Into the Ashlands

Diary entry 1/25/2009

Dear Diary,

It’s been a really tough couple of weeks. First off I lost all of my notes from my last diary entry when we were run out of Holborel for starting some fights. I imagine they probably don’t want us coming back after we stole a bunch of horses, oh well. The crummy map we got to track down Ignatius showed Holborel as a circle in the south part of it, and the Temple of Fire (scary!) being way far off to the northeast. A big skeleton is somewhere in between the two of them that I’m pretty stoked about. It’ll be fun to look at chunks of bone that are taller than me.

We started off into the desert and it got really hot really fast. It got so hot I think my beards beard was sweating so I had to take my armor off for a while. That turned out to be a mistake because a bunch of scorpions ambushed us. Who knew that scorpion meat sorta tasted like chicken? A couple of our horses died after being stung too much by the scorpions, but Ari wouldn’t let me eat them because he said the meat was probably poisonous now. I wonder what poisoned horse meat tastes like.

The next day is pretty boring since we didn’t see anything except more sand and more dunes. Carric and Ari are getting pretty good at finding cactus that had milk we could drink. I thought that only cows made milk, but I doubt we’ll see any cows out here in the desert since there really isn’t any grass for them to eat. On the third day we saw a big dark cloud off on the horizon. At first we got pretty excited because it might have been rain clouds, but then Anar said they were probably bat monster things from the Ashlands who were going to eat us. Personally I would have liked to eaten a bunch of them (I was getting hungry by this point in the day), but instead we all had to burrow into the sand and hide while the bat things ate some of our horses. Carric got lucky later though and caught a rabbit for us which was tasty.

The next day we almost scored a bunch of meat from a herd of deer animals that were drinking from a watering hole. Except we got beaten to the meal by a giant purple worm that ate them all in one gulp. I guess the worm was still hungry because he ended up chasing us up onto a rock before getting bored and leaving us alone. I’m curious if I put on enough armor if I could be eaten by a big worm and pass all the way through its stomach and out the other side. Ari said that probably wouldn’t work and I decided against it anyway as going out the back end definitely wouldn’t be pleasant. That night Carric dreamed of a featureless stone face in the sky with lightning bolts coming out of its eyes, and then he woke up and we got ambushed.

A small group of orcs, human slaves, and hyenas were apparently guarding some little crumbling wall that we stumbled over. We never did figure out what exactly they were doing here because nobody spoke Orc, but the hyenas tasted alright afterwards. The best part was that all of the orcs had water skins we stole to drink from later. I’m pretty sure a bar out here in the desert would make a killing on all the drinks they could sell. I should look into opening one of those later on when I have some more money. We walked the rest of the night and the only other interesting thing we saw was some weird cloaked guy on a horse off to the south, but he disappeared over a dune and we never saw him again.

The next day we finally came upon the bones of the giant skeleton like the map said we wood. Ari said that the body must have been an old cyclops or something because it only had 3 fingers on its hands and a single eye socket. I felt kinda bad for cyclops because with only one eye they would be really easy to beat in a brawl since you could just poke them once and they would be blinded. Later that evening we found a bunch of tall mounds of dirt and sand with holes all over them. They looked like termite mounds, but I didn’t see any trees nearby so I figured they all probably starved to death without any wood to eat. I was wrong though as instead of termites a bunch of ants came out of the hills. They surrounded Ari and started leading him off to the east so we had to follow him.

I guess Ari must speak the ant language because they ended up leading us to an oasis with water and even some berries to eat. We spent the whole day here drinking lots and lots of water. I still feel like I have sand stuck in my teeth, which is not a very pleasant feeling. We headed out again that night and finally caught a glimpse of stone arches from what we assumed was the Temple of Fire. Of course as soon as we arrive there we get ambushed by somebody, because apparently every landmark in this stupid desert is guarded. Even something as dumb as a crumbling rock wall or a stupid ol’ Temple of Fire.

