Friday, May 19, 2006

Dorben, Entry 12 ---1st Flamerule thru 3rd Flamerule--- A meeting at the candle circle and racing to Bloodstone

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-1st Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---Ah, well, here we are somewhat closer to Bloodstone Pass. Our day began quite eventfully early on. It all started after Aedron and I awoke from our again identical dreams. After relating my belief that we should make our way to Bloodstone Pass, we decided to check the cave at the bottom of the well at the center of the candle circle since we were already there and had the rope handy. I volunteered to be the one sent down the well since I more or less only wanted to check with spells to detect if there were any presence of Evil or Chaotic energies. A rope was secured at my waist and I made my way down the spiral stairs with Aedron anchoring me above. Nia’s little gem friend, Bug, accompanied me to relay information back to the surface. The descent didn’t take too long and I cast my spells from the catwalk.

With no sign of Evil or Chaos about, I descended further, wishing to take a closer look at the island and large stone block at its center. As soon as I touched down on the island I was greeted by a voice speaking the Common tongue. As the words were spoken they were also spelled out in glowing letters of light above the stone block. “Ah, you have returned” they said. I did not perceive any ill intent from the voice and we spoke for a short time before I asked if it would be alright for the rest of the group to join us. The entity, identifying itself as Emah, acquiesced. Meg volunteered to remain above with the horses while the rest climbed down to meet Emah. Aedron got one look at the glowing letters and made great haste climbing back up the well shaft. I forget how little he dislikes things he cannot see and therefore perceives as Spirits.

As we spoke, the entity coalesced somewhat, standing atop the stone block. Its shape seemed that of a dwarven build but as small as a halfling. There was no more detail than that as Emah’s image never developed further than a glowing outline. It seems Emah is most likely from another worldly dimension and he can only interact with our world at this one place between the hours of midnight and sunrise. I say “he” only because I perceived a certain masculine air to the way Emah presented itself. I could definitely be wrong as Emah seemed not to have a concept of the difference between male and female. In fact, he asked permission to touch my thoughts so that he might gain insight into humans and the difference between male and female. This really has no bearing upon the occasion other than a convenience of labeling for my own writing. Ah, again I am rambling. I shall endeavor to remain more on topic.

From our conversation with Emah we also learned that he makes the floating candles as a hobby; just something to do it seems. He was nice enough to give me a bag holding what looks to be at least 100 of the clever little widgets. I am making use of two right now in fact. It is so nice to be able to position the light source in just the right place and have it stay there and not be blown out by the first errant breeze. The feeling of contentment and calm that surrounds the candles, Nia calls it “the warm fuzzy” feeling, is quite nice as well. We have redistributed the candles amongst our saddle bags so that none of us is burdened with one large sack of them. Hah, I just realized that Emah has also gifted us with a nice sized sack as well. Such generosity. J

It seems that Emah is familiar with Zolven from some time in the past. He asked us to tell Zolven that Emah says that he is sorry and also goodbye. I believe that will be a story to hear. I only hope Zolven will actually tell us what it all means. Emah knows nothing of the Blue Diamond Fever nor its possible cause. I was left alone with Emah for a few moments while the others climbed back to the surface. (We thought it safest for me to climb up last what with the bulk of my armor and all. I would hate slip and fall down the shaft and take the whole lot down under my great clanking bulk.) That is when Emah presented me with the bag full of his candles and then asked me one small favor. Emah asked if we might house-sit for him since we had mentioned that we were going to Bloodstone Pass. I told him I could make no promises about staying at the house but we could certainly look in on the place for him.

He said that was good enough and presented me with a box about the size one might expect to find at a jewelers shop holding a large brooch or bracelet. The box was all rich wood with inlay work. I opened it to find the top of a metal loop, which I withdrew from the box. The loop was actually the head of a decent sized house key that was quite obviously too long to have fit in that box normally. The box seems to only hold the key though, no other space. The key appears to be simple pewter with some knot work decoration but overall fairly plain. The house Emah described sounded more like a small hill keep with mention of at least one tower and walls. He said that he asked an adventuring group to look in on the place some time ago but he didn’t hear back from them. But he believed that was some time ago. (From what Emah said, I would guess this happened around the time of the war some twenty years ago.) He says he remembers their company crest was a bow being held in a leafy hand.

We then left Emah and his candle circle and began riding westerly before sunrise, going very cautiously at first and then riding normally after. We followed the road that parallels the river. Although the road might have wandered from the straight path a bit I believe we made goodly time. The distance straight cross country might have been shorter but most likely would have taken longer than staying on a cleared trade route. I should note that we actually saw little of any traffic upon the road. Their trade season is only just starting in these parts. Our travels were undisturbed and we make good time. I only hope we may reach Bloodstone before the events in our dreams come to pass. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

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Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-1st Flamerule, Evening addendum

---Aedron and I woke at the same moment, again from identical dreams.

