Monday, August 27, 2012

Into The Deep

From the Journal of Olo Big Toe of the Fallohide Clan

     As much as he wants to be the center of attention for this journal entry, Big Nate will have to take a side step. 
     Short of the packing process and placing some of his dried droppings on top of the packs in a pot to help start the fires later without the help of the mage, there is little to note of the morning's preparations. Fighters sharpening weapons, the ranger gently but firmly honing the pile points of her armor-piercing arrows and testing her bowstrings, the mage standing over in an alcove, murmuring to himself the words of his spell in preparation. The druid has found an interesting cave cricket and is trying to figure out how to talk to it while nibbling on an interesting mushroom she found.
     I had almost finished packing all the breakfast dishes when Grimgar the dwarf slapped his axe in his hand three times and said, "All right. I'm going." He turned and pulled the sack off the stone struck with the Fairie Light giving an artificial white glow that flashed off the walls and ceilings of the cavern, and he headed into the deep, searching for the chalk marks left by Dayne, the mage, where we had passed before.
     Thrud slid his broadsword under his belt and taking two last oat biscuits from me in his large hand, said in Trade Language, "We will go," and strode off after the dwarf, munching noisily. I guess he will never be full. It takes a lot of food apparently to fill that bulk.
     Rissa slid her light stone out of its pouch and tied it around her head, high up on her forehead to light her path, the lanyard gathering her hair and giving it an almost supernatural glow, and followed Thrud, with Big Nate clopping after her. I leaped to place the last pot on his back and struggled along afterward, adjusting my belt and tugging my jerkin, trying to get myself organized in the half-darkness. I was clumping along on my new leg when I felt someone grab me by the scruff and hoist me onto the back of Big Nate.
     "Here," said Dayne. "This should be easier," as I settled in among the pots and pans of the load on the mule's back. "Plus you can keep up with us." He brushed his hands together, sweeping off a few oat crumbs he had picked up from my clothes (I am a messy cooker) and he trotted after the others, a book ever present in his right hand and his walking stick clutched in his left. The markings on the stick tended to show that the stick was used for more than walking. I think that if it had not been fashioned of stout oak, it would not have last as long as it had.
     Turning to look behind us, on the edge of the light back against the rock wall, Eltarra watched in the darkness, ever alert, always watching, always on guard, for anything creeping out of the dark, She clutched her bow to her chest, an arrow knocked, two arrows held at the ready in her bow hand with her little and third finger. She was very skilled in combat archery and I was glad she was guarding our back. I would have to make her a special cake for dinner when we stopped.
      Through the caverns we wound, following the chalk marks that Dayne had placed as we pursued the vampiric swarm that had assailed us when the group had entered these catacombs. It was shortly after they had met me that our group had been jumped by these foul creatures and after defeating two of them, the other two had flittered off into the darkness. The mage, Dayne, had been able to track their location and we had pursued them but alas, they were gone from that spot. We did, however, find some dwarven fighters. Unfortunately, Grimgar charged into them and he together with Thrud slayed three before we were able to find out that they were not necessarily enemies, although maybe not friends. After a great deal of dwarven yelling and screaming and Thrud and Dayne keeping the two sides separated, the two remaining dwarves left with a final "Kicd aeui omd sra kira aeui ruda em um.", the dwarves left in search of their other friends. They were apparently here in search of other things and had been left by their friends to lick their wounds and rest while their friends went ahead. I hope we will be able to greet them before Grimgar tears into them.

