Friday, June 30, 2006

Dorben, Entry 16 ---9th Flamerule thru 12th Flamerule--- To fight enemies without and fear within

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-9th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---We continued with the restoration of Raz’s garden cavern today. It is now refilled with clean dirt and new plants have been started. Raz allowed me to continue with the sketches and again I am in his debt for the insights I feel that I will gain from this unique opportunity. I know of no other healer who has had the opportunity to see a cut away view of a living lung as it carries out its task. Nor a liver, or intestines, or any of the other fundaments of the body’s anatomy. Just fascinating.

The magic finished rebuilding Raz’s tissues by late in the afternoon. When all of his body was restored, Raz gathered up all the ectoplasm that had been covering his injuries and finally held a perfect sphere of ectoplasm in his hand. He explained that this was essentially his armor and it could do many things to assist him in his adventures. To demonstrate he had the sphere spread from his hand to his entire body and take on the form of full plate armor. It then shaped itself into weapons and even wings. Very interesting, I must say.

Aedron and Illandria returned form the Druid’s woods shortly passed highsun. We shall depart from Raz’s hospitality at first light on the morrow. I find this Raz an interesting fellow. The psionic abilities which he wields are so different from those which Nia wields. I would think this similar to the different specialties of arcane magic or the different domains of the divine. I am also interested in perhaps finding out how he received the injuries which his ectoplasmic armor had been preserving him from. As I said: an interesting fellow. Now, if only there were a decent set of stairs up this accursed mountain. Ah well, climbing keeps one healthy I suppose. I have had a good honest day of gardening labor and enjoyable sketching and interesting conversation. Now it is time to get some rest so as to return to the road of adventure on the morrow. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-10th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---A fruitful, eventful and harrowing day this was. Our trip down the mountain was much quicker than our ascent. The Druid’s wood came into view with little more than a quarter of the day passed. We entered the wood and were soon met by our guide; a small grey rabbit. Yes, a grey rabbit. It led us deeper into the woods to the glade where we found the Druid and our horses. The Druid said that one of his number will come to speak with our representatives soon.

We ran into a bit of trouble while leading out horses from the Druid’s forest. The first indication of something amiss was the sound of breaking wood somewhere ahead of our position. We secured our horses and moved forward, readied for combat. Another loud snap of wood, not as substantial as the first, sounded ahead of us before we spotted our soon to be adversary. The loud snap of wood was the report of a fully mature live tree being snapped off by a hill giant. The second snap was apparently the creature separating a decent sized bough from the body of the tree for use as a club. We attempted to approach stealthily, some of us more successfully than others. I believe I was one of the “others”. I called out to the giant when it spotted me, hoping to assist my more stealthy comrades in gaining better combat positions. The hill giant did not seem impressed with me. Nia drew its attention in the opposite direction. As the hill giant came at me with its fresh new club still weeping sap, Aedron sprang upon it. The fight was short and brutal. Projectiles flew, weapons swung and spells lanced out to sear the creature’s hide. Aedron was laid low by a terrible blow. A second strike from one of Meg’s spells drew the monster’s attention away from our fallen comrade so that I could approach and heal Aedron with less risk. Shortly thereafter, we were able to slay the giant.

The hill giant was searched for any treasure or even possible prisoners while Illandria and I tended to our wounded. Yes, I said prisoners. I do not think I am the only one who has heard tavern tales of some poor soul being found trussed up within a giant’s provision bag, being kept fresh for later. Gruesome to think of but some of them do eat people. We found no prisoners tied up in a bag but we did find a good deal of coin and other treasure. We also examined the snapped off tree trunk and applied some healing magic. I am hopeful that a new sapling may grow from that broken trunk. Aedron severed the hill giant’s head and secured it in a sack. When I inquired why, he said that he was planning to offer the head as a sort of peace offering to the General’s bodyguard. We spread the burden of the loot among all our horses and continued on our way. We were soon out of the Druid’s wood and back on the overland road.

We gained the gates of Bloodstone by later in the evening. The gate guards recognized us as we approached, Nia more specifically, and we gained entrance with little delay. We returned to the Silver Stallion to rest and divvy the treasure. I penned a note and sent it by messenger to the General to inform him of our return and that we bring good news. We took the precaution of cleaning up a bit just in case the General summons us some time during the night. I have taken enough time to update my journal and the General has yet to send any word. I think our night may well pass quietly. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

*

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-11th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---Today was a day of strange complications, revelations and further questions, although not all necessarily in that order. Firstly we took care of turning some of the recovered treasure into more portable coinage. The local bankers shall most likely not want for copper pieces again for some time to come. We used a portion of the party treasury to purchase pearl dust and Meg has volunteered to work Identify spells for us. She can only cast so many in a day so it will be some time before we are done.

