Alden Minor

3rd - BOOK OF DAYS

by Thorn Galanodel

1364 DR (the Year of the Wave), Kythorn (The Time of Flowers)

First Ride, Day 1 This morning we split off from the road, turning southeast to head for Fort Wayne. Despite the broken terrain we made good time arrived shortly after midday. We found the fort in a state of disarray. The once-cleared area Rhynn quaintly called the “kill zone” was overgrown. The portcullis gate was also overgrown, though this seemed less natural, especially in light of the wooden disk sporting the symbol of Chauntea plainly posted amongst the overgrowth. As Kylverin climbed the gate a trio of gargoyles swooped down upon us. It was fascinating seeing these creatures in motion after reading so much about them. It was a wonder to observe these living creatures that shared many traits with constructed beings. They had the appearance and feel of living stone, yet could fly as easily and swiftly as a bird. The breathed and bled like any other creature, though it took a magical weapon to inflict any real harm. Two of them were brought down, but the third escaped unharmed. I was fortunate enough to bring one down with a crossbow bolt blessed by Calmert. From it, I have collected samples to study once I have returned to my laboratory. Perhaps studying a creature with so many construct-like traits will further my knowledge of constructs. After cutting away the overgrowth, we were able to raise the portcullis and bring the horses in to safety. We then conducted a rudimentary exploration of the perimeter of the fort. It is a sturdy structure, but could benefit greatly from a little upkeep and maintenance. We found the main door chained from the outside and sealed with a symbol of Helm – quite obviously an attempt at keeping something inside from getting out. In light of this, we decided to rest and heal our wounds from the battle before exploring further.

First Ride, Day 2 In the early hours before dawn, ghosts and spirits ruled the keep. Calmert received an insistent request from one to leave, but the rest seemed oblivious to our presence. We spent the day searching through the fort. It is a three-story structure that obviously fell into disuse some years ago. One whole story of the structure is a crypt. In our exploration, we found a grave that had been disturbed. We gathered the remains and Calmert performed basic burial rights. Tomorrow he will prepare a right of divine magic to ensure the spirit rests in peace.

First Ride, Day 3 Once again we found ourselves part of a ghostly pre-dawn drama. We met the shade of Lord Wayne and got to witness his ghastly end at the hand of what appeared to be a pack of vampires. Just as the first rays of dawn sputtered through the arrow slits, the spirit show ended abruptly. Before that, though, Lord Wayne spoke with us. He seemed a bit confused and detached, aware of his surroundings but unaware of his place in them. During the course of the question and answer session that ensued, Rhynn presented him with paper and quill, asking him to pen a note granting us free passage through his lands. When the drama had ended, the only sign that anything had happened was the piece of paper Rhynn had given Lord Wayne. On it was penned the deed to the keep. The document appeared legitimate to me but, disturbingly, the ink with which it was written was not fresh. Apparently the Hammers have become titled landowners. We have decided to stay one more night to see whether the spirits have truly been put to rest by our actions. I can only hope that what needed to be done to allow their rest has been completed. It would be my guess that the unfinished business of tending to the land held the lord of the manor to his home. I believe the human expression is, “The lord is the land.” As the people of the land are bound by the will of their lord, the people of the land were likewise bound to the same transitory state between life and death. With his release, perhaps all their spirits can rest peacefully. <sketch>

First Ride, Day 4 Good tidings. There were no signs of restless spirits through the night. I should say, there were no signs of restless spirits outside the Hammers. Rhynn is torn apart by the need to avert the coming war. Even Calmert is fervently praying for peace. They feel there is a remote chance the war might be averted for a time if a portion of the keep were offered to the Tempurians to consecrate a new shrine. Personally, I do not see this making a difference – things seem to be at the point where wounded egos and complicated politics take precedence over fairness and reason. Yet, if there is a chance, I would regret failing to pursue every avenue. We now find ourselves at a crossroads. Do we go back or do we continue on? <sketch>

