The Light in the Forest

Travels and Travails 5
A Peek at the Peak

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As we made our way up the incline toward the top of the mountain we discovered a signpost near a ruined tower. Nearby was a strange man-bear creature that spoke to us about a village not far off. This creature claimed the name of “Wendigo”, and was no friend of orcs. He adcised us that the orcs liked to come and go in the town during nightfall.

Following the road we came upon the ruins of a village long abandoned. Haunts and specters are the towns only inhabitants. At the town center an animated skeleton still clapped in the stocks motioned us closer. Once there it indicated to a box on the ground. Uncovering and opening the box there was a piece of desiccated flesh within. It seems to have been the tongue of the poor bony fellow. Once returned the spirit left similar to those we resolved in the lower lands.

At the far end of town we saw a mine entrance with three additional skeletons still dangling from their nooses. A pall of fear and anguish covered the area. Etched nearby was a marking for the “Bloodstone Mine”. Entering below the surface we didn’t get more than 100 feet in when we were blocked by a collapsed section of tunnel. A tattered journal nearby told the story of the suffering of the dwarven miners at the hands of Solomon and his cadre of guardsmen. Their only hope of salvation was to collapse the mine and trap him within, which they seem to have done successfully.

Backtracking into the town, we kept hearing skittering and calling of strange bird beings the size of turkeys. Someone called them “harpies”. I am uncertain of their importance to this area. We discovered a shaft with orc tracks entering and leaving the opening. This must be their den. Strange that these orcs are dwelling underground…..

Torches were lit and we ventured in. The dark vision of the elves makes them handy scouts I can almost tolerate their confusing elf chatter back and forth. The area inside was much larger than expected. In some sections the tunnels were thirty feet across, clearly much more than a tribe of orc raiders would need. We heard the hammering of active workmen and mining operations. Around the corner we saw a band of orcs commanding a dozen or so dwarven slaves. We fought hand to hand in the futtering torchlight. Hopes that the dwarves would assist in fighting for their freedom were for naught, they were so cowed that all they did was stand there in fear and confusion. Since we were near the surface we decided to get them clear of the mine and regroup. On the way out they asked us if we were sent by Tyrana….the name sounds familiar but I can’t place it. Once outside we met again with this Wendigo and asked him to take the slaves and our pack animals downhill to a safer place.

We outfitted ourselves for an extended chevauchee and made for the tunnel entrance……

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Laucian's Journey Part VII
Almost Dead but Feeling OK

The more we learn of this Solomon the more his end, whatever he has become, is necessary. One of the few things I think our whole group agrees on, even the taciturn Drefan. We proceeded and encountered more restless undead. Solomon’s perfidy continues centuries after his deeds. Allowing these restless spirits to go on to their final destination is the least of the good we can do here. We figured out the pit was the former entrance to the mine that the Rebels sealed up, temporarily stopping Solomon’s evil. They spent hundreds of years digging themselves out. Something we soon found out was accomplished by slave labor, something too close to home for my taste. We entered the exit exploring the “mine”. We stumbled onto some slavers forcing dwarves to dig. A most difficult fight ensued. These orcs are no joke, most of their ilk have a life span of decades, not centuries, these have learned a few things in their extra life span. Unfortunately for us it was not basket weaving. I am looking forward to some resolution with this monster Solomon. On a side note my near death experience seems to have made me slightly better at most everything, especially with my primary weapon! Huzzah!

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Travels and Travails 4
Solomon's Orc-Chasm

crater.pngWith the importance of information coming from the Obelisks I insisted that we investigate the second as yet un-visited obelisk to the south. After several hours trail hike we got to the point and found the hidden scroll cache. It was merely another way-point telling the traveler to go north (the way we had just come).

We realized that we had not dug out the scroll cache at the last obelisk and promptly went back. Therein was a tale regarding the cave/mine and the deaths of six men within. We also discovered the name of the revenant; Dagberg of Adelbridge. Dagbert had warned Solomon about mine safety before the deaths, and was silenced by being walled up within the mine to hide the fact. Most of the day spent walking without incident we needed to camp for the night a bit too near the revenant maw for my liking.

