The following entry is the last found in a Journal that states that it is written by someone calling himself only “Stien” Some content has been added, or edited by the finder…
The Treachery of the Crown?
The party goes off in search of a crypt and finds …
Well about the time we were getting set to cut down the poor lass who was hung upside down we suddenly had a very realistic vision. In the vision we went overland quite a ways to the entrance to a crypt and once inside we found a room just filled with urns, I am not talking about half a dozen or even a couple dozen urns. The crypt was absolutely filled with them. Hundreds if not thousands of urns!
As we were coming out of the vision we were all marked by something, something like a brand. Now I know that the namby pamby Alfred probably had a case of loose bowels, Pin Cushion probably yelped and Balt wondered what he did to deserve to have his flesh marked like that but the reaction of me brother was quite unique. He suddenly said he had a hot date and scampered out of the room. Weird, I know he has his priorities confused at times but is any female worth that much?
Anyhow about that time Pin Cushion felt a difference in temperature near one of the walls and figured it was a door that the builders tried to conceal. Alfred wanted to investigate and play with the door but I wanted none of that and after I put the poor lass in a safe place I just pushed the door open. Now me memory is kinda frazzled for a bit here, not enough good drink for the better part of a day and a half, but I think I got it straight.
We found a back tunnel that the city’s sewage ran through with evidence of footprints taking off further to the south. I anticipated that this would lead to a set of stairs going up and when we found the next door to the south sure enough it led to a triabular room with some of the most gruesome sights you would ever want to see, blood, body parts, entrails, and who knows what else was in there. But on the opposite wall was a set of stairs that a quick investigation proved was a passage to the surface and apparently outside of the city’s wall. So we start back to where we came from.
As we get to the sewage tunnel a kobold, yes a single kobold, popped out announced that I was some sort of play thing for Tick Tock. Me? Play with a kobold? Nah, the only thing that played with the kobold was me craghammer when I slapped it upside his head. Now he did summon some nasties, looked like leeches and worms, for me compatriots to deal with but it seems the nasties did not care for the way I treated Tick Tock. So two of them immediately attacked me. Did I mention how I hate magic? So I ignores the nasties and continued to work over Tick Tock. Two more swings and he was properly tenderized.
Now me compatriots were trying to help, well Pin Cushion and Balt were trying but Alfred was hiding behind Pin Cushions’ skirt. Told ya he was a namby pamby, I would be ashamed to call meself a dwarf if I acted like he acted. Hiding in the background like a camp follower not wanting to get his fingers dirty where the real glory is to be found. Pin Cushion is really starting to get the hang of using her bow, maybe I misjudged her a little bit and owe her a bit of respect because she is doing well with riddling nasties with arrows.
Balt’s breath attack proved to be a very good attack as he damaged pretty much all of the nasties that Tick Tock summoned. He still needs to be a bit more aggressive in taking decisive actions but he is getting better at picking times to use that nasty breath attack of his. He seems like he could do more damage with that maul of his but he seems content to stand back flicking things with a little shock.
Anyhow Balt, Pin Cushion and I managed to kill off everything without taking too much damage so we were ready to move onto the next area. But once again at about this time we found ourselves a tiny door. Apparently Tick Tock was coming through that door. Just to make sure there were no surprises I decided that we needed to investigate it. …. Anybody besides me getting the feeling that the party is waiting on me to make decisions? Bah! It makes me head hurt to have to think so much!
Well Pin Cushion showed the elven heritage in not wanting to get her hands dirty going through the door and it needed investigates so I went through. What a mess, so many nasties but there are multiple uses for alcohol J I poured out that nasty drink that Alfred gave me, gah it smelled just horrible .. there was no way I was tasting it, and lit it on fire with me flint and steel. Whoosh! Fried Worms ….Stunk a bit too but I think it actually smelled less than that garbage Alfred tried to pass off to me as beer.
So one kobold and a multitude of nasties taken care of., a passage leading south from the city found and one dead girl to have someone answer for. Somebody is going to have to give me some answers and give them to me quickly! I know just who to talk to.
So off to the military ward I go with the poor lass in me bed roll, I might have to break down and buy me a new one as this one is getting a bit crusty. Oh and the other three are tagging along even though I have no clue why. When we get to the military ward’s main gate interestingly enough they just open the gates and let us through before stopping us inside the main gate.
Somehow I kept my peace and politely asked to speak with Vanity and they took us, the others just tagged along and became a nuisance in the long run, to speak with Vanity. When I arrived with her I said “We need somewhere private to speak” which she took very seriously. Unfortunately I had to show Vanity the body as I had no physical description of the banished member of the Duke’s family. Vanity told me it was not her so that was somewhat of a relief I think.
