Darksoul

Sam Holbig 12
Sam's Story

20th of Wintermarch, 9:42 Dragon

As it turns out, stopping in Ostagar was more or less a waste of time, as everyone who was worth talking to had apparently decided to just forget about the whole bandit thing for a while and head to the next town over for a festival of some sort. Apparently there was a medicine woman there who could help us track down some shadow moss, so it was in our best interests to head over, as well. So, we hopped back on our horses and headed out that way, and soon found ourselves in a big open field full of food tents, games, and general revelry. Enna wandered off pretty early on to sample the brewer’s wares, and seemed to be enjoying herself. Me, I wasn’t in much of a festive mood; a little too distracted by the bandits and our moss hunt to feel like partying, to be honest.

In an effort to try and make some forward progress, the lads and I tried to track down this medicine woman and ask her help in finding our moss. We were told she was already out in the wilds somewhere, so we decided to go looking for her — but we had to be careful, the locals warned, because there are tribals out there in the wilds, and they don’t take kindly to Northerners like us poking around in their lands. (The medicine woman apparently has some tribal blood in her, so the wild folk are more willing to play nice with her.) We kept an eye out, but didn’t see much of anything — medicine woman or tribal — and elected to head back before it got too dark.

When we got back to town, we found that apparently this elusive healer had slipped by without any of us knowing and made it back already; she was sitting in the big main tent, waiting for the town sheriff to give his festival-opening schpiel. It was a bit annoying that none of us had managed to spot her, but to be honest I’d half-expected that she’d get in trouble somehow and we’d have to go fight off more darkspawn and rescue her, so at least we wouldn’t have to deal with that. (Turns out I was celebrating a bit prematurely there, but more on that in a moment.) More happily, we also found out that apparently Tracii had finally woken up and made her way down here, and had brought a human fighting-man with her. Perhaps he’ll end up roped into all this questing nonsense, as seems to be the trend for this party. Incidentally, I wonder how he and Tracii made it past the bandits? Neither of them strike me as the sneaking type, and I doubt they fought their way past with just the two of them. Maybe they got lucky?

Anyway. We went into the tent to go find the medicine woman, and arrived just as the sheriff was starting his speech. Or trying to, anyway — the man had barely opened his mouth when we heard screams and howls from outside, and then a trio of jaundiced-looking wildmen cut their way into the tent with axes. Because of course they did. We managed to take them down, but the bastards took a cussedly long time to die; even with blades and arrows stuck through them, they refused to fall until their bodies shut down from shock. They managed to get some good hits in on us, too. I know Legnar got cut, and one of them managed to stick an axe in me before dying. It looks like there’s something nasty on their blades as well, which I imagine can’t be good for us. Now we DEFINITELY have to go talk to the medicine woman — just as soon as we’ve finished murdering our way through a few more frothing berserkers. No rest for the weary, I suppose.

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Alalen 12
Alalen's Story

1/20/15

-Met the innkeeper in Ostogar and then traveled South

Arrived in town, explored the festival until the event at night. –
Nice festival, though I can’t say I like these crowds. At least there are some elven faces. This performer seems like a fine fellow.

Fought off the Rager assault –
Big, ugly, and_berserking_ men. Just what this festival needed. I knew this tent was going to be trouble, but I thought it would come from the people IN it!

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Sam Holbig 11
Sam's Story

6th of Wintermarch, 9:42 Dragon

Our trip back to Lothering was quiet. I chatted a bit with Tom Sharpeyes — he’s apparently in much the same boat I am, looking for adventure and silver in any place that isn’t Ostwick — and briefly talked with the knight, Sir Korben. Apparently he and Alenka were in on this “fake a kidnapping of the Arl’s children” plot, though they never bothered to inform old Tom. Seems they mostly just want better pay and a change of scenery (a familiar story by now, hey?), and someone in the group finally hit on the idea that having them simply come back to Aneth Ara with us might be a less trousers-on-head way of going about getting that. So we dropped the kids off with the Arl, got paid, and then… ergh… decided to head on to the Korcari Wilds, doing something about the bandit camp that’s troubling Ostagar on the way.