First Ride, Day 5 We have continued with our mission for the dwarves. The argument for returning to Alden Minor was weak in the face of logic. We all know an amicable solution between the churches of Helm and Tempus is not to be had, for things have escalated to the point neither side is willing to give in until the other admits defeat. There are many amongst both factions that would choose death before dishonor. It was a lousy day for travel but we set out anyway, eager to put this mission behind us and see what has become of Alden Minor. The light of day was fleeting and sparse as the overcast sky relentlessly drizzled a light rain upon us. Looking back on the tragedy of this day, the weather would seem to be a fitting match for my mood. As the weather was unkind to our spirit, so too was our cart unkind to the road south from Fort Wayne toward the Four Tree Bridge. A blind man could have followed the trail we cut into the road. The drudgery of the road made it difficult to guess how long we traveled without incident. As is wont to happen with adventurers, we eventually found trouble – or at least signs of recent trouble. I would say it was about midday when we came across the wreckage of a cart and several recently dismembered humans. They most likely numbered six, but the bodies were such a haphazard collection of missing or mismatching limbs that it was nigh impossible to be sure. What was left of them and their gear gave the impression of mercenaries. Among the scant few possessions left behind in the cart was a journal of one Melody of Candlekeep. All signs pointed to something large, very strong and extremely vicious attacking the small caravan and making off with Melody as a hostage (or worse, though I hesitate to ponder this any further). There was never any question that we would seek out and hunt down the foul creatures that attacked this caravan. We all felt the call of duty, the need to put some right back into a situation that was clearly wrong. Looking at the bodies of the mercenaries, we all knew the danger. Even if we had it all to do over again, knowing the tragedy that lay before us, I don’t think we would have turned away. While I am certain we would have done some things differently, I am equally certain we would have run straight into the gaping maw of doom nonetheless. I digress. My mind races through so many emotions and to so many places as I chronicle these events; it is difficult to stay focused. Kylverin and Tunnel Rat stayed with the horses and cart as the rest of us set out. The same rain that had given us so much trouble worked in our favor as we tracked the beasts. With our limited woodsman skills, it was probably all that made tracking possible. We caught up with the creatures easily, largely because they were greatly slowed by the burden of a heavy chest carried between them. To our horror, we discovered it was a pair of trolls that had assaulted the caravan, and they had indeed taken a woman hostage. We split into two groups and set about flanking the creatures in an ambush. Rhynn and Calmert circled around and prepared to initiate the attack. Findle and I followed behind the creatures, ready to seize any opportunity to get the woman away from harm. Our hastily laid plan fell apart, with tragic results, as one of the trolls suddenly rushed me and nearly did me in with two strokes of its claws. Findle stepped in to help, allowing me the moment I needed to clear my senses and bring a spell to mind. Melody stabbed the creature in the back with a dagger that actually seemed to cause it real harm. Then the troll ripped Findle apart in a shower of blood and gore that will forever haunt me. At this, Melody chose discretion as the better part of valor and ran away. I did likewise, turning invisible and moving to a new ambush spot. Calmert and Rhynn were holding their own against the other troll, though barely. I used a Lesser Acid Orb to strike out at both of the vile creatures. Confronted with an acidic attack and the strange spreading wound of Melody’s dagger, the troll that had just slaughtered Findle chose to run. The other did not have time to run as it fell before the hail of blows set upon it, Calmert and Rhynn striking it harder and faster than it could heal. Without thinking I took off after the fleeing troll. It had nearly killed me already. It had taken more time for it to think about ripping Findle apart to actually do it. And I foolishly ran after it, thinking to bring retribution. I may have succeeded in bringing it the taste of fear, but I cannot imagine I was ever more than a nuisance to it. I blinded it with Glitterdust and pounded it with quarrels from but a few yards away. It flailed around with futile attacks, but my silenced armor and stealthy training gave it no chance to find me as I moved around it and put quarrel after quarrel into its rancid hide. It was all for naught, though. I cannot describe the horror of seeing my most effective hits healed almost as quickly as I inflicted them. By the time my spell ended, I was forced to see I was impotent against this murdering monster. I had no choice but to let it go before it came to the same conclusion. The remains of the mercenaries have been taken care of in a mass pyre. I have collected Findle’s remains and put upon myself the burden of a proper send-off. We have since returned to Fort Wayne. Melody has accompanied us, with our promise to deliver her to the next settlement we cross in our journey. <sketch>

