Where to begin? We were fighting a drider. I nearly died—only miraculously survived. I was unconscious, but I must have been dragged to safety by my companions. There’s a strange pain in my shoulder, as if I was dragged from just that point, and what appear to be… teeth marks? Wait. Did Suyolle save me?? I don’t know whether to be insulted or grateful. I suppose I have saved him before. And I am alive to tell the story. I’ll be grateful.
It’s weird that sometimes emotion is a choice.
The drider escaped, from what I understand—or we escaped him. After resting up, we went back into the cave, but the drider didn’t bother us again. We suspect it’s behind some boulders we decided not to move, not that we had the means to move them, anyway.
According to Myrddin, an undead Devotian Guard said there was a “lightning dragon beast” in our mine. We found new gouges—huge gouges; if it’s not an actual dragon, it’s certainly big enough to be scary—in the rock suggesting that it’s still alive. Based on the tracks, we suspect that while we were resting up, the dragon beast walked to the cavern in which we fought the drider, ate some spiders—there were a few spider legs that “didn’t look very good”—and wandered back to its half of the mine. Fortunately, we never came across it. I suspect that if we had, I may have died for real.
In that cavern, we found a lot of spider webs, but no remaining spiders. I cast gust of wind and cleared out all but the strongest strands of the web. Our other option was to burn them all, but we didn’t want to risk destroying any armor or other trinkets left by the other members Devotian Guard. The remaining strands turned out to be trip-wire traps. Erevan was dexterous enough to maneuver through the strands, and I took on the form of a spider to effortlessly climb through them, while Myrddin, Tom, and Cheney hung back. On the far side, we found the aforementioned boulders separating us from the drider, and more boulders hanging from the ceiling, ready to fall should the trip-wires be disturbed. With just the two of us, we didn’t want to venture too much further, and while we did find a leather tube, seemingly seamless, for carrying documents, we unfortunately did not find any more Devotian Guard armor. I guess we’ll leave that—and the drider and dragon beast—for the Slatebacks to find.
Having decided we were finished exploring the mine, as we were heading toward the entrance, we ran across four hook horrors. They didn’t last long.
Now outside the mine, at around 9:30 in the morning if memory serves, the dwarves decided to get drunk. No wonder they have so many cousins. I guess I get it, in Tom’s case. He did lose a brother—his only remaining relative. And Myrddin’s never been one to let someone drink alone.
Regardless, it left Erevan and me time to search out the cause of the elk population imbalance and dire wolf migration. It turned out not to have anything to do with the gray death—nor even magic—at all. The elk patriarch had merely gotten sick—some sort of brain tumor—and its instincts to fight for supremacy amongst its herd became an instinct to fight any and all male elk. With the elk population in decline, the dire wolves had to search for other food sources in other regions. Regrettably, with no means to capture and restrain the elk, and with—somehow—the drunken advice of Myrddin twittering in my ear, Erevan and I decided the elk must be put down. One arrow and one whack of a magic-enhanced staff, took the poor beast down. I dissected him, discovering the brain tumor, and I took a sample in an empty potion bottle. Erevan took the elk’s antlers. We burned the rest.
Returning to where we left the dwarves, we discovered Magursus—also drinking merrily with our companions, all singing—quite out of key—dwarven drinking songs.
When Timmy was a wee lad
He ran away from home
He yearned to meet a dryad
So far he had to roam
Tommy chased right after him
‘Cause twins you cannot part
Timmy tripped and banged his head
Tom wheeled m’back in a cart
I try not to get drunk. I don’t know whether it’s more impressive to me that they can rhyme while intoxicated, or more impressive to them the valor of Tim they seemed to find in those lyrics. Dwarves.
Anyway, Grumpy McMagursus seemed much less grumpy and more energetic with a little drink in him. Come to think of it, where did the dwarves pull that liquor from? I don’t recall seeing it before. I suspect they hide things in their beards. Maybe I’ll search one while they’re asleep some night.
I told Magursus about the elk and what we had to do. He knew the elk, personally, I guess. We confirmed from the sample of the tumor that there was nothing magical about it, then burnt the sample. Next, he took me out of earshot of the others. It turns out Magursus is Great Bear. He had been testing me to see if I could follow orders, no matter how trivial. I must admit, I had been picturing this task to be much larger than one sick elk. It’s unclear how much he knew of this task when he assigned it to me. He seemed to indicate that he knew it would be a small task, but he hadn’t known which elk was sick (we had to show him the antlers before he recognized him), or maybe even if a sick elk was the cause.
The ritual is sacred and secret. Odds are, someday, someone besides me (or another druid I suppose) will read this journal, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. I will say, though… was I on the moon?
I woke the next morning—back in Tenebris—somehow rested and not at the same time. We walked down the river until we got back to our boats, and took the rest of the trip back to Black Tree Village. They were, understandably, very upset by Larf’s‘s death. His son, Ralf went so far as to challenge us to a duel, to-the-death. Tom, who had his own loss to mourn, took up the challenge; he knocked Ralf out, but did not kill him. We also paid Larf’s death price of 1000c, which, while not making everything better, allowed most of the goblins to move from anger at us, to mourning Larf’s death. In the morning, Ralf sheepishly approached Tom. He doesn’t know much Common, so Tovaric translated. Ralf was requesting to be Tom’s squire, and Tom accepted. Maybe those two will help each other handle their losses.
Now we’re back in Aofie’s Stand. The Orange Company has arrived here too. They were worried we’d failed in our task. I know that we we’re tasked—and paid—by them, but I can’t help but feel a little… disdain for the group (or any group) of mercenaries. I don’t trust them, and when they met us on the river to escort us back to town, I was a worried it might not be on good terms. We decided to hide Erevan’s cloak that we’d found on the body of the Devotian Guard. Ironically, despite allowing the bearer to move about more stealthily, it’s also immediately recognizable. In the tube we found, were a map and a journal. We showed these (just copies of the map) to Ardis Slateback and to our Orange Company contact. We’ll sell the original map to our map enthusiast down in Lisrim’s Landing. I suspect there’s more than a historian to that man.
While with Ardis, Myrddin helped negotiate terms between the Black Tree Tribe and the Slateback Prospector’s Guild, and also got them to agree to name the mine after Tim. I want the agreement to be fair, but given society’s attitude toward goblins, I also want the agreement to favor the goblins a little so that the actual outcome of the arrangement is fair. But if the arrangement obviously favors the goblins—if the Slatebacks feel cheated—then those feelings will result in them taking resenting the goblins, which will hurt the goblins in the end. Negotiation is so tricky. I’m glad I wasn’t involved. What we need is to find a good blacksmith—a good man—who will take a few goblins as apprentices. Blood would build stronger ties than coin ever could. But, as Tovaric says, these ties will have to build very slowly if they’re going to work. Goblins are too mistrusted and mistreated.
Anyway, I’m officially a Druid of the Land now. To Timmy!