… Hold on, I need another drink.

All right, so, here’s the gist of it. I don’t quite remember how he figured this out, but Legnar informed us that the bandit camp that’s causing all the trouble was a lot bigger than we had thought, say around 100 men or so. No small obstacle, to be sure. So we spent the next Maker-knows-how-long arguing about the best way to deal with the problem, and whether we even WANTED to deal with the problem right now. Ultimately, the issue seemed to boil down to the fact that no one with the manpower to try and stamp out the bandits could be arsed to go out there and chase ‘em down, and vice-versa. Eventually we settled on the plan of skirting around the bandit camp for now, with Legnar sneaking in to see if there was anything we could do about them.

Well, as it turned out, Legnar’s sources had been wrong about the size of the bandit camp. It wasn’t 100 men, it was 200 at least, along with various hangers-on. That’s not a bandit camp, that’s a bloody army! How the hell are that many cutpurses supporting themselves on nought but silver taken from hapless travelers?! And how the hell did the locals let the problem get so bad in the first place? As it happened, the berth we were giving the camp to avoid the patrols wasn’t nearly enough, and we had a number of close calls that evening with bandit patrols. Patrols! Proper fucking patrols! The fucking Lothering guard are less concerned about securing their fucking perimeter! Anyway, we somehow managed to avoid getting in a fight with any of the bandits; much rock-throwing was involved. Ultimately Legnar caught up with us (and because it was so dark, the whole thing was a mite more tense than it needed to be, but that’s just gravy at this point) and told us that there was basically nothing we could do to make the bandit camp any easier to attack. So we kept walking to Ostagar, and after convincing them we weren’t bandits ourselves, found that the whole place is a shambles because the bandits keep nicking all their supplies, and Denerim can’t be bothered to deal with the problem, and now we’re stuck in the arse-end of nowhere with a bunch of losers and a bandit infestation that’s only going to get worse and no good way to get reinforcements and—-

Gah. GAH. This whole situation reeks worse than wet nuggalope shite, and it’s making my head hurt. I need ale. Or something to stab. Possibly both.

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Legnar Umlaut Contract # 4
Where the Rich things are

Contract Start: Where the Rich things are

Mission: Find missing children and return them safely to the town Baron.
Reward: Coinage

We traveled toward the forest north of Lothering, under the guidance of Alenka, and nothing of interest happen until we discover a flash within the trees. The group moves to investigate. Upon our arrival, there were about seven dark-spawned wolfs surrounding a qunari. We rush to aid the qunari, but as we approached it started making hand gestures and shortly after, BAM!!! another flash of light and the wolfs were down. The qunari introduces herself as Tracii, which by the way is another tal-vashoth (are their qunari in this world), another spellcaster in search for knowledge within a certain library . Apparently, she had lost her way and is unsure on way the library is. Since the group is traveling through the country, we offer companionship with her quest as we explore Ferelden. Thus we continued north. To another chasm…… (I lived under a mountain all my life, and I haven’t seen this many chasm in such a short amount of time.

This one did had a bridge. Had is the key word here. Something cut down the bridge, and guessing is was the dark-spawned the attacked us from behind. Gen-locks and couple of wolfs, these are the more intellect of the dark-spawn creatures that this group as handled before, and they came with tactics too! Cutting the bridge and pushing down the chasm for a quick kill. Nothing I haven;t seen before, but the others not to much. A couple of friend went over the cliff side but didn’t fall, our newest member being one of them, but lucky enough no major injuries. We finished the locks started the arduous task of crossing the chasm, but did make to over and repaired the bridge so we don’t have the same problem again. After a little time traveling Alenka called to a rest.

