Fighting Fire with Fire

Dar’s Journal - Entry Fifteen

There are battles and then there are battles. My friends and I have been in many battles recently, but this one was different, more ferocious somehow. There was no great adversary to overcome as has often been the case in the past. Oh, there was an orc with a magic horn and a magic sword, but without his trinkets he was just an orc. Battling orcs and wargs doesn’t sound all that dangerous considering what evils we’ve faced. But these orcs and wargs just kept coming. Give me one large adversary over hordes of arrow fodder any day.

I woke everyone up when I saw the orcs sneaking towards our camp. As I was fully awake and ready for battle, I closed half the distance towards the orcs and let out a challenging roar. I succeeded in getting the attention of all five orcs. Markus took up his gun and Felix his bow and they began shooting from where they stood. The orcs began closing in as T&T charged in with his sword.

As I fought with two of the orcs I noticed that one orc remained behind. He pulled out a horn and blew on it. I wasn’t sure what the horn blast was supposed to do, but I was certain it wasn’t anything good and both Markus and T&T seemed to be effected by it. In spite of whatever the horn did, we appeared to be winning the battle. I dropped one of my orcs and T&T took out the other. So I ran up and attacked the orc with the horn. When he saw me coming he dropped his horn and pulled out his sword.

The sword was obviously magical, its blade sparkled with magical energy. We exchanged several blows, neither of us gaining the upper hand. But when Markus shot him in the left arm the orc gave me the opening I’d been waiting for. When he dodged out of the way of my axe swing I latched onto his arm with my fangs and swung him around. He fell to the ground, his arm ripped to shreds and he didn’t get back up.

There were only two orcs left. The four of us were wounded, but it looked like we were about to win the battle. But suddenly three wargs came charging at us from the nearby stream. And two more wargs came out of the trees, these two bearing goblin riders. We fought on as best we could, but the odds didn’t look good. I found myself tearing at my opponents as much with my teeth as I was swinging at them with my axe. We were in danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of opponents and I could feel my animal instincts trying to take over.

I’ve let my animal ferocity take over in the past when I hunted alone. To be honest, there’s an indescribable feeling of freedom when I do. But there’s also a loss of control and I feared what might happen should I lose control with my friends at my side. So I retained control, but only just. For as we fought the wargs more orcs appeared and the ranks of the enemy swelled even larger.

The rest of the battle was a blur. There was noise. There was pain. There was blood. There was lots of blood. Some of the blood was ours. Most of it was theirs. And there was a strong taste of fresh, warm blood in my mouth. I’m not sure how we did it, but we all survived the carnage. We were hurt rather badly, Markus and T&T worst of all. Thankfully we still had magical means to cure ourselves.

Once we could move again we searched through the bodies for anything useful. I’m sure somebody picked up the horn, but I immediately went for the sword. Even laying on the ground covered with blood and gore the sword’s exquisite craftsmanship shone through. I picked it up and wiped it off on the shirt of a dead orc. That’s when I heard its voice in my head.

The sword’s name was Durandal and it was made to be wielded by chaos creatures. The sparkling sword told me it would be happy for me to be its new master. That’s when Cavindel spoke up. My axe informed Durandal that I was already spoken for. The two weapons argued in my head for a while and then they both stopped talking. The sword was a masterful piece of work but there was no way I was going to give up my axe. So I held the sword up in the air and asked if anybody wanted a talking sword. To my surprise, Markus took it. I guess he’ll never again be able to give me a hard time about having a talking axe. I think I’m going to miss that.

Once we’d cleaned up and caught our breaths we continued on towards the dwarven fortress. When we drew near we concealed ourselves and checked it out from afar. I had expected, or at least hoped, to find an abandoned ruin. But what we found was anything but. The fortress appeared to be the home base for an army of orcs, ogres and some kind of winged reptiles. We watched a group of orcs march up to the doors, acting more like a trained military troop than a band of brigands. I had a bad feeling that the battle we’d just survived was nothing compared to what lay before us.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Fourteen

We stood gaping as the flaming flying woman shot fire at us. Cavindel protected me from the flames, so I was the only one unscathed by the attack. I really like my axe. Markus was the first of us to recover his wits. He quickly pulled out one of his pistols, took a single shot and dropped the woman from the sky. Before the rest of us really knew what was happening, the battle was over.

The woman’s naked body, no longer cloaked in flames, lay still upon the ground. Felix examined the body while the rest of us looked over the board. The woman was indeed dead and the only item Felix found on her body was a necklace bearing a chaos symbol. The board was, in its own way, as alien looking as the ship that fell into our forest. I’d never before seen the crystal like material of which it was made. Nor did it look like anything that should be flying through the sky, as it had no wings. Obviously it was magic, but was it regular magic or magic tainted by chaos?

As we looked the board over another visitor arrived. This time it was a man. He too was riding on a crystalline board, but he wasn’t engulfed in flames. When we reached for our weapons he raised his hands and called out to us. He assured us he had no wish to fight us. He only wanted to talk. He landed not far from us, stepped off his board and reached down to pick it up. To my complete surprise the board shrank small enough to fit inside his pocket, which is where he placed it.

The man introduced himself as Thomas Shayne. He stood about six feet tall, with blond hair and the heavy build of a warrior. From the way he held himself I expected he was skilled at using the broad sword that hung at his side. Before he could say anything more, Felix reached down and tried to pick up the woman’s board the same way Thomas had done his. The board shrank into Felix’s hand. We soon learned that having done so, Felix had attuned that board to himself and only himself.

Thomas explained that he’d followed the woman out of curiosity and nothing else. He was curious where she was going having taken off in such haste. He’d seen her attack us and that we’d killed her in self-defense. He had no desire to avenge her death.

Thomas further explained that there was a small community of people who flew such boards. Their village was located high in the mountains where only the flying boards, or other flying magic, could reach. The village was made up of a variety of people; some were good, some were bad, some were mutants and some were not. But the flying boards gave them common ground. And they had learned to get along with each other.

He then explained what the boards could do. The boards attuned themselves to the first person to use them and would work only for that person until death severed that bond. The boards could fly extremely fast, had a compartment that was larger on the inside than the outside (I couldn’t help but wonder if it would hold a keg of beer) and they were invisible if seen from below. The boards appeared to be very powerful magic items indeed. If each of us owned such a board it would make our missions much faster and easier. And of course it would simply be fun to be able to fly.

As Thomas told us about his village, the flying boards and about some ruins where more boards might be discovered, I found myself liking this stranger. I was rather taken aback by how quickly I was considering him a friend. Granted, he appeared to be a warrior like myself and he was being very generous in not only explaining how these flying boards worked but in telling us where we might find more of them, but that wasn’t entirely it. Then the reason came to me. This man was not a mutant and yet he was completely accepting of us. All my life I’d heard stories of how normal people reacted to mutants with fear and violence. And those stories had always proven true on those occasions where I’d encountered non-mutants. And yet here stood Thomas Shayne treating us with kindness and generosity. He was certainly a man I’d like to get to know better. And I would very much like to visit that village of his. His people might even make good allies for our village.

