Never Again

Grond walks into the The Safe Place, tears staining his face and blood matting his hair.
Grond: “Never again, Oi tell yah, never again will Oi let another o me friends die. This Oi swear to gods and demons, the living and the dead!”
Grond walks out of The Safe Place.

Oslo's Journal, 23rd day of Ice

It was all so… incredibly textbook. I still don’t know what went wrong. Replaying it now in my head, I still can’t tell. I drew my dagger and stepped before the party so that our ally could heal. From there things… should have been easy. The human stands back up, the dwarf gets back in front. We dispatch them together and then we all share a drink.

Instead, in such a short time, I see Grond chase after that cursed, cowardly goblin of his. I should have recognized that as our only saving grace running off, but at the time it was strictly combat. Such little time could be paid to Grond anyway, such was the butchering of Atbur. Just as I’ve got my eyes full of orcs the bloody human grows and starts to move. There was nothing I could do against all of the orcs, all in unison – I had hardly raised my dagger to defend when already Atbur was slain.

Imagine that. In one moment I’m stepping to defend an ally, and with the very next step he’s already fallen. I’m ashamed to say that I’m less concerned with his death than I am the fact that it could have just as easily been me. After all, the play was flawless. Everything was done right and still he was killed, and not just that – it happened instantly. In one, veritable instant. If that can happen on a perfect play, I shudder to imagine a play that’s gone horribly awry.

Say, for instance, a halfling and an elf up against three orcs, with one ally dead and the other one traipsing through daisies. By all rights those orcs should have killed me, but instead I’m scratching personal notes to a backdrop of rowdy drunks and overpriced honey mead. I owe it all to that elf Varnel, and I’d be a liar if I said otherwise. He got me out of there alive, and I’m in his debt. Then again, I know he’s just as indebted to me.

He said that he needed some time and so I bought him some. It wasn’t bold and it wasn’t brave, it just happened. I held out my dagger and stood in their way. That battle I sidestepped and parried more than I had any right to. I fought tooth and nail and I gave no quarter – but how much time did he need? It was all I could do to avoid one more blow, to buy just one more second of time. After a couple of volleys I wasn’t sure how much more time I could give him.

I was really starting to get nervous when the wizard finally came through. The sound of his bowstring was lost in combat, but the tremendous crack his arrow made was music to my ears. I hardly had time to realize one of the orcs was dead before the elf loosed another arrow. A standard shot made the most phenomenally powerful, dense impact I’ve ever heard, and it felled the second orc instantly. I still disbelieve the strength of that spell, and I’m ashamed that I originally doubted the elf’s abilities. A mistake I will not be making again.

It’s a shame that the last of them turned tail and ran. Sitting here now I remember a few more curse words that I could have thrown after it – fat lot of good that does me. It’s just as well. We did have our friend to take care of. Poor Varnel, he was more shaken up about Atbur than I was. He wanted to make damn sure those blades of his got back to his family. And you know, I hope that they do find their way back. It’s a nice touch, I think.

Entry for 21st of Ice
Blitz's Journal 21st of Ice.

It is the 21st of Ice, and I have just gotten back to the inn. When I first arrived in Sanctuary, I was not expecting to end up in this kind of situation. I arrived in Sanctuary this morning, hoping to stop at the inn, maybe make a potion or two over the next couple days and watch for a group heading to the dungeon. I’d then be able to joining them, even if I’d have to bribe them with potions.

Instead what happened was I got to The Safe Place (interesting name for an inn. I’m still getting used to not living in Ravenspire, but that was detailed earlier and needs not a retelling.) and instantly ran into a noble sort pleading with a rough looking lot (Like most nobles, he seemed to be hoping that money could solve some sort of problem. Problem is, noble problems are usually not the money solving type.) The dwarf of the lot saw me walk in and instantly walked over to greet me. Grond (Not sure of last name. If he was back in Ravenspire I’d say he doesn’t have one, but apparently outside of the nest not having a last name is uncommon.) introduced themself and the rest of the group, who are as listed.

