Taris

The Trouble with Tri- Orcs.

The journal of Cor Chalybus,

Day 1. I arrive in the small town of Northbrook with my new companion Marin. We inquire at the Sheriff’s office about the problems the area has been having with Orcs. It turns out two other people have come through here looking to also help with the problem. Marin and I went down to a nearby creek to fish. Saw teenage couple on our way back. May have been eaten by a giant spider. We then meet up with two elves in the local tavern, one is a woodsy type and the other was dressed in some nice robes. They agree to join forces with us to get rid of the orcs.

Day 2. My god. Bees. We killed two small Orc patrols. Found a map to their place.

Day 3. We set a clever ambush. Killed all Orcs in first camp. Turns out the stereotypes were true about Orcs being sleepy all the time. They quickly fell victim to the female elf’s sleep spell. Marin only almost died. Pretty sure it was a merciful act from the universe that kept her with us long enough for me to close some of her wounds. No bees today. Or bee, as it were. Found map to other Orc camps in the area.

Day 4. Report back to Northbrook. They are happy but the job is not done yet. Seemed to have little concern for danger the other towns remained in.

Day 7. Find second Orc camp. Half of second Orc camp finds us. Our woodsy elf is not as subtle as I might have liked. We kill all the Orcs in the camp. Marin almost died again, a cleric’s work is never done. Brash young girl, but potent in a fight. Unless she is surrounded by three Orcs.

Day 8. I already feel stronger for this short week of experience. Second town is grateful, offer to put us up for as long as we need. We wait three weeks while my knew armor is fitted. I feel as though the Plate Mail windfall makes me more wealthy than I should be.

Day 28. We set out for the last Orc camp. It is bigger than the last two, but hopefully with its eradication the people in these woods will be able to live in peace again.

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Marin's Journal Entries

Journal Entry 1

Day 1

I’ve decided from now on that I’m going to be keeping a log of all of my travels to help me remember my experiences. was lucky and had found an advertisement on the bounty board today. Apparently the town of Northbrook was being under attacks by orks, and the bounty for it was huge! It was a good amount to help out with the problems back with the family. What a good break huh? Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m too big of a fan of riding in this wagon with everyone…

The End
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Journal Entry 2

Day 32

Oh jeez, an entire month had already passed and I had completely forgotten to keep writing in this thing. Well, I have to say that it was a pretty good trip. Were only 1 day away from reaching Northbrook and I had ended up getting to know everyone in the wagon since it was quite a trip up there. I mostly ended up talking with this weird guy named Cor, but he doesn’t seem like he’s a bad guy. Find out, after talking a bit with him, that we’re going to be doing the same job is really more than useful. Glad that we’ll be working together on this as there are strength in numbers!

The End
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Entry 3

Day 33

It was our first night staying here, and already Cor and I had found out quite a bit of information on the Orc situation. Apparently this had been going on for quite a few months, and people have been disappearing from the forests, or even being killed. Fortunately, we were also lucky enough to find another couple people who were after the same thing we were. They were both elves I think, and looked to be fairly young, but that’s what you would expect from elves. One of them was a ranger, went by the name of Deren. Glad that we were able to find such a guy, or else traveling through these woods would’ve been much harder. Anri seemed to be a caster from what I believe, but I can’t really tell right now. Even so, it’ll be a pleasure to work with them. Again, strength in numbers! Now I’m sure that we won’t lose! Since we were tight on money, we ended up staying in the stables for the night, and I had to share a bedroll with him…What was I thinking!?!

