I write this entry through tears I try not to let my friends see, despite the fact they can tell I’ve taken a hard hit. Physically I’m well. In fact, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. The blow I’ve been stricken with tears at my heart and rattles my mind.
Let me back up a few days…
With the goblins slayed, our group made camp to rest after our victorious battle. We traveled back to Vicol as champions and were received as simple visitors. Upon entering the kingdom, a little gnome welcomed us and supplied us with a map and a little information. He told us their dwarvin king had been slain two months prior by an unknown assailant. In his stead a man called Sir Garrath the Brave took charge of the changing city.
Yun departed our company to check a temple to seek information on potential reaper sightings while Errol went towards the markets, the place Sir Garrath was known to patrol. Maal accompanied me on my search for my brother, Kanae, in the residential districts. My brother we did not find but his wife, Ruaera, found me amongst the crowd & invited us into her home. It was there Maal & I learned about the frequent attacks the city had been enduring for the past few months. The attackers, Ruaera revealed, were members of the undead, and Kanae had joined Sir Garrath and his party to defend the kingdom.
Maal and I thanked Ruaera and departed to find Kanae and Sir Garrath (after saying hello to my niece, Runae, of course) who were said to stroll the markets. We reunited with Yun, Errol and John who all had the same basic idea; find the guy in charge, this Sir Garrath the Brave. The townspeople told us he wouldn’t be seen for a few hours, so we wandered around while we waited. Maal made a few purchases and trades while Yun vocalized her suspicions in regards to Sir Garrath’s reign; why would a human Paladin take charge of a kingdom under dwarf rule? Why not the king’s son, or nephew, or cousin?
I listened to Yun’s valid concerns but did not put much stock into worrying. I wanted to meet this Sir Garrath before I allowed myself to become suspicious. So I wandered with my group while we awaited sightings of the man in charge. The hours easily passed once we encountered an eccentric, excited and strange gnome with a magical box. For ten gold pieces you could put your hand into the box and keep whatever you pulled out from within. We all took our turn at least once. Yun and Errol each pulled forth some of the finer prizes; Yun received a pair of gauntlets that provided her fists with an excessively powerful punch while Errol won a magical fire sword which, I have to admit, am somewhat jealous of (only somewhat. I do have the fire arrows, after all).
A couple hours passed and it was time to search for Sir Garrath once more. The others looked for him directly while I kept a look out for Kanae, thinking he could properly introduce us to the man he served. It wasn’t Kanae I found first, but rather Sir Garrath himself. I at least assumed it was him, as he was surrounded by guards and seemed to be of great importance. My assumptions were confirmed when I rushed him and was met with a swift punch to the ribcage.
My friends and I all attempted to explain I meant no disrespect, that we were there to offer our services to his army. I explained my brother Kanae was in his employment and that we were friendlies, not foes. Sir Garrath listened with a great interest before instructing us to lay our weapons down. We were arrested for treason and hauled to prison. Kanae spotted me as the guards took us away and, though I called to him, he would not come to our aid. Instead he watched with a confused expression as my friends and I were taken away.
It’s hard to tell exactly how long we were down there before anyone came to see us. Errol picked the locks to our doors but we did not escape, agreeing to wait and see if someone would come to rescue us or, at the very least, fill us in on why we had been imprisoned. Even if we did attempt to escape, none of us had weapons and we wouldn’t have gotten far.The first person to come was Kanae (along with his wolf companion, Lavin) , who had been told we had come to Vicol to overthrow and overrun the kingdom. If I wasn’t already suspicious of Sir Garrath (which I completely was at this point), Kanae’s words made me quite wary of this guy. I tried to convince my brother we were not there to disrupt the town and that we could help save it, which Kanae didn’t necessarily disbelieve, though he seemed wary when I told him not to trust the man that employed him.
While speaking to my brother, I noticed a glowing pendant that hung around his neck. When I asked him about it, he informed me he had almost met death and that the pendant, given to him by none other than Sir Garrath, was the one thing keeping him alive. Since I was highly suspicious of the man, I became suspicious of the necklace and attempted to snatch it from around his neck without success. When Errol attempted to bribe our way out, Kanae noticed our doors had been picked open and locked us back in.
“I’ll see what’s going on,” is what he told us. “And I will come back to retrieve you. Some one will bring you food.”
At least he didn’t think I was lying.
But no one brought us food. Not for at least a day and even when it was brought down, we found a majority of it to be sour, moldy and mostly inedible.
Again, time drew by without word from a soul. When our next visitor came, it wasn’t Kanae or the guard with more food, but rather four guards and Sir Garrath himself. He spoke to all of us but it was me he looked upon as the words spilled hatefully from his lips.
“You are enemies of the state,” he announced to us in common. “And, as such, you will be executed at this time tomorrow.”
I demanded to know what our crime was, what exactly made us enemies of the state, and I gave no regard to the tone I used. Errol objected to my harsh words, but I didn’t care. Either way we were dead, we might as well know why we were to be publicly killed.
“Because,” he spoke to me in Abyssal. “You’re trying to free IO. It’s a shame. You could have been one of us.”
His use of Abyssal threw me into a near panic and I mistook him for a demon which, thinking back, was a silly mistake on my behalf. If anyone in our party knows demons, it’s me and Sir Garreth did not look like one. Either way, I knew he was up to no good. Also, he’s the second asshole to mistake me for evil or, at least, have potential to be evil. Note to self; ask the next reaper I meet why the hell this is.
