2 Growth 508
We were too late.
Delayed by the thickness of the forest, the weight of our gear, and our exhaustion, we finally made back to Falcon’s Hollow only to find that the blackscour taint had run its course. Thirty people had died in our absence, including the nephew of Milon Rhodam. We were warned by a rightfully embittered Laurel not to cross the taciturn woodsman’s path.
Our first order of business was to set ourselves up in a different establishment. We chose an inn called “Jak’a’napes”, run by a former Bard called Jak. Then we went to see a man called Thuldrin Kreed, head of the Logging Consortium, what Azuredee had found below the monastery and its potential threat to the settlement. There were certainly kobolds living below and who-knows-what besides.
The “Gavel” (that was his title, I believe) was a gruff man, rather unpleasant, actually. Our failure in aiding the town probably did not help his disposition much. Nevertheless, we offered to investigate the ruins below the monastery for the sake of Falcon’s Hollow. Nevertheless, the man offered us 100 gold sterling to clear out the threat. We leave tomorrow, once we provision, to return to the monastery and clear it out.
3 Growth 508
We finally made it back to the town—but it was a near thing to be sure.
Below that monastery we found a large, underground complex of chambers, as well as a series of natural caverns. The entire place was infested with odious kobolds, against which we did much battle. Some even deigned to use poison on their strange blades. Others rode monstrous beasts that resembled giant frogs with huge tusks protruding from their wet lips. Apparently the kobolds were being led by one who called himself king—Azuredee Silverthistle now holds his crown.
We also found what was left of another band of adventurers who had been captured by the kobolds. A halfling calling himself Edgrin Galesong and a half-elf wizard called Tyrian Moonsilver. They, the sole survivors of the Gray Eagles, were captured by a kobold ambush and brought below. We encountered Edgrin first and then rescued Tyrian later—he had been taken by what passes as a priest amongst these creatures and was to be sacrificed to their dark and bloody gods. That priest now lies in his own blood, deep below the earth.
One of the more remarkable encounters we had was with the “ghost” of an ancient dwarven warrior called Glitteraxe. Both my cousin and I nearly lost our courage as we saw it, shimmering in an eerie subdued glow, gliding down the corridor toward us. As fortune would have it, it was not a ghost at all but some strange gelatinous cube that absorbed and eaten what was left of the unfortunate dwarf and was threatening to do the same to us! However, we held the day and managed to turn it into a pile of inert goo, retrieving the weapons and armor within. These I carry proudly—a magical battleaxe called “Glitteraxe” and a suit of mithral armor of dwarven make.
Finally, after a long day of battle and narrow escapes, we managed to rescue the half-elf and make our way back to Falcon’s Hollow. Once back in town, we met with the Gavel (a most unpleasant man, once again) and managed to secure our 100 gold. Truly, I would have met the threat without the recompense, but we must also meet the expenses of our travels. He seemed interested in keeping the crown that we had taken from the kobold king, but returned. We will find a suitable buyer if my cousin cannot figure out the crown’s purpose—other than the fact that it is enchanted. We also recovered a nasty-looking curved dagger from the creatures’ high priest. This Azuredee plans on giving to the local priestess, a follower of Barthal called Desdira Mott.
We are now back at Jak’a’napes and plan to recover a bit before venturing out once again. We shared some of our treasure with the halfling, as he was extremely helpful in the field. We also used some of our excess to purchase rooms for Edgrin and Tyrian so that they could rest comfortably. Finally, we turned in for the night.
More has happened tonight that I felt needed to be noted. Azuredee encountered a fellow Bard from Kuskar by the name of Istvan Tamasvan. An eccentric and excitable fellow (though I am told many of the Kuskar are quite excitable by nature), he went on and on about his “coming into his talent” and “showing people what he could do”. He is a penniless drunk, though likable enough. I’m not sure if his talent has served him well thus far.
His fortunes are certainly bad, for last night, after the common room cleared out and my cousin had finished her usual fine performance, the man was set upon by half-orc ruffians. Fortunately for him, my cousin heard his cries for help outside her room window. She summoned me and rushed into the fray. The two “men” had attacked the poor minstrel and left him for dead. They were long gone by the time Azuredee and I had arrived. My cousin used her mystical arts to heal the man and we took him inside.
He seemed concerned—and then relieved—that the thieves had not taken some slips of paper that he had tucked into his worn clothes. They had taken his purse and his last coins, however. My cousin and I took pity on the poor man and bought him a room for the night.