We began rummaging around the storage compartment of Felix’s flying board after we bid farewell to Thomas. The compartment was amazingly large. We found map making materials, Thomas told us the woman liked to make maps, a stool to sit on, clothing and various other items. The only real item of interest was a mask. It looked primitive, human shaped and covering the entire face its features weren’t distinctive enough to even tell if it was meant to be male or female. I tried it on and the only thing I could tell that it did was greatly amplify my voice. I’m not sure what the mask was made for, but if nothing else it could certainly be used to get people’s attention.

I’d just handed the mask back to Felix when the dwarf ghost from the guardian’s cave materialized in front of us. He apologized for his rudely vanishing on us. He’d been expecting dwarves and hadn’t been prepared for mutants. He told us that the prophecy he’d mentioned told of us retrieving a powerful and tainted gem of fire and taming it. The gem was to be found in a vault deep within a dwarven ruin. As it turned out it was the same ruin where Thomas said more flying boards might be found. The ghost told us that some believe the chaos that affected the gem also affected some of the dwarves and turned them against their brothers, even though dwarves are not normally affected by chaos. That is believed to be the cause of the downfall of the dwarven keep. The map we found on the ghost’s remains was a map of the keep before it fell to ruin. It might prove helpful in finding the vault and the gem inside.

The ruins could be found at the end of a nearby valley. But getting there wasn’t going to be as simple as it sounded. A warpstone meteor crashed in that valley ages ago and skaven had long since removed the warpstone itself. But its presence had warped the valley and everything within it. We’d have to make it through the valley if we wanted to retrieve the gem or the flying boards.

Markus questioned the ghost about the gem and what we were supposed to do with it. But the ghost wasn’t much help. All he knew was that it was foretold that we four would retrieve the gem and tame it. I wasn’t too worried about it. The way I looked at it, we’d found the map to the ruins while on a mission for our god and we’d already decided to go to that same ruin to search for more flying boards. That’s a rather large coincidence if we weren’t the four mentioned in the prophecy. As for the gem itself, hopefully we’d figure out what to do with it once we found it.

We set out for the ruins expecting trouble once we entered the valley, or even before then knowing our luck. Though we were ready to defend ourselves, nobody could be ready for way awaited us in that valley. The warpstone had indeed warped everything. Things were the wrong color, water flowed in the wrong direction and chunks of land flew up into the air. We saw far too many strange things within that valley to describe. But I think it’s safe to say that all of us were happy to make it out the other side.

We set up camp and I cooked several steaks from a giant bug we’d killed as we crossed the valley. The warpstone was long gone so I figured the meat was safe. I was surprised when the others refused to even taste any of it. If I’d known they wouldn’t eat any of the meat I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of cooking it. Oh well, their loss. I wrapped up the cooked meat for later, at least it would last longer cooked, and ate my fill of the raw meat. It was a vast improvement over our rations.

That night Felix woke me up to take the second watch. The others didn’t like night watches, but I actually preferred them. Being able to see in the dark is certainly an advantage, but it’s more than that. It’s hard to explain but I feel more at home, more alive, at night. If I lived alone I’d probably live a nocturnal life. I was enjoying the music of the insects when I heard a different sound. I looked to my right and saw orcs sneaking towards our camp.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Thirteen

I hadn’t expected a fight as soon as we stepped into the cave, but Cavindel and I were ready for it. The beast man my axe and I faced had swords in place of his hands. Meal times must have been a bitch. And if he ever scratched an itch, OUCH. I shook my head and focused on the fight. I must admit to being surprised at my opponent’s expertise. Most beast men were all muscle and no skill. Some might say I’m the pot calling the kettle black, but it’s not entirely true. I’m not very good when it comes to strategy its true, but I do pride myself on my combat skills. And while I dislike most beastmen and the gods they worship, I respect the hard work anyone puts into honing their skills, even someone who can’t pick his nose.

We won the battle, but it wasn’t an easy fight. I’d taken a couple of deep wounds and felt more dead than alive. I took one of the healing pills we’d taken from the strangers who dropped out of the sky. Its magic quickly mended my wounds. It’s a shame we didn’t know how to make more of these things. While I was busy tending to my wounds the others searched the bodies. While they didn’t find any weapons of interest they did find a few items worth keeping.

1) 3 potion bottles (with wings on the bottle)

2) Wand (?)

3) Pouch (frozen flame inside {feels like glass} that gives light like a torch)

As we were examining the items Felix said he felt someone’s pain, a lot of pain. It seems he could sense the pain of others nearby and just assumed that everyone could do the same. The pain wasn’t coming from me. Felix knew very well what that felt like by now. So we decided to follow his feeling and see where it led us.

We followed Felix through what must have been an ancient dwarven fortress. Felix stopped at a door and said the feeling was coming from the room beyond. We looked inside the door and found a huge torture chamber. In the center of the room was a pair of glowing magic circles, one on the floor and the other on the ceiling above it. Suspended by chains in the air between them was a man or at least what was left of a man. He’d had most of the skin flayed from his body and various torture devices had been left imbedded inside of him as if placed on a shelf for later use. And there, amidst the ruin of his body, hung a glowing amulet. From what we’d seen in our dream, this was Moor’s amulet we’d been sent to retrieve. It also explained how the man could possibly still be alive.

Though the tortured man suspended between the magic circles was the first thing I saw, he wasn’t the only thing in the room. There was also a beastman at a table making a selection between several torture devices. But he wasn’t a ‘normal’ beastman. This guy was huge. He was taller than even T&T. As my friends will tell anyone who asks, my normal response to seeing such an evil creature is to charge in and kill it as quickly as I can. But not this time.

This time I had too many questions. Who was that man in chains? Why was he being tortured? Was he also evil and deserved a quick death? Or was he an innocent victim whom we should try to save before we claimed the amulet? I had a lot of questions and the only one around to answer them was the towering beastman.

So instead of charging into battle, I stepped into the room and called out to him. I asked him what the hell was going on. But before he had a chance to respond, T&T charged at him with his two-handed sword raised to strike and Felix started turning the beastman into a pin cushion. So much for questions. I had little choice but to charge in as well and help my friends. The beastman put up a good fight, but with three against one he didn’t last very long.

While we were battling the giant beastman Markus took it upon himself to deal with the amulet. He walked over to the tortured man and simply yanked it from his body. The man died instantly. The magic circles above and below glowed brightly for an instant and then went out like snuffed candles. At first I felt a bit annoyed. There was a story here and now we’d never know what it was. On the other hand, we had what we’d come for and the man, whoever he was, had been released from his agony.

I thought about what had just happened as we made our way out of the ancient complex and I couldn’t help but wonder if my personality had been rubbing off on them and if theirs had been rubbing off on me. But such thoughts were quickly forgotten as we left the cave and waterfall behind us. This was not surprising as all my thoughts were focused on the flaming woman flying at us atop some kind of crystalline board.

