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.
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…