The hobgoblin guards don’t last very long because we’re all very tired and cranky by this point in our journey. We find some ceremonial robes and amulets on them which we take in case we need to make disguises. I think I might be a bit too short to pass as a hobgoblin so I may have to sit on somebody’s shoulders to make us look taller. It looks like the door to the temple is sealed by a big stone slab that is controlled by these two golden discs that sit on little pedestals. One of the discs is off the pedestal now which is why the door is locked. I’m considering stealing one of the discs when we leave to go back to town, but I’ll need to steal some horses first to carry it.

Hugs & snuggles,

Orson

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Diary entry 12/14/2008

Dear Diary,

It’s been a pretty busy week for me so far so I haven’t had any time to sit down and write to you until now. It started off pretty badly when I got beat up and chased out of a cave by a bear. I don’t see what all the fuss was about since I was just looking for a place to sleep. Luckily some dirty farmer guys were in the area so I didn’t have to sleep in a field again.

Udo and his dad Hawkin work all day in the hot sun gardening. I’m glad I don’t have to garden, it doesn’t look like fun. Whenever I get hungry I just find something edible and hit it over the head with my hammer and eat it. I think that’s a lot easier than digging in the dirt.

One night after everybody was asleep somebody came knocking on Udo’s door. It was Udo’s good friend Kian come to pay him a surprise visit! That seemed pretty nice of him, but I think it might have made more sense to come during the day time when everyone is awake. Kian looked like he had been in a pretty rough fight (I suspect bears!) so he lay down on the table and looked like he wanted to take a nap. Before he went to sleep he gave Udo a present box which seemed pretty swell of him.

In the morning we got woke up by a bunch of noisy guys on horses riding into town. Kian wasn’t anywhere to be found so I assumed he had left to go find a bed to sleep in (tables are not very comfortable places to sleep Diary). The guys on horses started to yell about the Praetormium empire and how the villagers were hiding something from them. I’m guessing they were looking for some special dirt because all anyone ever did around here was dig in the dirt all day long. I wonder if it was magic dirt?

I guess Kian must have done something to make the horse guys mad because they dragged him out of the crowd and started to dig through his stuff. One guy got off his horse and looked really angry so he pulled out a big sword and chopped Kian’s head off. I’m betting Kian must have killed his dog or something, because if somebody killed my dog I would chop their head off too. After this some witch lady on a different horse held up this glowy thing and sucked up a bunch of clouds that were coming out of Kian’s body. I was pretty confused at this point as to what was happening since I didn’t think clouds lived inside of people, but it looks like the horse guys were here to steal it from everyone.

The horse guys started to search through houses at this point and I got kinda worried. Not wanting my clouds stolen I told Udo we should make a run for it. Udo’s dad said he had dug a secret tunnel out of the house a few years ago (I love underground tunnels!) and that we could use it to get out of the village. He asked me if I would protect his son and I said sure. I figure he’s a farmer so it’s not like he is going to have anything more dangerous than a rabbit coming after him.

After going through the tunnel we were a ways outside of the town. Udo and I walked in the direction of some fields nearby so we could dig up some food since I was pretty hungry by this point. I guess the present box that Kian gave to him must have been some kind of practical joke because we couldn’t figure out a way to open it. Even my hammer bounced off of it when I tried to smash it open so I figured it was either magic or it was made of an even harder hammer than my hammer. Udo thought it was magical so he said we should travel to Earl Applestand’s city since a lot of powerful wizards hang out there. Any city named Applestand sounded pretty good to me so we started heading that way (I wonder if they have pie?).

After wandering for a few days we stumbled on some bandits trying to rob a guy with red hair. I think the bandits got mad at him because he was riding a dinosaur and they were jealous because they wanted to ride it and he said no. Udo said we should probably help him so I said okay and started to smash them with my hammer. I must be getting rusty because I just stood there most of the time missing them with my swings while they kept hitting my helmet and making my ears ring. I moved all of their bodies off the road and made them neat and tidy in a nice row while Udo healed the red haired guy’s dinosaur. He said his name was A’nar something something something and he had a funny accent when he talked. I wanted to ask him if I could ride his dinosaur but I think I’ll need to make a footstool first so I can get on his back.

