Dark Dungeons

Relf Likes The Free Drinks
Also, Relf likes Money

Say what you will about adventuring, but the appreciation you get when you do a job well done? Nothing better. Nothing! Especially when that involves copious food, drinks and money. I mean, sure, we did it for the good of the people and to rid them of a evil pestering cult that was sacrificing goats and girls, but I mean, being drunk afterward at least makes it easier to adjust to normal society. Normal, non-sacrificin’ society.

What I’m really trying to get at is: Ale is good. Reward Ale is way better.

I guess we have new help at the inn, which Selma should appreciate it! It’s the said girl about to be sacrificed. Noone seems to recognize her in town and she’s having trouble remembering those important details about herself. At the least, the inn’s a good place to see people that recognize her and we can use the help as the inn gets more and more visitors.

Now, we just have to hope that the inn didn’t have some sort of CRISIS while we were away, as they are so prone to do. The bodyguards should circumvent it, but things are getting crazy out here! Maybe I’ll even share some of my Reward Ale with them.

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At least she has a name now.
Sunnuday, Ogrenmoon the 24th

“DO YOU KNOW THIS LADY?”

That was the sign I made. I thought it looked pretty good, for Common Tongue not being the language I was brought up to write in, anyway. I borrowed some ink from Drust – I was surprised to learn that he always carries a little on him, but I guess a bard might need it – and sat there real Daurdamned careful-like, making the letters as big as I could on the piece of scrap wood. Then I drew an arrow over to the side, presuming she’d be to my left as we walked.

Meanwhile, the lady in question didn’t take much notice – not that I blamed her. There was no telling whose culty motherfuckers had already done to her by the time we busted her out.

She’d stopped talking when we got to the town – just sat there and stared down at the floor. The robe we put her in pretty much swallowed her up, a big black whale of thick, heavy cotton. All you could see was her head poking out, her face motionless, her hair caked in grease and ashes, like she was in the process of being eaten alive and didn’t really give a shit.

After no one at Molay’s temple knew anything about her, they’d formulated a plan to take her back to the inn with us, but it didn’t sit well with me to leave town without trying one more time to find this girl’s family. You don’t even know if she had a family, least of all a family here, they reminded me. She could have just been some sloot off the street.

Fuck that guy. I don’t even know who that guy was. Some town official. I thought about punching him and started to go through the old motions to clock him, in my mind – don’t think about your knuckles hurting, keep looking right where you want to hit him, aim small miss small – but Drust saw the telltale rage signs and gently pulled me away into some bullshit conversation about this new incredible variety of mead he’d found.

It was for the best. I knew that, even at the time, but my brain hadn’t sent that knowledge to my fist. And I thought it was fucking stupid to add to her shitty life by insulting her.

I looked at the girl as I stood to approach her, slowly, like she was some kind of rabbit.

If she’d been a sloot, she was awful fucking little for that.

And even sloots deserve to find their way back home.

As I held out my hand to her, she looked up at me, still static in the eyes, and I saw one of my brothers on the day they were cutting off his arms, given up, in shock, blood pouring out in gushes onto the ship’s floor, hard to tell when he went from living to dying.

If she had family there, I was going to to try to fucking find them.

If I could have talked, I’d say, “Let’s go for a walk around town.” As it was, all I could do was keep my hand held out and bend my head towards the door, looking awkward as shit.

She went with me, though. (I mean, what the fuck else she got to do?) We wandered through streets and thoroughfares and alleys, into banks and apothecaries and temples, through meetings and dances and everything else we could find. I held up the sign and gestured to her, sometimes gently, sometimes emphatically; people looked and some even legitimately wanted to help, I could tell, but not one person knew that exhausted face of hers.