A note from the General arrived shortly after highsun although most of us didn’t know about that for another hour or so. The message was delivered to Nia and rather than informing those of us upstairs, she decided to run out to retrieve Aedron from his warrior studies first. Do not ask me why; I do not pretend to fathom the workings of the female mind, let alone Nia’s.

Nia rode out to Kord’s place outside the city walls and evidently entered to find Aedron in the middle of the floor, panicked and exhausted. Putting it together from word we picked up later, this is how I understand what happened. Kord has been recalled to military service and since he was unable to continue his lessons with Aedron, he made arrangements for a new teacher. Unfortunately, that teacher is actually a ghost of some sort, by the name of Faergrim. Aedron’s fear of incorporeal spirits overcame all judgment and he absolutely panicked. Evidently, by the time Nia arrived Aedron had been fighting or sparring with this Faergrim for perhaps three hours. Faergrim never drained Aedron however. His exhaustion was from his heart trip hammering far beyond its normal speed for several hours without pause. I feel sorry for our big friend. He endured much. The same ordeal might have easily killed a horse.

Nia used one of her mind powers to make Aedron amenable enough to bring him back to the inn and she brought me into the mix. I recognized the symptoms of blind panic and exhaustion and we got Aedron situated in my room with a bottle of something strong to settle his nerves. First, Nia informed me of the message from the General to explain why she had gone looking to retrieve Aedron. Then she introduced me to Faergrim by first making me promise not to use the gifts of my Lady to Turn him. I did so promise and Nia tossed into the air a hat which she had taken from her belt. The hat was caught by a spectral gentleman in plate armor. He then placed the hat upon his head and became fully solid. He informed us that he cannot leave Aedron. He may not pass on until he has trained a certain number of persons in the warrior arts. Since he has accepted Aedron as his student, he may not teach another until after Aedron has been trained. And so, if Aedron cannot overcome his blind fear then Faergrim will be doomed to haunt Aedron’s steps for the rest of his life.

With this knowledge in hand, I went in to tend my patient. Aedron was calmed a small amount but not by much. And my bottle of port had seen its last days. There was no fear of inebriation however. Even that nearly full bottle of good liquor was not nearly enough to make Aedron drunk. It was however just enough to settle his nerves a bit. I tried to counsel him so that he might marshal his fear and not be so blindly afraid of spirits. From what little I was able to get out of him, I believe this may be from teachings culturally ingrained for many years. He believes that “spirits” are completely beyond the weapons of mortals. That any enemy not fully physical is like unto a ghost and will simply return to stalk the living once again within days of being defeated. We did not have enough time for me to delve into this fully with my large friend and little progress was made in the time we had. I did however calm him enough that we might all attend the meeting requested by the General.

Once we arrived we were quickly taken to the General’s office and shown in by his Bodyguard. Aedron gave the Bodyguard the bagged hill giant head as we entered. He took a look inside and chuckled to himself. He seemed pleasantly surprised and gave Aedron something of an appraising look. That look seemed to say “this boy may have promise” or something of the like. Although the General looked perhaps a bit more dour than he had before he was appreciative that our parlay with the Druid had gone well. When he asked about what “errand” the druids had required for their service we informed him simply that we had cleared a taint from the land. We gave no name to the taint since we had promised Raz that we would keep his presence private knowledge.

The General informed us that more reports had come in from his scouts. They found the place where the blizzard army appeared. They reported that there is absolutely no passage or evidence of any kind of structure that might indicate a permanent portal of any kind. They found nothing but a blank mountain face with a massive number of tracks leading straight away from the sheer stone. I shudder to think of the power needed to manifest and maintain a gate of that size and duration. Also of note was that the scouts reports put the number of wagon tracks they found are far greater than would ever be needed for a force of this size. It is thought perhaps that they were moving siege equipment with them. The scouts followed the vast path of the blizzard army out of the mountains and found that the trail turned north as soon as they reached Vaasa. The General and his advisors believe that the force is headed for an old mine that has recently been reopened in the north of Vaasa. It sounded like this mine was perhaps an ancient dwarven fastness or some like. The General’s sources think the blizzard army is not the first to venture there. Reports that the mine is producing again have apparently drawn the attraction of many humanoid forces. Bloodstone’s army will remain on alert and “training” at the western wall town. The General thanked us for our efforts and dismissed us. As we were leaving, the Bodyguard called out to Aedron and flipped him a coin. This was no currency of the realm piece however. It was made of a black metal, perhaps adamantine, and bore a symbol which we thought might be the Bodyguard’s personal sigil. It would seem Aedron has earned some respect from this scary gentleman.

