Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dorben, Entry 6 ---28th Mirtul--- Short but eventful day

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-28th Mirtul, Year of the Haunting

---We’ve made camp again for the day. Rather earlier than our average. Today has been short but seemingly eventful and will lead to much more on the morrow it seems. But before I get to the occurrences of this day, I must fill in some complications from last evening.

As I formerly related, we had chosen a spot some distance and upwind from the camp to build a funeral pyre for our fallen foes. The bodies were prepared and we were just about to set them on the pyre and then set them alight when we noticed something. The wrap about the body of the mage had fallen askew. We took a look under said wrappings and found that the body within did not appear to be that slain within the caverns. It did look very much like the mage but this body appeared to have been some three days dead. It did not appear that the body had been slain by the devastating axe wound Aedron had inflicted. This was quite confusing. At first I suspected some sort of contingency spell but then Illandria noticed tracks near the fire that matched none of ours. She was able to follow the tracks for perhaps an hour out of camp but then her quarry seemed to begin actively covering their trail and she lost the track. It would seem our foes had a compatriot out in the woods who was capable enough to sneak in and out with a body without our noticing.

Since we could do nothing about it, we went forward with the pyring. There were still dead bodies and we hoped to keep them from rising from the dead any time soon. I used the mostly non-denominational words of laying to rest that I was taught in the seminary and inserted kindly reference to Tempus’ fallen warriors where appropriate. After the words were said, I set to work with my sketch book. I wanted as accurate a drawing of that mage as I could craft. I should have it done to my satisfaction some time this evening. I want a reference for later, just in case. I have suspicions that perhaps we did not face the same mage the villagers hired. Mayhap a seeming spell was used? But who would impersonate this mage and why? Fodder for questioning later.

There were further complications with the funeral pyre during the evening watch. During 3rd watch, Illandria noticed that one of the bodies was gone from the pyre. Judging from the relative location of the other bodies, it appeared that the remains of the priest had gone missing. However, the dagger that had been placed in his clasped hands upon his breast was still there among the embers. The remains of the others still remained partially intact and at least somewhat recognizable for what they were. It is possible Tempus called the priest to him and that led to the body transcommunicating to the next plane but not probable. Again, I suspect either our foes’ comrade stole away with the body or some sort of magic was used to abscond with the remains. Quite disturbing.

Now, as to what happened after daylight on this day of 28 Mirtul. Shortly after we had broken our fast, a goblin approached our camp under a flag of truce. His grasp of the Common Speech was atrocious but barely understandable. It brought word that the goblin leader wished to meet us and it pointed out a location a distance from the caverns. I’ll give the little gobs this, the location for the meeting was fairly well chosen. Slightly raised from the surroundings and clear sight lines all around for the distance of a full bowshot. Both sides would be able to see anything coming and therefore “trust” each other. Damnably smart for a goblin. But then again, our explorations earlier had already led us to believe these were not the average as far as goblins.

We waited at the indicated spot at the implied time and soon saw the approach of two goblins. One seemed to carry the bearing of leadership and the other appeared to be a bodyguard, carrying a tower shield. Whether the one with the leader’s bearing was their chieftain or simply one whose council was greatly heeded, I do not know. But it did seem to me that this little greener was used to others following his orders. We were soon to find out that this was the current goblin clan leader, Koe by name, and the other did indeed appear to be his bodyguard. He stayed to one side, kept an eye on all goings on and kept quiet, as good bodyguards do.

Koe had a much better grasp of Common and we were all able to take part in the conversation. It turned out that this goblin clan was only in the area since they were seeking a treasure held in a vault within the caverns. If we were to help them retrieve said treasure, they would gladly be on their way from these parts. We learned that the clan’s original leader and several of his stronger retainers had been killed by the guardian magics of the vault. To further complicate matters, those same magics seem to have raised leader and cohorts as undead to bolster the vault’s defenses. Koe has been wise enough to stop incursions into the vault so as not to lose anymore of his clan. But he will not leave without this Key which their master sent them to retrieve. After some debate we agreed upon a truce of sorts. If all it took for these goblins to leave the area was some bit of treasure from an old vault, then we would endeavor to retrieve said treasure and send them on their way.

This undead thing makes me wonder. Why is it everybody seems to believe that skeletons and zombies are such bloody wonderful guardians? Other than not having to feed them or pay them, what IS the attraction? They’re nasty blights on the landscape and deserve nothing but pity. Well, perhaps pity and some help with a hasty departure from their magically enforced enslavement. But they are out there, and right here for that matter, and I will do my best to wield the power granted me by Lady Selune to remove them from the lands.