The blizzard still blew but less intense than last eve. The point of view was drawn somewhat further back, showing the mountain scene at large. There were no shapes marching through the blizzard this time. The landscape was empty of anything but trees and rocks and covered by at least five feet of snow except for one trail passing through. The trail was pounded flat and only just beginning to be covered by snowfall. The view of the dream moved along the landscape to center once again upon the hole in the side of the mountain. The hole was growing smaller but the blizzard from within seemed to be blowing that much harder.

And then the dream ended. Aedron again sees this as simply a vision of snow returning to the land. I think the big fellow has been too long in the mountains and ice. I don’t think he grasps that the entire world being covered permanently with snow and ice would be bad. The seasons must change in their cycle of life is to continue. If there is only winter then there is no growing season. If there is no growing season then there are no crops. If there are no crops then there is no food for us or the animals. Even full blooded Frost giants can’t live eating only snow and ice and not everybody has access to the spells that can create food.

I asked Illandria if she might be able to tell how large of a group it would take to make a trail that size. She said judging from our description and taking into account that snow had never been able to collect upon their trail that she would guess a force of at least 500 human sized individuals as a conservative estimate. It was also of note that there was trace of wagons among those tracks. So it would seem that our mysterious travelers have brought supplies, which to me would seem to suggest a sizeable mercenary unit with a decent amount of supplies and/or camp followers. It is also of course possible that they were the tracks of a chariot and not a wagon which could be conveyance of the company commander rather than transport for supplies. Neither option is especially comforting in all honesty.

I have thought back and made some reevaluation of the dreams from my own point of view and compared them to other dreams I remember from the past. These dreams were different, more realistic than usual. It was not my feeling that these were images and allegories for interpretation. No, these had the feel of real sight and immediacy. I have come to the conclusion that I believe this was a direct view of something happening right at that moment. Somewhere up in those mountains, somebody made a gate and has brought through an army under the cover of a fierce blizzard. I am now sure: we must make haste to Bloodstone.

There is one other thing of note this day. We were talking amongst ourselves about our meeting with Emah at some point and I realized that we had spoken about investigating the house for Emah but I hadn’t shown them the key. I withdrew the key from its box and found it somewhat changed. It had gained some silver filigree, a few more sweeping decorations and there was a moonstone now mounted in the haft. The knot work decorations were still present but less prevalent. We all observed that it seemed the key had changed from being close to me. As an experiment, Nia is holding the key for a while. I am interested to see if this will affect the key further. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

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Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-2nd Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---We are arrived in Bloodstone Valley. After riding hard all day, we came within sight of the Damaran Gate wall as the light of the day began to dim and arrived at the pass gate before sundown. There was no trouble passing through the gate wall and one of the guards was nice enough to recommend a good place to stay; the Purple Carriage Inn, where we are resting now. I think his helpfulness may have hinged at least slightly on the winning smile of our lovely Nia. I think the lass must have been overjoyed to see a handsome young man who was not one of us. She does definitely seem to be a social spirit. I wonder if he will take her up on her invitation.

After settling into our rooms at the Purple Carriage Inn I told the others where I was going and then set out to visit the local shrine of my faith after gaining directions from the inn keeper. I was happy to find that my Lady has a shrine here since the residents of this country by and large follow Ilmater. This valley however is a place of adventurers and travelers so my Lady Selune’ has some local following. I was shown to the head priest’s office soon after arriving. Good priest Holn and I exchanged some pleasantries and then I asked him who I might speak to in the local armed forces if I suspected a threat was coming. I explained about the dreams, asked if there had been any unseasonable snowstorms recently and even showed him the sketches I had made. The mention of snow out of season got Brother Holn’s notice. An odd look crossed his face and he said that there had been an unusual cold front come down out of the mountains to the north the last few days, but no snow. I told him that I was fairly certain there would be a great deal of snow soon enough. Holn seemed to give my request some credence and said he would see what he could do about getting me an audience with one of the Colonels of the Gate Guard on the morrow. I tore the pages from my sketch book upon which I had made the drawings from my dreams and left them with Holn in hopes that someone in command might possibly recognize what area of the mountains my poor scribblings depicted. I suppose that is as much as I can do unless I want to try to scale the Wall and search hither and yon for somebody in command. We shall see what happens on the morrow.

There is further observation upon Emah’s key in our care. After being carried upon Nia’s person all this day, the key has gained a decorative twining of tiny delicate rose vines. The silver filigree and moonstone are still present as is the original knotwork decorations. In furtherance of our experiment Illandria is now carrying the key box. Again I am intrigued and interested to see if there will be further developments. But now my bed calls to me. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

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Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-3rd Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---It seems we have come to the right place at the right time. We awoke this morning to a solid three inches of snow upon the ground and no sign of the snowfall letting up anytime soon. There was no repeat of the dreams last eve which led me to conclude that they must have been tied to the nights of the full moon. Already in my prayers but again in writing I thank you my Lady Selune’ for sending this warning to your humble and attentive servant. I only hope we can make use of the warning in time.

