Abridged History of the 10th Age

26th hording
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??? Furrow?
"...and when the blood was cleared from our steel we had only to journey into their camp to find the stolen treasures of the dwarven crypt..."

From the Journals of Patrius atte Loitre, late of Summerdown in the Blackwood Forrest…

Being the continuance of Part One…

Into the depths we crept, further down, and then up through the strange and cold corridors of dwarven make. Guided by the undying light of the lantern Aldous found in a previous chamber, we made our way into a room perched high on the mountainside, with notched windows like one would find in a castle; but hewn directly from the living rock.

A strange chill betook us then, a cold and unnatural wind: and before my eyes a sight unlike any before took hold.

Out of thin air appeared the visage of two elders of the dwarves. They were kingly beings, rendered in light and shadow as if flesh and blood- but their steps made no sound, their voices carried no warmth, and they were of no substance at all.

At first terror struck us all still- no one moved, and we minced words, as the specters spouted off in strange and foreign sounding tongues. For a moment, they came at us, making perhaps to inflict some strange and mysterious curse…

...but quickly, Ingrid, Askelor and I started picking out pieces of Orthr. I suppose that dwarves from such long ago ages must have spoken with tongues not unlike today, but still quite different. AT any rate, both parties soon adjusted themselves until a natural dialogue could be had.

It was as I thought- they were kings of dwarves, long dead, set upon this place to protect or hold vigil over it’s precious relics. They knew of the intrusion that had sent us here, and also of our honest intentions- it was with their blessing that we made camp in that airy room, and they told us of a mechanical device that could disarm the traps that awaited us in the depths of the crypt.

The next morning we headed back to town, restocked our supplies, and prayed. Without waste, we made for the crypt’s devilish bowels, and the journey was a terrifying one at that!

Specters and winds, strange prints. We came upon screams, and horrible wormish things that had skin like leather. Before we knew it, we were in a terse battle betwixt them and the vicious wolves that prowled the cavernous basement.

But our might prevailed, and we sook out the source of the screaming…

...it seems the grave-robbers that defiled this place were even more heartless than we could have imagined- they left their comrade to be eaten by those worm-like thing we battled with in the adjoining room. He was a horrible sight-they had chewed away his face and left it a gaping gruesome wound. But our magic was strong, and revived him, though I dare say he is a horrible sight at any rate.

Acting as our guide, the revengeful wizard Theylon led us to the camp of his co-conspirators, and we waged a quick and decisive fight: in a few moments Askelor and I had slain their leader and Aldous was wrestling with an armored foe. But Theylon’s clever deception and a well placed spell had drawn them out confused and unawares- we made quick work of them all, and when the blood was cleared from our steel we had only to journey into their camp to find the stolen treasures of the dwarven crypt.

I wish I could say that we returned to Bracstone Height with some little fanfare and excitement- after all, we had lost a keen and honorable ally in Rowan. But when the four remaining members of Sword &Sorcery returned, sweating, with that precious cart of riches and relics, we found the town seemingly deserted…

...a quiet, disturbing stillness has wrought the once bustling atmosphere of Bracstone Height to a halt.

Could we be returning riches to a town of ghosts?

I for one has seen enough specters this week. Let us hope things are not as they seem…

Patrius atte Loitre, Unknown, X501

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??? Furrow?
"...As we marched towards the looming ribbon that is Bracstone, I went with no unrest or unease, and yet no warmth and joy either."

From the Journals of Patrius atte Loitre, late of Summerdown in the Blackwood Forrest…

It has been too many days since my last log- I fear we’ve all lost track of time. It is, perhaps, the 20th Furrow, but it could be some days more than that- the last week has been a strange, tumbling journey. All I know- besides fatigue and discomfort- is that something is amiss in the town of Bracstone Height.

We arrived in town a few days ago, with spirits somehow both wary and high. The chance stroke of fate had found the party of Sword and Sorcery- Rowan, our joyous little halfling; Ingrid, the fierce dwarf; Aldous, the inscrutable one; Askelor, the noble elf; and myself- traveling companions with a wave of dwarves headed back to Bracstone Height. The night before, I’d had a chance to speak with a leader of gnomes, and changes in opinion had found the dwarves agreeing tentatively to joining a unified fight for the Vales.

