Today was a good day. My little gnome friend Twigley finds fights for me in town. Drunken loggers think they are strong, I show them they are not. It is the tribe’s way not to kill outside of war so I do not, I hold to the tribe’s way. One human man is a good fighter tonight, he caught me off guard and brought me down, but I choked him out and won. They all cried for blood and death, they do not know the tribe’s way. It is alright, is not for them to know, only for me to obey.
After the fight, I returned to my room and found a note from my honored friend Laine. Praise to Krom, the note was simple. “Thromm, its Laine. Meet me in Valen.” After cleaning up, Twigley came for a visit and gave me my winnings from the fights, and to help the tribe I took what I needed and sent the rest home. He worries about me, not because I leave to join my honored friend but because he thinks he is a smart liar and needs my fists sometimes. We met like that, he cheated people at cards and is not strong, but three men were beating him and that is unfair. I held to the tribe’s way and helped him, and he told me that I could help the tribe with money if he stayed with me. Krom forgive me, I let him share my road. Sometimes he is more trouble than help, but I gave my word. Now that I leave, he needs to think of a new way to make money. I do not worry about him, he is a smart liar and he will find a way. He always does!
I pay my debts and find the road for Valen. It is a long run, but I will go. My honored friend has called me and I will answer. It is the tribe’s way.
It is a hard road to run to Valen, but I am going. I reflect on the words of the shaman when I have a quiet moment, and the words of the war-master when I am tired. There are small villages along the path and I think they are not friendly to me as they stare when I pass. I find some places that are friendly and will let me fill my water bladder without anger. Lunch is dried meat and fruit, with water and a noon prayer to Krom to help keep me strong. I continue on the road, not wanting to miss my honored friend Laine.
As I run, I see a family in distress. I slow my pace and see a human man and woman, and the eyes of a small human child hiding under a blanket. The human man is frustrated at a broken wheel on his wagon, and cannot lift the cart to fix it. It is the tribe’s way to help those in need, to put Krom’s gift of strength to use when those that are not strong need it. I tell him this and show him that lifting the cart will be no trouble. I forget to let the human woman and child down, and I made my apologies for frightening them. I think they did not trust me, but let me help them as the sun fell low on the path. With a new wheel, the cart worked again and they departed. They waived to me as they went, and I thanked Krom for allowing me to help them. Drinking my water, I ran again until there was no more sunlight on the path. Finding a place to make my bed, I ate my evening meal and offered a final day’s prayer to Krom, hoping the tribe was benefiting from my gold. When I left, we had peace and it was good. I never thought I would see my honored friend again so soon, but tomorrow I will if Krom helps my strength endure. Now I sleep.
Krom is good; I awake with the sun and am rested. The food fills my belly and gives me strength, letting me hold to my road once again. Travelers that pass say that I will arrive before high noon in Valen, and I rise to make my way.
A noon prayer to Krom is filled with anger! I have missed my honored friend Laine, as I cannot find him anywhere in this town. I describe him to various people and shop owners, but they do not know him. Perhaps the pub owners can help me if I am careful with my words. Even in this town I am looked at with mistrust, and I will make no war-words if I can help it.
Success! I come to a man who knows of Laine and has directed me to the mayor of this town. I ask him if my honored friend has left his destination with him and he surely has. Krom is great, they left for another town called Riverton this very morning, and if my feet do not fail me I can reach them soon. I gave my word to Laine that if he called, I would answer. That is the tribe’s way, and I will hold to it.
Krom is with me and my feet hold true. I am a day outside the town of Riverton when the sun begins to set. Before I can find a place to bed down, I hear raised voices further along the road. Could it be? My honored friend Laine’s voice is carried on the wind and my heart is strengthened! I see a firelight and beside it is Laine with a small woman. I cannot contain myself and I run to embrace him. This night has been good to me and I will thank Krom before I slumber. I meet Laine’s tribe, his friends are my friends as that is the tribe’s way. We bed down for the night and tomorrow we leave for Riverton. It has been a good day.
I give my thanks to Krom and we leave. It is growing colder now, and my breath carries smoke. It is a walk, but soon we are in Riverton. What a city! Buildings rise on either side of the river, and everywhere there are people. I am eyed with anger, but that is a fate I cannot change. I will try not to make trouble for the troupe.
