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Book of Dio - Winter - 1393DR - Page 6

Page history last edited by RogueMongoose 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The guards appear to be standing watch to the entrance of a partially collapsed stronghold. The building has seen better days. The doors are open but it’s dark inside. From our vantage point we can see that the roof has seen better days. “Do we go back for the others?” I ask. “No, they won’t be much help in this fight,” someone says. No sense getting them killed for no reason. Dora said that half the numbers were taken out from the cave in. That leads us to think there are about a dozen total. We decide to try and take out the 2 guards from a distance. Rolen and Gorstag to take the north guy, Kaji and I will take the south. Rolen mutters some words under his breath and looses an arrow. As it flies, Kaji and I do the same, followed quickly by Gorstag. As we watch the arrows arc through the air, we hold our breathes in anticipation. Rolen’s shot finds it but Kaji and I are not so lucky. The guard runs back into the entrance. We start to move towards the entrance when we see 4 dogs rush out. Barking and drooling, dragging their chains behind them, they tear across the opening towards us. Gorstag rushes up to meet one of the dogs but swings wide with his glaive. Rolen notches another arrow and hits one of the dogs as Tristan casts Faerie Fire, illuminating the dogs with a silvery glow. Kaji delivers a killing blow with a bolt from his crossbow and I hammer another to the ground. Another one of the canines rears up and bites my arm as Gorstag kills a third dog. Rolen quickly reloads and kills the last dog as we rush up to the opening of the building, flanking the doors on each side. During the fight with the dogs, the other guard fired several heavy crossbow rounds but missed each time. One deflecting off my armor and another off the shield. We can hear rustling inside and Kaji calls upon Kossuth to create a fire just inside the door. Gorstag rushes in, followed quickly by Rolen and Tristan. Kaji and I can hear fighting, but the inside is still too dark from this distance to see clearly through the opening. Inside with the crossbow-wielding thug are 6 more bandits. Kaji misses one with a streak of fire and 2 of them narrowly miss Kaji with crossbow bolts of their own. I rush in next to Gorstag and call upon the might of Moradin and channel it through my hammer to smite one. He lays there, unmoving as I focus on the others. Gorstag impales one on the end of his glaive but misses the other as he sees his friend go down. I take a bolt through the shoulder and I stagger a bit as my wounds are catching up with me. As I see the original guard line up on Gorstag, I quickly thrust my shield between them and deflect the blow, saving Gorstag from certain death. That left me open to the attacker behind me and the world went dark.

 

There is darkness all around me. I see a spec of light off in the distance. As I walk closer, I see it is the light of a forge. A dwarf materializes, hammering a piece of metal on an anvil. Still closer, I see it’s not metal but a soul. I don’t know what a soul looks like, but I just know it is. The voice booms:

 

 “My lil’ follower. Yea be reckless but for a good cause. Yea need to be more careful. Your heart is strong as granite and pure as the
 firerock under the mountain, but your flesh is not. If yea to reach your full potential, ya must protect yourself so ya may protect others. Yea can’t do nothin’ if your fire is extinguished.”

 

I gasp as breath flows quickly into my lungs. I see Rolen over top me with an empty bottle in his hand. “Thank you, my friend,” as I stagger to my feet. As I rise, I see Gorstag rush through the back door, followed by Tristan and Kaji. Bodies of the dead bandits lay across the floor. I cast a spell of healing on Rolen ad use the power of Moradin to heal myself. As Rolen and I rush through the door to catch up with the others, we arrive in an anti-chamber of dwarven make as we see Gorstag finish off the fleeing guard. That counts 8 down but we have still not seen Viktor. The chamber and hallway are definitively dwarven. The corridor is lined with columns down each side, reaching to the 20ft. ceiling. I heal Gorstag as well as his rage subsides. We all catch our breath then Gorstag and I lead down the corridor.

We enter a chamber of death and destruction. The large chamber used to have several columns holding up the ceiling. Similar to the previous room, this one has collapsed in and is barely passible. The columns are shattered, the ceiling has caved in in places and bodies are noticeable under the rubble.  The worst part however is the smell. The smell of decay is thick in the air. There are passageways going south and east. Gorstag and Rolen can tell that the east corridor is more traveled than the south. We decide to head south. Tristan leads the way, checking for traps and safe way through the debris lining the floor. This corridor appears to have taken more damage than the other. We traverse the hall for a bit, turn a corner and come to a storage room. Jackpot, this is all the stuff we have been looking for. Boxes of perfumes, books, linens, gold. All there for the taking. “We need to find the rest. We don’t want to be trapped here.” I say. Tristan agrees and we reverse back to the fallen chamber.  As Gorstag and I enter back into the chamber, we here a voice. “I wish to parlay,” it says. Emerging from the other corridor is the man Dora described. Viktor. Rolen begins negotiating with him. Viktor wants him and his men to be let go and they will go to Sundabar. He tells Rolen we can have all the stuff. Just let his men go. “NO!” I say emphatically to Rolen. “We cannot let him go. He has killed and stolen from the people in this area and if we let him go, he will do it to others.” Rolen looks at me dismissively and continues too negotiate. I cannot let this happen. I raise my hammer and charge at Viktor.

