Dear Chorellon Larethian I’m cold. I’m achy, groggy and between boiling hot & freezing. I sit here on this deserted beach on some God forsaken island in the middle of the sea & there’s nothing to do. So I write as I rest.
You’re probably wondering how I (along with my companions) came to be marooned on a seemingly desolate island. I’m getting there. Slowly but surely, the events of the last two days are falling back into my memory bank as my fever gradually begins to break.
Last time I wrote, I left off with Errol completing the four trials & thus securing the first of four pieces needed to accomplish the mission. Upon emerging from the castle, we found the city of Vicol deserted and in ruins. The streets were littered with crumbling brick, scattered possessions left behind in a frantic escape and corpses. Truly a war had raged here.
By the time our eyes really witnessed the aftermath of the great zombie battle, night had settled over what once was Vicol. We were all too worn for travel, so we agreed to stay in the desolate city for one night. I convinced my companions to allow me time to give Kane a proper burial (at least as proper a burial as we could manage). Maal carried his boneless corpse to the cemetery where we laid him to rest in the Elvin section, carefully avoiding the freshly opened and abandoned graves (we all assume these are where the zombies came from).
After a short prayer to Chorellon Larethian and an even shorter goodbye to Kane, the five of us sought shelter in what used to be my brother’s home. The place still stood, but it was evident my sister-in-law had hurriedly stripped the place of her prized treasures before departing with my niece. Errol and I searched the rooms for signs of remaining zombies as well as valuables we could either return to Ruaera if we encountered her once more or possibly sell if need be. We did not find the undead but we did find a few weapons along with some jewelry. I allowed Errol to hang on to many of his findings, though I asked to carry a jewelry box that played a familiar Elvish lullaby when opened. Along with the jewelry, Errol pocketed one of my niece’s finer dolls and a couple of her books.
Errol and I took turns keeping watch while the others slept, in case there were a few zombies or another reaper on the loose. During my shift I heard a loud, metallic bang and some agitated shouts ring out through the abandoned town. Since the voice spoke in a language I did not recognize, I woke the others and told them to listen. Errol understood the words as Gnome, explaining they sounded irritated because the Gnome was shouting curses (As in curse words, not the dark magic kind of curse). Upon investigation we discovered Frank, the eccentric little Gnome, trying like hell to move his magic box.
“Hey!” I shouted at him. “What are you still doing here?”
He seemed taken aback at first, startled by my sudden and unexpected words. Once he saw us, that dopey smile formed across his lips and he relaxed. He explained he had been held up from relocating with the rest of the city’s people because his box would not budge. We asked if he wanted help, a question that caused an amused look to cross his face. He told us we could try, something I did not understand until Maal found he could not lift the box.
Frank implied the box was hungry, so Maal offered a days rations to the animated object. Once fed, the box, to Frank’s delight, sprang to life once more. To show his gratitude, Frank offered Maal a free pull from the magic box. The half Orc won an axe constructed of sturdy bone.
Another good deed was done, but we couldn’t let pass the opportunity to win another mystical object. We all laid down our ten gold pieces (Maal borrowing ten from me) and took our turn putting our hand in the box. Yun pulled out a marble of lightning (she always wins the coolest stuff!) while I pulled forth a large citrine that spans the length of my open palm (not the magical weapon I was hoping for, but it should bring in a few gold pieces). Errol pulled out a large wooden shield that triples as a sled and a wagon, something he traded to Maal for the fancy hat Maal won. From Errol, Maal borrowed another ten gold pieces and won a pair of flashy reptilian style boots that stay clean and dry no matter what you walk in or through.
Once we had our fill of pulling prizes from the box, we asked Frank if he wanted to accompany us in our quest. He seemed quite reluctant, not at all enticed by the prospect of adventure. Finally he agreed to follow us north as he knew the townspeople had fled in that direction.
So the six of us (seven if you include the box) traveled northward across the southwestern planes. Luckily for us, the day’s traverse turned out to be mostly uneventful, save for the entertainment Frank’s naturally nutty personality provided. With the previous night’s battle still so near, we all needed a quiet day.
Once night fell, we set up camp. As per usual, Errol and I took turns keeping watch while the others slept since we only require four hours of deep meditation. Errol reported footsteps in the distance when our shifts changed, telling me to keep an ear out for them just in case. I listened for the footsteps but heard none. What I did hear over my watch seemed much more animalistic. And whatever it was, it seemed to be circling us.