While speaking to Vanity she suggested once again that we speak to Wollen about the crystals. I told her everything about the dream we had and showed her the branding we received. For that she suggest we speak to Frenquile (rhymes with tranquil, a local Halfling ranger) for a possible idea where the crypt might be. I told here I believe it is time that the no good arrogant son of the Duke of what we found. She agreed but said that he is probably asleep. I informed her which she actually took very seriously believe it or not that either she get us in to see him or else I am taking the body to the gates of the palace ward and displaying it for all the people gathered there. I think that changed her mind a bit.. She really is a good kid and I actually kinda feel sorry for putting her in such a position but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do and either she was getting me in to see “His Duckiness” or I was going to make the boy quack all on me own. At this point in time I was not happy with the little piece of donkey droppings and I was itching to confront him on several fronts.
As we waited on her to get her people in position to get us into the palace ward I took the time to draw a representation of what I remembered seeing in my “dream” so that I could show it to various people and get an idea of where it was. A little later in this journal entry ye will see where it came to some good use.
So off we go to the Palace Ward where Vanity and one of her business associates greased some palms to get us into the palace by a side entrance. Gee imagine that me a lowly dwarf stepping me unworthy feet on palace dirt. Funny the dirt looks just like the dirt you find in every other ward in Whyn Burae. Once again we are led off on a maze of passages, no I am not telling ye how many lefts and rights this time, finally ending up in a meeting room with a large table that has been set for eating some morning meal. I ordered the table cleared then put the body on the table.
We are made to wait it out, at one point in time a servant girl popped her head in to see if we needed anything and as I was getting more and more upset I snapped at her. Probably owe the lass an apology for doing so or better yet His Duckiness should apologize to her for putting her in that position when he could have been prompt in coming to see what we found.
Finally His Duckiness shows up and acts like he wants to eat while we talk. I warn him that it would not be a good idea to do so as what he is about to see is not pretty. I suggest that he have the majority of his guards leave the room as I am no fool and know that he has plenty of guards occupying murder holes that would have made the whole group nothing more than a group of practice dummies if we drew on the boy. But His Duckiness is stubborn and wants to see what it is that is so important for me to awake His Duckiness so early in the morning.
Now I must at this point in time point out that if ye thought I was the insane one in the group then ye would be sadly mistaken. Ye see Alfred decides at that point in time that it would be a good idea to start acting like a jackass. Not sure what the namby pamby’s problem is but he seems to lack self control and does things that are totally off center. This time he decided that he was hungry and started eating the eggs that His Duckiness was fliddling with. Now mind ye I was hungry and would have loved to get a large amount of ale, mead, beer and whatever else inside me but there was work that needed done and screwing around like that was something that I am going to have to have a chat with the lad about, maybe he needs to have his brains examined and me craghammer can be the surgical implement that is used to allow the physicians to look at them.
Anyhow I shows His Duckiness the body and explain to him that he has a breech in the walls to the city. His Duckiness first denies the breech but I quickly put that argument down by telling him he can either believe me or he can call me a liar but when somebody gets an army inside his fair city he will learn I am telling the truth. That slap in the face kind of woke His Duckiness up. Next I was itching for a fight and started blasting away at His Duckiness about his glory hound approach to being the Duke’s Son. Now where me and me brothers grew up we learned that glory is a good thing but if ye are a member of the ruling family in the clan ye have a responsibility to the clan first and foremost not to yerself to get glory. That is why I am so happy that I am not a member of the ruling family in the clan. Me best friend, other than me brothers and sisters, growing up was Kaleb but he is the son of the 4th in line to the throne of the clan. He unfortunately has responsibilities far beyond himself and I respect him for bowing to those responsibilities. Maybe some day Kaleb will call on me and me family again to assist the clan as we have done in the past but as of right now Kaleb is living in the walls of Turak-Tol.
His Duckiness backed down almost immediately, the boy is just that a boy, not a man. No man that I know would have ever taken the insulting I laid upon him and ducked his tail between his legs like he did. I did not like the arrogant little puke from the first time I laid eyes on him and I still don’t like him. He is a glory hound who uses others then accepts the glory for hisself even though he does nothing to earn the glory. Had I insulted Ramm like that he and I would still be fighting. Heck if I had insulted our sister Bardryn she would have probably started ripping me bear out!
So His Duckiness is a coward as far as I am concerned. He offered to pay us to go clean out the rest of the area we found so his engineers could start sealing the area off to prevent further disturbances coming from there. If it were me in charge I would have just said to the people who reported it that their work is done and me and me clan would take care of any further problems in that area. But he decided to try to throw money at the problem in the hopes that he and his toy soldiers would not need to get their hands dirty.
So me and me camp followers head out to try and find this Halfling fellow, we first head to Thade’s tavern, which when he saw me he was very excited and offered to tap everything he had but I informed him that I was seeking the Halfling. His face fell at that and he was noticeably upset at the loss of income for the time being. He said the Halfling was not there but he would be glad to let the Halfling know we were looking for him. But that was not good enough and I was prepared to go to the Halflings house. Thade was nice enough to have one of his workers show us to the halfling’s home.
