O Fortuna

Ogres in the Night

Sart’s Journal, 14th of Pharast

Attacked by two ogres. My watch. They were uninterested in talking. We had no choice but to kill them. What a waste. They nearly killed Falingus. They hit him pretty hard. His wounds are healed but he has been out of it most of the day.

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Barbarian Ambush

Sart’s Journal 13th of Pharast

We were ambushed by barbarians that had apparently turned to brigandry. Ettiene flushed their leader who then stood tall and ordered our surrender. Rohan pointed out four others just as we fell into their midst. The two to the left of us were worked up and appeared to me to be already raging, to the right two archers had us in their sites, it didn’t look like there was going to be any peaceful resolution other than surrender and even then it looked like they were bent on slaughter. I was not willing to lay down for these brigands.

I would normally go for the leader, but I figured that riding Nuade, I was probably the only one that could reach the archers before they pincushioned us. I spurred Nuade towards them and the archers opened fire, hitting me twice. The arrows hurt but fortunately struck nowhere vital. The battle commenced. While Falingus, Nuade and I took on their archers, Rohan and Marcello faced a pair of raging barbarians. Ettiene, scouting ahead, ended up facing their leader alone.

It was a close battle. The barbarians laid heavily into Rohan, their leader nearly killed Ettiene, and the archers I faced proved good with blades as well as bows. Good I had Falingus with me. That dog did more damage than I did. Marcello helped keep Rohan up. With his help Rohan finished off the barbarians and ran to Ettiene’s rescue. As the last of his companions fell, I urged the man I was fighting to stand down. The brave and foolish man attacked again. Falingus and I took him down.

The lad was still alive, so I stabilized him. Marcello, feared the barbarian’s people would take revenge upon his own if the man survived to tell them what had happened, and wanted to kill him. I stood against him and would not let him kill him. In his fear, Marcello blamed me for the battle, questioning my judgement that diplomacy was not going to help us here.

I have seen many battles during my time with the Lady’s riders. It’s possible I called it wrong, but I also know that hesitation could have proved disastrous. When I looked into the eyes of our attackers, I could see the battle was already upon us. Sometimes you have no other choice than to fight or die. We keep our swords sharp for those times.

He did finally agree to leave the barbarian to fate. Following the rule of this unforgiving land, we took what valuables those that attacked us had. We left the man alive, but unconscious and alone. Perhaps his people will find him, perhaps he will recover enough in the night to find his way home. More likely ghouls will find him and his former comrads. Curse this land that drives men to lives of such desperation. He could have lived a good life.

Despite my argument with Marcello over the young man, I am certainly blessed to have such good companions. While we have our disagreements, we seem to pull together well. I believe we can, no, we will make a difference by challenging the evil of this land.

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The Stalkers Appear

Sart’s Journal, 11th of Pharast

In the early hours the stalkers the dragons warned about appeared, hungry ghouls. I grabbed my shield and sword and stood with my companions against them.

Without my shield I was more vulnerable to attack, but I felt the god’s blessings upon me. Though struck a few times I suffered little damage and did not succumb to their paralyzing attack. Now, having tended our wounds, we rest some more.

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Ancestor in the Night

Sart’s Journal 10th of Pharast

I am so filled with emotion that I don’t know exactly how to write this. As Falingus and I stood watch on the first night of our journey to Letsome, a Bronze Dragon wyrmling came to our camp. Falingus remained surprisingly calm. I felt intense excitement. I offered him a bit to eat. He must have been hungry, he ate nearly half a boar! He warned me that something, or some things were stalking us, but he thought he had scared them off. He asked me not to tell anyone about his visit. That’s going to be a hard secret to keep when what I really want to do is dance and sing about it.

To my family, dragons are our ancestors. We have a special kinship with them. To stand in the presence of even such a young dragon is a blessing. Although it burns inside me, I will keep his secret. I just passed on the watch to Rohan. I told him about the stalkers. He gave me a look, but didn’t press me for details. Now to rest.

