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Archive for September, 2015

Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-Seven

DearFatherMulcahy

 

You will never believe who rescued me. Well, who was helping Liz rescue me, if I was being fair. She was the mastermind, but that’s a totally different story. You know I suggested she start her own journal at one point and she told me exactly where I could stick my parchment and quills. It did not sound sanitary.

Okay, the individual who was cutting the ropes that bound me to the pole was none other than Sparkle GlitterBlade. Yep, you guessed it. Halfling thief. I was both shocked and pleased. This was the one who abandoned Tim and the crew during/after/before the dragon fight we witnessed a while back. The one where the barbarian and elf were mostly melted by dragon breath. Yeah, that crew. You know, now that I write this, I’m wondering if Sparkle GlitterBlade may be an alias. Who in their right mind would name a thief Sparkle. Thieves are supposed to be nondescript. And Sparkle was flamboyant. Seriously. You think Tim and his fuzzy pink hat were ostentatious. Sparkle wore a suit made of bright green giant snake skin and boots made of purple leather of some ilk. The colors were bright enough to have shamed Brother Charles.

Two things told me I could trust him. First of all after he cut away my ropes, he pressed my mace into my hands. That mace, that made evil creatures melt/fry/burn/disintegrate if they tried to pick it up. If he could handle it, that was good enough in my eyes.

Second he didn’t wait to see if I was going to join him, he just launched himself at the head of the kobolds and killed two lieutenants before they even knew what was happening.

Then Liz jumped into the fray with her spear and another few went down, leaving the head guy to me. I did not hesitate, I’m afraid to admit. The earlier humiliation with kobold excrement had really hacked me off.

The idiot raised his dagger, spinning in a quick circle as his people dropped around him. He cried out for the wizard but did not give a name. Tim had obviously been playing coy.

Now, I’m not a trained warrior, and this was the head of the kobold clan, so I was a bit outclassed in speed and experience. He actually landed several unfortunate cuts on me. In my defense I was stiff from being tied up all day, but as I danced around, catching his blade on the mace a couple of times, I started to warm up.

Liz called out to me a few moments in and I heard something land near me with a thump. I made a wild swing and then stepped back, nearly falling over my shield. That was good to have.

I was pretty impressed by the next move. Kobolds were waking up all around us. Liz and Sparkle were attacking kobolds as they staggered up. Some died before they were fully awake, but there were a lot of the little munchers.

The clan leader grew bolder upon seeing a good fifteen to twenty of his elite fighters banding together against the three of us. I stepped back, thinking to put some of the minions between himself and the three of us who were converging in the middle of the camp, covering each other’s blind spots.

I had a moment and ducked to scoop up he shield and suddenly it was a shift in the odds. I stepped forward, batting aside two kobolds who threw themselves at me, sidestepped and brought the mace down on a third. They may have outnumbered us, but we were mighty.

Twice my friends called out, taking wounds, but they did not fall. Several kobolds broke away and started firing sling stones at us, but Liz charged through them, destroying that little group. To this point we had been blissfully unaware of the flying kobolds. Too bad for us.

Sparkle collapsed under a barrage of stones and I stepped over to shield him from further missiles. The left me exposed to the skittering knife wielders.

Then I remembered I was a cleric with mad skills. I told Liz to run, to draw them away in common, which the kobolds did not know. She only hesitated for a moment then nodded and ran.

I squatted next to Sparkle and cast a spell, calling on Kithri to help her fallen brethren. I do not know the name of the spell, but I know the affect. A veil of divine aura flowed around us, creating a shelter of sorts. The kobolds nearest us looked around in confusion at our sudden disappearance, then took up the chase with the others. Liz was leading them away, giving me time to help Sparkle.

While we were isolated I performed a healing on Sparkle and was surprised when she opened her eyes. Yes, she. Up until that point I had assumed she was a he. Honestly, I have no good excuse for it other than an inherent ignorance of gender roles and professions. Girls can be rogues. It’s not just for boys.

The monastery may not be large enough to truly give us enough perspective on the true world. Just something to think about.

The magic closed several nasty dagger cuts and Sparkle sat up, astonished and smiling. She patted me on the cheek, kissed me on the lips and stood, adjusting her armor. Now that I wasn’t trying to brain the head of the kobolds I got a good look at her. She was curvy in all the right places and those leather pants reminded me that there may be a different type of healing I’d like to do with Sparkle.

My mind sorta slid sideways there for a moment. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I watched her as she took off after the kobolds, a blade in each hand.

Definitely liked the way the leather pants looked on her. Maybe when I get back I’ll bring Sister Agnes a pair of those. That would be very interesting.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-Six

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Let it be known that my intuition was right and true. The wizard coming was Tim. Tim the wizard who’s life we had saved. Tim of the amazing fuzzy pink hat and the ability to identify magic items. That Tim. He’s an evil wizard. How did I not notice that? I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt as the sun rose that Tim was a rat bastard of the most vile sort. Frankly it hurt my feelings.