When we got to the halfling’s home I gave the servant a pay raise and sent him back to Thade. Who knew a simple gold piece would make the lad’s day but it seemed to do just that. We were polite this time even though I just wanted to bust down the door and make the Halfling talk. Perhaps a bit of talking and less bashing would make things go easier. Once again Alfred decides to be an idiot and wants to start picking the lock in broad daylight luckily for him the Halfling opens the door before he gets started on committing suicide. I begin to explain what is going on, seeing as though me camp followers are incapable to talking intelligently. The discussion with the Halfling produced some good rumors that I intended to follow up on with me old friend Skumbag.
Now ye have to understand what Skumbag is and be willing to overlook a few indiscretions to be able to talk to him and get the information ye want. That I was prepared to do and was really hoping the rest of me camp followers were not going to be a problem in the course of discussion. After the typical chest thumping of Skumbag over his exploits as an adventurer I managed to get him to talk about what he knows about the Duke’s family and political ties. It was then that Skumbag let me in on the first bit of information that would eventually see me off in the direction we would go. It appears the Duke’s family operates a rather large gem mine north of Whyn Burae and they are using a small army to protect it. Now this would not normally cause me to think twice but when Skumbag reminded me that the only prison in Whyn Burae only holds about 40 prisioners all sorts of bells and whistles started going off in me head. This would mean one of 3 things.
1: Nobody gets arrested in Whyn Burae – This is very doubtful as me compatriots and I were responsible for about a score of prisoners when we busted up the porters guild after finding a temple to that fake god Orcus under their main building.
2: Once convicted there is swift and deadly justice done – This is even more doubtful as there would be massive burial mounds or whatever in and around Whyn Burae to house the prisoners who are executed.
3: The prisoners are put to work as slaves in the gem mines – This one makes sense. Now mind ye I am not opposed to forced labor for a crime or to pay off a debt but I am deeply troubled by the fact that those who are sent off are not seen again.
I paid Skumbag 50 gold to keep an ear out for me and to let me know everything and anything he hears. He was a bit shocked that I was willing to part with me gold so easily but honestly with me golden drinking ticket I probably saved over 200 gold so spending 50 gold for information is getting off cheaply.
OK several pieces of the puzzle have been put into place but there is a big hole in the middle of me puzzle. From Vanity and confirmed by His Duckiness the keep of the disowned members of the Duke’s family is to the south. I would really like to head there at this point in time. From Skumbag the family of the Duke might be using slave labor to the north. The Halfling provided me with an idea of where me group might need to go to the north to investigate me dream. So now it is to reasons to go south and two reasons to go north.
Off to see this mysterious Wollen. Now let me tell ye Wollen is not your normal mind tricker, He looks like he could pick up a full grown ogre and toss him across a room as Wollen is a goliath! The man is absolutely huge! But what really struck me was the red gem that Wollen seems to have implanted in the middle of his forehead..
Immediately upon walking into the room with Wollen that gem went into some sort of freaky mode and Wollen starts looking at us. I thought for a second I was going to need to use me craghammer here and pry that gem from Wollen’s head to relieve him of some sort of curse but it seems as though it was me group that had the problem. Ye see the blue gems that we kept on finding were tracking devices that the Master of Crystals was using to know what we were doing where. That would explain why he was not under the house where we found the poor lass. He knew we were coming and beat a hasty retreat. Well Wollen neutralized the blue gems so now they are worthless pieces of glass. Once again I tell Wollen everything, I show him the pictures I drew and he said he wanted to see where we found the poor lass and that she suffered a fate of psychic surgery which is too barbaric for any civilized psion to do. So we show him the place and once again Wollen’s gem goes nuts. This time it is a pretty good sized gem in the wall behind where the lass was hanging upside down. This battle is harder on Wollen and for a second or two I thought I was going to have to break the gem in the wall. But once again Wollen won the battle and this time instead of neutralizing the gem he transformed it so that now I can track the Master of Crystals with it.. Neat trick.
Now the one thing that Wollen said that struck me more than anything else was that the branding that me and me group received is really a result of being spirit touched by a shaman to show us something. That is what the dream sequence was all about the lass with the last of her life wanted to show us something. In that crypt as I said there were literally hundreds if not thousands of urns. Why would there be urns there?
That is when me head cleared and me eyes uncrossed. The urns represent the slave workers who died and were cremated to dispose of any evidence of the slave labor the Duke’s family is using to mine the gems. This set me mind on what needed done and why. As I said before I am not opposed to forced labor to pay off a debt or as a means to serve a sentence for a crime committed but to work the laborers to death is just wrong.