(Grond, stocky dwarf, wears a nice clunky suit of armor and seems to wield divine power.) (Tiberius, shaky looking elf, also seems to wield divine power.) (I’d have to either take some time to study or ask them, but I believe both Grond and Tiberius are what you’d call Oracles, wielders of divine magic but with a terrible curse. Unsure of what those curses may be, but both Grond and Tiberius are a bit special… more listed below.) (Oslo, halfling sneak. I’ve seen a lot of thieves in the nest, but Oslo seems to be a cut above them. Decent at hiding, so much so I didn’t see him when entering the inn, which if I can’t see him, I won’t see them if they come for me either, need to work on that. Good shot with a bow, decent with daggers.)

So I asked if they were going to the dungeonscape and if I could come along, and much to my delight (at the time) they said I could. They led me out of town, where Grond revealed he had a skeleton chained up. He then unchained it and had it come with us into the dungeon. (He can control the undead? As long as he isn’t like the flies back in Ravenspire, I’ll be fine. Need to make sure he isn’t a fly himself though.) They showed me this underwater temple they were hired to go into. (Probably by the noble, he seemed relived that they mentioned they were going today.)

They checked rooms that they had almost definitely been in before (sign of a good team, not letting a room go unchecked just because they had checked it earlier.) Early on we fought some creepy things. Not quite sure what they were, besides humanoid swimmers. They paralyzed Grond, but Grond’s skeleton and the rest of the group managed to start taking them out, which was even easier when Grond could move again. We then headed on, moving from room to room. We did find some money and other items. (The group really shined here in my mind as a group that was worth adventuring with, every time we found something that a person would want, they would take it for their share of the loot, rather than just taking it and still demanding a cut of the money.) We found an interesting creature as well, that threatened us off, and then when I went to talk to him, asked me to get him some black dragon to eat. He even said that there was some up the stairs. I got out of there as soon as possible saying I would go look for it. We also found a mirror that could show us rooms in the dungeon that we knew about. (Useful for us now, but what if an enemy used it while we were there. Also, what purpose would it have been used for in the temple? I suspect I won’t find out.)

So we headed up the stairs, Oslo taking the lead quietly and I moved behind as quietly as I could. (Reminded me of the mansion. I need to get back into practice of quiet steps.) However, our being quiet did not matter as Grond and Tiberius were joking while heading up the stairs. (Tiberius talked of his aunt, and then talked as his aunt. Either good impressions, crazy, or both.) Oslo opened the door, and saw what I later learned are called Duergar, or dark Dwarfs. A whole bunch of them in fact. He shot that bow faster that I thought possible, and joking time was over for the group. I managed to throw one of my bombs into a good chunk of them, not hitting any directly, but still seemed to do quite a bit. (Need to remember, the splash on multiple targets might prove more effective than the direct hit on one.) The Duergar then turned invisible. We tried to strike out at where they were, but instead the skeleton swung at air, Grond ran into a wall at full speed, and I walked straight into one, almost getting hit while doing so. And the one I ran into had somehow made himself huge. Scary situation, but a liberal use of bombs, skeleton, and pure luck managed us through that fight. Oslo had snuck off sometime during. I don’t blame him, it was getting pretty nasty there.

After the fight, as I was resting, I realized that Grond had touched Tiberius with negative energy during the fight, which Tiberius seemed to be healed by. Grond instantly tried to cover it up by saying he was hurting Tiberius, but I think that was a joke. (Dwarf humor again. Didn’t get in the nest, don’t get it here.) I wonder if Tiberius’s curse has something to do with being undead. After we had decided what to do with the loot from the dwarfs, we decided to keep going, at least for a little bit, to see what we could find. And… well, we found a dragon. Scales as black as the cloaks of the ravens, and a breath deadlier. When I opened the door, it seemed huge, but when my eyes adjusted I realized it was about the size of a big orc. Still, it made a terrifying presence, and yet, we decided to not run, but to fight. I could not seem to hit the thing with my bombs, due to it’s constant flailing. Grond seemed as unlucky with his swings, and his eagles did not seem to work that well either. Tiberius helped with spell and spear, but hitting was not in anyones bag of tricks there, and dealing actual damage was rarer. It’s breath was terrifying, it’s claws and teeth seemed to lunge out from anywhere it wanted. And yet we’re alive. I’m told it was from Tiberius managing to scare it with a spell, (which Grond had done at the start of the fight, so maybe not a lie.) I got healed back up onto my fight by Grond and Tiberius, and we grabbed the dragons hoard and ran. I made more today than I could have made in a year working for the Ravens, much less the people that would actually hire me to for crafting of potions and poisons.