We setup a small area to prepare a meal, split up to gather meat from hunting. I decided to go with Alalen while the other stayed behind. Hunting was….. strange. The first animal we came across was a one-horned deer, and not like was missing a horn. One horn smack in the middle of is head. Alalen and I agreed to not kill the beast and decide to feed it with one of the trail rations on my person. We were about to leave, the (deer-icorn, unideer?) leap off, then looked at us as if it wanted us to follow it. So we did. The deericorn lead us to a hidden gen with all types of creature that I haven’t see before. Then the deericorn lead us to a log and hidden in the log was three gold coins!!! (not bad for doing nature a favor. I split my finding with Alalen) We headed back to the group, with no kill to be had, but Alenka approached us before to gotten to the rest of the group, with a proposition. She claims that the Alr (the proper name is the baron of the town) is withholding a large amount of money and barely throwing a few scraps for the safe arrival for his children. She claims that he should pay tenfold for this job and suggest in delaying in returning the kid to him for a bit of time. (Now I’m completely for making a corrupt nobleman sweat, but I have to honor the group if they wish to not follow this extreme plan). Alalen, quickly declined the plan, see that he follows an elven faith that has deep ties with family. I left my opinion open, awaiting to see if anyone was for this….plan. Once Alenka was turned down, she noticed that we didn’t have any game from the hunt and set off on her own.

We returned to camp and discovered the Alenka has been asking the entire group one by one about her proposal. Most of the group members immediately declined the proposal (not surprising) but not Enna. We it over, trying to see if it was worth trying to convince the group, but decided the group would be to stubborn to change they decision. Alenka returned to the camp, with a sizable kill too…. we had our meal a set of toward the meeting point. During the final trek toward the meeting point, just before night night sky was upon us, a couple of blighted birds swooped down on us. Nothing that the ranged combatant couldn’t handle. Nevertheless, this is not a good sign on what is to come.

Nightfall arrives as the group arrives at a turned over carriage with the scene of a battle. Multiple bodies are around the area (some that drew Sam’s attention) and trail of tracks headed towards the forest, we expected the worst. I search the carriage, finding confirmation that it is the carriage we are meeting up with (as well a hefty coin purse for the Alr. Which he won’t be missing soon). The observation was made that there as no bodies of children was found, and the group quickly made off into the forest, following the trails. The trail lead to a dried on riverbed emptied out towards a cliff side, two survivors of the guard party between an approaching band of Genlocks and the children up on a hilltop. The guards are outnumbers 3 to 1 and ill equipped of handle the oncoming attack, so naturally, the group moves to intercepts the Genlocks.

Sam, Alenka, and I bolt through the riverbed, while Alalen and Enna start firing arrows across it, Alalen approaching the riverbed hoping to cross it shortly after. Tracii, however, seems to starting gestures of something and shortly collapsed unconscious where she stood. We intercepted the Gen-locks, halting there advance to soon discovers a pack a blighted wolf that flank form the back of the hill in a direct attack toward the children (I know, I said that these Gen-locks have tactic last time we fought them, but this take intelligence. Which is starting to worry me). Luckily, Alalen headed directly towards the wolves. Even so, the was still a number of Darkspawn to deal with, and the were slowly advance towards the children. We did not falter and drove the blighted creatures to the grave. As a matter of fact, the children actually stood there ground! After the battle was done, I was told that the young lass was an aspiring mage! She cast some…thing (magic is still estrange to me. Plus, I thought that came from Tracii) then pass out shortly after. Also, apparently the young lad brandish a sword and lunged in front of Alalen, striking a formidable blow onto one of the blighted wolves. If these children continue on these path, may just maybe, their could be an inspiring noble for the town of Lothering (or at least a handful for the current Alr).

With the battle over, we started to breath easily. Sam also knew one of the guards with the kids. Apparently, their are old militia buddies of their hometown. So we geared up a made way toward the carriage and started the way back to Lothering. Along the way, Alenka as very persistence in taking multiple “rest” throughout the return trip with the aid of the other guard (not Sam’s old buddy) Apparently, the guard, or knight Sir Korben, was in on the delaying the children from getting back to the Alr (making him sweat it out) and is the reason why the children aren’t back on schedule, making the Alr find and third party. Alenka often looked toward Enna and I for support within this matter, but their was no way to change the mind of our fellow member (without show of force. Which I’ll never do to friend. Side note: Am I really considering this group my friends?). We questioned Alenka and Sir Korben on why are they doing this, discovered that their are tried of working under the Alr. The planed on using the gold received to move any from Lothering and start anew. We offered a different solution. To come to the small town, Aneta Ara (that the original group started). I gave the coin purse I found in carriage as incentive, and the accepted. They rest of the trip was uneventfully (finally) and head to the Alr manor.