First Ride, Day 6 A funeral pyre in the early morning hours put the body of Findle to rest. I would like to say his memory lives on. This would be no truer than to say his death was avenged. His murderer still stalks the coastline and, sad though it is, there is little memory for us to carry on. We knew him for but a scant handful of days; a mere blink of an eye in the scope of my lifetime. By all reckoning, Findle is gone. Of all of the Hammers, I seem to be the only one who truly mourns for Findle. I understand we each mourn in our own way, but I have traveled with these people long enough to recognize indifference. I question whether Kylverin possesses the ability to mourn. Whether this is some facet of his planar genealogy or the remains of some long-ago pain, I know not. Calmert continues to be a rock in the chaotic storm of warfare. Apparently this includes dealing with the passing of those who must fall to attain victory. Rhynn, of all of us, had the greatest reason not to bond with our new traveling companion. After all, he was thrust upon us as Odarn’s watchdog. I realize my feelings are biased by loneliness for the company of my own kind – and in this sense I have lost a cousin – but these feelings run deeper. The others did not see the butchery so close at hand. The others did not feel their own death rushing at them, only to have another step in and take the blow instead. The others did not have to see their rescuer ripped apart in the space of a single heartbeat. A debt remains, which I have no way of repaying. After I finish this entry I shall write letters to his monastic order and his family. At least they can carry on his memory. If nothing else, they deserve to know how he met his end. It is at times like these I have to remind myself the path we have chosen is fraught with danger. We are warriors. We pick sides and we fight. Maybe we die or maybe we live. The important thing is to truly live while we can.

Transcript of letter sent to monastery and family: The Time of Flowers in the Year of the Wave; First Ride, Sixth Day I am Thorn Galanodel of the Forest of the North. I am a member of the Hammers of Justice, based in Alden Minor. It is with deepest sadness that I write to you about the death of Findle. I regret that I have only known him for a few days, but in that time he demonstrated a warrior’s spirit and was a valued comrade in arms. By our side, he bravely faced gargoyles, ghosts, and trolls. Findle was traveling with my company when we came across the wreckage of a small caravan recently assaulted by trolls. He set out with us to rescue the only survivor and bring justice to the vile creatures. Unfortunately, he did not survive the assault. I can only hope that it brings some consolation to know that he died a hero. I was grievously wounded by one of the trolls and would surely have died myself had he not intervened. Because of his efforts, the hostage was unharmed and I live on. In gratitude for his sacrifice, I have seen to it that Findle has received a proper funeral pyre. I have prayed to Corellan Larethian, and our company priest conducted funeral rights. His ashes were spread on the grounds of Fort Wayne, a place where he had helped us liberate ghosts too long bound to this earth. It is my hope that his spirit can join those he has helped find peace. Respectfully, Thorn Galanodel of the Forest of the North Hammers of Justice, Alden Minor

addendum Since the ‘exorcism’ the keep would seem to be a place of magical power. I do not understand it. It is almost as if the Weave were somehow more concentrated in this area. This begs further study, but later. There is so much to do already. Melody is a relentless flirt. There seems to be nothing behind it but the joy of manipulating men, but I do not think she realizes the danger of arousing men who have been on the road for some time and are far from home. Yet, as I think about it, there does seem to be a method to her manipulations. She is a seeker of knowledge, using her feminine wiles to loosen the tongues of my companions. They are all to ready to speak to her on all but the most confidential matters. With time, she may yet wear down these barriers. Kylverin woos her relentlessly, but in such a way that promises a sordid and short-lived affair. Calmert tries to impress her with boasts of strength and deed (If she stays with us much longer I think he shall severely strain himself from the constant sucking in of his gut!). Rhynn’s lingering stares make it obviously he is mentally peeling off her garments. Even I occasionally find myself succumbing to her guile. Then she asks a question that is just a little too personal and brings me back to alertness. She wishes to travel with us and chronicle our travels. I have mixed emotions about this. There is no doubt she is a dangerous distraction to the company. As things are going, she may lead them to infighting as they vie to be the dominant consort. Further, she is not a warrior, spreading our already belabored resources thinner whenever we must defend her. Yet, she is knowledgeable and well educated, versed in many areas where I am but a quick study. There is no doubt she could contribute to our quest. The question is whether the benefits outweigh the potential for disaster. <sketch>

We have gained another traveling companion. The remains of Findle’s pyre drew the attention of a protector of the forest, a green elf by the name of Kalander. At first he was disturbed that we were treading on ground barred by the church of Chauntea. However, he quickly relaxed when we told him of the liberation of the spirits haunting the keep. Rhynn was rather insistent of our ownership of the keep, pointedly driving in his feeling that Kalander was trespassing on our land. I quickly moved to keep things from getting out of hand, apologizing for our abruptness and telling Kalander he was welcome to join us for a meal and spend the night at the keep. Rhynn has been very edgy since we returned to the keep. Perhaps this is related to his theory of his sorcery being powered by his emotion. Whereas I can sense the power flowing in this area, perhaps all he feels is wild mood swings. Or perhaps Findle’s death stirred up his feelings over losing Teeny. I must conclude it is one of these, else I start to wonder whether he bears some ill will to my green-skinned cousins. As we ate, I told Kalander more about Findle and his tragic end. He graciously offered to help us track the troll that escaped our ill-fated ambush. I readily agreed, though I do not think the others shared my sentiment. Be that as it may, they would not deny me the right of vengeance. Tomorrow the hunt begins. <sketch>