It seemed on that morning that some progress had been made in this funny idea Aldous, Rowan and I had been nibbling at- which was, of course, quite simple: fight as one to repel the violent Dorlish invasion and cruel Weylic reprisals and strong-arming. Naturally by now this concept had taken root in our hearts and seemed as logical and natural as up-and-down; but the many peoples and races of the Vales even one town and the next! had not all seen our particular light.

As we marched towards the looming ribbon that is Bracstone, I went with no unrest or unease, and yet no warmth and joy either.

Arriving days later, we found no solace or peace- the dwarves were on high alert, as their sacred crypt had been assailed and robbed. While the leaders of her militia forces railed and argued, we toured the town of Bracstone Height and made fast our cart and wares. Clothes were ordered, food was had, and a moments passing found us neither laboring, fighting, or marching. Such a gift!

Soon the issue became clear- someone had to enter the crypt (full of infernal traps), assess the situation (of which we had no idea), seek out the intruders (if they remain), make fast work of them (if they can be felled), and retrieve the stolen holy items (if they can be found). Needless to say, there’s also a giant lurking in the crypt’s bowels.

And might I add that I do not appreciate the idea of a dwarven crypt! The dwarves are a respectable and noble race, certainly the equal of man or elf- but the thought of some dank stone tomb…it sits in the stomach like bad meat. All I’ve known is tree and wood- the few larger cities of the Blackwood were choked and full enough: But a crypt; a cold rocky hole filled with the deadly magic of ancient dwarves? Give me a bear with a taste for blood Vaela, it can’t be worse than this!

Sword and Sorcery, always willing to help, offered to venture into the crypt, and while I do not relish the idea of it, I cannot disagree with the choice. After all, if we are to cultivate real partnership with the dwarves, we must prove our willingness to join forces for honest goals.

After a short rest, we set out to the crypt’s mouth, and made our way down into the depths…

I was less aghast than I thought I would be. “By the hands of a dwarf” indeed; the cut and fit of the place, it’s size- truly amazing. For a moment, I dare say we were all awed by it…

Almost immediately, the party began to suffer. We were not prepared or equipped, and the strangeness of the place turned me all around- I could make out strange tracks in the aged dust, but I know nothing of disarming arcane traps! First we were all terribly burned by a statue that spit hot rivulets of flame. Mercifully we escaped that room, and a second, without further suffering. But then, as we explored deeper…

Rowan. It caught her unawares, I think. The cruel genius of the dwarven traps was swift- in a moment, she was cast from this plane, reduced to mere…ash.

Rowan, who had been at our sides when a town revolted, when we’d come face-to-face with death at the hands of elven rangers, horrid creatures, and crooked Bluecloaks- reduced to mere ash.

Unnecessary.

Deeper we trod, into the strange heights, bored deep into mountain rock. By now, we had devised a methodology to avoid traps, but still we decided to split up and cover more ground. It was then that Askelor, Ingrid, and I ran into the terrifying golems we had heard about in town.

Those who have never faced a stone golem- those who have not felt the sweat trickle down their temple, as the sound of their allies’ blades clanging and bouncing harmlessly fills the room, as a plodding, murderous statue scrapes and grinds towards you patiently, methodically, interminably- those of you who have not experienced this can sleep a bit more soundly, I wager.

Part Two coming soon…

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14th-17th Furrow

On the road again. Well, sort of. There’s no real road to speak of in the wood we’re meaning to push through. Which is why we’re on horseback. We’ll be slow enough in reaching The Bracstone Height, and that’s without my old, slow – but reliable! – mule slowing us down. I much’d rather my sturdy old steed than this one here, but I suppose sacrifices have got to be made, don’t they. I imagine Thistle’ll be well taken care of in my absence. That’s some good at least! There’s a bit of confusion here about where we’re going exactly. Not one of us really knows where to find these elves Symen sent us to locate. Patrius suggests we chop down a tree. I really hope he’s kidding. Symen did mention that a batch of men were hacked up good and dead for doing just that. Aldous just seems impatient about this more than anything. Eventually we seem to settle on traversing the Teralian road for a while up until we’re about halfway to Ketelstun. From there we’ll just deviate from the road and cut through the Smalwood. We have made camp out by the road, but the very next morning, here we are, up and at it once again. Our progress, as we thought it’d be, is sluggish off the road.