The woman was engulfed in white flames, her hair a mass of flowing white flames behind her. She didn’t seem to be in pain. In fact, from her body stance, she seemed to be pissed and ready for battle. Before we had a chance to recover from our surprise or dive for cover, the woman shot twin gouts of flame directly towards us.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Twelve

The storm overhead was growing worse, threatening us with freezing rain and bolts of lightning. But we took the time to claim anything of value from the multiple bodies around us before taking refuge in the cave. There could be weapons or potions to help us in the battles ahead. And what we couldn’t use could be used by those in our village to defend themselves.

The entrance tunnel was large, as one would expect of the home of someone over twelve feet tall. Deep inside the mountain the tunnel opened up into a huge, dry cavern, which was a blessing as we could hear the heavy rain now falling outside the tunnel. In almost every way the cavern was what I would generally expect of monster’s cave. There was a definite musky smell in the air, unpleasant but not as bad as it could have been. Bones and other accumulated debris of years littered the floor. And in one corner of the cave a depression had been worn into the stone floor, presumably where the huge creature slept. The one thing we found inside the cavern that I hadn’t expected was a ghost.

We had just started sifting through the rubble when the ghost of a dwarf appeared before us, head bowed. “At last you are here,” it said. “It was foretold long ago of the arrival of you four…”

At that point the ghost raised his head and looked at us for the first time. As odd as it sounds I think we scared him. His eyes widened and he let out a high pitched squeak of surprise and fright. Then he shouted, “Your mutants!” With that he vanished.

Perhaps our little group has grown jaded after all the horrors we’ve seen. Or perhaps there just isn’t anything one can say after frightening a ghost. Whatever the reason, we all just looked at each other for a while and then continued our search for the key.

We found what we thought were the remains of the dwarf beneath where his ghost appeared. Among his crushed remains we also found a sealed scroll case. Inside the case was a mysterious ancient map. I felt it was only right that we should bury the remains as best we could. The beast’s former bed seemed a good spot, being the closest thing to a hole in the ground. I began digging out the garbage and as luck would have it that’s where the key was hidden. What I found was a crystal disk about four inches across. And as the goddess is said to be trapped in a crystal coffin this had to be the key we came looking for.

We discussed our journey home but, as the rain was coming down even harder than before and we were exhausted after our battle, we decided to spend the night in the relative safety of the cavern. The dwarven ghost never returned, but we did all share a very strange dream.

We found ourselves standing in a sunny forest. A crow landed in a nearby tree and spoke to us. It said there was an amulet nearby that let its wearer cheat death. The crow transformed into Morr, god of dreams and death, and continued speaking. Morr asked us to retrieve the amulet for him. If we retrieved the amulet from the one who now had it he would allow us each to use it once. We then found ourselves standing near a waterfall in a cliff face which we understood to be our destination.

We all awoke from the dream at the same time. It felt like dawn was near but it was still dark outside save for the flashes of lightning that still filled the sky. While my night vision enabled me to travel in the dark, it wasn’t worth the risk of trying to lead the others down the mountain in a lightning storm. So we decided to build up the fire, fix something to eat and examine the items we’d claimed. The pile of items wasn’t huge, but it was certainly interesting.

1) 4 Healing Potions (we each took one)

2) 80 gold in coins (20 gold each)

3) Belt Buckle (+1 to movement speed which Dar claimed)

4) Crossbow (+2 damage and sharp shooter skill which Felix claimed)

5) Hand Axe (+4 damage on successful will check which Markus claimed)

6) Dagger (impact quality)

7) Sword (+1 damage and glows sun colored)

8) Potion Bottle (wing design on bottle)

9) Scroll Case (mysterious map)

Shortly after the sun came up the storm blew itself out. We’d talked about our shared dream as we examined the collection of weapons. I don’t think any of us doubted that the dream was real. We ran errands for one god, battled a demon sent to kill us by another god and we were retrieving a key to release yet another god from imprisonment. Why shouldn’t the god of death talk to us in our dreams? So we decided to check out the waterfall before we returned home with the key.

A bright blue sky and cheerful bird songs greeted us as we exited the cave, as did several goblins. They appeared to have been drawn to the area by the smell of dead bodies. While my friends have repeatedly told me I have questionable eating habits, even I found the sight of goblins ripping into human flesh for breakfast to be somewhat disturbing. On the other hand, I do enjoy some light exercise first thing in the morning to get my blood pumping. The goblins didn’t last long against the four of us.

As Morr had promised, the journey to the cave with the waterfall flowing out of it was not a long one. We followed a path leading up to the cave mouth and cautiously went inside. Two things became quickly apparent to me; the inside of the cave looked like it had been carved out by dwarves and the chamber was filled with beastmen. I didn’t necessarily notice them in that order.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Eleven

I’m not known for my strategic thinking. Generally speaking my idea of strategy is whether to go charging into combat with a roar and my axe held ready for battle before or after Felix and Markus have taken their shots. So even the thought of sitting around a table and talking strategy for hours makes me yawn. But I recently found out that some such meetings could actually be… appealing.

We were just starting to get into the details of exactly where we needed to go for the key and how best to go about getting it when Redfang suddenly appeared at our meeting. How was I supposed to look like I was concentrating on the conversation when she was in the room? I thought I might be particularly susceptible to her charms given my own feline features, but after glancing at some of the other faces around the room I realized her other attributes made her appealing to every male within view.

Not only had Redfang joined our meeting, but she told us that DreadEye was also in the village. He was with our blacksmith overseeing the creation of special weapons for Markus and T&T. They were infusing the weapons, a gun for Markus and a two handed sword for T&T, with warpstone to make them more powerful. This was the first time Malal’s demons had appeared to help us prepare for one of our missions. This key must really be important to them.

Just before the meeting ended, Redfang told us the weapons would be ready the next day. I had expected it to take weeks, or at least days, to create chaos weapons. But I guess having demons help in their creation tends to speed things up. That gave us the rest of the day to gather our supplies and get ready for the journey.

There was one project I wanted to take care of before I left. I’d saved the seeds from the apple Taimon had given me while we were in the shrine to Taal. I wanted to plant the seeds and see if they would grow. I didn’t expect apples from the trees to have the same magical properties as the ones from the tree in the shrine. But if the seeds took root and the trees thrived, that would be further proof that we were look upon favorably by Taal. And that would improve the moral of the villagers, many of whom felt abandoned by most of the world due to their mutations.

I spoke with Carlan, one of our best farmers, and he was more than willing to help. I left most of the seeds with him to find the best spots to plant them. But I had something special in mind for one of them. With Andon’s permission I found a spot near the center of town to plant the seed. If it grew into a strong, healthy tree it could become a symbol for everyone in the village. It would be living proof, visible to everyone, that there were others in the world in addition to Malal who accepted them for who they were. I gathered several of the children together and told them what I had planned and asked if they would watch over the seed while I was away. They were all excited to help. I think they were mainly excited that an adult was willing to trust them with something that sounded so important. Whatever their reasons I was grateful for their help. Following the instructions Carlan had given me we planted the seed and set a ring of stones around it to help keep it safe. Hopefully it wouldn’t all be for nothing.