First Ride, Day 7 We spent most of the day tracking the troll, to no avail. Though Kalendar did his best, the trail eventually became too poor to follow. At least I can rest knowing we have done all we can. He has thus proven himself a worthwhile traveling companion, so the group readily accepted his request to travel with us for a time. Rhynn’s emotions still run high – he was all too quick to make it clear Kalendar was not considered a member of the Hammers. Though we all agreed, it did not need to be stated so bluntly. I then made it clear that if he were to share an equal part of whatever danger we faced he could expect an equal share of whatever reward we gained. Later in the day I found consequence for our ‘dragon slaying’ expedition, in the form of Dar Dragonspear, son of Crayton Dragonspear of the Draconic Library in Alden Minor. When we accepted the mission to help the town be rid of the dragon, we had been told messengers had been sent out in every direction to seek help. It seems Dar’s company answered the call as well. He and his men put together a fairly accurate picture of events as they actually occurred. Too accurate; I suspect divination was involved. I is hard to guess what he told the village, but it is unlikely we will find refuge there. Yet we must pass through on the way to Ivory Hold. Gogliestaff should count himself lucky we arrived first. He would be naught more than a stuffed hide or a suit of armor had Dar reached him first. He may yet be in danger if their divinations allow them to track him. I wish I had the power necessary to send him a missive of warning, but alas that is currently beyond my reach. In our brief meeting, I could tell that Dar cares only for the death of all dragons. There is no such thing as a good dragon in his view. This is a vile and repugnant view. I let my emotions get the better or me and we had words. Among them he labeled me a ‘dragon sympathizer,’ seeming to think this was actually a vicious barb. The man is a fool. A powerful and dangerous fool, but a fool nonetheless. Put a cap with bells on his head and he would be at home in the halls of any royal court, spouting his madness to the amusement of all.

First Ride, Day 8 Passing through Oodalstave confirmed my suspicions. I did not have to ask anyone – the ill looks and slamming doors told the tale all too clearly. There was no need to stop, so we turned east and headed for River Cut Pass. We made good time and decided to camp early. We will set off through the pass come the morning when we have better light. We spent the evening seeing to the horses and setting up a hidden shelter. Rhynn placed his Arcane Mark upon all but Calmert’s horse, who was already branded with the symbol of Helm. I must admit I am beginning to find humor in Rhynn’s recent obsession with property. I would have been content to return the horses and cart to the village – they have served us well and we do not need them for the journey ahead. Besides, it may have done something to repair the ill will they now bear us.

First Ride, Day 9 There is little to River Cut Pass that bears mentioning. I encouraged Tunnel Rat to tell us about the various geological formations and listened with rapt attention…as long as I was able. Ye gods, it was like my schooling days all over again. I remember thinking if I leapt into the gorge the lecture might finally end. I assume this is the type of information the Blue Boot clan would be interested in. Therefore, I captured as much as I could in a separate journal that I intend to hand over to them upon our return. Finally, realizing I could take no more thoughts of the intricacies of one bland rock compared to another, I turned the journal over to Tunnel Rat and provided him with ample writing supplies. As twilight approached, we found a campsite carved into the rock. Whatever differences there may be between our peoples, I will say this for the dwarves: They are good planners for practical matters. Resting in this ancient campsite was far better than setting up our own encampment on the edge of a drop-off into a gorge. As we began our rest, we were treated to a spectacular show of bats emerging from a nearby cave to begin their evening’s feast. This is fortunate – we should have little trouble with insects this night. As I write this, though, I find my thoughts wandering back to our home in Alden Minor. I wonder how Margaret and Daemon are doing. Is Raitalis holding true to his word and watching over their safety? Is Rhynn’s family safe? Are Calmert’s brothers in arms even now sacking the city? <sketch>

First Ride, Day 10 We have made it through River Cut Pass to the entrance(s) to the Mines of Ivory Hold. Our only real obstacle was a section of river with a washed out bridge, but this was easily traversed thanks to some ingenious rope work on the part of Rhynn. My only regret is that he did not leave the ropes in place in case we need to beat a hasty retreat. <sketch>

Second Ride, Day 1 Rest at last! We have been quite busy since my last entry. A reconaissance of the three mountain entrances revealed much of interest.