     He stalked forward, his axe in his right hand, his oaken shield in his left with the glowing stone suspended from his belt, the cloth woolen bag pulled back so it could radiate onto the floors and walls ahead. Grimgar paused for a moment until he heard the sound of Thrud as the barbarian closed behind him and watched forward as Thrud glanced right then left and grunted at him to continue. 
     Ahead, the corpse of a large cave spider the size of a small ox lay sprawled on the floor near a large pillar that supported the roof. The spider bore axe marks upon its legs and upper body and a green ichor cover the floor, tracks throughout dotting the floor. The dwarf remembered the contest against the giant arachnid and he also saw where the hobbit had sawn off a foreleg and stashed it away to figure out a recipe later. I think that spider over the fire in a pot with salted were-cat sauteed with dates and jack fruits and a side of bell peppers stuffed with squash and apricots might be tasty. Grimgar glanced toward the corpse and lifted his stone on its lanyard and surveyed the tracks for a moment.
     "Nope," he said. "Nothing new. Let's go." and he forged ahead, giving Thrud a push on the thigh and motioning to the others to follow. Dayne slipped off to the side as always, lurking in the shadows and I chucked my hips against the load of pots and pans, encouraging Big Nate.
     Grimgar turned slightly and hissed at me for quiet when all the pans clanked against the pots and some of the bronze ladles banged against the copper vessels. Then Eltarra, grinning as always, gave Big Nate a little goose with the end of her bow and he jumped forward with a start, a snort from his nose almost depositing a big gobbet of mule-snoot onto Rissa's boot, who jumped deftly aside. She reached out and patted his muzzle in forgiveness and he followed after her. I could see Grimgar's boots flashing sparks in the distance near the edge of light.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

             Who knows what time it was? Was it morning? Was it night? Who knew? It felt like morning and I turned over the oat biscuits gently and moved the honey pot slightly closed to the fire to loosen the contents for the spreader. Then I leaned over to stir the stewed pork in its pot and settled back for another bowl of pipe weed from my dwindling supply. Drawing deeply on the stem of my pipe against a flame from an ember, the smoke reminded me of my home to the north and memories long ago.
            Under his blanket, the barbarian kicked in his sleep, a dream causing him to crease his forehead and lash his feet, running under his sleeping furs from invisible goblins or demons of some kind. Across the fire from him, the dwarf lay stretched out on his back, his beard and ample moustache fluttering gently in time with his snoring, blankets pulled up against the cave-damp and the cold. His booted feet protruded from the end of his blanket roll and I could count the hobs on the bottoms of the soles of his boots and the steel U’s on the heels. No wonder he threw sparks when he ran, I thought. His axe, with its worn leather handle and leather wrap, was laid across his chest, held in his right hand, ever ready.
            Clarissa, our druid, remained unseen, wrapped completely from head to toe in her bedroll and curled in a ball, her back toward the warmth of the fire and a wisp of her strawberry blond hair hung out from the top portion of her blankets.
            I noticed Dayne was watching into the darkness and when he looked back toward me, I motioned with my spoon and asked “Shall I get them up? The stew is ready and the biscuits are crispy and brown?” Giving the pot of stew another quick stir, I let a goodly portion of pork plop back into the broth and tasted the broth on the spoon. Hmm, it needed salt. I smiled, my pipe clenched in my teeth as I grabbed a pinch and flung it in.
