“The Road to First Oak”
The Traveling Journals of Molliam Merryweather
[Where in a small band of Halflings are given a quest not of their choosing, vanquish a band of merciless kidnappers, brave the valley of Garmand, rescue a princess and expose an imposter in the court of Tramilar.]
June 15, 315
Three days ago, on the twelfth day of June, I was elected by secret ballot to undertake a journey from the town of my birth to a place some hundred leagues from here and yet then back again. According to the little information I have been given, it would seem that the Blessed Fountain of Littleton upon which our community is founded must, every fifty years, be re-consecrated with waters of it’s mother spring in the Glen of the First Oak near the borders of the Dragon Lands. This fact has been kept secret lo these many years by a mysterious order of elders calling themselves “the Blessed Fountain Secret Society” in order to prevent the enemies, rivals and trade competitors of the Littleton township from interference.
According to legend a descendant of Lord Gambino Longstrider, who originally founded Littleton (of whom I am such a descendant), must be chosen by random lot. This person must be “unnamed”, which is to say they must be a relatively unknown or common member of the community. Upon accepting the responsibility afforded them, they must journey north to the Glen of the First Oak bearing a container specifically constructed and consecrated for the purpose and return with a sampling of the mother spring there. Upon their return a certain ceremony is conducted in secret and the sample, assuming it was not contaminated, spilled or lost along the way, is united with the waters of Littleton Fountain and the continued blessings of the fountain are assured for another fifty years.
I have been given two companions each representing the two original temples of Littleton from the days of it‘s founding, as the legend insists I must. Both have been chosen by lot (as I was) and with similar restrictions and conditions. The first whom I was introduced to was Hamidoc Westwinder, who is called “Ham”, a fighting cleric of the Temple of Kord. The other is Griffon Downthistle, a young hunter and ranger representing the Temple of Ehlonna. With these two individuals as my personal guard I am to undertake my journey tomorrow at first light, proceeding on foot and bearing no more than I am comfortably able to carry.
Having completed my introduction to these journals as I was instructed and with all assurances that I will document all events and happenings of interest on my journeys, I will interject a personal note in closing:
I am most unhappy about all of this, would utterly reject the duties that have been forced upon me and consider myself to be the victim of the most base forms of threat and coercion. I have further decided that I will end each day’s documentation with a curse upon the elders of the secret society responsible for forcing this ill quest upon me.
For today, may the elders all bear a pox of sores on their nether regions that will endure from now until the day I return.
June 16, 315
My companions and I have left Littleton under cloak of secrecy and have been released from our bonds some twenty miles hence. We are assured that we will be fully exonerated of the false crimes that are even now being levied against us in town (to ensure our speedy departure) once we return with the waters of the mother spring. Further, we have been given the grand sum of twenty gold coins as well as supplies enough for two weeks of travel. With a hurried blessing our captors have departed and we are, at last, left to our own devices.
After a lengthy consultation, my companions have rejected my wise council to immediately abandon our quest and seek our fortunes in the nearby town of Abelton. Once the two men have checked and re-checked our gear to their satisfaction we are to set forth along the Ruck road to Himmel’s Trading Post. Our tentative plan is to take the Baxter road north from there in the general direction of Glandil plains and thus, one would eventually hope, to the Glen of the First Oak.
A pox of bleeding rectums on all members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society.
June 17, 315
We have broken camp, breakfasted and will shortly move east toward Himmel’s. I am sore and find that adventuring out of doors is not at all the life I envisioned it to be. As it stands, it is far worse and possessed of stinging and biting insects in numbers I was previously unable to imagine. I am miserable and desire nothing more than the end of the quest at the moment.
Further, travel rations are an absolute insult. I would refuse if not for fear of the eventual humiliation of being overcome by hunger and devouring them madly before the bemused eyes of my companions. Both of whom I have decided I do not at all care for. They are enjoying this tortured existence far too much for my sensibilities.