1.The first entrance

Wooden barriers of some strange, puzzle-like construction cleverly kept Rust Monsters confined within this cavern. Of course, our discovery of these creatures led to an initial panic as Calmert’s sacred axe was destroyed by the beasts. However, I quickly rallied the group to face them. Rhynn stripped out of the largest portion of his largest metal gear and took up Findle’s quarterstaff while the rest of us took up positions to support him with cover fire and spells. The creatures poured forth in a terrifying wave, but our initial onslaught of physical and magical might broke any semblance of order in their ranks. We set into them with a fury. Just as the first drops of our enemies’ blood began to soak into the ground, though, Tunnel Rat started calling a retreat and dragging people out of their position. It is one thing to be a coward, but quite another to jeopardize someone else’s life for the sake of cowardice. His actions were unconscionable and nearly cost Rhynn his life. By my reasoning, when I proposed the plan I took responsibility for those following it – particularly for Rhynn, both because he is (in a way) my student and – out of trust – he placed himself in the position of greatest jeopardy. He trusted us with his life. That is not a responsibility I take lightly. Apparently Tunnel Rat does not feel the same. When placed in the light of our actions to save him from the mud pit (in Entrance #3), this is all the more sad. When our own ranks broke, the tactics I had hastily devised began to fail. Rhynn was cut off from the rest of us, lost in a swarm of the beasts. I focused all the energy I could on magically empowering him, hoping this would give him the edge necessary to survive. By the time we got to him, I could swear he was standing by nothing more than force of will. Even as Calmert began chanting his healing prayers, Rhynn began staggering off, insisting he was all right. By the gods, I don’t know how he did it. Yet it strange way it sort of makes sense, considering he spent most of his life living in Teeny’s shadow. All that time ignoring his own limitations, doing whatever it took to keep up with someone stronger and more resilient by virtue of birth…determined to keep up with his powerhouse of a friend at whatever cost to himself. In that light, it is no wonder he was able to push himself so hard even when at death’s door. As I recall, the antennae of the fallen creatures are essential in the construction of rust orbs. Sadly, I was unable to rely on metal to cleanly sever the antennae, so I was forced to find a sharp rock and gather them the hard way. Now I have but to prepare them for later use. I will do this after dinner, for I doubt my companions would find much enjoyment in their meal with the lingering smell of the chemicals I must use.

2.The second entrance

As voices were heard when we approached this mixture of natural and carved cave, I volunteered to scout ahead. I deeply regretted my boldness when I found a blue dragon giving orders to some diminutive, reptilian creatures. I believe they were kobolds. One way or another, they did not seem entirely pleased that the dragon was demanding “more children.” I must wonder whether this was a demand for sacrifice or procreation! One way or another, the group agreed this cave had been sufficiently explored to fulfill our contract.

3.The third entrance

A narrow, natural formation, this tiny cave led to a slope which ended in a mud pit. Tunnel Rat slid in. We tossed him a rope but the mud sucked him down with such force that he could not hold on. I empowered Kylverin to fly and he went to the rescue. I must admit, when Kylverin disappeared as well I became quite worried. Still, I know that he has many tricks of his own and trusted in his ability. Patience was rewarded when he later came back with Tunnel Rat and a sample of some strange metal. Apparently, there is a tunnel in one side of the mud pit that leads to another cavern. Within this cavern was the mineral deposit. Kylverin took advantage of the fly spell long enough to do an aerial reconnaissance, during which he discovered a fourth cave entrance.

4.The fourth entrance

This day ends with our group hiking around the mountain toward the entrance discovered by Kylverin. Judging by his description of the emblem upon the massive doors and the statues flanking them, I believe it may be some sort of shrine or temple dedicated to Shar, a human goddess of evil and darkness. There was some initial trepidation at this discovery, but the group eventually agreed that we should at least see whether it is occupied. Judging by our progress over the difficult terrain so far, it will take us at least three days to get there. It is tempting to use flying magic to aid our travel, but I do not see where it would benefit us in the long run. Firstly, we need the reconaissance that can be gained only by traveling the terrain. Secondly, it would be unwise to be flitting about with a dragon so near. There is also the fact that it would be unwise to split up the group in unknown and hostile territory. Still, it is nice to know that there is such an option should the terrain become too dangerous to pass. <sketch>

It would seem my thoughts about a land-based reconnaissance have been justified. After another hard day of trekking around the mountain, we have discovered a cave that leads to a massive vertical shaft. I have empowered Rhynn to fly so he can explore while the rest of us set up camp.