My potions are brewing, and the days still cycle. Exile is not death, but a new life. I’m going to be sleeping in a bed tonight, which is better than I’d thought I’d do for myself. Sanctuary seems good for a man of my talents, and work will be plentiful. But for now, I will immerse myself in the crafting of potions, poisons, and bombs. I actually found out a new type of bomb, at least I think. It will depend on if it works when I can actually make it volatile, but when I added an herb I hadn’t tried before to a vial with Akursand in it, it started almost icing the vial. If I can make it explode, that should mean my bombs can inflict a chill on my enemies. I’ve also figured out a way to apply poison to my daggers without exposing myself to it. I haven’t tried it with actual poison yet, but my success rate with the oil was 100% which is a great sign.

I read a poster in the tavern about asking for donations for a guild hall. I might donate to that, after I pay my expenses and pay for some materials, but for now I’m just going to brew my potions.

A DRAGON! Oi swear!

Grond: “Yah Heard me, wars a DRAGON Oi tell yeh.”
Heckler from the Crowd : " Better back up, Grond throws up after he lies. "
Laughs from the patrons
Grond: “Am Oi throwin up now? Oi did no think so! Twas a dragon alright, dis here is dragon blood on my ax! BLoo’y thing ran away after we bloodied it near tah death, all o’ its true, Oi swear!”
Tavern Waitress: “Well, he aint drinkin, nor throwin up, I believe him… I think.”
Grond: “Oi be obliged tah yeh. Lemme remoind you sorry lot that Oi’ve fought Orks, Goblins, Direwolves, Bears, Zombies and Ghouls. A dragon ain’t much more dan an overgrown lizard wif a decent mind an’ an overblown ego. No offence tah any dragons in here, Har!”

Mercenarial Musings

I came to Sanctuary for the prospect of earning some coin. At least, that’s what I tell everyone—including myself. If I am honest with myself, it’s because I want to prove to everyone back home that I can be somebody; that who my parents are and what they did does not define me, But that isn’t important right now. I am here, and I’m here to make a profit doing the only thing I know how to do. I’ve been here less than a week and already made two forays into the dungeon. It’s surprising how many here are willing to risk themselves for a bit of coin. Fools. They haven’t seen real battle. They haven’t seen what bodies look like after being ripped apart by dragons, or heard the screams of men torn asunder by the undead. They will never understand how harsh the world is, and they will get themselves killed because of it. Just this last time one of them died—drank from some magic pool, and was dead within a minute. Then there were the others, naive and unprepared; they managed not to die this time, but soon they’re foolishness will get the better of them. It always does.
To be fair, there are a few who seem to know what they’re doing, but even they are misguided. The orc, who cleaved skeletons with a single swing of his sword—but has no sense of caution. I heard he fought a bear. Probably only survived through dumb luck; that won’t last forever.
I’ll only be here until I can go home and look people in the eye, not watch them duck their heads and pretend I don’t exist. Maybe then Iryn’s father will pay attention to me. I won’t go back before then.

Warm Mead

Oslo enters the lobby of The Safe Place having just dried the underwater temple off of him. Two brushes with death in one day was a little too much to ask. What he needed was some good mead. A mug of mead, a warm fire, and some warm company. He also needed rest, and plenty of it – but a man needs his priorities, and mead definitely came first.