The next morning the warpstone weapons were indeed finished, though the blacksmith looked like he was ready to sleep for a week. Poor Dawson, DreadEye must have been a harsh taskmaster. Markus and T&T practiced with their new weapons while Felix and I finished gathering the last of the provisions. We expected the journey to take a few weeks. And while we would gather what we could along the way, we wanted to make sure we had enough supplies to see us through. The morning was still young when we set out. I took one last look back at the village. As much as I enjoy our little outings I still find myself feeling homesick when I’m away.

Most of the journey proved uneventful. If we hadn’t been is such a rush it would have been a very enjoyable trip. But we were pushing ourselves as hard as we could without risking our combat readiness. We had to get to the key before the cultists did. Our entire mission hinged on that fact. I certainly didn’t look forward to telling Andon or Malal that the key was gone by the time we got there.

As we neared our goal early one evening we came across a camp of eight mutants. At first we thought they might be the cultists who were also after the key. But after watching them for a few minutes that didn’t seem to be the case. They didn’t look or act like any Slaanesh worshipers we’d seen before. This group seemed to be more into wrestling and various competitions than the sexual perversions the Slaanesh tended to favor.

Given different circumstances, I would have been in favor of approaching the camp and seeing if we could make some new friends. And Felix proposed just that. But Markus and I disagreed. We just didn’t have the time to indulge ourselves. We might have spent an evening making new friends. Or we might have gotten into some kind of trouble that would have delayed us. We had no idea how close the cultists were to the key. Even an hour’s delay could cost us everything. We simply couldn’t risk it. I don’t think Felix was swayed by our reasoning, but he agreed to continue on towards our goal. Being the new guy, T&T went along with what the majority chose without really voicing an opinion. Hopefully he wouldn’t feel like the new guy for very much longer. I already felt he was just as much a part of the group as any of us.

We continued on and set up camp an hour or so later. As usual, we kept our evening camp short and set out again just before dawn. Being able to see in the dark does have its advantages, though I think the others would have preferred that I couldn’t so that they could relax a bit longer. To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded that either. But there would be time to relax and enjoy ourselves after we got the key.

A couple of days later we reached the foot of the mountains we’d been heading towards and we began our climb upwards. The climb wasn’t steep so we made good time. As we drew nearer to the summit dark clouds suddenly rolled in. The clouds brought deep rumbling thunder with them and the promise of heavy rain. When we reached relatively level ground we paused to listen. He heard sounds of battle above the thunderstorm. We cautiously moved forward. Around a corner of the mountainside we came upon a great battle.

In a wide clearing we watched as ten humanoid mutants attacked a huge chaos beast. From the bright, garish armor they were wearing we assumed these were the Slaanesh cultists we were racing to the key. The creature they were battling was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

My first impression was of sheer size and strength. The body of the creature was reptilian, like that of a dragon. Sharp spines ran down its scaly back and continued half way down its serpent like tail. And each of its four feet ended in three toes tipped with the largest claws I’d ever seen, any one of which could easily gut a man with a single rake. But instead of a dragon’s neck and head, this creature possessed the massive torso and head of an ogre. He wore a metal chest piece, shoulder guards and a helm, but the armor didn’t hide his thick muscles or his brutish looking face. And around his waist was fastened an evil looking belt. The buckle was fashioned in the likeness of a fanged bestial face. And attached below the buckle hung the emblem of Slaanesh.

The creature stood at least twelve feet tall and its weapons were sized to match. In his right hand he held a large, ornate axe. And in his left hand he wielded a long chain attached to a rock the size of a boulder. This had to be the guardian of the key. And he looked as though he was very good at his job. As we watched, the guardian swung the heavy chain with seemingly little effort. The boulder attached to the end of the chain arched into the air and came crashing down upon the head of one of the spell casting cultists. She crumpled into a pile of goo.

The cultists were skilled combatants, but they weren’t as powerful as the guardian. One by one they fell to the beast’s superior power and skill. I must admit that I enjoyed watching the battle. In spite of what some others may think, it’s not about the blood and gore. It’s about skill. It’s about tactics. And it’s about the courage to do battle. While all the combatants were servants of Slaanesh I could still appreciate their skill and courage.

While the battle was fierce, it didn’t last very long. The guardian turned from the battleground and began walking slowly towards a cave I’d not noticed before. Ten bodies lay dead on the ground, but the cultists had come close to taking the beast down. He was heavily wounded and that was to our definite advantage. Before he reached the cave we attacked.

We had learned a great deal about our opponent while watching the battle. We did our best to stay out of the way of his weapons, particularly the chain and boulder. Felix, T&T and I charged the beast while Markus stood back and fired his pistols. Perhaps it was because the beast was wounded and slow or perhaps it’s because we’d seen just how deadly this creature could be, but for whatever reason our attacks hit home with great accuracy and they hit hard. The beast hit hard as well, but we managed to avoid most of his blows. Still, it would only take two or three hits to take one of us down.

The three of us fought side by side, focused on dropping that great beast to the ground. But there weren’t three of us, there were four. In the heat of battle I’d almost forgotten about Markus and his pistols. I expect the guardian had as well, as his attacks seemed to be focused on those of us at his feet. And that turned out to be a fatal mistake. Markus had taken careful aim and fired a shot from his new warpstone pistol as we kept the beast’s attention. The shot entered one of its eyes and exploded out the back of his head. The beast fell to the ground and didn’t get back up.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Ten

Life is unpredictable. That’s what makes it so exciting. There are times, I will admit, when I would like to settle down and raise a family like my parents did. But then I ask myself if it’s worth giving up petting flying cats, exploring crashed ships and bonding with talking weapons. The answer is obvious to anyone who knows me; not bloody likely.

Our latest outing is a perfect example of what I’d be missing. There we were fleeing from a cult of Slaanesh worshipers that we’d just royally pissed off when we were rescued from near certain death by a two thousand year old dead dwarf. How fucking cool is that?

Okay, I’m getting a little too excited. My mother would not approve of my use of such language, at least not written down for posterity. I’m also getting ahead of myself. Master Architect Thorgrek turned out to be telling us the truth. We were indeed being chased by a major demon, sent after us by Slaanesh for removing the warpstone from his/her statue. The reason the dwarf knew so much about us was because he’d been watching us through the eye sockets of skulls placed throughout the tunnels. It turns out Thorgrek was a high ranking dwarf official some two thousand years ago. He was commissioned to build Middenheim, but he was betrayed. A warpstone dagger was used to kill him and it kept his spirit from leaving his body. It took him a couple of centuries to learn to move his dead body. After doing so he started building his own city from the stone of the caverns below Middenheim. After two thousand years the city was quite impressive. The details in the stonework were simply amazing. It’s a shame nobody lived in the city. All that magnificent workmanship and there was nobody around to appreciate it.

