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Memoirs of an Aging Dwarf
Click on a log below to read, or start at the beginning and read of the ongoing events of the campaign.
Let me share my tale with you. I grew up
in the mines of Mirabar. I was not like other dwarfs. No, I shunned the forge. I
detested back breaking work. Why could I see what my people could not? They
slaved for the lords of Mirabar. And for what? The meager existence they called
"living"? Not for me I tell you.
I moved out of that hole that was the Dwarven city and onto the streets of Mirabar. I found there was wealth to be had in the art of pocket foraging. I learned the ways of a warrior as well. Many times my antics found me having to turn to my blade to keep my head on my shoulders. It was a tough life, but one that I loved. I became fairly skilled at fighting and equally skilled at relieving the foppish wretches who wandered the streets of their gold.
One such Fop was not as soft as I had expected though. The moment my hand slid in for his purse he caught it and gave it it a painful twist. I immediately reached for the blade that I wore at my side, but I was filled with horror as I noticed it in his free hand. He drug me into the shadows of a nearby building and placed the blade to my throat. There was an evil in this mans eyes that made my sturdy Dwarven legs weak in the knees. I struggled frantically to break his grip but he possessed a strength I had never known before. He shoved me too my knees and pressed the dagger harder into my throat. Gasping for air I started to fall forward. I caught myself with my free hand. Luck was with me. My hand landed on a brick. With no hesitation, I grabbed that brick and slammed it as hard as I could against this awful humans head. There was sickening crunch as his skull caved in.
I sat on my knees for many moments witless. Although I had many fights in the streets, I had never taken a life. I was scared. It was then that I heard the sounds of metal shod boots approaching. I glanced up to see the city guard round the corner. I knew there was no explaining what had just transpired. I leapt to my feet and ran as fast I could through the shadows and allies. I heard the shouts as the other guards were roused and on the hunt.
I made the city walls and escaped into the hills. I do not know if the guards pursued me or not. I never looked back. I ran as fast and as far as I could.
One eve, while I looked for a suitable camp. Thick mists rose around me. They were not wet like a fog, but eerily devoid of moisture. I stumbled through the mists, unable to even see my hand in front of my face. Then suddenly the mists rose. I stood before a huge city. I found my way to a gate and learned it was The City of Greyhawk. Greyhawk? Never heard of it before. I smiled though. The place was crowded. I knew I there would be some easy pickings here. I would eat well this night....
I will continue my tale some other time. Had I known what roads going into this accursed city would lead me down, I would never have entered.
More you say? Very well. Be warned though,
I am no bard. I lack their talent for relating an event in such a way as to
inspire awe or bring my audience to tears. So, where was I? Oh yes, Greyhawk.
A huge city indeed. I would imagine you could compare it to Waterdeep. Although, not quit as splendid. Anyway, I made may around the city. The lands the folk spoke of were not known to me. Their customs, dress, speech, all vastly different than anything I had experienced. One thing was familiar to me though. Purses. Purses filled with coin. Coin that I needed. Coin that I wanted. I began to ply my trade.
I made my way to different wards of the city. I found the merchant district had an abundant supply of loose purse strings. After having liberated several heavy of said purses, I moved into the shadows to count my new found wealth. Before I could react, some thugs sapped me and all the world went dark.
I awoke face down on a rough hewn wood floor. I was hog tied. I gave the ropes a good pull but they held strong. I tried finagling my way out of them, but found once again no escape. It was then I realized I wasn't alone. Strong hands grabbed my arms and pulled me to my knees. Across from me sat an elf. I noticed he didn't appear to be quite as fragile as most. I wondered if he were one of those half breeds. So I asked.. "Ye one 'o them half breeds?" Apparently, he took offence. A slight nod from him brought about a multitude of stinging blows from his friends.
"You have been pilfering purses in my city. I do not take kindly to scamps working my streets." I wasn't sure what a scamp was. I assumed it was their word for Dwarf. I pulled myself upright and offered a humble apology.
"I sincerely apologize for my wandering fingers. I have traveled a great distance and have not eaten decently for sometime. I was merely looking for enough to provide me some dinner and a warm bed for the night."
He smiled. "I would think you could BUY an inn with the money you pilfered today. Money that is now mine. I thank you for your hard work and generous donation. I look forward to your future donations dwarf.