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A Diplomatic Mission

Sart’s Journal, 6th of Pharast

The tall pale people were happy to have the magical pipes back. They invited us to a celebration dinner. They blindfolded us and then led us to their underground home. Underground near a swamp! That’s unexpected. Apparently they use pumps that keep the water at bay. They all take turns at turning the pumps. These people are clever in a way that would even make my people take notice.

On our journey back from the witch’s lair we had noticed many secreted plantings of rice, and other grains and vegetables. They have quite the farming project going on. In the river kingdom this is no small task. Much of their success has come from the power of the fog generating pipes and the secretiveness of their people, but I’m taking note of the ingeniousness of their hidden agriculture. Dinner was a wonderful sampling of that bounty. I savored each bite, and may have eaten a bit more than I should. Iomedae warns against gluttony.

After dinner, the leaders of the tall pale people told us of another problem. They were a dwindling people. I would have thought their agricultural success would have had the opposite affect, but their secretiveness is proving their undoing. They have become too insular. They say they need new members, new blood, if they are to survive.

They have been attempting to woo the population of a village some days journey from here, Letsome. They believe these people may be vulnerable enough that they would be willing to move to a new home. The mercenaries that once protected Letsome have taken up work elsewhere, leaving the town to the mercy of bandits. They want to take advantage of that vulnerability to invite them in. The tall pale people do not like to travel though, especially during the day. The sun is harsh upon their skin. They would like us to go and speak on their behalf.

This could go wrong in so many ways. To get the people of Letsome to come, the pale people must expose themselves some. To entice them they must expose their wealth. In doing so, they may become a target. The newcomers could betray them. I can see how their people could become paralyzed, not wanting to risk a good thing. It seems their desperation is stronger than their fear though.

I don’t know what exactly to think. The people here work hard, but their security comes from secrecy. Their hidden village is cut off from the rest of the world. The risk isn’t just for the tall pale people. The people of Letsome would also need to give up much. There is also the possibility that the pale people would betray them. I worry that newcomers might not be well treated, might even be treated as second class citizens or slaves. We did see that there was division among the pale people as to whether to just take people by force or to bring them in peacefully. For now, the majority are leaning towards peace. I would not want to mislead the people of Letsome, delivering them to an even harder fate.

In the end, the deciding factor for me is the Varisians. I don’t believe Tiodora would ally herself with people bent on slavery. If the pale people have Toidora’s support, then they can have mine as well. We agreed to journey to Letsome on the behalf of the tall pale people and bring back those willing to come, either to stay or just to visit. They have given us written documents describing the town organization. They will supply us with gifts of food to bring.

We seem an unlikely group to carry this message though, on behalf of an even stranger people. I wonder how the people of Letsome will react. The Varisian Marcello is the only human among us. His people do not have the best of reputations. I guess Ettiene may prove a good diplomat. He is so quiet I often overlook him, but he has that half-elven charm about him. While Rohan and I are… unusual, we have overcome prejudice before. We are all of us a charismatic lot with a gift for glibness. Perhaps our unusualness will prove an asset.

I have a few days to recover before we leave. I hope to feel better by then. I can still feel the spider venom’s affect on me. I must rest. I will use the time to catch up on my reading of the Acts.

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The Witch in the Fog

Sart’s Journal, 5th of Pharast, the Day of the Dead

Tonight, weary from another battle, we sleep in an evil place. We have abandoned the night to the walking dead, and instead lie weary but wary in the lair of a witch.

This morning we were met with a tragedy. The tall pale people found the lifeless body of one of their own, Ephram. This was the man that played the pipes for yesterdays crossing. His body was found near the swamp and his pipes were missing. The tall pale people at first suspected us, but they more greatly suspected it was the work of a nearby witch who lived across a swamp. The swamp covers an old graveyard, a dangerous place to travel on the day of the dead. Despite their loss, the tall pale people did not want to go.