Anyway, I get ahead of the story.

Most of the kobolds were bedding down as the sun rose. The main thugs, the big boss and his lieutenants were wide awake and waiting gleefully for Tim to show up. Greasy ratlings.

I had it all figured out. Tim knew who I was, you see. He has a contact within the monastery. He’d been scrying, recognized my robes and the mace I carried and knew some things about you, Father Mulcahy.   I think the magic had cracked his brain, frankly. He would claim that you lead an order of renegade priests who had stolen artifacts from the heart of a collapsing city and that you had lead the order further and further away from the first temple, building anew on the edge of the spreading swamp. He would talk a lot, bragging from a position of strength, which would not only fill in the missing pieces but tip his hand. Of course, he would only talked when he got tired of cutting strips of skin off the bottom of my feet.

That is a pain I cannot even begin to contemplate. Too horrific. But Tim will know about the city in my dreams and how it had once been the ruling city for this entire continent, ruled by a mighty warrior priest who had a staff called Ice Shard. One day, three centuries or more ago someone killed this priest warrior, stole the staff and several other ancient artifacts and fled, but not before unleashing a cataclysm on the city.

Or something like that. That’s how it went with stories, right?

I just wish Tim would hurry up and get there, I was tired of waiting. I think the kobolds were tired as well. When they saw that I was watching them, one of the kobold lieutenants grumbled something and trudged back to stand near me, a short spear held across his chest, ready to skewer me if I tried anything funny.

I growled at the pisher and he took a step back. That made me smile which caused to try and step back toward me, but he shuffled his feet, stared at his hands and then swore. But he didn’t get close enough for me to bite him or anything. Smarter of the brood, I would say.

Another thing about kobolds is they’re cowards. They had me sorely outnumbered and I was tied up. They were afraid of me, but they were more afraid of Tim. And by the mumbling my new guard was doing, they were afraid of my friends showing up. They were afraid of Liz.

“I wonder if Tim will kill all of you to avoid the hassle,” I mused out loud.

My guard shot me a look but didn’t say anything. He did level the spear more or less in my general direction. I was bored, screwing with them helped pass the time.

Eventually I grew tired of taunting the chap and returned to staring after the kobolds whose attention were focused on the road coming into their camp from the north . The moment my eyes were almost glazed over enough to blur out the individual kobold butts, I heard a thud. It wasn’t seriously distracting so I glanced around once and then started to focus on the coming of Tim once more when I felt someone sawing at the ropes that held me to the pole.

A series of thoughts flashed through my mind:

There had been a guard next to the pole

The pole was in the middle of the camp

The camp had around thirty kobolds with slings and daggers

And Liz was across the clearing from me, winking and holding a finger up to her mouth.

Just who the heck was cutting me loose.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-Five

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Okay, I learned on day fifty-five that I hadn’t fallen asleep at my post, so suck it, Brother Durham. I’d had a spell cast on me. A very sneaky, low, cowardly spell called sleep. I’m sure you can imagine what it does. Seems someone handed the lead kobold a scroll of sleep and he cast it upon us as I was on guard. Sneaksie, I say. Foul and nasty. But who on earth would give a magic scroll to a kobold? This was not a mistake. Someone was specifically hunting for us.

One funny thing, I was better rested from that spell than I had since leaving the explodey island. I’m really sorry we lost that tower. It had some cool things in it. Statues and stuff. Things I’d never imagined we would have in our monasteries, but there is no accounting for what some people consider art. I know we don’t worship demons, I mean, I’ve been at services my whole life. The last occupants of that tower had a wild imagination, let’s just say.

I didn’t spend the night hanging from a tree, thank Semaunya (may her head be thicker than mine). They cut me down, tied me up and dragged me into their camp. For some reason they didn’t kill me. Liz had no predilection toward mercy on her part and killed three flyers and two regular kobolds before fading back into the swamp. Or so she told me later. We also had the advantage that kobolds don’t like sunlight. See when we attacked them the sun was high in the sky which caused the little stabbers to be uncomfortable and jittery. Worked to Liz’s advantage. I just wish I hadn’t gotten stuck in that rope trap.

The kobolds, not knowing how many of us there were left two scouts behind to watch for further pursuit while the rest fled with me and most of our gear. One of the scouts had the misfortune of carrying Liz’s spear which was far too long to be effectively used by the little biter. Of course, Liz went after him quick enough once the rest of the troop were gone long enough, caving in the side of his melon head with a thrown stone. Girl was talented. She killed he second kobold by biting it in the face. Yes, I wrote that correctly, she bit his face off. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I would rather I never knew that, myself. I’m just glad I didn’t see it. Ew.