During the early evening wails and moans were heard from the cave mouth. A spirit haunted the entrance! We have no holy men in our party to deal with such things…I have a strong sympathy yet also aversion to forgotten dead. Strangely while we could see her she could not see us but could hear us. Her story unfolded as being Elain, the wife of the condemned Dagberg. A truly devoted woman she died here longing for her husband. After a time she faded from view, and we were left with a pall of melancholy.

I slept fitfully. The next morning I was eager to leave this tainted place. We traveled to a point noted on our maps (another obelisk), which directed the travelers to continue westward. While doing so we stumbled upon a warparty of more strange red haired orcs. These spoke common tongue well enough to be understood. They fought well. Even disarmed the larger one managed to get me down in a choke hold. After breaking free we faced off in single combat. Finally a worthy opponent! Despite my warning him off, our local woodsman insisted on intruding into the sacred combat of two matched foes. In a most cowardly manner Kreiger circled behind my orc and hit him from behind. While not a killing blow, it was nonetheless uncalled for. This Kreiger is so used to fighting mindless brutish animals in the forest, he has no appreciation for a hard won victory over a trained individual.

When the orc was revived, he told of his title as a “blade” and that his tribe being directed by Solomon himself! He said we were to be removed by order of Solomon. Not wanting to leave a scout in our rear, he was dispatched. We continued on to another obelisk where we were accosted by yet another “spectral spectacle”. What appeared to be several miners were attempting to repair a broken wagon. They appeared panicked and concerned they were being followed. Again the mysterious interaction occurred where they could hear but not see us. The spirit of a dwarf gave his name as Ruggle Studdard, while attempting to flee Solomon; this small group met their fate at this trail-head. We found information about some sort of special stone found within the mountain near the peak.

Continuing up the mountain in the direction the escaping ghosts had traveled, we came upon a large crevasse. There was evidence of a bridge, but it was long gone. Looking for a way around we again heard wailing in the trees. We approached cautiously to find some eyeless banshee being stalked by yet more redhaired orcs. This party of orcs seemed intent on ending the spirits curse and appeared to dispatch it with archery.

We were soon noticed by this party, and even though outnumbered they attacked with gusto. Dense woods gave us cover from their archery long enough to close with and remove their threat. Strangely these orcs carried silvered weapons… especially made to combat spirits?? Usable equipment was taken to augment our arsenal. Another nearby obelisk indicated that Solomon had found some sort of glowing stone the size of a house within the mountain.

Assessment:

Solomon, or something of his essence is clearly directing this orc tribe.

Spirits abound in this eerie place. I have no intention of dying unknown and un-remembered in this backwoods only to become some sort of woeful haunt.

At the top of the mountain we will discover more and determine the nature of the “glowing stone”.

ORCS – If not eradicated, there could be some value in making these into a military force for the Colony. The orcs are militaristic, organized, and reasonably equipped. They already speak common enough to take and follow orders (perhaps better than some in my party). This could be very useful in pacifying the area.

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Laucian's Journey Part VI
Did I mention the orcs and the undead?

Seems things are getting interesting, if you think fighting orcs (strange hair colored) and ghosts and sundry other undead is interesting. After some traveling and investigating, we guessed Solomon is crazy or was crazy, not sure. A captured Orc intimated there is still a Solomon. We think he is past the normal life span of a dwarf. A unique ore was said to have been discovered in a mine. Maybe this ore helped or caused the massive amounts of unique and unusual undead. There are squads of orcs equipped to deal with undead with silvered short swords which are now a part of our arsenal! Is Solomon some kind of liche or other master undead? Does the mysterious ore cause this?
Solomon’s cruelty seems to have created numerous undead, mostly programmed ghosts, doomed to repeat their last living moments. They can be interrupted and questioned, but their presences leaves a sense of overwhelming glom and doom. A sense of foreboding. It is our hope we can end their eternal suffering by dealing with Solomon. I pray to Corellon this is true.

