Tag: Leman

Castle Dunbarton

3rd day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

We all woke up, in our rented cabin, at Anathar’s Arms in Anathar’s Dell, and got ready for our ride out to Castle Dunbarton. Well, most of us got ready. Roland, naturally, was late, as he needed to take a bath before departing. I swear I could’ve smelled soap coming from the bath room.

Once we were underway we found ourselves riding through the beautiful country-side of southern Daggerdale, headed south toward Spiderhaunt Woods, on the edge of which Castle Dunbarton was sighted. The going was slow, due to the often twisting and winding paths through the rolling hills, but the weather was fair, and we were all in good spirits. We decided to halt our approach once we came into view of the castle. The area surrounding it was open and relatively flat, and if there were occupants, it would be hard to remain unseen during our approach. We camped out behind one of the hills, and waited for nightfall. While I was taking watch, I saw no movement or light flickering coming from the castle. I started to doubt that the castle was still being occupied.

At dusk, we left the horses, and continued on foot. Before we left, Thorim and I blacked up our armour, to keep any light from reflecting off the metallic surface and give away our position. Darkness fell quick, and soon we were guiding ourselves by the meager light of the moon, the path before us little used and long washed away by rain and erosion. While crossing a small stream Abel slipped and fell, making more noise than Thorim and I put together. Luckily we didn’t draw any attention, and we remained undetected. Abel was soaked through, and Roland graciously lent him some spare clothing. I can’t believe he took spare clothing, but lucky for Abel he did.

When we got to the castle, which was situated on a hill which was very steep on all sides but one; the approach to the main gate. There was only one tower, and a large wall, crumbled in a few places to reveal the courtyard within. From down the hill we couldn’t make out much of the courtyard, but we heard nothing, and saw no light or movement. Roland went in to investigate, opting to inspect one of the holes in the wall instead of the main gate.

He soon returned with news of a massacre inside the castle-walls. The courtyard strewn with blood and the entrails of horses. He said he was able to make out one lone figure near the cadavres, hunched over and devouring pieces of the horses’ flesh.

Instinct took over, and I closed my eyes, and begged Abaddon the power to detect the restless dead. I inched forward, my eyes wide, the wind stinging my dry eyes, and tears streaming freely down my face. As I got closer and closer to the main gate, one door of which was off it’s hinges and had collapsed inward, I forgot all about my traveling companions as my fears were made real; I felt a steady pulse of rot and decay overwhelm my mind, like a throbbing headache or a glancing blow to the head. I looked around the courtyard, and down the path leading away from the gate, and for a split second, I could’ve sworn I was back in Vaasa, approaching the undead-infested town of Talagbar.

I walked closer and closer, until I stood upon the threshold of the main gate and I saw what Roland had previously decribed. The large, now-bloated and ravished carcasses of the horses were in the dead center of the courtyard while a pale, soulless ghoul was sinking its teeth into it’s dead flesh. I prayed to Abaddon to shield his servant, and to strengthen my hammer, and as I felt the lightening lick over my armour, tracing the contours of the sharp splint-ridges, I saw that ghoul turn around, and look at me with pale, lifeless eyes.

I knew what would be next. I was eager for it. They had torn my country apart, killed my father and took away my youth. “Your childhood is over the moment you know you’re going to die,” they say. Oh, and how I knew of death, and how I hated it when I was young, until I realised there are worst things out there than dying. Undeath.

In the short battle that followed, my companions and I steadily moved into the courtyard, dispatching five ghouls, dressed in modern armour. During the fight I had shouted for Abel to start a fire. Afterwards, I asked him for one of the burning timbers, which he refused me. My respect for him shrank that moment, for the lack of trust in me he showed, even though he knew full well that I was better equiped at determining what was best at that particular moment. I ran to the fire he had made outside the castle walls, and I got one of the burning timbers. I asked for the flask of alcohol Thorim had on him, which we had only that afternoon used to keep ourselves warm, and I ignited the corpses.

Roland, who had fought very well during our entrance into the castle’s courtyard, was inspecting the two buildings inside the castle walls with Abel, while I burned the corpses, making sure they would not be getting up. The tower was mostly empty, except for some decayed furniture and some rotten possessions of the former owners. There was a now defunct siege-engine standing proudly on the roof; a balista marking a time where this castle stood in proud defence of this dale.

