Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[Varyonde] The Journal of Vort Eptson of Hexvale: First Expedition Part 1

First Castle Hexpools Expedition
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Magnus the Mighty, Chaotic Good male Iron Man Human 2nd level Fighter/4th level Cleric of Thor [Hans]
Graeyff Trueshot, Chaotic Neutral male High Elf 2nd level Fighter/3rd level Thief [Zell]
Tayvin Grayleaf, Chaotic Good male High Elf 2nd level Fighter/2nd level Magic-user [Robbie]
Vort Eptson, Neutral Good male Common Human 0-level Torch Boy [NPC]

The adventure to date is depicted through the journal of the party torchboy, Vort...

Penned on Tuesday, April 3rd in the 6,698th Year of the Age of Man.

Early morning, ere we set out for Castle Hexpools

Having reached my 13th summer, I, Vort son of Ept, have hired out as a torchbearer for an adventuring party that is delving into the ruins of Castle Hexpools, an infamous pile of stones several hours distant from my natal home of the hamlet of Hexvale.

The trio I have signed on with doesn’t seem too promising, so I am keeping a journal so that when we all die, a future adventuring company may know of what happened to me, and with the Luck of Fate or the Will of Chance be able to relate it to my family. I pray in such an event that this journal be delivered to Father Fabolde of Hexvale Parish, in order that he may read it to my family, as I am the first of my line to learn my letters at his knee. I ask that half my worldly goods be given to my family, the other half to the good Father, in order that he may pray for my soul. Would that I had followed him into the clergy as he had wished.

I will describe the Three to you.

First there is the most obvious of them, a worshipper of the Northern Faith who calls himself many pontificated names – Magnus the Mighty, the Hammer of Thor, and so on. He wears plate mail and has an arsenal of weapons about him; although I am very large for my age – this one towers over me. He is flanked by two elves. Both are clearly bowmen – one wears steel while the other wears leathers dyed black.

Graeyff Trueshot, whom I shall herein call simply “The Black,” came up behind me without making a sound – he has dead eyes that scare me. The other, Tayvin Grayleaf, is quite handsome and must be the leader, for he is the smartest of the three, for it was his idea to outfit me. I now have a leather cuirass and shield!

They haven’t armed me, however, so my dagger will have to do. I have a backpack filled with torches, but no means to light them. I don’t want to speak up to show their folly, for the big one will most likely cuff me with his mailed fist; his only concern was that of a large skin of honey mead and that his food wallet was full.

Early Morning, Same Day.

I scribble this as the Man-Tower voids his bladder against some nearby rocks. I am beginning to regret signing on for this and am thinking that Drynn, Zhan, and Dhar were the lucky ones for not being chosen by this crew.

Magnus the Mouthy must think I am a nephew to him or that I really care about what advice he gives me. For instance, he stopped me on the trail with his massive hand and told me the most important rule was when he says, “Run” that I am to stay right where I am. It wasn’t until he burst out laughing that I found out he was joking – he told me to stay behind him at least ten feet when we were in the “Delve” as he called it.

I don’t think any of these warriors are taking this seriously. Either they are very brave or very stupid – my thoughts are the latter, or perhaps both. This was only solidified when they spoke of their plans to go into one of the lesser means of entrance only to find out that climbing was going to be involved. They decided against it not because they didn’t bring rope, but rather that Magnus said that Thor rewards the valiant and to take the path as the crow flies will gain gold and glory.

We’re doomed.

Still Later Morning, an Hour or Two Ere Noon Perhaps

If it is difficult to read this, please forgive me if it makes little sense or if my script is rough, as my hands still shake. I am writing this after we were attacked by some bandits.

About an hour ago we came up the main road towards the ruined keep. When we got within a several yards of the remains of the gatehouse wall, we were told in rough common to not move and then pay some sort of toll to pass. Unfazed, Magnus started parlaying with the brigands. He joked saying, “How mayeth I giveth thee gold from mine purse if I cannot move?” The idiot – I thought – doesn’t he know these highwaymen just as soon kill us and take all of our gold? The bandits said we could move to pay them the five crowns. Then, the fool said that he didn’t have the five pieces of gold and that was why they were venturing into the ruins. He then said he would gladly pay the toll upon exit.

In fact, Magnus then started lecturing the bandits on their foolishness, for it would be smarter for them to wait for parties such as themselves to be allowed to enter the delve, gain loot and treasure, and then waylay them on the exit. That way, the party would be wounded and much easier prey and the bandits wouldn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting as he put it.

He then held out what looked to be some sort of purse and asked the bandit to show himself so he may give it to him. The brigand told him to throw the money, which only caused Magnus to laugh like thunder and say, “If I throweth mine money, it mayeth be lost among yon rubble. I pray thee, come down from yon hiding perch so that I may hand it to thee.” The bandits wanted none of that and decided to take half of Magnus’ advice by killing the Three and taking all of their things.