It’s around noontide that something interrupts our outing. Growling. Distressed growling. None of us take our chances, though, and we’re readying our weapons, half expecting some manner of gnarly beast to charge us. What comes barreling out of the undergrowth catches me by surprise. To be fair, the creature is a beast. And it is gnarly. But it’s a bear. Not quite what we were expecting. By the look of it, there are two of them. Save the first is horrific. The thing’s sopping in blood, completely covered in arrows! It’s immediately clear to me that we’re to help this animal. Patrius is on the same page as me, I think, because he soon is meaning to feed the bear. Aldous, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be too concerned – which is occuring to me as his usual regard for anyone or anything excluding himself. As the bear feeds, I take this chance to relieve it of the arrows stippled on its pelt. In turn, Patrius keeps the animal calm enough for me to accomplish this. We make a decent enough team with our combined efforts.

I don’t at first notice Aldous slipping away in the direction of the bears’ entrance, but after Patrius calls for him, Aldous summons us. He claims to have found the hunter. That was quick! Joining him, we discover a gruesome sight. The grove is battered and spattered with blood. And there’s a rather mangled looking person on the ground in the midst of it all, her throat and face mutilated. Gross. The sight is enough to make my stomach reel! Patrius says there are four others, and that apparently they retreated in the direction we’re heading. Lucky for us! As Patrius goes about robbing this corpse – looting, what have you, the rest of us resign ourselves to simply leveling disapproving looks on him. Nonetheless, we decide to continue on with our journey. Naturally, we should return to our horses to find that the pair of bears we’d just gone out of our way to tend are going out of theirs to continue being tended to. Just what we need! They’ve nicked a good deal of our rations, but I imagine we returned before any real damage could have been done – to our staples and our mounts alike. Leaving the bears to their final parting gift, we resume our trek to Bracstone.

For the second time during the course of our trip, around sundown, we’re startled with noisy clamoring. Save this one is not comprised of any injured bear howls. These sounds are that of combat! What in the world have we wandered into this time. As we assume a position that allows for us to take in an adequate view of the activity, we can see that this brawl is between elves and humans. And what a bloody affair this is!

These surely are the elves we were meant to find. But I wish we could have encountered them on more agreeable terms.

As he is wont to do, the bullheaded Patrius is the first to charge into this battle. Without asking questions, he plows into the nearest human he can find. I am at a loss for words! At once he is stuck with arrows. He really had this coming to him. As we have chosen our side in this fight that hardly concerns us, Aldous and I too engage these men in combat. I sure do hope they are bandits or something because we really don’t know who or what we’re meddling with. The fight wages. Aldous manages to hilt a throwing dagger into the throat of some poor wretch. And, as a reward to Patrius’ attempt at rescuing the stranded elf caught between the men and the origin of the arrow onslaught, the elf attempts to deal him a blow from his scimitar – only to lose his weapon to Patrius’ horse. Once this happens, the elf doesn’t have a chance. The human men rush him and chop him down like one of the trees his kind or so bent on protecting.

In just a few more moments, things begin winding down. The volley of arrows find home in the remaining men. All fall except one. And this one takes my sickle to the thigh, before being skewered in the throat by an arrow. Even though the men are all dispatched, the arrows still seem to keep coming. Apparently, we are seen as the foe here. Fantastic. Three eleven archers finally reveal themselves to us, and, as they mistake us for poachers, we narrowly avoid the same fate as these humans they’d just slaughtered. A combined effort on our part, we manage to talk down the elves – to convince them, at least, that we’re not their enemy and that we have come to relay unto them a message. They agree to take us to their leader. Their Warden. Their… elf king, I take it? They don’t trust us still – so says the arrows they keep fixed on us, but they haven’t killed us just yet. This ia good! Our message must be of some consequence to them.