Once Garreth left us with his four guards, I spoke to my comrades in Elvish I thought him to be a demon (which Errol had to translate into Dwarvin for Maal to understand) and we hatched an escape plan while the common speaking guards stood idly by, not understanding and not caring what we spoke of. The plan we hatched was this;
Maal created a distraction from his cage. Two guards turned their attention upon him, telling him to shut up while another ran up the stairs (presumably to retrieve more guards) as Yun punched her lock open and Errol sprung himself free. John began crafting spells while I sat and thought just what the hell I could do to help. In the noisy chaos, I remembered Kanae’s companion and decided to call him down, hoping my brother’s wolf was smart enough to help his little sister.
Yun, Errol and John managed to take down the two guards who had busied themselves with Maal’s loud aggression while Lavin charged down the stairs and ripped the third guard to shreds.
Once free, Lavin approached me with a worried air about him. I tried to subdue the animal’s anxieties but with little success. We followed him up the stairs and, before we ran into the night, we found our weapons and gear stowed away in a small room, along with a few coins and a letter no one can read (something I pocketed along with the gold I found, just in case).
What we found outside was not as wonderful as what we found in the small room.
Zombies. Several of them, coming from three directions. Guards attempted to push them back from the ground while Kanae fired arrows from the rooftops. The five of us joined the battle, knowing we couldn’t leave town without the piece of key we had come for, nor could we find it with a bunch of zombies roaming the streets.
The battle was long but we managed to prevail. Kanae joined us when the guards ran off, leaping gracefully from the roof as a wall raised up from the ground to seal the path to the cemetery. He assured me Ruaera and Runae had fled the city to a small fishing village to the north and instructed me to do something similar. I told him we could not and hurriedly asked him where the piece of the key might be hidden. Kanae, though he didn’t know what exactly I spoke of, told us what we sought was probably hidden within the walls of the castle.
Despite Kanae’s advice, Errol suggested we search the cemetery so Yun attempted to punch through the brick wall. Errol and I kept a readied watch while she attempted this, our eyes and ears sharp for sounds of the undead. Not surprisingly, we did hear something. But it wasn’t a zombie.
It was Sir Garrath.
Because he was dressed differently and looked more worn than before, I asked him in Abyssal who he was, just to be sure it was the same man. When he replied in Abyssal, I told Errol, Maal and John to fire freely upon him. Our weapons were no use and Sir Garrath found our efforts to destroy him mildly entertaining.
My hand shakes now as I write this, the flood of the all too recent memories returning to bombard me with sorrow and rage.
“Before I go, would you like to see one more trick?” he asked us, something we all agreed we didn’t want to see.
But he showed us anyway.
He held his hand out and flexed his fingers, as if he were squeezing an unseen object. As he did this, the pendant around my brother’s neck glowed brighter and brighter until it shattered to pieces. When the pendant broke, my brother fell dead to the hard ground.
“NO!” was the only word I could formulate as I thought about reaching for my scythe. I wanted to take the head off his ugly, undead body then and there for killing my brother like that.
But Sir Garrath wasn’t done. His final act was to bring forth Kanae’s skeleton from his body.
“There are two more of us,” is what he told us before he left with my brother’s bones.
I tried to go after him, but Errol held me back. We all knew, even me, that it would do me more harm than it would do our quest good by seeking immediate vengeance. So I sat with Lavin for a minuet, who somehow knew what had happened to his companion. In that moment I knew Lavin, though a wolf and free to roam as he pleases, would stay at my side as my friend.
Maal, being a half Orc without much gold, wanted to search my brother’s remains. I threatened to slit his throat. We agreed he could take Kanae’s weapon (which he ended up leaving anyway as it was quite heavy).
When Yun failed to punch through the wall, we decided to try the castle as Kane had told us. Upon entering we found and slayed ten more zombies before we could continue our quest for piece one of four. In the first room we searched, we found a secret passage way that led down into a small room with five doors and a pillar. The pillar bore a plaque that stated something like this;
“Five will enter, one will pass. The final trials will be the remaining four.”
(I don’t remember it verbatim, but you get the idea.)
So we all picked a door. Rather, everyone picked a door and I took whatever was left, my mind still in a sorrowful shock at witnessing my brother’s gruesome death. My door led to another small room with four doors, as did everyone else’s (save for John). Again doors were chosen and again my door led to a small room, this time with three doors and I was joined by only Maal and Errol. The next door I chose led me back to the first room where Yun and John were sitting, a place where Maal soon found his way to, but not Errol.
So we sat and waited and when Errol returned to our party, he looked worn and quite injured. I tried to bring some light to the gloomy situation by saying “you look like you got your ass kicked by an elf” to which he replied “f#%* you.”
I don’t know what happened in that room, but I’m guessing he got his ass kicked by an elf. He also managed to escape alive and with the first piece of the four we need, so I suppose it doesn’t matter what happened in that last room. If you want to know, you’ll have to ask him yourself. He also obtained a locket but he didn’t share what was inside before he clasped it around his neck. It seemed to bring a smile to his face so, whatever it is, it holds value to him and him alone.
Where we go from here I can’t be certain. One kingdom and once piece down, three to go. If it weren’t for our rescue mission, I know for a fact I would track down Sir Garrath myself and slay him with my scythe. For now I’ll keep my vengeance on reserve and save it for the other two reapers who will threaten out path.
I pray to Chorellon Larethian my sister-in-law and niece will be safe in their new village. I pray even harder to the almighty Elf creator that Kanae does not fall into the Abyss.
Give me courage, Chorellon Larethian, and the strength I need to complete this quest. I need it now more than ever.