We have stopped for lunch and a short break. Earlier today we were accosted by a pack of wolves, but Griffon managed to convince them to seek sport elsewhere. I am unsure how he accomplished this but I have heard in the past that rangers have a particular affinity with things grown wild. Perhaps they saw in him a kindred spirit of wild malodorous-ness and have departed in a pall of mutual pity.
Also, I managed to rustle Ham’s money pouch earlier today. Little more than coppers, from what I can feel. Perhaps I’ll find Griffon’s pouch possessed of more worthy sport tomorrow. I will keep the twenty in gold afforded to us by the elders until my companions develop sense enough to know when their money pouches are being trifled with.
We have camped for the night. Griffon claims we can expect to reach Himmel’s Trading Post some time tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to sleeping in a bed and a hot bath and clean clothes. And food that someone other than Ham the Smelly has prepared. And steamed mushrooms. I have heard that Himmel serves steamed mushrooms at his inn for a reasonable price.
I am prepared to behave in a most difficult manner if I am not granted steamed mushrooms.
May all members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be mocked by eunuchs.
June 18, 315
We were accosted by human bandits today. Naturally my companions jumped upon them and embroiled us in a deadly brawl right there in the middle of the road. In the end we managed to best all three, though Griffon was dealt a most grievous blow to the neck in the end. The wound was so terrible that Ham was compelled to pray over him even in the midst of the battle. I was hard pressed to protect him and was unable to prevent one of the humans from getting around me. Nonetheless, Ham proved quite the stout fellow and tended to Griffon enough that he did not die, despite the distraction of being assaulted by a murderous ruffian. In the end, he still managed to slay two of the robbers while I, I am proud to say, put the other down myself with no more than a few scratches.
Griffon is still in and out of consciousness and Ham has determined that we will stay put here at camp until morning. Ham expects to be able to seek Kord’s blessing to heal us all fully then and, with luck, we will continue on as before to Himmel’s. Hopefully there is no ill will between Kord and Ehlonna these days. Or with Olidammara, now that I think of it.
On a more positive note, we were able to glean quite a wealth of salvage from the possessions of the slain robbers. Among these: three rather uncomfortably large and ill-tempered riding horses, some number of coin in excess of perhaps three hundred gold, three respectable gems and, praise Olidammara, a rather masterfully crafted set of lock picking tools. Naturally, I have claimed the tools and replaced my own meager set with these lovelies.
I also claimed the gems when no one was looking.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be as welcome in the feast halls of the afterlife as flatulence in a queen’s bedchambers.
June 19, 315
We have arrived at Himmel’s, supped most exquisitely on fine stew, fresh bread and steamed mushrooms, and retired to our respective rooms. I have found Himmel to be a most agreeable host and his ale is more than satisfactory. I will exercise for a short time (to work out the kinks, so to speak) then sneak out to scout the trading village a bit before retiring. I noted a number of odd things on the way in, which I have not yet decided whether to point out to my knee-jerk companions.
I have returned from scouting and noted still more disturbing things. Among these: most of the fields surrounding the village have not been tended in several days. I have seen no children at all since I arrived in the village and no one came out to greet or gawk at the new arrivals, as I would expect of simple villagers. Further, there are seven rather rowdy and unkempt humans crowded in one two room hovel near the inn who seem most out of place. No farmers, these fellows.
I will rouse my companions and relay my findings first thing in the morning. Surprises are best avoided, after all.
May all members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society lie bound and naked at the feet of menstruating ogres.
June 20, 315
I have relayed my suspicions to my companions and they have determined, to my complete lack of surprise, that we must investigate further. After interrogating poor Himmel in a rare moment of privacy we gather that a small band of bandits, fleeing from a death warrant in Abelton, have hold up here at Himmel’s. They intend to stay here until the return of their cohorts who have rode on to Littleton to sell their loot and secure traveling coin. At present they have gathered all the village children at sword point and are holding them hostage in the cellar beneath the house they now occupy in order to ensure cooperation from the villagers.
Griffon has pointed out the obvious in that the three bandits we encountered ere we arrived were most likely those same fellow robbers returning to their comrades.
