Text drawn from the journal of Willow, Mistwalker of the Virlych:
I was up bright and early to go out and meditate with nature. I was beginning to feel as if something bad was going to happen, and having frazzled nerves helped little after last night’s events. Though, after communing with nature and meditating on some things, I felt well enough to return to the temple. Though, I had to raise a brow as it would seem that Dorvinius, Abel, and Toreg were ready to head out again, with an extra. (Intuition informs us all, should we choose to listen.)
We returned to Harrowstone after the dwarf decided to grab a couple of maces from the forge, and abducted one of the acolytes. Evidently, the dwarf was under the impression that it was necessary for the boy to cleanse a place so full of negative energy that it physically pains a being that prefers nature. (Well, this “Toreg” seems to fit the classic stereotype for one of his race: superstitious and uneducated. It surprises me that he felt the need to leave his ancestral home in the dark…though the darkness apparently didn’t leave him.)
Getting to the prison, the screaming doors were oddly silent. The faces that screamed around us were suddenly looking as if they were melded into the door and their heads and throats were slashed several times. Dorvinius got the creeps at something skittering. Come to find out, communing with nature at the crack of dawn today allowed me to gain a giant scorpion as a companion. While the group was a bit shocked, I was thrilled. It actually looked quite cool, and it was fairly large. It makes me curious as to whether it’ll grow any larger than its current size. (Interesting. Perhaps nature does have its uses.)
Convincing the party to continue traveling through, and to not focus so much on the scorpion, we went through the prison cells and came across a heavily chained skeleton with religious markings all over the chains. Abel witnessed something and started to reach for his hand. Going through this area and looking for some kind of book for good pay will do that to any thief. (And here we have our first realistic insight into this half-breed.) They tend to take any risks necessary for a little bit of cash…at least…that’s the stereotype. Once the book was opened, chaos erupted as the sounds of cell doors and rattling chains could be heard throughout the area.
Suddenly, flute music and the sound of leathery wings permeated the air. From what happened in town earlier in the week, I knew it was likely stirges. Sadly, after fighting a few skeletons, with my scorpion doing a fair share of the damage, I found myself spellbound by flute music. I didn’t really know what happened, but at some point, something happened and snapped me out of it. Imagine my irritation when we wound up fighting more skeletons and, to make matters worse, Abel got scratched in the face and fell to the ground; chains wrapping around him and causing him to writhe. I did notice that our acolyte setting off a burst of positive energy loosened them a bit, unfortunately not enough. Remembering that I had a haunt siphon on me, I pulled it out and popped the cork. The green mist went to the chains and to the piper of Illmarsh. I had to force the mist to the chains to free our ally. Next thing I saw, the dwarf was stung by some stirges, before using an arrow to make the piper dissipate. Whether the piper was truly gone, or just faded to regroup, we don’t know, but I’m sure we will continue to keep our guard up. This place has so many traps and tricks, it’s hard to know what we’ll come across next. (More and more I feel refreshed to read the account of someone who simply gets to the point of the matter. Sometimes frivolity in prose can try the nerves. Speaking of which, on to our next account.)
Text drawn from the journal of Destryn Dorvinius, Outcast Scion of Ustalav’s House Dorvinius:
22 Calistril, 4711 Absalom Reckoning
I awoke (grudgingly after the previous night) to the sounds of a very heated argument between Toreg and one of the acolytes (Not the dunce that was assigned to help me in the archives, praise pharasma). It seemed that Toreg was attempting to abduct the poor acolyte to assist us in the “cleansing” of Harrowstone, thankfully I was able to diffuse the situation with logic and reason. The end result being that the acolyte, whose name is Justinious, reluctantly agreed to come with us. Justinious went to gather his meager equipment and other “supplies” while Toreg inexplicably left to get a few maces from the smithy. Willow was nowhere to be seen and I can only assume she was once again off “communing” with the “natural” world. (I sense disdain. Preconceived notions can be hard to throw off, especially for someone without any real, worldly experience.)
