21
Apr

Mauril’s Journal, Entry 7

   Posted by: Mauril   in Campaign Logs, Fantasy, Pathfinder, RPG

After my time with Den in Doomsbridge had come to a close, I returned to the nation of Spaartha.  I had some business in the libraries at Salynndra.  My friends had been summoned to the city on other business and they tell me that they had something of an experience there.  I have arrived now in Eregant, and ancient island city with a history both rich and dark.  The city seems to suit me quite well.  Before I chartered my ship to this island, I had spent some time with the druids in Mastillan.

Prince Edelbrock, one of my frequent traveling companions, had asked us to return to his homeland with him so that he might deal with his father.  The people of Mastillan revere nature rather than the gods and it seems that having a son who is a Chosen of Mishya was somehow an shame for King Tharbrek.  Even an embarrassing son, it seems, will be called home in a time of dire need.  There was great trouble within the king’s borders and he wanted his son home to deal with it.

Our companions assembled east in the nation of Hold Dane where we picked up two new companions, a barbaric warrior and a paladin of Cheleria.  They, along with our normal troupe, continued westward to the city of Sark.  En route we are ambushed by a band of minotaur.  They seemed to be waiting for us and had hidden themselves in a herd of aurochs.  The battle was as protracted as I have seen with this group.  This was not because of any failing on my part or any of my companions, but due to the sheer number of the beasts.

When the last monster fell, we patched ourselves up and soldiered onward.  We arrived at our destination for the night and decided to purchase rooms at the inn.  While it was after dark, we decided that we should have a nicely cooked meal on real plates with a decent wine.  The rangers may know well how to catch and dress game, but their skills as cooks leaves much to be desired.  As we sat and waited for our food, two young footpads approached.  Foolhardy, they tried to lift the purses of two of my companions.

It had been a long day and I was in no mood to any more drama.  As the inn was inside the hollow of a great tree and we were well within druid territory, I thought it appropriate to bring the tree to life and simply hold everyone in place.  One of the two cutpurses was held fast but the other managed to escape into the cellar.  He was soon rooted out and the purses returned.  He also had on him an item of great worth: a ring which can turn its wearer invisible.  Rath excised it from him as punishment.  He also, in an effort to re-educate the wayward lads, took them to a priest to have them atoned.

The next day we set out for and arrived at the capitol city of Gilifar.  We were met by the king and portions of the druid council.  The offered us hospitality - at least to those who would declare their heritage.  This is a common custom in Mastillan, but one that I find very invasive.  Not one to speak falsely but not being willing to reveal my secret, I remained silent.  They rest of my companions, however, chose to introduce themselves properly.  It was then vaguely explained to us the problem facing the king.  I do not believe the explanation went how King Tharbrek expected.

In Mastillan there is a secret mine, guarded by a secret sect of druids.  Its location is known but to a few.  In this mine are incredible veins of adamantine, the mining of which is strictly regulated.  Metal, however, is not all that this mine contains, it seems.  Recently, fiendish creatures and bands of minotaur have been assaulting out of the cavern entrance and it had to be sealed.  The king wished us to investigate for him.  This, however, is when contention began.  They wanted us to go and clear the mine for them but they would not trust us to know where the mine was actually located.  This greatly upset Rath and Alder.  After many cross words, we finally agreed to the king’s restrictions and prepared to enter the cave on the next day.

We were teleported to the entrance of the cavern where we were met by a trio of druids, one of them a firbolg.  She removed the great stone blocking the mouth of the cave complex and a rope was lowered to the cavern floor.  Against my own protests, I was convinced to not simply fly down but to reserve my magical energies and climb the rope.  I was predictably and unceremoniously dumped onto the pile of rubble beneath the entrance when my grip gave out.  The group stifled their laughter, less for my benefit and more to keep any nearby creatures who might intend us harm from being given more warning than necessary of our arrival.

It didn’t take long until we found just such creatures.  A pack of minotaur were patrolling near the entrance but were somehow unaware of our presence.  Using his recently gained invisibility ring, Rath snuck up on the group while the rest of us hung back.  When the time seemed right, we launched our attack.  However, the situation we thought to our advantage turned out to be a trap.  As two of our member rushed across a thin natural bridge over a swift moving subterranean river, one of the beasts activated a device which dropped the bridge with my two friends in the icy water.  The pack of beasts quickly split to flank our bewildered party.