My companions, despite my objections, have promised to intervene and I have been given the task of freeing the children without arousing the bandits. I will leave to scout the area around the house in question momentarily and we will formulate a plan of action for tonight.
While I see no hope of any respectable remuneration from this little enterprise, I must admit I am somewhat intrigued. Perhaps the life of violent adventure is more suited to my tastes than I thought. Still and all, I could do with more comfortable lodgings and fewer bugs.
Have scouted about and found that our bandits are not at all possessed of any intelligence or forethought. Indeed, the trapdoor to the cellar is located in the rear room of the house. The very room the men have decided not to gather in. Further, that same back room has a back door whose lock is pleasantly simple in design. Assuming human children can move with any grace exceeding that of stampeding cattle, I believe I can rescue them all without arousing the bandits from their ale and card games.
Having picked the lock on the rear door and the trapdoor (why would anyone go to the expense of installing a lock on a trapdoor within their own house? Odd humans) I proceeded into the cellar. I was unprepared for the reactions of the human children to myself, but was able to stifle their loud curiosity with some mild reproach. Having conveyed the absolute necessity for stealth, I ushered them up the ladder and out the back door. I must say I was most horrified at the lumbering thud and blunder of the children’s departure and expected a horde of bloodthirsty bandits to descend upon me at any moment. Thankfully, adult humans seem equally as oblivious to noise as human children are adept at producing it.
Having secured the children at the inn under Himmel’s adequate supervision, we have relocated to the armory two houses down from the bandits to prepare our assault. Bearing forth on seven armed and armored humans is simply out of the question, so we have determined we must take them in moderation, as it were.
Digging into my rather meager sorcery skills I was able to conjure up the phantom noise of several humans cavorting from within the armory. The din was quite loud and persistent, but I almost gave up hope that it would attract the bandit’s attention before three of them exited the house. Looking most disgruntled, they proceeding to stomp toward the armory where we waited in ambush. The shock of storming into the dark armory and not finding any immediately perceptible source of the din was enough for us to seize the element of surprise and lay into them.
Not to sound immodest, but we seemed evenly matched with the gigantic humans at the outset. The tide very quickly turned in our favor when Ham executed a most astonishing maneuver, slicing through the belly of one bandit and directly into the flank of the other. That, coupled with Griffin’s own strong blow to the gullet, felled those two and we were left only with my own opponent. Having sunk two magic missiles into the giant human already, he fell quickly before the three of us. In the end I suffered a rather troublesome wound to the left arm, but Ham was able to whisk it away before the heat of battle made way for it’s sting.
We were again triumphant against far larger foes and were fairly jubilant about it. However, I noticed through the open window that the other four bandits had left the house and were looking in the direction of the armory. Before I could react, one of them issued orders to the others and they all reentered the house. When it had occurred to me that they had gone to take the children hostage I informed the others and we left the armory under cover of darkness, headed for the bandits.
Before we had gone many steps, the bandits surprised us all by flying from the house toward the inn, where we had secured the children! We were too far away to hope to intercept them and we found that they had already taken hostage Himmel and the children yet again by the time we arrived at the door.
Griffon is currently engaged in negotiations with the band of ruffians.
Griffon has managed to convince the bandits to let go the children, but they have kept Himmel hostage. They have insisted on being provided the riding horses we took from their comrades and safe escape from the village in exchange for his release. Griffon has agreed and they have departed the village without further incident.
Having concluded this minor adventure to everyone’s meager satisfaction, we have departed to our inn rooms for much needed rest. Himmel has agreed to forestall any visitations by villagers until we have had adequate time to sleep, eat and wash.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be pursued into the desert by cannibalistic kobolds.
June 21, 315
We have decided to spend the day here at Himmel’s in rest and depart at noon tomorrow. I will utilize the time to exercise and work on my sorcery a bit. It seems to have proven every bit as useful as I had hoped. Perhaps being born to the ways of magic is indeed not the curse I had assumed.