A’nar said he owed Udo a debt since he saved his life so he would travel with us to Applestand. I hoped he has a better idea on how to get there because I think we were sorta lost. We got to Applestand a few days later so he must have known where he was going! Udo went to a big tower thing in the city and we tried to meet with the wizard council but they were busy talking about magic stuff. We ended up at an Inn that smelled really good called the Peppered Goose. Everybody in the room kept staring at the girl standing at the bar in there but I was too short to figure out why. I was able to flag her down by waving my arms around a lot and I got some really tasty goose using the money we took from the bandits (I washed it first, it was dirty). We got to sleep on beds again that night in rooms inside the tavern which was nice, but straw is pretty itchy to sleep on.

The next morning we all tried to get in to talk to the council again, but they were still in a meeting. I bet they would have been pretty crabby by this point having been up all night talking so it was probably better that we didn’t see them. The guard was pretty helpful though and told Udo that there were some elves in town who might know something about magic. We went over to their room which was on top of a place that sewed dresses. The dresses all looked too big for me but some of them might have fit Udo who I’m sure would like to get out of all the scratchy wool he wears, but we had more important business with the elves first.

The two elf guys were all covered in tattoos which looked pretty painful. I bet if I got some good dark ink I could draw tattoos on myself and just not wash them off and it wouldn’t hurt as bad. One of the elf guys was named Carric, he always spoke in the funny elf talk. Udo gave him the box to look at it I think he was able to figure out how to open it because Udo said the word “coarse” and the latch popped open. Inside was a small vial covered in more swirly runes that I didn’t understand, and apparently even Carric couldn’t figure out either. Udo invites the elves to supper with us later that night and we head back to the Inn to stare at the barmaid some more. I don’t want to look out of place so I stare in her direction too but my neck started to get sore from looking up so I just stared at the bench in front of the bar and took a nap for a while.

Supper was pretty awkward because A’nar and the elves didn’t seem to get along so well. Udo tried to make conversation but nobody felt like talking and I kept quiet so I wouldn’t embarrass him by saying something dumb. Carric played with his rune bones some more and announced that he must travel with us because we’re the holders of the vial which is important to him somehow. He’s a nice guy because he let me eat most of his goose which tasted really good.

We went back to the council tower again the next day and they finally let us into the city library. Carric said he could use some books there to translate the stuff on the vial so we all milled around while he read for a while. I guess we must just be unlucky because the one specific book that Carric needed had been stolen a few days ago by some Ignatius guy, one of those Praetormium persons who are running around trying to enslave everyone. Another Praetormium wizard is on the council who actually knew Ignatius so we thanked the librarian and left.

Ari spent the day trying to track down Ignatius but didn’t find much because the guards in this town are all blind or something. Carric cast some magic spell on the bottle to try and read the symbols again, but said the symbols were just drawings and not words. I can make some pretty sweet drawings with charcoal and a smooth stone wall but these symbols were on a small bottle so I don’t think my drawings would help. I spent the afternoon asking around town for some help translating ancient words and was able to find a guy named Vutok who might be able to help us. Unfortunately when Udo, A’nar and I went to talk to Vutok Udo thought he seemed too greedy in wanting to keep the vial so we had to leave without learning much.

Carric had went to talk to the librarian again and he was offered this fancy Kobold skull covered in jewels if he could find Ignatius and get his notes back from him. The librarian also invited him to meet with the Earl of Applestand later that night. All the talking and running around was making my head hurt so I stayed at the Goose bar while Udo, A’nar and Carric went to talk to the Earl. Ari spent the evening hunting for animals out in the woods because I think he was jealous of the librarian. He had this freakin sweet hat made out of a weasel, but it looked kinda small for my head. Next time I meet a cave bear I’m going to make him into a hat that I can wear.

I guess the Earl was really excited about the vial when Udo showed it to him so he invited us to sleep at his place for the night. I’m glad he did because it gave me a chance to write all this down because I’ve been so busy lately. I’m pretty tired now so I have to go to bed, but I’ll write to you again soon Diary.

Hugs and kisses,

Orson

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