3rd Kuthona, “Starday ”, of the year 4711, early hours
Tavern: The Hoist, Roderick’s Cove
What a day! It’s been a crazy one, this Fireday . Let’s see if I can get this all down in order. Honestly, I think no one else would believe it. I barely believe it myself.
So, I was awoken by a giant boulder smashing through the roof and wall of my room. Rubble everywhere, I ran to the window to see what had happened. It was grey twilight, about 4pm, and the main street of the Roderick’s Cove was filled with Duergar, vast earth elementals throwing boulders, and Drow. It looked like Dic’Yien had decided to take the fight to me.
Cursing that no one had woken me at the sight of the signal fire, that no warning had been given, I grabbed my armour and my weapons and leapt out through the window into the air to get a better look. A richly dressed Duergar flanked by guards, who I assumed was Dic’Yien, was standing on a square plinth of obsidian in the middle of the street, shouting orders of destruction. “Destroy everything!” he was yelling. “I wish you to exact payment from these upstarts! And claim me some new slaves!”
Furious that he would attack the innocent town, I swooped down, smashing my earthbreaker into Dic’Yien with the full force of Shelyn. The coward withstood a few hits and rallied a few against me before he disappeared, and suddenly I was set upon by the vast earth elemental. It was huge, perhaps twice as tall as me, and rooted immovably to the ground beneath it, making it impossible to trip or shake. Then Dic’Yien reappeared across the street, and fired spells at the brute, making it even more lethal, turning it into a swirling mass of molten adamantium and lava. I caught a brief glimpse of Dereck down the street, countering the attacks of those horrible jumping spiders with astonishing speed, and as I was knocked back by a particularly hard blow from the elemental, I saw Nullvian cantering up to join the frey, eager to protect the town. We worked together – I first took out Dic’Yien, focussing my attacks on him to prevent him from aiding his forces. My hope was that they would turn and run when he fell, but they seemed determined to join him in the circles of Hell.
A Drow cleric bombarded me with spells as I struck the vast elemental again and again, each hit it landed with its gargantuan fists sending me flying backwards through the air. At last, the final foe was slain, and we were able to look about ourselves and survey the destruction. Several buildings on the main street were damaged, though the inn most severely, and my own earthbreaker had made a sizeable hole in the wall of Dereck’s shop. I felt like a fool for believing that Dic’Yien would wait to retaliate. By waiting myself, I had endangered the town.
And yet, even as these thoughts went through my head, an astonishing thing happened. The sky above me, previously grey in the twilight, suddenly seemed to open up. Beams of bright light shone down upon me, bathed me, and the glorious face of Shelyn appeared. She blessed me, She called me her champion. She called me by my own name, and asked me to work in Hers. She gifted me with a weapon – a glorious earth-breaker named Torag’s Gift. It seemed to grow out of the adamantium mess left by the earth elemental, an shining, intricate earthbreaker, chased with silver and etched with a scene of Torag and Shelyn, exchanging gifts. She told me that she felt it had been made for me. All her words I felt within my body and mind, not as if I heard them but as if they were being etched with light into my bones. I felt stronger, renewed both in body and in purpose. Perhaps in a way I had always felt like the monastery of Torag had given up on me by sending me to Shelyn, rather as one relegates a chipped pot to the back of the cupboard. I believed truly and completely in Shelyn’s teachings, in her ways, but somehow this rejection had always troubled me on some level. Now, finally, embraced in Shelyn’s love and touched by her grace, all these doubts melted away.
Gradually the vision faded, and I realised that I was kneeling in the middle of the street, surrounded by the people of Rodercik’s Cove, who were all staring at me. I had no idea how long I had been in this position, or if they had seen what I had seen. My face was wet with tears and there was a slight pressure on my shoulder – Dereck was behind me, tugging at my arm. Gradually I stood, still in a daze for a few moments. Turning and taking in the crowd, and feeling strangely self-conscious in front of so many awe-struck people, we checked all the bodies were really dead, and stripped them of their belongings. There many, many items of worth, and the armour will be sent straight to the Militia, though it may need a little repair. Most notable was probably an astonishing Dwarven axe, intricately carved, with the name ‘Firescar’ etched into the haft. A fabulous set of tools for armour, weapons and smithing I think should go to Dereck – he’ll get use from them, and they’re too rare and useful to sell. There was also a collection of potions, and a few useful looking magical items. Anything which didn’t seem immediately useful we have placed in Dereck’s shop, for the time being. After all, it wasn’t as if I had a room in the inn any more…
After I had laid the weapons and treasures from Dic’Yien’s party in Dereck’s forge, I stepped briefly into the inn to check that everyone there was alright. They stared at me in wonder, as if I were some sort of alien. No one seemed to know what to do with themselves. Well, my next move was clear, at least. I had to descend into the dungeon and ensure that anything malicious was cleared out. I gathered Derek and Nilluvian together and we examined the strange obsidian plinth which Dic’Yien had been standing upon. Apparently it was some sort of elevator device, but it requires magic to operate it. Fortunately for us, Master Aziel was in the crowd and was happy to oblige.