We also met with the sheriff of Falcon’s Hollow, a striking half-elf by the name of Deldrin Baleson. I daresay he turned my cousin’s head. Truth be told, he turned mine not a little, though I’ll be damned if I admit to Azuredee. She’d tease me until the Rift sealed itself again if I let on.
At any rate, there is little chance of the ruffians being caught unless they are foolish enough to remain in town. With nothing else to be done, we all finally called it a night.
4 Growth 508
This morning our new companion Istvan imparted to us an interesting tale—and the impetus to our next quest!
Apparently he has been seeking an ancient lute, called Anglorion, that supposedly belonged to the legendary Bard Ithraniel Starshadow. This instrument is supposedly perfect in every way and can imbue its player with certain bardic abilities. This was what he spoke of when saying he would “come into his talent”. The tale says that when Ithraniel died, her companions locked the instrument away with four keys. The keys were then separated in hopes of ensuring only the most worthy ever retrieved the instrument. Istvan believes that he has found clues to the first key. In the library of an Ornish lord that he played for, he found old dwarven ledger pages indicating that a “FG” had funded an elaborate building project in a section of Khazak-Ur known as “Kargan’s Run”. Istvan believes this “FG” to be none other than Fundin Glitterstone, ancient dwarven hero and one of the legendary Five.
We have boarded the riverboat “Waterstrider”, captained by a dwarf called Deodor the Stained. The poor fellow has a wine-red mark about his face, thus his name, I suppose. The crew seem to be competent, though one has the disconcerting custom of bringing a coffin with him on the journey. I’m not sure what it means but it’s morbid.
So, we go to Khazak-Ur, the ancient dwarven capital. We’ll be sailing up the Hadurk River to get there. The journey should take a little more than two weeks. Hopefully they will be relatively uneventful.
13 Growth 508
This has been a miserable journey—for me at least. Apparently I have not taken to water travel as well as my cousin. I spend as much time voiding food and water over the side of the craft as I do taking it in.
Today Azuredee, in her usual gregarious way, started gambling with the sailors. They played a game called “Knucklebones” and apparently, my cousin has a way with dice. Fortunately, none of the sailors took this development badly and caused any trouble. I will defend my cousin to the death, no matter my condition, but I just as well could do without a fight today. My stomach rebels at the thought.
17 Growth 508
I’m starting to feel much better. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten used to the sway of the craft. Or perhaps my body has decided it has no more to give. At any rate, I was actually able to enjoy the view of our journey today.
To our right, the Hadurk-Sur mountains rise majestically to touch the skies. To our left, the forests of Boarael. Around us are the clear blue waters of the Hadurk River. Truly beautiful scenery to bolster our spirits for what is to come.
Today the crew found the remains of a shipwreck, a pile of flotsam floating down the river toward us. Nothing much of note was found to identify the craft, other than a scroll case labeled “S of V”. No one seems to know what that means.
At any rate, I hope my good health holds for the rest of the journey.
18 Growth 508
Today would have been a quiet one, not worth reporting on, except that we encountered a band of river pirates toward the end of the day.
As the sun began to set, we saw another craft approaching us from the north. As the waterway was beginning to narrow, we grew concerned that we would not be able to meet and pass each other along the way. Tension grew as the two craft met and began to pass. Suddenly, one of the men on the other craft yelled a signal and that crew began throwing mooring lines across to secure our boat. Men began boarding our craft and a melee ensued.
We were victorious.
We took prisoner their “Captain” Thornblow and what was left of his crew. Captain Deodor will deposit them with the local authorities when we arrive at Khazak-Ur tomorrow.
19 Growth 508
Today we have arrived in Khazak-Ur.
Apparently it is the only dwarven city of which part lies above the earth and part delves below. It is a wondrous sight. Gloriously designed stone buildings fill the cobbled streets. Even the meanest, most lowly, citizen seems to live in a work of architectural grandeur. It is the largest city I have ever visited as well. The noise—and the smell—nearly overwhelm the senses. I have seen all manner of beings here, from dwarves to humans to elves and half-elves. Even a few half-orcs. A truly cosmopolitan mix of people.
We secured a room in an inn called “The Thane’s Decree”. It is apparently owned by a dwarf called Tergin Slipboot but is managed by a human called Bron. An interesting mix of people, as I said.
Today we will ask about for a scholar to tell us more of this “Kargan’s Run” and of this Droskar that the dwarves seemed to follow at the monastery in Darkmoon Vale.
20 Growth 508
We found a sage today by the name of Master Sorvus. He will research this “Kargan’s Run” and Droskar for us.