Marcello volunteered to journey to the witches lair and if we could find them, retrieve the pipes for them. Given another chance to challenge evil, Rohan and I naturally offered to join him. Our new friend Ettiene came along as well. Falingus, smelling something unnatural, would not journey into the swamp with me, but Nuade, my brave pony agreed to accompany us.

Marcello performed some special ritual that would hide us from the undead during our journey. With the protection of Pharast, we entered the swamp. The fog was thick, which suggested the witch did indeed have command of the magical pipes. It kept us blind. While we met with no undead, we were twice surprised on our journey to the lair. Once goblins attacked us. We drove them off.

We lost our bearings in the fog. When we spotted dry high ground. We made for it, eager for some relief from the wet of the swamp. The trees there hid a greater danger though, giant spiders. One of these decided to make me their meal and dropping upon me tried to pull me from the back of Nuade. The spider managed to strike me with a venomous bite that weakened and sickened me. During the battle the spiders trapped me in some webbing, but my companions managed to kill or drive off the remaining spiders.

I felt sick, but not so sick that we couldn’t continue the journey. We got our bearings again and found our way to the entrance of the witch’s lair. The witch’s home lay beyond a giant hedge maze. We knew of no better way than through. Fearless but cautious, we entered.

Of course the maze hid dangers, the maze itself radiated evil. Among its dangers was a trap that nearly finished us off for good. We had followed the maze to a room that had some evil presences in it. They were hidden by fog, gathered at what we believed to be the back of the room. I challenged them to come forward and meet me as my companions moved into the fog toward them. The trap sprung as my companions did so. A deadly log covered with blades came rolling down grooves in the wall. It struck them in the back. Fortunately I was not mounted and small enough that the trap passed harmlessly over me, but we ended up in poor positioning as goblins came out to attack us.

These were more skilled than our previous attackers and they moved cleverly to flank us. Though I managed to bring one of them down quickly, two others got around me and dropped me to the ground with piercing blows that overwhelmed me, knocking me momentarily unconscious. A quick healing burst of power from Marcello brought me back, invigorating me. I called Nuade into the battle and with her help, Rohan, Ettiene and I managed to reorganize, forming a line that kept the goblins from flanking us again.

While the battle was hard won, the goblins were hiding a great trove of treasure. They had in their possession armor from what must have been a fallen knight and his companion. What great fortune! One set of plate armor was built large and would fit Rohan, another set of banded armor was small and fit me. I felt battered enough, still sick from poison and stunned by the goblin’s devastating attack. I traded my scale mail for the banded armor, thanking the gods for our good fortune.

The gods lead us true, for the very next room we came across contained the witch. It was a large room with a web covered ceiling. With the magic pipes she filled the room with fog. The fog hid her another giant spider which we now had to face. The witch used the cover of the fog to hide her position as she maneuvered in to strike us. Her evil aura gave her position away though. Both she and the spider fell before our combined attacks.

Her room hid more treasure along with the magical pipes. Among them was an old portrait of one of the tall pale people, we recognized him from the morning. The portrait revealed him to be a half elf, something we had not previously noticed. The witch also had her own set of pipes. These are too large for my hands, but I’m fascinated by these, and I hope to someday learn to play them. There were also gems and gold among her things. These really tug at something inside of me. I want to just gather it all up and roll in it…. I fear greed may someday prove my undoing.

While our triumph and the treasure have brought me some joy, the room has a malignant aura. I would not stay here were it not for a greater concern for what we might meet trying to travel the swamp on this night, the 5th of Pharast. The dead walk tonight and it’s safer to hole up where we are. So we try to rest in this eerie evil place, counting coins, tending our wounds and awaiting the dawn.

In the morning we will return the magical pipes to the tall pale people.

