Song of the Ages

In the Deep
Wyllo

Whenever I have a crisis of moral faith, Fulgen is always there. In this Deep, we have now stumbled across a vicious monster that decided it would be a good idea to eat me, and where I felt that thrill of killing the thing—it was different than killing Bradley; this thing was an actual monster of not human intelligence (I think.), Fulgen himself tends to show up lately every time I am busy killing. Is this some higher power reminding me that I joined on this quest because of that first time I met him and that insignia on his shield? I always thought I was Yoon’s moral compass and instead I’m finding myself losing my own. Enter Fulgen, stage right, left, diagonal—everywhere.

I want to go through my dilemma in peace, but I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon.

If I didn’t know any better, I would also say that our missions are getting progressively worse. As mentioned, I got eaten the other night. Yoon told me all about this, so I feel like I didn’t need to be unconscious through it all, but this monster found us in the Deep and I got hit hard and apparently, it ate me. Can we say trauma? Seriously.

The next thing I know though, we’re back in the cavern and Fulgen is also there (WAY TOO CLOSE I MIGHT ADD), and all I wanted was my rapier. Let’s just say I got even when I killed the thing. Let’s also just say I have more than a fear of fire at this point of my life.

There had better be some good loot down here because all I can think of, besides having almost been eaten by a thing, is that Fulgen came to help me. I joined this whole escapade and its haphazard group because of him and I give him a hard time, but I didn’t really think that in the face of life or death, it would turn out this way.

P.S. I know having a fear of fire is ironic since Firenze bursts into flames most of the time that I use him. Fears don’t have to make sense.

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Yes, I said a Neothelid.

Like I said, it was just a few Umber Hulks. No, if you want to buy me a drink, do it for the next part. I’ve only heard legends of this beastie and I bet only a scant few of the Guard have actually seen one, needless to say killed one.

So, after the Hulks we decided to rest up since, as far as we could tell, it was night or close enough to it. You and me, we grew up used to not having the lights in the sky telling us what to do, so it isn’t so bad when we lose that, but the others I was with seemed to be more than a little disturbed by the loss of that knowledge. Maybe if they spend enough time down here, they won’t worry about it at least, but I doubt they’ll ever get the Deep sense I’ve heard some Guard talk about. Regardless, after we rested and ate, we set out again. We eventually ran into a group of Guard celebrating with a bonfire no less! having just wiped out a mind-flayer colony. I’ve gotta raise my mug to that, I don’t care who you are. We shared some of their drink, but mostly asked about the region to see where their ‘lost’ encampment could be. As far as we could tell, it’d be in a part of the Deep that hasn’t been touched by you or me in a long while, so when the Guard indicated one tunnelway that was still largely uncharted, they immediately leaped on that and we set out.

Now, I’m not going to lie about this next part, but down that tunnel the floor gave out right underneath me. Me, a dwarf, and I didn’t notice that the stone ahead was bad. I wish I could say that I was distracted by the others and the noise they were making, but that’d still be no excuse. Lucky for me, the fall didn’t kill me or break any of my bones, though I was seeing stars. The others must have been more than a little worried as they started shouting down at me, making a racket that you just don’t make in the Deep even if your life depends on it. Turns out I’d fallen into a den of these strange, fuzzy beasties that wanted a piece of me, but between us all we were able to kill those creatures before they could make a meal of me. We decided to continue along the tunnels leading from the den, which is where this all gets good.

Out of that den, we entered a large chamber, probably half as tall as the main chamber here, and full of old dwarven buildings. Beautiful stonework, truly masterful and seemingly untouched by any of our kind for who knows how long. Completely worth falling through the floor, but the kicker is that there were a bunch of bodies strewn about, more mummified than decayed. Mind-flayers killed possibly centuries ago and just left in the streets. Probably one of our raids from long ago. We found evidence of where their elder brain was, good and smashed it was, but something wasn’t sitting right with me. There was a den of hungry beasties back there and a dry but plentiful buffet of meat just lying around here. Why hadn’t they picked the bodies clean long ago? It seemed more like they were avoiding the buildings and if there’s anything I’ve learned in the wilds, it’s that animals only act like that if they’re avoiding a bigger and badder animal.

