Rumblings of Change

Surprise: We didn't die.
Lowe

We survived our sneaky little attack, thanks to . . . Thanks to what? Thanks to that dragon not seriously trying kill us. Thanks to the orcs being distracted and not attacking or pursuing us in force. Thanks to blind luck and nothing we did. I mean, we surely did fight valiantly (including Fael, I’ll admit I’m impressed) and we killed some orcs and it was tons of fun, but we are surrounded by forces beyond our control. Like that EMP (Energetic Magical Pulse) that took down Aethis. It’s more obvious every day that we need a better understanding of what’s going on. How will I know what to hammer?

I wish we had been able to investigate the source of that energy wave. I understand that we were severely injured, we had an incapacitated wizard to deal with, and we were still near a large group of angry orcs.

We still can’t be sure of Fael’s motives. He did help us fight against his former companions, and that does tell us something about his loyalties. Or his lack of loyalty. I’m going to watch him closely, but a man who fights beside us deserves a chance.

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An Opportunity
Tessara's Journal

Well, a practical suicide mission, a wave of purple nonsense that nearly killed Diala and myself, and finally a trip back to Mithral Hall, so much is happening right now, but I keep thinking about Fael, and his strange curiosity in me.

I guess I should back up.

When I was a child, Alustriel often had visitors who she would introduce to me. Sometimes they would be polite, or curious, many would usually pay me no mind, after all, I was just the orphan Drow who was Alustriel’s ward. However, one visitor who I will never forget was QiluĆ© Veladorn. She was another of the Chosen of Mystra, like Alustriel, and was also a Chosen of Eilistraee, and one of the only other drow I had ever met up until recently. It was from her that I first learned of the drow goddess who sought to bring my kind back to the light, and whose followers worked to help all people live in harmony. She gave me a book of tales and scripture, which to this day is one of my most precious possessions.

Since then, I have been a devoted follower of Eilistraee, and I feel like she is watching out for me in some small way. Hell, I even went so far as to tattoo symbols of her on my shoulder and arm. That’s why I became a bard, and a traveler, hoping to see the world and spread the word, help others see that the drow can do good in this world, and have a place on the surface, living peacefully. (As a side note, I’ve heard rumor that there are colonies of surface drow who worship Eilistraee in areas of the world, and I hope to visit one someday)

However, other than ignoring scornful looks, displaying the symbol and trying to do good, I never had felt a real opportunity to try and bring other drow into the light. And then, I met Fael.

I know the others have their reservations and doubts about Fael, and they certainly were wary to trust him on our little assault today, but I think that we can trust him. He turned against the agents of chaos, and joined us to get free of them. He finds me strange, walking the surface among dwarves and men, and I’m guessing the tattoo on my back was what first drew his interest. But, if someone like Fael can change, maybe there is hope for more of my people.

We need to hunt down the drow agents that escaped, or they will hunt us and Fael alike, but after that we are headed south. Something happened to Aethis, he saved mine and Diala’s life, but he’s not well as a result. We have heard word of a healer far, far to the south that might be able to help.

After we deal with these drow I would like to stop by Silverymoon one last time before we head south. I need to get my book, I didn’t take it with us on the trip to Mithral Hall, but left it at the palace. If we are going to be gone for quite a while, I want it with me. That, and I want to allow Fael a chance to take a look at it.

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Debt

While traveling in orcish territory, we met Tess’s… I will say contact, as I am still not sure if he can be considered a friend, regardless of what she says. Fael, a drow male willing to betray his masters. I suppose I should be grateful, but if he’s willing to betray once, who is to say if he’ll do so again.

Regardless, he told us that he could get us into the tent of the Kuruck leader, Gurgutch, his top minions and his drow ‘advisers’. Whether we could survive such a battle or escape afterwards was up in the air, but we decided to try it. Stopping this army demanded risk, and taking out these leaders could very well do it. The other orcs, leaderless, would fall on each other, each striving to take the now empty throne but each willing to kill to get it. Though this army might survive under some other orc’s leadership, the struggle would weaken it considerably.

So we risked it. Fael used some magic to take us to the tent, full of enemies and danger. We cut, rent and bled, many of us coming close to death as we struggled with such powerful enemies. Through it all, I could feel a pulse in me I have only lately felt, a… I don’t know how to describe it, but whatever it is, it surged in me from time to time, filling me with power I had never had before and allowing me to do things I have never done before. By all rights, I should be dead. We all should be dead. But this pulse… it made me more than I had ever been. More than we had ever been, if I’m not mistaken. We fought harder than any of us have a right to, and I don’t know why.

We survived, but had to flee the tent quickly before the army could muster itself against us. As we did so, something strange began to sweep the landscape. Diala doesn’t know what it was, but it seemed like a wall of sickly light rushing overland. A flood of… wrongness and we were but twigs in its path. Aethis seemed to realize what was happening and enacted some spell. The light rushed over us and passed, leaving us unharmed but at a cost. Aethis seems to have taken the brunt of whatever attack that was and is now comatose, and no one among us know how to help him.

We managed to retreat back to Mithral Hall, reporting the successful assassination of Gurgutch and some of his minions, but at least two of his drow ‘helpers’ seemed to have escaped. We were thanked for our help and told that a cleric far to the south might be able to help Aethis. Based on reports that we’ve since heard, both Diala and Tess would have been stricken by that wave had he not saved them, so she and I agree that in this, we owe him and should do what we can to make him whole once more. As for what Tess feels, I do not know.

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We're all going to die.
Lowe

Mr. Underdark has a fancy suicide plan for us. We’re going to teleport into the orc war camp and then fight our way out. I guess it would be more dangerous to fight our way in, but at some point, all paths to certain death begin to look the same. All of this so we can kill the orc leader. I’m not a political man, and the inner workings of orc society are not something I’m familiar with, but it’s hard to imagine that killing this one orc is going to stop this army.

If Fael is so confident in our plan, why wont he go with us?

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It's always hammer time
Lowe

Some people, esspecially humans and elfs, keep telling me that violence can’t solve everything. So far, they’ve been wrong. Every problem I’ve encountered has been solved by violence. I guess the lesson is that when you have a hammer, it’s best to treat everything like a nail. Like these hell cats. It’ll be fine once we pound them into the ground.

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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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