So me and me camp followers went to Vanity to tell her what we were going to do. I decided to push her a little bit and see if she will give up anything about the gems that Skumbag say are coming into Whyn Burae. She openly admitted that her merchant house is not the house that deals in the gems. Her house deals in normal goods that are bought and sold in Whyn Burae and the keep to the north. She offered to have us hired on as guards escorting the caravan that her house was sending to the keep but when me head cleared enough to realize what was going on I decided we needed to start heading north with all haste to hopefully beat the snows and uncover what is going on.
As we were headed out of town Vanity came riding up on a horse at a pretty good clip and handed us a marker that her house would recognize and allow us to purchase things from the caravan at reasonable rates. While this was a nice gesture it unfortunately allowed others to know what we were doing and to be honest the lass must have forgotten that I am a dwarf and as such the colder climes are something that I am more used to. Besides I will either be dead or back in Whyn Burae well before the weather gets so bad that it concerns me.
Along the route north Pin Cushion heard a horse galloping at a rate that made her believe it was trying to get ahead of us. When Alfred shut up enough for her to alert the rest of us, it was decided to see if we could cut this outrider off and see what was going on.
We cut across country and found him down by a stream watering his horse. As we had the drop on him he realized he was in no position to offer a fight and after some negotiations he decided that it was the better part of valor for him to allow me to search his belongings. Everything was normal until I found a letter that was written in a code that I could not immediately recognize. So I asked the group if someone could decipher the code. Balt proved his worth when he deciphered the code to be a latter that was to tell a group up ahead of us to be on the lookout for us and eliminate us.
Jackpot! We spooked someone and that someone now wants us out of the way! So me head starts turning things around to see if we can put the fear of us in the group that is supposed to be waiting on us. I wrote another note and told the rider to deliver me note along with his master’s note to the group ahead. While I was writing the note once again Alfred showed his nature by telling the outrider to strip. Well I decided to let Alfred learn from his stupidity and just kicked back to watch the fight. When Alfred figured out he was not going to have backup he backed down from his demands. Now if it were me who made a demand and a prisoner decided to defy me I would have taken me craghammer and used it to open his armor and forcibly remove the prisoner from it but Alfred in true namby pamby cowardice did nothing. From there we released the outrider and I even paid him 2 gold to deliver me note he decided that it was better to not deliver the notes and run like a coward.
Now we know there is a group ahead of us up the stream from where we were, I wanted to get the drop on them so I asked Pin Cushion to keep an ear out for when we got close. She does have a nice sense of hearing as she was able to tell me when we were getting close to their outer guards.
Now the fun begins again! I asked Pin Cushion, I guess I should start calling her Elcin since she actually is proving to be a very good archer, to eliminate the guard closest to us with arrows and she did it quite nicely. At this point I began the charge into camp figuring me compatriots would follow suit. So much for that idea as I charged full speed to get close to melee range while the rest of them just went in as if it were a normal fight.
So here I am off ahead of the rest of the group while they lollygag behind. I took a hail of arrows getting clipped once but all that served to do was to irritate me enough that I bull rushed the nearest one into the fire they had going killing him instantly. This is when it became fun as the ones that were hidden in buildings or out of sight came into the fight. If me memory is right we fought about 10 or so of the would be ambushers, one was a magic user and if I had me way he would have been the first to feel me craghammer but I was delayed by one boy who thought he was special as he was on a horse. He and I began trading blows but what he was not aware of was that I have learned that to take down calvary ye need to eliminate their mounts and I determined to do just that. So I hit him once then hit his mount. He then realized what I was about to do and dismounted INTO THE FIRE! Idiot, is what me first thought was as he was hurting himself by standing in the fire and I was able to start beating him down. The battle between he and I took a while but because of the fire and his magic using friend I was able to put him down.
It took me a long time to beat him down and in the meantime the camp followers were playing with several others. Elcin is a damn fine shot as she popped two of the remaining archers. Balt was occupying a couple of the would be ambushers and holding his own but taking some damage. Funny I thought he was one of those barbarian types who just get better in a fight when they get smacked around a little bit. I am not sure what Alfred was doing except running around like a scared kid who was about to be whipped by his father.
By the time I had the big guy down and cleaned the magic user off the face of the world Balt used all his brute strength to eliminate the sole remaining menace from the battlefield.
I picked me up a few new scars but delivered far more scares than I received, wish me brother was here right now to share in the glory of the fight but some piece of tail was more important to him so he missed out on the fun.
After the fight and after we looted the bodies we discovered a series of crates that were marked with a merchant insignia of The White Lantern Merchant House and the insignia of Whyn Burae! Why that no good ……… I don’t know which of the Duke’s family is doing this but they WILL pay for what they are doing, if I have to take the family down with me own hands one dirty family member at a time I will see vengeance upon the family for what they have done!