We have found a place to stop the wagon for a little while, and I am left as guard. No one will take from us as long as I stand, but, Warmaster Taag teaches that a standing man is a target, so I will practice my combat. I spirit-spar and work my ground attacks, my sudden strikes and my grapples. Warmaster Taag has taught me well, and I will not forget his lessons. I drink when I am thirsty and do not let the giggles from inside the wagon distract me. I think it is infested with fairies! Shaman tells me they bite and make mischief, I am also told they press well between book pages.
The troupe returns bloody from combat! I am saddened that I was not there to help, but they have all returned and I held to my word that nothing would be lost while I stood guard. A human woman has returned with the troupe, and they press her for information. She seems powerful and the troupe has accepted her, and so will I. The tribes way is to be a friend to a friend, and so as long as she travels with us and keeps our way she will be one of us. She dresses like a pirate, and from the stories she tells, they did not part in peace. Should they come for her, they will meet us, and they will regret it!
I was right! Fairies in our wagon. I am told it may have something to do with powder found while I was not with the troupe. I dislike fairies because they cause trouble and are hard to swat, but the halfling says these ones will hold our way as long as they are appeased. This is nothing to worry on, for night is coming and a fire must be built and watches decided. I will take the mid-watch as I can see far in darkness. No one will take from us as long as I stand.
Oh Krom, you have been with me in battle. In the night, Laine has heard a noise and told me to be watchful. My eyes did not fail me, and I spotted a group of men who wanted to make war on us. I sounded the alarm as they tried to ambush us, but it was not so. I stood with my troupe in combat as flaming arrows rained down on us. The sneak took to flight and made his war in silence. Many arrows fell, lighting the ground and our tents and wagons where they landed. One found my shoulder! I pulled it from my armor and vowed that the man who loosed this arrow would die by it. They came forward and we met them in combat, Laine’s woman friend ending one with magic, and the other fighters taking their kills with ease. One man cuts at me, but I snap forward and do as I vowed. The strike was quick and deadly as Warmaster Taag teaches, and I buried the arrow in his eye. Our victory was assured when their leader gave a call to retreat. I took one more, as did everyone else. Cel (as I heard her name called) cast sleeping magic to keep one of them for questioning. While the last of the fires were put out, I searched the bodies for anything to help the troupe. They made war on us, and these are our spoils now! I placed the bodies where they would be the greatest use to the soil and the animals. Shaman says life is a wheel, and these men would feed both in their passing. I do not honor them with prayers, Krom does not bless cowards.
I return and find the last man bound. I place him against the wheel of the wagon and put on my fighting gloves to scare him. I am told not to kill him, but he is with them and his fate will be theirs in any end. I give my word and only threaten, the halfling has power in her words and he begins to speak at her urging. He says that the ones who came for us were paid, and the one called Captain Morgan seems to know their employer. I am not sad in his passing, as he is like a snake and would only strike again later! He was with those that made honorless war on us and they are now in the honorless lands, with no one to pray for them.
He joins his companions on the pile, and I rejoin my friends and share the spoils of battle. Laine has always been strong with bargaining, and he will fetch a good price for whatever will not help us now. I rest, knowing that I have kept the tribe’s way and made Krom and Warmaster Taag proud. It has been a good day.
Today I am shamed before Krom. We head into the town across the river to find a place to root ourselves for the winter. We think we find an abandoned building, but it holds a vile were-rat! I panic and forget Warmaster Taag’s lessons about how to deal with were-creatures. I am lucky enough to land a powerful blow and kill the first one, but that is where my luck ends. We find treasure under the stage of the building, but Laine and Halfleen leave to bring the wagon, and the other were-rats descend upon us. I am badly beaten and almost fall, but that is my punishment for failing Krom. I will take this winter and hone my combat skills, as Cel is almost killed by my ignorance. Warmaster Taag would be ashamed by my actions this day, but if I can help it, I will not repeat this mistake again.
