Moonday, 17th day of Coldeven, the village of Hommlet
With the immediate threat to the village dealt with, our company took the time for some much needed rest, recuperation and training after our triumphant return from the moathouse. Our elvish companion Ellaria left us to return to
North Elfguard, to make a new
report to her superiors. Likewise Wilstan departed, saying he had business to
attend to with his order. We spent a score of days in Hommlet, toward the end
of which period a small detachment of squires and men at arms of the Order of
the Hart rode into town, bearing an urgent message from Verbobonc for sir Otis.
The missive was from none other than alderman Enoch Crowe, chairman of the
council of guilds, requesting our presence for a meeting to specially convene
the next day. It seemed our repose had come to an end. Basil and Madrak chose
to stay in Hommlet for the time being, while the rest of us set off for
Verbobonc by way of Etterboek, there to reunite with our companions Weebrian
and Chryseis. Joining us would be some new animal additions to our party,
Kazireh’s tunnel hound Reggie and a rather odd toad called mr. Timmus, which
had become the ward of our druid Tuffnell, or vice versa. We traveled to Verbobonc
with all due haste, together with sir Otis and the men from the Order of the
Hart. When we reached the city it became clear it was not left untouched by the
threat looming to the south either. The number of guards seemed to have
increased, and the defenses and fortifications at the gates bolstered.
Once in the city proper, we met up with the rest of our number and made for the council house without further delay. Happy to report that the reception we received was markedly different from the one a month ago. After some light refreshments we were ushered into the council room, where alderman Crowe and the sage Mellium awaited us. It became clear that our assignment was far from over. The Viscount requested our services for another month, to further investigate the rise of evil in the area of Hommlet. Due to the troubles in the north, the alderman could unfortunately not give us much in the way of aid; having no men to spare and few resources at his immediate disposal. He did tell us to return the next morning, as he would make certain arrangements. We showed the letters we found in the ruined moathouse to the scribe Mellium, and he was much intrigued indeed. In return he provided us with a copy of a map and a cryptic poem, both from the
, about the rise of
the temple of elemental evil. Perhaps these will prove useful in time. village of Nulb
Made my way to the Sword & Board after the meeting was concluded, an inn frequented by members of the Guild of the Guards. Shared a few drinks and struck up a conversation with a certain captain Roads, who seemed a good sort, and discussed the possibility of joining the Guards with him. Still needed to settle my accounts with the Adventurer’s Guild, so retired for the night to the guild house afterwards.
The next day, a rather drab and dreary Godsday, we reconvened at the council house after taking the time for the first chance at proper observance in the last month. Mellium had come through for us, and we were joined by a follower of Roa, father Lightweather, who donated several jugs and jars of healing ointments and other substances to our cause. He also provided us with a powerful healing rod, which unfortunately either did not work anymore or the proper activation method had been forgotten. Confident though that Weebrian or Chryseis will unravel its mysteries sooner or later, perhaps in a time of dire need. Since we had heard no news from Wilstan, the gifts could not have been more appropriate. As we headed out, in order to return to Hommlet as quickly as possible, we were greeted by a very strange teleporting dog. Weebrian however was familiar with the animal, and it became clear the creature belonged to his mentor, the gnomish illusionist Blasphemy Rumtum. We met the master for a quick chat, and he seemed approving of Weebrian’s work so far. Our pressing business in Hommlet left us with little time for further pleasantries, so after signing up at the Guards and becoming a probationary member, my companions and I saddled up and left Verbobonc behind us.