A few coppers for a mug was a happy price to pay. The fire hosted more people than he’d have liked, so Oslo stayed at the counter. From there he watched the people and the happy chaos of conversation – it was a full night, even for the Haven. Oslo watched it all as he sipped on his mead. The halfling wasn’t feeling exactly somber, but he certainly wasn’t boisterous. Not tonight.

At least, not like Grond was.

If the sheer presence of the dwarf hadn’t drawn everyone’s attention, then his voice certainly did. The tavern damn near explodes as the patrons egg him on, and Oslo just smiles when he hears the dwarf’s recounting of their tale. Before long the dwarf claims a table, and Oslo takes another sip. Warm mead and warm company, right?

A few more coppers remain a happy price to pay, and the halfling invites himself to Grond’s table – mead in one hand and ale in the other. The two had broken bread over bloodshed, and that alone was camaraderie enough. Oslo takes a seat and slides the ale over, exchanging a cursory nod with the dwarf. Just as Oslo lifts his mug to his mouth he stops short, casting a curious glance at the dwarf’s fare. His eyes narrow, then he turns knowingly to the dwarf.

“What are you eating there, Grond? Or… do I even want to know?”

Grond does a good turn? Yah right!
  • Walks into The Safe Place dripping wet *
    Ello everyone, guess who was a GOOD dwarf today.
  • Nearly everyone in the tavern shouts " Not you! " *
    Har Har, well, Oi did me good turn for the day today. We was checkin out some rooins near da lake ( doesn’t not mention that it was IN the lake, and this isn’t a lie, as being In the lake, is Near it as well ) when we finds some Merfolk. O course, Oi used me normal sneaky ways, and managed to alert all of them to our presence. We had a goo’ ole’ tussle, and managed to knock out two o’ ’em, and got de last tah surrender.
  • Someone shouts out a challenge " Did yeh bash in its kneecaps too? Good turn indeed! " *
    Nah, not dis one, always was a sucker fo a pretty set o eyes. We let em go, shame one o’ them doied by electrical shock from a nearby trap. But we let dem other two go. Weren’t that a good turn?
    Grumbles from the taverns
    Har, got nothing tah say? betcha few adventurers let dah monsters go, eh?
  • Another shout " They do if’n they is female wif pretty eyes I betcha! "
    Har Har, ye got THAT roight
  • Grond sits down to a good, homemade meal, no one asks what he is eating *
Gronds Ale Binge and Story Telling

Aye, dat dere is Ork blood, dat is. Oi got dat blood froma stinkin arcane loike orky, castin all sortsa fire mischief. Oi, bartenda, nother round o the good stuff! Got some stuff tah forget…

  • A few minutes, and quite a few drinks later * Aye, Tiberius did na make it, good chap, faced his fears with a strong ’eart. Such a shame dat people loike him are dah ones who go, and dose loike me who neva stop running are dah ones who live on, yah no?

Yah, Oi guess we did save those goblins, think Oi’ll pay the tribe a visit and see how dey are doin.

Yar, we also did learn bout that cultist camp, definitely paying THEM a visit soon, gotta stop running someday, eh? Maybe some chaps’ll join me in getting rid o’ em? Aye, maybe some guard’s come help too, undead cultists not good fo business, yah no?

( Edited, it ended up being a lot of Gronds backstory, which isn’t the best thing to put in adventure logs. Instead I focused on a more conversation in an inn kind of adventure log )

The voices and me
Found on Tiberius' body, an old document...

If you are reading this, I have either met my demise or you are a nosy, sneaky pickpocket in which case I congratulate you for your craftiness; usually my own paranoia comes in handy with dealing with petty thieves who can sneak up on me to pinch something personal because I’m always expecting you. Regardless hopefully these words will ensure that someone will remember me regardless of my long term excursion away from civilization.