The whole time she didn’t say much. Maybe she knew I couldn’t reply, or maybe she had forgotten a lot of how to talk, in addition to forgetting her own past. I only got a reaction out of her one time, which was when I almost lost her, actually; I looked to my left as we were going through the bazaar and realized she wasn’t there anymore. I knew she couldn’t have gone far, and, sure enough, she’d gotten entranced by a fabric booth. The black of the robe sort of popped against the ramshackle wall of bright colors, eye-catching waterfalls of linens, silks, and chiffons. I could see the shopkeeper eyeing her warily – the second time in one day I wouldn’t have blamed someone for a reaction, due to her vacant expression and dirty locks – and when I got closer to her I could see that she was holding a bolt of lace.

She looked…I’m not good at reading girl-face, but “upset” would be my closest guess. She then stared up at me and pointed to it repeatedly as I took it out of her hands to please the shopkeeper, putting it back in the row where she’d pulled it from. He nodded, relieved.

“This? This?”

Her voice was high but scratchy, the type of voice that’s put a lot of screams through it.

I had no way to sign to her, at least not in a way that she’d understand, but the man running the booth actually came to my rescue, standing from his stool and pointing.

“That is lace. It’s 5 per yard,” he added, hopefully.

She glanced at him, then back at me. “Lace?”

I nodded. For the first time, she smiled. She liked that, for whatever reason. Maybe because it was delicate, like she’d been. Maybe she’d been a rich girl who’d had it sewn on to the hems of her dresses. Maybe she just liked the color, the pristine white like Blasric snow.

That was when I decided to call her Lacey. So she could have one happy thing.

I forked over a couple of measly coins for a small cut of it – there was no use for people like us to have a whole yard, but she could carry around a little piece if it cheered her up – and motioned for her to put it in the pocket of the big black robe. At first she didn’t understand, so I put it, not as slowly as I should have, into the pocket for her. She twitched when my hand first grabbed the pocket, but then she started to understand what I was doing.

“A gift?”

Again, I nodded.

“…thank? Thank? Yes? Thank?”

She couldn’t seem to remember the rest of it, but I had a feeling that the pronouns would come back in time, and that maybe her story would, too.

I tried to smile back at her, but on my face it looks more like a rictus of pain, so I just waved her towards the exit of the bazaar and we kept walking. (We weren’t made to grin in the far north; it uses precious facial energy that’s better spent on other activities, like eating.)

Anyway, at the end of the day, she didn’t return to the rest of the party with any information about her family, but she at least returned to them with a name – and something of her own.

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Blue Oyster Cult

Brother Molay’s Journal
Entry 19

With the abomination defeated, we felt invigorated by the light to press on quickly. We stomped with ferocious intensity through the rest of the dungeon, barely pausing. Beset by skeletons, Gautama shone his blessings upon us and we prevailed without incident through his turning.

Soon, we found ourselves facing down a room full of cultists focused on their foul sacrifice. They attacked, but thanks to our previous charm spells supplemented by further magic, many of them fought for us. Their leader, some kind of spirit or warlock, cast devious and evil spells upon us.

Though prevailing, Knut and I were cursed at the end of the battle. I felt a great tumult between the gods as this happened. Happily, with one spell left, I was able to lift the magic from Knut. Gautama be praised I should be able to do the same for myself on the morrow.

Now there is little else to do but raid the dungeon for treasures and free the poor woman who was nearly sacrificed. We shall see then what is next.

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Relf Doesn't Worry About Larry Anymore
Because Larry's Dead.

Larry’s Well Being is Not Well! In fact, he’s dead. Super dead. That 2 headed beast thing slayed him soon after I wrote my last entry. I think he had some final words to share, but there’s was this accident with a bard and a big giant sphere and it was messy. I wasn’t going to lean down and hear them anyway. He had a knife. He’d probably just stab me. He spoke knifeese fluently

I took the knife and we’re going to place it in the trophy area of the inn. I’m not sure why. I guess we could say it’s to honor the dead or something, but honestly I like having stabbing implementations in convienent spots. You know, just in case you need to stab something.