They found a hole, dug into the ground in one of the buildings, leading to tunnels beneath the castle, filled with spiderwebs. While we inspected the hole we disturbed two large spiders who had evidently made their home in those tunnels. Large, vicious greaters, with long, black legs, and a hard, green-flecked, chittinous body. Green ooze was dripping from their mandibles, and I was bitten twice, once pretty severely on my weapon arm, and once in the face, as one of the terrible creatures climbed on and over my shield. We killed them, eventually and found that the tunnel was very wide, and most likely sculpted by magic, rather than by any digging or mining operation.

Thorim went down, and so did Roland and Abel, while I stayed behind to guard. My armour and size wouldn’t do much good down there, but I was soon called back into action when moments later a strange darkness fell over the hole in the ground, blocking off all vision inside the tunnel. Chaos erupted, and I quickly realised that we were dealing with what the dalesmen call Drow; Dark Elves.

When I was being educated by Heron, he taught me of other gods, and other pantheons, and I seemed to recall a Goddess, whose name escaped me right then, but I know now to be Lloth, Lady of Chaos, Queen of Spiders, to whom many Dark Elves prayed. The darkness, the underground tunnel and the spiders seemed to indicate their involvement, and when I saw Abel’s hands reach from out of that murky blackness, I quickly pulled him up and jumped into the black voice, following sounds of battle, and Roland’s whimpering.

I quickly found Roland, cowering in a corner, and directed him back towards the hole. The darkness was so completely absolute, that I had trouble keeping my own very real and visceral fears in check. I called for Abel to help Roland out of the hole, and advance further into the tunnel, hoping I would soon reach Thorim, and hopefully exit this blackness.

I did eventually reach Thorim, but I didn’t exit the darkness. Calling upon my Lord to illuminate my shield, so that it may stand for his radiance and brilliance only allowed me to see the shield on my arm, but nothing more. We fought, in the dark, with something wielding both magic and swords, with a command of a strange language, but much larger than I had expected any Dark Elf to be. I tried to rush it, pushing it beyond the borders of the darkness, but I couldn’t. I felt many long, hairy legs, and a chittinous body, and the lancing pain of a blade piercing my side. These Dark Elves were mounted!

After coordinated a coordinated shield-rush with Thorim, we managed to push our opponent out of the darkness, and my shield shone brightly, illuminating our adversary and the tunnel beyond.

By Kaladan Thunderfist! This was no Dark Elf, mounted or otherwise! No, this was a strange hybrid between a Dark Elf and a large bulbous spider body. Half man, half spider, like a nightmarish version of the fabled Centaurs.

It’s long white hair in sharp contrast to it’s ebon-hued body skin, as well as the deep blackness of it’s spider-body, it’s eyes glowing and angry red in the darkness of the tunnel until my shield blinded it…its eyes obviously unaccustomed to light.

We continued fighting, long and hard, and especially Thorim, his frame ideal for tunnel-fighting, managed to strike several critical blows, the last of which decapitated the…thing, leaving its lifeless body to slump to the ground. Thorim was wounded very heavily, so I called upon Abaddon’s infinite resilience to help my fallen comrade.

I went to retrieve the head of the Dark Elf, which we would need as proof for Captain Durmark. As I grabbed a fist full of white, silky hair, and raised the head up to reveal a vacant expression, blood dripping from it’s severed neck, I noticed that his eyes no longer shone with an angry fire. I looked past the head, to the spider-body, and past that into the tunnel, and I noticed something glistening in the side of the wall. I walked over and found a metal handle, set in the stone, undoubtedly meant to open and close a secret door of some kind. It was hidden well, and it was blind luck that I came across it. I decided to leave it be, and not tell the others.

His wounds partially healed, I dragged Thorim towards the entrance of the tunnel where Roland was waiting, visibly disturbed, shaking and frightened. He helped us out of the hole, and told us that Abel had gone to fetch the horses. Meanwhile we caught our breath and went to work, filling the hole with all the decayed furniture we could find, weighing it down with rubble and stones. Once done, Abel returned with the horses. I impaled the head on Roland’s polearm, and we rode out to Anathar’s Dell.