Today I begin to regain honor in the eyes of Krom. I leave the tribe to purchase weapons to fight off creatures. Cel is strong with numbers, and so she keeps our money, I use the last of my own to buy a silver plated dagger and a cold iron knife from a crazy old soothsayer. Money is nothing, money comes and goes; I will not fail again as long as I can fight. Before I leave, the old soothsayer tells me she can read my fortune. She tells me something, but I think she has no medicine, so I leave. I put no faith in words, only actions.
I return to the theater to find everyone angry and the air foul with mistrust and I fear that the tribe is losing strength this way. If I were Shaman, I would have peace-words to say, perhaps something to do to make the medicine to stop all this, but I do not. I keep to myself and hope that Yamu (to whom I haven’t prayed since I was a child!) blesses me in the coming months with medicine to help make peace. The thief is gone and no one has seen him in many moons. No one else is troubled by this, and such is the life of a thief. I pray to Fa’ah for his safety in the world, whatever his path.
I accompany the tribe to see the mayor of this town. The sickness that took me prevented me from seeing him originally, but even for his description I am unimpressed by him. Laine journeyed sick into the mountains and came back healthy thanks to a totem he found in a pond. I am sad that I could not travel with him, but he is stronger now and that is all that matters. He tries the symbol on the mayor to no avail. His unicorn-medicine was no strong enough to help whatever makes the mayor sick and remain hidden behind his mask. I have found that men who wear masks do so for a reason! The group tries to convince him to journey with us back up the mountain, but he is strong in his stand that it will not help him. I think perhaps he will not help himself.
We venture up the mountain ourselves, very close to dusk. Cel is brave, but not strong. She falls behind until I carry her easily for the rest of the journey. As I lift her, I sense something different about her. Perhaps a change in her spirit, perhaps not. Best not to dwell on those thoughts, only to go forward and deal with what the dawn brings me. I hope I was not too forward in carrying her, but she is a friend now, and I would not see her suffer at the hands of the elements. We arrive at the pond, and again, it is no great thing to see. We bottle the water and return to town, only to find tracks in the snow leading further up the mountain. I will remember their path for later, for I have not forgotten the bandits who attacked us upon our arrival in this town.
The day of our show arrives and I go to promote. Yamu is with me and gives me good medicine as I sing the show’s praises, garnering a multitude of people. I collect the price at the door and at the fall of the curtain, I enter the theater and watch from the sides. Halfleen is a good performer and the crowd is enthralled by her first time on stage, the Captain is not as good. People are displeased and she is ushered off stage and Laine performs. His arrows are not as true as they could have been, and this disappoints him. Perhaps with practice he will improve. Before Halfleen can take the stage again, three men enter, and two stand by me at the door. I do not like them, they shift and square off as the third man approaches Trod at the bar. They say words I cannot hear, but by the end of it, I am signaled to watch these men as they leave. One of the larger men who stood by me thinks he is strong, and tries to prove it by hitting me with his shoulder. I do not like this man, and if I have the chance or if he makes war on us, I will show him he is not strong.
Cel has strong magic now and the show is closed on her. The crowd is pleased and they leave, and we learn that the men who came and spoke to Trod were thugs. We do not know if they will come again tonight, and we keep a watch. We are not attacked, but this cannot stand. Halfleen works her contact at the bar across the street and we learn who these men are. They have no honor, and prey on the weak and poor. Krom may yet be pleased if they try to make war on us…
Our windows are broken and this can only mean that we have been asking the right questions or the wrong questions. I think that soon it will come to pass that we may yet help this town rid itself of more than ghosts and rat-men. Yamu brings positive medicine, and for all the mischief I have seen in the past while, I think Yamu is with me. If these men come and try to take what is ours, I know that Krom will be with me.
In the coming days, I think that Krom will be with us all. The thieves who tried to extort money from Trod have returned, and now they see that we are strong.