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Chapter 1 - Inheritance - Game Day 5
Solomon's Peak

After dealing with the orc band, looting what they can (including a map with two marked but unlabeled points to the northeast and northwest) and discussing a bit about their run in with the revenant, the group decides to head west, toward the unknown obelisk. They believe, at this point, they’ve gone a bit of a round-about way and are actually backtracking by doing so, but they have to be sure.

They search the obelisk, finding a piece of Solomon’s journal that does indeed fit a direct narrative from the note they found at the first obelisk, and they determine this was the second one built by the expedition. They had gone a round about way through the mountains.

Nonetheless, they put the delay behind them and stealthily creep back towards the revenant cave, avoiding a bickering pack of mongrels and Edelvarg along the way.

When they reach the cave it is nearly sun down. They decide to stay here for the night. In doing so, they run into yet another ghost, this time a sad, sulking female who gives them more information on the Revenant in the cave. It was her husband, Dagberg of Edel Bridge, Solomon’s first foreman. Solomon chained him here to save face after he questioned the wisdom to dig here and inspired mutinous grumbling among some of the men.

The ghost is non-violent, but the longer they spend in close proximity to it, the longer they suffer from a general feeling of depression and malaise.

They push on as early as light will allow.

Not far up ahead they come across another obelisk, this one pointing west towards a sloping corner of the mountain.

At the slope, they encounter more ghosts, stuck in the moment of their death, routinely playing out their last moments. They’d grown disenchanted with Solomon and tried to run off with a cart full of his equipment. Instead the cart broke at the bottom of the mountain and Solomon’s men caught up to them at the bottom of the slope. Solomon’s men were not merciful.

Further up the mountain they observe a downed bridge that has collapsed into a ravine nearly a hundred feet in length. Taking the long way around, they run into a pack of orcs that had just ambushed a wraith, a banshee to be precise. They waste no time attacking the orcs and after a bloody battle they continue on their path. They find one last obelisk on the mountainside. This one points them directly to the east, towards what they hope will be Solomon’s lost expedition.

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Laucian's Journey Part V
Oh the Mud!

Well. After recovering from the “handmaidens of Lolth”, we continued our journey. I am amazed at how out of my element I am. I do miss the dusty alleys and byways of my homeland. I admire the first elves who carved sunsiege from the desert. This thought is what keeps me going. Perhaps I can emulate my forebears in more than one way. Change is inevitable. I must adapt and become more than I was before. Perhaps the spoiled fop is growing up. Maybe, still doesn’t mean I Ike the dirty part of this job, literally. Our first misadventure, after some trailblazing, we encountered some dryads. They seemed upset we accidentally saved our mule from their treant sapling. They deigned to allow us free passage, no passage with a rider. Some troll has been messing their world up. We agreed to remove their troll trash. After some muddy shenanigans, we dispatched the damnable beast. Did I mention the mud? Everywhere. Mud. Took me a half hour in the stream to get some of it off. Sigh. I made my bedroll, now I must lie in it. I am beginning to enjoy this adventure despite the mud of course. We proceeded on after the mud, err troll. We encountered some Giants, imagine that, giants. I must agree with Drefan, place certainly grows them big. Our giant friend was polite but wary. He did seem open to the possibility of trade. I wonder if I could recruit Giants to help in my quest? We shall see. Pushing on we came to a valley. It appeared there was a great maw in the side of the mountain! Investigating we stumbled upon a battle, one resolved centuries ago. Dwarves and orcs. Dwarves are hard to understand but their hatred for the hated orcs will always be a common point for our folk. So we moved into the maw, finding some undead monstrosity at the end of the rough hewn passage. Apparently iron is the only ore present. Good for future exploitation. Apparently the dark soul was chained here for failure in his duty to Solomon. Which was failure to find gold. That is like being punished for failing to find pomegranates in a fig grove. We learned he needed to have his revenge on Solomon. I am inclined to let him have his way with him. Hope he is still alive to give this raving thing some surcease. After backing away we made to leave. Some orcs sought to bar our way. After dispatching them we paused to consider our next move. Hopefully it does not include mud. Corellon’s will be done.