Power Corrupts

2nd day, 1st ride, April, 1372 DR

When I woke up, I found myself on my footlocker, at the end of my bed, half dressed, with Thorim’s snoring thundering through my skull. Abel, who hadn’t participated in last night’s festivities, had woken up, got up and opened our window in order to freeze us to attention. Thorim was in the same shape as I, having found a spot on the floor to sleep. You know you’ve been drinking with a Dwarf when you wake up the following morning near your bed, but not in it, despite not having had the comfort of a warm bed very often recently.

Before we left, I found a small hill, cleared of shrubs ant rees, and I prayed for resilience and good fortune in the day to come. I also, upon reflection, identified several animals that carry Abaddon’s favour; the bird of prey, the bear, but also the horse, because of the temperament, spirit and stamina.

The Serpent’s Bridge, a name that suggests and interesting history. Thorim did not know, but thought it mgiht be connected to the attack of a dragon on Anathar’s Dell a few hundred years ago in retaliation to a wizard’s growing power…Anathar’s growing power. Thorim wasn’t sure, but he thought the dragon was red. I know I have Abaddon by my side, and that the likelihood of being confronted with a dragon is almost non-existant, but still…I am the man with two lives, the first was taken by a dragon as white as early morning snow.

Together with Abel we went to talk to the captain of the guard of a bunch of travellers – migrants from Shadowdale – returning to Green Orb after two decades, when they left upon the Zhent occupation. They had encountered Orcs to the south, and three were wounded. I requested to examine and treat the wounded, which was granted (gladly.) Only one man really needed my attention, he had an arrowhead embedded in his upper leg. It had not started infecting yet, which was fortunate, but it was only a matter of time before it would. I tried to be jovial and I let him have the last of the spirits I had used for the bandages. The rest I used on his leg and my dagger. I opened the wound and removed the arrowhead, during which three of his friends held him down. His cries could be heard throughout the valley. In the end I gave him the tip of the arrow as a token. He was very thankful, as were his friends.

That evening we arrived at Anathar’s Dell. Upon entering we noticed something creeping through the bushes on one side of the road leading into town. When I mentioned it to the rest, and drew my hammer, Thorim assured me that I had nothing to worry about. Once we cleared the bushes it became obvious what had been following us; apparently Anathar’s Dell is protected by large wild cats that the Dalesmen call tigers. It was most, most disturbing.

We made our way into town and up a winding path of a hill around which the town was centered. On top of the hill there was an inn called the Anathar’s Arms, and there we found ale, food and the company of Humans, Half-elves and Dwarves alike. All along the winding path there were small log hut cottages, belonging to the inn, and housing their visitors. We were supplied with one.

I made a remark about women – about Captain Durmark to be exact – and their disruptive influence on society, which surprised Abel. I explained that I believe everything we, men, do, is in order to find a woman to mate with. We are all driven by our desire to procreate. It leaves us blind to the truth most of the time, and it leaves us hungering for power.

That revelation lead us to discuss power, and the corruption thereof, and the difference between divine power and arcane power. I accussed Abel of being too frivolous with his power, using it without being supremely aware of the possible consequence. His power is corruptive, after all. He countered by saying that our powers were not much different from one another. I agreed, but I closed off the conversation by saying that his arcane power is guided by himself, while mine is guided by Abaddon and that I am a mere catalyst. There is a higher power that decides over my powers…in fact, they’re not even my powers at all. They’re His powers.

The power I do have, is the power of my hammer. I know that power corrupts, which is why I don’t want to have it. I am careful when I raise my weapon, and wield it as furiously as Abaddon intended once I do decide to use it. I never sought a career in arms, otherwise I would’ve been more than a soldier a long time ago. No, my lack of military rank has not been the result of a lack of opportunity, but rather a conscious decision I made. No, not a lack of opportunity, but a lack of ambition on my part. Power corrupts. Ambition is the road to power.

A Wonderful Day on the Road

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

Woke up after a restless night. Nervous. Nervous because of the mission, but more because of the horse I will be riding. And, of course, Abel’s passionate discourse with the barmaid last night. I woke up loverboy before going into Daggerfalls with Roland. We shared a nice warm piece of bread while gathering Roland’s rations at the market. The man paid a fortune for honey. it’s unbelievable what he spends his money on. The polearm, which he was carrying at the time, was a good example of his frivolous nature. I have yet to see him utilise that – or any weapon, to be honest. I wonder if his loyalties are as frivolous and as whimsical as the rest of his interests.

