Slaves of Karthon
Sunday, August 13, 2000
More from the Tower
I have but a small entry this time for reasons you can find documented elsewhere. We continued our search through the tower basement and turned up a couple of storerooms. Having finished in the basement, we headed up past the entrance level higher into the tower.
Here we came to an interesting level. All of the rooms had what appeared to be some sort of scrolls or tablets documenting the condition of the creatures within. In one room, we found trees far too large for the tower to contain -- what sort of strange magic was this? The contents of another room appeared to be underwater. Yet another room had two goblins. But when we opened the door, they did not move to attack -- they just stood there looking around. Odd.
One room contained the aftermath of a fierce battle, where some dwarves had been fending off monsters. Since dead of both sides lay on the battleground, it was unclear who had been victorious. Once again, the room (this time a cave) seemed far too big for the tower to contain. While we did a careful search of the caves (hoping to find where surviving dwarves had escaped to), I bumped into a solid space, about where one would expect the tower wall. An illusion! Not a complete explanation, but things made a little more sense.
In the next room, we heard the sounds of battle and came upon a group of orcs and ogres setting upon three centaurs. One had fallen by the time we arrived. Of the remaining two, a pair of ogres was trying to restrain one with a set of ropes, while six orcs were attempting to hold down the other. Hunter and I began picking off them with arrows, while Oderus and Porter charged into hand-to-hand combat. By the time we finished, the ogres and orcs were dead, but the last two centaurs had survived.
When we chatted with the centaurs, they said they had been guests of the mage who lived in the tower. Some number of months ago, he had disappeared, and they had become trapped in this room. Recently, the monsters charged in, and thankfully we stopped by in time to save them.
Thursday, August 03, 2000
The path is unclear. But at least, for the first time in my life, I know that the path exists.
For months, I have been wandering in something of a haze. The beatings from the monsters, my herbal and alchemical training, the mistreatment of my fellow citizens – it all seemed to float by as if in a memory. In my mind, I could see other images, images more clear than those from my daily life. My mother’s face…a mystical goddess…and a great bear, all beckoning me to…what? I didn’t know. I still don’t know. But the picture is becoming more clear.
When Lester, Porter and I returned from a scouting mission for horses, I was deeply troubled. We had been attacked by a wild boar, which we killed. But things were wrong. It didn’t feel right to me. I was off the path. And because of my transgressions, Lester was nearly killed. In our battle against the dwarven miners, I was punished more severely, and it nearly cost the entire party their lives. I used my blindness powder, hoping to subdue the dwarves without bloodshed. Instead, I blinded our entire party and only fortune allowed us to survive.
My companions deserve better from me, and I was ashamed. They have risked their lives for mine, even though they hardly know me. They are stout warriors all: Lester, with a broad range of skills similar to my own, and traits hinting at stealth and potency beyond what is currently revealed; Porter, sturdy and strong, quiet yet determined, and also with a sense of hidden strengths about him; and now Oderus, newest to our brotherhood but no less valued, small in stature but hinting at powers belying his size.
I wanted only to honor my comrades and my sense of the one true path. I thought that I had done well – we found a decomposing body, and I insisted upon a decent burial. Something in my head, or my heart, told me to perform a ritual by crossing arrows over the man’s corpse. I said a prayer to the Lady of the Hunt – the vision from my dreams. We buried two poor women slaughtered by orcs, and I grieved and prayed for their souls. But something was missing. And now I know why.
My whole life has been a lie - a lie designed to protect me from the evil creatures seeking to banish my kind from the world. I was told that my father fell in love with my mother, a Sylvan elf maiden, who had been attacked by orcs. Elves and men had always been separate, so I was told that he kept their love secret, and fathered me in the woods. He then took me back to the city and raised me as his own. I always felt different, but I didn’t know why.