On the other hand, a bunch of his other cultists buddies are dead too! Though we killed them. We managed to save the girl and stop the cultist in one fell swoop and we’re eagerly awaiting our reward from the town. Relf the Dwarf takes gold, ale or dwarven women. There seems to be a distinct lack of my kind in this area, other than my cousin. Be nice to see a proper ladybeard around here.

Sorry, I’m a little tipsy tonight! Not from beer. From blood loss. Took a nice little beating in the last fight. I’m going to go lay down until people tell me that’s unhealthy to do for a concussion.

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"Friends" met upon the road
And a goat, to boot.

I’m getting a little anxious, waiting here in the woods for dark to fall. Antsy, if you will. I have always hated sitting on my laurels, not doing anything. There is always something to do, something to see, something to learn. People to entertain, treasure to acquire. Sometimes though, the act of doing requires patience…and a lot of waiting.

I’ve passed the hours with a few trips to the road to watch for more of these black-robed cultists. Larry assured us this is the right place, but at first I was skeptical. Surely people would have noticed a fortress this close to town? Still, he proved to be right. Within a few hours figures clad in black robes and carrying items which I can only presume to be for some demonic ritual began travelling down the dirt path leading deeper into the wilds.

It was while watching the third such person that I was struck with an idea. A simple incantation, and suddenly I had made another new “friend”, carrying a goat in a sack. I brought him to the others and explained that, using our rather charming personalities, Molay and I could easily create a veritable army of “friends” within the stronghold, to help us at a critical time. Although hesitant to employ such obviously amoral individuals, Molay agreed, and we set off to watch the road again.

So, here I sit, with four new “friends” ready to aid us when we appear at their “party”. I am excited just thinking about it. A maiden to rescue, a dark cult to bring down, a fortress to storm. What a song I will write, to sing of our deeds.

Perhaps I will call it “Friendship is Magic”.

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This is what we do.
Mánuday – Ogrenmoon the Twelfth

I heard something good today, and I wanted to write it down.

It’s been hard of late to keep my original plan for this journal, my regular listing of three good things. I’ve failed in that regard – but this is one good thing, and I want to keep it in this parchment to read on days when I have naught else. It’s just a story, or even a fragment of a story, but one I haven’t heard since my chest was bare.

We’ve been waiting on Molay to come back from the Gautama clubhouse or whatever it is. I can’t possibly think of what they do there. Probably lots of synchronized nodding and meditation and general platitudes of thankfulness, with no cursing or drinking or temple prostitutes or anything vaguely interesting.

I’m saltful, of course, because Gautama is always immensely more helpful than Daur, but let me have my salt. It’s duly earned.

Anyway, Molay is a-way, still, so Drust has been entertaining us all by going around doing his bard bits, singing and dancing and telling stories. It would be exceptionally saltful of me to act like he’s not good at his job, but I’m not that solid of a liar. Drust is a pretty entertaining one-man show, despite how usually difficult he is to endure, and he’s been keeping us from drowning ourselves in bathtubs from boredom – which at the inn I often find myself tempted to do. Come to think of it, that’s a weird way to want to kill myself and I am guessing Ludd or Whoeverthefuckelse is responsible for that.

side note in margin:

stay
out
of
tubs

Anyway, Drust came to sit beside me earlier today while I was sharpening my shortsword, chipper as fuck because everyone had been paying him so much attention recently – puffed up like a guinea pig that’s busted open the sugar bag. That’s all he really wants, Drust, just attention paid – for good or ill.

Since he was on such a roll and all he turned to me, where he doesn’t usually have luck getting adulation, all performative-like (not like anyone else was even around at that precise moment, but every minute is a stage for him), and asked me if there was any particular song or story I’d like to hear.

Now, normally, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of feeling useful to me.

Today, for whatever reason, I decided to humor him; I put down my sword and signed back to him, asking if he knew any stories from Blasric. I figured this would be a polite way of engaging him without getting into too long of an interaction because as far as I understood it we were about to traipse into some serious fucking war zones and I had war shit to do.