Kythorn, Second Ride, Day 3 Rhynn spent entirely too long scouting the tunnels last night. The information he gathered was invaluable, but it was foolhardy to spend so much time flitting about the tunnels with a dragon about. At least he made it back safely. However, it was not good for the morale of the group to sit around the camp wondering whether Rhynn had managed to make himself into a draconic equivalent of a late-night snack. This was not the only disturbance during the night. In the early morning hours just a few hours before dawn, Calmert arose and wandered down the mineshaft. Kylverin and Kalendar, who were on watch at the time, thought he was merely shuffling off to relieve himself. If only this were the case. Sleepwalking though another of his waking dreams, Calmert walked all the way to the vertical section of the shaft and fell in. By simple dumb luck or divine intervention he fell into another horizontal cross-shaft. The camp was in an uproar for a good while as a rescue effort was mounted. The group lowered me down to him, where I empowered him with a Spider Climb spell and gave him a Light created by Kylverin. I returned to camp and assured everyone he was all right and would be joining us in a little while. Meanwhile, he climbed further down the shaft to reclaim a boot that went missing in the fall. While down there, he decided to do some exploring of his own. All of the tensions of the night left everyone on edge as we continued our arduous trek around the mountain. Finally the terrain became too difficult to safely pass. Our original estimate of three days no longer feasible, we stopped and spent a good deal of time working out a plan by which we can fly around to the other side. Tomorrow I will empower Rhynn and Calmert with Bull’s Strength and Fly, and they will use a complicated system of netted ropes to carry the rest of us there.

Day 4 Even with our preparations, it was a difficult journey. However, the ability to move in three dimensions rather than two proved the only way to make our chosen route passable. With near an hour of uninterrupted (and unsteady) flight behind us, we arrived at an area of more hospitable terrain where we could make the rest of the trek on foot. By nightfall, we had arrived at the temple entrance. As we were readily able to shelter most of the light and were sorely in need of a morale boost, we decided to treat ourselves to a warm camp. While the others set up camp, Calmert, Tunnel Rat and I investigated the chamber, statues, and doors. I detected an aura of magic about the doors. Calmert said they resonated an aura of evil. There is a gut feeling that one develops when one works with traps – both Tunnel Rat and I had this feeling, though neither of us could pinpoint exactly what kind of trap. I believe this to mean the door is trapped by divine, unholy magic. This would fit with the symbol so boldly and proudly emblazoned upon the door. There are no visible locks or hinges on the doors, but they appear to open by being pushed inward. I fear for the person who boldly strides up to the doors and attempts to open one! Armed with this knowledge, Kylverin quickly hit upon a possible solution. A simple Open cantrip would allow him to open the doors from a distance. Hopefully this will allow us bypass the trap or discharge it safely. We will find out in the morning. <sketch>

Day 5 Kylverin’s plan for bypassing the door trap was sheer genius. I wish I could say the same for my plans. I committed a tactical slip in splitting the group in unknown territory. I too quickly assumed an area was safe after our initial investigations. While separated from the main group, Kylverin and Calmert were set upon by some kind of aquatic-humanoid aberrations. Thought both were grievously wounded, fortunately no one was lost. However, add to this a grumbling amongst the group ever since it was discovered that we have merely circled around to an area that connects to the shaft Calmert fell into a few nights ago… Morale is running mighty low right now. I sulk in introspection because my decisions have not lately been able to deliver the most fortuitous results. When not demanding magical empowerment from me, Rhynn is stirring up trouble with Calmert, who is all too ready to settle things with his fists. Kylverin seems oblivious to the needs of those around him. It seems like it has been days since I have even heard Kalendar speak. Tunnel Rat is still stung from my chastisement over the incident with the Rust Monsters. Only Melody, in her role as observer, seems unaffected by the divide that has sprung up amongst us. It our sense of unity as a group could be viewed as a fire, it is now merely smoking embers. We need to lay down kindling and find some spark so that the fire may rage anew. <sketch>