Then last month, while on a hunting mission, the great cave bear came to me in the flesh. He led me to a crystal cave, where beautiful elven women were conducting a ritual. They welcomed me as if they had known me all my life, and put me into some sort of trance. It became clear in a vision. I am elven. My true father was a Bowknight, as was his father before him. A Bowknight – one of the holy warriors of the Lady of the Hunt. My mother was one of the Lady’s priestesses. They were slain by orcs, and my human father found me as a baby, miraculously alive in the woods. When he lifted me from the ground, a great bear bellowed in the distance.
As I am now entering manhood, I am beginning to understand what the Lady wants of me. I am to serve her as a Bowknight, as indicated by the symbols branded on my wrists. I am to fight for the restoration of the natural order of things, forcing evil back into the Northlands and allowing men and elves to live in a separate peace. As a Hunter, I am to eliminate the disease of evil from the great herd of men, so that the strongest and truest may survive. I am to make archery not just my avocation; it is my prayer. It is a meditation unto itself, and a tribute to the greatness of the Lady.
Already my skills are growing. Two arrows fired fast and true at the same time. Great speed from quiver to bow. Limited healing gifts, a transference of the beneficence of the Lady herself. The more I practice, the more I pray through my bow, the closer I come to the radiance of the Lady.
I do not know what the future holds. But I know the path upon which I will
face it. And I will walk that path with my bow at the ready, and an arrow
leveled at the heart of all evil in the world.
Monday, July 31, 2000
Enter the Tower
The first order of business was divvying up the loot from the mines. My take from this included Spinesheath, a short sword the color of night. It should help me blend in with the dark during my scouting missions. I also picked up a wand of magic missles and some healing potions.
I met another denizen of the city recently. His name is Oderus Urungus. He scouts also, although he tends to stick closer to the city than I. Oderus, Hunter and I found ourselves in a dilemma. We spoke to a mage friend of Hunter's who urged us to head to a tower to the northwest to recover half of an artifact before the monsters could. At the same time, we were each sent on separate missions by the monsters -- myself to the west, Oderus to the south, and Hunter to kill a bear. We all decided to ditch the missions in order to go to the tower. Me, at least I'm heading in the right general direction, and may be able to recover the mission. The others...well, I don't want to be them when they have to report to the monsters.
It was good being out of the city again -- I can't wait to leave for good. Too bad I don't have my horse back. Anyway, our first night out we ended up in a bit of a scrap when some monkey-creatures started throwing spears from the trees during Oderus' watch. Hunter and I picked them off with arrows while Oderus climbed up and threw one to the ground.
The next night started off even more eventfully as some orcs came up and challenged our right to be in the area. I challenged them right back -- I had my orders, anyway. When one of them questioned my right to Spinesheath, well, I decided to give him a real close look at it. A bunch of them ganged up on me. Hunter picked off most of them with arrows, but...well, the one who wanted to know about Spinesheath ended his life with more knowledge than he had bargained for.
The next morning we buried the bodies and headed for the Tower. When we got there, we said the secret words the wizard had taught us and were instantly transported inside. When we moved to the center of the Tower, we saw the remnants of a battle that the monsters had obviously lost. Searching more of the level, we found the kitchen area and were surprised by an ogre having a meal. He did some damage to us with his drumstick weapon (let me tell you, you haven't suffered until you've got ogre spit all over you). But the three of us combined to take him down.
Later we headed down to the wine cellar. Some orcs awaited us...they were setting liquor bottles on fire and launching them as missles at us. A battle between the wine racks ensued, and once again the good guys won. Hunter ended up subduing one to question.
We found out the guy was from Karthon, but...uh, then what? Hunter didn't want to kill him in cold blood, and to tell you the truth I wasn't thrilled about the idea myself. But if we let him go, he'd rat on us back in the city, and we couldn't have that. So we let him go, and he ran. But then I yelled, "Stop!" And he didn't stop, so I had to plug him. Hunter was upset, but he didn't exactly have a better plan. I have no idea what was going through his head in that whole scenario.