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Foggy Crossing

Sart’s Journal, 4th of Pharast

In the early morning we accompanied the Varisians to a new campsite. A tall pale people, friends of the Varisians, helped us across a river, with the aid of some magical pipes. The fingering on one of the pipes looks simiar to my own, but there are other pipes as well that are connected to some kind of bag. Together they produce a very strange and sometimes fearful sound. It seems to compel the fog, and created for us a kind of bridge of fog we used to cross the river. These pale people seem very wary of us. Some joined the Varisians for a meal, but they keep separate from us. I believe they have a village nearby, perhaps near some old ruins not far from our camp. As a condition of their assistance however, we have been asked to stick to our camp and stay clear of the ruins.

More celebrations this evening. The Varisians continue to amaze me, and very much enjoy their music and their dance. I’m learning many new tunes as I do my best to play along on my little pipe. These people have a great capacity for joy. I feel at peace among them.

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An Invitation and a Battle

Sart’s Journal, 3rd of Pharast, 4708

I have much to write about an invitation, a mysterious people, cards of fate and a battle. It was all an unexpected turn for me and my traveling companion, Rohan.

I thought we would have several days yet before reaching the River Kingdoms, but we wound up in the River Kingdoms sooner than expected. A mysterious invitation given to us in a tavern turned out to be a magical portal of sorts, that and more. I didn’t get a good look at the face of the woman that handed the invitation to me. Her tattooed and aged hand caught my eye. I don’t believe I will ever forget the smell of her perfume, however. To me it was the very perfume of mystery.

The invitations instructed us to view them under moonlight. Rohan and I gathered by the animals to read our cards. A strange light enveloped, altering our invitations into cards and trasporting us many miles away. There we met with another invitee, a half-elf by name of Etienne. My dog Falingus caught the sound of something and took off. We followed him to a Varisian camp, where many Varisian women were making music and dancing.

A short varisian man named Alberto met as at the edge of the camp, apparently expecting us. The Varisian man bade us wait and we would soon have an audience with their leader, Tiodora. Falingus had already settled in with a young Varisian girl Alberto introduced as Lunetta. Falingus seemed to sense no danger. I handed over my horse and mule to the care of the Varisians and we joined in the merry making. Curiously, other than our greeter, all we saw were Varisian women and children.

After some merry making we finally met with the wizened leader of the Varisians, Tiodora. That woman really knows how to make an entrance. After her grand entrance at the height of the merry making, she invited us into her wagon and offered us seats. She told us that we were selected by fate, and she believed it would be our task to safeguard a special deck of fortune telling cards, the original Harrow deck. I fear I have forgotten some of the details, but here is what I recall.

We were told the deck was highly magical and a sacred gift from Desna to a priestess of Tiodora’s clan. The deck was eventually scattered when a greedy Varisian leader tried to misuse them, but sometimes evil people have found out about the deck and have tried to gather the cards for their own evil ends.

She said the cards we were given as invitation were some of those original cards and that they had chosen us. They had some special gift to bestow upon us. As we gazed upon them some special symbols arose from the cards and tattooed themselves to our skin and we were each imbued with some special power. My tattoo is, not surprisingly, in the form of a dragon.

I can’t say I really understood it all, but before we could get more details, a man entered and informed Tiodora that they were under attack. We offered our blades to help defend them. We were asked to follow a member of their group, Marcello. Marcello told us a group of bandits had noticed the Varisian camp earlier and had come back with many men to attack it. He believed most of the bandits would go down easily, to archers they had positioned on the wagons, but there were three leaders that we might need to confront, a fighter type, a sorcerer and an archer.

We did find these men, and fought with them, suffering some severe wounds, but we were mostly victorious. The archer escaped. Odd to sum it all up that way. It was my first real battle on my own. In battle before I was under the charge of the Lady’s riders and I watched more than I fought. To fight in a righteous battle is something I wanted badly, and yet the experience was not what I expected. The rush of battle came upon me, and while the events seemed crystal clear to me at the time, now it is a blur. We fought, we won, we protected the innocent. We will fight again.

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