We conducted other business in the city today as well. We turned over our more ecclesiastic finds from the monastery to a priestess of Skondir by the name of Threnita Bronzecup. Azuredee bought a wand of healing from another dwarf called Phaedre Silverspike. We even took in the wonders of an alchemist’s shop run by a Master Bombur Thronespur. This truly is a magical city.
We made our way tiredly back to the Thane’s Decree and settled in for the evening. Both Istvan and Azuredee provided the entertainment for the evening, which was wonderful (as per usual).
We were also joined by a dwarf called Durogar Scarletbeard. He is a priest of Fundin Glitterstone and came to warn us off of seeking out whatever is in Kargan’s Run. Apparently whatever is there is to remain untouched by any but followers of the dwarven hero. But, I could tell by the look in Azuredee’s eye that she would not be deterred so easily. And our friend Istvan is equally determined. We will accept whatever consequences spring from our continued quest.
My cousin has apparently found company for the evening so I have adjured to my room.
21 Growth 508
According to the sage we found, “Kargan’s Run” is an ancient and abandoned neighborhood deep below where the current city stands. It has been abandoned to the denizens of the underground kingdoms.
We also learned of Droskar, an ancient and abandoned dwarven god of toil and strife. Apparently these dwarves in Darkmoon Vale turned to a forbidden god at one point in their lives and paid the ultimate price for it—extinction.
Tomorrow, we will descend into the lower city and seek out this Kargan’s Run in hopes of finding Istvan’s first key.
23 Growth 508
It has been a busy few days and I have not had time to record all that happened. I will probably still miss some of it but I will try to detail what I can recall during this more restful time.
We descended deep into the city in search of Kargan’s Run. Along the way we encountered several unsavory creatures; the least of which was a persistent beggar, the worst was a some sort of half-man, half-demon creature that accosted us in a darkened street. All were dispatched fairly promptly, I’m somewhat proud to say.
We finally emerged from the slums of the city into the outskirts. These were made up primarily of abandoned dwellings and under-developed cavern tunnels. Here, along with some bats and other typical cave-dwelling creatures, we encountered some sort of half- man-half-rat creature that bit Azuredee. Hopefully she will not contract whatever diseases that filthy creature carried.
Eventually, we found the shrine to Skondir to which old Fundin Glitterstone had made adjustments. Inside we found a race of dark creature holing up in the shrine like it was their private keep. These creatures were adept at creeping in the darkness and attacking us out of the shadows. Nevertheless we emerged victorious.
In our searching, we came across an abandoned tunnel. The three of us followed it for what seemed like miles when it finally came to an end at a ladder and trapdoor. The door opened into a subbasement of the Hall of the Maker! There we encountered the priestess that we turned over the prayer book before. Her look of surprise was priceless—as was, I’m sure, ours.
We were led to a higher order priest, referred to as an “Anvil”, called Horngar Blackhammer. He got our story sorted out and assured us that the tunnel would be destroyed on their end. We were given permission to return the way came back into the abandoned shrine. Before we left, the priests were kind enough to cure Azuredee of the disease she contracted from the rat-man. If left untreated, she would have transformed into such a creature herself.
Once we returned to the shrine, we continued to search it out for signs of the new additions ordered by Fundin Glitterstone. Eventually our perseverance paid off. We found a deep vault in which the dwarves had stored their treasures—amazingly, these had been abandoned as well as the shrine. These, with the exception of an enchanted cloak that Istvan took, we left alone. Within the vault, we found a secret compartment that lead to another series of chambers dedicated to guarding the key.
The secret compartment opened on a shaft that lead down into a narrow corridor. At the end of the corridor was an iron door which was inscribed in dwarven runes:
Seekers of glory, seekers of fame,
Tellers of story, seeking a name,
To find a key, a key you will need,
An open key, and my warning to heed,
Be nimble, be strong, and don’t step too soon,
Or all will be wrong and you lose the tune.
Azuredee played an open chord on her harp—a chord without sharps or flats—and the door miraculously opened.
Inside was a strange clockwork automaton that attacked us. It was almost insectoid with its multiple arms attached to a humanoid-based body. On its shoulder was a large tube, which turned and shot out a net that encompassed Azuredee. I managed to defeat the creature as my cousin extracted herself.
Inside the creature’s remains, we found a key to the next chamber. This was a long, narrow chamber with a pool of lava at its center. Dangling over the pool on a line was a key. With each step into the room, the key would lower closer to the lava pool. Azuredee managed to plot a clever route to the platform and retrieve the key before it was lost forever. With it, we made our way into the next chamber…and were met by another of the insectoid automatons!