The End

The fish that I caught for dinner today was really tasty!
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Entry 4

Day 34

We ended up finding the orc camp today. We had also ran into 2 sets of scouting parties that came from the main camp. Anri was also amazing with those spells! I have to say that with her around, I know things are going to be much easier after those spells that she threw at them! Though, without Deren, going through these woods would certainly be challenging. Just having him as our guide, and there in the back to cover Cor and I really helps out. I’m really grateful though that Cor was there to give everyone proper medical attention, especially me. One of the scouting parties got me really good…I thought I’d be able to take one of them down with a kick, but I ended up missing and taking an axe to the back and blacking out from the pain. I don’t remember too much, but waking to see that Cor had healed me. Jeez…That guy…

The End

Also giant wasps are terrifying!!
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Entry 5

Day 35

What a way to start the morning…While Cor and I were talking over breakfast, just as I was getting to know the guy, a spider manages to get the drop on us. It managed to sink it’s fangs into him, but we ended up killing it soon there after. I’m glad that he’s okay, and that the poison didn’t get to him. He’s pretty tough! We then managed to get back to the orc camp. Deren thought he’d scout ahead, but he was seen doing so. Fortunately Anri was more than amazing! She practically took all of them out with a sleep spell, and from there it was just finishing them off one by one! From there, taking out the rest of the camp was easy~ From there we ended up slowly burning the entire camp down, made a stew from the left over food and rations that they had, and raided what goods that they had at the camp. From there, we slept in an actual bed, ate good food, and it was really fun! I also met up with a man and some kids he was traveling with. I feel kinda bad for not being able to recall his name…But he was a man of the Cobra Strike Style of fighting, and those were his students. Heh, makes me remember back in the day when I was first starting to learn the martial arts. He and I sparred all the way through the night, and I’m grateful I was able to even land a few hits on him. He’s really good! I remember that there is also a tournament in a month or so from now in Gerrard’s Landing! I really want to go watch it, but if it’d be okay~I’ll ask when we clean up this next orc camp~He didn’t leave me with this gift for nothing, and I won’t let it go to waste!

The End

The stew wasn’t too bad! The bodies smelled horribly though…
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Entry 6

Day 38
It had been a few days ride to get to the town that we were supposed to get to. We ended up finding a map at the previous camp, and found this as being the nearest location. Like the other town, looked like this one was having similar problems. Luckily we cleared out this camp in a single day, but it didn’t come without it’s risks and dangers. Derren tried scouting the camp again, but it really didn’t go so well…We ended up getting chased by some orcs into the woods and had no choice from there but to fight them off. Battle Axes don’t seem to be liking us a whole lot as one of those dirty orcs ended up taking Cor down instead. I’m glad that I keep a good number of healing potions on me, or that would’ve been bad news right there. Glad that I was able to do atleast that much. From there we ended up going back to the orc camp, and again, we had quite the close the encounter, but luckily Anri pulled through again and taking out more than enough of to take them out. I ended up getting hit by another Axe again…Again, I’m grateful to Cor for tending to my wounds again and bringing me back once again from the brink of death. Luckily, the spoils from this camp were even greater than the last, and Cor even found himself an even greater set of armor. Once again tonight, we celebrated with the town for taking out another one of the orc encampments.

The End

The food at this party was great~
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Entry 7

Day 39

Found out today that we’re going to be staying here for a few weeks since Cor needs to get the armor refitted. Glad that they’re giving us free boarding and food for the entire time that we’re staying! I’m pretty excited about that! I love fish but, this certainly beats eating fish day in and day out for sure! I do hope that we would be able to make it back in time for the tournament! Till then, I suppose all I can do is practice~Even though it has only been a weak, this ordeal has made me feel as though I’ve only gotten stronger.

The End

The food is still tasting great!
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Entry 8

Day 60

An entire three weeks had passed, and again I keep forgetting to keep up with my writing, but oh well, these past few weeks haven’t been too eventful. I do have to say though that during these past few weeks I have been tapping more and more into my chi, and seems like I can access my elemental abilities more often. I thank my ancestors for these gifts, and I’ll continue to hone them. In other news, every night though has been a party with the towns folk and I have to say that it’s been a blast. There was food and drink every single night, and it was certainly fun and exciting but sadly all things must end. Today were finally setting out to the third and final orc encampment. Who knows what we’ll see out there~

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Out of Kadith, Into the Kobalds

By Orin Lightstep

It was a short time after meeting my traveling companion, a fledgling wizard named Howl, that we encountered travelers on the road to Kadith with troubling news. KOBALDS!! They had been attacking caravans and were probably involved in the disappearance of a local, well loved guide, Ben. Those wee, wily, bastards. Howl and I kept a close watch during our nights on the road and sure enough, a small band of kobalds tried to get the drop on us. Hahaha, Kobalds trying to get the drop on Orin Lightstep? Preposterous!! We easily routed them and got a free crossbow out of the whole thing.