The now faceless kobold had been carrying Liz’s best satchel (which just so happened to carried smoked fish). Then she followed the rather obvious trail to see what happened to me. The camp wasn’t enough. She told me she wasn’t sure if I was alive or not until she heard me flatulate. I think I may have misunderstood her words, but I made her repeat it seven times to be sure. Flatulate was not a word in Lizard Folk I ever expected to learn. I was fascinated. Also — fish and iron rations stew made me gassy. It’s a thing.

Now, if we can get back to the story. I was sitting in the kobold camp, tied to a stake and listening intently as the buggers spoke Lizard Folk as I mentioned yesterday(ish). They were supposed to gather my gear and wait until a powerful wizard showed up to give them further orders. There was to be much feasting (likely with me as the main course) after this wizard finished questioning, torturing, and/or flaying my most tender parts.

I want it stated for the record that at his moment I knew it was going to be Tim. I mean, how many wizards could there be in this part of the swamp. Next time Liz gets the chance, I whole heartedly endorse her stabbing him in the neck. Or maybe even biting his face off.

After a bit I dozed. I know I’d already slept pretty well under that spell, but gods kobolds are boring. And stupid. At one point when none of them were looking at me I called out “your hive mother services dwarves” in Lizard Folk. I also disguised my voice, speaking in a falsetto. This got them to fighting amongst themselves for about five minutes. My laughing basically screwed that up. They were obviously too afraid of the unknown wizard (Tim) to mess with me. But I could tell that the leader really wanted to stab me. Instead he pelted me with kobold dung. Yes, you heard me. If I had been able to break free I would have gone after that guy first, even barehanded. When you have kobold excrement smashed on your face, it no longer matters that they had everything I owned, well… except the mace.

Liz reported later that they tried to pick up the mace after knocking me unconscious with a sling stone. This proved to be a bad idea, as you may recall from the great Bullywog incident back on day thirty-seven. It fried one of them. A jolt of divine lightning cremated the sucker where he stood. Left a little pile of dust and scales. They let it lay after that.

I knew about where it dropped and planned to go back and get it once I figured out how I was getting out of there alive.

At nightfall I learned that the mighty wizard had been summoned by means of a second scroll and that he would arrive sometime before dawn the next day. I had about four hours of daylight left at that point, plus a rather long night where the kobolds would regain their full strength. If I was going to do anything I had to be quick about it.

I could almost hear the whistle of stones falling as Liz came to my rescue.

Nothing happened. Liz didn’t rescue me, the sun went down and I was alone in the midst of a tribe of wild kobolds. Life was looking (and smelling) pretty grim.

I’m ashamed to say I forgot myself there in my anger and petulance. Good lesson to learn. I’m a cleric by the will of the gods. Even one as lowly and pathetic as I am have certain connections. I prayed. I figure it couldn’t hurt, right?   The night was long, but at the end of it, Tim was coming to cut me with sharp things. I didn’t sleep after that thought.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-Four

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Woke up just before dawn. I’d fallen asleep on my watch. Holy mother of lizards, we could’ve died. As it was we were only robbed. And by robbed, I mean all our gear was gone. I’m not sure why we hadn’t been killed in our sleep, but Liz was righteously pissed off.

They took her spear, they took my spear, they took our gear. They even tried to take my mace, but as we discovered with the Bullywogs, if you are a nasty sort, the mace really doesn’t want you touching it. They did manage to drag the spear a hundred rods or so northward before giving up. Based on the footprints and flesh left behind by whomever had tried to grab my mace, we were dealing with small creatures with scales.

Kobolds, Liz whispered, cracking her knuckles in a way that incited violence.   I was right there with her. They’d even taken the talking heads. I can just imagine whoever carried that satchel was not having the best of times. But we needed that gear. It had everything, the potions, my armor (as hodge-podge as it was), those two scrolls, my cook pot, knives and worst of all, this journal.

Yes, this journal. How, then, you may very well ask, am I writing in the journal if the kobolds had taken it. Well, good for noticing the detail, and it’s a tale worthy of bards. Of course, it is really three days later and I’m writing each day from memory. I didn’t want to break the rhythm of the journal. I’m sure you understand. You were a stickler for rules and patterns. I always assumed an orderly life meant an orderly spirit and an orderly relationship with Semaunya (who seems a little less anal-retentive about such things, praise be).

Liz was a decent enough tracker and I had some skills of my own. After a heated argument and a quick bout of mending on my part, I whipped up a small pack out of the remains of our reed floats and several strips ripped from the bottom of my robes. This Liz took and filled with fist size rocks, nearly a dozen, that she would use as ranged weapons.

“Kobolds die quickly,” she assured me. “There are just more of them than you think. Like a swarm of Zipplets.”   NOTE: Zipplets are small fish the size of my fist who can peel the flesh off a bone faster than Brother Durham can finish worship (gauging by Sister Agnes’ complaints). They tend to swarm in groups beyond counting and can scour a river or lake of all living matter before moving on.