Well now, off that little rant and back onto the matters at hand. We negotiated some particulars on our little truce and then the goblins allowed us into the cavern to investigate. Beyond the door that stopped our further explorations we found a more “formal” set of double doors beyond. The double doors were opened into a sort of vestibule entryway that was bathed in blue energy. We could feel the cold from a distance. Thanks to her celestial heritage, Kaliki was able to stand the bitter cold but just barely. She said she would bear it as long as she could to investigate the doors and possibly beyond. She reported to us that the blue energy only filled the vestibule so perhaps the lethal cold did not extend within. She also reported that the doors were carved with writings which she was able to roughly translate. The writings appeared to be alchemical recipes for ice or one type or another. I was terribly interested and was tempted to take notes but that wasn’t what we were there for and we felt pressed for time. Not to mention Kaliki was beginning to become covered in a scrim of frost that became thicker by the moment. We feared for her safety and bade her retreat.

Since the goblins had already informed us of the presence of soul numbing cold and undead guardians beyond the doors, we did not feel inclined to send one of our number in alone nor to explore in force without preparation. However, Nia offered the services of her little psicrystal companion, Bug. Interesting little creature. When first she showed the creature to us the other morn, I thought it to be an actual insect with a striking resemblance to a ruby. But, as it turns out, Bug is an actual gem or crystalline life form of some type that can grow legs at need and move around under its own power. It either has its own sentience or shares Nia’s; of that I am unsure. It appears that Bug is a psionicist’s equivalent of the familiar companions of magic wielders. It has proven an asset already. But went into the Vault proper and explored by staying close to the ceiling and then reported back to Nia.

There was an unfortunate moment when Bug quickly skittered back and returned to its accustomed resting spot, which happens to be tucked down the front of Nia’s bodice where it generally appears to be a simple piece of jewelry. Being crystalline, Bug had picked up the ambient temperature of the Vault and it just happened to be well below freezing. Even Nia’s yelp of alarm has some charm to it. She quickly retrieved her little companion and moved it to less… sensitive areas until it had warmed up. Bug’s report, through Nia, was that beyond the door the hall extended right and left equal distance and then both turned in the same direction and ran parallel. She did not have Bug explore further since it spotted small gangs of frost covered undead waiting in both hallways. There seemed to be more of the undying to the left than the right.

Furthermore, Bug verified that the blue energy did indeed stop at the vestibule. The hallways beyond appear to be numbingly cold as opposed to immediately lethal as in the blue energy doorway. We estimate the cold in the hallways to be the equivalent of the coldest natural temperatures and we believe that we might counteract them with an Endure Elements enchantment. I derided myself for not having that selfsame enchantment ready this day. It was idiocy on my part to forget that spring in this part of the world can easily mean still freezing temperatures and I should have prepared.

Knowing that we were severely unprepared to face rooms full of zombies while suffering from hypothermic cold, we retreated from the Vault chamber. We agreed that we needed to return the next day after we had time to prepare the spells we would need to keep us all from freezing to death. From Kaliki’s estimation, just crossing through the blue energy at the threshold could be enough to wound some unto unconsciousness. We talked with Koe and he showed no signs of impatience. His tribe had evidently been attempting to retrieve this Key for some time and one more day wasn’t going to make much difference. Some further negotiations with Koe netted us the cooperation of their tribal shaman in obtaining spells to resist the cold. The shaman did not appear to be happy about the matter but did agree.

And so, we’ve retreated to our campsite for the better part of the day. A few more days of this and we may have to build a cabin and start shipping in the comforts of home. I’m kidding of course. As much as I enjoy the creature comforts, and see no problem with endeavoring to make oneself comfortable while on the trail, I do still rather enjoy “roughing it” in pursuit of adventure. During our “down time” we have individual pursuits to keep us busy. I finished the sketch of that mage this afternoon. I believe it is fairly accurate although it would most likely win no prizes at an art fair.

Aedron decided to go scouting in an endeavor to possibly locate our possible adversary who made off with the bodies of the mage and cleric. Aedron is quite stealthy when he chooses, especially for one of his size, and the general consensus was that he could scout most effectively without the rest of us accompanying him. Nia offered the services of Bug to keep us in touch. Bug could “play jewelry” and tag along with Aedron. Again, as I understand it is with magic wielders’ familiar, Nia and Bug share some sort of emotional rapport that extends for a goodly distance.

Rather than look for tracks, Aedron said he would simply look for a spot he would choose as a good campsite. Upon his return he informed us that he had found such a campsite. It appeared the fire had been doused perhaps a day and a half previously. It may have been where the previous adventurers set their camp to prepare for their assault on the goblin caverns. Aedron found no further signs or clues of any import however.

We’ll post night watches again of course. I’m not sure how far to trust Koe and his tribe but more importantly, we are still out in the wilds. There are creatures out here that could quickly make a tribe of goblins the least of our worries. Tomorrow should provide some indications as to whether our little group of adventurers has potential as a cohesive team. We will see what the morrow brings. By my Silver Lady’s grace, I shall write again before long.

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