A couple of days later we entered Kadith. It was late in the day and we were weary from days of foot travel. We sold the “Amazing Kobold Killing Crossbow of Glory” to Mountain Mike and with our purses heavy with gold found a place to sate our appetites, the Dig I believe was the name of it. As always, the wenches flocked at my table but having had a long week, Howl and I only had one each. They were lovely and full of bounce. :)

The following day we decided to investigate the missing guide. As it turned out, a pair of barbarians, Ria and Thenock, had already been appointed the task. We joined up with them and set out toward the mountains that day, following close to a guided group of tourist. We did not have to wait long to find some Kobalds.

Our first night we were attacked by a raiding party of kobalds. We captured one and questioned him. He said that the great chief of his tribe was building an army, so we forced him to lead us to his home. Thanks to me and Howl’s swift arrows, Thanock’s mighty sword and Ria’s wolf and healing power, we have infiltrated the kobalds barrow and plan to confront this so called “Great Chieftan”.

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In the Knight's service
A Slice of Silver

In the words of Phi; a journal entry…

What I am about to write pains me deeply.

Several days ago I lost my companion Chiron; watched helplessly as he walked right into the gates of Hell itself. I made the soul-wrenching decision to save myself rather then stand at his side and face the outcome together. How could I have left him alone there, in Hell? I feel as though I have already failed at becoming a Silver Knight; the person I am is not strong enough to hold the title. I broke Code 2:

Valor: The Knight will not abandon allies on the field, nor will they seek to profit from the loss of allies.

Ultimately I rode three days straight, snatching what rest I could on horseback to arrive at the Silver City and report the tragedy to my High Priest. What a mess I must have been, seen by his worldly eyes: hair full of grime, clothes crusted in dirt, vestments now brown instead of crisp white. I think I was spouting nonsense at first, wild-eyed and delirious with lack of sleep and lack of food. Perhaps knowing me he knew I would not present myself in such disarray without good cause and so he cleared his schedule and his desk for me. I am not sure what I said to him, but my fervor was definitely something to behold.

I recall best the looks and impressions, though the words escape into the fog of my mind; he was at first confused, then curious, then downright concerned. I recall his eyes going a bit wider in shock, the wrinkles almost entirely disappearing; a gate to Hell but a week away? A temple to Tiamat in that same area? So close to the Blessed Land of Bahamut — this unspeakable evil.

Next I am rushed to the main part of the city, sat before a council member and explaining my tale once more. By this time my mind has begun to calm and collect more, though I cannot rightly recall the man’s name. He studies me as I sit there, griming up the chair by his desk, no doubt looking younger and more afraid then I should. The High Priest has put it into perspective for me, this is not entirely about Chiron any longer; the threat is more tangible then that. I keep asking myself “Is this how a Silver Knight would act, is this what they would say?” and it helps keep me on my feet, helps keep my words rational; help keeps me from begging something be done already.

Eventually my words are enough and the High Priest confirms my personal integrity, my validity. The member removes himself to speak at counsel, to tell them of this dire news; we are fortunate they are still in meetings. I sit there at his desk, staring almost blankly at the large tome laid out upon it. This is where I showed him the great brass city I had seen, a city as large as the one in which we now reside. A city full of Hellish creatures and hate; a city where Chiron is now lost and alone. I refuse to break down though, steeling my resolve and mentally reviewing the Code:

The Knight will not abandon allies on the field.
The Knight will not abandon allies on the field.
The Knight will not abandon allies on the field.