While the others were doing their varied tasks, Father Grimbarrow dourly gestured for me to follow him (I must admit that I was a bit nervous, there was no clue as to what he could possibly want with me). I got anxious as the old priest led me down into the records vault, through a narrow passage, and down more stairs. We were clearly going deep underground, and then we encountered the burial alcoves. Thankfully there were no bodies present, and seeing my discomfort the father explained that the deceased were all moved to the cemetery grounds sometime in the past.
Deeper and deeper into the undercroft we went, through more burial chambers, until at last we came to a door. This door immediately reminded me of a dungeon door (much like the one I was periodically locked behind as a child for allegedly “causing mayhem”, damn the superstition), (…very enlightening. I struggle to contain my tears…) which caused me pause as the old priest fumbled for the key. Why would he bring me into a secret church dungeon? Apparently the father could read minds because before I had even asked he told me that there is something in here I may make use of. He proceeded to unlock and with a grunt of effort push the door open.
The long corridor was flanked on both sides by row after row of barred prison doors, and the clear sounds of the risen dead shuffling endlessly behind them. At the end of the corridor one door stood apart, maybe a little heavier or sturdier looking or maybe it was imagination. We walked slowly to this door while the dead prisoners shuffled about in their eternal cells, once again the father read my mind and explained that this is a prison of sorts for “guests” the church feels are dangerous and don’t deserve to be laid to permanent rest. This got me extremely nervous as the old man unlocked the door and stepped aside; as he walked back down the corridor he said gruffly to lock up when I was finished. (Those that serve the Lady of Graves can indeed be practical. I approve.)
I was sure that I heard the far door get locked behind me as I reached to open the cell door. Inside I saw the outline of a kneeling form, and by the dress and heraldry I surmised it to be a knight from the realm of Lastwall, dating from sometime in the last few centuries. I slowly approached the form while drawing my rapier, ready for anything. Then it seemed that time slowed as the form stood up, dust falling from it, and I saw that in its hands was clutched a rapier that’s black blade soaked in the light. Before I could attack, the thing launched a brutal strike at my head, but my trained body reacted of its own accord and I dodged the clumsy blow. After a fierce series of strikes and parry’s we seemed to be on even ground, until the unthinkable happened.
A powerful strike came at me and I just barely was able to get my trusty rapier up in time to deflect the onslaught. Thinking myself in the clear, my stomach lurched as I heard the screech of pained metal, and the blade that had seen me through so many battles shattered. I almost lost the fight as the initial panic set in, but calm reasoning and logic triumphed. I hit the foul monster back with a burst of flame from my left hand and rammed the broken remains of my trusty blade into its blue burning eye socket. The thing crumbled into a pile of dust as the animating magic left it and centuries of staved off decay took hold. (Indeed I am now convinced that this “scholar’s” future lies not in research, but in the realm of fiction. There are many in Caliphas…and other decadent southern cities…that would drool over the rights to print and distribute this exciting account of “scholarly research.” I can hear the pressmen oiling their presses in anticipation even now…)
As I stood bathing in the glory of survival, I first wondered if it was the old priests’ intent to have me killed and trapped down here, and secondly, what was I going to do about my shattered sword as I currently had no funds. That all passed, however, for lying in the pile of dust was the creatures black blade. It seemed as if the curious light eating metal of the blade called for me to take it up. As I reached out and touched the hilt I did feel an electric tingle that quickly passed. I stood in the dark cell grasping my new blade and it had a familiarity as if it was meant for me (This blade requires deep study…on further thought may also require some research in a larger library such as the university). After a few practice swings I made my way back up to the temple proper, and to my surprise there were no locked doors barring my way.
I will leave off here as we are preparing back to Harrowstone. Willow has returned from whatever early morning nature hike she went on, Abel is packed and ready, Toreg has returned with a few maces (I am still curious as to why he felt the need to gather them) (dwarven superstition, apparently), Justinious the acolyte is as prepared as can be expected for a conscript, and I have my new armament. Off we go!