Hmm. Dwarf. So what in the nine hells is a scamp? As often occurred in the past, my mouth started moving before my brain could form the right words for the situation I was in. "I don't recall donating anything to you half breed. In the future, I'll be sure to donate my foot to yer arse." Blackness found me again. When I awoke sometime later, I was in a cramped cell and naked. Fortunately, they didn't unbraid my beard and find the wire I had hidden within. I set to work on the locking mechanism of my cell door. Luck was with me again.
I found my way to the city streets. Using the shadows I made my way around the city gathering clothes, weapons and supplies. Once I was equipped I made my way silently out of town. I sighed thinking I had to be more careful about how I foraged pockets in the future.
I traveled a small but well used road for a few days. That's when the mists again rose around me. Thankfully, I was clear of them after only a few short strides. That's when I met The Band of the Purple Hand. Valin Steelfist, a human Priest of Helm. Chinto Wansu, A human monk of Ilmater and "Goblin" Bob, a human wizard. I learned later he got the nickname goblin after some foul goblin magic turned him into one the stinking creatures. According to Chinto, Valin had beaten "the goblin" to within an inch of his life. Chinto intervened just in time. That sparked a hatred for Valin in 'ol Bob. One that would eventually tear this small band apart.
Valin vs. Bob
"Goblin" Bob. He wasn't much even by human
standards. He was short, standing just under five feet tall. He was scrawny too.
He looked as if a strong wind would pick him up and carry him off. He tried to
be helpful though. He tried to prove himself to his companions. No matter what
he did though, Valin remained distant from him. Nothing Bob did was good enough
for Valin. Valin would scold Bob or just treat him with out right disdain. It
hurt Bob to no end. The night Bob was turned into a goblin and beaten viciously
by Valin, his attitude changed. His thoughts turned to revenge. He wanted to
teach Valin what his magics could do. One day Valin would respect him.
Valin was a big man. Standing just over six feet four inches tall and weighing close to three hundred pounds. He was young though, only eighteen winters old. He had left his twin brother and trained with the priests of Helm. To make ends meet, he signed on with the adventurers guild. They had assigned Bob and Chinto to help with his tasks. Bob. Something just wasn't right about Bob. There was darkness valin could sense in him. Some malevolent power guiding Bob. Valin didn't think Bob knew it was there. The only reason Valin knew was because while Bob slept he had horrible dreams. Dreams that had him speaking of vile things in his sleep. Things that would make the strongest man tremble with fear. Even Valin. Bob was an instrument of evil. Valin vowed to end Bob's life quickly if ever that evil manifested itself in Bob's waking hours.
Then there was Chinto. I'm not quite sure what to say about Chinto. Valin called him laundry boy. Chinto would laugh and claim he was a half elf. Chinto claimed to serve Ilmater. The god of pain and suffering he told me. Valin would laugh when Chinto went on about sacrificing and suffering for others. He would then launch a tale of how Chinto had been the focal point for the tricks of a Faerie Dragon. It apparently went on for days, until Chinto finally managed to capture the creature. Every time the dragon would try to speak, Chinto would pummel him. The poor dragon was beaten into unconsciousness multiple times. His little head was black and blue and swollen to twice it's normal size. Chinto only agreed to let it go if stopped following him and promised to never play tricks on him again. The dragon agreed quickly of course. When he was released, he took up a path parallel to Chinto's. Chinto was furious. He advanced on the creature with hate in his eyes. The small dragon stood his ground claimed he was not following Chinto, but insisted they were just going the same direction. Valin finally managed to convince Chinto to leave the creature alone. He would end the story with a comment about understanding pain and suffering indeed.
Chinto would sulk sullenly for hours afterward. Bob would tell Valin he needed to stop being so mean to people. Valin would just ignore them both. He knew his time with these two would be short. They would not survive the path Valin knew he would one day walk.
Anyway, I met this group as they left Odare. They spoke of evil marionettes. They said these puppets had taken over their bodies and killed many town folk. Somehow, they managed not only to escape and live, but also to get their bodies back. I wondered just what they had been drinking in that town. More importantly, I wondered if there might be some left for me.