My mantra gets me through the next few hours, as men far above me in rank decide the fate of my companion; their possible choices gnaw upon me. What if they decide he is not worth the rescue mission it would take? What if they decide that the gate is best sealed shut, and buried? What if they decide what I did was reprehensible, and that my trials are over before they even begin? What if… what if.. what if…

The High Priest tries to reassure me, words of wisdom I cannot seem to take to heart. I know he believes what I did was the right thing, to bring these dire tidings back and ask for assistance in the matter. I understand he is a man of great valor himself, and that he would not spout empty platitudes he did not feel were the truth. But as I am I cannot accept them, I feel my personal failure was a great a sin as any. I pray to the Dragon Father for His forgiveness and for His strength; I vow I will not leave Chiron to suffer alone. I will find a way to rescue him, or die trying.

As I make my promise to Bahamut I feel myself strengthened in resolve and realize I have been clutching Chiron’s holy symbol in my hands hard enough for the imprint to be visible in the flesh; it is not the first Mark I own. Taking a breath I put the symbol on, wearing both as tangible evidence of my oath. I think the High Priest notices the change, for he watches me now with approval and dare I hope, new respect. I no longer fidget, my eyes do not dart around with nervous energy. I sit calmly, if not stoically, awaiting my fate as I await Chiron’s; we’re in this together now. Perhaps these hours were the true test of faith for me, for the council member returns with uplifting news: the council has taken the threat most seriously, and the kidnapping of one of their own is unacceptable — the Knights will be sent immediately.

I let out a breath I did not even know I was holding, forcibly remaining in my seat so I do not explode out of it in haste. “Sir, I would like to request that I am allowed to go along. Please.” Is that my voice, I wonder? I sound so much more controlled now, so much more within reasonable decorum; I sound like a Knight. He regards me with something akin to surprise “But of course, we will need you to lead the way young woman. Your presence is of vital importance.” Now I do shoot to my feet, so full of hope I think its streaming from my very skin. “Thank you Sir!” When do we leave….. when…when…when….

It seems I have been in the Silver City for days already, though it has been but hours. I am escorted to a room where I can wash off, and compose myself – for next I am to meet one of the Silver Knight commanders. I am, oddly, not at all jittery. As if my inner resolve has given me the patience and knowledge to see this through to the end. I am thankful for whatever it is, for soon I step into a world I want very badly to be part of: the Knight’s Keep.

My first impression is that this sector of the city is its own little world, separate and yet intricate in the working of everything. I try not to stare at the Knights, their plate gleaming, swords at rest; resplendence at ease as they go about business. Compared to these honorable individuals I feel small and young, and not at all as refined as I had thought. I catch those thoughts and corral them as one does young horses; allowed to run free they will never give lead to better things. No… I will be a Knight. This is right for me. And so I school my face into a professional mien, square my shoulders, and march into the Commander’s office; here to do business like a Knight.

Sir Gregory is, in my eyes, an instantly likable Knight. He is affable and yet definitely in charge of any situation. It looks, to me, like he could single-handedly throw down a red dragon and make it say pretty-please. I am oddly at ease in his presence, and yet very much on red-alert; he has the power to decide my fate in many far-reaching ways. I recall standing at attention, much to his amusement, until offered a seat. He is all business at once, explaining what he has been told of the situation (I am amazed at how fast word has traveled!) and what he has planned. Over the next few moments I answer his questions honestly, without reserve, and with total respect. He seems satisfied and so outlines The Plan.

I will lead a strike team of Knights to where the portal is, but my duties are merely to get them there and then get back alive – these are men, he explains, who have been trained for many years. I understand the gentle chastisement: please stay out of their way, do not get yourself killed, or put yourself in danger so that they may be killed. I am not upset by this, as perhaps I would have been earlier; it makes perfect sense.

Next he explains we will be flown to the site on dragon-back and I somehow manage to keep myself from leaping up in sheer joy. A dragon? Me?! Oh.. my dreams have come true! My exultation is cut quite short as I recall just why I am given this honor, and it no longer seems thus. It seems more of a penance to be here; to be given this duty on the wings of failure. I would be lying if I wrote that I was no longer eager to fly, a dream of mine since before I knew of such things as man gaining trust and affection with a draconic mount. But that joy was shadowed by the situation on which it is presented.