            “Yes,” he said. “I guess it is time we were moving ahead.” He crossed to the barbarian and gently prodded him through the furs. “But you can wake the dwarf. The last time I tried, I almost lost an arm to that axe of his. Maybe he’ll even up your legs.”
            The barbarian poked his head from under his sleeping furs and glanced over at the pots. Nodding his head at the biscuits, he pulled a hand out from under his furs and held it up. I slipped my spoon under a biscuit and expertly dunking it partway into the honey, I flipped it over to the barbarian, who snapped up with his hand and retired under his furs again, the movement of his furs indicating chewing going on. He would be back for stew.
            Dayne crossed over to the lump that was ‘Rissa and he gently shook her shoulder, mumbled something delicately to the bump that was her head, and then grabbing a wooden bowl, he ladled a portion of pork stew and flipped two oat biscuits into his bowl with it. He grabbed the honey spreader and dropped a dollop of golden nectar on the biscuits then sitting down on his knees with his feet tucked under him, he open his pocket grimoire and reviewed his magical power words, even though I knew he had committed them to memory.
            From a distance a voice called out of the darkness, “Hey! Save some for me,” and a lithe feminine figure in leather and chain with a long bow gripped in her left hand, two arrows held in the same hand ready to fire with a third knocked, strode out of the darkness. She flipped her long black braid over her shoulder as she slid the three arrows into her quiver and crouched next to the fire, her hands, encased in fawn-colored leather gloves, held out toward the fire to warm them. She motioned toward the dwarf.
            “Is anyone going to awaken Grimgar?” Eltarra scooped a biscuit and dipping it into the honey pot, she licked some of the honey off with a flick of her pink tongue and took a bite, a thin smile across her face.
            I guessed that no one was going to go near the dwarf so I grabbed a piece of firewood and walking over to the dwarf, I drew back and gave him a hefty whack on the right foot, leaping away at the same. It still wasn’t fast enough, though.
The dwarf sat up with a grunt, steel flashing. His blankets fell to his waist, his beard sticking out with accumulated sweat, grease, soil and who knows what else at a straight angle from his chin. But the important part of this little story was the piece of firewood, which, of course, I was smart enough to release. This was now solidly affixed to the axe, smashed to the floor, and the dwarf, his little porcine eyes glimmering from the creases in his face, said with a slight chuckle, “Almost got you that time.”
            “Yes,” said I as I struggled to pull the piece of wood free from the axe. “It’s breakfast time,” and tossed a bowl and spoon I had grabbed onto his blanket-covered legs. Reaching to get him a portion, I poured the thick stew with a good portion of meat in it into the bowl and said, “For someone who sleeps so soundly, you certainly do wake up with a start.” He chuckled again and pushing down his beard, shoveling a big hunk of pork into his mouth.
            I filled another bowl with stew broth, mostly vegetables, and added a biscuit and honey, placing it next to ‘Rissa’s bedroll and settled back in to finish my last bowl of my pipe and a cup of water. The barbarian had emerged from his furs and seeing that all the others had theirs, he spooned pork directly from the pot into his gaping mouth.
I sighed and thought, “I guess you can’t ever teach some people manners.”