Knowing that I stood no chance against these massive, axe-wielding monsters, I quickly took to the air and offered my support from over the center of the cavern pool.  Having lost our tactical advantage, the minotaur were beginning to harry my companions.  The tense battle raged for what seemed like hours though I know it to have been less than minutes.  Our group was able to triumph in the end, but not without taking several brutal wounds.  Trapped in the cave now, we began our search for somewhere that would be a defensible place to rest.

We were able to find a small alcove in the cave, with only two small entrances.  It would be many hours before Athelas could perform his rituals to regain his blessings from Athor, his god.  In the mean time, Rath and Miach, two of the King’s Rangers from Aruthien, scouted the immediate vicinity.  I had found enough to spark my interest right there in our alcove.  The walls had been covered in ancient carvings.  The language was some hybrid of the Dark Tongue of so many of the vile residents of this world and Arcane Naduumian, the language of the ancient vile peoples of this world.  I already knew that this cave would hold no good news but this brought a true sense of foreboding to me.

We spent the night (if such a distinction can be made in this sunless world) in an extradimensional space provided by the wizardess Holly.  In the morning, with much caution, we ventured deeper into the cavern system.  It was not long until the natural rock of the cave began to turn into worked stone.  I had read myths of an ancient civilization lost in this area before the current peoples had settled here.  It seem that those legends contained at least a thread of truth.  We had stumbled onto an underground city the seemed more than abandoned.  It seemed picked clean.

Immediately on our guard, we progressed forward into the narrow and labyrinthine ruined city.  We cautiously peered around every corner before continuing, expecting something to jump out at us.  Our fears were soon confirmed.  The ancient city’s walls were pocked with small holes, about the size of a child’s head.  Inside each one was something much more sinister than a child.  The former residents of this city had not truly left so much as they had devolved.  What were once brilliant architects and engineers were now savage morlocks waiting in ambush for their next meal.  A small group attacked us as we entered the town square.  They were quickly dispatched.  Knowing that there would be more of them, Holly devised a plan to lure them out.

She conjured an illusion of a cat and sent it walking down the street we had to follow next.  Every starving morlock burst forth from their holes along the ruined street trying futilely to capture the illusory feline.  Holly them smote them all with a searing bolt of lightning.  The warriors mopped up the few survivors as they tried to flee for their lives.  I felt pity for the creatures.  Hunger and darkness had driven them mad, not evil.  But in the world that I keep being drawn into, it seems to be kill or be killed.  Morality and compassion seem to have little place.  Even our priest of Athor, a deity of pure goodness and light, takes no qualm in bringing these creatures low.

The city was well suited for its morlock inhabitants but was less so for us surface dwellers.  It took us some time to navigate our way through the crumbling streets.  Our previous actions seemed to have warned off any further ambushes.  Leaving the city lead us to the mine proper.  We had come upon an old elevator and the remnants of the mining camps.  Rotted wood and rusted tools were not all we found though.  Ominous noises from the shaft greeted us too.  Again we prepared ourselves for battle.

Up from the elevator shaft crawled two huge minotaur, larger than any I had yet seen.  Prepared, the steel of my companions tore into their thick hides.  Not a moment after the initial clash, a fell beast flew up out of the abyss below.  It seems that whatever was afoul in these mines had to deal with the infernal.  A minotaur, corrupted by the lower planes,  took flight in the lofty cavern.  His bruisers on the ground kept us busy while he harried us from the sky.  He slung his foul magicks at us and I did my best to counter him.  Bringing his guards low, we were able to wound him enough to force him into a retreat.  I knew then that this would not be the last we’d see of him.

We ventured further down into the mine.  I had learned from my previous attempts at manually scaling rock faces and chose to ensure my safety with a little magic.  The mine shaft brought us into an even more magnificent cavern than the ones before.  The ceiling was carpeted with a luminous fungus that gave the whole chamber an otherwordly blue-green glow.  The cavern was also lined with raised platforms where some unknown agriculturalist was raising mushrooms and mosses.  While I stood in wonder at the glory of the vault, our more pragmatic ranger scouted ahead.