After we affect repairs and modifications to the theater by way of a perch for Laine to strike from with his arrows, we decide to attend to our performance acts and training. Cel practices on the stage while Nox drinks on the bar, while Trod is behind the stage. Halfleen had gone to speak with contacts when a small man walks in and demands my attention. He is not part of the tribe, nor does he speak or act with respect. Krom does not give his blessings to cowards or those who strike without provocation, and so I do not kill this man dead immediately for his dishonor. I square off with him, and I sense that the others know what is happening. Looking down on him, I see that he is wearing silenced chain mail armor and I know he has come here for a purpose. He does not make peace, he only makes war words and demands. I do not give him the satisfaction of a fight, seeking out Cel and Trod. I tell them about the small man making war words and they come forward with me. I think this man is not smart, as he continues to threaten us. A silent decision is made to send these cowards a clear message, when Laine looses an arrow. It finds purchase in the shoulder of the leader, but his armor saves his honorless skin. Nox surges forward with amazing speed and deals death to one of the thugs that the leader summoned from the doorway. Wanting answers more than death, I throw my fist forward into the throat of the leader, decimating him where he stood, and the remaining thugs suddenly think better of their ways when the injured thug is killed by Cel’s medicine. Cel I think has death on her mind, as she slits the throat of their leader. I had hoped to leave that one alive, but answers can be taken from anyone, and cowards turn on cowards as the thugs being to give up their information. Soon, we know what must be done, and we take up a watch while we rest and prepare for the coming battle.
The first watch is taken by Laine, who is drowsy. Next is mine for the midnight watch, and the patrol is uninteresting at first, until I see a note written in blood on our doors! Soon I discover our mules heads severed and bloody on the ground and I know who has done this. Cruelty to animals is bad medicine, as they make no war on anyone! I say a silent prayer for them and check on our wagon. Nothing is stolen or broken and I return to wake Halfleen and the rest of the tribe to take their council of the situation. Halfleen goes to the hotel across the way for information, but is fired upon by an archer. She finds a note attached to the arrow with a threat written on it! Krom hates cowards, and when these fools die no one will pray for them.
We decide to make war on these thieves and Nox goes out to scout. She is gone for some time while we make ourselves ready. Suddenly, she bursts through the door injured! Those that get to her soonest are able to give her first aid and heal her. I should make my prayers to Krom to ask for a calm mind in this battle. Not since the rat-man and his vile spawn have I been so incensed! We don our armor and blades and drink potions and have medicine worked on us. We are as ready as we can be as we approach the thieves house, we will make such war on these people that they will never forget, whatever the outcome.
Today we are victorious before Krom! We went to make war on the Thieves Guild, and we left them and all they held dear in ashes. We prepared ourselves and struck, with arrows and magic felling some, while others meet their ends at the tips of our blades. We crushed all those that stood outside, and then took the battle into the main house. Inside, Nox and I were tricked by a weakened staircase that gave way and sent her into a spike pit. I was able to catch myself, but not her. Finding the door to the spike pit, a needle delivered it’s venom into my hand as I pulled it off its hinges. Powering through the toxins as the last of the thieves taunted us from the second floor, Trod decided to burn the house. I lifted Nox off the spikes and gave her my healing potion, and proceeded to join the others as they threw their oil vials. I felt no remorse for the end the thieves faced, as Krom does not bless cowards. We retreated as the house burned, seeing four thieves escape across the river and four messenger birds leave the house. Laine dropped three with his arrows, but one managed to fly away. I hope that whoever receives the message is smart enough to stay away, though secretly, I hope they come. We have shown now that anyone who comes to make honor-less war on us will receive no quarter. Helping to stop the spread of the fire, I join the brigade and turn the hotspots over. Nothing remains of what the thieves took, minus what we recovered from them. I think Halfleen has gone to return the money to the town. Perhaps now they will stand against such men, seeing them routed so.
I go back to see the Soothsayer lady, and she gives me news to be careful during the coming Winter Festival. Perhaps the ones that the messenger bird was meant for will arrive and I will garner some trophies to send back to the tribe. The Thief is teaching me to ‘throw blades’. I already know how to throw things, but he is teaching me to kill the target rather than embed the handle into the wooden planks. I think this will help me be more of an asset to the tribe, as my strength is always welcome, but sometimes striking from a distance has value too!
I do not know what the future holds for me, but whatever path I take, I do not take it alone. The Gods do not surrender their will so easily to the minds of men, and so the Soothsayers have a prized place in the tribes. I will heed her words, but I leave my path in the hands of whatever the Gods have in store, and while the Winter Festival is here I will drum and dance and give Yamu praise. The new harvest comes soon, and as the year is reborn I will be happy with my new tribe.
