Into the Ashlands

Adventures of Trog II

Trog and other guys went to the dogman cave to rescue a lady. We ate some food first and Trog covered himself in scary mud and paint. If Trog lucky the dogmans will think he is a monster and run in fear of him.

We followed the trail back to the cave that Randy left by blowing up trees. Sneaking up to the door we saw there was a few dogguys outside being guards. Trog surprised them and we beat on them until they died. Trog is good at being quiet. Trog is not good at finding traps though since Trog and Gus fell into a big hole with spikes in it. Trog not very happy about this. After we climb out of the pit we got ambushed by dogmen instead of us sneaking up on them. We smash them for a while but are getting tired and a few of them escape down a different hole.

Trog not liking the holes around here (they are full of spikes!) so drop a torch down the hole to see if there are any traps. Instead lots and lots and lots of rats came running up out of the hole and started gnawing on our feet. A dogman covered in rats seemed to be the boss of the rats, so Trog kept smashing him until he fell over and then the rats all ran off down the hole. We took all of the ratdogman’s stuff but all he had was some smelly leather armor covered in drawings. Randy put on the armor and said some magic word and turned himself into a rat. Randy seems to be really good at getting himself into trouble. Trog laughed a lot at him.

Trog no remember who had the smarty man idea to tie a rope to Randy and drop him down in the hole but Randy was able to run around and saw some more rotting dogmans down there eating dead bodies. It smells really bad down in the hole but the lady could have been down there so we had to go down (Trog glad he didn’t eat much that morning). We fought a long time against lots of undeads and dogmen and other gross guys down in the hole. Trog very tired after all this fighting. We dug around in the bodies for a while but didn’t think the lady was there or if she was down there somebody ate her head off and Trog not think her mom would want her back then. There was a tunnel that went deeper past the big pile of bodies but we thought sleeping for a while would be better idea.

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Adventures of Trog

(scrawled in barely legible writing with sticks of charcoal on scrolls of bark)

Trog hasn’t had a good time of things lately. First get beaten up by dogmen in the forest. Then after wake up from punch to the head Trog is stuck in a hole by skinny humans. They give Trog food and don’t poke at him with sticks so it was not bad, just boring. Lost track of time down in hole until more humans and a short guy came to let Trog out of the hole. Taller guy with writing on his face was named something like Goose. He shouted lots of orders and everyone ran around doing what he said, he must be a great leader. Short guy named Randy. He barely come up to Trog’s waist, he’s funny looking. They say Trog will be let go if help kill dogmen who keep attacking the human village. Trog likes to smash doggies so Trog is okay with this. Trog also meet other interesting guys Udo and Anar. Udo is a farmer who wears armor, and Anar likes to light his hair on fire. Trog is confused by them often.

Trog helped fix wall of the town, but dogmen just jumped over it anyway and we clubbed each other for a while. Trog was really tired by the time we killed all the dog guys, but some old lady in town was sad because the dogmen stole another lady. Udo said Trog could have a big hat made of antlers if Trog found where the dogman took the lady, so Trog took everyone into the forest. Footprints led Trog to pile of stinky rotting bodies. More dogmen and some zombies attacked us. Trog think they thought we were trying to steal their food, or maybe Trog confused again, Trog not sure. We smashed all them and burned ‘em up in a big pile. Trog still wanting to go find the dogmen house, but Goose was really tired. Instead Randy and Trog snuck ahead and found a big cave in the side of a cliff. It smelled like dog so Trog figure this be dog home. We go back to town to sleep and eat food. Trog not like beds, Trog sleep on the ground. Trog kill lots of dog guys, and if Trog saves the lady then Trog maybe get village to write a letter saying how big and strong Trog is. Trog feels like a strong leader!

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A Plague of Gnolls
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The path ahead II
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Prologue (4/12/2009)

The tale begins simply enough, I found myself doing my usual thing, selling quality goods and even finer stories to the fine people of Holborel. A group coming out of the desert caught my eye, or rather the giant bag of goodies they were carrying, but I digress. I introduced myself, offered my services, a relatively distrusting group it seemed, but when it comes to trade, distrust only goes so far, eventually everyone needs a service done.