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Chapter 1 - Inheritance - Game Day 4

Continuing their journey through the increasingly dense woods, the group winds their way down along a manageable path through the forested mountainside until they come to a cliff too steep for the mounts to handle. Doubling back, misfortune grips one of their mounts as it is latched onto by what could best be described as a house plant sized Treant, a Wyld Root, if you will. Tearing away in panic, the mount injures the Root which lets out a shriek, calling the attention of a trio of dryads to the group.

The dryads, unhappy with the uninvited visitors to their woodland, agree to offer safe passage on the terms that they never come here again, and they eliminate a rampaging troll on their way through.

The group agrees, and surely enough finds the troll at the bottom of the trail in a muddy, murky cave beside a stream. First they attempted to smoke it out by building a fire at the cave mouth. The troll quashed this attempt by sloshing large gobs of mud onto the burning pyre.

Seeing no alternative, they entered the cave weapons at the ready. The troll ambushed them but was ultimately overpowered and slain, much to the dryads delight.

Now having safe passage through the dryads wood, the group continued along the stream, making their way around the base of the mountain to a small village. This quiet little hamlet, no more than five or six huts large, turned out on closer inspection to be inhabited by relatively nonthreatening hill giants, who offered trade and a bluish tinted iron ore if they promised to leave the valley and not encroach on the giants home.

Norm, the giant village’s blacksmith, identified an open valley where they would agree to trade in the future.

The group moved on, finding a high promontory where they could see both the giant’s valley to the south as well as the open plain to the west, and took note of its strategic importance.

Moving into the valley, they quickly noted the existence of a pair of obelisks. Scouting out the further one, in a forested plain between foothills and an ominous looking cave, they confirmed the obelisks were related to Solomon’s expedition.

Throwing caution temporarily to the wind, the group entered the cave. It’s mouth face was shaped like an open maw, with a pair of additional holes carved out above the entrance, two dark, glaring eyes watching from the mountainside.

Within the cave they found evidence of a mining operation gone awry, and Solomon’s forst foreman, chained to the floor at the end of a mine shaft, sitting atop a throne of bones, himself a Rager – a hate driven revenant returned from the dead to fulfil the ghastly goal of exterminating the source of his anger. Though he could control the bones in the cave with some dark necromantic magic, the Rager stated he could not free himself from his chains, and as such was bound to the cave, unable to pursue Solomon himself.

The group, hesitant to engage in hostilities with this creature, tentatively promise to bring Solomon back, and prepare to leave the cave.

On their way out they are interrupted by what they determined to be an Orcish scouting party of gray skinned, red haired, pig-like humanoids, and used the tight quarters of the mine to their advantage in dispatching the beasts. The most immediate threat now dealt with, the group looked to the spoils of their victory and took a moment to rest.

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Travels & Travails (3)
MINE!

We proceed to chase the long cold trail of a lost dwarven expedition. The woods grow larger and darker showing fewer and fewer signs of having ever seen the hand of the harvesters axe. Even the trees spawn some sort of half-living saplings that snap up small creatures to devour. One of the mules stumbled into a root-thing and was bitten. Wresting it’s leg free caused the root-thing to emit a shriek. Soon thereafter we were accosted by three wood nymphs. I dislike the density of vegetation that allows such things to approach unseen and un-hindered.

One of the elves spoke with them (of course). Apparently as powerful as these sylvans seem to be, they fear a thing as common as a troll. We were promised passage through “their” woods if we could rid them of the marauding troll. Our group successfully dispatched the troll with little difficulty. I wonder why the sylvan folk could not do so themselves?

In a portion of the deep wood near the troll cave I noted a plateau that could offer some natural defenses. Marked the map as best we could for a potential outpost/fortification.
Our ranger also noted some kind of herb that was rare enough to be valuable he called it “giants beard”. No idea what it’s good for, but it could fetch some coin from a magician/alchemist in need.