After a short trip, we reach a valley, marked by a large, decorated beech tree. The thing must be important to them, and while I wouldn’t mind a chance to properly examine the tree, we’re not exactly honored guests here. There’s a small elf fellow, dressed in robes fashioned from leaves, knelt at the base of the tree we’re being escorted to. Praying, I reckon. Unless he just likes speaking to trees. Which wouldn’t surprise me. From what I have observed of these radically nature-nurturing people, it seems perfectly within the realm of normalcy for them to openly interact with wildlife. He and our chaperons partake in a small exchange, and then the old bearded fellow is both examining and addressing us. Somehow he can tell that we helped the bears. Creepy, yes, but so long as he knows we’re on his side! Nonetheless, we get to carrying out our orders from Symen. Or rather, attempting to. After a job of fruitlessly trying to convince the old elf to consent to aiding the effort against the Weylic, he finally seems to relent a bit. We manage to get him to agree to let us prove ourselves to him. He tells us of three other poachers that are giving him and his elves some problems. We agree to deal with them to when their favor. Though I do suggest a different route to handling the men – one that doesn’t include killing them, the Warden and Patrius both seem intent on same final outcome. Finally, I agree to it.

It’s just three men, after all. And if we can get the elves to side with Woodsedge at the cost of three of its villager’s lives, then it’s a price well paid. In the end. I think Symen would understand. Maybe.

In any event, we are to stay the night with an elf named Jocari and go about this feat tomorrow morning. Before bed, Aldous and Patrius both trade their looted daggers for some analgesics. They are convinced analgesics are the most humane way to deal with the poachers, and I agree. Once the trading’s all said and done, we all tuck in for the night inside of the cramped, noisy tent only to wake the next morning to find that a storm’s passed. As we discuss the task at hand, Jocari forbids us to take our horses, and kindly informs us what consequence an attempt at fleeing would bring us. Lovely. At any rate, he deals with the elf called Alvomin as we get our things together. All of us our are uneasy about having to kill these men. But it does seem that we are going to go through with it. Not that there are any other options. None immediately available to us, anyway.

The trip is relatively swift and efficient, thanks to Jocari’s knowledge of the land, and eventually we reach the edge of the Smalwood. At least, I assume we do, because Jocari halts us and points us at some drilled trees. So much anger over a few trees. The elf is against all of us going inside their home without him – he suspects we will betray him. Which, to be honest, considering how on the fence about this we all are… might easily be the case if he leaves us to our own devices.

Even if, really, he IS just one elf. There’s three of us… Well. I suppose, once again, we’ve got to look at the bigger picture! Earn the elves’ trust, and we’re in with them. It is decided, anyway, that it’ll be Aldous that does the deed – that poisons the men. He leaves.

The wait seems long. But in actuality, it can’t have been more than fifteen or twenty minutes. When Aldous returns, he brings news that the hunters are not dead – just sluggish and thoroughly intoxicated. Now it’s Patrius who wants to have a go at soloing the woodsmen. Alright then. If he desires to be their executioners, by all means. Sure enough, we drag behind him anyway to keep an eye on him. The drunk men are sat at the table, there, doing drunk men things. When one of them sets his eyes on Jocari, he springs up – surprisingly agile for a poisoned man! – and begins hurtling at us. Patrius attempts to deal him one but the glassy-eyed man is too quick. Patrius continues on to the next one and takes care of him. Things start getting heated up. Jocari avoids a blow as the woodsman engages him, so I take the opportunity to try and shield-bash the man. And what a failed attempt that ends up being. He pushes me back without too much effort and I stumble. The last two men are swiftly delt their deaths. Jocari seems confused why the men were little affected by the poison – and I am, too, really. Aldous, though, seems to think the analgesic was just slow to work. Ah, well. It’s done now.

Jocari takes Patrius and me back to the dell. For us, our work with the elves isn’t finished. Though obviously we cannot say the same for Aldous. Aldous opted to brave the way back to the Teralian road for whatever reason. Risky thing to do! But I hope he gets there okay on his own regardless. When we return to the Warden, things don’t exactly go the way we had planned. It turns out, that even after all of this, he has no real intention of allying with the Vales. If nothing else, Patrius manages to convince the old elf to lend us some of his men. The Warden grudgingly offers ten of them. And even then, he refuses to send them to Woodsedge. Hey says he will send his small troop north to Redhorne. Though honestly. What good will ten do when the place is entirely under seige. But help is help, I suppose… Even if it hardly excuses us from our crime. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we have been cheated. We killed the poachers, for yes, for ‘the bigger picture’. But, contrary to the petty crimes the elves convict them of, the woodsmen were innocent. Really, what sort of bigger picture can there possibly be when all our efforts were done in vain? Now we don’t have anything to justify our actions. It was murder, through and through. Cold-blooded murder.

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18th Furrow
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It is now the 18th of Furrow

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17th Furrow
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