Hunted Heroes

'In the Service of Sol'Aur: The Mines'

I, Korsa Juf’Kahir, have decided to keep a journal, detailing the events that occur during my mission for Sol’Aur. Currently, I find myself resting among my companions in the camp we made in the mountains. The inconspicuous fire Galadriel made barely matches the warmth of home… but I digress. I am to write of the infected mines…

My companions and I had been exploring a mine for a small village’s mayor. There had been much slaying of kobolds – scaly little devils that were overly-fond of traps that the barbarian seemed to always find at the most inopportune times. We had just finished a large fight with the apparent leader of the kobolds, and his/her (I can never tell with reptiles) followers, when the more dextrous of our group – myself not among them, my banded armor making me far too heavy to be supported – explored a storeroom of sorts and found the spawn of two of the kobolds – one female and one male. They took an unnatural liking to these two, now named ‘Ember’ and ‘Ashes’, given the trouble we went through to slaughter the parents of these two. A strange group I find myself traveling with…

As we delved deeper in to the mines, the air got thick and suffocating. This place reeks of pestilence, I say to myself. My hand moves to the small purple gem I keep in my pouch, my blessed soulflame, and I mutter a small prayer to Sol’Aur. My compatriots, however, mistook the grim atmosphere.

“Dragon,” the barbarian Zarah muses darkly, with consent from the others in our group.

“I doubt it.” I reply, wary nonetheless.

As we continue, we begin to hear the sounds of combat ahead, mixed with muffled moans of agony. We creep to the end of our somewhat-wide tunnel, and see the source of those sounds. In a small room, a dark-haired, female human – no, half-elf, her ears are more pricked than a human’s – armed with a glimmering bow, short sword strapped to her hip, was in a vicious melee with multiple undead garbed in the clothes of miners. An arrow of hers strikes home as she lets it fly.

“Ha! Got you!” she yells out triumphantly.

But her success was not to last. We could see her slowly being driven in to the corner of the room. Our rogue, Padishar Creel, steps forward, his reflexes being the greatest, and fires an arrow at one of the undead miners – and inevitably misses, as seems to be his style. Behind me, I can hear the draconian Marcus utter an arcane phrase, and a large, dark-gold dog appears behind the most imposing of the zombies, tearing its head off with a snarl. Finally, i decide it’s time I acted, and step forward behind the half-elf.

“I recommend you duck…” I growl to her as I step behind her. She obeys and crouches down as I bark a word of invocation, raising my hands towards the abominations. Flame jets from my palms, licking the walls of the room, and sets one of the zombies aflame, the rest flinching from the heat but avoiding the flames otherwise. I growl in frustration as Zarah joins the fray…

…I do not remember much else of that fight. A blow from one of the creatures that were once man did more damage than I had originally thought, and my fury blinded me…

But I do remember the end. The zombies felled, the half-elf girl introduced herself as Galadriel, and joined our rag-tag group. Telling us of her experiences with this cavern, we decide to send Padishar in to the adjoining chamber to scout.

Marcus, Zarah, and I introduce ourselves properly to the half-elf while we wait for the rogue to return. When he does, he tells us of what he saw: dimly-glowing runes of power lining the walls of a large chamber, with a small pool of water in the center of said chamber, a pillar of stone rising from it.

After a short conference, we decide to move on in our ‘combat formation’ – Zarah in front, followed by myself, Padishar, Marcus, and finally, Galadriel, apparently still wary of us. As we enter, we notice a small pathway up the pillar, likely climbable by our rogue. The other four of us take up positions on the northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest corners of the pool.

As I stand ready at my position, hand resting on my kopesh and Padishar approaching the pool, a sulfuric cloud of misty red appears behind Padishar. When it clears, an irrationally large, snarling weasel becomes visible. Before anyone can react, the beast lets out a feral shriek and sinks its teeth in to the rogue, felling him. I swear under my breath and rush towards Padishar, drawing my kopesh. Marcus, evidently not wanting to waste spells, takes his javelin up and begins aiming. Right as i pass him, he sneezes violently and ends up tossing his javelin in to the shallow pool. I sigh quietly, and arrive beside our felled companion, muttering a word of power, and spread my hands above him, a cure light wounds spell coursing through his damaged body. He visibly recovers, and begins struggling up, the bite disappearing. By now, Zarah has joined the fray, drawing her weapon while Galadriel, in the far corner, calmly begins nocking an arrow. Suddenly, Zarah freezes in place, without warning nor sign of frost magic. The moment I realize what happened, I spot an orc, dressed in the priestly garbs of the pestilence god Gruumsh, standing on top of the stone pillar. At the same time, Galadriel raises her bow unnoticed.

“Heretic!” I snarl at the orc, in perhaps overly-stereotypical clerical fashion.