At the barracks we found Thorim grooming three horses and a pony. Nervously, I waited and saw Roland move to the most aesthetically pleasing horse in the collection. I moved to a raven-coloured horse, obviously bred for war, with broad hooves, powerful legs and a broad back. Thorim told me his name was Stygos. I moved around him, inspecting him and his hooves. Apart from a small cut on his right, hind leg, he was healthy and well-maintained. I calmed considerably while puttin ghis saddle on. He would be able to feel my nerves, and I wanted him to trust me. I was hesitant to mount him, only knowing what to do by instinct or in theory, but I had never ridden a horse before, so I was intimidated by Roland and Abel’s apparent ease at handling these magnificent animals.

The journey was uneventful, but I had a really good time riding. My legs and back were sore once we came to Black Switch, but I didn’t mind. We stabled the horses and found lodging at an inn called The Ruse’s Mage. I know that during the course of that wonderful evening someone told us the story behind the name of the inn…something about a mage and a stick…but I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is that Thorim, Roland and I had a wonderful time, while Abel was a stick in the mud retiring to bed early. I also know that Black Magic Brew is an absolutely wonderful and vicious ale; befitting of Abaddon’s blessing.

The Flaming Tower

6th day, 2nd ride, March, 1372 DR

We talked to Duran and reported our tentative findings about Marron to him. Later, I had some ideas about Marron, if he organises fights between animals then it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think he might organise fights between humanoids as well, or animals and humanoids, willing or unwilling. The bluff on Eagle’s Eerie even resembles an arena.

Decided to let this lie and spend our time more productively by offering our services to the Freedom Fighters. Mestine Durmarck had two seperate missions; either to investigate the Flaming Tower, an outpost of the Zhents on the Teshendale border, or to investigate Castle Daggerdale, the Morn family’s ancestral castle in the heart of Daggerdale. We choose to do the first mission, since it seemed the most pressing and important. We would not be provided with any provisions or backup, accept for Thorim, should he want to be part of our investigation. Out in the Border Forest, he would be back in the late afternoon, at which time we could also have a look at some maps of the Flaming Tower region. So now we have the afternoon off. I think I’m going to see if I can catch myself some fish, like I used to do on the Icelace River in Steppenhall.

Thorim agreed to come with us and we aggreed to take the route north of the river Tesh, so we can use the Border Forest as cover and we don’t have to find a rivercrossing once we’re near the tower. Two rides ago, a group of five militiamen were sent on the same mission and are presumed dead. Perhaps they were recognised or betrayed by one of the townsfolk. How likely is it that someone might recognise Thorim?

Had dinner before we left at the Red Rock tavern. Kessla is stunning, but I can’t seem to bring myself to trust elves; they are so manipulative. It seems Abel and Roland both speak Elvish. Abel cleverly managed to spread the rumour of our mission to Castle Daggerdale. He, too, seems very wily.

Castle Dunbarton

10th day, 3rd ride, March, 1372 DR

The morning went by quietly until I saw Abel do some martial excercises with his staff. He’s obviously not used to holding a weapon, but he is of good will, if a bit soft. I thought I’d give him some pointers. The best way to learn how to handle a weapon is by non-lethal sparring, so we did; or rather, we would’ve, if he hadn’t decided to try and ensorcel me with his witchcraft. I called upon Abaddon to have him hold his blasphemous tongue. He stood there, frozen, and I pushed him to the ground and walked off. I retired to my room to ride out the storm raging in my head.

After an hour I went downstairs and made plans with Abel to go to the garrisson as well as check out the possibility of lodgings at the Red Rock. I woke up Roland, who took a bloody hour taking a bath and getting dandied up. An hour! Doesn’t he know that if you touch it that much it’ll most likely fall off!?

As we crossed the river Tesh, I realised just how fed up I was with the Teshford Arms. The service was mediocre, the cost was high, but that ford left me with wet socks and boots more than twice a day!

We met up with Captain Durmark and relayed everything we had seen and heard on our trip to the Flaming Tower. When I told her about the dead craftsmen and Zhent soldiers it occurred to me that the only people able to overrun a group like that without being seen are Elves, but none are so cruel as to severely torture them. Perhaps there are Dark Elves in those woods, or Drow, as the Dalesmen seem to call them.