However, I am beginning to think that all of the loud talking of Magnus was a distraction for the elves to prepare their bows and pick their targets. As the bandit leader gave his command, it was cut off by a black fletched arrow that shot through a hole in the wall no larger than my fist – the leader was dead before his body hit the ground; I can see why the Black is called Trueshot. The other elf, Grayleaf, downed another on the left.

It was then that Magnus swept his arm behind him and shielded me with his body as he said, “Get thee behind me, Vort!” Arrows began to rain down upon us from the ramparts. Several of the missiles struck Magnus who paid them no mind as they broke upon his plates while he instructed me on how to hold my shield. He smiled at me and said, “Good, now there be a debt to payeth – in lead.” He began to swing the purse around his head by its long string and released. A shrill whistle pierced the air as a bullet slammed into one of the bandits, imbedding itself into his head. It was hard to see what else happened, for I was keeping beneath my shield as instructed.

I have learned that these bandits were hobgoblins. They are orange-skinned and fanged and quite foul smelling; this last I can attest to since I am now wearing a suit of their chainmail.

Magnus is done leaving the symbol of the Three upon the wall. It is what looks to be a hammer shape made by bows and a sword. I have drawn it here.

Shortly Thereafter, At the Entry to the Main Stair

We made it to the Main Stair and the Three are re-adjusting their equipment to prepare their decent. They have me carrying the torches and the extra gear from the bandits. Magnus joked with me again by saying I am to lead us down so that whatever creature down there will eat me first. I am beginning to understand that this is his nature, for he continues to mock his companions in a similar fashion. My torch was lit by Magnus who reminded me to say at least four of his strides behind him. I could tell he meant it, for his voice changes when he is serious and his gaze becomes sharper.

Some Hours Later, The Same Day

The Three have a method of clearing the way. Magnus walks first with his sword in his hand with his other hand free for his drinking horn or to reach into his food bag. When they come to a door or something that needs to be inspected closely, the Black appears like a shadow and will give his opinion on what to do. Grayleaf acts as rear guard with his bow ready to fire.

Magnus is the strongest man I have ever met. There was a door on the way down that was locked and barred. The Black told Magnus to use his key. Magnus smiled and took the torch from my hand. I was impressed that the Three had keys to the doors of this ancient place, and I wasn’t sure how he was going to use a key with both hands full when he raised his massive foot up and stomped the door in with one kick.

We are in a room now, and the Three are carefully ransacking the place. I can see why they all stand back when Magnus opens the door, for he triggered some sort of a trap on the way in. It was some sort of gas that put the warrior to sleep - I think it would have killed a lesser man. He was out for the duration of a torch! One thing for certain is that he snores even louder than he laughs. This room must have been the lair of some alchemist, for there are bottles with chemicals and papers. Magnus took the papers and used the charcoal from the burnt torch and uses it to draw a map which he has shown me how to do. The paper and map are now rolled up and are stuck in my shield grips.

Perhaps an Hour Later, More or Less, I Know Not, as Time Passes Odd Here

Gods there are lots of traps here.

The Black found one on the other side of the door. Magnus found the other by nearly falling into it. He nimbly stepped back as it went off beneath him. Trueshot sent an arrow down the hall with his bow for no apparent reason then he deactivated the trap since there wasn’t any other pieces of furniture large enough to span the gap (Magnus hefted the bed from the alchemist’s room to span the gap of the first pit). When we moved ahead, a rotting corpse was on the floor with Trueshot’s arrow stuck in its back. Magnus picked it up by a moldy boot and dragged it to the pit that was open and dropped it down – impaling it on the spikes below.

We are now in some sort of crypt or catacomb. I would worry that the Gods might think us grave robbers, but there is nothing holy about these crypts.

Magnus has been smashing frescoed walls revealing hidden chambers behind. The first had something Grayleaf called a sarcophagus. It looks like some sort of large stone box. The warrior looked it over and saw strange sigils in the lead that was used to seal the crack around the lid and base. He said one word, “Vampyr,” and backed away grasping the iron hammer symbol around his neck. He apologized to the group saying that his connection to Thor is not yet strong enough to face this threat.

The next room was odd. There was some mummified person clinging to a skull topped pot. Grayleaf took one of his bowstrings and used it to remove the lid from a safe distance. There was gold inside. Strangely, the party didn’t just take the gold as Magnus said that it was most likely cursed. Grayleaf nodded and called out in some strange language and a mouse crawled up his boot. The elf must have some mastery over the creature, for it seemed to do what he wanted it to. He sent the mouse into the urn to retrieve a coin, but it stayed in the coins instead. When Grayleaf approached, the mouse lost all timidity and started to chatter while it took up a protective stance. Magnus spat and said, “Cursed…Greed.”

I will be sure to not touch anything if I can help it. Perhaps there is still time to become a religious and take my vows, if the Gods see fit to allow me to survive this misadventure...

[This was written by Hans, the player of Magnus the Mouthy... er, I mean, Magnus the Mighty]

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