They invited me to join them. Having been alone for several days I felt I could use the company. On our second day of travel we encountered something I can hardly describe even now. See this gold hair braided into my beard? That's from the creature. It was hideous. It's lower body was that of a huge snake. It's upper body was a female with six or eight arms. It was a long time ago so I forget exactly. I do recall each arm wielded a different weapon though. Her hair, as you can see, was gold in color. The four of us battled this monstrosity for what seemed an eternity. To this day, I do not know who we were victorious, but we were. We slew her and claimed her weapons as our own. Those weapons were glorious indeed. They would help save our lives many times in the coming years.
We traveled together for several days. We
were heading back to the adventurers guild. They promised me I could find a
commission there and join up with them.
We camped on what must have been the fourth night. We slept uneasily and our dreams were plagued with horrible beasts and creatures that are better left unnamed. We awoke surrounded by thick mist. We quickly gathered out things and set off in what we hoped was the right direction.
When the mists finally lifted, we found ourselves in the middle of a desert. We could see nothing but sand for miles. We knew there was no way we could have traveled this far in the time since we had broken camp. It was unsettling at best. We did not take them time to stop and try to figure it out though. We felt a sense of urgency to keep moving. Something wasn't right about this place. We traveld for a few more hours when a town came into sight.
The people were dark of skin and wore thin cloth for clothing. They did not receive us well at all. Some viewed us with frightened glances, others with disdain. Only one man, who's name is forgotten to me now, approached us. He welcomed us to their humble town and directed us to the local well. After we quenched our thirst, he led us to the local temple and introduced us to a priestess of Isis. She bid us to enter her temple and speak with her.
We talked for what must have been hours. We told of her our journey and the strange events that had transpired. We told her we were unfamiliar with this land asked if she knew which way we might go to leave the endless sands that surrounded us.
She agreed to show us the way out if we helped her with some minor annoyances that had been occurring of late. It seemed some creatures had been killing local folk off and on for a few weeks now. They burrowed under the sand with amazing speed and pulled people under. these people were never seen again. She believed they were coming from some ruins a few miles away. These were the ruins of an old temple dedicated to ancient and long forgotten gods. We agreed to investigate this area for her, with the understanding that no matter what we found we would be shown our way out of these sands.
The next morning we set out in search of the ancient temple ruins. The heat and sand made our trip nearly unbearable. We were exhausted well before we ever reached our destination. We spied some cliffs off in the distance and made our way to them. they rose some one hundred feet up from the desert floor. We found a pass, no more than 50 feet wide, that divided the cliff and ran deep within.
We headed into the ravine and followed the rock strewn path for what must have been a quarter of mile before we heard it. It was the sound of dogs barking. The barks were different though. There was a maliciousness to them, and it sounded like there were many of them. I sprinted up the trail a bit and climbed to the top of folder that looked as it would provide me a good view. What I saw sent shivers down my spine. They were dogs alright, hundreds of dogs, hundreds of two headed dogs.
I quickly surveyed the area for a defensible position. There was a semi circle of boulders close to one of the ravine falls. The boulders were only a few feet apart and the area between them and the wall appeared to be relatively clear of rocky debris. I yelled for my companions to head in between them and put their backs to the wall. The space between the boulders was narrow enough to allow only a few dogs in at one time.
We stood our ground as they came. Bob was behind us weaving his spells. Valin stood strong and tall, singing to his god Helm. Chinto and I were each manning a gap in the boulders ready for the fight. Valin was positioned to guard two other gaps. He assured us he would hold them.
They came on in a wave of black fur, foaming maws and vicious claws. They were fearless and relentless in their fury and desire to have us as their next meal. We kept them pressed between the boulders as best we could. The bodies were piling up though and the other dogs were gaining the high ground as the scrambled atop their fallen brethren. We were forced to pull back and fight side by side. The press was unrelenting and we were all showing signs of fatigue. Our wounds were mounting and the end of our journey seemed at hand.
From the other side of the boulder came a huge fiery explosion and an intense wave of heat washed over us. The smell of burning fur and flesh assailed us. Another explosion shook the ground which caused one of the boulders to shift and roll into the one next to it. The boulder crushed several of the vile beasts as it did so. What few dogs remained turned tail and began to flee. I quickly grabbed my cross bow and scurrying to the top of boulder, took aim and killed several. It was then that I was the robed human down the path from the direction in which we had come.