However, he surprised me by actually knowing one. It was a poem, he said, something he always just knew as the Blasric Fragment.

“I don’t actually know what the words mean, Knut,” he said, standing up with a flair and preparing for what I could tell was going to be some epic fucking oratory. “I learned it in the original ice-talk from a Northern bard passing through, and I never got a full translation. The few times I’ve had a chance to perform it for a crew from Blasric, though, it’s gone over insanely well, so I have to assume that it’s a victorious story of valor and honor. I’d be honored if you’d give me a better idea of its meaning, though.”

He cleared his throat, more loudly than necessary – perhaps trying to summon any latent audience members that might crawl out from unexplored corners and laud him with adoration – and began:

Né húru Hildeburh herian þorfte
eotena tréowe· unsynnum wearð
beloren léofum æt þám hildplegan
bearnum ond bróðrum· híe on gebyrd hruron
gáre wunde· þæt wæs geómuru ides –

And I was no longer there. I was seven years old, huddled in unending layers of fur pelts, with a faint fire glowing in the corner of our hut and my brothers crowded in on all sides, as far as I could see around me – I was drowning in brothers, I had brothers for days. I thought this would be my life. And my mother’s voice, speaking this poem to me, quietly, so quietly, because if Lothar heard he would frown; the night-stories, they made boys soft, he said. But my mother loved him, embraced him, sent him on his way, and told the stories regardless. And this was one of them. This was hers. Ours.

“Knut?”

And as quickly as the memory had come, it was gone. In its place was Drust, looking down at me, utterly horrified.

“Knut-bro, my friend, if I offended you somehow – "

I blinked, then signed that I was not offended.

“It’s just…you’re crying.”

I reached up and touched my face.

This was unacceptable. I was a disgrace to my family and to Daur. I stood up, resolved to go find a bathtub right that second and end myself.

Drust, genuinely worried, went to block my way. “Knut, my main man – give me a chance to make the story better. Where did I go wrong?”

I shook my head, my hands waving about in the air, clarifying. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” I indicated, and I even reached out a hand to put on his slight shoulder, just to prove I wasn’t pissed off or about to go set all of his shit on fire. “You gave me a memory back. Thank you.”

“Oh,” he uttered, terror seemingly replaced by confusion.

I took my hand back then and signed with both. “After the stitchers, or during, I’m not sure which – anyway, I forgot a lot of shit. From home. It was survival at the time, but now I…there’s a hole there, in my head, with what I can’t remember anymore. You put some of it back. That was a story my mother used to tell us before we slept. A night-story.”

Drust, visibly relieved, said, “Oh!”, with more confidence this time. He straightened up and said, “You mean a bedtime story.”

“Same thing, whatever.”

“Sure.” He cocked his head to the side. “It must be a REALLY happy story, for it to have made you feel that way, and for your mother to have told it.”

“Oh, absolutely. It starts with Hildeburh burning the bodies of her son and her brother on the same pyre. Her family’s tribe, you see, came to visit the clan she’d married into, but then, after her husband Finn had a big feast for them and everything, he broke the bread-and-salt laws and slaughtered her entire family during the night. She and whoever the fuck else had survived – these guys Hengest and Hunlafing – were stuck there for the winter, so they had to stay in the house of the clan chief who had murdered all of their kin.”

Drust had this look of utter disgust on his face, but I assumed it was because I wasn’t as good at telling stories as he was.

“Anyway, the winter passes and the ice starts to melt, and then Hunlafing takes this sword, named Battle-light, and goes – POW –” I accentuate this with my hands slapping on my knee. “…and slams it down on Hengest’s lap, letting him know it’s time for revenge and shit. So then Hengest kills Finn and all his guys, rescues poor Hildeburh, and takes them all back home over the ocean. I’m not, you know, good with telling this shit, but that’s what it means.”

If Drust’s jaw were dropped any lower it would be down to his boots.