I find them again at the inn, later on in the evening. We share some drinks, some stories, hopefully a few laughs as well. I always make it a point when first speaking with a potential client not wear my welcome thin, so I excuse myself for the evening. My hopes that that wouldn’t be the last time we met were answered, although perhaps a little too early in the morning. Their need for secrecy and the level of suspicion in their eyes intrigues me, but their gold looks the same color as anyone elses, so business shall be done.

It was going well, a few back and forths of trade, they had some relatively interesting finds from out in the desert; and then there was the blue rock. The blue rock… I curse it for the pain I felt in my hand, but perhaps it was a blessing. I’m a gambler and I understand quite well when fate is casting the die for you; The moment I spoke that word and the rock left its mark on me… I knew the die had been cast. Clearly the other two understood that as well as we made great haste in leaving the inn; imagine my surprise when I found out that I was in the company of thieves, although the stable masters anger probably outweighed my surprise. I think I could’ve maybe difused the situation, but the overly generous human was quick to throw gold at the situation. Oh well, perhaps in time I can make them less likely to throw away their riches… well, to anyone except for me.

Our hasty retreat out of town was cut short but the sight of a Praetorian army on the horizon. I may later regret getting caught up with these two if I end up in a Praetorian cell someday. The townsfolk were kind enough to create a successful diversion for us and we slipped out of town unnoticed. Moons passed, stories were shared; the one called Udo seems to be working on his sword skills with the help of his travelling companion. We were having a good point at this time, I think we were nearing the town of Aethelstan, although I’m not sure anybody has actually told me yet where we’re headed; and then, Praetorians. My concern about my future with a Praetorian cell grows, but not by much as it was a rather small force and none were left alive. This of course led to the discovery that I’m not only traveling with thieves, but cold blooded killers. It adds some irony to their original accusations towards me when we met; It also goes to proove that everyone in this world is at least somewhat a criminal.

I’ll have to stop my story short here, perhaps I can let you hear more the next time we meet, provided you have the coin.

Randyl Weaver

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Diary entry 4/12/2009

Dear Diary,

This is going to be a short entry because I decided it was time for a career change for a few months. I’m a bit tired of the adventuring life so I settled on a job with one of the locals from Holborel. The chubby guy is named Bodwin and he offered me a simple job moving cargo with his trade caravan. It’s sad to be leaving my new friends but I think I need some time to grow a new beard before I could get into a proper fight again.

My last entry ended with us taking a nap on top of the temple that we had finally conquered. We weren’t looking forward to trekking across the desert again (especially not Ari who had to carry Carric’s body on his back) but we the longer we waited and the more dry my tongue got. We first made our way to the ant oasis to restock on fruit and water and to rest for a full day. We started back into the real journey on sundown after that.

We pretty much ran out of food after the first day of walking, but Ari was able to catch a rabbit on the second day so we had something to pick our teeth with. On the third day we were running low on water even and Udo was starting to look like a scrawny roasted chicken to me when we saw some men on horseback off on the edge of the horizon. After getting up close to them we discovered that they were a group of Anar’s people the Hazzaqi. Of course they all bowed and prayed to him after they figured him out to be some sort of holy figure, but I was too tired to make fun of him.

We took up their offer to ride on some of their humped horse things (camels or something) the rest of the way to Holborel. Ari took this chance to part ways with us and make his own way to the forests of the elves to properly bury Carric. I gave Carric a hug on the way out since I figured he wouldn’t mind being that he was dead and all. Ari didn’t want a hug though which made me sad. I’ll make a point of being more insistent with my hugs later.

The rest of the journey to Holborel was uneventful and I spent most of my time sleeping or eating. We worried a little bit that the village wouldn’t let us enter after the horse stealing stunt we had pulled last time but when we looked at each other’s faces covered in sunburn, cracked lips and hair mostly burned off we thought that it would be a miracle if any of them recognized us. We reached a guard outpost right outside the village and they had a few gruff words with us but the Hazzaqi leader was able to smuggle us inside.

Once inside the village we met Bodwin and he immediately offered me a job carrying cargo. I accepted but had to help Udo and Anar go through the temple loot before I could join the new caravan. We met a strange short guy named Randyl who offered to help us out in that area so we said meet us at the Inn and headed over there for some food. The innkeeper remembered us and ended up giving us free room and board for saving his life last time we were in town, so we gobbled down a quick meal before barricading ourselves in our room. We paid special attention to barring the windows remembering what happened to us last time here.