I grew up with a heavily inclusive group of people known as the Ercassë; or, The Thorn Bush. We lived in the woods of the same name and used the Thorn Bush as a symbol of our… unwillingness to allow the outside world into our own without at least a small bit of blood being drawn. Some could cross the Thorn bush safely, but only those contacted with one of our hunters or an older child given a brief lease to cross. The most prolific hunter in my childhood was my younger sister, Vanessiel. My family did not frown upon her bloodlust, and she brought us many a meal and any animal and beast that dared threaten her whilst hunting would find themselves suffering a terrible death. But unbeknownst to my family, our grand meals did not consist solely of wild game – but of man unfortunate enough to wander in Vanessiel’s traps. I do not know what she had against humans, nor do I understand her love to torture and to maim – ultimately the best way to describe Vanessiel was sadistic and insane and this was only the beginning of her sick nature.

You may wonder why I have spent so much time speaking of her in MY memoirs, but she changed my life entirely in multiple ways and mostly for the worse. As she continued to slaughter humans, she began to experiment on the parts she morbidly collected and attempting to raise the dead using skills she learned while in collusion with an undead beast and its vile horde. I fear the undead far more than anything currently in existence, and Vanessiel and this nameless beast are all to blame. The Beast and some of his minions demanded new bodies of stronger fortitude and greater intelligence, and Vanessiel was more than willing to sacrifice our family to the Beast. I had grown a strong belief in Pharasma, and I was protected by her from these terrible beings but no matter how well her charms benefited me there was nothing that could be done for the others, and so they began to change. Their flesh began to rot and tear as they lived and breathed, as the corrupted flesh of the Beast and his minions began to creep onto my families bones, creating unholy abominations that transcended life and death in ways that are simply indescribable. While I escaped this terrible fate, Vanessiel and the Beast created a blight that turned all living creatures in the Thorn Bush, and even the village to the South East of men, into undead beasts that possessed just enough living flesh to grow in power. I escaped the Thorn Bush, and tried to create a separate life. I became an adventurer and went on many adventures and found many victories and perilous journeys. But these would all come to an end, when I had to make a journey into the realm of the undead.

It began a normal enough quest, I was comfortable with the adventurers around me and swallowed my fear of the undead as we drank potions that would essentially render us undead for a period of time as we infiltrated one of their cities. When we entered this world, I felt a distressing familiarity – and realized that we were heading into what was once the thorn bush. I found our old home, and found it haunted by the spirits of what was once my family. Their flesh lived, but they were captive and held from passing on to another world. They begged me to take them with, to allow them to live in my memory and heart in a far more literal way than you would think. I agreed, and allowed them to become one with my own soul. I did not think of the drawbacks here, and they splintered my mind into many. They lived within me and would converse to those around me, and worse yet – they could even take control. This became a great burden during this adventure and by the end would become a damning curse that would plague me greatly and for the entirety of my life. For the final foe I fought was indeed my sister, Vanessiel. Part of the great undead flesh that consumed and transformed the land and a ruler alongside the Beast of what was now known as a city of the undead. She died by my blade, but as with my family her soul – as foul as it was – persisted and despite all attempts to reject it, she joined the stir of echoes in my mind.

I sometimes wonder if I merely went mad at seeing my family die, and that these “souls” are merely memories that have become their own personalities, but regardless of whether or not I truly have my families spirits collected within me or are merely recreating them through my splintered and twisted mind they are a part of me I can not escape and a part I have learned to fear. When they begin to show themselves to others, my presence becomes less welcome and many grew to fear me. But I was able to manage 3 years with Vanessiel being merely a nagging, violent voice and unlike the others, she never took control of me. Her rage could influence me in battle, but she could never control me for this 3 year period. But when she finally found a way to control me, my world and life crumbled to pieces.