The plinth led us down, rather like a dwarven elevator, into a beautiful black marble room, decorated with exquisite branded wooden panelling and red-gold banners. A shelf held four strange stones with runes on them, exuding a faint magical presence. I slid them into my pocket, in case they should prove useful.
The next door opened onto a big hexagonal room, floored with thick red carpet, and furnished with dark wood and velvet. On a velvet sofa in the centre, hiding their nakedness behind thin silk sheets, lay three Drow women. I tried to reassure them that they were free, but they were merely offended by the connotation that their price-value was not high. Clearly they were ingrained into servitude, and even took pride in their role as luxury commodities. I tried to explain to them that they were no longer bonded to servitude, but they merely began to look upon me as their new master. Finally, Derek stepped forward and, not entirely altruistically in my opinion, asserted himself as their new master. Their subsequent fawning was quite ridiculous. Meanwhile, I explored the rest of the rooms. There was a grand library, with tomes detailing blacksmithing and many other fascinating topics of design and craftsmanship. Another room was a small temple of white marble, with a golden statuette of Drossgar topping the altar. I took the statuette, and intend to melt it down into something less tainted.
The third room was a locked, metallic door. I found a slot which corresponded to one of the magical stones, which unlocked it. Inside there was a simple-looking wooden chest with metallic frame and an adamantium lock. Curious to know what could be so well guarded, I broke the lock after much effort. I was about to open the chest when Nullvian, who had appeared behind me, called out a warning. Apparently there was some kind of magical trap, which he fortunately dispelled with a flick of his horn. The chest itself was filled with platinum ingots – I must admit to myself that I was expecting something more wondrous. Nevertheless, Nullvian bowed to me and told me that he would keep this secret. When I considered it, I supposed that he was right – it was enough money to corrupt anyone who cared for such things, and keeping it secret for now was probably the best idea. Locking the door behind me, I continued with my exploration.
There was little else of interest around there, only a pantry containing some truffles and a rather tacky-chic bedroom bedecked wtih gaudy, explicit tapestries and a few trinkets.
A staircase leading upwards, opened up onto a warm corridor; the floor was obsidian, with rivulets of molten lava running along the edges. A storage room was filled with crates and barrels of food and supplies. A pair of Duargar were standing guard in the next room – I prepared to encounter them, but Dereck set them down with two shots from some kind of extraordinary cross-bow which didn’t require re-loading.
No sooner had he dispatched them, than we heard the sound of pattering feet and a horde of Derro shot around the corner. Their evil, eyes were bulging and white. I warned them that I had no quarrel with them – Derro are barely intelligent enough to be responsible for their actions – and most of them fled, though two attacked me and I dispatched them. I found more weapons, a room filled with ingots of different metals, and a few rooms of inhabitation.
The door to the next room opened to reveal a host of Duargar, all drinking and eating.
“Dic’Yien is dead – I give you this one chance to flee,” I warned them, “but put up a fight and I will defend myself.”
There was a moment of silence, and the air rang with tension, but at last one of the dwarves, Ulden, spoke up.
“I recognize honour when I see it – we’ll be heading for Fellstrok; we won’t cause any trouble.” I allowed the Duargar, at Ulden’s request, time to pack up a few belongings, and to capture the Derro. I noticed that Ulden had taken a weighty gold pouch, but since he mentioned that he had a family I let it pass – I am not in the habit of impoverishing those who have surrendered and are behaving peacefully. Ulden showed and explained to me a little about the forge – the tunnel that leads to Fellstrock and how to lock and defend it, the room which holds a massive earth elemental.