Turns out I was right. There was an old, dried up fountain in one of the town’s squares that looked like it served as the flayers’ breeding pool, but no eel bodies in it, no sign that the pool was properly smashed either. I was examining it when a Neothelid came out and attacked us. I don’t know how long those things can live or even how fast they grow, but this one was big and feral. It had probably been in that cavern since that old raid, just eating the other eels and then moving on to bigger prey once the fountain got picked clean. It was a true monster at this point, even snatched up two of my mates and swallowed them up. No, don’t toast for them, they survived it.

Don’t look at me like that, they did.

I was too busy cutting at it and screaming at it to see much, but apparently as long as you’re not dead when it eats you, you can keep cutting it up on the inside, which is what they did. Made it vomit the two of them up right next to me, which was neither a pleasant sight or odor, but yeah, they were alive. We managed to bring that beastie down, but I was pretty sure that some, if not all of us, were dead. I like it when I’m wrong about stuff like that.

So yeah, like I said, if you’re going to buy me a round, buy it for that, not just for some Hulks.

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Fulgen's story about bugs

“There are far-off lands where bugs are smaller than people. In fact, in some of those lands there are so many small bugs that people catch them, gather them up, and deep fry them in oil so they can eat them. I would like to visit one of those places, someday.”

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Eye of the Beholder
Wyllo

It’s been a rough few weeks. We’ve moved on from Redford, leaving a small sort of chaos in our wake, but our next adventures have seemed a little aimless to me. There was a point where Fulgen told us that he didn’t want to stay with our party anymore, and I didn’t understand why—originally, I’d joined this quest (besides the potential for treasure) because he was…I don’t know. Good? I think that there are a lot of people who judge me by my appearance, but Fulgen didn’t seem to—at least, i thought not, until he said some things.

I don’t know what it was that made me ask him to stay, but I feel like our story isn’t done yet if he were to leave. I feel like if he’d chosen to leave, that strange emptiness wouldn’t have gone away (not that it really has actually), and that where I’d promised to adjust my moral compass for his sake, it might be keeping me from the dark I felt when I saw Bradley’s corpse.

We ended up following a trail and discovered a bit of the silver he’d been sending, but the storage shed we’d found it in also had a chest of gold. (You know how I get with gold, but Yoon is actually worse.) I was debating reaching out to take some when she helped herself and fell into this strange curse. She couldn’t be moved until we got creative about it, and even then we almost got caught. The next morning, she woke up fine, but she looked a little sick still—she was also very pouty—, and while I stayed to keep an eye on her, Dax and Fulgen went to talk to the stable-storage-person that Yoon and I had encountered the night before. I’m not sure what happened, but Dax came back with a couple of bolts sticking out of his chest. I’m assuming things hadn’t gone well, because we ended up being encouraged to leave town, Yoon lost the skull she’d found from that storage, and also a jar, and a new member of our party (goes by the name Samuel; I still don’t know what to think of him, but he doesn’t seem so bad) lost some gunpowder that he’d found.

Ironically, the fact that Samuel didn’t have gun powder on him helped us the other day. Dax had one of his moments where he didn’t have control of his magic and set certain things on fire. I’m not sure if it was fire so much as singing, but I got some good singes.

We also had another person join our party, and I have mixed feelings about this one, too. (I think I have mixed feelings about all of them, if I’m being honest, but oh well.) Her name is Kels and she likes war, but she’s also rich and I’m a little jealous of that. What would it be like to be rich? She also has a thing for Fulgen, which is…strange. I’m not a fan.

I killed a thing by the way. There was also a salamander thing, and we also saw Anya and Qelroth. I have a kinship with Anya that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before. She’s a half elf like me, and somewhere along the way, I met her wonderful father (stepfather? I’m not sure.). He treats her not well, and he also treats Fulgen not well. Needless to say, I’ve warmed up to them. It’s just a little bit, no big deal.