Uncertain what it could be, I shook Maal awake to investigate with Lavin and me, not wanting to leave the sleeping members of our party completely unguarded. I also wanted the biggest member of our crew along with me as the sounds seemed to indicate multiple animals and, to be honest, I was a little concerned it was unicorns.
When the beasts revealed themselves to us, we discovered it was far worse than unicorns. What they were, I’m still not entirely sure. They were wolf like creatures, five or six of them in total, whose skin pealed back from their faces when they bore their sharp teeth at us.
Panic struck and I fled with Lavin on my heels. I don’t know why I was so gripped by fear. It’s actually quite embarrassing. I’ve seen my fair share of fierce, evil creatures in my life and I’ve seldom allowed their fearsome demeanors distract me from taking a stand against them. But I couldn’t hold myself together this time. After their skin receded and the deep growls pushed past razor sharp teeth, for some reason all I could see was the terrible memory of my parents brutal death. Perhaps Kane’s death provoked certain memories to arise, memories I’ve always kept but had been able to repress enough to fight through.
As I fled, the commotion I must have made awoke Yun and Errol. Yun sprung into action, helping Maal slay the foul creatures while Errol scurried to put his armor back on. For a while, time stood still. What felt like hours passed before Errol fully readied himself to fight, though by then Maal and Yun had killed them all. What felt like a day passed before my heart rate returned to normal and the visions of my parent’s demise vanished. Even then it was hardly noon.
Once the fear had fled my body, Frank woke up and our company moved on. Along the northern shores we found a make-shift village, or rather, a camp of Vicol’s refugees. The guards, we all noticed, were young boys no older than 13 who were armed with… well, nothing, really. I know the circumstances of the boy guards were far from funny, but I found the sight to be rather humorous. I couldn’t contain the laughter once one of the boys told us to halt and asked us what business we had there, something that seemed to frighten the young guard more than anything.
Note to self: work on people skills.
I told them our crew meant no harm and that I was looking for my sister-in-law and young niece. The second boy scampered off to find them, returning with both Ruaera and Runae in no time. I exchanged a long embrace with my brother’s family before I introduced them to the friends they had not yet met; Yun, Errol and John. Errol extracted the books and the doll he had collected from Ruaera’s old home. He stooped down and gave them to Runae who gave him a small hug, clearly delighted to have a few more of her possessions back.
When Ruaera asked what had happened back in Vicol, I couldn’t contain the awful news. I informed her of Kane’s demise and she burst into tears. My friends respectfully left us alone, wandering off to find a boat to carry us across the sea. Runae, who didn’t fully understand what was going on, scampered off with Lavin while I consoled my heartbroken sister-in-law. I returned her jewelry box, something that made her smile, if only for a moment. She explained to me it had been a gift from Kane and made by his very own hands, which explained the familiar lullaby it played.
At one point during my visit, Ruaera mentioned I did not show signs of grieving. Though I hide it well on the outside, I assure you my heart still grieves for my lost brother. I suppose it always will, but I must be strong. It’s how I was raised. Never forget, but never allow sorrow to cloud judgment or mind.
So I used the old excuse that I am accustom to witnessing tragedy, that it had all sunk in and I had come to terms with Kane’s passing. I found it strange when Ruaera had to ask what sort of tragedy I had encountered in my past and even stranger when I realized Kane had never told her about our parent’s brutal death. It sort of shaped us into the adults we became, I’m surprised my brother never shared this fact with his own wife. Not surprised enough, however, to dwell upon it. I had several other matters on my mind and, as surprising as it was, I found it to be of little importance at the time.
Before I could take my leave, Ruaera inquired about my quest and the unlikely group I have been traveling with. I told her it was best if she knew little but assured her that our mission was clear and of the upmost importance. If it were not, I explained, I would stay in the makeshift village with her and Runae. I promised I would find them when I could and would write to them in the meantime. As I was leaving, she told me of a sailor who may be able to assist my companions and me across the sea. She did know his name, but told me he would probably be drunk.
Once I departed from Ruaera, I slowly wandered through the makeshift village lost in thought and grief while I casually searched for my crew. I found them unloading a stock of grains and other items for a local wine and ale maker. They explained they had bartered labor in exchange for alcohol, which was asking price for the sailor to carry us across the ocean. I helped them unload the stock, ignoring the fact Errol smelled of saltwater and vomit. We were, as promised, paid with six bottles of wine from the happy fellow we had helped.