Contract Complete
Reward: One gold from the Alr, three gold from the hunting trip split with Alalen, two new settlers for Aneta Ara, and one new adventure to the group.

Overall, this contract started to seem like a standard retrieve and return contract, but is became another form of corrupt nobles throwing their so called “weight” around. These time someone attempted to push back, be it the wrong way, but still an attempt. Still gold as been acquired and a new member for the group. Who is still unconscious (strange the young lass was up a about after a couple of hours after her magic episode. Why hasn’t Tracii). We look to Daryel for a reason, but he doesn’t understand either. So our best bet was to leave Tracii within the local Chantry (So much for our new member, hopefully she will be recovered be the time we return). Now is time to start heading toward our original destination, The Kocari Wilds!

—For those who are reading this book, These are the adventures of Legnar Umlaut. They are contract summaries that he has taken along the course of journey to find his missing sibling. Please note, everything within these brackets, ( ), are his personal thoughts the matter.

If found, please return this book to the Umlaut caste within Orzammar

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Alalen 11
Alalen's Story

1/6/16

We discovered that not only did Sam know one of the guards from his brigade, but that guard was also in on Alenka’s schemeing. We managed to convince them that if they were after a new start, we could offer them a better option than trying to extort the Arl. They agreed to join us in traveling to Aneta Ara when we returned.

We then brought the children and a still unconscious Tracii back to Lothering. The Arl paid us, and we left Tracii at the chantry, as none of us could figure out what else to do with her, and thought it best we not try to sneak past the bandits to the south with a catatonic talvashoth in tow.

We resupplyed and left. While on the road, I spotted a group of armed men riding towards us on the road. We left the road, and then realized there were even more bandits in the hills with us. We rushed back to Lothering, where our warnings of the bandit activity fell on deaf ears. We left again under cover of darkness, this time actually sneaking around the camp.

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Sam Holbig 10
Sam's Story

9th of Haring, 9:41 Dragon

First, a quick apology: it’s been a long day and I’m tired, so some of this may be a bit muddled.

After taking our rest, we elected to keep traveling through the night, since we were on a pretty tight schedule and didn’t want to keep the Arl’s children waiting. Of course, there’s a reason most right-thinking people don’t generally do this, and we were soon beset by the inevitable darkspawn as we made our way through the woods. This time it was a pair of blighted eagles swooping out of the darkness; luckily, the mages soon had the area lit up bright as day, and we quickly dispatched the annoying birds.

We made it through the rest of the night and the next day without significant incident, and around sunset we found ourselves at the children’s carriage. To the surprise of absolutely no one, it had been raided by darkspawn. We found a couple of dead guards, but the children themselves (and the rest of the party) seemed to have fled elsewhere. This was a bit of a shock, though: among the dead guards I saw old Burl Magven from the Ostwick garrison! I wonder what brought him out here? He had naught on him but his clothes, gear, and a small purse of silver; I took the silver to send back to his family, and gave him something like a field burial with the rest.

Of course, we couldn’t tarry long there, as the children and what was left of their guard was clearly still wandering around somewhere. We followed the tracks, and eventually came to a hill near a dried-up riverbed, where a knight and one last guard were protecting the kids against an approaching horde of darkspawn. Poor bloody idiot was only armed with a crossbow — powerful, sure, but not the best thing for crowd control. Luckily, we arrived just in the nick of time; we managed to intercept the darkspawn horde before it reached them, and even spotted and took down a pack of blight wolves that were trying to outflank the group. Even the kids got in on the action! The young lad is a reasonably-deft hand with a sword (if a bit short on common sense, seeing as how he thought it prudent to go charging a blight wolf instead of hiding behind Alalen), and apparently the girl is a mage, though she fainted after only one spell. Can’t blame her for that, really — hell, Tracii did the same thing (our only casualty in the fight), so apparently it’s just a mage thing.

