Caught Between Worlds
5th Entry James
It seems like forever since I’ve had time to write about the events going on here. Fortunately, I’ve recently had the opportunity to enjoy a real bed and a real desk. So, winding back the clock…
My last entry ended with us realizing that we were assaulting a large stronghold with an undetermined number of defenders. I made my comments then on the general lack of “good idea” in the current situation. Surprise is obviously out of the window as the screams of those killed by mentally unstable companions alerted everyone to our presence. That being said, I still prefer the stand up fight to the sneaky ambush style anyway.
Turns out this was a slave trade holding point and the leader of the location was interested in working out a solution that did not involve violence. Apparently my companions are now becoming addicted to violence as they refused all of the negotiated offers. All for an old woman who we do not know, on some outside chance that she knows something about why we are here. Their motives are very odd. With negotiations failed, combat ensues and of course they have archers on the walls. I am torn between wanting to adopt/learn some type of ranged attack, and bolstered by knowing that my enemy must attack from a location I can not reach in order to survive.
Beyond the general bloodlust that everyone seems to show in combat, my next pet peeve is that everyone splits up almost immediately. An appropriate illustration would be turning on a light inside an abandoned building, and watching the insects scatter. If they were all combat juggernauts like me, capable of fending off many threats at once then I would not mind so much. Instead they split up and get in trouble and either retreat or wait for help to arrive. I understand that we were all just college kids not that long ago but some things you should pick up faster than others.
So baseball goth moves to flank the main group holed up in the center room. Solid strategy except he was ambushed by a stealth monk – David Karadine would have been proud. This guy moved like the wind and punched like a landslide. In a way, I am glad that I did not have to face him. I would be more interested in how he fought if he bothered to wear armor. ROTC made short work of him with his sword, go figure flesh vs. sharpened steel.
While that was taking place the rest of us were waiting at the front door. The stoner was working to open the lock with some hair pins and tweezers. It took a while but he finally unlocked the door. That gave ROTC time to come back around so that we could mount a full assault, through the front door. The blur of combat makes the details a bit hazy but I remember being shot at with more arrows and a very stunning display made by the leader of the slave traders. He stood in the back for most of the fight and as we closed the gap on him he drew his sword to attack. As he did the hilt unfolded and began to glow, then black iron chains streamed out from the hilt then twisted and whipped around as he attacked. I was so impressed that the first blow landed a bit too soundly but I can take several blows like that now so have no fear.
So my companions finish killing everything that moves and we finally get to stop and look around. As I was standing with the leader at my feet, my first priority was to pickup his weapon. To my surprise, and everyone else’s, the sword looked completely different in my hands. Blue silken swaths fluttered vigorously in an unseen wind and I swear I could faintly hear trumpets and fanfare associated to a marching army. Not wanting to waste the magic in the blade, I quickly sheathed it and summarily tied it around my waist. At the time my companions had very little to say about this, but apparently it generated some animosity. As I write this, what you can not see is my wildly entertained grin.
The people I am with are nothing if not thorough and they began searching every room. For what I am not sure, but I think they were after the material wealth of the slavers. I make that assumption because during the search Marik(Snap) was resting on the best bed in the whole area. As I asked him to move he resisted, I then insisted and he revealed a clean cut into the mattress. When I asked him what it was he tried valiantly to lie. Calling his bluff he then asked to speak with me away from the others. As the only other person in the room was the shifty stoner, I agreed to speaking with him in private. As it turned out he had found a bag of coins and gems and was hiding them on his person, which is pretty impressive considering his size. At which point the sneaky stoner barged around the corner and demanded Snap to strip. I was a bit shocked, but this was not the first time that these mentally unstable people have demanded someone to get naked immediately. This drew the attention of the rest of the group and everyone was quickly brought up to speed on Snap taking the coins. After searching him it turns out that he had been taking things for a while. I corrected that immediately and made it crystal clear he was never to steal from the group again.
With that ordeal out of the way we continued exploring the stronghold as there was an additional area that we found. As I have described from the beginning of this entry the stronghold was housing a slave trade operation and we found the slaves in the back area. Most of them were just unfortunate farmers or pilgrims from the nearby roads. Once again, no old lady from the woods… We are doing horribly on the search and rescue front. There was also a cell full of Bakani which Snap took a liking to immediately. He was less excited about freeing his brethren and more excited about the fact he had found 5 more Bakani; I told him he could have a weapon once he found four more like him.
Our exploration ended in the final room, which was unusually small considering the rest of the rooms. As I approached the larger door in the back I was startled by a rustling in the corner. I turned in time to see a piles of bones slowly build itself into a 10+ foot tall skeletal bipedal horse. I wish I was making this up but no. Not only do the dead not seem to stay dead in this world, somewhere out there, there are 10+ foot tall bipedal horses. Not only did it have a weapon handy but it knew how to use it. I’m going to think twice about any animal cruelty in this world, everything seems to have a giant angry cousin.
This combat was rough as I could not seem to land a blow with my spiked gauntlet and when I did it barely made a mark. I did so little damage to it that it actually turned away from me in combat. The rest of the group eventually piled into the room and tried to help to some degree in killing the creature. As things started to get really rough I decided to attempt using the magic weapon on the creature. I unsheathed the blade and unfurled its glory. I swung with a grace that I had not yet realized was possible with a sword, right between its ribs. The magic of the sword was too much for the creature however, even without a solid blow. Right after my swing ROTC slammed his sword home as the creature was collapsing. I have no idea how much energy it took from the sword to destroy the bonds holding the skeletal horse in one piece, but I feel it was worth it.