Much has happened these past few days, if my mind escapes me, please forgive.
We ushered in the new year with bonfires, drumming and dancing. I had ink put under my skin and the group sang and drank. Yamu would be proud of our joy and good medicine, especially Trod who heals people now for some measure of money. At the end of the first night, we retire to the theater and I sleep a dreamless sleep. Long have been my nights now and I have not gone to the fire-side of my ancestors. Shaman would say that perhaps the ancestors have nothing to reveal to me right now, I will take some comfort in that. Comfort however is something the next night would not offer us so easily.
Walking back from the celebrations, the guide-fires built to light our path suddenly extinguish themselves! I arm myself and begin to listen as the snow gains strength, limiting our vision. I hear the faint sounds of chanting. I hate chanting, sounds like cultists. As we listen and try to make our way off the ice and at least somewhere familiar, the cold increases and I wrap my cloak around Halfleen. The cold does not bother me, but she is small and freezing to death on the… wherever we were… was a real possibility for her. Continuing on, I remember Warmaster Ta’ag and his lesson that eyes can be tricked, so I listen again and find that damned chanting. We find stone steps carved into a mountain that appears from nowhere! More trickery, but more importantly Cel is in danger from the cold. On the Steppes we learned how to survive in the cold, and I wrap Cel in on herself and hold her close, carrying her up the steps. She is light, and much like the mountain path to Laine’s Unicorn Pool, as I carry her, I sense a change in her. I think maybe it has been inside her all along, and the skull is drawing it out. Either way, I push the thought aside. It is for later, now is only for survival.
We reach the top of the stairs and the wind dies, finally. Placing Cel down, we all see what is here, and it is no good sight. It is as if the top of the mountain has been sheared off, and a feast of fae-folk is taking place! To me, they are only slightly less annoying than cultists. On the way up the mountain, I learn why Joker is ill-at-ease with me. I hope I can show him that I am not like them, perhaps ending a few cultists would put both our minds at ease, but that is not today’s battle.
Great tables are set up and ‘animals’ are butchered for the feast. I think better of my cold iron knife that the soothsayer gave me on the silent advice of my honored friend. Slowly, we make our way between the tables when the creatures notice us. I reconsider the knife until we arrive at another set of stairs with a woman seated on a throne at the top. One of the winged things notices Halfleen and is gripped by a madness which only garners it a quick death by crushing. Good! Vile thing, the only way it would have been better is if it were between the pages of a book. She calls Halfleen forward and we are made to wait by a servant who seems sewn together. Suddenly, Nox is approached by a walking stump, inviting her to drink! She leaves and after a short while, the sewn-man becomes agitated with me. He throws me into a ring and wants to fight! He is unarmed and I cannot face him with my blades as they are. I drive him away and leave the circle to drop my weapons. Little did I know that I had lost the match by leaving. I took off my knives and came back, but I was spit upon and left. I hate fae-folk, whatever courtly rules they have, they are not known to mortals. I would not fight him armed while he was not. No honor is served then, and I have failed Krom once, I will not lose face again as long as I can help it.
Eventually, the woman calls us up and gives us gifts. Laine gets a feather, Cel for her argument gets nothing. Trod gets diamonds and Halfleen gets a flute. I also receive nothing, but I take no gift from fae-folk, as they always have their little quirks. Finally we descend down the mountain and return home. I’ve never been happier to see the four walls of our theater! For the last day of the festival, I shave my hair down to a strip and practice my throwing skills while the others explore their gifts.
What great gift I have found in these adventures and my new friends I will never truly know. I simply go forward and trust in Krom and the ancients that they will prepare the path before me.
I do not know what day it is, and I do not think I care at this point. We have faced our greatest danger to date and we have survived, that is all that matters. The events that lead up to this point are staggering, and I will try to remember them all. Please forgive if anything is forgotten.