After some miles it became clear we would not be able to reach Hommlet before nightfall. Taking into consideration the ambush we rode into the first time we came to the village, we decided against going further that day. We would have an excellent opportunity to escape the chill when we would pass through Etterboek, as the guest house there, the Golden Cockerel, was quite the pleasant establishment, and renowned for its honey cakes. Would not normally deem it necessary to mention the more insignificant details of our journeys, but in this instance the visit to the inn proved rather out of the ordinary. Several wagons were pulled up near the Golden Cockerel, but paying it no heed, we had our horses stabled and entered the warmth of the common room. As I looked over the assembled patrons around the fireplace, my stomach clenched and a feeling of panic came over me. A company of dwarvish wagoners sat gathered there, drinking and making merry. For most this would be no issue; but immediately my mind turned to what would happen if they discovered a person such as myself in the possession of the Song Spear, a priceless heirloom of the ancient Lortmill kingdom. Tried to leave the common room without being noticed, but before I could reach the stairs I heard one of the Dwarves shout after me. What I feared indeed ensued, as the Dwarves discovered the spear and then demanded to know how it had come in my care. To assuage their anger I found myself in the unpleasant center of attention as I recounted the story of my late grandmother Alyssa, though how even she had eventually come upon the spear I did not know. The story seemed to satisfy the Dwarves however, and soon they returned to their own storytelling and merriment. Before I could slip off, one among their number, the wagonmaster Ranmas, asked me to step outside with him. Agreed to do so, and though I have to admit that my suspicions were aroused again, they proved unwarranted. Apparently the story I told had moved Ranmas so that he wanted to make amends for the initial distrust. He handed me a mithril coin and asked me to put some flowers on grandmother’s grave, a request I intend to honor as soon as our situation permits us.
The grey weather from the previous day had turned into a storm that remained appropriately unabated for the rest of Waterday. Arrived in Hommlet in the evening, and as there were few hours remaining in the day and we were rather weary after the being on the road the entire day, we headed for the Welcome Wench without delay. It proved to be another busy night at the inn, and among the regulars I noticed Fernok of Ferd, who seemed to have taken Basil under his wing, and the mysterious black-skinned fighter and pale, red robed Seol monk which had earned the dislike of my companion Weebrian. Kazireh struck up a conversation with them over the course of the evening and seemed to earn their trust to a certain extent, learning their names: Kobort and brother Moore. Myself I had a chance encounter with Gremag Hox. Surprisingly enough the man turned out to be quite amenable, and delivered the good news that the Seer Foe, purportedly stolen, had once again found its way into their possession. Made arrangements to pick it up the following morning, while the others were to meet with sir Rufus to discuss the latest instructions from the viscount.
After our respective errands the following morning, we set off despite the grey and cold weather towards the ruins of the moathouse. Personally would have preferred to travel to Nulb and see if we could learn more about Lareth’s dealings there, but as I vowed to accompany Chryseis if she were to return to the moathouse to cleanse it of any remaining evil, I had little choice but to comply.
We took shelter from the gathering storm at High Watch, which was deserted in Elmo’s absence. After about an hour the weather cleared up, but as the ranger deemed the sodden old way too treacherous for our horses, we ended up taking the low road around the marshland. This way we only reached the ruined keep late in the evening, safely, but perhaps not unnoticed, as we heard several blasts of a horn off in the distance. We had hoped to surreptitiously enter the moathouse using the hidden passage, through which had left the ruins after our previous incursion, but after fruitlessly searching for it for half an hour, we had to abandon this plan, despite being sure we were in the right area. Instead we made for the moathouse proper and, warily, decided to investigate. Tuffnell, Kazireh and Chryseis would climb over the rubble of the broken curtain wall, while Weebrian and myself would stay behind to guard the horses. Then things started to happen, without my knowledge in quick succession. We suddenly heard cries coming from the moathouse, as Kazireh, scouting ahead, had come upon the giant snake that had harassed us on our previous intrusion as well. Weebrian and I made for the main entrance, but found the portcullis lowered and lost precious time raising it by hand, while Chryseis by then had entered the ruins and discovered Kazireh paralyzed by the snake’s poison. Tuffnell meanwhile had slipped while climbing up and fallen into the filthy moat, together with his pet frog. By the time we had reached Kazireh and Chryseis, the snake lay dead, but when we returned outside, there was no more trace of Tuffnell. My companions found a set of tracks leading off into the woods, no mean feat in the growing darkness, but it seemed to have been made by multiple individuals, much to our alarm, and they followed it with great speed while I took care of Kazireh. Eventually she came to, not much worse for wear, and when Chryseis and Weebrian returned we all set out to find the errant druid. We kept following the tracks, despite them becoming very hard to read after a while, up until a point where they suddenly ended. Then it became clear that some illusory magic was in play, because subsequently we discovered there once again the hidden tunnel leading to the lower levels of the moathouse, hidden from plain view. Encouraged by our luck, we made for the door…