He returned when he had encountered something that he could not identify.  As soon as I stopped looking and began to listen, my blood turned.  I heard the maddening cackle of a gibbering beast.  I had read tales of spelunkers happening upon these quivering masses and being driven insane by them.  Knowing that I preferred to retain my full faculties - though I wonder about some of my companions - and that our mission was crucial enough to warrant their mental safety, I encouraged my companions to make haste and leave the chamber before the aberrant beast was upon us.

We fled into an elevated room and, due to its use and its markings, we knew it near our final destination.  Peering over the ledge with rimmed the access to the lower level, we saw several figures but more ominously we saw a nearly completed gate.  To which plane this gate lead, I am uncertain but I would stake my soul that it was not to the realms of the generous gods.  Our archer began picking away at the stone with his adamantium tipped arrows, gouging out days of their nefarious progress.  This, predictably, incited them and we steeled ourselves once more for combat.

Fire burst forth from the opening, burning all who were nearby.  Moments later another.  All who had missiles returned fire and then drew swords as beasts began lumbering from the darkness.  A half dozen minotaur  emerged and combat was quickly engaged.  Three of the lot had been tainted by the infernal contact and took to the air on great leathery wings.  With great effort and only through working in concert we were able to bring down each of the fiends.  Brutally wounded, we knew that the war was not over.  We had not but a moment to catch our breath when a dark robed bronze elf rose up out of the gap in the floor.

Whoever he was, he was powerful.  None of us could resist his spells, nor could we penetrate his.  Though I hold very little stock in it, I do believe that it was luck the victory that dark day.  One of Miach’s arrows struck home and sent the wizard plummeting a dozen fathoms to the stone below.  We held for some time, unsure of what else was lurking, waiting for us to drop our guard.

When enough time had passed, Rath, Braden and I descended into the lowest cavern to remove all the work these monstrous beasts had wrought.  The rogue Braden also helped himself to several ingots of adamantine ore.  With things cleared and returned to as normal as a morlock-infested minotaur den can be, we returned to the surface to inform the druid council of the situation beneath their feet.

When we surfaced, we were greeted by Edelbrock and a firbolg druid who escorted us back to the palace.  Obviously the Favored of Mishya had settled things with the worshipers of Seiba’s hand.  Tharbrek and his council were grateful for our assistance and seem to take take grave our warning.  Their borders would not long be safe.  The cavern dwellers were in league with the bronze elves and with Manath.  It would not be long before the emperor made another move.

The king rewarded each of us with a nation’s worth in refined adamantium and offered each of us honorary positions int he Mastillan military.  Fully half of our members accepted the mark of the auroch.  I was among those who declined.  I am not a military man and I do not believe I will ever become used to the bloodshed that is so commonplace to the others.

From Mastillan we each parted and went our separate ways.  I remained with the druids for a few more days.  I had learned that the druids had the ability to open the eyes and minds of animals, giving them the wits of any humanoid.  I have had with me, ever since that fateful day in Mercan, a raven.  The bird was not magically compelled to me or in any way magically attached like a familiar is to an arcanist.  I had named him Crebain and taught him my mother’s tongue.  He had been such a good friend to me, filling my dark and sullen life with a modicum of joy.

I meant to give him a gift.  A selfish gift, I’ll admit, but a gift nonetheless.  I asked one of the druids to teach me how to awaken my friend and , after several days, I was finally successful.  Crebain explains that his mind was suddenly unclouded and he was able to understand and connect things like never before.  The way that I understand it is almost as if a great sobriety had come over him, a sobriety that had always existed in him that he was only now able to access.

I have not been in Eregant but a day and my avian friend is pestering me to take him to the libraries.  On the voyage over, I was able to teach him the basics of several of my most commonly used languages.  As we had exhausted the written resources I carried with me, he wants to go and practice with new material.  I am nearly as eager to explore their archives.  The excitement and freshness of my companion has renewed my vigor.  I envision great things for my time here and for Crebain’s future.

-M.E.

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