By Beth Griese
Date: June 20, 1998
|Borreau||Blonde Human||Tempus Cleric||Brian Smith|
|Lorivar Menasson||Short, dark, & hairy||Monk||Vaughan Herron|
|Telaran||1/2 Elf, Buzz Cut||Fighter||Jim Gaynor|
|Verence Gallow||Thin human||Mystra Cleric||Kent Jenkins|
Quote of the Day:
"We killed their mind flayer. They're going to lose their deposit." -- Kent
"We run like sissies." -- Kent
To Garen Thundersson, cleric of Mielikki. From your faithful friend, Jade.
Our time had run out. We had to either brave the guarded gates of the canyon in front of us or plunge into the black mountain behind us. We didn't debate long; instead, we made plans for our assault on the guardtowers ahead. Verence and Borreau prepared to cast spells that would cover the watch posts in darkness and warp the wood of the gates so that we could sneak through. At least, that was our plan.
Our first hint that something was not going to be ordinary was when the dark cloud on the south cliff face split into a second darkness bubble. We tried our best to tear straight ahead through the blind fire of arrows and rocks that were being thrown from the guard posts. One of the merchants was hit with a crossbow bolt, but I pushed him through the first gate before he even realized he was through. We had to get past these gates.
Our second hint that something was not right was when we got between the two gates. The fire we were taking was still scattered and blind, but I realized it was now all concentrated between the gates instead of before the first gate. Somehow, the guards were getting word on our progress. Plus, another bubble of blackness had appeared beside the other guard post. Lorivar shot into one of the bubbles and hit something inside. I pulled out my bow and shot into it again, while Telaran shot the other bubble, and both bubbles fell to the ground. We still couldn't see what was inside, so Borreau scrambled over to one, reaching blindly in the dark, while Verence kept working on the spell to get us through the second gate. I sent a few more arrows into one of the guard towers just to keep these monsters off-balance and was rewarded with some rumbling grunts of pain.
As Verence cleared a hole in the second gate, things got more complicated. Borreau produced a prize from the blackness he had been searching that I don't want to know how he managed to free from their original home - the fingers of a drow. It figured - the darkness concealed dark elves. I suddenly hoped they hadn't been completely dead yet when they plummeted from the sky. But our more immediate problem was a live one; as we rushed the second gate, a new creature appeared in front of us. It stood about the height of a man, but with scaly, wormlike skin, eyes not like anything I've seen before, and a mass of tentacles where its mouth should have been. It wore robes like an civilized race, although it never spoke, and it leveled its gaze on the merchant right in front of it. The merchant dropped everything he held, screamed hideously, then dropped to the ground like a sack of meal with blood dripping from his ears. As my stomach dropped into my feet, the creature disappeared.
Our plan hadn't changed. We all rushed for the gate with even greater enthusiasm than before. Borreau got hit across his side by a rock before we had reached our turn through the gate, and once again I helped push an injured person through a small, warped crevice in a log gate although with more care this time. When we had all made it through and we were starting to believe we had a chance for escape, my heart that had been beating like a deer's suddenly went still as a stone as the horrible creature appeared again, this time right next to my husband. For some reason I will never understand but will always thank Mielikki for, the creature turned not to Borreau on its right, but the merchant on his left. This man went through an even worse fate than the first; his head burst apart as if it had been dashed against the cliff itself.
I think about five of us rushed this thing at once. I'm fuzzy on the details - my main concern was getting it away before it turned to Borreau next. Lorivar was the first to reach it with a flying kick to its head - and the stocky fellow passed right through the creature as if it were an illusion. But we knew illusions from Nory - no illusion could make a head explode. We had almost forgotten that rocks and arrows were still falling on us, until one crunched Telaran's shoulder and bounced forward into the monster and also passed right through it.
For a breath, it felt like the battle stood still. No new rocks fell, no shouts could be heard, the Wayfarers all paused as one. And then ran. We gathered up our two merchant friends who had survived, made sure no one was being left behind, and ran from that cursed mountain as fast as we could. As I was making distance from the gates, I remembered that time I ran away from the mother bear who had roared loud enough to make my young ears ring. And you had told me that "no hunter should be fool enough to not know when she has no business hunting." We had no business hunting there, not at the moment. Maybe another day. But right then, and for hours afterward, we struck in the direction of the town Nory had seen from the sky. I hid our tracks behind us when we left the main road, and we didn't stop until well into the night, when our legs threatened to collapse beneath us and we probably would have had to carry our merchant friends to go any further.
It was in the early morning hours, when Borreau and Verence were on watch, that they heard an approach. Our pursuit had found us at last. We roused to our feet blearily and Telaran brought his sword to flame to show us the approach of a monstrous troll and six drow, two of them on lizard creatures the size of low-slung horses.
I charged the riders in back; they were already showing signs of casting spells. Verence used one of those words that wounds evil creatures, and one of the drow in front fell before he had even been touched. It was a good start, and I had wounded another of the foot soldiers as I passed, but then the spell-casters got their words into play. Magic bolts buried themselves in Telaran's chest, and Borreau and I were suddenly stuck like statues. I'm amazed I didn't fall over. Even breathing was torturous, trying to get air in and out of lungs that wouldn't move. My rage almost choked me; to stand so close to such evil and not be able to wrap my hands around its throat. As the battle started to join in earnest around us, I heard Verence shout something new, and now I did fall to ground as my body was suddenly freed again. I was scrambling to close the distance to the lizard riders before I had even fully regained my feet.
Telaran was behind us, fighting the troll with his flaming sword. One of the merchants, who was still resting from his injuries, died as one of the cowardly drow footmen stole up on him and slit his throat. Thankfully, the bastard creature didn't live to enjoy his deed for long - the lone remaining merchant from the caves, the only one who had known something of weapons before this, ran right up to the drow screaming for vengeance and skewered the dark elf's head with a point-blank shot from his crossbow.
Meanwhile, I had a drow at the end of my sword, a female, which I was quickly learning meant one of the leaders and a dangerous creature. She looked across my blade at me and demanded our surrender. I answered by teaching her what my blade is for. We fought without any more words while Lorivar attacked the lizard mounts beneath the two drow. My dagger finally found a home in the witch's throat, near the same time that Telaran brought a fiery end to the troll behind us. The two of us squared off on the other drow rider. But behind us, Borreau had run into trouble with the woman footman who survived, and his cry as he rolled on the ground away from a killing blow pulled me away from the rider. The rider was killed when Lorivar knocked her for a loop, she turned her back on Telaran, and ended up with his blade sunk between her shoulder blades. It took Borreau and I a little longer to defeat the footwoman who fought like a demon, but we finally had six drow corpses and one burning troll creating a stench around us.
That was the only pursuit that found us. Two more days of travel brought us at last to a town. We found that we were in Proskur, about a week away from a barge to Suzail. We offered the final member of the merchant crew, a young fighter named Stett, a position as a guardsman at Weston's Castle. He agreed to come along to see whether the place looked like a home to him. And we would get ourselves to Suzail as fast as we possibly could to pass on the news of this plot against Cormyr we had found. We had a fairly impressive-looking pile of treasures from our battles, including a pot of magic ointment I was given that made my sword even sharper and more dangerous than it was before. And I had still more reason to hunt down the drow that infested our kingdom than ever before.
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