The orc laughs and cries out, “You shall fall for Gruumsh!”

As Padishar finally gets his bearings, I snarl an oath in my native tongue and charge the heretic’s demonic weasel, kopesh ready. When I reach it, I raise my blade and slice at the animal, taking its head clean off.

“Stop making me heal the rogue!” I yell at it, baring my fangs.

Meanwhile, I hear Marcus utter a phrase for the daze spell, and a blinding flash appears around the orcish heretic. He flinches in surprise, but glares down at the draconian, not visibly harmed, and laughs.

“Gruumsh’s protection is greater than your power, mage!”

But at this moment, Zarah suddenly moves and swears in Common. She draws her bow and fires an arrow at the orc, Padishar following suit with his own bow. One arrow – who’s, I could not tell – strikes the heretic, making him stagger. In retaliation, he shouts out an arcane phrase, and suddenly all turns black around me. A darkness spell…

Greatly frustrated by this heretic and his advantage over us, I cry out in frustration. Suddenly, the light returns, blinding me temporarily, and when my eyes readjust, I see the heretic falling in to the pool, an arrow piercing the back of his skull, the arrowhead jutting out of his mouth. I look over at Galadriel, who calmly puts her bow away, a triumphant glint in her green eyes.

“Admirable,” I grunt quietly to myself.

The five of us approached the dead orc, floating in the shallow pool, his dark, crimson lifeblood tainting the water. Zarah fished him out and begin stripping him of his equipment unceremoniously, the rest hoping eagerly to assist. I mutter a word of power for detect magic, and suddenly many of the items the orc had began to glow a faint blue. I point out the enchanted items, and Marcus and I begin to identify and appraise them. All said and done, I received a new shield and a few inscribed scrolls with divine phrases on them – raise dead, summon creature II, lesser restoration, and dispel magic. Everyone seemed content with their share, and so we moved on, leaving the accursed mines behind us.

As we left, conversing on what to do next, a sudden uproar from the town hall’s entrance caught our attention. A large, imposing man clad in steel plate was looming over the mayor, face reddening with anger.

“I don’t care if you’re ‘barely out of your sick bed!’ You would’ve been better off staying there! Now tell me where. They. ARE!”

The mayor, flustered and babbling, begins spurting something about adventurers passing by. Sol’Aur’s grace, the human is defending us… I think, already reaching in to my bag, unaware of the disappearance of the ranger and ignoring – to the best of my abilities – the thief’s lust for loot.

“I’m picking his pocket,” Padishar declares bluntly, and I did not doubt the sincerity of that statement. Zarah flashes an amused grin, and I turn to the rogue.

“No. We don’t need to invite unneeded danger,” I growl sternly, wrapping myself in a simple brown robe to hide my armor and my more animalistic features, pulling a cowl over my head.

“But..”

“NO.”

At this moment, we notice Galadriel running up, returning from her unannounced scouting mission, looking slightly bothered. I raise my head to face her, the rest of the group following suit.

“Sounds like an old friend of yours is looking for you, and he has back-up. I take it we’re leaving?” she says dryly.

As she finishes, I become dimly aware of the sound of distant marching. Realizing what’s happening, I swear in my native tongue and place a hand on the hilt of my kopesh. “We cannot fight an army here. We have to run.”

And so we fled blindly, eager to be anywhere but where we were. Eventually we found ourselves in a clearing on the outskirts of the town, just at the foot of the mountains.

“Well… now what?” The rogue asks, the eyes of Zarah and Marcus showing the same question.

Silently, Galadriel pulls out the fly figurine she was given as part of the loot division earlier. “We fly out.” She says, speaking an arcane phrase and tossing the statuette in to the air. In the blink of an eye, the fly grows to the size of a young horse, buzzing and looking about. I raise a brow in slight distaste, but stay silent.

“It can only carry two,” Galadriel explains, turning to the rogue. “Padishar, you and I can scout first. Then we take Marcus, Zarah, and finally, Korsa.” Nods of consent. After a small discussion, the mage and thief give Zarah and I their invisibility potions, as a last resort.

Eventually, we finish our giant-insect-based airborne ferry service, landing in the mountains and making camp in a cave Padishar and Galadriel found. I glance warily around, and speak up, hoping that we could move our camp closer to the building each of us saw on our way in, but the idea was rejected.

As it is, the cold is unsettling for me after living my life in and on the borders of the Crimson Wastes. But with the addition of the height, I could feel my primal instinct of ‘I shouldn’t be here’ kicking in. So different from home… oh so different…

But now I grow weary. When next we travel, I shall detail our adventure… Sol’Aur watch, warm, and guide us on this frozen night.

Comments

Sol’Aur watch over you and your companions indeed! Well done, sir. I look forward to more exciting adventures.

WolvenCarnus

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