 

Viktor seems me turn and blocks my blow with his sword. He cuts me across the arm as a he retreats down the east hall. As he runs, he yells for his men and they fire crossbows down the hall. 2 miss me but a third plunks into my hip. The footing and rubble make getting to the entrance of the east hallway difficult, but I manage to start down towards Viktor. Gorstag and Rolen miss with shots from their weapons and Kaji creates another fire at the end of the hall, cutting off some of the bandits that came to Viktor’s aid. One of the bandits, displaced by the fire rushes up to me and strikes me with his sword. Tristan and Gorstag hit the assailant and I finish him off with my hammer but there are 6 or so still down the hall. My count was off. What have I done?? My pride and anger have gotten the best of me and now we might pay the ultimate price for it! Shame overtakes me. As more bolts fly down the hall, time slows around me. I see my friends….my family…taking damage because of me. I see their determination and steeled nerves as they follow me in my madness. As time returns, I yell, “Retreat!” and hold my shield at the ready. Tristan kills another bandit as he escapes back to the chamber. Kaji releases a last gout of flames from his hands as he starts to move back. I turn to see Gorstag, Rolen and Tristan moving out of the hall as my vision fades and my shield clatters to the ground.

 

Brightness, brighter than the sun if I were standing upon it. White light so intense it hurts even with my eyes pressed tight. The light fades and I slowly open my eyes. In front of me is a great throne in a great hall. Dwarven, without a doubt but more finely crafted and ornate than my imagination could ever fathom. No mortal dwarf could do this in a thousand lifetimes. Upon the throne, a dwarf larger than any has right to be. Broad, soot-streaked face wearing simple clothes and a smith’s apron fitting his frame. The familiar voice again,

 

“Yea be a stubborn one isn’t ya. Have ya not heard me words before? Yea can’t rush headlong into danger without thinkin’ of the others wit ya. We both know they got
your back but that doesn’t mean it be your’s to sacrifice. Maybe I’m a bit to blame. Maybe I givin' you more then yea can handle. Keep the faith and know that my eyes be on ya'.
Be mindful of your surroundings and think of your friends before you act."

 

With that, he reaches down and touches my forehead. I feel warmth wash over my body and the power of Moradin soak into my being. He may have saved me this time but I'm not sure if it will happen again......

 

My vision clears and I hear light talking off in the distance. I'm propped up against the wall, with Rolen on my right and Kaji to his right. I notice that we're in a cave. Rough walls with water running down them. There is a fire going next to a table and some chairs. This must be someplace beyond what we saw.  There are men at the fire and table. A man steps from the shadows, "dwarf's up." The others stop what they are doing to watch, while one leaves the cave.  Looking at my hand, I'm annoyed at first that there are ropes on my wrist.  However, they are loose and not even tied.  Just there. Of more concern, none of us are wearing our armor and don't see our weapons. The managed to bandage us up, reasonably well. "Just stay there. Viktor will be here soon," one of the men says. I whisper to Rolen and Kaji, "Hey, you guys ok?" Before either can answer, or perhaps they are still unconscious, Viktor enters the room. I hear shouts and several other men want to enter the chamber but Viktor's voice rings out in staccato bursts, placating them. He turns toward the group. He wonders over to get a chair, and drags it over near me. Viktor turns the chair around backwards and straddles it. When he sits, he stares into my eyes. Viktor's own blue eyes showing anger, but sadness as well. As Viktor leans forward, his leather armor cracks with the movement. "Well, now, as you can see, you are barely tied and although unarmed and unarmored, you are okay. I cannot say the same for all of my men." "Let them go. If you need a trophy, take me. This was my decision and my responsibility," I reply, never taking my eyes from his. Viktor snorts, "I want no trophy. I want no servant. I wanted ... ah, it does not matter." He turns to the men in the room and speaks Illuskan at them. While not great at it, I decipher, "Go, get going. I'll join you in a bit." "What do you want with us?" I ask, dejectedly. Viktor turns back to us, "You got what you wanted and more. I hope that is enough." His eyes go cold. "Remember this day, dwarf. You got your noble's precious cargo back and maybe starved good men." He gets up from the chair and goes to the entryway. "We go now." Viktor points out one of the exits. "Up that way," pointing to a different exit, "is your gear. Don't expect such mercy again." "Why now?" I yell to his back, "We won't be the last to hunt you." Viktor doesn't say anything and leaves. I go the direction Viktor indicated and grab all the gear and bring it back to the others. I place Kaji's and Rolen's gear in front of them and shake them gently. "Let's go find the others." Kaji groans and rolls over, his head pounding. He hears me say something about the others but he doesn’t know what others I was talking about, and he hurts, all over. He can tell that he’d been bandaged and there were ropes on his hands but they’d been loosened. “What happened?” he asks, looking over and seeing Rolen also laying on the ground. He glances around. “And where’s Tristan and Gorstag?” "Only the 3 of us here. I'm hoping they got away." as I look down in shame. "I'm sorry. My ego got us into this. Let's grab Rolen and get out of here." Rolen opens his eyes. He states, “I was awake. Merely listening. Viktor spared us, healed us and gave us our gear back. Maybe the world isn’t as black and white as some see it. We should find the others.”....

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