Biting fish do not sound fun.

Luckily for us, we owned a lot of gear. This proved difficult for a handful of Kobolds to carry. They weren’t that large and my shield alone took two of them to carry. This is how we caught up to them. The band of kobolds were resting not two leagues from where we camped. They hadn’t taken the time to cover their tracks and Liz was hell bent to get her spear back. Seems it had belonged to her older sister. When I asked her why she had her older sister’s spear she told me to shut up that I would scare away the kobolds. Rather rude, I thought. Something to delve into later.

We came upon them from the south. I counted eleven of the little squealers, but Liz assured me there were twice that number, some were waiting in ambush. How right she was. She threw a mean stone, let me tell you. I was thinking about rushing into the clearing and laying waste with my mace when she launched the first missile. It connected with a meaty thump, but I didn’t see who she hit until a body fell from the sky. That’s when I saw that some kobolds could fly. Stirges were bad enough, but flying kobolds? Not sure who thought that was a good idea.

That explained Liz’s extra kobolds. I really needed to look up more. I was missing out on a whole sector of attack. You’d have thought that Brother Charles would have convinced me of that. Well, him and the damned stirges.

To make matters worse, flying kobolds had their own stones. Liz barked at me to circle around to the east and she dodged west, knocking two more kobolds out of the sky before crashing into the thick underbrush. I waited about one more second, just listening to hear if they’d struck her, and dashed to my right.

She was drawing the guards away, giving me time to get into the camp. It was a brilliant plan.

Two things.

I’m not the most lithe individual on the material plane.

Also…

Kobolds set traps.

These were things made clear to me as I was swinging by my ankles upside down, about a kobold’s height off the ground. I had NOT dropped the mace, you’d be proud to know. Of course, my robes fell down over me, revealing my small clothes and covering my view. I tried to pull the material out of my face but only succeeded in providing the biggest of the tiny kobolds a clear shot at my head.

You may also like to know that Brother Durham was correct in his assessment that I had a very thick skull. When something small, round and hard made contact with my head, it was like that time you caught me watching Sisters Edna and Ida worshiping in the communal bath. I’m not sure what you hit me with, but I remember seeing stars for a very long time. This was like that. I found out later it was a sling stone. Kobolds are crazy accurate with those things. If they weren’t such jerks, I may have liked to learn from them. Well, the fact they were evil, thieving scum didn’t increase our odds of exchanging skills. Side note, Kobolds spoke Lizard Folk. I find that fascinating.

That pretty much ended my fifty-fourth day on this grand adventure. Just a further note to assuage your worry. Liz did far better than I. But that is news for the following day. Must see to proper protocol.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-Three

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Today dawned cool and clear.   A severe weather front swept from the north, dropping the temperatures low enough to be noticeable. I wasn’t expecting snow or anything, as far south as we were. The swamp was tropical. The thought of lightning made the plans to swim across the lake a little daunting.

We ate the last of the stew, cleaned the camp and loaded all our gear onto the reed floats. Liz was comfortable swimming with her spear and she could hold her breath for like forever. If we got into a tussle, it was going to be on her to hold the critters at bay while I swam for it. We’d abandon the gear if we had to. Not my first choice, believe me. I just had the strongest intuition that we should be on the far side of this lake if we were going to escape whatever trouble Tim had gotten himself into. We’d even prayed about it, Liz and I. Each in our own way.

Besides, I needed to explore the new tower. What if it was truly one of our abandoned homes? I had no idea our order was spread so far. How much influence did our forbearers have on the ruined city of my dreams? Is that why I dreamed about it so often? I wonder if there were texts I could’ve read in our archives.

Oh, right. The archives burned down when the east tower collapsed. That was a nasty day. And quite the coincidence, don’t you think? Have you given any thought to the fact that the fire and the tower collapse may have been sabotage?

Alas, we may never know. Hopefully the next tower will provide more clues. I will endeavor to make your proud and learn all I can. If need be I will attempt to remove any foul beasts from the tower and purify the sanctuary. We can begin to reclaim our history one tower at a time. Of course, the last one sort of exploded. But the tower near the swamp people remains intact. That’s something to rejoice.

We waded out into the lake, looped our vine ropes around our necks and set off at a steady swim. The water was pretty warm, which surprised me. The wind had a bite to it that felt unnatural. This swamp didn’t see winter, at least not winter weather. What was happening?

As I made my way across the lake my mind focused intently on cold. I had a strong sense of impending trouble. The lake was roughly a league across but I was not the strongest swimmer. Liz practically swam around me in circles looking for things that may want to chomp on my legs and other dangly bits.

For once, we got lucky. I stumbled onto the far shore exhausted but ungnawed. It was refreshing with the chill wind and I quickly donned my robes which stayed remarkably dry and warm in the sun. Liz’s idea of the reed floats had been brilliant.

