Continuation of previous diary entry…
We carried the crates out of the temple and to the door in the hillside. Zao opened the seal at our request, and held it open as we carried all eleven crates of weapons out, and then the weapons and barrels of tar which had been in the guardroom of the temple. All together it totalled over two hundred weapons, and yet it was still not enough. The Militia stands at more six hundred and fifty people, all told, and that’s before you consider the need for spare weapons. We needed more. We had to go back in. Tolidar turned to me in fear at that prospect, stammering that he couldn’t go back – even before the attack of that shadow-creature, he had been shaken by all he had seen. I vaguely recalled that elves disliked going beneath the ground in general, though I have met only a few of them. I left him with some comforting words, trying at least to boost his failing spirits, and the rest of the party turned back. Again the door shut behind us, and we crossed the dark temple and descended the stairs. We went down to the second sub-level this time and at the bottom, as if in answer to our prayers, found a great stack of weapons, almost fifty more crates.
Now, I’ve read a fair few adventurer’s diaries, not least because the monetary at Abken was lonely and there was little else to do for amusement. In almost all of the dungeon adventures, the writers find great treasures along the way and, of course, pick them up. I had never even questioned it. But as I looked at these crates which could hold the salvation of Roderick’s Cove, Morden raised an interesting question.
“Aren’t we stealing?” he asked lightly.
And yet again, of course, he was right. However loathsome, however evil Dic’Yien was, these weapons are his property. And we’d just stolen eleven crates of his stock. I was honour-bound to try to talk to Dic’Yien and at least attempt to trade with him. Hopefully he would not yet know about our ‘relocation’ of the crates, and we could pay for them honourably. We headed onwards, our goal now to find Dic’Yien and set up trade agreements. The idea of doing business with one such as him filled me with disgust, and yet Morden was correct – to just take the weapons would be inexcusable.
And then I found something which changed everything. Behind a door I could sense strongly, astonishingly, an aura of extreme goodness and virtue. I eagerly opened the door and came across a heart-breaking sight. A glorious, celestial unicorn had been chained, bound, in a tiny room. Even buried in this fortress of evil his goodness shone through, and the room was filled with vines, flowers, plants growing straight up from the smooth stones. In a second I knelt beside him, pulling the cruel, spiked metal from his flesh. Some kind of enchantment on it burnt into my hands but I was relentless – such a sight goes against all which is good and just.
Once freed, the creature introduced himself as Nullvian, explaining that he had teleported his way underground after his Master had called him, and become captured by a ‘grey dwarf’ – probably Dic’Yien, I mused as he continued to explain. His master had been a paladin, though he was dead now, and had been on a quest to rescue a woman held for ransom. I promised to find a way to free Nullvian from Dic’Yien, though I had no idea how, and he followed on behind our party as we continued.
And then we encountered the first minions of Dic’Yien. The demons in the temple above seemed unlikely to have been of his initiation, though doubtless he approved of their depravity. The two Duergar and the ‘Troglydyte’ guards at the intersection of several doors, however, were clearly his minions, though they appeared not to expect any trouble. I had never seen or heard of this latter species before, but according to Morden they are a serpentine people who long ago walked upon the surface of Golarion. Their distinctly evil aura left a bitter taste in my mouth but, determined to carry on with my plan of trying to bargain, I walked down the corridor and told them that I wanted to do business with Dic’Yien. They looked astonished and conferred briefly, and then one of the Duergar left, returning after a while with a Drow woman and a vast, red-backed spider – the biggest I’d ever seen. The Drow was dressed in tight, tailored leather and had an arrogant manner. She introduced herself as Lavarallel and, after a few rather unpleasant pleasantries, bargaining commenced.
Lavarallel gave me an initial price of 6500 gold pieces (or 650 gold ingots) for 400 weapons. The price was high, especially for wholesale, but more importantly I know for certain that Roderick’s Cove does not have these kinds of funds. I investigated the prospect of other forms of payment, but after some lewd remarks about how much she would like to ‘enjoy me’ she was very clear – either gold or slaves. This mention of slaves rankled me, made me angry. I do not recognise one intelligent creature’s right to own another. Nevertheless, and somewhat to my shame, I gently investigated the possibility of turning over the orcs and ogres as slave payment. I needn’t have worried – if I didn’t have them already in ‘possession’, they would not be considered viable payment. I had reached an impasse with Lavarallell – I had nothing to bargain with that she wanted. I was ready to turn around and leave, ready to consider another approach. But then Lavarallell nodded to Nullvian and said “be sure to put that thing back where you found it before you leave.”
My temper rose – I told her that I would not leave a paragon of good in Dic’Yien’s filthy hands. She countered that it was his property. I was furious.
“I would have gone quietly. I would have just left,” I said to her, shaking with rage. Then I stepped forward and, in one sudden movement, swung my earth breaker around and smashed it into her head. There was a wet sound, and a sickening crunch. She screamed briefly and folded to the floor, twitching. The following battle was remarkably quick. I turned briefly to see Nullvian gore the vast spider. Another swing of my earth breaker brought Lavarrallel to an end. One of the Duergar suddenly enlarged, doubling in size, but I cut him down. Morden and Dereck took care of the others, and suddenly the room was very quiet.
The party had been carrying a vast deal of wealth – gold, diamonds and rubies.