Finally, after a great deal of consideration, Ulden offered his services as a Seneschal of the complex. He suggested that we let all the other smiths, miners and guards go. At first I was unsure – especially amongst my fellow dwarves, the reputation of the Duargar is not a good one. But Ulden serves Magrim the Taskmaster and Kols the Oathkeeper – his values seem to be of duty, honour and diligence, and he is eager to provide a better life for his family. The underdark has made him what he is – it is my hope that, through exposure to the light and to the influence of Shelyn, he will find himself wishing and able to lead a better life.
Mindful of Niluvien’s quest to rescue to ransomed princess, I asked Ulden if there were any captives. Apart from the earth elemental, there was one, a princess called Loreena. Ulden led me back to Dic’Yien’s living room. Pressing a secret button on the sofa, he revealed a hidden room where a young woman, probably my age, sat reading, dressed in beautiful clothes. Ulden explained that he had tried to take care of her as well as possible, but Dic’Yien had been using her for ‘services’ in addition to his three Drow women. I was furious, but did my best to control my anger so as not to scare her. I left her with Niluvian, whom she seemed to know, whilst Ulden took me around the rest of what had formerly been Dic’Yien’s facility.
Interestingly, Ulden mentioned that the pool on the seemingly-abandoned floor above was inhabited by an evil elemental energy, aligned with Dic’Yien. Apparently some kind of unholy mixture of flesh, bone, and water, Dic’Yien has tasked her to lure adventurers into the water and attack them. I was glad that I had steered well clear of the water, and resolved to clear her out of the pool one way or another.
Another useful piece of information volunteered by Ulden was that the business was expecting a caravan of customers coming from ‘Uger’, the orcish capital of the underground – in fact, the part of the group of orcs who are currently holding the city under seige. He asked if we should give them the weapons they were coming to hire, and indeed what the status was with doing business with the Underdark in general. This was a significant question; on the one hand, ceasing business with the Underdark might give the impression that the Forge was weak, and provoke attacks. On the other hand, trading with the Underdark would be putting weapons into unconscionable hands, and the possibility that word would soon spread of Dic’Yien’s demise was high. Again, it was Ulden who suggested the answer – 3 months ago the forge traded for “the alchemists bomb”, an explosive element of incredible power. Ulden suggested that we blow up the access tunnel to the Underdark. I agreed that this was the best idea, and the plan was put into action.
Derreck seems thrilled to be underground again. I suppose I had missed the feeling of Dwarven tunnels, but Derreck seems to revel in them. He’s already eager to set up home in Dic’Yien’s old quarters, and has ‘adopted’ his women, since they cannot be aclimatised to the concept that they are not owned. They enjoy being property, though I have intimated to Derreck that he must marry them in the eyes of the gods, so as to ensure their legal and holy status. Though Derreck is welcome to Dic’Yien’s quarters, I have kept hold of the keys for other areas of the mine, such as the vault and the earth elemental’s prison.
Coming above ground, I was pleased to see the milita on sentry duty up on the city walls. I went to update the Mayor on current events. He seemed shocked and almost reverential after my story – the demise of Dic’Yien earlier in the day was reason enough, but cutting off the Underdark, denying weapons to the Orcish warband and claiming the Thassilonian forge seemed to be the yak cream on the flint pie. He offered me land – the entire peninsula upon which stands the Thassilonian Temple! He didn’t contest my claim to the Thassilonian forge, especially when I announced my plans to increase taxable trade, encourage business and increase the wealth of the city. By this point the Mayor had been awake for hours and was starting to sway. Dereck sent him to sleep with a spell, and I carried him back to the townhall, where his wife was waiting.
It is early in the morning now, and I am in the taproom of the inn. I can’t believe so much has happened. I’m a land owner! And when I offered Thoren to pay for the damage done to the inn (which after all, is really my fault) he proposed that I give him 1500gp reparation, and that we would share the inn half and half. So I own an inn as well. Thoren says we should rename it Wings and Hammers in my honour – my honour?! And a temple. I own a temple. The temple I cannot wait to dedicate to Shelyn.
It seems like utter insanity. I wish that Ellesar were here to celebrate this with me – he’d always wanted his own library.
So many good things happened, but I haven’t begun to figure out how to disperse the Orc warband; with their weapons cut off they’ll have a harder time attacking, but they’ll find another way to arm themselves.
I wonder where Morden has gone? He wasn’t around for the fight with Dic’Yien, and missed a lot with the forge. I don’t know anything about this. Maybe he could advise me?