Once the shouting was over, we regrouped with the children and their one remaining guard. And surprise surprise, it turns out Mr. Crossbow is a familiar face as well — it’s my old garrison mate Tom Sharpeyes! I’ll have to ask what brought him and Burl out here, once we’ve knocked back a few ales.

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Alalen 10
Alalen's Story

12/9/15

Having already rested, we decided to continue on through the night, as we were on a somewhat tight schedule to meet with the children’s existing escort. In hindsight, this was perhaps not the best decision, as the forest at night belongs to darkspawn.

We were attacked by a pair of blighted owls – or maybe eagles. It’s hard to tell what something was before the Blight took hold of it. In any case we killed them and continued on.

It didn’t take us long before we found yet another trashed caravan, the sights of which I’m getting distinctly tired of. We searched it, finding little of use. Sam apparently recognized one of the dead guards from his old garrison, and took the man’s ouch of coins to send back home.

We didn’t find the children, which was a good sign, as were the tracks leading away from the destroyed carriage. We followed them to a dried up river bed. On the other side, two surviving guards defended the children we were supposed to be protecting from a small horde of darkspawn. They were woefully ill-equipped to handle that many opponents, but thus far they had performed quite well.

Half of us dashed across the horse to get between the darkspawn and the besieged guards. Tracii made some gestures, and then just dropped unconcious. I spotted a pair of blight wolves flanking the group to attack the children, and interposed myself between them. At this point, the young boy showed remarkable courage, and a complete lack of judgement, and rushed past me to attack the wolves himself. I was able to intervene before he got more than a scratch. His sister did something, and then also passed out.

We eventually managed to deal with all of the darkspawn.

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Sam Holbig 9
Sam's Story

25th of Firstfall, 9:41 Dragon

Well, this has been an exciting trip so far. We met Alenka and started making our way north, but were barely out of sight of Lothering when we heard an almighty “BANG” come from somewhere up ahead of us. We arrived just in time to see a great big Tal-Vashoth setting fire to some darkspawn with her magic. (She says she’s a “she,” at any rate. Me, I almost have to take her word for it. And yes, for those of you keeping score at home, that’s TWO Tal-Vashoth and no actual bloody Qunari as of yet, not that I’m complaining.) The Tal-Vashoth introduced herself as Tracii, and mentioned something about looking for a library or somesuch out here. Naturally, we offered her a place in the party, since Emery seems to have gotten bored and wandered off more-or-less permanently at this point.

With that bit of excitement out of the way, we started making our way north again, only to get stopped by ANOTHER BLOODY CHASM. For Maker’s sake, where do all these damn things come from? And why don’t they label them on the fucking map, it’s not like they spring up overnight! (Then again, maybe the mapmakers just got sick of drawing holes in the ground all over the damn place!) This particular bloody chasm had a bridge over it once, but that’s gone now for whatever reason, because of course it is. Also, a pack of darkspawn — genlocks, I think they’re called? — tried to ambush us and collectively push us into the chasm while we were trying to figure out how to get across. I think Tracii might have gone over once, and a couple of the others came close, but mostly we just stabbed the annoying bastards until they ran away or stopped twitching.

Eventually we hit upon the brilliant idea of stringing a couple of ropes across the chasm via archery and gymnastics, and using that as a bridge to get across. The others, being some combination of lightly-equipped and nimble, made it across with no trouble. I am… neither of those things, shall we say, so there was a lot of bumping and cursing and a bit of falling down a cliff face on my part before I made it to the other side. Not my finest moment, to be sure, but at least I got there in the end. (In hindsight, I should have tied one of those ropes around myself, both for support and so that we’d have it with us for the next leg of the journey. Oh well, that’ll be a lesson for the next time we inevitably encounter another fucking chasm we have to get across.)