I spend the rest of the evening, dismissed after the plan is outlined, wandering through the Knight’s compound. Many things I saw or heard are lost in quiet contemplation of the morning to come. I was told to prepare myself, mentally, and physically for the ordeal. A shield is given to me, upon which Bahamut’s noble head rears in splendor. I am most reverent of it, profusely thankful for the gift of protection; taking it as a good sign the Dragon Father still smiles upon me with His grace. I will need all the help I can get, for tomorrow will be the true test…

The strike team has not necessarily been sent to go into the portal, I was told. They are to scout the temple and figure out what has been happening there recently, assess the threat, study the portal, and make a report. If it is possible for us to enter the portal, and if the captain thinks it is safe, we will attempt to rescue Chiron. I am ashamed to admit that while I prayed this was the case, I felt no hope for it to be the outcome. I stayed up all night, unable to sleep; fear, hope, worry, anxiety.. all warring within me. My eyes must have closed due to sheer exhaustion, for I don’t recall it.

Someone wakes me at early light and I snap to attention as if I had already been awake. All fog has cleared from my mind and I can review the past few days with a crystal clarity rarely found. After a brief mental review and quick shower I am out on the field where I was told to report. Thinking myself early I am disappointed to have been the last; blasted! I’ll need to work on that. The members of the team all introduce themselves: Captain Draroth, his Second in command Analo, the teams Cleric Verria, our scholar Ia’issa, and Aiso… a man of unknown talents. I memorize their faces, their handshakes telling me about their personality, their demeanor something I begin to emulate. And then… I am introduced to my dragon.

Akor…

The name alone brings me great joy to recall. His presence was awe-inspiring; my eyes must have been the size of the moon. Large and Bronze, the splendor and majesty of him is indescribable; I would not diminish it by placing it in words alone. He spoke to me, so stoic and with all seriousness that I could not help but respond in kind. I recall that I bowed deeply to him in reverence and I think I saw the first hint of draconic smile lifting his lips.

It was after our greeting that an attendant came to help me upon Akor’s back and strap me in. I was not at all terrified and knew that no matter what, I would remain here at all costs; not to disgrace myself by falling. Which of course, since I am still alive to record this in my journal, I obviously did not.

I cannot describe the sensation of flight here, as it too defies words and intonation. I will simply say that it was the thrill of a lifetime, and should I never be fortunate to experience it again, I feel this single experience would hold me for an eternity; snap-shot captured in my mind forever.

We flew for several hours, and after making some course adjustments, did end up in the right place (much to my relief, thank Bahamut!) to begin our investigation that same day. What took me three days of wild horseback took the dragons but hours – their speed and stamina is amazing. After unstrapping myself I was forced to slide almost unceremoniously to the ground, fearing my legs would not hold me. Determined not to disgrace myself in front of the dragons and their Knights, I forced myself to remain standing. No one seemed to notice, or perhaps pretended otherwise, that I had trouble taking those first few steps! Flying on dragon is NOT at all like riding a horse; I would be sore for days and days to come.

After a brief interlude and discussion, where my input was taken quite seriously, we advanced into the cave I knew so well. But ah! How the Knights move! They are a real team of professionals, and I found myself taking mental note of their every gesture, every move. First Aiso would slide into the darkness, like an ink blotch at the very height of midnight; so fluid and hidden we could not at first determine where he had gone. But then he would send some signal to Draroth and we would proceed inwards at a controlled pace.

Doors were a whole other process, and I am amazed at the efficiency the team displayed. Aiso would check the door for something, give signal and then step aside. Draroth and Analo would then burst through the door, shields up, weapons drawn, to fan out and lock their shields in front of the rest of us. Verria and Ia’issa had their hands up and ready to cast at anything that dared be in their line of sight; while I stayed behind.. guarding the rear (so I told myself!)