After dispatching the monster, we discovered another key lodged in its gear-filled insides. Next we found ourselves in another long, narrow chamber. This room had a large pool of water in the center of the chamber. My cousin found the key to the next door at the bottom of the three-foot deep pool. She waded inside and tugged hard on the small piece of metal, finally extricating it from the floor. Suddenly the water in which she was standing rushed up, took humanoid form, and attacked!
As I had an enchanted weapon, I was able to take the watery beast down. Azuredee’s weapon was completely ineffective against it. With the key she found, we were able to move onto the next chamber—which contained yet another of the metal automatons. We once again defeated the creature and retrieved a key from the inside.
This led to another long chamber with a door at the other end. The door to the dead automaton shut and locked behind us and gas started streaming from tiny fissures in the walls. Choking on the gas, we made our way across as Azuredee started looking for hidden compartments. She finally found such a compartment, in which a key was contained. With it, we escaped the room and its gas only to find another automaton room.
After, once again, defeating the creature and retrieving a key from its innards, we found ourselves in another long chamber dominated by a pit of mud. There was only a thin ledge that encircled the room. At the center of the pit was an iron pillar on which sat the key to the next chamber. Since I was the stronger of us, we decided to let me take the potion of bull strength and struggle through the mud. It tried to suck me down into its depths, but I managed to make my way to the pillar and retrieve the key.
This key lead to the final chamber. In the center of the room was a pedestal upon which a small pitch pipe and a rolled scrap of parchment sat. The pipe played a single, clear note and the parchment bore the following:
The Eight-Fold Path leads to Merrywick’s haven,
Dukane’s light shines upon the next key.
Another door lead out of the chamber and out onto a staircase that lead up and out of the complex back into Kargan’s Run.
As we made our way out of that abandoned neighborhood, we started to pass the shrine of Skondir by which we had entered the key chambers. In front was Durogar Scarletbeard with a contingent of priests of Skondir, pointing out how “those adventurers” were going to loot and pillage their sacred shrine. Azuredee tried to run, but one of the priests called upon the power of his god and froze her place! Not willing to leave her behind, I stood my ground.
Once released, she approached the dwarves and offered to escort them inside to show them who was defacing their shrine and that there was abandoned treasure here—unlooted—to be returned to the temple. Putting action to her words, we showed the dwarves the abandoned vault as well as the tunnel that lead to the Hall of the Maker. Satisfied, the priests allowed us to be on our way.
We have finally returned to our rooms at the Thane’s Decree. I am unbelievably tired, having been up and active for well over a day, but content that we have completed the first part of our quest.
24 Growth 508
Today we visited with Master Sorvus and secured his services to once again research what could be meant by “eight-fold path” and “Dukane’s light”. We figure that the “Merrywick” in question is one of The Five, so knowing the rest may give us the clue to the next key.
We also ran into a drunkard who claimed that he knew Azuredee—only he had mistaken her for a friend of his called “Sookie Sunspark”. We finally got through to him that he was accosting the wrong half-elf, and he was quite embarrassed.
Finally, Azuredee Silverthistle discovered that her coin purse had been stolen by some reprobate in the crowded streets. Fortunately, my coins are kept beneath my armor. We are by no means impoverished now, but count it as a lesson learned.
27 Growth 508
Today, after receiving a message from a young dwarf called “Thurd”, we made our way back to Master Sorvus. He apparently had more information for us.
The “eight-fold path” apparently refers to a sect known as Dhakranism. It is a monastic sect that seeks enlightenment through the use of this “eight-fold path”. It is primarily practiced in the far south, in the southern mountains of Achera. There is another off-shoot of the sect, known as Shandorianism, that is more martial. It is practiced primarily in northern Achera, near the border of that country and Kuskar.
The sage was unable to find any information on a “Dukane”.
With this information in hand, we have decided to travel south to Ebongate, and then on to Jora to gather more information on this “Dukane”. Istvan seems excited to visit his homeland again. His spirits are considerably boosted now that his quest has actually begun to yield fruit.
We leave tomorrow for Ebongate. Time to get some rest.
30 Growth 508
This evening we are camping with an adventuring party that identifies themselves as “The Dragon’s Claw”. They are traveling north to Jossia from Ebongate. There is Bendir, a human Knight of the Dragon; Aldo, a halfling woodsman; Jenma, a human sorceress; and Kalder, a wiry human.
They seem pleasant, but nevertheless, my cousin and I will take our own shifts this evening, just in case. One can’t be too careful traveling these days.
Journal Entries for Illumination 508