Echoes of Glory
Journal Entry - One
Journal Entry – 2nd Waescdaeg of Snaermonan, 499 IR
My time with the Taiga Elves has finally come to an end, for this I am thankful, although I have been greeted warmly and given hospitality I find myself treated as an oddity. At one time or other I’ve been introduced to the majority of elves here, most have simply been indulging their curiosity, as I’m seen as no more than a mythical beast who does not require a cage and can talk.
Over the months here the many acquaintances I have made have resulted in few real friends, for that I am disappointed, and yet grateful that I have at least made some. I bid fair well to the Taiga and head south intending to rely on and improve my survival skills, using as much stealth and secrecy as I could manage to avoid any lurking dangers. But that was not to be.
At the suggestion of my mentor Lellwin, I planned to spend some time in human lands, getting to know their cultural traditions and practices in the hopes of understanding what drives their senseless, indulgent lives. My disparaging answer of greed had not seemed sufficient.
On the outskirts of the Elven home I came across the Druid Bastet and her snow leopard companion. Even among the Druids she was known as somewhat of a loaner, preferring the company of animals to that of other elves. It seems the Druid hierarchy had decided she too was in need of some firsthand knowledge of humans and their civilization.
Whether by coincidence or the design of our elders I know not, but we decided to travel together in any case. Things were going well, neither of us interested in useless small talk and being comfortable with silence and the simple sounds of nature. That was of course until I found Bastet had a penchant for picking up strays. In this case it took the form of a Frostborn Hrimwisard who calls himself Chillfist. I can’t say I approved of this turn of events, however he appears competent and I believe his company to be beneficial should we be attacked, so I chose to say nothing.
Upon arrival at the human settlement of Aslov we found lodgings easily enough. As I suspected, it’s a somewhat rat infested city, teeming with humans, and the stench of filth is thick in the air. After a few days I acclimatized to the smell, as beneficial as that seemed at the time, I can’t help but see the dulling of my senses as a weakness in the wild.
Thankfully before long we had, let’s call it good fortune for now, to meet a human by the name of Feurn. He happened to have some work lined up, for which our joint expertise would be appreciated. At that stage I’d have taken any excuse to get out of there, the food was distasteful to say the least and don’t get me started upon the quality of the ales.
We met with a merchant by the name of Rodgar ap-Annwn whom we agreed to pick up a wagon load of wheat from a nearby village, Dunross and courier it safely through the wilderness to the village of Dalsetter in the Freelands. I don’t trust humans and this merchant seems no better than the rest, however the valuable cargo was sufficient to ensure our payment. Yet I wonder at his trust so easily given to us, four complete strangers who come from such obviously varied backgrounds. I suspect his history with Feurn actually goes back further than our brief encounter, indeed I suspect it was a feigned “meeting for the first time” for our benefit.
Feurn seems somewhat fragile even for humans, and I could see he would be unaccustomed to the harshness of winter beyond the safety of the city’s wall. Luckily he took my advice and quickly purchased a set of winter furs, after which we set out from the town immediately, taking responsibility of the merchant’s empty wagon and two draft horses.
In a matter of minutes there was already a major disturbance, Bastet had foolishly let her leopard run loose in the town and the harmless animal had encountered a pair of hysterical peasants. The town guard had intentions of killing it, I would like to have seen them try, however Feurn made himself useful and soon talked them down, once Bastet showed she could control the beast.
Upon exiting the city precinct we were immediately swapped with beggars, my drawn sword was enough to keep them at arm’s reach from me. Bastet called the leopard from the back of the wagon and it showed exactly how harmless it was when it failed to even scare off a few hungry beggars.
It seemed at first Feurn would make himself useful by driving the wagon, but instead he insisted on walking with me at the front of our little convoy; claiming he preferred to be free to scout ahead. I’m ashamed to say my initial thoughts were skeptical, assuming he was avoiding even the simplest work. Thankfully that was not the case.
We were only a few brief hours into our journey when Feurn spotted something off the edge of the road ahead. My own arrogance at first made me dismiss him, but he was insistent and so drawing my blades I stepped forward to investigate. At that very moment three orcs stepped clear of cover and fired upon me. Had Feurn’s warning not be given, my death was all but ensured. I darted to the side, by only the merest of margins and the grace of Ullr, an arrow that would have taken me through the throat instead placed a hole in my cloak.
Sprinting forward I ducked behind cover from the archers only to be fired upon by a forth orc hidden there already, his arrow flew wide and I quickly engaged him in hand to hand combat. I heard Bastet chanting briefly before my reflexes quickened and my blades whistled forward, enhanced by her magical power, practically on their own accord striking the Orc twice in succession and he fell at my feet.
Arrows from the remaining orcs whistled into our ranks, there were panicked whinnies from the horses but no screams of pain from my companions. Chillfist returned fire with blasts of frost energy which erupted over my shoulder giving me cover and scattering the orcs back.
They soon emerged again finding Bastet in the open and chose to target her and the horses. I charged from cover, hampered by the fallen snow I failed to reach them in time, luckily their aim was off and no one was hit. Bastet’s chanting filled the air once more, I saw the effects directly as her magic targeted an orc, draining its vitality and seemingly aging it in a matter of seconds.
A second volley of frost energy blasted the weakened beast away and sent a second staggering. Moving forward, I dispatched it with ruthless efficiency. The third orc fired, but once again failed to hit his mark. Chillfist however did not, as a third blast of ice nailed the beast in the chest just as the snow leopard pounced, if the ice had not already ended its life the claws and fangs soon did.
Looting the bodies of weapons and gold it was Feurn who identified them by tribal scarring next to their eyes as members of the Eye Piercer tribe. I set out to follow their tracks back to their camp assuming it to be nearby, however, after an hour of hiking I determined it was not worth further time and returned to the wagon.
Feurn had buried the bodies and covered them with snow by the time I returned; he insisted that to do otherwise was only sending the message “Next time, send more than four orcs.” I personally did not see a problem in that.
It was approaching night fall when we came across a travel tower, wagons were parked out front, but neither horses nor smoke from the chimney was in evidence. Something was amiss and I snuck forward with Feurn to investigate. We found no signs of life and waved our companions forward, staying hidden nearby should someone emerge from hiding once alerted to the noise of our wagon. No one did.
Feurn’s sharp eyes discovered horse tracks which seemed to suggest the animals had broken their tethers and bolted, along with remnants of flour and broken barrels in the back of the wagons already at the tower. Indeed the side of which was embossed with a logo of two crossed sheaves of wheat over the letter D.
A quick search of the tower soon discovered the skeletal remains of four men upstairs, what was left of their clothes showed the same logo as the wagon and whilst the cause of their death was inconclusive, one thing was certain. At some stage either during their deaths or after, they had been gnawed and eaten by a swarm of rodents. It was somewhat disturbing.
Dumping the bodies outside we cleaned and secured the tower as best we could, bringing everything inside we had from the wagon, equipment, horses, food and fodder before settling in for what may be a long, uneasy night.