Thorgrek also learned to animate other dead remains and created an army to defend himself and his city. And it was this army he used to help us kill the demon. A small army of skeletal dwarves in plate armor blanketed the stone bridge to the city. The demon would have to fight its way past them to get to us and hopefully it’d be weakened enough for us to kill it. And that’s exactly what happened, more or less.

The demon appeared on the far side of the bridge as expected, standing over ten feet tall and looking like, well, a demon. Then it made some kind of gesture and two mounted riders appeared at its side. If a demon summons minions I would expect them to look demonic. But this Slaanesh cult is just strange, even for demon worshipers. They have this one breasted theme that just doesn’t make any sense to me. The female riders had only one breast each while their mounts had several breasts but only on one side of their bodies. What possible purpose does that server?

Anyway, strange or not these were still demons and very deadly. And they possessed some nasty powers. Instead of having to fight their way through the small army of skeletal defenders, the minions simply vanished and reappeared in front of us. We had to destroy these things before the demon smashed its way to us or we’d really be in trouble. I’d rather hoped that Thorgrek could help us out, but he needed all his concentration to keep his army attacking the demon. So it was up to us.

Markus and I faced one of the mounted riders while Felix and T&T took on the other one. As expected, these were not easy opponents. Markus and I concentrated on the rider, hoping that killing the rider would leave the mount without direction. In the course of the battle I chopped off the rider’s left arm, but it didn’t seem to slow her down very much. As Markus aimed one of his pistols the mount shot out its long tongue and wrapped it around him, immobilizing him. I chopped at the tongue and Markus worked his way free. He then took aim once more and shot the rider in the head. That was enough to send her back to whatever hell she came from. And without a rider the mount did indeed abandon the fight. I quickly checked on Felix and T&T. They had also managed to kill their rider and that mount too ran away. We’d managed to take out the minions without taking too much damage ourselves and we did so just in time. The demon had almost reached out side of the bridge.

The demon was much more terrifying up close. I hate to admit it, but fear gripped my mind and I wasn’t able to move. Markus also felt the fear and was rooted to the spot. Somehow Felix and T&T overcame their fear and attacked. Felix attempted to fill the demon full of arrows while T&T rushed up to the creature and started slicing into it with his two handed sword. I managed to throw off the fear and I too rushed up to the demon and attacked it with axe and teeth. Markus continued wrestling with his fear as the battle raged on. The demon’s battle with the skeletons across the bridge had taken its toll, but it was by no means ready to fall. Its attacks against us were brutal, but so were ours against it. With each of our attacks I expected the demon to drop, but it battled on. I was soon no longer certain which side was going to win. Then a blast of energy came out of nowhere and took out half the demon’s head. The demon fell. The battle was won.

I turned around to a scene I would never have dreamed of seeing. Markus had conquered his fear and had preformed a desperate act to fell the demon. I’d dropped the warpstone rod and a few other items before the battle had begun. Markus had slit his palms, taken up the rod and gripped the warpstone directly against his slit palm. With his other hand he’d gripped and shot his pistol. And somehow he’d managed to channel the energy of the warpstone through himself and out through his pistol. The results had been spectacular. And while it was a very brave act, I was afraid it was likely to have grave repercussions.

The battle was over and we were all alive, at least those of us who started out that way. And this was due in large part to Master Architect Thorgrek. If he had not stepped in and warned us about the demon we very likely would have unwittingly led the evil creature back to our village and that could have been disastrous. A great number of Thorgrek’s undead solders had been destroyed before the demon reached us. How many villagers would have fallen to it in their stead? We owed Thorgrek a great debt. He was undead and he was a necromancer, but as far as I was concerned he had also proven himself a friend.

We all thanked Thorgrek for his help. In the course of our conversation it became obvious that he was not happy with his current unlife. He’d been alone for the past two thousand years. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how lonely that must feel. Perhaps I was overstepping my authority, but I invited Thorgrek back to our village. We were already a family of misfits. Thorgrek would fit right in. And as far as I was concerned he’d more than proven himself. Much to my relief, none of the others in the group had a problem with Thorgrek coming home with us. But if Andon had a problem with my invitation I’d just have to deal with it then. Whatever happened I was not going to leave this dwarf to live alone again.

We rested up until nightfall and then headed back to the village. The journey was, thankfully, uneventful. Even I’d had enough fighting, at least for the moment. All I wanted to do was to go back to the village and have a beer or three. I was surprised when Andon contacted us, as we were still far outside his mental range. He explained that he’d moved into the metal ship and that it somehow expanded his mental range. I told him about Thorgrek and that I’d invited him into our village. I then invited Andon to look into my memories to see exactly what had happened to us. He did so and he said he didn’t object to Thorgrek becoming a member of our village. That was a relief. Andon did mention something interesting. Though he could see Thorgrek through our eyes, he couldn’t look into his mind.

Our safe return to the village and the story of our defeating a Slaanesh demon turned out to be cause for an impromptu celebration. We introduced Thorgrek around the village and then I started passing out the beer, lots and lots of beer.

Mornings come far too early in the day. This is especially true after a night of drinking one’s weight in beer. Someone woke me up. I don’t remember who it was. I also don’t remember getting dressed. By the time my brain caught up with my body I was outside in the very bright sunlight and being led to some kind of meeting. Felix, Markus and T&T were there, as were Raymus (and thus Andon), Carlina, Felix’s mother and my mother as well. It seems that while the rest of us were partying Andon and several others were examining the papers Markus had taken from the Slaanesh cult. And that’s what had prompted this meeting.

My head was still a bit muddled from the night’s most excellent party. So the first part of the meeting was a bit hard to follow. There was something about someone seeing some old maps the Slaanesh cult had kept hidden that led the way to some mysterious key. I guess the cult was afraid that someone would get their hands on the key so they sent a group of cultists out to get it first. And there was something about killing some beast if they had to.

Whatever led up to it, it comes down to this. This key the Slaanesh were after could help free a trapped god of law named Arianka. So if we could get the key before the Slaanesh group did and hand the key over to the gods of law they might look more favorably towards Malal.

If we could give Slaanesh another kick in the tenders by taking this key back then I was all for it. And if helping free a god of law would weaken the other chaos gods while strengthening Malal then I was all for that too. Besides, it sounded like one hell of a fight and I was all for that as well, especially after being fortified by a long night of drinking.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Nine

I enjoy a good fight as much as the next guy. Okay, maybe a lot more than the next guy. The point is I enjoy a good fight, but these skaven had me a bit spooked. First of all, there were all those stories. I doubted many, if any, of them were true, but I’d heard them all my life and that’s hard to ignore all the sudden like. Second, what if they bred like rats? We killed the swarm of normal rats that attacked us. But if we were swarmed by a pack of ten foot tall skaven we’d be toast, or rather cheese.

I mentally shook myself. This was not the time to worry about what might happen. For now we only faced one ogre sized skaven and three regular skaven. It could be a tough fight, but that was fine by me. The big guy stepped forward and the fighting began. The rest of the skaven stood back and watched. Their overconfidence would be the death of them.