We were all pretty worn out by this point, so Alenka suggested we set up camp. She and I stood guard while Alalen and Legnar went to go find food, and Daryel and Tracii did… magic… things. (I don’t even remember at this point what Enna was up to. Maybe she helped with the hunting? Or went off to find more kidneys?) While we were on watch, Alenka suggested that perhaps the good Arl isn’t being as generous as he could be with his money, and that by setting up a fake “ransom” for his kids we could rack up a bit more coin from this errand he has us running. Well, I’m no fan of the man, but breaking a contract with an employer is a sure-fire way to stop getting contracts in the future, and I told Alenka I was having none of that. I couldn’t tell whether she was unhappy about that or not; maybe this was another of her tests? I hear she made the same offer to everyone else in the group, and from what I can gather no one took her up on it, which I’m perfectly fine with.

Also, Alalen and Legnar mentioned something about finding a one-horned deer in a magic sylvan glen. They may be on drugs. I’ll worry about that later.

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Legnar Umlaut Contract # 3
Assault on Shadow Moss

Contract Start: Assault on Shadow Moss
Mission: Head to the Kocari Wilds, gather Shadow moss, and return to the settlement.
(Due to the fact that I’m now in an agreement with other, I will no longer state the rewards on each contract given from the Archmage)

With the detestation set, I pull out my map see that the wilds will take us you multiple cities, and it does appear to be a long trip. The group decide a trip to Denerim to stock up on supplies and maybe find a blacksmith for the settlement (they REALLY need one!) Ennie did recieve a letter and after reading it, she said she’ll be heading they alone and meet up later. Nothing eventful happen within Denerim. Did have a chance to grab some throwing knives and trail ration to the weeks ahead and the group did find a blacksmith to start shop in the settlement too. Then we head out along the West Rode, first stop Lothering.

And we arrived in Lothering, with no issues. Only two day of travel and no unexpected visitors no sight of darkspawn… (counting this one as a blessing). The group splits in an attempt to gather information about the surrounding area. I head on my own and attempt to use some techniques I haven’t used since I left home, contacting the underground/shadow organization within the town. It seems that my language is similar to theirs, cause I do manage to contact them. “Not looking to get secrets or information about the town, just looking for any developments towards the south that I need to know of,” I say. They gave me info on a group of bandit the or stopping supplies of getting to Ostagar. I bid them thanks and farewell and return to the group to report in. Along the way, I spot a sort of training area. Seeing none of my companions around, a give a couple of minutes to spar. One thing I noticed is, while picking up the sparring sticks, that swinging the heavy swords has increased my arm strength, allowing me to deliver a bigger impact upon my foe (and unfortunately, my current sparring partner). With the added strength in my arms, I should be able to better defend myself against oncoming attack and pin weapons down to line up a more precise strike. (May I should a trainer to properly learn the way with fighting with a blade in each hand.)

Mid afternoon the group meets up and relays all information we gathered, and it’s a lot. Is seems we pick up a good number of tasks, three more to be exact. First is to escort someone to Denerim, this should be simple enough after acquiring the moss. Second is dealing with the bandit camp, not sure on what the condition is on the camp, nor how to deal with it (We will worry about this once we head toward Ostagar). And finally, the local Baron (Duke, mayor, rich nobleman, I don’t care) is offering payment to find and escort a caravan with his children back here safely (he least he care enough about them to pay someone to get them.). So we head out towards the north, with a guild to lead us to the children. The guide’s name is Alenka, servant of the rich sob. She is also an elf too, which probably means she is treated like dirt too, but there is little I can do about this.

Contract: Assault on Shadow Moss
Status: on hold

—For those who are reading this book, These are the adventures of Legnar Umlaut. They are contract summaries that he has taken along the course of journey to find his missing sibling. Please note, everything within these brackets, ( ), are his personal thoughts the matter.