Trod had a plan to investigate the mine to which he holds the deed. Laine and I were practicing our act for the theater when it was decided to go up the mountain. Laine sent his bird ahead, and not seeing anything, we scaled as far as we could with me hauling the equipment. When a suitable spot was found, I set up camp and after dinner, watches were assigned. I took the midnight shift, and once again, my eyes did not fail me. Five men came, one was left alive, and he provided us with the information we wanted about whom he was and who sent him and most importantly, why. It turns out he is the bastard Prince Aden’s warrior. We strike a deal with him; if he takes us to this Aden, we let him live. He agrees that this is a good plan.
What fortune smiles on us, as this Prince makes his home in Trod’s mine! The prince is mounting an army to take back what he thinks is his to rule, and we agree to re-light forges deep within the mine to win his favor. Cel charms the Prince (by the blush in her face, she is taken with either him or his position, maybe both) and he gives us six men to take with us. We went to a round door with Dwarven writing etched into it, and Trod told us what sounds were drawn there. I armed myself and we entered, knowing only that there was a battle ahead of us, the likes of which we had not yet seen.
It took ten men to roll the stone away, and any door that heavy is meant to either keep something in or something out. We quickly came to discover what it was meant to do, and what this place truly was. The Dwarves made a sin-eating god, and it turned on them. Dwarves I think do not see what the future holds; only what the Earth has to surrender in jewels and metals. We find an elevator controlled by chains and pulleys. I take up the duty and begin taking our people up and down. From here, everything becomes a blur, but I clearly remember, and will for the rest of my days my first encounter with a Wight.
I have never felt hopeless, I have never felt fear in the face of an enemy, but so insidious are these creatures that they can leech the very life-essence from me! One latched on and a sudden sense of terror filled me, I fought it off with everything I could muster and when it was dead, I lopped off one of the arms as proof of my victory. I took the chain it carried and hooked the arm onto it, hoping to gleam some kind of information from it later when we had a chance to settle. From there on, our lives and days were earned in spades.
Laine in our travels found a bizarre mushroom and decided it would be wise to eat it. I have used mushrooms in food and ceremony, but all of those were cultivated from trusted sources, not simply the wall of a mine! I think my honored friend simply wanted to know what the mushroom was capable of, but earned a sour stomach for his trials. As we continued, horrid things emerged from their hiding places. We dealt death and as a final insult, we are attacked from the shadows and I feel the same soul-wrenching drain as before. I swear, I will not be assaulted like this again and I hold to my vow. Three of our companions are taken by the shadow-ghouls and we retreat to the platform only to find three Wights! Turning them, Trod has them bow to his will and once again, we deal death. We evacuate as quickly as we can, but Cel and another of the soldiers remain. We hear a commotion and I struggle to return to the bottom as quickly as possible. Cel has powerful medicine and holds her own as we arrive and pull her to the platform. We return to the top of the mine and I wedge my sledgehammer into the braking mechanism to provide us some measure of safety. Watches are divided, the others sleep and my mind wanders to the Steppes. At this point, I do not care about compensation or even treasure. I have earned my life today, and with the help of Krom, I will earn my tomorrow too!
I spent a considerable amount of time looking at the severed arms, trying to figure out what kind of hell could spawn such a creature! Slowly my eyes grow strong and I can make out Dwarven letters or numbers. Trod translates and suddenly it dawns on us all! These creatures are manufactured. The question then becomes who is making them?
The thief has good medicine and leads us down a corridor using only his trap-sense. He also discovers traps, pits and those god-awful holes in the walls where the creatures must have emerged from earlier. I keep him close, as in these tunnels he cannot make his war in secret as is his way. He is a part of the tribe, and I would not let him fall, not down here in the wretched bowels of the earth. I would not wish and end to anyone down here, not even those that make war on me!
We come to a makeshift barrier, no doubt erected by people who wished some sense of security from whatever dwells in this place. I get the feeling I could kick through this ‘door’ without even stepping back, but this is not the way to make peace-talk. Many in the group try to reason with them, but I make peace-talk in Orcish, and they know it. We trade food for entry, and we see that those that live here do not live easily or well. The rations are consumed quickly, and I try to warn them away from it. I have seen too many people kept as slaves eat themselves to death upon their freedom! I suspect that the thief was kept as property once, as down here he seems to remember too much horror.