Fulgen got kidnapped a while ago. We helped save him and lost our chance at a good payout because his dad is an ass. I want money. I’m tired of being the thief that people don’t respect. Kill a couple of dangerous creatures to save others (or set free kidnapped children) and people still look at you like you’re a street rat

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Yeah, he got us to go into the Deep because of his dreams

I know, I know, those must be some pretty impressive dreams, but I"ll be honest with you, I’d been itching for a good fight for a while so when they started talking about it… well, I didn’t put up much of a fight. Who knows? We might even get lucky and do some good while we’re down there, thinning the ranks of the monsters that are always knocking on our doors.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I blame the ale. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to relax with a good pint of dwarven ale and while it’s not the most potent thing I’ve ever had, this just tastes right. Sort of tastes like home. Mind you, I’m not going to go soft and go back to my old life, pounding on iron so that someone else can go and get themselves killed with it or, worse yet, get themselves killed with it at the orders of some fool noble. I’ve missed the heat of the caves, the thrumming of the mechanics, but what I didn’t miss is just how… well, rigid, everything is. You take orders from him, and he takes orders from someone else and so on until finally we reach some king somewhere. You and I would like to believe that that king has all the knowledge and wisdom in the world, that everything that trickles down to us is part of the greater good, but I’ll be honest with you. In all my travels, I’ve met nobles from many different countries and they’re just like you and me, maybe even worse. Nah, it’s all madness to base your very life on the whims of nobles.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. The others left me to watch over their horses and the dust-ridden magician’s cart while they ran off to get Folgen back. I didn’t want to be left out of any fight, but well… the tavern had a good stock, you know? So, I guess it wasn’t a complete loss staying behind. I got to meet a pair of dwarven merchants that could give as well as they could take, which is as good a compliment as I can give and we got to talking. Reminiscing, boasting, some friendly brawling, you know the drill. When the others came back with our minstrel in tow, I had been able to catch up on much of the kingdom’s gossip and then some. There was some confusion as to what we should do next, but most of them were talking about Sutherland, so I urged them to head north until we came up with a better idea. In retrospect, maybe I should have held them to that original plan instead of being so lax with them.

So, we fought some salamanders on the road, nothing that we couldn’t handle though the magician toasted us along with the creatures for some reason. Nothing we couldn’t handle, but he continues to strike me as very unstable. And this is me saying it, so you can imagine what I mean when I say unstable. Anyway, we got to Sveldheim and, before we continued on to Sutherland, Samuel told the others that he’d dreamed that we should go into the Deep to recover something. I know these surfacers put a lot into their gods and dreams, but surely they’ve at least heard of the Deep before, right? Turns out, they treat those stories of the Deep how we treat their stories of the gods and were convinced that they’d be fine. I know, right? Insulting, it is, but I was aching for a fight and were better to cut loose than down below? Who knows? We might actually survive this.

We traveled under the mountains until we reached Ironforge in all its glory and while part of me wanted to stick around and soak in the dwarven ‘culture’ I’d been missing for so long, we started down. We got supplies, probably not enough, some information and away we went. Almost got killed right out the gate though, as some Umber Hulks burrowed right into us on day one. I told the lot not to look the beasts in the eyes, but you’d think I hadn’t for how often they panicked and ran. Still, we were able to beat the creatures back, so that’s a few less Hulks for the rest of you to deal with, right? It did sober up the others in the group though, as they were beginning to see how much this could be more than they anticipated.

What’s this? A pint for me? Well, if you insist, but it was just a few Hulks.

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Failure
Dax

We were unable to recover any sort of reward from Dagon for his son’s rescue. Fulgin offered to cover his father’s debt. Why would he do that? Was he shaming me for what must appear to him to be an overly greedy attitude? Was he trying to make a point about not trying to collect the debt from Dagon? Was it his way of apologizing for his father’s arrogance? Whatever he was thinking, I can’t help but think that he’s missing the point.