Puttering about Himmel’s stock room this morning I have discovered a number of interesting items scattered here and there that seem adequate as components in summoning my familiar. I have traded two of the gems in my possession for the majority of these items (having pilfered the others already) and intend to set about calling to my familiar this day and tonight. With any luck I will be able to rest a bit before we depart tomorrow noon.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be trampled by herds of incontinent elephants.
June 22, 315
I have succeeded in calling my familiar! He is a beautiful specimen of weasel, possessed of unusual cunning and with the most adorable, mischievous eyes. I have named him Perry and am positively smitten!
The poor thing is dreadfully fatigued with his long journey to me and has already bedded down beneath the right shoulder of my cloak to nap. I will accompany him in slumber until noon, when I will introduce him to my doubtlessly envious companions.
In my joy, I pronounce that the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be free of curses this fine day.
We have camped on the Baxter road. My companions were indeed suitably impressed with my wonderful Perry and showered him with praise when he displayed his unique talents. My pride is somewhat tempered however as Griffon has found an animal friend of his own on the road today. He has acquainted himself with a lone wolf and it has decided to accompany him. Griffon has name him Two-socks, as his forepaws are both strikingly white against the his grey coat. He is taller than our ranger by at least two inches.
Perry and Two-socks seem to get along well enough, though my familiar is obviously the more intelligent of the two. Really, I must insist tomorrow that Griffon wash the beast if it is to bed down with us at camp.
June 23, 315
We have bypassed the edge of the Glandril plains and entered the valley of Garmand (“wolf valley“, if my translation of the bastardized elvish is correct). We have camped for the evening with our new noble companion, of whom I suppose I must relate our acquaintance.
Early this morning, a mere two miles into the valley, I overheard the unmistakable sound of crying coming from the broken ruins of an old stone watch tower just two hundred or so feet from the trail. I nearly did not relate this to my companions, but relented when I noticed that Two-socks seemed to have heard it as well.
Ham and Griffon immediately set off to investigate of course. We found that the remains of the towers were composed of perhaps two levels yet intact, with the remainder scattered as rubble about the base. The door to the place seemed to be in relatively good condition, if a bit worn, so we knocked upon it and inquired if there may be someone in need of aid. The voice within immediately cried out for help, claiming to be held captive inside. My over-eager companions charged through the door straightaway and we found ourselves confronted with a human woman trapped within a large iron cage. She identified herself as Princess Ariella of Tramilar, a small kingdom the borders of which I find noted on our map just to the north and east of the valley.
Despite her naiveté and rather aloof manners, my companions chose to effect her release from the cage. Naturally, it fell upon me to do so, but before I was able to make use of my fancy new lock picking tools Two-socks began barking and snarling at the air above us.
Apparently a large enough portion of the floor above had collapsed long ago that the griffon lairing there (can you stomach the irony?) was able to peer down upon us unawares. Once it had caught the wolf’s attention, however, it immediately sprung down among us and lit into Ham with both it’s tremendous paws. In the end poor Ham was nearly torn asunder and Griffon was scratched up a good bit as well, but we managed to bring the beast down with some measure of difficulty. Indeed, I utterly exhausted the most powerful spells in my magical repertoire doing so, though I was able to verify the superior effectiveness of my new “mage armor” spell when the beast took a swipe at me.
Having patched ourselves up a bit, I returned to the task of freeing the noble lady from her confinement. When she remarked that there was likely a key about someplace because, “the goblins use it all the time to bring me food and change the chamber pot and such” it seemed our difficulties were not yet over. Indeed, we were quickly introduced to the goblins in question when she exclaimed, “Ah! There they are right there!”
Luckily, the small band of goblins in the doorway were a bit stunned to see the griffon laying dead on the floor and we were able to spring upon them before they could properly react. They were relatively easy to vanquish, and we even slew our last two on the fly as it were. Nonetheless, in the thick of battle Griffon (our Griffon) was pierced in the neck yet again and required further ministrations by Ham.