The big guy was tough, I’ll give him that. And when he hit he hit hard. But we could hit hard too. He should never have tried to take us on his own. It wasn’t long into the fight before we’d disarmed him, quite literally. I’d ripped his right arm open with a well placed bite and Timon-Toenar had taken out his left arm with his two-hand sword. With Felix and Markus filling him with arrows and bullets, shortly thereafter he no longer had any need for arms.

The ogre’s rat buddies had been cheering him on at first, but that didn’t last long. Two of them rushed in to help and the third attacked us from range, but it was too late. The big guy had dropped and the four of us were more than ready to take on the three remaining skaven. As one of the rats dropped, the one in back tossed some kind of metal looking ball into the melee and a green gas spewed out of it. The skaven we were fighting panicked, but before he could do anything he collapsed. I was holding my breath and considered trying to fight on, but just then more skaven appeared behind the one that tossed the ball, including more of the ogre sized variety. The four of us looked at each other and quickly decided running was our best option. At least the gas would provide a temporary wall between us and the growing pack of skaven.

We ran down the passage in the direction we had originally headed. But it wasn’t long before the passage split in two directions. One branch led to what looked like sunlight. Curious, we headed that direction. I’ve seen a lot of strange and surprising things of late, but in many ways this was the most surprising of all. The passage led to a large chamber bathed in sunlight. In the center of the chamber grew a large tree. And around the walls of the chamber grew various types of plants inside planter boxes. Though an underground chamber full of plants and sunlight wasn’t what I expected to find on this trip, that’s not what was so surprising. What surprised me the most was how welcoming the chamber felt. It felt like I’d come home even though I’d never seen the place before.

I was so caught up in what I was feeling that I’d overlooked the chamber’s other living occupant. There was a young man in the room. He’d obviously been tending the plants when we showed up. He looked rather surprised to see us, not that I can blame him. We did make a rather unusual looking group. But we soon found out that our appearance wasn’t exactly what surprised him.

We assured him that we meant no harm, that we were only seeking shelter from the skaven who pursued us. He introduced himself as Taimon Felstyne and he welcomed us in. He wasn’t worried about us harming him, as those of evil intent would have been killed before they had gotten as far as we had. Given our appearance, he was rather surprised that we were still alive. He explained that this was a shrine to Taal, the God of Nature, and his wife Rhya, the Earth Mother.

Taimon had been tending the shrine for a very long time. There were living chambers beyond the garden and the tree provided one ripe apple each day. That single apple provided all the nourishment he needed. He had been expecting guests, which he couldn’t remember ever having before, because that day the tree have provided five ripe apples. He had just been surprised that we were the four he’d been expecting. He gave us each an apple.

I favor meat over fruit, but food was food so I took a bite. I’d never tasted such a succulent fruit. It was just as delicious as meat, but with a different flavor of course. The others seemed to be enjoying their apples just as much. Then the most amazing thing happened. The fruit healed us. The burns and singed hair I’d gotten from those fire spells the lizard men attacked me with vanished. I was whole and healthy once again. The scar that crossed Felix’s face, the one he’d had for years, faded away. Even the scar Markus had on his chest from being turned into a mutant healed and faded to invisibility. It was miraculous. And it was proof that Taal and Rhya approved of us even though we owed our loyalties to Malal. I’m not exactly the priestly type to fully appreciate such things, but that thought did make me feel good.

We took advantage of the quite and safety of the shrine to rest up a bit. During our conversations with Taimon he asked us the date. Upon hearing it he looked rather dazed. He hadn’t realized it, but he’d been tending the shrine for about two hundred years. His predecessor had started tending the shrine when the city above was being built. Taimon had felt a calling and it led him to the shrine. He took over the duties and his predecessor was free to live out his life as he saw fit. Though he’d been tending the shrine for two centuries he still looked to be a young man in his early twenties. When someone came to relieve him, Taimon would still have a full life ahead of him.

When it came time for us to continue on, we asked Taimon if there was anything we could do for him. He said he’d appreciate any books we came across. He’d been reading the same ones for two hundred years. If we fought the bad guys in a library I planned to bring him as many books as I could carry. Baring that, well, I’d have to see what I could come up with.

We continued on down the passageway and soon found dwarven carved steps. T&T and I both recognized them. And no, I wasn’t getting used to recognizing things I’d never seen before. We took the stairs up and eventually found ourselves in a very large and dark cavern. As we cautiously made our way across, Markus cried out and not very politely. Something had grabbed hold of his legs and was pulling him away from us. That something turned out to be a huge mutated spider creature with two heads. It had grabbed Markus with its webbing and was dragging him back for a meal. Markus put his guns to good use while T&T chopped at the webbing and Felix and I attacked the spider. The creature finally died when I ripped one of its legs out with my teeth and a chunk of its guts oozed out the hole.

We searched the creature’s nest and found the remains of some of its previous victims. We also found a breastplate that T&T made use of and a gold ring with unknown symbols etched into it.

We made it across the chamber without any further distractions and continued down the passageway. We eventually came to a door that T&T and I remembered being the last door “we” had been taken through after leaving the pit. So the door should lead us back into the pit.

At that point I began to question our objective. Markus wanted us to simply scout the area and then go back home. That would have been fine if we’d just sought out the cave entrance, but I felt we’d gone through too much not to take advantage of the situation if we could. I saw little point in fighting through everything again to go back home just to fight through everything twice more at a later date. But Markus didn’t seem to think we’d be up to the challenge ahead of us, which made me wonder what we were doing there in the first place.

Perhaps that wasn’t the best time or place to discuss such things, for as we did the door suddenly opened. A half man half goat mutant stood in the doorway. Before the rest of us could react T&T greeted him and called him Steve. The goat guy didn’t seem to be either surprised or upset that we were there. He simply called out to his mistress behind him that they had visitors. She replied that we must be there for the talent contest. We passed inside the door, though it looked like the last thing Markus wanted to do.

The room we found ourselves in was large. There were various bits of furniture throughout the room, including a desk along one wall and a couch directly in front of us. But all that was overshadowed by a large statue of Slaanesh that dominated the room. And most interesting was the rod it held in one of its hands, a rod topped with what appeared to be warpstone. And more interesting still, the shape of that stone looked to be the same shape as Markus’ former scar.

My attention was drawn away from the warpstone and all it implied when our host greeted us. The lady, and I expect that term applied to her very loosely, was extremely attractive. And considering the dress she almost wore I’m sure she was very aware of her assets. She was a mutant, but mostly still human looking. She had small, curved horns on her forehead and fin like appendages for ears which, along with her facial tattoos, gave her an aura of danger. The wicked knife she carried at her side only accentuated that aura. And in my opinion that aura of danger made her all the more alluring. It also made her very distracting. What happened next still isn’t all that clear to me.

I know T&T recognized her as one of the announcers for the pit fights. And I know she was acquainted with the guy we came after. But what exactly happened next is a bit hazy. At some point she must have realized we weren’t there to demonstrate our talents. By the time my mind could focus on something besides the Mistress’ assets she was trying to back her way out of the room. But Felix was obviously paying more attention than I was and beat her to the door, trapping her in the room.

