Rumblings of Change

A strange visitor
Tessara's Journal

We’re heading back out. This is so stupid, but apparently we need more intel about Karuck. Our brilliant plan involves finding where the army was, and follow it’s tracks.

On the way I noticed we were being followed. I had a chance to chat with our stalker. He said he was “intrigued” by me, not sure how to take that. In any case, he didn’t seem to mean us harm, but he implied there were others he was traveling with as well, and they might not be so harmless.

In any case, I’m wary of him, but we’ll see where things go.

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Flight

The mountains north of Mithral Hall are wild, but I have wandered this way before. I had not, however, had to make my way while trying to protect and guide an entire village’s worth of people with a massive army nipping at our heels.

May I never have to do such again.

We marched through snow, storms and night, hounded by wolves and even stumbling into ambushes set by advance scouts. Though the villagers were hardy even by my standards, many of the young and old were nearly dead on their feet by the time we reached safety… or at least un-trusting protection from the dwarves that guarded the border. But between the murderous orcs, giants and wolves at our backs- not forgetting the dragon that taunted from the sky from time to time- and the suspicions of Mithral Hall, I can see why the villagers would choose the latter.

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A tiring journey
Tessara's Journal

The flight from Wellspring was long and arduous. We gave the Karuck army a slight slip, gaining us merely a few hours of a lead. Days of travel and forced marching, we tried to hurry to Mithral hall. It was not long before beasts from the army caught up to our village’s worth of people, attacking and harassing as we went.

My traveling companions and I fell back among the ranks, trying to fight off the wolves and wargs as best we could. Somehow we ended up off course, and were attacked by a group of forward scouts. It was a hard fight, but we eventually came out victorious. We pushed through the night, and we finally arrived in Mithral Hall.

The dwarves were understandable wary of the village of half-orcs we brought with us, but hopefully we can explain things to the steward, and they can grant them sanctuary. In the meantime I need a bath and a nap, and then I’m going to go have a discussion with the peace talks, they need to understand how much of a threat Karuck is to what they are trying to accomplish.

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Wellspring

We reached the half-orc settlement of Wellspring late in the day, cold and tired, hoping to not only avoid a fight but also receive sanctuary. I admit I was nervous as we approached the walls of the village and I had the others wait just out of bowshot of the walls. Before the war, these people had been more reasonable than most others of their kin, but how had the war affected them? I didn’t know, but felt it my responsibility to find out before I risked my friends. I approached the village alone and spoke with the guards manning the gate, explaining our need in perhaps too much detail. To my relief, they opened their gates and, though they were suspicious of us, one of their elders met with us and decided to not only allow us refuge, but to have us send a message back to Mithral Hall that Wellspring was their ally in this dark time.

That relief soured the next day when we discovered it wasn’t just a band of frost giants that was coming, but a small army of orcs as well. I doubted such a force was marching here just to find us, but I couldn’t help feeling guilty, as though we had led them to this small village. I had known it before, but spending time among them again reminded me that these half-orcs were good people who rejected a heritage that so many others embraced. I could not desert them to an army of their evil kin. The others agreed to help the village if so needed, but sent Xil back to Mithral Hall with a report.

In the meantime, we helped the village prepare for the possible battle ahead. The elder told us of tunnels behind the village that could be used to evacuate should it be needed, but we hoped that either the army would pass by or that, if they attacked, we could hold them at the walls. During the preparations, I was impressed with one of their number, Kosh, who rallied their warriors and did much to quell the fear many in the village were now fearing. When the army came near, they stopped and sent an envoy to the gates, where they demanded of Kosh that they surrender us and pledge allegiance to them. Kosh danced around the part of us, but demanded to know who it was he’d be pledging to. Finally, confronting them about the Kuruck, the giant envoy smirked and named himself their mouthpiece.

It was obvious now that the Kuruck were not just some rogue tribe, but were amassing an entire army with giant allies.

When Kosh rejected their terms, they attacked. We revealed ourselves and aided in repelling the first wave of attackers at the main gates, but it was obvious we wouldn’t be able to hold the village against such an army. The villagers fled through the tunnels, with us helping hold the walls long enough. Finally, we fled as well and collapsed the tunnels behind us.

We came out far to the south of Wellspring and decided we’d escort the now homeless half-orcs to Mithral Hall and plead for them to receive the refuge they gave us in our time of need. Simple enough. How were we to know we’d be harried by winter wolves, lead by that two-headed beast from before!? How did that army find us so quickly?

