Tales of Darkmoon Vale
Edmund's Journal 6
17th Greenlea, 2,653 A.S.
he rest of the party is winding down for bed as I write this entry, oddly enough, from within the chambers of an abbot who apparently subscribed to a strange sect of the Cult of Thyrn. The day started off with Shrizyne and Toed foraging for breakfast in Darkmoon Wood, and nearly being slain by a wild boar. Course in the end they managed to skewer the beast and we had quite a meal out of it (in fact we’ve been eating cold boar ever since).
It’s amazing watching Jeva eat! The girl managed to put down more food than the rest of us combined. After brunch we discussed our plans re-entering Drosker’s Crucible. Afterward, while we were taking down camp Jeva mentioned something about the crucible being haunted, and then sang an eerie children’s song that went like this:
“Glintaxe, mighty hero of the dwarven race,
Seeker of heirlooms lost without trace,
He ventured the deeps where old evil sleeps
He perished in the halls of some dark place.
His restless spirit still stalks the night,
His shining axe still glows bright,
I’ve seen his ghost, and this is no boast,
I’ve ne’er laid eyes on a more fearful sight.”
Toed perked up at the mention of Glintaxe. Apparently Glintaxe was an ancient relative of his, and in fact was the Dwarf’s primary reason for traveling to the vale in the first place. He told us that Druingar the Glintaxe was a great dwarven hero who had quested to find relics of his people’s ancient empire within the old monastery. He never returned.
At any rate we retraced our steps through the ground level of the Monastery, and, finding the stairwell leading to the lower level, cautiously descended into the Crucible. Our first encounter was with a pair of Kobolds. We made quick work of the first of these and the second ran off (it appears that these were mere slaves, and not warriors). The kobolds had been chipping away at what looked to be a fallen obsidian monument of some kind. Upon closer inspection, we found a partially chipped away inscription on the monument:
Funny, in all my studies of the cult of Thyrn I have not come across any mention of this “Drosker” or his sect. I shall have to look into this matter. As we wandered on through the lower levels of Drosker’s Crucible, and Toed and I both mused at the rather Spartan and unadorned interior of this monastery, which certainly is not in keeping with the high caliber of Dwarven masonry.
In one room we found a cauldron of boiling slag mixed with blood. An awful tentacled reptilian creature dwelt therein, but Shrizyne and Toed rushed the beast and pushed it into the boiling cauldron. In another room we encountered several stirges. Nasty creatures, those. Down a long corridor we found a few dire rats snacking on the remains of some poor soul who had fallen victim to the horrors of the Crucible. Whether he was human or elf I know not, for his head had been severed from his body and was nowhere to be found. After Zanavere had destroyed the rats with his swarms of bats, we searched the body and found a blood soaked journal of his travels. Most of the pages were illegible, but one page remained intact:
I said a silent prayer for the fallen adventure, and we moved on in search of the children. Instead we found the specter of Glintaxe, or so it seemed at the time. Down another long corridor we perceived a coat of arms and a great battleaxe shrouded in an odd shimmering light which appeared to hover bodiless in the air. The visage moved towards us with malicious intent, and when Toed’s pleas to his ancestor not to attack us went unanswered, we had no alternative but to defend ourselves. Imagine our surprise when we learned that the visage before us was no specter at all, but rather the remaining earthly possessions of Glintaxe which had remained trapped within the translucent membrane of a gelatinous cube! I discovered this the hard way. The other party members were quick enough to dart out of the way before the cube attacked, but my gimp leg prevented me from moving out of the way of the slime. Zanaver, to his credit, rushed to my aid, and attempted to shove me out of the slime’s path, but it was not enough. The cube rolled right over me and I was enveloped in slimy sack of acidic jelly! It really burned too. In fact, even though my fellow party members managed to slay the creature and save me before too much damage had been done, my skin still remains bleached.
We spent the rest of the day delving ever deeper into the Crucible in search of the children, overcoming several traps and native ecology along the way. As of yet, we have not found any trace of the children. However, we did find our way into what apparently was the former quarters of the abbot of Drosker’s crucible. When we emerged through a trap door we spotted a Dwarven skeleton lying upon a large stone slab shaped like an anvil. There was some form of mechanical contraption attached to the slab which contained a large hammer. The skull of the skeleton lay in shards, and a small malformed bat-like creature lie beside it, playing with the skull shards. Zanaver immediately sent a swarm of bats at the creature, which shrieked and attempted to flee for its life. On seeing that the creature was not threat, Zanaver dismissed the swarm and began to converse with the creature, which apparently was a homunculous called Grista. The skeleton, Grista told us, was all that remained of his master who had apparently committed suicide when the Dwarves fled the Monastery. Grista remained by his master’s side for nearly a millennium after that, not having laid eyes on another soul till we arrived.
On investigating the abbots quarters, we found another piece of writing inscribed upon obsidian, apparently the last journal entry of the abbot:
Whatever this sect may have been, it looks as if perhaps it died out with the abbot. At least that is my hope anyway. However once we have rescued the children and returned them to their parents, perhaps I shall make another trip to Dawhaven. I would love to search through the Abby library there to see if there are any records of Droscker’s crucible. Well, we are all winding down for the night, so I too shall retire for the evening.
18th Greenlea, 2,653 A.S.
I am hastily jotting this down over a dinner of cold roasted boar. We have finally managed to find two of the five missing children, praise be to Andunai. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Let me begin with the morning’s events.
We arose early this morning eager to find the Falcon Knights. During breakfast Zanaver conversed with Grista and, with some effort, managed to convince the little homunculous to journey with us. Grista appeared to be distressed at the proposition of leaving his master, and so decided to take a bit of him along for the journey.