THAT…is what your MOTHER…told you at BEDTIME?”

“Fuck yeah, man. She was the best.”

Drust still looks kind of disgusted as I saunter out into the sunlight, but whatever, I never said I was a storyteller – that’s his job. My job is to kill motherfuckers. And something about getting that story back makes me happier to do it.

I’m from Blasric. This is what we do.

Time to slice up some shit.

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Double vision?

This place is just full of trouble! No sooner had we finished off the two headed guy than we were encountering other…other worldly creatures.

On our way to the cult’s “party”, we encountered a bunch of skeletons. Luckily they were easily routed, our biggest fight was yet to come…

When we finally made it to where the cultists were partying down, we saw that they had a lady tied up and ready to sacrifice. Their ring leader cast several horrible spells, including one that made it appear as though there were many of him. Not knowing which one the real ghoul was, we began attacking them as we could. The dwarf finally struck the real one down. With the help of our “friends from the road”, the cultists had fought amongst themselves enough that we didn’t need to do much to finish them off. Now to rescue the person who they were wanting to sacrifice…

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Breaking the law?

So, we got arrested. Who could blame them, we looked like the aggressors in this situation. Oddly though, after we got to the station and told our story, they sent us after the cult.

The plan? Charm as many as we can as they go by on the road on the way to their base. It seemed to work out for now, at least we may have some allies when we get there. We also heard thete is likely someone being held to be sacrificed later, we have to try to save them!

We got inside, but not to far before we ran into a giant 2 headed beast chained to a wall. It was obviously not friendly, it freed itself and attacked us. It was quite a battle, this guy was a hard hitter!

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Relf versus the Cult!
Everyone wants to stab us.

If there ever was an agrument against Charm Person, it’s that guy with the knife. Even with him so-called Charmed by the rest of the group, I don’t like him having that knife. He’s not chopping any onions for us. And I’m not entirely sure he’s not going to stab all of us even when charmed! I’m only thankful that humans love to overshoot their marks when trying to stab people and he’ll maybe clearly miss me when he finally betrays us.

He might stab my head though. That wouldn’t be good. Hm. I should rethink this through.

We’re about to invade a cult den in the forest outside of the town we found one of Molay’s brothers charmed and damaged. We’ve charmed a couple of other Cultstabbers (My clever name for them, since their cultist and they’re bound to stab me.) and learned that there is a potential sacrifice happening tonight, so we’re ramping up our battle plans to break down the door. Knowing our luck, we’ll probably get there just in time for the demons to come up through the underworld. They’ll probably want to stab us too, though they don’t need fancy smancy knives when they have sharp things growing out of them who knows where.

Blegh. I need a drink.

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#squadgoals

Brother Molay’s Journal
Entry 18

Following our tussle in town, we found ourselves facing down the local guard. That’s not an especially comfortable location for someone of the cloth to be in, but we managed to convince them of our innocence, Gautama be praised.

I accompanied my brothers back to the temple where we performed rites to exorcise the curse that had been laid upon Brother Olivia. I returned to the party after, bringing news of the successful rites.

Not long later, we received word from the guard captain that the mysterious cult had been seen in town for some time now. Queried about their origin, we learned of a rumored base somewhere in a forest near town. The peacekeepers of the town were offering a substantial reward for the eradication of the local cult activity, which we accepted. The exact location of their infestation eluded us until we had a chance to question our charmed friend that is of their order. He claimed to know much about the location.

Promptly, we departed as there was word of a sacrifice to be performed soon. Our information seemed to be valid since we watched quite a few of the robed figures moving in the same general direction. We charmed some of them to work as a kind of infiltration force and continued on our way.

As sun set, we approached the cave that is their base. Rather than smoke them out and risk the life of the innocent sacrifice, we decided to march in bathed in the light of Gautama and eradicate the evil. Not far in, a chained horror attacked us, but we dispatched it.

What lies beyond? Only the sages know.

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