Day 6 We were hardly into the second watch last night when Calmert awoke from yet another of his divine dreams. This time he dreamed of tentacles rising from the waters of the pool inside the temple to burst through our heads and transform us into aquatic aberrations. He was frantic in his insistence that we leave immediately. There was no placating him – we had to move on. We have been on the move for many hours since, pursuing what was then a distant noise of metal striking stone. This, at least, has been an auspicious turn of events. The noise has led us into an area of titanic columns that bear striking resemblance to those we have seen in that of their brother clan, the Blue Boot. It would seem we have finally come to the dwarven hall that was once Ivory Hold. Eventually our weary journey brought us to the source of the noise – a strange kind of mining device, in the form of a massive pick suspended from the ceiling that perpetually swung back and forth to strike a wall and splinter off rubble. Everyone is tired to the point of exhaustion. Only a short ways past this strange device, we have given in to the needs of the body and struck up camp. <sketch>

Day 7 Our mission was long and demanding, but has met with staggering success! Contact has been made with the Ivory Hold clan – or at least, what remains of the Ivory Hold clan. Their numbers are decimated by a decades-long siege and all of their men have been killed off in the ensuing struggles. Their enemies are two-fold. First, and most dangerous, are the aquatic aberrations and their mysterious creators. Second, very dangerous but not so devastatingly effective, is a Behir (not a blue dragon after all!) and its Shocker Lizard minions. When we return to Alden Minor, Ivory Hold wishes to send with us a trio of emissaries to speak to Blue Boot on their behalf. This is far better than the maps and mineral samples our contract required. I would not be surprised if there is some sort of bonus included in our final payment. Whatever the payment, it was hard earned. It took a staggering group effort to make our way past a series of mechanical traps that loosed quintets of four-headed snakelike creatures. Even then, we would have been stopped if not for Kylverin’s diplomacy and skilled use of Undercommon. This allowed us to pass their guardian, a strange elemental creature that left a trail of acid in its wake. Thanks to cover of Invisibility, I was able to collect a sample of this acid for later alchemical exploration. <sketch>

Day 8 Ivory Hold makes preparations to for their emissaries while treating us to the finest food and drink they have left to offer. Their hospitality is gracious and well received by our weary group. Morale is up and it is my duty to use this opportunity to unite them. To this end, I have put forward a plan to take out the Behir and its lot. At first it was met with mixed reactions, but it was an idea that quickly grew as machismo became involved.

Day 9 While Ivory Hold continues to prepare their emissaries, I find myself growing restless. For days, I have been planning how the group might best face a blue dragon. I estimated a rather small chance of success with a high likelihood of several casualties. However, these same plans applied to a lesser creature change this to almost guaranteed success with only a small likelihood of casualties. I shall present these plans to the group. Perhaps this is the tinder and the spark I have been seeking to relight the fire of unity. <sketches>

Day 10 Justice comes to Ivory Hold. Machismo quickly overcame the initial doubts as I presented my plan for removing the Behir and its minions. Today we finalize our preparations; tomorrow morning we mount the attack!

Third Ride, Day 1 Victory! Days of planning beget hours of preparation, which led to a mere minute of struggle. It was not a route. It was not decisive win. It was an outright slaughter. The Shocker Lizards merely served to whet our destructive appetites. The Behir put up a mighty struggle for the span of a few heartbeats before becoming nothing more than a mutilated corpse. Finally, the group had the opportunity to work together as a well-oiled machine. Finally, we all had the opportunity to appreciate the skills and abilities we all bring to the group as a whole. Spirits were especially high when we found the Behir’s hoard! Our whooping and cheering must have rocked the mountaintop. I have spent most of this afternoon salvaging everything I can of the creature’s body, as well as the antennae of its minions. The Behir head shall make an impressive trophy. The rest will be put to use in my laboratory. In retrospect, perhaps I glaze too easily over a point of discontent that arose in the heat and aftermath of the battle. Rhynn was quite angered that I placed Haste magic upon Calmert and Kalendar rather than himself. Yet it was already agreed that Calmert would bestow his Blessed Berzerk upon one of our warriors while I would Haste the others. After the battle, he threatened some of the group and only by summoning monsters mount ineffectively attacks toward him was I able to keep him letting loose his Berzerk rage upon the party. When all was over none could argue the wisdom of my decision no to Haste the chosen Berzerker. Since I have been mentoring him on the discipline needed to harness his magical talent, Rhynn seems to expect me to be his personal source of magical empowerment. I do not find this attitude acceptable. My power is not a bottle to be grabbed at whim and quaffed at will.

Day 2 We leave for Alden Minor tomorrow. That gives me time to work on identifying some of the unique items we discovered in the Behir’s hoard. After all the trials and tribulations of late, I am almost looking forward to the monotony of losing myself in chanting and meditation upon the Weave.