If found, please return this book to the Umlaut cast within Orzammar

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Alalen 9
Alalen's Story

11/25/15

Not long after we set out, we heard a thunderous explosion and arrived on the scene to find a number of darkspawn apparently blown to pieces by a female Tal-Vashoth, who introduced herself as Tracii. She mentioned something about books, and we offered her the opportunity to join us until we returned to Denerim, where I’m told there is at least a passable library. I wouldn’t know. I can read, but most of the writings I’ve seen are in regards to this “Maker” the Chantry is obsessed with, and therefore they do not interest me.

We traveled on, and reached yet another chasm. The terrain in this land is nothing if not interesting some times. There used to be a bridge across, but it had long since collapsed. To make things even more interesting, we were attacked by a group of darkspawn – genlocks, someone said they are called.

We fought and the genlocks pushed Tracii in to the chasm a couple of times – what she was doing trying to stab one of them when she could have used magic, I will never understand. Eventually we killed or routed the creatures and then returned to the task of how to cross the chasm.

Enna and I tied ropes to arrows and shot them in to the bridge sports on the far side. After we attached the ropes to our side, we all started crossing. Most of us made it across without any trouble, but for Sam, him being a large man and wearing around lots of armor, it was not such a smooth affair. He fell down the side of the cliff, but managed to climb back up again.

At this point we decided to make camp for a while in order to rest. Legnar and I decided to go hunting while the mages rested, Sam standing guard over them with Alenka. I’m unsure what Enna was up to. What happened next I do not fully trust my memory of, and have resolved never to drink the water near that camp again as I believe it may have had something to do with it.

Legnar and I left the camp and began following animal tracks. We were successful in finding the creature that made them, but as it appeared to be a hare with antlers, I thought it best to not take it for food, as such a thing is just not natural.

And just when I thought the day could not get weirder, another strange creature appeared in the clearing with us. It was a deer, but instead of the antlers one would expect to find on the sides of its head, this bizarre beast had a single spike growing straight from its forehead. At this point, I declared the hunt a waste of time and shouldered my bow.

I was prepared to walk away and return to camp, when I noticed all of the other animals lining the edges of the clearing, watching us. Legnar had evidently decided that the deer – I know no other name for such a creature, even one as strange as this – was some sort of omen. I can only imagine it was something from Dwarven culture, of which I know very little. I resolved to stand very still, lest I spook any of the animals around us.

Legnar approached the deer to pet it. Every other deer I’ve ever seen would have fled in terror at the sight of something his size moving towards it, but this one stood it’s ground, and actually allowed Legnar to pet it’s nose. It then turned to walk away, looking back as though to tell us to follow. Thinking I must have gone completely mad, I opted to follow Legnar and the one-horned deer.

There must be something to whatever Dwarven legend Legnar was following, because the deer led us to an old tree. In its hollow, we found an old tattered purse containing several coins. Those coins are the main reason I do not discount the entire affair as some sort of fever dream, as they are very much real and I still have a few of them in my purse.

The deer then departed, leaving us – or me, at least – bewildered. Agreeing that we shouldn’t hunt anything in the deer’s forest – though I think for very different reasons – we returned to the camp.

Not far from where we had made camp, Alenka appeared from the forest and offered us a proposition. Rather than return immediately with the Arl’s children, we keep them in the wilderness and hold them for ransom. While I did not like the Arl, and in fact spent the majority of my meeting with him fantasizing about taking his kidneys and giving them to Enna as a gift, I flat out refused to be a part of extorting money from the man by using his children, particularly when I was already being paid to protect them. Killing a man is one thing, going after his family quite another, and I am morally opposed to the latter.

Legnar seemed far more amenable to her plan, but after hearing my objections and reasons for them, he also declined, a gesture for which I was extremely grateful. Alenka seemed slightly dejected, which I found concerning. I resolved to remain watchful of her until we had returned the children safely to Lothering.

When we returned to camp, the mages had finished whatever mysticism they had been doing, and the group was ready to set out. Sam looked at us as one would a madman when we explained why we were empty handed, for which I cannot blame him. we broke camp, and I quietly relayed what Alenka had said. Unsurprisingly, she had offered the same suggestion to Sam, which I was gratified to hear he declined.

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