Markus held a gun to her head and had her sit on the couch to interrogate her. She lay back onto the couch and I found my mind wondering again. Markus asked her about city officials who were a part of the Slaanesh cult. I had enough presence of mind to retrieved ink and parchment for her to write out a list of names for him. Damn, she even had a sexy way of writing.

I think Markus asked her something about Gareth Bryne turning people into mutants. She told him Gareth thought transforming humans was fun. I guess that wasn’t the answer Markus was looking for, as he pulled the trigger and blew her brains out. What a waste.

Felix ran to the other exits from the room and did his best to block them. T&T and I took down Steve. Then we quickly searched the room. Markus looked for more information from the desk. Felix and T&T searched the bodies. I went for the warpstone rod. Looting may not sound like the most honorable thing to do, but anything to make the bad guys weaker and us stronger is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Markus grabbed a bunch of papers from the desk, hoping they’d prove useful once we had a chance to read them. He also found a wand in one of the drawers. I carefully wrapped the warpstone up, making sure not to touch it. Felix and T&T got Steve’s spear and from the woman they took a dagger, wrist bands, a box with bottles of liquid and a small box with a ring.

We rushed out of the room before reinforcements could arrive and ran back down the tunnel. Before we’d gotten very far a dwarf in full plate armor stepped into view. He introduced himself as Master Architect Thorgrek. He claimed we were in danger, that a demon was summoned when the warpstone rod was removed. He offered to take us to his citadel for protection. We told him we were already headed for a place of safety. He replied that the shrine’s protections would not hold back a demon.

I am not an overly trusting individual when it comes to those outside of my village. Well, some people might argue that point. But even so I certainly wasn’t taking this dwarf at face value. Even if I were the trusting sort, he knew far too much about us, what we were doing and where we were going to give me a warm fuzzy feeling. On the other hand, if he was right about the demon I certainly didn’t want to bring something like that down upon Taimon. If this dwarf had someplace safer in mind and was willing to help us it would be wise to take him up on his offer. And should he be leading us into a trap… Well, we’d just have to keep our eyes open. When I looked at my friend’s faces I found we’d all come to a similar conclusion. So we followed the little tin man.

After following Thorgrek through numerous tunnels we emerged to an amazing site. Thorgrek had led us to what looked like an entire underground city.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Eight

After our encounter with the lizard men we returned to the village for some much needed rest. We handed the map over to Raymus. I hoped he’d be able to make something of it as it was starting to give me a headache. I had also hoped that we would be able to get back to a normal life for a while. But that wasn’t meant to be. Timon-Toenar was worried about his father. He was all by himself in Middenheim and he didn’t even know if T&T was still alive. If either of my folks was in that same situation I’d want to them out too. I was ready to volunteer to help with the rescue. But as my true form might possibly slip out and get us all killed, my offer was politely refused. A group of human looking villagers ventured into Middenheim and brought T&T’s father to the village. From the looks of it he and T&T were both willing to live with us in the village. Hopefully both their lives would be happier here and we’d all benefit from having a real baker in the village.

It was time to celebrate. And adding two new members to the village wasn’t the only reason to make merry. Felix’s sister, Laura, was celebrating her 13th birthday with a huge party. I broke out my latest experimental beer for those old enough to appreciate it. There was much celebrating to be had and many toasts to be made. What I didn’t find out until the next morning was that Markus, Felix and T&T had been spending more time plotting than drinking. Oh well, their loss.

Waking up early in the morning after a long night of celebrating is bad enough, but to wake up with someone else’s memories in your head is not something I’d recommend. I stumbled, that is to say, I carefully made my way out into the village and expressed quiet but forceful comments about the brightness of the sun and the complete lack of cloud cover. I somehow managed to find my friends through the blinding glare and demanded to know that was wrong with my head. After some obvious and less than helpful answers I was told that Andon had copied T&T’s memories of his escape from the Middenheim fighting pits into my mind. I assume my expression conveyed my continued confusion as after a long pause they finally explained what the heck was going on.

It seemed there was a man in Middenheim that Markus wanted to kill. This man, Gareth Bryne, betrayed a military company that Markus used to belong to. This company, the Gray Company, used to hunt down and kill mutants. Gareth’s betrayal lead to the death of most of its members and to the mutation of at least two of them including Markus. After talking with T&T, Markus discovered that Gareth Bryne was some kind of overseer of the pit fighters. And he found out that some of the pit fighters had the same mark on their chests as Markus found on his after he was mutated. And that same mark was on the chest of the only other member of Markus’ former company that he’d found alive, also now a mutant. Markus wanted to take revenge upon Gareth. When T&T was taken from the pit he was taken through a number of tunnels and he then emerged outside through a small cave opening. I was given T&T’s memories so that I could find that opening at night and lead the others to it.

That night we readied ourselves and set out. I was able to find the entrance and lead the others to it. Once inside Felix lit a torch and we began exploring. We’d not gotten far when we came upon a rather large guard. I had expected a fight, but T&T bluffed our way past him. Perhaps two heads are better than one.

We had traveled a ways down the tunnels, back tracking as best T&T and I could with our shared memories, when Markus heard a noise. We quietly returned the way we had come and discovered a party of rat men following us. At first I thought they were just more mutants. But as I got a better look at them I remembered old stories told around the cooking fires at night. These things weren’t creatures with similar mutations, they had to be skaven. Real. Live. Skaven. So much for their being imaginary creatures. What next, pink horses are going to turn out to be real?

We fought the skaven and the pack of rats that came with them. We won the battle, but it seemed the war was just beginning. Further down the passage stood a huge skaven with several normal size skaven behind him. And they didn’t look happy.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Seven

I hadn’t expected to find a battle in progress. Nobody else had a reason to fight these guys. Nobody else even knew they existed. But whatever the reason, I welcomed the help. The dark skins knew about our village and they had to be stopped. But Markus didn’t seem to welcome the help. In fact, he looked afraid of the guys in armor. I thought that was odd, as he’d never looked afraid of the dark skins, at least not like that.

We headed towards the battle and one of the tin suits shouted out that they were being attacked by more mutants. I keep forgetting that most people outside our village consider anyone different than them as a threat. I told him that we weren’t a threat, that we were there to stop the dark skins, but he didn’t look convinced. He would have attacked us if he hadn’t been distracted by one of the two remaining dark skins using his heat beam on one of the other armored men, who then fell to the ground. That’s when I got a good look at the combat and discovered that the other remaining dark skin was the woman captain. Ignoring everything else I charged in after her.

Though there were only two dark skins left, they were putting up quite a fight. One of the armored men backed away and pulled out some kind of globe. A bright light shone out across the field of battle. The brightness was blinding for a moment, but once my eyes adjusted I found the light quite beautiful. But the dark skins didn’t find it so. Their skin began to bubble and the air began to fill with the smell of burnt flesh.