Captain Durmark hired a group of a dozen Halfling scouts. They will act as scouts and a fast strike force, able to move through the forest quickly and stealthily.

She also told us of a castle, Castle Dunbarton, protecting the Serpent’s Bridge, which croses the River Ashaba, which in turn divides the dale in a north and southern part. The castle was ransacked over a hundred years ago, when one of Lord Morn’s predecessors cut military funding and the castle fell in bad repair. There’s a camp near the castle, housing an unknown number of people whose identities are a mystery. Captain Durmark is afraid that an unknown enemy is fortifying the old castle. We’re getting ten gold upfront, plus a mount for the duration of this mission, and another fifteen gold upon our safe return. She says that if the group is an undesirable one, and their numbers are managable, we can take them out.

Ha! What a farce! There is no reason for us to do anything more than check it out. When I confronted her with that she tried to counter with a feeble argument of us doing something good for Daggerdale, and then that we were free to take what we found on the bodies (liek she’s going to be able to check!) If she’s not paying us extra, then I’m not lifiting a finger unless I’m feeling particularly charitable that day.

I just realised that the massing troops at the Flaming Tower might simply be a ploy to keep Daggerfalls’ attention to the north, a sleight of hand, a misdirection to cover up the massing of troops to the south. Perhaps Dunbarton is being fortifided by the Zhents in order to attack from two sides. From what I understood, Dark Elves live underground, perhaps their tunnels are providing safe passage for the Zhent troops.

Or perhaps one of the southern nations is trying to move in on the Dales. From what I understand, the Thetyamar trail goes all the way south from Daggerfalls, past Tilverton, into Cormyr. I’ve heard a lot of stories of the Purple Dragons of Cormyr, vigilant knights and awesome warriors. If this turns out to be true, then perhaps Abel isn’t here because he slept with a nobleman’s wife…perhaps he’s here sent as an agent to the Cormyrian crown.

Roland and I cut the meeting with Captain Durmark short and went to the Red Rock Tavern where we met up with Kessla, who told us about the gold bracelet. Apparently, it’s a part of a uniform, worn by the guards of Myth Drannor, the capitol of the Elven empire of Cormanthor. She explained a bit about the fall of the Elven empire, but couln’t go into greater detail because of time constraints. She said that the bracelet was over two-thousand years old, yet not especially rare, so it wouldn’t fetch us more than two-hundred, to two-hundred and fifty gold pieces. (If it turns out that she is willing to purchase it from us, then I’ll be getting a second opinion.) So far I’m a bit disappointed that the story behind the bracelet wasn’t more of an adventure.

Roland and I headed back to the Teshford Arms (wet socks), after we stopped by the market. It was already getting dark, so I didn’t have a lot of time to haggle with the armourer about the price of the repairs I wanted done on my armour. I manage to talk some sense into the man, who had clearly lost his by the time he named his price. I also bought some supplies (cloth, parafine, spirits, canvas, food).

At the Teshford Arms I dried my socks and boots near the fire, while I took the cloth I had bought and tore it into little strips, three layers each, before soaking them in the spirits. Then I wrapped them up in pieces of canvas, sealing that shut with parafine, making it nearly water-proof. The alcohol in the bandages wouldn’t evaporate for a few weeks, so they would be useful, ready-made, bandages for our next mission.

I asked some Dwarves about the road to Anathar’s Dell, expanding on the map that Captain Durmark gave us before we left for the Flaming Tower. Tethyamar trail to Tilverton. Halfway (approx. one day) Black Switch. Then Green Orb. Approx. half day later Serpent’s Bridge. Two hours SW is Upper Nettle. Road Sign: Anathar’s Dell (silver-mining community.)

A few hours later I went back to the now empty market to pick up my armour. The repairs made to it were excellently done. I didn’t tip the man, because he already got enough of my money, but I’ll certainly come back for more.

While I was discussing the map of Daggerdale with Thorim, which I had assembled over time, I found that in the western part of Daggerdale, there’s a castle called Bloodstone. Naturally, I was curious, coming from what is commonly referred to as the Bloodstone Lands. Apparently, this dale was for the first forty years ruled from Bloodstone by fifteen vampire lords. He explained what a vampire was. Undead.