Towards the end of the days travel we heard the loud clanging of a smithy. Odd that it was this far into the deep-wood so we approached cautiously. A group of four or five large huts were found inhabited by a collection of giants. (Why is nothing man-sized in this land?). These reclusive beings were not hostile but also not welcoming. Noted their camp on the map and spoke with the smithy. They have found a vein of iron with some strange bluish impurity within its composition. It apparently lies within piles of boulders not far from their camp.

Gathered a few samples of the material to take back for assay. The smithy (Norm?) indicated that there was a nearby plain where water comes out of the hills that was far enough from their camp to be considered a neutral trading ground should we come back this way.

Many of the denizens of these lands know nothing of Lord Johans claim to rule the area. To avoid outright hostility it may be best to pass ourselves off as wandering traders from now on.

Finding the trading plain was not difficult. However as we approached we could see evidence that large scale combat had occurred here. Scattered around were the remnants of dwarf bones and gear, mixed with some of the same from what looks like crude orcish origin. There seemed to be no clear line of battle. I doubt there was a winner in this forgotten contest as both races have failed to properly honor their dead.

In the distance was a cave in the form of a scowling mouth. Nearby this cave were a pair of obelisks. Despite my parties desire to enter the cave directly, I delayed them long enough to scout out at least one of the obelisks. It is always best to identify flanks and hidden places before entering a locale with but one entry point. More Dwarven script on the obelisk! It seems that Solomons group passed this way. The stone describes a mine into the face of the mountain (the scowling cave?)

After girding ourselves, we approached the cave to find the dwarves had indeed mined here and found several small forges & foundries. It makes no sense to me that the dwarven miners would process raw materials (apparently rough iron) at this location. Possibly they had been holed up here and hard pressed by they orcs, they needed to arm themselves?

Passing into the cave it became apparent that it was a hand hewn mine. Further in we found more dead orcs….someone had killed them much more recently than those outside. At the end of a section of mine we saw a figure seated on a chair and chained to the ground. Despite this thing appearing dead it spoke…. Having no holy man to deal with fouled spirits we acted cautiously. We were told that it was the spirit of Solomons first foreman. Something about failing to find riches within the mine and being buried here alive for the failure. It spoke of wanting to exact revenge on Solomon. It allowed us to go with a promise of bringing solomon back for his punishment.

On the way out we met with a small orc warband comming in. They did not expect us there and a fight ensued. WHile brave fighters orcs have no tactical sense and tried to force a narrow passageway by brute force alone….they did not succeed.

ASSESSMENT:

Potential trading post identified.

Potential military outpost identified.

Primeval old growth forest. Good for lumber.

Giant controlled ores – could be taken by force but quantities unknown.

Dwarven Mine -Iron Ore – nearby orc settlement to clear, and ghostly inhabitant to be exorcized.

Such a harsh punishment for a “failure” to find treasure gives me a deep chill. Around the campfires the old dwarven soldiers told tales of miners taken by the “glimmerdoom”. This is a curse of greed that causes increasing paranoia and aggression. Could Solomons band have succumbed to it?

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Travels and Travails
The Mission Begins

Well, after gathering supplies, we finally left town and made for the wilds to fulfill our rather broad mission of “find stuff and tell me where it is” for Lord Johan. Hardly the work for skilled soldiery, but the chance to find good lands for my own use could be worth the effort.

The local man in our group, Kriger, will help keep us oriented to major landmarks, but apparently not many have ever traveled the paths we may be taking. Theren purports to be a scout/ranger so the woods should not present obstruction, his skills will be tested.

A days ride outside of town and we came across the remnants of a fishing shack with some milestones referring to “Newtowne” further upriver. If it was ever new it must have been long ago, since the shack was rotting to its foundations. We skirted some spider nests and made our way towards this “Newtowne”.

Ahead we heard loud trashing in the tree line and our scout advanced to determine the cause. Moments later he came rushing back with a two headed giant hard on his heels. At least we know the ranger can run fast enough.

Our party fanned out and dealt the great behemoth blows to his legs and what parts we could reach. The poor thing had stumbled into a hornets nest of pain. After seeing it weaken, I dealt a punishing blow and commanded it to surrender. Knowing the futility of further resistance it did so.