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Snowstorm

After slaying the band of raiding Kuruck, we set out now without any leads. We had finally caught up to our fleeing orc, and it had gotten us nowhere. As the others discussed our plans now, I began noticing signs. The air growing heavy and cold, clouds on the horizon, birds taking shelter.

A storm was coming and it would be a cold one.

We quickly decided to take shelter in whatever cave we could find in the mountains to our west and set out with haste, hoping to find one before the storm broke. The wind was howling by the time we reached the foothills, with a blizzard just beginning when we found a cave. Inside were some unfriendly cave giants that lashed out when they saw us. I was badly battered in the fight, both Ulutu and myself probably owing our lives to Ulthgar’s healing magics. Once the giants were dispatched to whatever god would want them, we settled into the cave and waited the storm out.

Three days, we waited. The storm had blown by during the first day, but had left enough snow behind that we were hesitant to tramp out into it without a clear idea of where we would be going. My friends talked, debated and grew surly in the smelly confines, with only Xil seeming happy as he rummaged through the giants’ belongings. I occasionally sent Ulutu out to scout and, on the third day, he came back with news. Frost giants and winter wolves, many of them, were coming out of the mountains.

Where were they going and why? We had heard that frost giants sometimes sided with the orcs during this war, so we decided to try to follow this band and see where it was they lead us. We gratefully left the cave behind and tramped out into the fresh snow. However, it seems that these giants were being cautious and we were attacked by a band of wolves, led by a monstrous winter wolf with two heads! We killed most of the beasts, but the abomination escaped, doubtless to alert the giants of our presence. Against such a sizable group and hindered by the snow, we decided to run and attempt to find some place where the giants wouldn’t follow.

Again, the debating about where to go. It is enough to drive a man mad, so much talking! Diala often teases me for being quiet, but she hasn’t felt the freedom of wandering the wild, going weeks between talking to another rational being. Enough. I told the group of a small village of half-orcs nearby named Wellspring. The people there took after their human parents and had traded with me before. They might allow us sanctuary for a few days and the giants would hesitate a fortified settlement filled with nearly a hundred warriors. They soon agreed on that course of action and we set out.

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Something is wrong

I’ve never seen magic behave the way it is against our current foes, not firing at all, misfiring, or in a particularly embarrassing incident on my part, deflecting back at team mates. I don’t know much about these Kuruck orcs, well not really orcs exactly, more violent and mindless, I’d say and I recall mention that they’re half orc and half well, something else, honestly I don’t really care what they are, they’re causing hell for everyone, even other orcs – we found some fighting female and child orcs – we managed to save them – as far as I can tell they were innocent, even if they’re orc’s, they were clearly not there for any evil purpose – though I can clearly not say the same for the Kuruck orcs.

But all this still leaves me baffled, the Kuruck while they did have a mage with them in one of our encounters do not seem to be the arcane smart types, more brute force violent types.

So how, how are they repelling our magic so easily? My knowledge of spellcraft cannot determine any causes for these events, no anti magic zone, no counterspells or anything.

Whatever evil these Kuruck orcs are using, I fear foir us all as it appears to be something…new

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Oops ;)
Tessara's Journal

We arrived at Mithral Hall, and to say there was skepticism about our offer to help that would be an understatement. I guess… more specifically there was skepticism about me offering to help.

As much as the rest of the world have their prejudices against my kind, the dwarves have them doubly so. Ever since they were banished to the Underdark, the followers of Lolth have been almost a constant threat to the dwarves.

Thankfully, our dwarven companions were able to convince the steward that we were all competent, and here to help. We were assigned tasks by the steward, mine was to accompany the scouts.

On one of my days of scouting I spotted something rather curious. In a patch of woods there was a gathering of tents, at least one dwarven, one human and (oddly), one orc. When I asked the captain about it he dodged the question, stating that it was something that they knew about and not to worry about it.

Well, I’ve never been one to just let things go when I’m told, so I decided to continue poking the bear. Within a day we were all summoned in front of the steward again.

Apparently the dwarves are in peace talks with the orcs. This was a huge surprise to the entirety of my traveling party, and Lowe and Ulfgart especially seemed shocked. This news was quickly followed up with threats of imprisonment or worse if we were to tell anyone. Apparently I stumbled upon something really problematic for the dwarves. Oops.

We are being sent on a mission, and should we run into trouble there will be no help from the dwarves of Mithral Hall. There is a small orc clan that has been causing problems for peace talks. As it turns out, the ones that attacked us on the way to Mithral Hall were part of this clan. As it turns out, one had gotten away, so we doubled back the way we came to try and track it, see if we could find a way to track the one that got away. Corlin was able to without too much trouble, and we followed the archer until his tracks met up with others, and then we followed them. Eventually we caught up with them, attacking a group of orcs, including women and children.

