Sea of Madness

Book of Nod, Page Three

I do say, when things seem to be looking up, the rush of excitement at it’s peak, they must fall inevitably downward. Tragic as it is, I had missed out on a slave today. I had rescued him from the clutches of his own comrade goblins, but he had proved to be most quick and eluded my grasp when I chased him down. He could have been a quaint little reminder of my time with that goblin gang. Truly, I was like a young mortal in love with a puppy. He would have made a fine pet, he was cute in a wretched sort of way, much like Kun-we, Suldren, or even Vuden.

Fortune will favor me more kindly in the future I suppose, and more indebted shall come across my path. Fortune certainly does not favor me this day. We journeyed down in the dark of this forgotten place and had come across the unfavorably undead. A collection of them had mounted down there, probably remnants of Orcus’ presence seeping into the world. While in and of themselves they proved not much of a challenge, they did however manage an assault on the back of the party, in large numbers, and with myself laid bare before them. I had taken out a good portion of them before they could get to me, thankfully, and I grew annoyed with the groups preoccupation with wasting time at the front line of battle. In the meantime, young Wolfslayer was assisting me with the constantly rising undead problem, as they seemed to flow like water out of the sarcophagi that surrounded us.
I was fairly unnerved by this point.

My understanding of undead is somewhat limited and is partly to blame for my loss of composure. We had overtaken them, but the musk of their presence still hung thick in the room. I can only imagine how much more splendid the process will be the deeper we get into this place. While Orcus is not here the walls speak of his thick-biled aura from times long ago. If Ninaran turns out to be involved with this I feel I shall be greatly annoyed with her. It wouldn’t be so much the kinship lost that would offend me, but the thought that I could be as easily corrupted by mortals as she was. Thus, I shall endeavor to trust in her Eladrin Nature so that I may continue to trust in mine.

Journals

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From the journal of Cassius Wolfslayer

The past several days have been so much fun! I feel like now I am finally living the life of one of the characters from my books. I thought living the life of a thief was a good time, but living the life of the hero is shaping up to be really exciting… at least for now.

After we destroyed the kobolds and their leader, Irontooth, we discovered a note on him that was cause for alarm. We made our way straight to Lord Winthrop to report the kobolds handled, and that there was someone in the area who was plotting his assassination. This Kalarel was apparently involved in a cult worshiping Orcus. We were paid for handling the kobold problem and made our way to the inn to try to gain some information on the cult, Kalarel, or where there might be a place to hide in the area.

At the inn I met, of all people, an old potato farmer, who was extremely willing to offer help, as well as his insights into all things potato. Speaking to the potato farmer I learned of a traveler named Dauvin who recently made his way to the town. He was looking for a burial site where there were supposedly the bones of an ancient dragon. He left town a week and a half ago and hadn’t been seen since. After that I spoke with a gentleman by the name of Valthren who is a local scholar. He promised to get information for us on a nearby keep that many of the townsfolk insist is haunted. It seemed a good place to investigate after the burial site. While I was alone Nod approached me and we had a peculiar conversation. Being from the Feywild he is still growing accustomed to mortals and our ways. He is worried that I am some kind of Good Samaritan out to right all the wrongs I find and not ask anything for myself. He just doesn’t understand that it’s all a game. He also doesn’t know that I do have a plan to make more money here at the town, and although it’s a bit of a gamble, this life is all about risk. The most memorable part of the evening though involved our chaperon, Mr. Frogue, darting through the inn without his pants, fleeing a rather agitated woman with whom he had obviously gotten to know quite well.

The next morning we reached the burial site and found a few humans, a gnome, a halfling, and a couple of drakes. After an awkward verbal exchange fighting broke out. It was no easy fight but we defeated all, save for the halfling, who ran off into the woods. Unfortunately after chasing him he was able to evade us and we lost his trail. We looted the bodies and rescued Dauvin, who had been tied up and thrown in a ditch. He told us what little he knew and showed us a valuable ancient mirror that the group had been looking for. It seemed important to the cult’s plans at the keep.

Back in Winterhaven we met up with Valthren again the next morning. He had some interesting things to tell us. The keep was the site of a gateway to the realm of Orcus in ages past. Members of an ancient empire slew the army of Orcus’ minions that came forth from the gate and then sealed it shut. The keep was built around the gate to ensure the armies of Orcus could not threaten the land. Later, tales of the keep being haunted arose after a captain of the guard suddenly turned and murdered a number of his soldiers, and even his own family. It seemed the cult worshiping Orcus wanted to reopen the gateway to allow his minions to spill forth into our world. The mirror we had found would have been a component of the ritual they would need to cast. So it seemed we slowed them down, but we wanted to put an end to their plans. Samaritan or not, living in a world overrun by the minions of Orcus is just not something we want.

We rode for a few hours and finally found the old keep. Once inside we found goblins camped out, and started our assault. Kun-We started out the fight by falling into a pit full of hundreds of hungry rats. The goblins were not impressed. The rest of us focused on the goblins on our level, leaving Kun-We to deal with his rat problem. Soon we realized the rats were actually too much for Kun-We. Nod, Vuden, and myself helped Kun-We while Talmud and Suldren chased after the last couple of goblins.

Delving further into the keep we found a group of goblins excavating a large area. After eliminating them we opened up a secret door that I had noticed and it gave Vuden the chance to quietly kill a sleeping goblin. After the rest of us headed up the secret stairwell we encountered another fight that had us holding back goblins on all sides. Vuden, Nod, and I started with goblins at the rear of the group while Talmud, Kun-We, and Suldren forged ahead and took on more goblins ahead of us. The next room we came upon was a sort of torture chamber. Talmud found out just how effective one of the devices can be at torturing someone. Kun-We seemed to be rather proud of the defeat of the leading goblin in that room, because that one’s head is going to be newly added to his belt. Yeeesh.

