Darkest Before the Dawn

Stone Wars: Episode I
A New Bloke

Turmoil has engulfed the
Dwarven Underworld. The access
to underground routes of trade
and passage is at risk.

Hoping to end this new invasion
from the Underdark, the mighty
Stonebound and honorable
Lord Ironfoot have established
a plan to cease this infestation
and reclaim caverns and Dwarven
strongholds of old.

While the Underdark seethes
with its growing hordes in this
alarming expansion of the dark,
Lord Ironfoot of Eldon has
cautiously dispatched a
young Stonebound warrior
to reconnoiter the area surrounding
Old Miru, and remove any enemies
in the process.…

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Captain's Log - Stardate Session 4

This 41st Day of Ashlae’s 2nd Autumn, 1122

Our trip to Elden was interrupted before it began with the disappearance of Twist. He left a note in his chambers stating that he would be away for a time. I cannot help but wonder what that rogue is about.

A man short, we joined a well-guarded Shield caravan and set out for Elden. The first few nights were wholly unremarkable. Although I took the opportunity to catch up on my reading, I must confess that it was a dull time. Adventure is addictive, and I’m developing a taste for late nights spent healing wounds and mending armor. It sounds brash, but I’m increasingly less content reading about history’s heroes than becoming one of them.

After three days walking along the northern edge of Lake Rafe, adventure found us in the night. I was sharing the first watch with Eric, a young Shield guardsman. I spied a gathering darkness moving unnaturally on the shore of the lake. Eric suspected it was a wraith, so we cut the horses’ ties. Three wraiths quickly appeared at the edge of camp, and we retreated to the safety of the Shield’s enchanted wagons. A part of me wishes that I had taken a small shot against those wraiths—you know, show my worth and all that. Who knows? Sigh.

We awoke to find one of the horses killed and the rest scattered. We needed to retrieve our own horses, and the Shield’s horse tender offered 10 gold for each of the caravan’s horses that we returned. The horses left tracks in the ground so clear and obvious that even a child could have found them (assuming the child had thoroughly read and committed to memory Ranger-Captain Sacken’s Second Edition Tips for Tracking, Gathering, and Life in the Wild—an excellent read).

In our search, we encountered a delightful hobgoblin and a most clever bear (I never thought I would write that!). Grogg, the hobgoblin, and Fluffy, his bear companion, attempted to extort from us 20 gold. After some brief conversation, we found Grogg to be a reasonable sort of fellow—and Fluffy even more so. We paid Grogg 12 gold coins to enter “his land” and then gave him another 75 gold in exchange for a stunning elvish longbow, which he named Death Pointy Bow. Grogg warned us to keep an eye out for elvish bandits. Then we went on our way, but not until Devika and Fluffy had become fast friends.

AMBUSH! We were waylaid by an infestation of damned goblins. As we trekked westward past Lake Rafe, a tree suddenly crashed along the road before us. Moments later, arrows plinked about the caravan as we were under siege. The arrows appeared to be coming from nowhere and everywhere. We were under fire from both sides of the road, splitting the party.

I narrowly survived the encounter. A particularly malicious goblin shot me in the neck, leaving me for dead as I bled out alone in the woods. As the goblin crept up to slit my throat, Devika restored me to life in the nick of time. I had less than a moment to lift my shield, deflect a mortal strike, and blast away the goblin with pure Ashlaen wrath. The remaining goblins vanished into the woods. I shall endeavour to be cautious of goblin treachery on our return trip.
Eventually, we made it to the city of Elden. Elden is a seven-tiered wonder of dwarven engenuity. The face of the city is protected by a thick stone wall, with its sides and rear flanked by rising cliff sides. Each tier represents a social class, rising in wealth and status as you ascend. On the third tier, we arranged for lodging at the Clay Tankard. Devika quickly made her mark in the district, playing her bagpipes for dancing dwarves at a lively tavern. I am told she was excellent. This is how I learned to mistrust the musical sensibilities of dwarven drunkards.