Those of us who were awake set out immediately from the Purple Carriage to my Lady’s shrine. Some of our number had reveled rather late into the night and still wished to remain in her bed for a time. Ah, the joy of raucous pleasures. I cannot fault her over much. Upon our arrival at the shrine we found good priest Holn only recently risen from his bed and somewhat consternated as the evidence of the veracity of our dreams continued to gather around our feet. Unfortunately he had not had time to send any word to the Guard commanders about my enquiry last eve. He said he would do so immediately and felt that the unseasonable snowfall would lend weight to the request. We returned to the Inn to wait.

Some time between the first and second bell past highsun an acolyte from my Lady’s shrine came to the Inn and escorted us to one of the main towers of the Wall. As it turned out, our audience was with THE Commander of the Wall forces, Colonel Baldric, a Paladin of Ilmater. He had the pages from my sketch tablet and what I assumed was the letter of introduction from good priest Holn spread across his desk and he asked to hear about the dreams. Evidently snow coming well past the summer solstice lent some urgency to my report to Holn about the dreams. Colonel Baldric listened to the description of the trail we had seen stretching through the snow and made an observation. He said that from his experience he would estimate that it would take several thousand troops to pound flat such a trail through driven snowfall. So the sizeable mercenary force seems to have become a much larger force, indeed something of an army, and is therefore a significant threat to Bloodstone Pass.

After listening to the details of our dreams Colonel Baldric seemed convinced for certain. He asked that since we seemed dedicated to protecting his people might he request a service of us. We readily agreed. The Colonel said that word of this invading force must be carried to the commanders in the town of Bloodstone deeper within the valley pass as soon as possible. We said that we would leave as soon as possible. Colonel Baldric penned some message to the commanders in Bloodstone and placed it within a weatherproof scroll tube. My drawings and some other papers were also sealed within the scroll tube which he then placed within a courier’s satchel and thereafter closed the satchel with his wax seal.

We left immediately with the satchel. Nia used her special abilities to race ahead of us to the Purple Carriage to speed the stable boys to ready our horses. By the time the rest of us arrived, slowed by me and my ever cumbersome but oh so appreciated and beautiful armor, our belongings were packed and our horses were ready to go. We departed the Damaran Gate town at our best speed.

The snow kept falling the entire day as we rode. We pushed our horses as fast we could without doing them any hurt. Unfortunately the snow hindered our speed greatly. If we had left first thing in the morning on a clear day we might have reached Bloodstone village before sundown. As it stands, we estimated that we had traveled perhaps half the distance when night began to fall. We had intended to push on as long as possible before making camp but that decision was taken from our hands by a pair of rather rude winter wolves.

They came upon us from both sides of the roadway. We had been riding single file with Aedron at the head of our line so that his great dray of a horse could push through the accumulating snow to make it easier for the rest of the horses to pass. Several of us spotted the first wolf just ahead of us and to our left. My first thought was that is was simply a warg, which is of course dangerous enough, and began to think of where the rest of its pack might be. No pack this but only a pair and it was when the second wolf attacked the rear of our column with its terrible freezing breath that we knew it was winter wolves that set upon us.

Aedron and I had our hands full with the wolf that set upon us from the front while the rest of our comrades dealt with the one that attacked our rear flank. I was focused on our fight but still I heard the thrum of bowstrings and the calling of spell incantations. I have noticed that Nia’s psionic attacks do not always make noise nor do they always require spoken incantation. Still, I do believe I heard her at least once saying to the beast that she would kill it with her brain.

We were sore pressed by the evil curs and even mighty Aedron was taken aground during the battle. I mean no braggadocio when I say that the big fellow would have been dead if not for the healing abilities granted me by our Lady of Silver. It is cold hard fact that Aedron was sorely wounded and no sooner had my healing magics closed his wounds when he was struck again by a terrible blow. I am certain those new wounds would have killed my large friend if not for the return of his health at my hands. Luckily the fight was over soon after that. All except Illandria and her horse had been wounded in one way or another, bearing bite wounds or frozen flesh. I used every spell at my disposal to return us to health, including the horses. After all, we cannot expect the poor creatures to carry us through this blizzard if they are not in good condition.

We decided this was as good a time as any to make camp and moved off the road to find a sheltered spot. Aedron and Illandria took the carcasses of the wolves some distance in the opposite direction across the roadway. They skinned the winter wolves of their admittedly handsome pelts and buried the remains so as to hopefully not attract scavengers. We have dug in and put the tents together to consolidate our heat. There is a great deal of snow on the ground and I wonder as to how long it will take us to dig out in the morning. Our travel tomorrow will no doubt be at least as slow as it was today; most likely slower.

And of further note, we took a look at the house key that had been in Illandria’s holding for the day. This time there was no apparent change and she simply replaced it within its box and handed it back to me. I would think that being a ranger of the wilderness perhaps Illandria is not terribly interested in the happening related to a house of brick and mortar. Ah well, we will hopefully arrive within the town of Bloodstone upon the morrow. Perhaps we may have time to investigate the house before the blizzard army invades or possibly after they have been defeated. And now I must to my bed as the time for my watch will come soon enough. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

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