She beached us nearly a league south of the tower. We decided to make camp here where we had access to fish. As a matter of fact, while I gathered wood for a fire, Liz went out and caught us a handful of small (by her standards) fish that we could cook over the fire. I got a fire going and began boiling water while Liz gutted and cleaned the fish. When she tossed the guts over toward the water we got a bit of a shock. There were stone crabs on this side of the lake. Of course, I’d never seen a stone crab, but Liz had. She said they were quite excellent to eat, but could kill an unwary hunter. We’d have to move our camp further inland.

I took up my mace, and she her spear, and we went crab hunting.   Stone crabs get to be upwards of three feet across the shell with two pincers that can cut a man’s leg in two. They are also fast.

Liz was a pro at fighting them. The trick, she told me, was to flip them over on their backs and stab them through the soft belly shell. Otherwise spears tended to deflect off the tough shells.

She also advised not crushing the claws while fighting them, as that had the tastiest flesh. They were hard enough to kill without adding unneeded restrictions on style. I did land a few blows with the mace on one average size crab, succeeding in cracking the shell, but it fled the fight before I could finish it off. In that same time, Liz flipped over two of the monsters and killed them with her spear. After that the remaining ones fled south along the beach.

They’d be back after dark to pick through the remains of the fallen, and snack on us if we were incautious. We steamed the meat and had a feast. Once we ate our fill we mixed the remaining flesh with the fish and made a hearty stew with some tubers Liz pointed out. We’d eat like kings for a few days.

We wrapped up the remaining food, covered the pot and tied it closed, then I carried the pot in front of me, with the water barrel on my back. I felt like one of those crabs, all bulky and apt to tip over. There was a ridge half a klick in toward the heart of what we discovered was an island. It ran far enough north and south to hide the fact it was an island. Once we got settled in a defensible position, we bedded down. As usual, I took first watch while Liz slept. Times like these I really missed having a third like Brother Charles. He could sleep sitting on mine or Liz’s shoulder while we walked and be bright-eyed and bushy tailed when it came around to watch.

Alas for lost friends. My shift was four hours. And that swim had nearly done me in. I was one tired cleric.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-Two

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Liz and I discussed making a new raft today. I didn’t have an axe so chopping down trees would be a problem. There were plenty of reeds though, so we could make floats for our gear. That way we could swim through deeper water and pull the gear behind us. It was worth a shot. And as I’ve said before, anytime you are on a long trek, it’s good to have goals and projects. Liz showed me how her people wove reads into baskets and I determined that the magic of the mending spell worked to help. See, I could repair an item back to its intended form and state. When I mended my robes they didn’t return to raw wool, they retained their robe like qualities.

When I made a fairly half-assed basket, I could use mend to bring it on home. In the end, I could do two baskets in the time it took Liz to do one. Hers was much prettier, but mine worked. Once we had the concept down we stopped for a light lunch (damn Tim for setting that precedent) and I took a little nap while Liz started in on the bigger float we would need to carry most of our gear. Well, two. One for each of us to pull. Liz took the larger one since she could swim much longer than I could.

Woke up from my nap to find Liz feeding bits of fish to the three heads. They weren’t singing or talking, but no matter how much fish she tossed at them, they ate and ate, like there was not bottom to their appetites. Seeing at they had no bodies, I guess it was probably true. Where did the fish go.

I asked them but they rolled their eyes and shut their mouths. Reminding shrunken heads that they had no bodies proved to be rather rude. I tried apologizing to them but they would have none of it. In the end, I put them back into their satchel and helped Liz get the floats finished.

The lake we had to cross was nearly a league. I could swim most of that way, but I would have to strip down to my small clothes. It also meant adding my weapons, shield, armor, and everything else to the float. I kept the mace on the point closest to me in case we were attacked, but I figure if something comes up from the bottom of the lake to bite me, I’d have a hard time fighting it.

We had a plan and Liz scouted out a ways before the sun set. We were going to spend a second night on this little island and take off at first light.

More lightning tonight. It was pretty. Figured Tim would’ve cut west already, but he seems to be ahead of us.

Unless there is a second lightning wielder.

That made me sit up. There was that creature Kithri had called an eel – like a leech only instead of latching on with an evil razor mouth, it shocked other creatures with electricity. This show made me thing about the eel I’d seen when I was so very sick, which in turn made me think of Old Leech Eye and Mumford. Then I had the sads again.

I hated being sad. It made me think of other sad things which always lead back to my mother. I started to say something to Liz when she got back from her scouting trip. Though by the time she came back she was tired and hungry and I had decided that being abandoned as a baby wasn’t nearly as awful as having your whole village kidnapped by giant toad people and forced to fight for them.