It’s my job, as party treasurer, to make sure we have enough money to keep adventuring. Horses have to be purchased, ferries must be paid, and everyone has to eat. We have a little saving built up. We can go a little longer before we start to starve, but eventually we need income.

A good merchant makes money no matter what the market does. Whether the market is high or low, a merchant finds a way to profit. That’s how adventuring should be. An adventurer needs to find a way come out on top of whatever happens. It was my job to find a way to turn Fulgin’s capture into a profitable event, and I failed. Fulgin’s offer to pay me personally doesn’t help.

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Hmmmp -_-

I don’t know why, but I have been so grumpy lately. I have this unquenchable thirst to punch Dax and Fulgan, but usually I can get it under control. This past week though, I just had to really fight not stabbing them in the throat with my poison dagger. I’ve also had this really strange obsession with skulls. It may have led me to chop the head off this poor amateur who kidnapped Fulgan. I mean, I probably should have let him go with a few less fingers, but I really shouldn’t have sliced his head off.

Who am I kidding..that kid totally deserved. I’m teaching them to not take jobs unless they are 100% sure they can handle the response. Look at that, teaching the impressionable ones. Huh, I guess I could be a teacher. Haha.

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It turns out smugglers deal in many things

After we disposed the old baron, we stuck in town long enough for the feast. Not the best feast I’ve ever been to, but by far much better than the fair I’ve had since the war. While we feasted and drank, our group decided to track down a shipment of silver that the old baron had smuggled out of the region in hopes of finding out who his associates were.

What? No, we couldn’t just ask him since he died. Remember? And apparently he was one of those kinds who plays things close to his chest. Didn’t keep his guards in the loop any more than he had to. So, yeah, we had to track down the shipment.

We stomped a small group of bandits on our way here, but I think wasting this much breath on them is more than they were worth… though they did have an owlbear that they drove into us. That was fun, but we had it more than a little outnumbered. Anyways, we got into town and the others started planning, searching and scheming. Turns out they found a local warehouse used by the smugglers and slipped in over night to check it out. They say they found the ore, but didn’t take it. I guess we follow it then? I don’t know. I mostly spent my time here, drinking swill so foul that I’m sure I can piss a better brew, but the company was more to my liking than most places I’ve been before. A friendly pat on the back and a fist to the jaw to make you feel welcome, you know what I mean?

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Shouting about bones in the warehouse
Dax

Ledgers are great. From the ledger in the warehouse we learned these useful facts:

1. We’re on the trail of the silver ore.
2. The silver ore smuggling operation is choked up because of lacked of funds.
3. The silver ore is headed to Stillwater in Cana
4. Someone is smuggling gunpowder to Redmeadow in Hamil
5. Someone else is smuggling bones to Bayacre in Sutherland
6. There must be an active necromancer in Sutherland (according to our new friend Kels, that’s what the bones mean)

Isn’t it great to know things?

We were planning to hunt down Bradley’s co-conspirator, but I’m not sure that’s so important. Some person has agreed to buy stolen ore. They might not even know it’s stolen. Now that the new Baron is in charge in Redford, the ore will stop flowing. There’s no great good to be done, or wrong to avenge, or even an ongoing problem to stop (or money to be made). However, it looks like there’s a necromancer in Bayacre. A necromancer cannot be up to any good. There’s a good chance we can find someone who will pay top him. We’ll find people who need to be saved. Bayacre is the right place for our little band to go. I’m beginning to see that our band doesn’t just run on Gold. We need intrigue to keep Yoon interested. Apparently Fulgen requires our actions to have some sort of poetic justice. As treasurer of our band, it is my responsibility to make sure the band has what it needs to keep doing whatever it is that we do. Therefore, I must insist that we divert to Bayacre immediately. It’s what’s best for the party.

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Today is a good day
Dax

For the first time in a long time, I have no outstanding jobs. We didn’t actually get paid, but the job is done. Our purses are full. My accounts are current. I’m getting the hang of this new mercenary lifestyle. I feel like my new life has finally begun. It’s time to go have more adventures.

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