And so, we come to the end of the day. I spoke with Aedron some more but it seemed he needed rest more than counsel. I thought that a fine idea. It is said that too much fear can poison the blood enough to kill. I am simply tired and want my bed. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

*

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-12th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting

---Although adventure did not present itself this day we did track down some knowledge. Meg again cast her Identify spells early in the day for us. Some time after that we all went outside the city walls so that we might talk privately. We were still attempting to help Aedron with his dilemma in relation to Faergrim so we thought it wise to give him some space to run, away from innocents. Also, we did not wish all and sundry to know of our speaking with Faergrim. There are some “zealots” who would endeavor to lay him to permanent rest with no concern for his own requirements. I admit I am not totally comfortable with Faergrim’s presence but I am also open minded enough to hear him out.

We began our “tutorial” by advising Aedron that spectral beings can indeed be struck and defeated by weapons, albeit those weapons usually need to carry some sort of enchantment. We also advised him that there are some incorporeal entities which are helpful, such as the Ancestral Spirits which assist some tribes, especially amongst the Rashemi tribes. As well, in an attempt to calm his fears, I informed Aedron that I myself had dealt with the spirits of the dead from time to time in my duties as a cleric. This certainly seemed to perturb him somewhat. In fact, he poked rather hesitantly at me several times. It was as if he thought that somehow I should be less than substantial because I had spoken with incorporeal spirits before. I assured him that I was indeed flesh and bone. We also delved into an attempted explanation that the Unseen Servants at Zolven’s tower were simply invisible magical constructs, not spirits at all. However, that really was beside the point so we left that path of conversation.

It seemed that we had made some headway with Aedron and we asked him to trust us enough to bring Faergrim to us. He agreed. Thinking to make it a bit easier on Aedron, we had him close his eyes for the moment. Nia produced the hat and tossed it to Faergrim as he appeared. Although he flinched visibly, Aedron was able to keep control of himself when he first saw Faergrim solid, even knowing that he was indeed a spirit. Faergrim told Aedron that he had been Kord’s teacher many years ago. Aedron seemed greatly concerned that Faergrim had been able to take his axe away from him. Faergrim made it clear there was nothing out of the ordinary about that. Kord could have done the same, or at least tried, had he wished. And Faergrim also pointed out that on another day he might have failed in his attempt. Faergrim was no different than any other well trained opponent in that instance. He just happens to already be dead.

We pointed out the damage that was still showing even in Faergrim’s solid state. I had seen the wounds inflicted by Aedron’s axe more than often enough to be able to identify the marks. If Faergrim showed wounds from Aedron’s axe then obviously Aedron had been able to hit him. And therefore, it is possible for weapons to strike spirits. Aedron took the point but still did not seem totally convinced. Unless he was actively engaged in conversation or analyzing some factor of battle, Aedron flinched away from Faergrim’s every move. Even reminding Aedron that he had been having a conversation with Faergrim all this time without incident did not assuage his fears completely. I made sure to tell him we were not attempting to convince him that all ghosts should be seen as his friends. In fact, most disembodied spirits ARE rather hateful toward living creatures and should be seen as a threat. We were simply trying to help him deal with his problem so that he might eventually overcome his fear.

Meg thought of something and asked for time to cast her last Identify spell. She cast it upon Aedron’s axe and had an interesting revelation. Meg informed Aedron that he was the proud owner of a Soulbond weapon. Some of us had heard of such items, myself included. We told Aedron that there was one thing about soul bonded weapons that was a generally accepted fact amongst all those magic practitioners that know of them. It takes godly power to create such an item. So by definition, Meg said, his axe was not a mortal weapon. This did seem to hearten Aedron somewhat but he still did not seem convinced. We asked Aedron if he was ready to try talking to Faergrim without the hat and he rather hesitantly indicated that he would try. As soon as Faergrim removed the hat and appeared in his true spectral form, Aedron broke and fled. He just could not stop himself. It seems we have further work to do. Ah well, although I had hoped for the best I really did not think that we would overcome a lifetime of cultural teachings in the span of a few hours. But I do think Aedron made progress. We shall have to see. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.

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