We then left the abbot’s quarters and traveled on further into the Crucible. We came to a doorway at the end of a hall, where toed, listening in, overheard from the other end of the doorway a conversation taking place between a group of kobolds. From the sound of things, the kobolds were none to happy about the current state of the clan. Apparently, ever since their leader, Merlokrep, all-mighty Dragon King of the Truescale kobolds, ascended the throne, their had been nothing but misfortune for the Truescale clan. Apparently on the day of Merlokrep’s coronation his consort, Vreggma, slipped on the dais steps and poked out the king’s eye with one of the bristly points of his own crown, Following this inauspicious omen, a third of Merlokrep’s subjects had perished in a haphazard mining excavation to retrieve more “shiny good-good” for his demanding consort, who the rest of the clan apparently detested. Not long after this foul “creeping shadows” rose from the dark caves below and withered Merlokrep’s finest warriors to skeletal husks. This finally convinced the kobold king to move his clan from their home in the deep warrens of the mountainside below the Monastery to the basement level of the Crucible itself,where they have been constantly harrowed by the many dangerous denizens living within. Merlokrep’s tribe continues to shrink with each passing week as accidents, attacks by their new monstrous neighbors, and the king’s own homicidal outbursts of rage over both, claim more and more of his beloved people.
The kobolds in the room beyond began to bemoan their harsh circumstances for a while before one of them spoke up saying, “yes but remember what shaman Jekkajak, He Who Forgets More Than You or He Knows, has prophesied”
‘When the Doomed King sits the Throne, our great tribe merk-merks its last! To save our people, wash our troubles from the crown with the blood of pink-skin-spawn!’
“Merlokrep capture pink skins squishy children, when their blood spill won’t our troubles go by-by?” He concluded. “Awe, he’ll find way to screw whole thing up!” said another. “Yeah,” intoned another, “face it Stinkscale, we screwed.”
After Toed had explained what he had overheard, we debated our next action. Zanaver was in favor of swarming them with bats. Shrizyne on the other hand suggest we try more diplomatic measures. Perhaps we could parlay the kobolds into giving us information about the children’s whereabouts in exchange for our help in slaying the creatures that prayed upon the Truescale clan. In the end we went with Shrizyne’s plan, and I was elected the speaker. We cautiously opened the door and I immediately asked to speak with the leader of this bunch. While they were somewhat hostile at first, with a bit of kindness and charm, I was able to secure an audience with their leader, a black scaled kobold whose over-sized right ear dangled with earrings made from human fingers. I then explained our quest to find the children, and our offer to help the Truescale clan. It took some convincing but eventually we won these kobolds over to our cause and they told us all that they knew of the children’s whereabouts, which wasn’t much as it turned out. Still, we did learn that there was yet one more lower level to the Crucible.
As we were discussing logistics however, we all heard the voice of a young woman crying out from beyond the doorway, “Run Mikra, get out of here!”. Startled and somewhat confused by this turn of events it took us all a second to get our bearings. However it didn’t take us long to gather our wits about us and to make haste to find the owner of that voice. We opened the south door of the room in time to see a small child running down a south hallway into an adjacent room. Rushing forward we were immediately thrust into the midst of a battle taking place between half a dozen kobolds on the one hand, and a halfling and young woman on the other. With our help, the kobolds were quickly dispatched, and we discovered that the girl was none other than Kimi Eavewalker, the leader of the Falcon Knights! She was accompanied by Edrgn Galesong, the leader of the Gray Eagles, a local adventuring party that had gone missing a week ago. Apparently Edrn and company had been waylaid by a Kobold scouting party while exploring Darkmoon Wood. Most of the party was slain during the battle, yet he and Tyran Moonsliver, the elf mage of the band, had been captured. When Kimi and the rest of the children were imprisoned, Edgrn and Kimi launched an escape. Tyran and Hollin were captured almost immediately, but the rest managed to make it up to second level of the Crucible. Then Jurin was dragged off by some monstrous chained creature. That was when the rest of the Kobold guards caught up with the escape party. Kimi and Edgrn decided to make a stand of it in order to give the remaining children, Mikra and Savram, a chance to escape.
I got to hand it to her, Kimi Eavewalker is something else! She is quite the spitfire. She led us out in search of Savram and Mikra. We found Savram huddling for fear inside a room haunted by skeletons (which, with the help of the Daughter of Light I was able to destroy). We then went in search of Mikra, who was no where to be found. I fear in his confusion he may have headed back the way the escape party had originally come. If so, his rescue shall will have to be forestalled.
We ran into some trouble with more undead, and as we were waging battle against them, the girl Jeva suddenly transformed into a hideous lupine creature, part girl, part beast. In her lycanthropic rage she viciously attacked the other children, clawing deep into their tender flesh. I immediately came to the children’s aid, while the rest of the party dispatched the undead. We could not reason with Jeva in her enraged state and had to subdue her in battle. After the battle was over, Zanaver sneered at the girl and was in favor of ending her life right there and then. Thanks be to Andunai that the rest of the party would not let him have his way. Jeva needs our help just as much as the other children do. After we rescue the other children I intend to take the girl under my care. Perhaps the elders of my order at Dawnhaven will be able to heal the girl from her illness.
At the moment we are taking a short rest in order to regain our strength before seeking out Jurin. I have a feeling that we are about to face something more dreadful than we have yet come across. Eridial shine your light upon our path I pray, and beseech our Lord Andunai to protect us, for we go now into battle…