It is not easy to admit to this, but I slaughtered and tortured four fellow adventurers. In length they suffered as I screamed, trying to reclaim my body but had to deal with my family all fighting to grasp what was no longer solely mine from Vanessiel, but her rage and psychosis was overpowering – and we were merely voices to her, projecting an even more mad and tyrannical beast upon those suffering at her hands as they heard many conflicting voices. Eventually the rage subsided, and Vanessiel droned away as I came to grips over my body once more. But I could not face civilization with what I had done, and so I traveled to the far, far east to the woods of Hanuel-Gi – uninhabitable to many due to the ferocious wildlife, but my connection and love for these beasts granted me entrance and I made myself a home as I entered a long lasting hermitage. My only company outside of the voices was a wolf I had tamed named Aleida. I used the healing skills I learned as a youth to keep her alive with me for well over 300 years, before age finally caught up with her. One hundred and 3 more years later I would get to my feet, and wander as far as I could – to the nearest city, for I finally found a way to quell the voices. I still heard them and spoke to them, but so long as I imbibed hearty spirits and slept only when necessary, they never took control. I found that they would take control only when I slept, and aware of this they frequently pushed to try and force me into sleep and it soon resulted in narcolepsy but often times I would rely on the adventurers I was once again meeting to wake me up just in time before they could do anything more than use my tongue as their own.

Otherwise, they learned their place and would sleep. I could even convince them to only talk to me in private during certain times, and I began adventuring once more. But fear and rage became an issue, because they stirred the voice of Vanessiel. I am thankful to say she is the least active of the voices within me, but when she awakens – even if she is not in control, I will lust greatly for blood. I have yet to take another innocent life, even under her influence, but I would become barbaric and cause fear in the others when she would appear – and so I often took diplomatic routes when possible and confided in my fellow adventurers to prevent provoking her.

I have enjoyed this new lease on life, and while my voices may still be an issue – I have met many new and worthy adventurers and have relived the greatest days of my life. Sadly, this may have all come to an end if you have found this journal. Only time will tell. I shall end this with a brief list and summation of my more common “voices”, for those who are curious. There are more, but these are the most likely you are to have met in your time with me. I am not including Vanessiel, solely because I feel I have spoke of her enough already.

Lathai, or “Little Boots.” – My younger brother. Childish, brash, unpredictable and impish. Not particularly cruel or violent, but impulsive, rude, and annoying.

Lótë – My Mother. The most learned of my voices, and the least likely to cause trouble outside of snarky remarks. Unlike the others, I may actually call upon Lótë to assist me in diplomacy or anything requiring great knowledge. We can share mind and tongue, and so many may have met Lótë and not even realized it unless I referenced her directly.

Nildë – A member of one of the Thorn Bush’s other sub-families, and someone I could call a far greater sister than the one I was stuck with. Nildë is charming and kind, but a bit impulsive and wild. She loves drink and the thrill of the moment, though I wish she cared more for my poor liver – whom she has been slowly killing over time because I myself can’t resist a good drink from time to time, and livers don’t particularly care for alcoholics living within alcoholics. Hah.

Hundondo – My father. The less said about him, the better. Especially in the presence of women; and to all women who have met him, I’m sorry.

Alcar – My aunt. She likes to slap things. Often to unconsciousness. Including myself.

Gronds First Foray

Goo’day, me names Grond, thought Oi’d talk bout me battle against yet another band of drooids! but first Oi need tah mention how Oi met this group o bloo’y great fighters. Oi was on me way for mah weekly drink binge, plannin’ on getting steamin drunk, and hope Oi don’ notice getting so green that drooids think Oi’m one o’ them. Anyways, Oi was goin’ down the main road, when Oi see the crowds part fo’ a big ol’ Ork bleedin’ fro’ nearly ev’ry part! now, Oi hate Orks loike any good dwarf does, but dis Ork would make a great test subject if he died, and if Oi saved ‘is loife, Oi moight get in some of the action this Ork clearly wars in, and passing up moi drink binge sounded moighty fine. Well, Oi got that Ork back on ’is feet in no time, ( shame, that ) and larned ’e wars part o’ a foray inta that crypty place! " What luck!" Oi thought, and Oi offered to ‘elp em on their next journay. When Oi larned they wars going to investeragate some nasty droid doin’s, Oi was just as happy as goin’ an explorin some crypts. Not much after that, just bashed some wolfies and drooids, kept dat Ork aloive through a direwolf AND a bear attack, he is one impressive Ork, can’t wait to get my hands on his corpse, not until after we have a good ole’ time bashin things togetha,. o course.


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