Monday, June 05, 2000
Into the Mines
Well, on our last outing, Hunter, Porter and I were sent to investigate some strange goings on in a nearby mine. Some of the miners had gone off and not been heard from. On the one hand, we weren't really eager to help the monsters' whole mining operation, but these were our fellow Karthonians missing (and the monsters are pretty much in control of everything we do), so we set out to investigate).
We noticed that in the newest section of the mine a crevice seemed to have opened up. We squeezed our way through it into a room that turned out to have some sort of crab-like creatures sitting atop pillars. They did not like us. They had some sort of tentacles that they used to snare us with. Fortunately, I had my torch, which worked pretty well to burn off the tentacles that snapped at me. Unfortunately, Hunter wasn't so lucky, and got pulled up to one of the crabs. But he whacked it good, and it drooped him back down. Whoops. Fortunately, we all managed to clear the room, and not before Porter managed to crack open one of them.
We had noticed heading through this area how nice the minerals were. Some great mining, so it would be a shame to clear it out for these monsters. Still, we had to rescue our fellow humans...
After finding a skeleton and working our way through some mushrooms, we came upon some gnolls fleeing these short, stocky guys (dwarves?). We engaged in some missle combat with the dwarves (it's always hard to choose sides around here, but they went after us), and we prevailed.
As we continued on, we heard some sounds of battle. We snuck into a room where the dwarves were engaged in battle with some of the human miners, gnolls, and an ogre. I crept up behind one of the dwarves and ran him through the back. Then Hunter did some sort of blindness powder voodoo and we were beginning to inflict some damage. Then Hunter managed to do his voodoo on us. Uh-oh. We eventually recovered, and I worked my way back to the back of the room to confront the dwarven magic-users. Ouch. Let's just say we ended up in pretty bad shape, and lucky that the ogre saved us.
Which is why I feel bad that we later had to kill him. More on that later. After we came out of the battle, bloodied but still standing (unlike the unconscious ogre), we pressed on. And we came on...the dwarven city. Uh-oh. No way could we take this on. We beat a retreat, chatted with the ogre, then decided he was better off dead than alive. First of all, we don't like ogres. They're part of this whole monster-industrial complex that is keeping Karthon down. Second of all, he sorta knew about the goodies we had taken off the dwarven wizards. And finally, he was refusing to pay us the proper amount of respect. So, bye-bye, ogre.
Since the monsters wouldn't take nicely to our newly found weapons of destruction, we created a distraction and hid them upon exiting the mines. The monsters wisely decided it would be best to collapse the mines so they wouldn't have to deal with the dwarves again. As much as I'd like to see the dwarves come out and kick the monsters' asses, I think we'd be dwarves' slaves then. So, guess who got to collapse the mines... Ugh; I hate the slave's life...
Monday, April 24, 2000
All the King's Men
The days after our last adventure weren't exactly what I'd call fun. If I made a single mistake, bruises were sure to follow. Fortunately, those horses I spotted saved me. The Nasties decided to send us out on an expedition in search of them. Us is me -- Lester, Hunter -- who you'll remember from next time, and Porter -- a guy who I've mostly seen lugging stuff around town.
The expedition called for us to scout out where the horses were. I was relatively happy with that -- scouting's my business, even if I have to do it in the service of the vile creatures who are our masters. But they also wanted us to kill a few and bring some bones back. I like horses -- I used to have one before the fall of Karthon. The first horses we see around here in a while, and they want them dead? I wasn't too keen on that. When we were well out of the city walls, I discovered my compatriots weren't too thrilled with that idea either.
So we concocted a plan...well, I'm not sure you'd call it a full-fledged plan, it was more of half of a plan. We decided we'd look for the horses...but we'd also try to find some dead horses. We'd strip those bodies clean, and try to make them look like as many horses as we could.
We traveled by way of the stream where we encountered those goblins and hobgoblins last time. The bodies were all still there, decaying. Hunter suggested we give the woman a decent burial. If anyone asks, we'll just say we ran across the bodies in our travels -- which is true.