I informed the others of our visitor, but remained atop the boulder. I kept my crossbow at the ready. I wanted to be ready for the first sign of trouble from this fellow.
Valin, Chinto and Bob emerged from the boulders and hailed the robed figure. As he approached, Valin thanked him for his aid against those horrible dogs. He nodded his head then introduced himself as Bawumph the Great. (Now, I'm not a human, but if I were, I would surely not name my child Bawumph.) When asked what he was doing out here, he confessed to having followed us. This land was not his own either and he had every intention of finding a way out with us.
It was getting late in the day. It seemed darkness would fall before to long. I set about the task of scouting out a suitable place to camp for us. It didn't take me long to find a small unoccupied cave about 20 feet up the cliff wall. If conveniently had a small ledge on which a guard could be posted. I set in my rope lines and assisted the others in making their way up to the cave. We slept as much as possible, but the sound that drifted to us on the night air made sleep uneasy at best. We knew we would need our strength tomorrow though. When sleep finally found me, I had never welcomed it more.
The next morning, we were relieved to see
the sky had clouded over. The heat and scorching sun would not hamper our
travels today. Our relief was so great at this prospect, that we missed the
importance of such a thing occurring in the desert.
We descended to the rocky floor and began our trek up the ravine again. Eventually, we came to an ancient stone platform setup against the rock face. A set of wide stairs led up to the platform. We ascended those stairs and were overcome with a sense of foreboding. This place was evil.
A massive doorway was carved into the cliff face. It stood open like the gaping maw of some horrid beast ready to devour us. Only, this place seemed to want to dine on our souls, not our flesh. We cautiously entered.
The place was ancient. Looking around, we could clearly see that someone had passed through here recently. Their foot prints were visible in the dust covered floor. Not being a skilled tracker, I could not discern what had made the tracks, But I was able to follow them none the less. The trail led us through many rooms. Two of the rooms we passed through were filled will unimaginable treasures. Gold, gems, and jewelry littered the floor, tables and caskets in both rooms. I took notice of small, concealable items that I could grab and pocket on my way out. Items I knew would fetch a handsome profit once we were out of this foul place.
We passed these rooms and entered a low, narrow tunnel. The humans had to crawl while I merely ducked my head and walked on. The tunnel ended in a four way corridor. I looked about for signs of tracks, but here the dust was gone. We chose a hall and moved down it slowly. I was uneasy here, something didn't feel right, but I pressed on anyway.
The tunnel ended in a room filled with several coffins. All were closed but one. We moved to the back of the room to examine the open casket. Inside was a body wrapped in linen strips. It was old, but the passage of time seemed to have overlooked this thing. Valin moved up to examine it with me.
Suddenly, the corpse opened it's eyes. One of it's arms shot out and grabbed for Valin. Valin, much more agile than he looked, managed to dodge that grasping hand. The war hammer he had retrieved from the fallen corpse of that many armed demon appeared in his hand. From all around us, casket lids toppled to the ground and more of these horrible monsters emerged from their rest. We backed to the door forming a defensive line. Valin summoned a globe of flame and hurled it at the closest mummy. The flames hit it dead on, but instead of bursting into a ball of fire, the flames sizzled and scorched its linen covered body, then went out.
Bob was chanting behind us. Valin produced his holy symbol of Helm and forcefully commanded these creatures to flee his presence. To our relief several hissed and moved away. Only two kept coming towards us. The one who we had been inspecting, and another.
They came on fearlessly. Valin stood toe to toe with the larger of the two. He smashed his hammer solidly against it's head. It reeled from the blow but kept coming. Chinto and I engaged the second. The fine weapons we had acquired bit deep and crushed this horrid thing quickly. The mummy that was on Valin seemed unbothered by this though. His press was relentless and he pushed us back into the hall.
Our blows did little to slow it. It's eyes glowed with a vengeful, hate filled light. We knew we could not take this creature on. I ran back down the hall and into a large room with a massive boat. I had never seen such a boat design before and certainly not one inside a building. I assumed it was built here as the halls were much too small to move it through. There was a portal here, It glowed with the power of the sun. Undead hate sunlight, I thought to myself.