When no danger presented itself they completed a full room inspection before moving on; no nooks or crannies left unsecured! We proceeded in this fashion for an hour or so, making sure all threat had been removed from behind us before we went forward. I plan to incorporate these tactics into my teams movements, as they are obviously quite effective. Eventually we made our way down to the Hell gate in this fashion, though nothing dared block our way for long; it seems Jacob and I had cleared the place out in our mad rush to save Chiron days before.

I was not the only one having trouble being in the presence of such great evil. I swear we all felt as though Tiamat herself was breathing her foul breath upon us; her temple just above us the whole time. I wanted to burn the place, personally, but that was not our mission. Thankfully I feel I have found a friend in Aiso, and he is willing to speak to me about his life and experiences with the Knights. I unashamedly pumped him for information about politics, tactics, training routines…anything I thought could gain me insight and an edge. This went on for hours until the Cleric and Magi were confident they had the situation down and their assessments made.

Then, much to my distress… we left.

Caption Draroth reviewed the facts once we were outside, and I could see why the decision was made; we couldn’t get the portal open. Also, as I had observed (wisely it seemed!) to Aiso… what if they wanted us to open the portal? What if it stayed open if we opened if from this side? Ia’issa confirmed that this could have been the case, based on her knowledge of portals. Though I know it was the right thing to do, I still feel as though my words may have condemned Chiron to Hell for that much longer.

We stayed the night in opulence, some sort of spell that made a castle from thin air. After some further searching in the hills nearby we found several other caves, all dedicated to serving the main temple. And with this information well in hand, the others flew back to the Silver City to make their reports. I was left behind in Bettinshire to rest and recuperate as well as link back up with Jacob and Henry, my previous traveling companions. Told to say nothing about the operation I had just taken part of, I found myself hard pressed to explain my sudden appearance a mere 5 days after I had ridden, hell-bent, towards Celebraan.

Code #1 snapped into my mind then: Truth & Honor: The Knight will speak the truth and act honorably at all times.

Thinking fast I told Jacob and Henry that I had delivered my message to the Silver Knights and that, with magical assistance, they had sent me back here to continue my investigation. As close to the absolute truth as I could get without disobeying orders, they seemed to accept the explanation and pressed me no further about it. For which I am ultimately grateful, for I am not sure how I could have ever brought myself to lie to such faithful companions.

In review, as I write, my missions become clearer, as do my failures and triumphs. I am not here to be perfect; life is but a series of steps, steeped in failure and wrought with hardship. Like the making of a fine sword, everything takes quality material with which to work, the right tools, some heat, and above all.. time and patience. First I must become the quality of material that the Knights require, and then temper myself in the heat of understanding, battle, triumph, and even hardship.

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

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Beyond the gates of Avernus

In the words of Jacob…

The tunnels of the Rat King were dank, and every twist and turn was plagued with the stench of goblins and their foul refuse. As we cut down the vile wretches from room to room, we came upon a shoddy door that had been slid into place at the end of a hallway. Wrenching it open, we moved into the dark space and were immediately assaulted with the smell of rot and damp fur. It would seem that we had entered the breeding pit, and soon after our intrusion we were met with the retaliation of the pit’s overseer. The goblin breeder and his pet rat fought savagely with tooth and claw. During the fray, Henry slipped on the lip of the rat pit and fell into the surging furry mass. We managed to pull him out and Chiron dragged him out of the room. He was unconcious, and bleeding heavily. Hundreds of rat bites marred his skin, and without the healing magics of the Cleric, we may not have been able to save him. Meanwhile, Phi and I finished off the breeder, and secured the rest of the room.

Moving on around the twisted corridoors, we came upon the goblin’s sleeping area. Defeating the last of the enemy, we approached what appeared to be an elaborate heavy set door. This fine work of craftsmanship was clearly not of goblin make. It seemed as though the tunnels had connected to the entrance of something built by another, perhaps humans or dwarves. Finding it locked, we agreed to return to town to see if we could access someone capable of opening the grand door. After resting and resupplying, we returned the next day along with the local locksmith. Clearly dreading the lair into which he had been brought, the locksmith quickly performed his duties and departed in haste into the woods where he would await our return. The door now unlocked, we readied ourselves and breached the last obstacle between us and the throne room of the Rat King.