It was actually a wealth of information regarding Newtown and its location. He (they?) referred us to a door in the mountain side, and told us the ghosts of the dead still inhabit Newtown. The “door” wound up being an inscribed totem of sorts made by a party of Dwarves years prior. Oddly enough not one of our party can read or speak the Dwarven tongue. It was up to my crude skills to decipher the totem. Twould be simple enough if it were a codex of foul words and curses uttered by fighting men. It seems that many rears ago, under their leader Solomon, they went to the far mountains to find what they expected to be rich ores. No one has heard from them since. Rich ores? Our party decided to follow the same ill fated path into the high reaches….

Travelling uphill with so much gear tired me out more than I expected, I feel fatigued more than I should. Perhaps this horse riding is making me soft. Our scout chose a clearing for the nights camp, but before we could get settled we were attacked by a nest of these Razor Spiders hidden in the trees. Their netting proves to be much like a garrote. The more you struggle against it, the more you get cut. After finally killing and driving them off we can rest…

Note: There is a distinct need for basic training in camp security. With this parties lack of reputation and rushed agenda there was not sufficient time to recruit adequate forces. With all of our skills being needed to fight there are none left to tend the baggage train or animals. This must be remedied.

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Laucian's Journey Part IV
Hi Ho Hi Ho...

Well it has begun, we have our marching orders…but first a visit to the local carpenter. He complains about the quality of wood he receives to work but it seems he is too busy drinking to know anything. After some investigating and rather stern questioning, good teamwork there!, he threw us out but not before we spotted…something…in the corner. A shadow, Drefan correctly surmised it was a former partner haunting him. Turns out we misinterpreted the shadow. He was the only reason any decent work was being done. After an attempt to talk in daylight, we surmised we needed to either come back at night or meet in the outhouse. Thankfully we guessed night time. We revisited the workshop after hours and managed to talk with the shadow, Geist, who manages to guide the drunken fool. We suggested to get an apprentice for the carpenter, who could then be taught by Geist, the true carpenter, maybe even finding his final rest. After removing this and some other relatively minor issues we left for our first survey of the Baron’s fief.

Consulting our more worthy members as to what equipment and food to take with us for this journey, we set out. Encountering more slime dogs, we seemed more able to handle them this time, no sliming occurred, Huzzah! Moving on we found evidence of a prior attempt to settle upriver, but alas only a small amount of useful information was found. Continuing, our worthy Wood Elf scout, encountered an Ettin, another creature of legend, two heads, each less enlightened than the other. He seemed to be deciding something in his conversation with Theren, which eventually became evident. He was to be the Ettin’s meal. We all knew this, but to see the Ettin finally come to this conclusion was rather amusing, until we saw Theren retreating towards us! Time for action! The poor beast had little hope against our coordinated attacks. On the brink of death, and rightly fearing Drefan, the beast decided to surrender. After painfully questioning the beast, an action as frustrating as herding house cats in a catnip garden, we received some useful information on prior settlement attempts. We were led to a marker placed by a dwarf mining party led by a Solomon. Following this information we set out to find the possible mine location! This Solomon believes great mineral wealth exists! At last! Perhaps some hope for Baron Johan. An interesting aside whilst perusing the bestiary a picture of the former lord was found. He bore a striking similarity to Yarrick! Did the former lord diddle around? I decided to keep this to myself until a quiet moment could be found with Kriger. His insight and devoutness would be worthy to advise on this development. About to approach him at our camp, we were ambushed, by some damnable spiders. Razorwire spiders! Close damn fight! Perhaps a bright moment will be found whilst we recover from this attack. We will see. Another interesting aside, I have found it easier to draw my rapier and scimitar at the same time! Able to use these weapons at the same time seems to improve my offensive capabilities but also I would seem to be harder to hit in the flurry of blades! It’s all in the wrist as my former sword master used to say. Perhaps he wasn’t the pompous blowhard he seemed to be. I also seemed to be able to extend my shocking grasp to range and maintain the charge for a significant time!

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