Maybe it was time I stopped mourning a mother I never knew and went on with the growing up part. Tim could’ve had a point there. Life isn’t a picnic every day. Sometimes it just sucked.

I welcomed Liz back with a smile and a bowl of iron ration stew. She gulped it down and told me about her trip. There is another tower, she said. She swam about half way out into the lake in just under two hours and saw on the far shore a tower. She thought maybe it was one of those road towers, but she said it was surrounded by undead.

Father Mulcahy, is it possible we have found another of our lost temples? I was excited to go find out.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty-One

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Liz and I were up early and packed before Tim even woke up. She wanted to stab him in the worse way, miming it while standing over him. His alarms would be going off if that were a true threat. I think she was just acting brave. I took the pack with the iron rations in them. Tim had me carrying them in any case. Also the barrel of water was full since he had us boiling water every night.

I hated the thought of heading back into leeches, but after Tim, I was thinking that at least I knew exactly why the swamp leeches acted the way they did. They were just surviving. Tim was an asshat.

I was shocked how much faster we went once we left Tim. Even cutting across fens and bogs, we were well away from the road when we heard Tim’s angry shouting. We hunkered down in a stand of cat tails nearly a half a league from the road, but we could see enough to see Tim and the zombies go shambling north, Tim screaming our names and threatening to cut us into little pieces.

From that distance his voice was tiny and squeaky. Made me want to laugh, but I’d been kissed by my first swamp leech in days and nothing was funny any longer.

Liz and I moved due east toward the heart of the swamp and away from the edges where Tim and others like him roamed. I think maybe I can see why you and the rest of our order had moved so far away from civilization. The isolation seemed strange to me, for an order that practiced fertility rituals. I figured we’d need to be around farms or castles full of maidens (that was Sister Agnes’s fondest wish, and I heartily agreed with her.)

At one point we came to a section of the swamp where the water got super deep and I couldn’t just trudge through it any further. To swim I’d have to ditch all my gear, which I was not interested in doing.

Instead we camped early on a point of land above the water where we could build a fire and boil some water to soak the iron rations in. We’d learned if we made it into sort of a stew with some chopped up fish it was nearly edible.

My pot was pretty small so we wouldn’t be eating a lot, but it would keep us alive. I was just so relieved to be rid of Tim that it was like a celebration. Liz even sang a song. It was very sad and dealt with death. She had a very sweet voice. When she was done, she said it had been for Brother Charles since we had not been able to morn him properly since Wizard Tim had shown up and distracted us.

I used a little of the divine every day to mend the two feathers I had tied into my hair. I missed that bird. I hope he has gone to a better hunting ground where the stirges fly slow and the coconuts are plentiful.

I said a few words to Brother Charles, then we drew straws for watch. I took the first so she could sleep. I kinda missed Tim’s alarm spell. It would be a nice thing to have.

It was after midnight when we saw the lightning on the far horizon. There was a battle no more than a league from us, but we were in no mood to go see how it turned out. There was nothing Tim had that I wanted, truth be told. He was a petty man and mean-spirited. While I hate to wish ill of anyone, I would not lose any sleep if he ended up in the belly of something with large teeth.

Well, there was one thing. Tim had this fuzzy pink hat that I would love to have. On him it looked silly, but on me, well. Let’s just say that the Sisters would find me dashing. It was a good look on me. Or so I supposed.

It’s time to wake Liz for her shift so I’m signing off for the night. The battle in the distance continues to rage. A ball of fire rose into the sky at one point. For a self-serving prick, Tim was pretty powerful.

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Cleric Journal: Day Fifty

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Ever heard of a spell called magic missile? Neither had I, until Wizard Tim showed us the next time Stirges showed up. Seriously some of the coolest shooting I’d ever seen. He seemed fairly bored by it all, and our company. We told him he didn’t have to hang out with us.

Arrogance is not becoming in a leader or mentor, just saying. When I asked Tim for advice he looked me up and down, wrinkled his nose and stepped away from me, shaking his head. Then he proceeded to say some very not nice things. He’s a bully, I’m afraid to say. And I think he’s got some sleeping sickness. All he does when we make camp is sit on his arse and order us around. You’d think this was his quest, not mine. I was so made. Liz is mad, too. I think if Tim isn’t too careful the next time he calls her a Liz Turd she’s going to see how far she can stick her spear into him. Sure he’s been adventuring longer than Liz or I, but come on. There is no call for ridicule and harsh criticism.

We were significantly slower than I’d hoped now that we were on the ruins of the road. It was smooth with breaks every now and again, but it was those damned zombies he had following us. If I had the ability to raise them, I would just so they’d leave. And while the swamp is fetid, rotten elf and barbarian have a quality odor to them that overwhelms anything the swamp had to offer so far.

And this comes from a man who traveled with two zombie gnomes, one who had a leech sticking out of his eye. Come on.