The following day, we climbed to the sixth tier to visit a lavish market. We sold Grogg’s elvish longbow to a fletcher for a tidy profit. Next, we visited a reputable bookseller, Bookmaster Bob. I quickly learned that he was a well-read man of good taste, and I sensed opportunity. I arranged for a private meeting that evening, where I learned that he had in his possession three especially rare books. The first two books, although terribly desirable, were hopelessly beyond our means. The third book, a recitation of the lore of magical subplanes (an exotic history of which I was entirely unfamiliar), was priced just within our reach. For 500 gold, we struck a bargain. We had to pool our resources for the buy (83 gold from Gaston, 117 from Devika, 117 from Astra, and 183 from yours truly), but I suspect the book may be worth as much as 1500 gold. I look forward to finishing a translation of it with Devika’s magical linguistic capabilities.

Next, we visited a tavern where Master Gambil’s shipment of books was being stored. The books were being held in a terrible state, and I regret to say that I was more wrotfhful with the tavern keeper than a cleric of Ashlae should strictly be. Forgive me.

We visited the Temple of Ashlae on the seventh tier and arranged for a horse and cart to carry the books back to Miru. The Ashlaen order has provisioned us and asks only that we take a few things back to Miru for them. We set out at dawn tomorrow.

Forever yours,

Selin

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Captain's Log - Stardate Sessions 2 & 3

This 33rd Day of Ashlae’s 2nd Autumn, 1122

Master Librarian Cluff was the most ambitious, and perhaps least successful, director of the Grand Academy’s famed Central Library. Gifted with long tenure and an even longer life, he spent most of his life and all of his directorship attempting to summarize each of the library’s countless books. Although Master Cluff failed utterly, he has wisely triaged his efforts, managing to summarize many of the most popular written works of his time. Today, his summaries—commonly called Cluff’s Notes—are beloved of lazy wizardlings and would-be clerics at seminary. No true bibliophile would sully themselves with Cluff’s Notes. Yet I suspect this journal entry will amount to no more than a Cluff’s Notes account of our most recent adventures.

Catherine, the young girl we rescued, is a mystery. She speaks no language we recognize, and she has proven to be calm in the face of grave danger. She seems to trust us entirely and even clings to Starla. In most respects, Catherine seems a perfectly typical young girl, but there is almost certainly more to her than meets the eye. Time will tell.

We’ve been juggling a couple quests. First, the Night’s Watch tasked us with solving the mystery of a flying monster that had been harrying Miru at night. We quickly found the beast—a gargoyle-esque winged terror—in the top of a tower in Old Miru. Devika awoke the horror with true love’s kiss (and was cut to ribbons), but we fought back as a team and shattered the monster. The tower was full of other perils and dark creatures, including an undead wielder of ichorous magic. We slew all evil that we came across and were rewarded by the Night’s Watch. To top it all off, we excavated the tower with Master Gambil’s golem, which has awakened us to the reality that his resources are far vaster than we had first dared to imagine.

Second, Gambil is sending us to the ancient Dwarven city of Elden to retrieve a large store of books and safely return them. The trip could take as many as two weeks. We leave tomorrow.

I regret not saying more, but this Cluff’s Note abridgment of our adventures will have to do. I simply have too much reading to catch up on. Ashlae’s blessings are bounteous.

Forever yours,

Selin

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Captain's Log - Stardate Session 1

DIARY OF SELIN STORKSOAR

This 12th Day of Ashlae’s 2nd Autumn, 1122

I have been baptized in fire, born into a second life. Two nights past, not long after dusk, the library was engulfed in flame. An infestation of zombies inexplicably manifested in the library’s underspaces. The Death Watch, unconcerned with the numerous and precious texts and tomes there held, set fire to the most vital pillar of our community–our library. It is a loss too great for words, and yet no more than a loss of words.

Covered in the ash of civilization’s collective knowledge, I collapsed not far from the blaze. The immeasurable loss of our library was greater felt in no heart but mine, except, perhaps, Gambil, the library’s chief financial benefactor. He and I embraced before the conflagration, letting our tears mingle like two oceans. Dear Gambil has ever been kind to me and has unfailingly supported my literary endeavors.