With that last battle we find ourselves feeling rather weary. As I write this we are weighing our options but we will most likely be resting for the night before continuing through the keep. I will move that we rest here, rather than waste hours riding back and forth to Winterhaven. It should not be too difficult to fortify an area we have already cleared and set up watches.

One final thought: I hope that Frogue is enjoying the show we’re putting on for him. I would like to think we’re proving we’d be a proper addition to the Mondschein.

~Cassius Wolfslayer

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Talmuds Journal
Day One
After closing down the forge, I packed my gear and donned my armor. The village kids were wondering where I was going; they begged to come along. I told them to stay behind, and when I told them why I was going, they all stayed put. I announced to the village elders that I had discovered a death cult in the area, and that I would go investigate the threat. With my maul on my shoulder, and Moradin’s blessing on my head, I set off towards Winterhaven.

I walked through the quiet of the mountains and into the peaceful forest below. In the blue morning light, with song birds chirping the last of their summer songs, I regretted the circumstances of this jaunt. If I were not on the hunt for murderers, it would have been the most beautiful day I had seen in weeks. Unfortunately, beautiful leaves are only beautiful when they are not covered in blood.

I heard the noise of battle in the late morning. I ran to find it, but when the scene was before me, I found that the fight had ended. A group of travelers had been attacked by kobolds. How I hate those lowly dragon kin! Their ambushes vex every traveler, but these folks were heartier than most that venture through the woods. Heavily armed and well armored, the group was more than well prepared for an encounter with the primatives.

A tall, burly Bugbear was holding an unfortunate kobold by its ankles, bashing its head against the ground in a manner I would hesitate to call playful. A dragonborn was questioning his tiny quarry when I arrived. I did my best to be peaceful; they were doing good by ridding the road of the kobolds, and this interrogation promised to reveal the hideout of the cowardly beasts. As it happened, the interrogation turned up more than a lair.

The kobold confessed that a goblin called Iron Tooth had influenced his kin, pushing them to worship the “Horned God”, which one of the party recognized as the death god Orcus. My blood boiled and seethed; this goblin was pushing his religion on kobolds. Their race was normally malevolent, but to what peaks could they rise if organized under a god? And an evil god at that… The dragonborn, a warrior called Suldren, ordered the bugbear to release the kobold under its oath to do no further harm. I admired Suldren’s just attitude, but found it naive.

My hands tightened on my maul as I readied to strike. I hesitated, not wanting to make enemies of this group. I prepared my swing, but then the bugbear, called Kun-We, dashed the pitiful creature against the rocks. I smiled heartily; at least two of us were of the same mindset. I joined up with the group, who were more than willing to have an extra set of hands for their upcoming raid against the goblin called Iron Tooth. We hiked a half-mile to the North, and found a waterfall. Hidden amongst the rocks and brush was a small army of kobolds.

Vuden ran into the bushes; he was a rogue, and depended on his stealth to see him through. He killed some of the kobolds, but they quickly swarmed him like a furious cloud of teeth, blades, and claws. Reduced to a bleeding heap, I thought that he was dead. We battled intensely with the kobolds, who proved to be tough opponents. It took nearly every ounce of effort to squelch their fighting spirit. Unfortunately, one of them got away, retreating so that he could find the goblin called Iron Tooth.

Against Suldren’s recommendations, we pressed our advantage. We were unwilling to rest, unwilling to yield any advantage to the kobolds and their savage leader. The battle in the kobold’s lair was frantic and fraught with danger. I found myself surrounded by their spears and knives; when I thought I had room to move, there would always be another. Kun-We proved himself a vital member of our group, allowing me a chance to seek healing while he handled the front line.

Pressed by overwhelming numbers, our tired bodies just couldn’t stand against the relentless tide of steel. When the spectre of ill-luck hovered over us, the battle was nearly lost. Suldren fell, (Drew’s Character) fell, and so did I. The battle raged as the wizard and warlock fighting to keep our cause alive. In the end, we won the day through the assistance of the rogue that had been employing the group.

The embarrassment of my failure was compounded when Vuden, who I thought was dead, arrived at the cave’s mouth. The rest of the group picked up the gold and loot around the cave. Searching bodies, I couldn’t escape the feeling that we were as vile as the beasts we had destroyed. Then, I considered the virtue of justice. We protected any that would pass this way, and by smashing part of the cult, we assured the survival of many, many innocents. I decided to remain amongst the fellowship; they were trying to find the roots of the cult, an action I can steadfastly stand aside. In the gloaming, we made our way into Winterhaven.

As we walked, I kept reviewing the battle in my mind. Suldren brought some order to the battle, while Kun-We and I held the kobolds back. Cassius, a warlock, befuddled me. He kept appearing, attacking, and retreating. I found myself wondering… if we were in more dire circumstances, what would keep him from preserving his own hide? Nod, our wizard, proved helpful until his spells began to miss their mark. Perhaps it was the frenzy of battle? I imagine we would have had a much different outcome if he managed to send some of those magic bolts where they belonged.

I realized I was being too critical; we did poorly, but we are newly assembled. With time, we will learn eachother’s strengths and weaknesses. I just hope that Moradin shields us until then. Perhaps, when I get some gold, I will make some heavier armor. Thinking of my new armor, I found my way into a blacksmith shop. Eagerly, I struck up a conversation about enamels and alloys. With a grin, I anticipated a night long chat about the finer points of crafting helmets.

~TS

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