We try to find a scout, someone who knows the mines secret places, but they are all so afraid. My voice is loud and it makes them cower, perhaps because I remind them too much of the slave-drivers who’s whips were at their backs. I can do nothing to dispel this, and Trod believes that it could work to our advantage. I agree and demand a scout, and one is pushed to the forefront. All the time, there is a horrid scraping from somewhere! We soon found out why.
In the time we were in the stronghold of the survivors, those foul creatures must have disabled the chains that support the elevator, lowered it to the bottom and taken the chains with them! I hate these Wights, more and more I think that a trophy of my victory over them would not offend Krom, as they have gone from mindless creatures to unholy terrors, full of thought and reason. With this latest incident, we press on.
Back and forth, we try and find our advantage for entry, but it would seem that the only way for us to get down is to climb down the main elevator shaft. After not much searching, and the Bard singing, we come to a scene that will last with me until I go to meet the ancestors. Impaled on a white-hot spike is a demon of terrible proportions. Wights surround him on the walls, and he is kept in check by medicine etched into the ground. He speaks to our minds and tells us to free him, but only a great fool would make a pact with a demon. We see disconnected hooks that lead to pillars, and surmise that those must be how the forge is kept lit! This thing is the conduit, and we must do what we gave our word to do, and so we entered the circle and began our assault.
The heat was intense and the battle terrible. What heat waves fooled our eyes on the outside began to scald us as we entered. We all fought with our greatest medicine and best strength. The hooks I took up personally, as the skin of the devil-thing had a natural armor. I swung with all my might and the hooks found purchase, while all the while the Wights filled the room. With the last hook in place, we had to figure a way out. There was no up or down or even around. We went through.
The others were made invisible to the Wights, and Nox and I barreled through as best we could. I feel ashamed, as Nox fell and she was grabbed by one of those things! Finally we made our way to the elevator shaft and climbed. When we reached the second level, everyone proceeded to climb up a rope that was made to tie itself onto the first level. As the last of our tribe climbed, a secret door opened and Wights attempted to make their way forward. I held the door until the last of them were safe, and made my peace with the ancestors. However this ended, I would not see the tribe harmed. As I prepared to take deep root and hold the door for as long as I could, the rope began to swing! I timed myself and the rope, and at the last moment grabbed and hauled myself up. I felt hands grab at me, but the tribe was also pulling on the other end of the rope. When I reached the top, I raced to the door and was about to lend my strength in opening it, when it began to roll. The tribe was calling out to the troops and they rolled the stone away. We stepped into the encampment and the stone was rolled back in place. I cannot remember, maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I’m sure someone put a holding medicine on the door.
Of course the Prince is glad to see us and to see the forges lit. The latter rather than the former I’m sure. All that matters is that we gave our word a saw it through. Ancestors bless me I never want to see the inside of that mine again. I do not care about compensation, but if the tribe wishes it, I would not protest. All that matters is I have earned one more day, and we have saved many in the process. It has been a good few days.
(The text is shaky, as if written by an unsure hand)I close my eyes in meditation and I can no longer see the path before me. I am growing angrier, and I cannot tell if I even care anymore. I have hurt others callously, I have tortured and lied. To find my friends, I have injured the innocent and made war on those that make no war on me. I see abominations tear and rend and I come to find myself thinking that those that were killed… deserved their fates. I cannot steel myself against the world I see, it creeps in like a fog over my beloved steppes. I am too far from home and I cannot hear the voices of my ancestors. I grow stronger by the day and soon enough I will either need to participate in a coup and kill a woman and child or take my leave of my friends. Perhaps that will be best, to go from this place and put miles under my feet again. To adventure, or possibly return to my tribe. I’m sure my honored friend will understand that this is what I need to do. I will leave this place for a time and return when I am once again myself. I will not simply abandon my friends, I will choose my path when the time is right and hopefully the ancestors will guide my steps. Hopefully they have not forgotten my face, because I can no longer see theirs in my dreams.
I am leaving. The decision is made. I will ask Laine to come with me, for this battle will have no honor. I will understand if Laine does not come with me, for he made a vow and I would not have him lose honor because I must return to the Ancestors’ ways. I will go home to my beloved steppes, to my tribe that I have missed for so long. If my honored friend… if my honored friends call for me, I will return. Until then I have made my decision and there is no more to say.