I’m writing this on our lunch break. Did you know we had to take lunch stops now? It’s ridiculous. Also, Tim had better food than what he is sharing with us. He even has cheese, but he won’t share with us. Liz has never had cheese and I told her it was divine. Tim’s a big fat jerk. I’m too upset to continue writing now. I’ll finish this when we stop for dinner. After we do our chores of course.

You know, if Tim didn’t have an alarm spell, and know how to make things explode or kill them with magic arrows that shoot from his fingers, he may not like what happens the next time he demands I fetch wood and Liz catch a fish. Bastard. I’m really starting to think maybe the dragon was victim here.   This guy is an arrogant douche canoe.

Raining again and Tim is just complaining about not finding a tavern so he could refill his ale. He had ale, and cheese. Did I mention the cheese?

We stopped in another ruined tower, but this one had nothing to do with our order. At least there were no undead running around, and no altars or such that I ever saw. Liz said there were towers like this in other parts of the swamp where the old empire had watchmen to guard the roads. That was long before her great, great, great grand dame was hatched, so a very long time ago. Tim said she was a savage but we had a warm place to camp for the night. Others had used this as a way point before. There were carvings on the wooden lintel and several symbols painted in yellows and reds along one wall.

Tim was curious about those but quickly determined they were the mark of kobolds, but that they were very old and we shouldn’t worry. I had never heard of kobolds. Surprisingly, the talking heads came to my rescue. I was out gathering some purple berry that Tim demanded he wanted for his dinner and I was debating pissing on the whole lot when the heads started talking to me again. Apparently I was mumbling as I plucked berries and the heads took it as I was asking them a direct question. Kobolds are small lizard like people who worship dragons and are evil. Evil is such a harsh word, but the heads assured me they truly were. That they were a serious bother and/or nuisance, I was having trouble determining the correct words from the heads. Basically don’t try to parlay with kobolds, kill them on sight. It was nice advice. That’s when I realized that I had been putting the berries I’d picked into the same satchel as the heads and that they’d eaten more than half of them. I was tired and wanted to go rest, so I would just give up my share of the berries and let Tim have all that I had.

Of course Tim called me a sluggard and spat on my feet. I watched him for a bit and came to realize that maybe the reason Tim knew that those symbols were related to kobolds was because Tim was evil as well.

How else would you explain how mean he was. Tomorrow I’m going to head back into the swamp with Liz. Tim can just bite me.

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Cleric Journal: Day Forty-Nine

DearFatherMulcahy

 

Tim decided to travel with us for a few days. Not sure why, but I think he was fascinated to see what happened next. Once I started carrying the bag of heads, they stopped biting. Unfortunately they started asking me questions. Of course, they did that thing where they used a different language for each sentence, and rotated between the three of them so I could barely understand a damn thing they said. On the plus side, I think I’ve learned three swear words in Abyssal and four epithets in Celestial (but to tell the truth, I wouldn’t call that swearing).

Tim had a bit of scrying in him, believe it or not. He said if I had any pearls, he could tell me about the magic items I carried. I scoffed at him. Sure I had a handful of pearls from the treasure we’d gathered, but I didn’t have any magic items. Well, maybe the potions, they may be. He shook his head at me and cast a spell that made magic items glow.

Boy, was I surprised. Here are the following items. The shrunken heads (duh), the mace (I had an idea it has some small magical ability), all the potions from the bandit camp and the one from the spiders tower were magic, as were the two scroll cases from the spiders. The vambraces (metal) were not, but the leather bracers were, as was the shield. I have no idea how people with so many magical items could fall to those damned spiders. People are idiots.

Finally, I was shocked to find, that the cobbled together Bullywog spear I carried was actually two magic items fused together. What I thought had been a very poor job of mending turned out to be a point where the now broken sword had been somehow magically fused with the long staff of the spear.

I only had three pearls, so I had to pick and choose.

We decided to start with those items that were the most unknown. Bracers offered a modicum of magical protection, but very miner. The shield also had an enchantment which helped protect the wielder. Lastly I chose one of the potions, hoping I had something really cool and powerful. Yeah, no such luck. I picked one of the pretty ones and it ended up being a potion of Clairvoyance. Didn’t sound all that useful to me. Liz didn’t think so either.

Of course, once Tim explained exactly what Clairvoyance was, I got excited. For ten minutes I could look ahead in the area I was, someplace obvious, or I could see or hear someplace familiar. I could look back at the monastery and see what was happening. I could see if Sister Vera made it there safely with my first week letters. I could watch Sister Agnes at her worship.

Okay, I’m gonna need to wrap this up today and go spend some quality alone time away from the others. Trust me, it won’t take long.

