moment of Abaddon’s embrace. On the fields of conflict, we seek others like us, or we seek to create others like us, like we were once created by those who came before us. We strive to bring perserverence, resilience and fortitude to those caught up in the conflict, to speak calmly until the time of speaking is over. To stay patient until patience breaks and is replaced by action. To show overwhelming might and fury when the time for action is there.

I’m rambling again. Unlike Heron, my mentor, I don’t yet possess the skills to put this feeling, this enormous elation and love I feel, into words that I can easily convey to others. I’m not in tune with them yet; they overwhelm me and make my thoughts and words run a mile a minute. It’s because I’m not used to this wonderful feeling yet, even after all these years. One day, and I think that day might not be far off, I’ll be used to this feeling, and I’ll be able to harness and channel it. I’ll be reborn an Archon, like I was once reborn a priest. At that time I’ll be able to delve deeper into the essence of Abaddon, into the eye of his storm, and understand the ageless force, the booming thunder and the piercing lightning of his might.

We rode out early and arrived back in Daggerfalls just before midday. After making a stop at the Teshford Arms, we headed out to the garrison almost immediately to discuss our findings at Castle Dunbarton, and get paid. We took the head along, hoping to lend some credibility to our story, but Sir Ariton Delmis, commander of the Freedom Fighters, whom we spoke to in absence of captain Mestine Durmarck, seemed to think it was distasteful. I’m guessing Sir Ariton never really had to get his feet wet. We were paid our dues, and were told that Mestine’d be back the following day and that if we were interested in more work we could report to her.

The rest of the day has gone by without any remarkable events, but this evening Abel made another friend; a girl by the name of Hazel who claims to be a druid. She’s an odd one, and I’m going to reserve judgement until I’ve had further opportunity to talk to her.

Now I’m laying in my overpriced room at the Teshford Arms. Olavia is still overcharging us by a mile and more. I’m considering just putting down some money for one of the houses in the city or an abandoned farmhouse outside of it. It has to beat the gold we’re spending here.

On the Road to Daggerfalls

5th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

This morning saw another fair day with fair weather. I feel so far away from Abaddon on days like this. I woke up early, eager to see what the weather was like, and sat in front of the cabin we had been assigned as I saw the stablehand of Anathar’s Arms walk by, perplexed. He asked me if I had seen someone come by with two horses, and knowing more than enough about what had happened during the night, I told the boy that I believed I saw two riders come down the hill earlier. A little later, Ebon came up to the cabin, and I told him that he better head out with the two horses and meet us an hour down the road.

Having informed Abel of Ebon’s decision to steal the horses, he shrugged it off with that air of annoyance that I’ve come to grow accustomed to, and we decided to head out to the family of Elves that act as unofficial patrons of Anathar’s Dell. They are the ones that raise and keep the tigers, which provide a large part of the protection of the village. We took the Drider head with us to talk to the head of the household about it. Sadly, he had nothing to offer but discomfort; it seems these elves use their tigers like lapdogs, having them in and around their house. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

We decided to ride out towards Black Switch, hoping to make it to the Ruse’s Mage before nightfall. Wren road with me on Stygos until we’d found Ebon. After about an hour on the road we found him with the two stolen horses from the Anathar’s Arms. Not surprisingly Thorim looked as if he was about to bust his gut, and forced Ebon to promise that he’d take the horses back at he first available opportunity. Something told me that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

We passed the caravan of travellers by about an hour or so past the Serpent’s Bridge. I had treated some of their wounded several days previous, so I took some time to check up on some of them before we moved on. We found ourselves in Black Switch at dusk, and settled comfortably in the Ruse’s Mage. Wren decided to do another one of his performances, which was rather good until he decided to incorporate me into the story, and ridicule me until I left. I had to, it was either calming down outside, under a sad and clear night’s sky, or break some heads, starting with that dimunitive elf.

Back in Anathar’s Dell

4th day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

We rode out from castle Dunbarton, triumphantly displaying the Drider head on that useless polearm Roland insists on dragging along. We were all tired, but nowhere near as tired as we were when we returned from the Flaming Tower, so we knew we would be alright. It made me realize that our trip to the Flaming Tower showed me the depth of my resilience, but also its limits. Abaddon demands that I remain resilient, but accepts and forgives my flaws as a human, and knows that I have my limitations. He relishes in my struggle to better myself, to push myself when needed. He will not be disappointed when I reach my limit, and nor should I, but I should stay true to myself and not give up early, for Abaddon knows all about all his subjects, and will know when I have failed him. I am one of his children, have accepted and survived the lightning strike which signifies his favour. He believes in me, as much as I believe in him, and that symbiosis is what gives us both strength.

I had envisioned us riding into Anathar’s Dell with the head of the Drider on display, it is one of the few ways in which I like to show off, I suppose, but Abel thought that it would not be such a good idea, considering it involved the dark elves, and the presence of many elves in Anathar’s Dell. He thought it might offend them. The short amount of time I have spent with Abel has taught me that his intellect far outweighs my own, and that in matters like this he is to be listened to, and before we rode into town we took the head off the pike and wrapped it in a blanket.

When we got to Anathar’s Arms we were quickly given the key to one of the cottages, a table near the hearth and warm food. After eating several plates, I fell asleep. I will say it again as I’ve said it before; a soldier will take his food and sleep whenever he can, because you never know when the next time will be that food or sleep is going to come around. The more I see my companions frown at my behaviour, which must seem gluttonous and curious to them, the more I realize that these southerners have hardly ever known hardships like the ones Abaddon has allowed me to endure.

I was woken up by the awful sound of someone playing a flute, or at least trying to. A rather frail looking elf by the name of Wren was going to be our troubadour for the evening, and once he put his flute away entertained us with a remarkable story. As bad as his performance with the flute had been, he made up for that in spades with his story. An epic tale of hardship and perseverance against overwhelming odds, in which a handful of strangers in a small settlement far to the north defeat a terrible foe that was about to break free from an underground prison he was locked into an aeon before. What I liked about the story is the heroes’ willingness to sacrifice themselves for their cause. I certainly don’t claim to know what’s right or wrong and neither does Abaddon care for matters of morality, but I do admire those who are committed to the point of developing a willingness to lay the most precious thing on the line; their lives.

Abaddon teaches us to persevere. To endure and to be resilient. He teaches us to be like him; everlasting and unstoppable. Who can stop the coming of a storm? Who can deny the roar of thunder, and the intensity of lightning once it has arrived?

The rest of the evening was spent talking and eating. The troubadour came up to our table for a talk, as did another guy who I had seen skulking in the corner the entire evening. Both Wren and the kid who identified himself as Ebon were looking for passage to Daggerfalls and were wonder if they could travel with us. I was a bit skeptical, as was Abel, but in the end we agreed provided they could keep up with our horses somehow.