Having at last discovered the key to the cage and released the lady within, we (meaning my two over-eager companions) allowed ourselves to be convinced to accompany the poor damsel to her castle with promises of “some measure of reward or other”. We exited the broken tower in time to meet a rather ill-tempered half-orc on horseback who was just riding up. The lady, Ariella, instantly (and with some amount of squealing) identified him as her original kidnapper and we were quickly set upon. Again, Ham proved himself a most capable warrior, managing to bring the half-orc down with two solid strikes of his great sword before he could so much as scratch any of us. Which is fortunate considering the bloody state of my fighting companions after our last two battles.
So it is that the Princess Ariella has joined our company for a short time and she resides with us now at our camp. Naturally, she finds the accommodations lacking in comfort, to my wicked delight, and seems full of complaints. Strangely, it brings to mind my own earlier objections to our quest and it’s inherent lack of creature comforts. I find I have changed somewhat in recent days and wonder if something about this journey hasn’t awoken the nomadic Halfling blood in my veins. I find I am quite eager for new experiences and possessed of a taste for even greater victories.
Indeed, I am quite amused at myself. That Molliam Merryweather, bastard daughter of the dreaded thief Hannigan Merryweather, might find herself becoming a bold adventurer after a mere week of outdoor camping, a few deadly battles and a steady diet of stale biscuits.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be cursed with a gradual whither of their respective grapes nevertheless.
June 24, 315
This morning, as we continued on through the valley toward Tramilar, our trail gradually became a proper road of sorts. Before long we came to a point where the road was bordered by two long piles of stone and rubble. Having long since taken up the habit of walking point for our company, I was lucky enough to spot two goblins at this juncture in the road ahead. One was wearing what appeared to be a horn of copper about it’s neck and it seemed clear that they stood lookout for some larger group of goblins unseen nearby.
Having cautioned the company to take cover, and glaring our noble guest into silence, I proceeded to sneak up as close as I dared to the two watchers. The nearer I got, the more obvious it became that neither was making any real effort at watching the road. Or indeed anything else in particular. I decided that taking down these two goblins might be the best course of action, not to mention one that would likely score me some greater measure of respect from my two warrior companions.
Eager then for battle, I drew my blade and proceeded to aim as mighty a blow as I was able to the kidney of the horn-bearing goblin. To my horror, my blow went askew and struck the nasty creature’s belt, accomplishing nothing more than to draw a surprised curse from the goblin. Recovering quickly I struck again with greater accuracy and felled the evil thing near instantly. I whirled to face the other just as it recovered from it’s surprise and drew it’s own blade. Luck was with me then and I was able to strike a most devastating blow, bringing it low as well.
Flush with my own rough display of warrior’s prowess I eagerly waved my companions forward and displayed with pride my victory. They were naturally most impressed and, after a respectable round of congratulations, we proceeded on. Once again marching on point, I discovered the rocky partitions of the road ended at the terminus of a sharp bend in the path only a few hundred feet onward. At which point it seemed two more goblin guards had posted themselves. Perhaps a bit over-confident from my amazing accomplishments with the previous two goblins, I crept forward yet again to try my skills on these two as well.
Once again I was able to approach within a yard of so of the two without being discovered. Choosing my first target carefully I attempted another crippling strike and was rewarded by the grunt and collapse of the first of the two goblins. However, it seemed his companion was far more quick witted than those previous and I found myself locked in battle before I expected it. It was here that my over-confidence betrayed me, as this fellow seemed either more skilled or possessed of far greater luck than the other three. I managed to finish him with some difficulty but found myself quite badly wounded before it was done.
Just as I was about to wave my companions forth and beg healing of my stinging wounds from Ham, I noticed at last what lie beyond the two fallen goblins and the stony walls of the road. An entire goblin village. The residents of which had just begun to take notice of me. Turning quickly, I waved my companions forward as urgently as I was able, given my battered condition. Finally, when they did not move as quickly as I intended, I resorted to fairly shouting out for them to hurry.