I’m back. Tim asked me if I was okay, said he thought he heard me calling out. I told him I had a cough. He eyed me funny, but rolled over and went back to sleep. Man, that dude slept a lot. Turns out he has an alarm spell that would alert us if anyone or anything came into the room, so we all get to sleep tonight. Then we are off to find the main road and skirt this edge of the swamp for a while. It definitely heads to my ancient city, Tim had assured me. It was the one place he and his party had been avoiding. Luckily the dragon broke up any plans they had.

FYI, Tim can animate the dead. After a long debate he decided to animate his two fallen companions in a bizarre hope that he find a true cleric and somehow resurrect them. I said I was a real cleric, as I’d saved his life.

He nodded, giving me credit, but said to come back when I’d grown up and I could run around with him on true adventures. Right now he said me and my lizard girlfriend were just playing at adventuring.

I’m thinking that maybe wizard Tim and Brother Durham would get along just fine.

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Cleric Journal: Day Forty-Eight

DearFatherMulcahy

 

It rained today. Not much of a surprise there. Only we didn’t really have any shelter. We started to move down into the lower level of the keep, but Tim said there were specters down there and I was not in the mood to deal with those cold assholes. All they do is moan and suck out your life force. I got enough of that from the other acolytes at the monastery.

Instead we sat along the wall where the tower had collapsed from our fire. Those stones were warm for a very long time.

I healed Tim a couple more times today, just to clear away lingering rot and decay. He had been in pretty bad shape. I also spent some quality time repairing his ruined robes. He mostly slept. I think he was more wounded than I noticed at first. Poor guy. They really got their asses handed to them by that dragon.

Turns out, Tim had already deciphered the singing heads. That’s how we now know what they truly said. I still think my interpretations were more accurate, but Liz was smug. I was right on a few lines, though. So eat that, Liz you big baby.

I’m just glad she can’t read common. I don’t want her to punch me in the other eye.

Here are the true lyrics.

The world is failing

The dark is nigh

Find the fool

Hear his reply

The dragon marks him

His fate is sealed

Bring us to him

The world be healed

Liz said I was the fool for traipsing through her swamp with the experience of a newborn and Tim laughed and laughed.

But the heads didn’t laugh. They stopped singing and looked at me like I had grown a … was gonna say second head, but that would be redundant, since they had three.

Let’s just say they looked at me with a strange, eager intensity that made me quite uncomfortable. Tim seemed to notice as well and stopped laughing and started choking. Liz laughed harder, though. Fell back on her tail and roared.

Of course, that’s when the thing from the moat got pissy since we’d quit feeding him. He started flailing out at us, tossing great stones and uprooted trees. We barely made it out of the courtyard and deeper into the interior of the moat house.

Tim hadn’t been lying. There were specters there. And giant rats, three skeletons, one grey ooze and seventeen Cornish pixies. I think the pixies were the nastiest things we’ve ever tangled with.

Seventeen rooms in all, one pit trap which Tim had already spotted long before we got to it, and a modicum of treasure. Tim let us keep all of it, as he owed us for saving his life. At least that’s how Liz put it to him as she was dividing up the loot.

Tim just laughed more. I think maybe he’s gone around the bend when the three heads had stopped singing. Liz had the heads in one of the satchels she carried, but said they kept biting her. It wasn’t until we’d totally cleared out the moat house did she finally try to give them back to Tim. Unfortunately he shook his head and pointed to me.

“I’ve been plagued by those things since I was a novice,” he said with a wicked, crazy grin. “If you’re the fool, so be it. I lost two of my best friends thanks to that dragon, and our thief just flat disappeared.”

Liz gave me a look and I nodded. Thief was definitely NOT the fool. He knew not to go up against a freaking adult black dragon. Turns out he was Halfling, too. I would’ve liked to talk to him about Kithri and the things she told me. And honestly I wanted to know how I could see her again. Now she was someone I would love to worship with. And barring that, I’d loved some more of that bread and honey.

One room had been used fairly recently and was somewhat clean and dry. Whomever had stayed here had cooked over a fire, so the ventilation had been decent. Also, there were gnawed bones. Looked like rat bones if you ask me. Tim didn’t care, just flopped down, pulled his pink, fuzzy hat down over his eyes and went back to sleep. Just before he nodded off he sighed and said it was the quietest moment he’d had in thirty-five years.

Liz whispered that it served him right for stealing the heads, but I think he traded his mother’s cow for them or something. Or so he alluded.

We ate more iron rations, chocking down the dry, crumbly things, but at least our bellies weren’t grumbling. I think we need to go for something along the protein line, without being fish. A man could dream.

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Uruz

The wild ox; strength and power.

Ansuz

Creativity; words, music, and art.

Othala

The troll cross; wealth and prosperity.

Sowilo

The sun; energy, honor, guidance.

Fehu

Personally earned or lucky wealth and prosperity.

Jera

The harvest; patience and promise.

Raidho

The chariot; journey and travel.

Note: This is not the real book cover.