“I’d have been able to pay for those swords with all this,” was my first, rather rueful, thought. Shelyn teaches that we must approach first with the rose, that diplomacy was the first step of all things. And yet, despite my attempts, it seemed that business would be impossible with Dic’Yien and I felt, and still feel, guiltily relieved by this. I can’t accept his use of slaves, and my conscience will not allow me to abandon Nullvian to his darkness and depravity. This way, at least, the path was clear. At some point soon I must return and end him – there comes a point when diplomacy is a dagger at a crossbow fight. At least some of the magical items we recovered might be sufficient in worth to pay off Aziel, to whom I am currently in a great deal of debt. A few more weapons and armour pieces for the town Militia will also prove useful.
We returned to the surface once more, and asked Zao to collect together a group of men to carry up the weapons. They would need to descend into the dungeon and carry up the crates, whilst the others and I held the door against any more of Dic’Yien’s forces. I was loath to risk them, but as long as we held the line, they would be safe. In twenty minutes Zao had returned with thirteen men in tow, mainly farmers and shopkeepers and, after firm instructions not to touch anything (following the incident with Tolidar) we walked beneath the hill and into the temple beyond.
I had been expecting the men to be unnerved by the temple, but as we passed through it again a wondrous transformation began to occur. Whatever we had destroyed, whatever we had done, had clearly lifted the evil blight from the building. Where before ran a cursed fountain, now there was a spring of holy water. Even as we watched, dirt fell away from the dome revealing windows, and glorious light poured in, though the sky was still dark outside. Under the influence of this holy light, the grime-grey walls were washed clean and vivid frescoes of angels were revealed in brilliant white plaster. The temple was a place of radiant holiness.
Pressing on, we descended the stairs – leaving the men to their task, fetched Nullvian (whom we had left in the small room in case someone patrolled the corridors) and returned to guard the door. The dead lay on the floor about us. We waited. An hour and a half passed, but no threat came, and at last Sullivan, one of the men, came to say that they had finished. Nullvian teleported to the surface since he was too big to fit the stairs. The rest of us grabbed a crate each, just for luck, and made our way out of the dungeon. There were more to spare there, but there was no sense in staying longer than we needed to.
It was glorious to see the sun rising after spending so long in the unnerving, evil-touched darkness of the dungeon. As the men were still moving the final crates out, I spoke privately with Zao, ensuring that he left a guard on the hill and set up a signal beacon, in case anything should break the seal set upon the door. I do not intend to save the town from orcs only to deliver it into Dic’Yien’s slave-driving hands. I left Zao organising carts to bring the weapons down to the town hall, though after having a quick look in the crates, I judge the stock to be thus:
- 100 hammers
- 250 long swords
- 40 short swords
- 110 pikes
- 110 axes
- 80 short bows
- 20 long bows
- 80 li crossbows
- 40 heavy crossbows
- 7 barrels tar
All told, it’s a good set of equipment for the Militia, especially the considerable number of ranged weapons. There’s nothing there too complex, and plenty of reach weapons. Hopefully the Militia should be able to make good use of them.
I have to admit that I’m exhausted now, and still wounded from the day’s battles. As I walked back down to the town with Morden, Dereck and Nullvian, I must have looked like a wreck. Still, I asked Nullvian a little more about himself. His old Master seems to have been a grand paladin, as well as a Lord, from Augustana, (the second largest city of Andoria, apparently); his full title was Lord Erovian Tilernos, Champion of Ayomidae and defender of Augustana. He had gone to rescue the young daughter of a noble who was being held for ransom by Dic’Yien. Apparently she is also some kind of wizard, though he didn’t elaborate. In any case, Nullvian heard his master’s call and teleported beneath the earth to him, but he was instantly captured. He felt his master’s death deeply – I suspect they were bonded in some way – and is now desperate to fulfil his last quest and to free the girl.
I must admit, this news troubles me greatly – if Dic’Yien is powerful enough to take hostages from so far a distance, to defeat an elevated paladin and to capture a Celestial unicorn, he may prove too great an enemy. After securing some lodgings for Nullvian (it turns out that Thoren is currently responsible for the empty guard stable, which is a perfect fit) I have returned to my own room. I gave Morden an invitation, though perhaps it was slightly cryptic, but he hasn’t turned up. I was hoping for a repeat of yesterday, and also hoping to get to know him better, but I suppose it has been a rather long night. He’s so mysterious about everything – I’m not even sure what he does for a living, where he came from, how old he is. He was magnificent today in the temple. That moment when he blinked 30 feet into the air, ended up on top of a dire bat, thrusting his daggers into it. His fighting style is nothing like mine, but I could certainly learn a great deal from him. And not just on the battle field…
I feel good that we achieved our objective – we can arm the Militia, help the town protect itself – but the threat of Dic’Yien still concerns me. I’ve stirred up the hornet’s nest, and it’s only a matter of time before something dreadful comes from it. In addition, Nullvian feels bound to rescue the lady who was abducted by Dic’Yien and I feel bound to help him in this quest for various reasons – because none should be enslaved, because it is right to help celestial creatures in a noble cause, and because, strangely, I feel a little responsible for him since I rescued him and his own Master is dead.
Nevertheless, I know that I tend towards anger and impulsiveness, and so I’m trying to make the responsible decision – the weapons are a higher priority than clearing out Dic’Yien. I wanted to go to the priest, and Hallow the Thassilonian temple – that would give some kind of barrier against evil coming up from beneath, but Morden has persuaded me that this could wait until later. Maybe I’m worrying about nothing. In any case, I think that Ellessar would be proud of me; at least , I hope so. I wonder how his journey to Ibica goes. I will pray for him.
I must heal myself, and this wine is sending me to sleep…