Gambil took me into his home and lent me such provisions as I have never known. Glory to Ashlae and her work, but Gambil’s lifestyle and lavishness go well beyond the alms given to humble servants of Ashlae such as me. It is very fine to be in such company. And it appears I shall there remain for yet some time, as I am now a cleric in the service of Gambil’s duly chartered Rays of Knowledge adventurers league! Gambil wasted no time in requesting that I assemble a team of talented individuals ready to rebuild our town’s store of literature.

Our heroes’ tale began in the bowels of a disreputable tavern, the Leaky Chamberpot, where I set out to find Eoin “Twist” Lautaro. He has been helpful a time or two in dealing with my more delicate problems. Remarkably, I quickly found him after briefly conversing with an out-of-place but utterly delightful young couple. As expected, Twist effortlessly rounded up a couple of able-bodied persons. With that managed, I was all too eager to leave the Leaky Bedpan, or whatever that dreadful pub may call itself.

I began toward the Temple when I ran into none other than Astra, a fellow disciple of Ashlae’s teachings. I have long recognized her prized physique and unswerving sense of duty, so I was delighted when she offered to join our group. Her hair smelled faintly of juniper and cedar.

And so our group was formed:

  • Twist, cunning and rogueish
  • Gaston, brawny and dangerous
  • Devika, musically eclectic and downright peculiar
  • Astra, lovely and fragrant, and strong, too
  • And me, Selin, an intellectual servant of Ashlae

Our merry band of adventurers met with Gambil for dinner. We were presented with a generous charter detailing our mission and obligations to one another. We signed the charter with not insignificant eagerness. We were informed that our first assignment would send us deep into the Boon District of Old Miru in search of an unknown book of potential significance.

Well provisioned, and in a race against the darkness and its attendant unholy horde of undead, we set out of town shortly after daybreak through the gate by the docks. My prior research of the Boon District suggested that a cache of literature could have been located in a small number of residential structures. We quickly found a likely building and investigated.

We entered a dilapidated home, sunken along its southern edge, and found an ominous cellar portal in the northwest corner. But we were waylaid by no less than three monstrous arachnids! Gaston was unimpressively incapacitated for much of the melee, but he was a welcome distraction as the other adventurers and I vanquished our foes with righteous might. We then passed through to the cellar and encountered a mysterious chest. Truly, I have never felt so ALIVE!

Twist carefully examined the chest, which contained four bars of infernal gold, forged in some unimaginable hell, and a tome of abyssal script entitled “The Book of Lies.” By Ashlae’s grace, I magically divined the darkbound book’s magical properties and effects. It was shut by a silver clasp, openable only with a cursed key and a secret phrase. Attempting to open the book without such materials would almost certainly result in the accursed book’s self-destruction. A pity, as its contents would have been a fascinating addition to my mental repositories of lore and history.

We returned the book to Gambil, who cautiously accepted it and granted us a generous sum of gold. So we set out on the town to celebrate. With gold in our pockets and glory in our veins, we feasted at the Matronly Widow, a meal so singular and perfect it inspired a poem I intend to share with its proprietors when next I chance to visit.

Indulge your senses
Best in class, first in service
Matronly Widow

But Gaston and Devika, philistines as they are, insisted we move our celebration to the Brass Balls. Thereafter, we chanced to see a man in rather unofficial looking armor dragging a young, unkempt girl down a street in the middle of the night. Our interest piqued, we intervened and were met with unwarranted violence. Despite fighting valiantly, I was the victim of an outrageously cheap shot and was incapacitated. My comrades fought bravely on, saving the girl, who exhibited what I can only describe as an eldritch display of force, lashing out against her assailant with what appeared to be ethereal tentacles.

We took her to the Temple and committed her to the compassionate custody of Vicar John, who tells us she does not appear to be imbued with any identifiable magic—good or evil. Puzzling. But we were glad to mend our wounds and rest up in the care of Ashlae and her pupils.

I look forward to a time when I can reflect on this journal entry and be content that it chronicles only the first few moments of a new life filled with unimaginable adventure and boundless knowledge.

Forever yours,

Selin

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Adventure Log
A place for notes and stories

Once we begin playing, this will be the place for notes of the game to be posted. There will be an in game reward for the player who posts the notes. They are not required to be in character, but it is certainly encouraged.

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