We found the drunk sailor (whose name we have yet to get) who took a bottle as a down payment before we decided to search for Frank. We found him and his lively box entertaining a small crowd of people. Shuffling through the people, we made our way to the gnome to ask if he wanted to join us in our quest across the water. Again, he seemed quite reluctant to join us but agreed to meet us the next morning.
By nightfall we had made our own camp. Partially out of habit and partially because the village was under the watch of children, Errol and I assumed our guard duties while the others slept. When my shift rolled around, I noticed one of the “guards” had somehow obtained a long sword and was idly swinging it as he conversed with a friend. How he got it was far less a concern than how he handled it, so I took it upon myself to show him a few sword tricks; how to hold it properly, how to swing it and so on. Though appreciative of my short tutorial, the kid seemed timid at the same time (probably because I laughed at him earlier. I really should work on my people skills).
At daybreak, my companions and I gathered at the shore to meet the nameless sailor who requested another bottle of wine before we set sail. Despite the incredibly small size of the vessel, we decided to seek out Frank and see if he wanted to accompany us in the next stretch of our journey. We found his tent set up in the village and when we “knocked”, we heard an unusually deep, loud voice ring out from within. When Frank emerged, we asked him who the voice belonged to, something he told us not to worry about. So we didn’t (for now, anyway).
As promised, Frank checked out the vessel but took little to no interest in stepping aboard. We told him our goal was to reach Triop, the busy city’s name giving the little gnome a brief air of excitement. He told us to go on across the ocean without him and he would meet us in the next city.
So the five of us crammed ourselves into Sailor’s little boat and the drunkard steered us across the sea. We drifted the day away and once night fell, Errol and Maal stayed up while the rest of us attempted sleep. I awoke for my shift after four hours of meditation and sat quietly with Sailor and Maal under the clear night sky.
If I said I had expected an uneventful sailing adventure, that would be a lie. Although, in all honesty, I expected Sailor to drunkenly steer us to the wrong continent. I certainly did not expect the events that would unfold that night.
It started with the slow, barely audible sounds of something scraping against the wooden vessel. I asked Sailor what this could have been, but he hasn’t heard a thing. I glanced over the side of the boat, the moon supplying just enough light for me to see the tentacle that gradually began to climb up out of the water. I pointed this out to Maal who swung his axe at it. He missed the moving tentacle and struck the side of the boat instead, creating a blade shaped hole he kept plugged with his weapon.
The next part is kind of a blur of lightning, ocean monsters and battle. We awoke the others as tentacles continued to rise up out of the dark waters, attempting to grab a hold of the tiny vessel. Errol and I shot arrows at the creature’s many limbs while Maal hacked away with his bone axe. Yun, being the weaponless Monk, punched at the monster before she decided to summon lightning with her new marble. She managed to summon the lightning with great success, but it was us she damaged. Sailor passed out, as did Errol until Maal supplied the elf with one of the tinctures of healing potions he carries. With our rogue back to the waking world, those of us with weapons continued our advances against the beast, fighting the exhaustion that grabbed at us. Yun took the rudder as we tried to prevent the creature from pulling the boat down.
When all was said and done, we managed to escape the sea monster’s clutches. Unfortunately, we were too late to save the vessel which crumbled and we spilled into the ocean. Luckily for us, Yun had steered us towards land and we did not have far to swim.
Maal pulled Sailor from the waters before the unconscious man could drown and heaved him onto the sandy shores of what seemed to be an island. I used my healing skills to bring him back around while Errol and I each traded a healing potion to give us more strength. When I noticed Sailor was still in trouble, I gave him one of the remaining two vials in my stock.
Once all five of us had regained enough strength, we built a small, makeshift shelter to wait out the remainder of the evening in. The second thing we should have built would have been a fire, but somehow we neglected to do this. By the time the sun had chased away the remainder of the night sky, everyone but Yun had come down with something that felt (and still feels like) the flu.
While we huddled around a fire, attempting to rest our achy bones, Yun scavenged the nearby beaches. When she uncovered little more than a gold coin she returned to camp. Over the course of the day the others have seemed to improve in health. I, on the other hand, have not been so lucky in my recovery.
So here I sit, shivering and sweating by the fire as the others prepare to make plans for further survival. I hope beyond hope I can kick this nasty infliction by day’s end. I have people to help and a mission to complete.
PS – John’s been kind of quiet the past few days. I wonder if his bracers got turned back on?