After a bit of traveling, it was time to bed down for the night. On Hunter's watch, I was awoken by a noise. It was Hunter, and he was doing battle with a wild boar. I grabbed my bow, and crept up to shoot at the boar. I did such a good job of distracting it that it turned its attention to me rather than Hunter. It charged right at me and nicked me. The second time it charged me...well, let's just say that if you want to know how the rest of the battle went, you'll have to ask Hunter and Porter. By the time I came to, it was time to eat roast boar. We also decided we might be able to convince the Nasties that the boar teeth were really horse teeth.
I was in pretty bad shape for the next few days. Hunter and Porter took good care of me, and split my watch. We travelled along and came upon a giant anthill. Lucky for us, the ants had gotten to a horse recently, so we were able to drag the bones off and collect them for "proof" we had done some of the dirty work the Nasties wanted out of us.
We traveled on some more, and finally found some live horses -- with men riding them! Hunter and I did our best job of sneaking up on them, but they caught us and brought us into camp. Fortunately for us, they were on our side. The King's Men -- come to rescue Karthon! And of all people, Lord Gwydion leading them! Unfortunately, the KM had experienced a hearty ass-whipping on their way up through the Black Forest, and were now no match for Karthon's Nasties.
We traveled with them for a while, and finally caught up to those wild horses. Bigger horses I've never seen! Even if I were interested in killing horses (which I'm not, I remind you), I would have had a hard time standing toe to toe with these beasts.
Eventually, we led them back to Ravenloft where they were going to set up camp. We, unfortunately, had to head back to the city -- Minerva*, how I wish I could stay and train with them. But we had to go back, or they'd know we escaped and kill some of our fellow citizens for retribution. As it was, our boar teeth and pieces of one horse earned broken bones for my fellow adventurers and an incredible amount of pain for me. They'll pay for that one day.
Tuesday, March 14, 2000
Down by the Stream
The nasties who control Karthon these days sent me out on a scouting mission south of the city. That's what I do for them -- scout. It used to be, I did it for me, but just about everything these days is done for them -- the goblins, hobgoblins, and what-have-you. (It's the what-have-you that makes me wake up in the middle of the night, sweating.) I'm heading along with this guy, Hunter. (Guess what he does.) Hunter's a pretty decent kid -- though he's a half-breed. Nothing wrong with that, but he's no genuine elf like yours truly.
We're shooting the breeze, when all of a sudden we hear some human screams coming from down by the stream. We creep up to see what's going on, and there are some goblins -- four -- standing over a woman's body. While we were deciding what to do, we hear screams coming from the other bank of the stream, and it becomes time for us to stop deciding. We both pull out our bows and start picking off goblins. Unfortunately, this draws the attention of the goblins on the other side, one of whom is pushing around another captive woman.
One of the goblins rushes me, and I manage to dispatch him. Two rush Hunter, and he's not so lucky. I try to cover him with my bow, but first I plunk him in the back with a wayward shot, then my bow comes unstrung. Then Hunter, who's been reduced to using his bow as a club, gets it caught in one of the trees. Talk about your bad luck. Eventually, however, the two of us manage to take out the guys on us. I saw one guy -- a hobgoblin, who seemed to recognize me -- trying to make a break for it, but we managed to run him down and make sure he won't be telling any tales about this battle.
Hunter got pretty banged up out of all of this; I'm amazed he's still drawing breath. Myself, I'm a little bit scratched, but I should be fine in the morning. One of the women wasn't so fortunate; she had her head bashed in by the goblin scum. At least we managed to rescue the other... The rest of the scouting was less exciting, though I did see some wild horses; that's unusual in these parts these days. Fortunately, when I got back to town, they seemed to busy to ask me many questions about how my day went...
I've uploaded the campaign map Ben drew.
Monday, March 13, 2000
Welcome to The Blog
I'm going to use this to post my character's campaign journal. If you'd like me to set you up to do the same, e-mail me.