The creature was certainly vicious, and it wielded it’s hideous falchion with a ferocious glee. Only after blood from both sides stained the throne room floor did the Rat King finally fall. Once the beast was dispatched, we were able to get a good look at it. As we suspected, it was a wererat. Of course the goblins would bow before it, the magical hide of the fiend was neigh impenetrable by normal means. He would have had his run of the lot should they have resisted him. No, instead they did as he commanded, and a number of our townsfolk died for it. The curr. At least he was no more. That consolation came alongside a feeling of curious dread as the two Clerics began to study the markings on the walls of this room. It appeared that the Rat King had been nesting in a small chapel dedicated to Tiamat, the mother of evil dragonkind. The two followers of Bahamut looked on in disgust, and after a short while Phi moved to the vile heraldry and scoured it from the wall with her morningstar. In the next room we found what appeared to be an abandoned treasury. Quickly raiding the stockpiles, we then returned to town, gathering the locksmith along the way.

I can’t remember too much of that night. There was a grand celebration, and I think I wound up managing not to make a total fool out of myself. Henry on the other hand, was a proper fool and drank himself into a stubmling stupor. He managed to wander off that night, and come the morning he was nowhere to be found. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it had not been for Phi searching frantically for he and I throughout the town. From what she said, Chiron had gone missing early in the morning, and all of his effects had been left behind. While she spent some time looking for Henry, I examined the tracks coming and going from the inn where he stayed in the hopes of coming across something. Right about the time Phi returned, I’d managed to follow some prints that resembled his up to the edge of the forest. She had been unable to find Henry, but she had acquired a pair of riding horses for us to borrow. We ventured a guess that the tracks were leading back to the temple, so we spared no time in spurring our horses to the west.

Arriving at the rat hole again, we tied the horses off and entered the depths once again. Chiron’s footsteps were here, and they were fresh. We followed them back into the abandoned temple room, and past it through the armories. There before us was the door we had not yet opened, that led deeper into the elaborate stone complex. Managing to wrench it open, we proceeded inwards, to the stifling stench of stale air. Nothing had prepared us for what was ahead. A veritable army of fallen Clerics rose before us as skeletal undead, armed with the weapons they once carried in life. The dead marched down upon us, and Phi tried to invoke the holy powers of Bahamut to destroy the abominations. Not all fell, and we were forced to enter the fray with the remaining ones. After a hallway or two of returning the skeletons to rest, we entered a grand cathedral with soaring ceilings. The place nearly hummed with evil, it radiated it, it breathed it. It was a massive hall of worship to Tiamat, and I could almost feel her eye upon me. Once we established that the cathedral was clear, there was but one place to go: down.

The staircase spiraled on for what seemed like an eternity, and Chiron’s footprints appeared to be fresh. Minutes fresh even. At any moment I expected to run smack into his robed backside. Instead, we ran into a landing room at the end of the staircase. We were not alone though, Chiron was there. Chiron, and a host of fleshy globs with humanoid faces. A small red batlike creature was alight upon his shoulder, and it cried out to the blobs as it frantically tried to magically open a colossal door. The magnificent portal was detailed with images of Tiamat breathing upon the gateway, and as it crackled with energy and creaked to life, we could see the beginnings of a hellish and blasted landscape on the other side.

Phi and I fought the otherworldly horrors as best we could, and in a horrifying moment when we thought all was lost, Chiron managed to snap free from the creature’s hypnotic lure. He rushed over to Phi and healed her. From what I could tell, he saved her life outright. Good thing too, because it was the last thing he ever did. The creature quickly enticed him once more, and led him beyond the seething gateway. It then began to close. Frantic, Phi rushed across the threshold between worlds to try to drag him back; but she was too late. In the last possible moments, she managed to make her way back before the gateway closed for good, with Chiron a captive on the other side. Phi didn’t know what to do. I certainly didn’t either. If anyone would, it was the Knights.