Day 3 Though the mountain pass is no less difficult to travel than before, our high spirits ease the journey.

Day 4 The pleasant mood that has carried us through the past few days was abruptly shattered this evening. Clad in black plate mail and riding a mighty warhorse, a stranger bearing the crest of Dark Hold delivered an unexpected boon and a cryptic message under mysterious circumstances. By reputation, Dark Hold is a bastion of evil and blight upon the face of the land. Its denizens are said to worship dark gods and pillage the surrounding realm. Why would one of its champions freely offer up a bag of gems? What could he have meant when he said it was to settle a “blood debt?” The camp is astir with wild speculation. At least the horses and cart were unmolested in our absence. This will make the rest of our return expedition a little quicker and easier. Perhaps we can find our answers in Alden Minor…if the city yet stands. I hope that we do not return home to find our fair city a broken ruin, destroyed by the pride and political aspirations of men.

Day 5 We stopped in Oodalstave today and unloaded the mound of copper pieces we found in the Behir’s lair. Part of it went to make restitution for the cart and horses, part to re-supply for the last leg of our journey. In an interesting twist of events, we found that the dragon hunters did not share their information about us liberating Gogliestaff. Apparently the hostility we experienced on our last trip through here was simply the way this little Hamlet treats outsiders.

Day 6 We are but a day out from Alden Minor. Anticipation is taking its toll, on Rhynn and Calmert especially, as we wonder what lies ahead. How fares the war? More importantly, how fare those caught within its grasp? It is my greatest fear that there will be some turn of events that forces some of us to choose a side. Only our neutrality has so far kept us together. Despite the nerves and tension, however, we must find a way to relax. The road tomorrow will be harder still if we find ourselves still tired from the evening before.

Day 7 Fortunately, the war has progressed little past the initial siege. With our connections in both camps and declaration of neutrality, we were permitted to breach the barricades. I now find myself in the middle of so many matters that I have scarce time to document them. I shall write more of current events as I find time.

Day 8 By the gods, these last two days have been a blur. I cannot wait until I have time to bring my chronicles up to date.

Day 9 So much has happened in these last three days that I scarce know where to begin. I guess the war would be a good place to start. It is over. The siege has ended and even now the gathered armies are rapidly dispersing. It would seem clan Blue Boot called a meeting of the council and reversed their initial vote shortly after speaking with the emissaries of Ivory Hold. The Helmites have been ordered to surrender the consecrated alter and holy relics to the followers of Tempus, who have been sanctioned to build a church of their own within the town. With the thanks of some investigation by Kylverin and divinations by Dali of Lathander, the mystery revolving around the gems has been traced back to a founding member of our group…Teeny. It was not “blood money” after all, but soul money. He traded his soul in the afterlife for a boon upon his friends. Words cannot express my disgust that a friend would have entered into a compact with demons. Still, it would seem he had little choice. Apparently he was to be judged by the human god Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead, as one of the Faithless. His fate would have been an eternity of torment. As it is, I fear his bargaining did not place him in any more favorable a position. The enigma surrounding Raitalis has been partially revealed. As was previously learned, he is from a future that may never happen. His harsh demeanor and jaded outlook on life is apparently the birthright left by his terrible, drunken sot of a father…Rhynn. In the alternate timeline, Rhynn’s beloved was slain by the assassins. Already seeking comfort in the bottle after the loss of his friend, Teeny, he fell so far into the bottle he never made his way back. Along the way he took another of the barmaids as his bride and had a son. He bullied the child until it became the twisted soul that is now Raitalis. How can I break this to Rhynn? This knowledge weighs heavily on my shoulders, but I find that I cannot in good conscience Raitalis defers to Melody, who in his timeline was royalty. It would seem she has a bright future if her relation with the Hammers has not already altered the course of her destiny. Peris of Candlekeep has returned with a boon for our loan of the books and a commission personally directed at me. He wishes The Hammers officially have a new member. Kalendar has selflessly fought by our side, sharing our wounds and rewards, contributing to our strength as a whole. I proposed offering him membership and the rest of the Hammers agreed. The offer was graciously accepted. <sketch>

Day 10 Raitalis and Rhynn are having it out even as I put quill to paper. I stayed long enough to ensure that sharp objects and obvious weaponry were removed from the room. Such scenes are a source of great discomfort to me, but I stayed as long as I did out of a sense of obligation to a friend. I wonder if I could have done more. Yet, I have done my duty. Whatever happens from here is…a family matter.

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