I yelled for my companions to come in here quickly. The beast followed as they retreated into the confines of this chamber. The bright light did not seem to bother it in the least. I yanked my crossbow and fired at the mummy. I cursed my luck as the bolt flew wide. I guess my nerves got the better of me. Valin and Chinto were moving in slow circles around it. Chinto bashed at the thing with his staff while Valin crushed it with his hammer. The creature was landing powerful blows while my companions attacks did little to it. I wasn't sure how long they would hold out.
It was then that the monster landed a devastating blow on Chinto. There was a sickening crunch as the creatures fist smashed into his skull. Chinto sailed through the air and crumpled to the ground several feet away. I drew my blades and moved in beside Valin.
There came a loud rumbling noise from the shining archway. Then a booming voice called out, "Sinmat my son! Your treachery has not gone unnoticed. You have shed blood in my tomb and I am released from my prison! Face me, my son!"
The creature before us turned to face the doorway. What we saw filled us with horror and fear beyond words. A mummy of such immense power that we had to flee from his very presence. Valin managed to keep enough of his wits about him to animate Chinto's corpse and command him to flee behind us.
"Anktepot! The time of your reign is at an end. I shall destroy you and command all that was yours!" The temple shook as the two creatures engaged each other.
The battle raged on and the building began to crumble around us. Large chunks of stone were falling. Some narrowly missed our heads. We ran on. As we entered the treasure chambers, two gargoyles came to life and attacked us. We saw that the doors were slowly closing, and we knew we had no time to fight them. I grabbed a strand of pearls that I had estimated worth at least a thousand gold pieces and moved for the door. Valin threw the animated corpse of Chinto under the descending door along with Bob. The gargoyles were upon me. I managed to fend them off, taking only a few minor wounds as I backed towards the door. I dropped and rolled under it in the nick of time.
We ran as fast as we could back to the entrance. It too was closing. The temple shook violently as the two godlike beings fought. We cleared the doorway and ran down the steps. It was then that we realized Bawumph was not with us. Valin ran to the door to stop it's decent. He was too late though. It thudded shut just as he reached it. Dust and stone rained down on him. The ground trembled. The temple was coming down.
We headed off down the ravine with great haste. We paused to watch the temple collapse in on itself and stood in awe imagining the power of those two beings to bring such a place down.
Valin looked at Chinto and realized there was nothing he could do for his friend. His head was not much more than pulp. He had sustained more damage from the falling rocks as well. Valin dismissed the magic that kept him walking. Chinto's corpse collapsed to the ground. We dug a shallow grave and placed the corpse within. Valin performed burial rights over the grave and we all moved off with heavy hearts.
When we reached the end of the ravine, we were surprised to find a gypsy clan encamped there. The males of the clan moved out to greet us. It was a curt greeting with a stern warning that we were not welcome. As we turned to leave, an old woman called to the men and bade them invite us into their camp.
We spoke with her at length. She read each of our fortunes. That night, while the others slept, she approached me. She told me I had incurred the wrath of Anktepot. It seems I had been cursed. She informed I had to "drink the blood of the one who becomes me" to break this curse.
The next morning the gypsies agreed to guide us out of the desert. We followed them for what seemed an eternity. We finally reached some open plains that led off to a lightly forested area. They bade us be well and moved on.
We traveled for many days. Each day that passed felt like another year to me. After 5 days on the road, my companions made comments about my appearance. It seemed I truly was aging a year for each day that passed. But how? What did I do in that evil place that would curse me? My hand slipped into my tunic and rubbed the strand of pearls I had secreted there. Of course! The treasure was cursed! I looked around to make sure my companions were not watching me. I pulled the pearls out and threw them to the side of the road. I hoped, ridding myself of them would free me from the curse.
We eventually saw mountains rising in the distance. We were on the edge of a light forest. We happened upon a road which made traveling easier. A few more days had passed, but the aging did not stop. Curse my luck for throwing away those pearls!
In the distance was an inn resting atop a low hill. Finally, a comfortable bed and hot food! We needed the rest badly. I was none too worried about a few more days of aging. I was a dwarf after all. We live for centuries. What's a few years of my life for a cozy bed to rest in?
Little did I know, the cure for my curse was staring me right in the eye.
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