Upon arrival at the encampment, my travel companions and I set about trying to make ourselves useful while waiting for this mysterious Guard Captain to arrive. The amusing lycanthrope set off to find food and returned with a rather feral-looking young woman (who joined us, no less! I’m not sure if he intended for her to be dinner, but she didn’t seem to be very nefarious, at least. Or tasty. I don’t think humans covered in bearskins would be very tasty). Artemus, our absent-minded merchant friend, set about putting his muscle to good use, and the diminutive noblewoman disappeared, muttering something about getting beauty sleep. I suppose it is a facet of nobility to focus so much on pomp and circumstance, but this was a strange place for it. I thought to my own experiences with my battle-bonded female ‘companion,’ the young dwarf cleric Bagorah, and how she often reminded me that the best way to get a group of people focused was to “Get ‘em tipsy, get ’em laughin’ or get ‘em awed. ain’t no better way to get a pal’s spirits out o’ the dumps. Either that or start a brawl, but humans are pretty picky about that. Best impress ’em with yer smarts.” With more than a fair amount of ardor driving my performance, I set about dazzling the encampment with games of dragonchess where I brought my skill and deft strategic awareness to bear. I’ve honed my skills in battle with a king and his retinue, after all. Soon enough, I’d gained the eye and apparent approval of the camp’s leader, General Keiran O’Nel. We didn’t speak much, but he respected my skill and the fact that his men felt a surge of morale that was sorely needed.
During my watch and conversation with some of the camp’s soldiers, I started thinking of my father’s wisdom, and of my need to become capable of aiding him. It galled me to bear this scar (even if it stood as proof of my experience) and it galled me that I was forced to let such a grievous attempt on my life go basically unpunished. Anger grew within me and I decided that I would ensure proof of my honor in the battles to come.
In the morning, the strange bond between Artemus and his brother, Guard Captain Katunix, was put on full display for everyone in the camp. I have never known human males to be so affectionate with each other, though Bram assures me it’s “not really a big deal.” Katunix is assigned charge of this group, and though I respect his rank and chain of command, I find myself somewhat less than impressed with his assessment of circumstances and feel more that he is a contemporary of mine than a superior. His glaive seems to bear the experience that he lacks, however, so I afford him his space. I hope to learn from his example, and hold that thought in reserve as we venture forth aboard the horses he requisitions for us all. Lady Timbre decides to ride forth with me, though this doesn’t bode very well for her once we are confronted by a ghoul!
Katunix and I sink our handaxes into the foul beast, and with some doing, it is felled. I feel the drive to take trophies of this noteworthy battle, and decide that the foul creature’s tongue might have some alchemical use (somewhere.) I also feel strangely compelled to take the beast’s foot, hacking it with my blade and storing it away. I’m not entirely sure why I decided that this would be a worthy
trophy… all I remember is feeling a haze of red wash over me and a justification springing forth from my mind accordingly. With that in tow, we headed forth. After some time, we reached our destination and spied to ominous towers in the distance, described as Towers of Waiting, a place of interment for the dead. Given that our mission was to confront a source of undead, this seemed a likely
source. This hunch was confirmed by the sight of a group of skeletons guarding kobolds, who seemed to be digging up more bones. Despite some attempts at stealth and other attempts at planning an attack, a disastrous sortie was launched against the skeletons. Timbre and Katunix took suffered grievous wounds, but Elyad and I were able to exact vengeance. The kobolds got away, and we wisely decided to rest up before continuing our mission. Skeletons come out, and are smitten.
With only one hand, Katunix bravely decides to continue the mission, and we press on into one of the towers. We set fire to a host of zombies in a bone pit below us and I eye some hammers that are ultimately left behind because combat finds us: a tough hobgoblin and a host of kobolds take us by storm on the higher levels, and a pitched battle is joined! Lady Timbre did the lion’s share of the work,
viciously mocking the beastie and unbalancing him enough for the rest of us to whittle away at his retinue, but eventually Artemus and I are the only ones in good enough shape to take him head on, and we put him down. This one was made an example of as well, and I took another grisly trophy to show my squadmates. Who would believe that I took on a hobgoblin and survived? No one, that’s who. Since everyone was injured, Artemus and I beat a hasty retreat instead of continuing on.
In the middle of the night, during my watch, I spied yet more skeletons exiting the other tower. I woke a few of the others and we set to putting them down, but I was frustrated. I gathered the bones after they were dispatched and set about burying them in different places so that they would be hard-pressed to reanimate again, when I was contacted by an otherworldly power praising my skill and ferocity in
battle. It made an offer to me, granting me more power if I would only continue indulging my anger in combat. I accepted, and was infused with the seed of something I couldn’t yet understand. But when I realized who I’d dealt with, everything changed…
The next day, the group decides we should head back to try and salvage Katunix’s severed hand. We meet with a medicine woman named “Grandmother Hawkins” whom I do my best to convince to save his hand until we can do more for him, but she suggests that we ultimately head back where we came, for the Mystic Lady would be able to restore him to health. Here is where the man gained my respect: even in this condition, he refused to abandon his mission. Inspired by this, and emboldened by Lady Timbre hiring a healer to join us for the return trip to offer insurance against our trials and tribulations inside. We requisitioned more horses and set off to finish what we started. Before we got very far, we were ambushed by a pack of goblins and orcs! The treacherous fiends were hiding in the grasslands! Our horses didn’t fare very well, but we saw to it that they were put down in a pitched battle. The mewling young healer complained that we should be held at fault for the presence of the orcs and demanded more gold! I have so far held my tongue, but don’t know if I will tolerate his complaints for much longer… my share of the treasure is for funding the interests of my land and my kingdom, not for the wagging tongue of an upstart who doesn’t respect those whose services he foolishly needs perhaps more than the other way around! I doubt that the source of these skeletons would take very kindly to one such as he being present during the return siege. Perhaps I will remind him of this if cooler heads do not prevail…