The two of us made our way back to Bettinshire, and that is where I write to you now. Phi rode off to Celebraan not long ago to find out what could be done. It is quite a ride. I hope all is well with her. I have found Henry, and for the time, we shall await here for her. Hopefully she shall come with aid, and together we can once again enter the rat hole in hopes of rescuing our friend and savior. Into hell we shall go, to save Chiron from his captors, who lie beyond the gates of Avernus…

- Jacob Harken, Ranger of Celee

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Into the rat hole

In the words of Jacob…

The day started off a day like any other. I got to sleep in a little, I took a quick bath to wake up a bit, and then I headed to Autumn’s Harvest for some breakfast. Samantha mentioned to me that some new folks had come into town last night, and that one of them had mentioned he was here on Knight’s business. We chatted about it for a bit over breakfast, and I had soon forgotten about it by the time I was far enough into the woods to be out of sight of town. I didn’t think about it again until later that night, when I swung by the sheriff’s place to have a few drinks with Samuel. He told me that he’d spoken with a pair of Clerics from Celebraan, and that they’d need to head out into the woods. He couldn’t think of a better person to with them than myself or Henry. The two would be coming back to the office in the morning, and he thought it’d be a great idea if I could be present.

Morning came and I met the two Clerics. Phi and Chiron; both had trained in the capital or it’s outskirts in temples to Bahamut. The Knights had sent them to find out what was going on with the strange creatures in the farmers’ fields. I took them along to where the sightings had taken place, and not long afterwards we found ourselfs considerably into the wilderness. Finding some odd tracks, we decided it’d be best to investigate later after we’d had the chance to prepare. I took this opportunity to find Henry and bring him along. The next day we set out early, and hiked into the woods. We eventually found some tracks or drag marks, but they were difficult to follow. Eventually, they led to the remains of a buried camp along the riverside. Something had camped here recently, and it would be dark soon. The two Clerics were dead set on pressing on, or at least Phi was. So we did.

Well not long after crossing the river we found ourselves in bad company. Goblin company. It seemed that they had set up their formal camp around the backside of a little tree lined embankment. They came barreling around the corner and seemed quite intent on killing us for our little discovery. One of the buggers in the back even let out some great big rats from a cage. These things were the size of dogs! Seems they were trained like it too, because they bolted straight for us alongside the lingering goblin. Lucky for us, the two Clerics were there. After a long, drawn out skirmish we found ourselves triumphant, but not without our wounds. The two had done as much as they could with the magics they had available, but we all ended up limping back to town with some cuts and bruises to show nevertheless.

On the goblins, we found some orders and maps, which led our attention to a camp supposedly to the north. Deciding this was more than just a local issue, we traveled upriver and found another one of these goblin encampments. The spoils from this venture included some documents that mentioned a great rat, the size of a man, that would soon be unleashed upon the northeastern hamlet of River’s Fork. Moving quickly, we cut to the nearby town of Bettinshire and rested to regain our strength. We left straight away in the morning, heading north with haste. It would seem we had arrived just in time, for the night we pulled into town the beast set upon the outlying farmlands. It was a ferocious creature, and it drew much of our blood before we were finally able to put it down. Phi was confident that another camp would be found across the river, and that we should investigate in the morning.

As it would turn out, she was right. Another camp of goblins lay on the other side of the river, and again we engaged them in a brutal battle. After they fell, we found more directions from some leader figure who called himself The Rat King. After what we had seen, it was clear that this threat would need to be stopped. We, as it would turn out, were the only ones nearby capable of undertaking the task. With the four of us having agreed that this would be the best course of action, we set out for the lair of this Rat King. It is here that I sit now, in the woods outside of the cave entrance to his vile holding. I can smell the stench of goblins in the air, and their tracks pock the surrounding landscape. Tomorrow we shall head in to meet the threat head on, so here I must leave my writing. In the morning we will move, blades drawn, into the rat hole…

- Jacob Harken, Ranger of Celee

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