They reached me quickly enough then and, upon spying the village, drew the same conclusion that I had. We immediately set forth past the edge of the place and fled as swiftly as we could down the path beyond, just as the alarm was fully raised behind us. In the ensuing mad dash for distance I managed to spy, past the squealing princess behind me, a rather impressive horde of goblins racing after us down the path.
Thankfully they were already some distance behind and we were soon able to elude them.
As evening approached we were lucky enough to come upon the dwelling of a druid named Kesryk. Having been granted food and lodging for the night, we have bedded down to rest. Ham has healed my wounds and admonished me for “seeking all the glory” on our little quest. Kesryk seems somewhat familiar with our princess and the two spoke for some time. He has also warned us of a mad ranger further down the path who guards a bridge, that being the only method of safely crossing the river for some many miles.
As an interesting side note, the druid Kesryk has made friends with a large brown bear who resides here at his cottage most days. I took a great deal of pleasure in Ariella’s terrified scream when she first made acquaintance with it. Two-socks also didn’t seem to get along well with the bear at all and, after a bit of mutual circling and snuffling, the bear has decided that the wolf will be bedding down elsewhere tonight.
On the other hand, the bear apparently thinks quite highly of Perry, my familiar. As does Ariella, whose squeals of delight when she was first introduced to him moments ago I found most irritating. Nonetheless, I have allowed Perry to enjoy her attentions and seek treats for tricks while I make my journals for tonight.
On that note, I will close and rescue my poor Perry from the princess’s flatteries.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society all beget squealing princesses.
June 25, 315
We have journeyed onward, drawing close to Tramilar, and have encountered the supposedly mad ranger. Indeed, we found him astride a narrow bridge spanning the river and were immediately accosted to pay toll for the privilege of crossing. When we refused, the man promptly demanded a dual with our champion.
Naturally, Ham bounded forward with drawn blade, but the ranger exclaimed in astonishment that he intended a less lethal form of spar, gesturing toward a small pile of hewn quarter staves nearby. When Griffon realized the man’s intentions were more friendly than threatening, he eagerly accepted the challenge and took up a stave to face him.
After a humorously short battle, our ranger was promptly knocked off his feet and fell from the bridge into the river below. Fortunately, at the human ranger’s yelled suggestion, he was able to snag one of several branches extending low over the river and pull himself out of the river and onto the other side. With much humor and backslapping camaraderie from our freshly met ranger, we gathered together across the bridge and ended up at lunch together. The ranger was finally willing to properly introduce himself to us as “Merle“.
Naturally he and Griffon got along famously and had great fun in regaling one another with their respective adventures and swapping their favorite aspects of this or that natural wonder. Meanwhile, Ham and I did our best to consume as much of Merle’s considerable stockpile of sweet tea and apple cakes as we were able. I allowed Perry to scamper about a bit as well and he seemed to enjoy himself immensely.
When the princess was at last formally introduced to our human companion he seemed simultaneously possessed of great amusement that three Halflings had rescued the fair noble and greatly concerned at her identity. Apparently the mad ranger had taken to hiding within the Garmand valley when he was falsely accused many years ago of some terrible crime by the now deceased king of Tramilar, the good princess’s father.
He was somewhat comforted of his distress when Ariella assured him that she had never heard of him at all before today and, given his charity and generosity with the lady, she further promised him that she would “look into things with him” when she returned home. On that note, the ranger took his leave of us, granting us a small supply of apple cakes for the road. Further, before departing, he offered warnings concerning the Stone Ridge which would soon encounter and the disturbing amount of orcish traffic he had noted around it recently. Bidding us safe travels he disappeared at last into the woods.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be flung into great steaming heaps of goblin dung .
June 26, 315
It is evening and we have camped within the entrance of the barrow of “Arrolt”, whoever that is.
On arriving in the Stone Ridge early this morning we discovered that the “ridge” was in fact a rather befuddling series of ridges and canyons that soon left us nearly bereft of direction. In time Griffon was able to determine a mode of passage which he hoped would lead us out of the cursed labyrinth before the end of the month.