We intervened, saving the orcs under assault, who fled as soon as they could. We left one of them alive, hoping he could lead us to his clan. He gave us some valuable information (Lowe and I played a bit of good guard, bad guard), and we put him out of his misery.

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Mithral Hall and Beyond

After the orc ambush near the Evermoors, we continued on until we reached the river and the dwarf-held lands beyond. Lowe and Ulthgart escorted us through the sentries and the patrols and finally we found ourselves before the steward of Mithral Hall… a small halfling. I had heard stories of this being the case, but hearing tall tales and seeing them to be true are two separate things. The steward, Regis by name, assigned us to different companies, with Ulutu and myself being assigned to assist the scouts while Diala was sent to aid some of the mages that had arrived from Silverymoon. The rest of our group was divided up as well, with only Tess being assigned to the scouts as well.

Days later and all of us were summoned to Regis once more, who confronted Tess about something she had seen on one of her patrols which was supposed to be kept secret. The dwarves are negotiating with the orcs. Though a part of me understands that the war has been bloody and, if it continues, could spell doom to the north, it still sits wrong in my heart that they’d concede to these beasts. Fortunately, it is not my call to make as Regis had decided that, since we’d stumbled on something that must be kept quiet, we would be best suited for a mission that would take us away from our allies for a while.

Apparently Many-Arrows has a few unruly allies, the Kuruck clan in specific. Wild even by orc standards, this clan has been raiding despite the declared truce and Regis wants it to stop, but not by any hands that can be traced back to him and his Thane. If we are caught, there will be no rescue. Only torture, slavery or death.

Maybe Diala is right and I am a little wrong in the head, but I agreed to go. The others did so as well and we left soon after, loaded with what supplies Regis could spare and making our way back to the orc ambush. Apparently they had been Kurucks, so how better to find them than to track the one orc that got away? Finding the ambush point was easy and tracking the wounded survivor was fortunately possible, with a river crossing and an ambush by giants and worgs to slow us down. in the end though, we were in the rolling hills that the orcs have claimed and found that, not only had our survivor joined a new band, but that they were also raiding another group of orcs. Normally I would have sat back and let them kill each other, but the defenders were women and children. Orcs, yes, but not the bloodthirsty warriors that many think of when they picture orcs. We swept in and smashed the raiders, letting the non-combatants flee into the hills. One though, we kept and interrogated. These Karucks are dangerous to all and the sooner they are put down, the better.

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Life is good

Heavy packs, long marches and frequent fighting: it really does not get better than this. We left town a couple of days ago and we’re already carving out a nice little trail of blood and gore. I heard somewhere that bone dust mixed with dried blood are the preferred fertilizer of rose growers. If that’s true, then you should be able to follow our path in years to come based on the trail of roses. Already, my hammer has cleaned the world of a giant, several goblins and some orcish abomination.

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I hate Basilisks.
Tessara's Journal

I’m not used to being snuck up on, generally I’m the one doing the sneaking. Also, generally I’m more aware of my surroundings, but last night that was not the case.

I don’t sleep as long as the others, so I slept during the first watch and was up the rest of the night, keeping an eye out for orcs and the like. We were on our way to Mithril Hall, a journey that I’m fairly familiar with, though this time we were passing around territory swimming in orcs, as they were besieging the hall. Any way, our first night after leaving Silverymoon everyone was resting, I was a bit bored, and spent some time scouting a little way away from camp. I was being careful, I was keeping my eyes open, mostly looking for orcs.

Well, it wasn’t an orc, but a basilisk, who managed to get the drop on me. It bit me first, catching me by surprise. I turned, realized what it was… just in time to be petrified. Next thing I knew I was covered in Basilisk blood and getting a disapproving look from Corlin. I decided not to press it, he’d probably write it off as me being a city girl or something. I’m every bit as observant as he is, maybe even more so, so it’s not like HE would have seen the Basilisk coming, and me being a few yards further from camp made no freaking difference anyway. But, let him think what he wants.

The next day we ran into a giant and some orcs. Not simultaneously, mind you, but still. We haven’t even gotten past the woods yet, and this journey is proving more treacherous than ever before. Kind of starting to regret offering to go along, but I wasn’t wrong, these guys would likely get themselves killed. During the fight with the orcs Diala almost went down, and thankfully myself and…. wait, what’s his name again? I know he’s Lowe’s brother, the one with clerical training… Anyway, myself and what’s-his-face managed to keep her up and in the fight.

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