… To be continued …

Into The Trees and Caves of Tetavon

We begin the story ---

     This is the beginning of the story, a band of adventurers who have begun a job, given to them by Avery Du Cote, the Grand Diplomat of Tetavon, serving King Lewdorff and his court. Searching in the dungeons of Caer Giddire on a bluff overlooking the valley and the demense it used to rule, a castle that is now in ruins and a lair for creatures dark and dangerous, lurking in the holes and hollows of the caverns, the party searches for a book of General Phallis, a tome of military engineering but somehow desired by Avery for reasons unknown but for which he will reward the group handsomely.

     My name is Olo BigToe of the Fallohide clan, known for their drawing and writing, thus the pictures and stories documenting the activities of the party the accompanies this tale.

     As I joined into the party at a later stage, most of the beginnings of the group have been related to me around the fire and at breaks or when we have spent time on long walks through the halls of the Under-dark as we pursued the book of General Phallis in the many nooks, crannies and homes of the vile creatures we have encountered, or we have spent time around the meal-time fire as the group savored the rations which I have prepared using my many famous culinary skills to which I am so richly endowed, being a cook of some renown and always eager to please, also being naturally gregarious and friendly.
     In the course of this adventure, I have unfortunately suffered the grievous loss just below the knee of my right leg and it is thus somewhat difficult for me to contribute to the many fights that have occurred since I have joined the group. But I am a dead shot with my sling and so I attempt to distract the enemy, limping about on my new wooden leg, with aimed shots while the swordsman and the Dwarven axe-man ... Did I mention that we have a Dwarf in the party? He is a noble if somewhat taciturn fellow, on a quest for a hammer that supposedly has been lost from his family for many generations. I hope to make friends with him eventually as he is a big eater and seems to enjoy my fare, eating many helpings at each sitting, but it is difficult to tell his true feelings because he seldom speaks.
     Returning to the current subject of my leg, it was struck off by a disagreeable hobgoblin who, declining my offer to cook up some sausages and leeks with gravy for free passage, smote me several times, striking off my right leg just a a massive barbarian-type human sprung in and dispatched the creature, snicker-snack, and as I passed in unconsciousness, I saw a beautiful young girl accompanied by a young man dressed all in black and dark purples hovering over me.
     Cradling my leg, he looked to the woman and said, "Can it be saved?" and she said. "I fear not. but at least the wound can be healed."
     When. at last, I regained consciousness, the wound had been healed quite nicely, which would make me very popular to the barmaids and wenches in the inns and taverns, I must say, and someone, perhaps the Dwarf, had fabricated a most noble and impressive stump to replace my lost member. It will take some time getting used to my new leg, being somewhat tender despite the magical healing, but with the help of Big Nate, my mule who carries the cooking implements, tools, knives, spoons, ladles, pots and pans, and fare for morning snacks, breakfast, elevensies, first dinner, second lunch, afternoon snack, second snack, first dinner, twosies, main dinner, desert dinner, evening snack, sevensies, nightcap, and before bedtime snack, and the promises of the mage and the druid to restore my leg to a whole when they achieve the ability, I will be whole again.
     I think these fellows are very fine thus far. The young mage is very self-important and always delving into his spell books and studying his magical grimoires. The young, fair druid is especially attractive and she is loved by all, especially Big Nate, who always nuzzles up to her for treats and what-not, despite her having had what I think have bee several talks to him in mule-speak, so spitten is the poor fool with her, and will always sleep next to her if he cannot sleep next to me (for he knows me as a source of sugar lumps, broken of the big cone I carry safe in my pocket, away from the dwarf's prying fingers, who enjoys a tasty morsel now and then).
     Tall and willowy in leather and chain, the young ranger is a cypher. She does not speak much but sees everything, is apparently deadly with her longbow and wears an elven bracer from who knows where on her left arm. She wields a long sword with equal ability, for I have seen her practice on a daily basis these past few days and she regularly gives as good as she gets with the wooden wasters Big Nate packs along. She is especially adept at the art of the fast draw and the dwarf and barbarian both speak of the time she drew her sword and lopped the head from the shoulders of a hobgoblin who was coming toward her. It happen so quickly that the Gobbo took five more steps before his body finally realized that it didn't have a head and it should really fall down.  Eltarra, I think, I shall befriend.
     The dwarf is quiet and contemplative, always sharpening his axe, oft-times mumbling to himself about someone named "Mesyrgin", who I think may be a lost love, because he sometimes looks long into the fire with what appears to be tears in his eyes. I have asked him if I can give him something to eat to make him feel better but he just curses something in Dwarven, I think, drags his forearm across his eyes and stares into the fire again. 
     The barbarian is just quiet, period, perhaps because of a language challenge. But we all speak Trade, the universal polyglot of language spoken along all the routes, a mumble of signs, sounds, and gestures that can be reasonably understood so we all get along. The Barbarian. called Thrud the Tharkurian, comes from a trading peoplem so he is very fluent in Trade, in addition to his native argot, whatever that might be, because none of can understand him when he gives us commands in combat. It would be funny if it weren't s treacherous sometimes, Thrud hacking and slashing and then turning as a creature falls and yelling back to us. We just look at each other and say "What did he say?" as he launches into the next creature.

     I will inscribe more as our adventure progresses. For now it is dark except where the fire casts its glow and awaits the mage-light from the special rocks our young mage has created to light our way. They glow with an unnatural fairie-fire, stopped only by the small sacks in which they are carried. Noises occasionally give us starts and the Dwarf and the barbarian sleep restlessly since it is the young Druid's turn to watch. Me ... I drowse by the fire with some nice conies picked up a few days ago above ground poaching in a covered pot with another pot stewing potatoes and carrots with onions, herbs, a little sea-salt and some rare pepper, and a nice small round of extremely smelly soft cheese awaiting. Big Nate is munching on some hay from his hay-sleeve and a few handfuls of oats from the sack, spread upon the floor. He looks longing at the druid Clarissa, hoping she will part with something special for him shortly. But she just stares away into the darkness, squatting, her staff across her knees and her head tilted slightly ... listening ... watching. 

     Man cannot adventure on an empty stomach, you know.