Instead it led us into the path of a rather large and formidable band of orcs, from whom we promptly fled. Naturally the princess seems incapable of fleeing quietly and insisted on announcing our intentions to flee with piercing screams of terror. She thoughtfully apprised our pursuers of our current direction of travel periodically with still more squeals of fright until we threatened to gag her if she did not desist.
Shortly, with a horde of orcs on our heels, we found ourselves confronted with two rather nasty looking trolls wandering in from the opposite direction. Caught between these two equally unacceptable options we were prepared to be trampled upon when Ham spotted the entrance to the barrow just ahead of the trolls. With a great deal of luck we were able to gain the entrance just ahead of the two lumbering hulks and prepared to make our stand just inside the doorway of the place.
To our surprise the two groups of humanoids outside did not charge in upon us as we expected, but merely milled about outside casting the odd insult in upon us. Griffon, despite our urging not to taunt them, loudly dared the orcs to come in and face their doom. Apparently, our ranger has a particular dislike for orcs. Fortunately their dislike of him was not enough to prompt them to stream forward into the barrow and kill us all.
As time went on and it became apparent that the orcs and trolls outside would neither disperse nor come in and massacre us, we decided we had better have a look about the place. Ham sent me forward to check on the room we currently occupied and I managed to find the only other exit as well as a rather well concealed trap of some kind or other. I managed to disable the trap triggers imbedded in several different stones in the floor and pronounced the room safe. I also discovered some elvish runes carved here and there that identified this barrow as the resting place of someone name “Arrolt“.
We have, in the end, decided we will camp here for the night and see if the nasties outside are willing to wait until daylight for a crack at us.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society be tossed drunk into the dens of hyperactive lions.
June 27, 315
It is morning and it seems the orcs and trolls outside have set up camp. We have had breakfast, such as it is, washed and repacked all our gear. Still, it seems, they linger. How long they intend to wait us out is unclear, but we are agreed that we have been held up for far too long already. We have decided to explore the barrow first and seek an alternate exit, if any. Barring that I expect we’ll simply make a run for it and hope to catch the beasts off guard.
After leaving the entrance chamber of the barrow we entered another, smaller chamber neighboring it. Within we discovered little of interest and I could discern no traps or hazards that might surprise us. Ariella, however, discovered three animated corpses in the far corner of the room and notified us all with yet another ear-piercing shrill of terror.
Fortunately Ham seems still in the good graces of Kord and instantly banished whatever dark spirits possessed the corpses with a mere wave of Kord’s symbol and a quickly uttered prayer. The collapse of the empty husks was soon followed by the collapse of our fainting princess, and we all settled in for a moment until she properly collected herself.
In the meantime we discussed the apparent commonality of undead in places of burial. Ham informed us that these three were most likely animated by some evil wizard or cleric that passed through, and probably out of nothing more than pure spite. “That’s what you get“, he says, “when you leave corpses just lying about to be discovered by some black-hearted villain.” In the end we all decided we would like to be cremated in the end, as the barbarians do, and avoid such a fate befalling our own remains.
Out the door of the room we entered a hallway running in both directions, with at least two doors that I could see lining it’s opposite side. We elected to take the hallway to the right first and proceeded down it and around a corner. Beyond we discovered what appears to have once been a kitchen or some similar chamber. Indeed, this barrow seems to be something more than just a simple barrow and likely quite extensive. On the counter Griffon noticed a collection of dry-rotted papers, upon one of which was scribbled a rather bad poem in elvish. Taking our clue from the poem we were able to discover a hidden door in the wall of the chamber and opened it, revealing a long, dark passageway.
This passageway lead us, after a long hike through near total darkness, to a small chamber and an oak door leading outside. Upon exiting the princess disturbed the desiccated corpse of some long-deceased guard or other and quickly worked herself into quite a panic. Once we were able to calm her, however, she was able to identify the lands below us as none other than the minor kingdom of Tramilar.
When Ham suggested that we re-enter the barrow and seek out more undead to banish, the princess flew into an eyebrow-raising tizzy and with a petulant stamp of her foot insisted that we escort her immediately home.