I didn’t know what the light really was, but its effect helped end the battle. It wasn’t long before both of the dark skins fell beneath our blades. I was about to thank our comrades in battle when one of them attacked me. I was about to defend myself when the man with the globe, apparently their leader, shouted for them to stop. The man who attacked me wasn’t very pleased, but he lowered his weapon. He insisted that because we were mutants we should die. But their leader, Captain Daldrin, said that the Holy Light of the White Wolf had not harmed us and as such we were allowed to pass unharmed.

The Knights of the White Wolf departed. I rather hoped that their leaving without a fight might give us some chance of working to together should be meet again. But from the look on Markus’ face I didn’t think he shared that hope. We looted the dark skins’ heat beam weapons and some pills we’d sent them use for healing and headed back home.

When we were within Andon’s mental range once more he warmed us of a group headed towards the ship. We headed that way as quickly as we could and still make sure the knights weren’t following us. When we reached the ship we found a group of lizard men. There were six total, two with wings. I’d hoped we could talk to them, but once they saw us it became obvious that they had no interest in talking.

The battle was one of the most intense I’d seen yet. The two winged lizards turned out to be spell weavers. I charged them while the others took on the four fighters. I would have preferred to concentrate our efforts and dropped the fighters first, but if I hadn’t charged the casters they would have been free to lob their spells into our midst. This way I was their only target.

My axe gives me some protection from fire. And it’s a good thing too. The winged lizards bathed me in a veritable sea of flames. Even with my axe I nearly fell beneath their power. Without it I would not have survived. For a moment I feared I might not survive even with my axe’s protection, but then I managed to land a particularly painful bite and that activated one of my powers. My body drew in some of the lizard’s life force and used it to heal its wounds. Fully healed I redoubled my attacks and the casters fell. I looked back and found that the rest of the lizards had fallen as well.

We searched the bodies. The only things of interest were the spell weavers’ staves, which seemed to posses some kind of magic, and a scroll case. Within the scroll case was what appeared to be an ancient map. The map led the way to our forest and it showed this very ship. How an ancient map could lead to a ship that just recently appeared is beyond me.

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Dar’s Journal - Entry Six

We had just started running down the stairs when I heard Andon’s voice in my head. I should have known he’d be keeping an eye on us, so to speak. He said that there were four other dark skinned people aboard the ship. Just then we heard a woman’s voice echoing through the chamber, but this time it wasn’t translated. But that didn’t prevent Andon from telling us that the woman and her people were moving towards each other. But as we started to head in the same direction Andon stopped us. He told us that he’s also detected two other people, different from the dark skins that we’d seen, who seemed to be captives. Andon thought it best that we free them first while we had the chance. Raymus and Carlina had been sent to aid us and would hopefully arrive before we got into a battle with the dark skins.

We followed Andon’s directions to the first captive. We came to a locked door with a box mounted on the wall beside it. Several holes had been carved into the box and painted different colors. Markus found a hoop on the belt of one of the nearby dead dark skins which held several rods of different colors. He inserted one of the rods into one of the holes in the box and the door opened. Inside we found an attractive, human looking woman passed out on the floor with a large knot on her head. While Felix slowly revived her, I changed to human form to appear less threatening. When she awoke we found that she spoke a different language. Thankfully we were in another of the magic rooms that translated what was said. We quickly explained, in brief, what had happened and that we were trying to rescue here. She was still too dizzy to walk so I carried her as we headed towards the second captive.

The second prisoner was held in a less hospitable section of the ship. In spite of what I’d seen thus far, I was still surprised by the captive’s appearance. He looked human, more or less. But he stood about ten feet tall and he had two heads. And even more oddly, he was floating in the air. He was being held inside some kind of glowing orb. His wrists were bound, but I didn’t see the point as he couldn’t actually touch anything. There were more colored holes in one wall, along with some other strange devices. Felix pressed something he shouldn’t have and found himself hanging in the air as well. Markus used the rods again and eventually got both men back down on the ground.

The tall captive spoke our language. It was about time someone did. He introduced himself as Timon-Toenar and he was more than happy to escape out of the ship with us. We managed to find the hole out of the ship, but we weren’t alone. The dark skins had found it from a different direction. The race was on to see who could reach the hole first. We made it to the hole before the others, but when T&T stuck his heads out to look around he spotted a strange creature between us and where we needed to go. The creature was made up of tentacles and eye and far too many of both. It had been slowly working its way down the mountain towards the ground, but it stopped when it saw T&T. We paused, finding ourselves between a rock and a hard place. But when the dark skins start shooting their hot beams at us we had little choice but to escape the ship.

I handed the injured woman over to T&T, shifted back to my normal form and took up a position between our attackers and the rest of the group. Their beams hadn’t been very effective against me before, so I was the best choice to buy time for everyone else to escape. T&T ran past the tentacled creature and to everyone’s relief it didn’t attack. With everyone else safely outside I made my escape as well. But my curiosity got the better of me and I paused when I reached the odd tentacled creature. It wasn’t at all hostile. If anything it seemed rather curious itself. I was reaching out to touch it when I heard noises from the ship. The dark skins had emerged from the side of the ship and they looked none too happy. They were taking aim to fire their weapons when the female, I assume the captain of the ship, stopped them.

I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but it seemed obvious that she was afraid they might hit the creature. Whatever the creature was, it was important to them. And that meant that I didn’t want them to have it. I held out my hand and the creature reached out and gently wrapped a tentacle around it. I slowly lead it down the mountain towards my friends. The dark skins put their beam guns away, pulled out their clubs and head our direction. But before they could gain much ground Raymus and Carlina arrived. Carlina shot three of them with a bolt of lightning. They didn’t like taking it as much as dishing it out. They retreated back inside their ship. With Andon keeping a mental eye on them, we all return to the village.

Time seemed to speed up once we reached the village, so much was happening so quickly. We took the lady we rescued to Shari for healing. Though she couldn’t speak our language we did at least find out that her name is Samaritha Beldusk. We took our tentacled guest to an empty building and gave it food and water. We even discovered why the dark skins wanted it so badly. The creature turns bad air into good air, which must come in very handy on a ship with no windows. We also got to spend some time talking to Timon-Toenar over some mugs of beer.

Andon woke Felix, Markus and me in the middle of that next night. He told us that one of the dark skins was sneaking up to the village. We in turn snuck up on him, my night vision once again proving very useful, and made sure he wouldn’t be causing harm to anyone ever again.

The next day we heard a loud noise. The dark skins tried to move their ship, but they failed. A couple of days later Andon told us that they had abandoned their ship and had taken off through the woods on foot. Felix, Markus and I grabbed our horses to pursue them. T&T joined us for the hunt, but he didn’t need a horse. The big guy could run as fast as a horse all on his own.

They had a head start on us, but with Andon guiding the way they couldn’t escape. After a couple of hours we passed beyond the range of Andon’s mental eyes. But it didn’t mater, as we were very close. We topped a rise and were met by an unexpected sight; five men wearing plate armor were attacking the dark skins. Only two of our quarry were still alive.

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