Naturally, we have set up camp again at the doorway to the barrow and will journey forth to Tramilar tomorrow.
May the necrophile clerics of Nerull re-animate the corpses of the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society to satisfy their deviant pleasures.
June 28, 315
We have entered the outskirts of the kingdom of Tramilar. After traveling most of the day we encountered a farm and it’s inhabitants under siege by three rather brutish looking bugbears. The lone human farmer held forth against them quite bravely with nothing more than a pitchfork, but it was clear the bugbears would soon tire of the sport and dispatch him. Naturally, we ran forth and engaged the nasties and slew two of them. The third wisely surrendered and is currently bound quite securely in the barn. The farmer and his wife graciously invited us to dine with them as well as granting us lodging for the night. They have even provided me with a small supply of treats for Perry.
Interestingly, both the farmer and his wife made remark at finding the princess looked rather familiar to them. But, when she identified herself as princess Ariella they simply nodded and smiled in an odd manner. When pressed about it, they made reference to her claim as “a good joke” and complimented her on her resemblance to the princess. I found the whole thing odd, but Griffon seems to think it more likely that the two simply can’t conceive of the princess being out and about with such rough looking Halflings as ourselves. Still, we were all somewhat disturbed.
The princess, on the other hand, is quite miffed at the whole affair and has stomped off the sulk in the corner. I must admit, I thoroughly enjoy her little torments.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society surrender to the lusty seductions of their bugbear step-fathers.
June 29, 315
Having made our departure from our grateful hosts early this morning, we soon found ourselves at the gates of the castle with our princess and our captive bugbear safely in tow. Whereupon we were all instantly arrested and brought before the residing king.
The king, our alleged princess’s alleged brother, immediately discounted her claims to be his sister Ariella and charged her as an imposter. According to him his sister had never gone missing in the first place and that she had, in fact, had lunch with him just an hour previous.
Indeed, the aforementioned princess soon made her appearance and we found ourselves facing, in our princess and in theirs, two perfectly identical young ladies. What followed was our near incarceration, halted only at our princess’s insistence that she could prove her claim. With some difficulty she managed to come up with the idea of offering up the ring she wore, itself apparently the official seal of her court, as evidence. The other princess, however, claimed that it was stolen some weeks ago and denied any proof therein at all. Unfortunately, the king agreed.
Our Griffon, Ehlonna bless him, recalled the princess mentioning a “pet name” that her brother had often called her in their youth and challenged the other princess to name it. With some mumbling, she admitted she could not recall it. However, our own princess was able to, and very quickly did so, to the king’s utter astonishment. That, coupled with recent rumors concerning odd behavior on the part of the “princess” led the young king to turn a critical eye to his apparent sister and demand a number of particular answers to personal questions.
In the end the “princess” was reduced to glaring wordlessly before suddenly springing toward the window of the chamber. Upon pronouncing her inevitable revenge on us all and doom on the kingdom itself, her appearance wavered and changed to reveal a haggard old crone. Whereupon she immediately sprouted bat-like wings and escaped out the window.
Following the uproar that ensued we were showered with thanks and released from our bonds. After a proper welcome by Areilla’s brother, the king, we were granted quarters and invited to sup at the king’s table.
At present we have retired to the quarters granted us and are preparing ourselves to do just that.
The king has offered us a small chest of gold coins as reward for the safe return of his sister and for our part in foiling the foul intentions of the unknown witch. After regaling him with our adventures in his sister’s company he has further offered us lodging in town for as long as we wish, as well as granting us whatever supplies we might require once we continue on our quest.
Upon retiring for the evening, we have held council and decided to stay on for a short time. As it stands we’ve many weeks before we are required to return to Littleton with the waters of the mother spring and we expect we’ve time to rest a bit before continuing on.
I will pick up these journals again when we depart.
May the members of the Blessed Fountain Secret Society seek solace in the embrace of demon possessed cactuses
[Here ends the first part of these journals]
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