We picked through the junk we grabbed from the Temple but there wasn’t much in the pile that was interesting to me. The solid gold mask was pretty shiny so I took that along with the weapons and armor I rightfully won from the bald dwarf. I made sure to give out some solid hugs to both Anar and Udo since I wouldn’t see them again for a while when they were off adventuring, and then I left to meet up with Bodwin.

Hoping that my beard grows back twice as long,

Orson

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Diary entry 3/22/2009

Dear Diary,

I woke up feeling a lot better than I did when I went to sleep. After some nightmares about that stupid curse of the tomb garbage I got up and didn’t feel sick anymore. Being scared of moldy old curses is for sissies anyway. We packed up our things and headed back downstairs to face another dreaded bridge over lava. I’m really getting sick of bridges, and lava, and combinations of bridges over lava. If I ever design an underground temple I’ll be sure to put catapults or some other quick method of crossing lava because I’m sick of walking over crumbling rocks.

Anar crossed first and whispered back to us that he saw some robed figures ahead. They were probably more temple guards so we all snuck across the bridge and waited to see what they were doing. We heard some yelling in languages we couldn’t understand and then some other guys yelling in common before a fight broke out. We waited a little bit for a few of the guards to kill any of Ignatius’ men that they could and then we ambushed them all from behind. They had a big brute of an orc for a commander but made quick work of the group anyways. Investigating the nearby rooms we found a couple of Ignatius’ men dead and some bags of gold and gems that they had taken from elsewhere in the temple. I’m not one to let stuff go to waste so I grabbed up all the riches and we kept exploring.

The rooms leading off the large cavern didn’t lead anywhere else so we continued to the south. The ground slowly turned more and more into cooled lava rock and the air got stifling hot. Eventually we found ourselves surrounded on both sides by large smoldering pools of lava. We picked our way slowly south further until we saw what looked like rocks moving in the lava. I figured stuff had just fallen from the ceiling and was melting away until a whole bunch of red beetles crawled out and attacked us. I want to say that some sort of insect god was watching over this temple because we seem to run into lots and lots of bugs. A few taller people looking things made of lava attacked us too so we’ve finally run into the “lava monsters” that Chel was talking about. Covered in sweat we finally beat all of the lava creatures, but we have to retreat back north for a while to rest because we can barely breath in here.

Rested up we continued on once again. The air continued to get hotter and hotter. At some point the ground became so heated by the lava that it actually burned our hands when we touched it. Luckily I had a stout pair of boots on but I bet the other guys were suffering a bit in their lighter shoes. A bit more time passed and we started to hear a whispering inside our heads. Ignatius’ voice rang out and asked us what we thought we were doing. I thought it was pretty obvious that we had come down here to beat the crap out of him and take all his stuff. He tried bribing us with piles of gold and shiny jewels but we argued that we could just knock him out and still get the money so he stopped bothering us and lifted the thick layer of smoke hiding him in his little castle. Who would have thought to build a freaking castle inside a lava filled cavern underground in the desert?

Frustration set in on us immediately when we saw a huge river of lava with plates of rock floating on it separating us from Ignatius and his crossbow wielding minions. We slowly picked our way across over to him and started to scale the walls of his tiny castle. The battle wore on and as we started to get up on the battlements Ignatius used magic to jump to another castle wall across yet another river of lava. He was smart enough to have destroyed the bridge here so it was really difficult for us to get over to him. Anar put on his jumping shoes and made a massive leap across to the other side. I was going to follow him but Chel picked this exact moment to backstab us all (me literally!) and knocked me out. After waking me up with the battle was finished the other guys said he was the shapeshifter we had encountered earlier in Holborel. I had to take their word for it because I was out for the majority of the fight after Chel stabbed me. Apparently the other boys were able to take care of Ignatius and his men but the crafty shapeshifter got away before Ari could kill him. We’ll have to keep an eye out for him in the future and probably just kill any wounded Halflings that we find under piles of rocks. Just to be safe.

Ignatius died before he was able to complete his ritual to open the altar underground here so we were able to get the spoils first. The important thing was we got Udo’s box back, and found another vial (this one with a square top) that fit inside the box perfectly. Having collected that and the rest of Ignatius’ stuff we headed back to the surface of the temple. Exhausted from a long day we pushed one of the gold discs aside and sealed the temple. As I write this I am still trying to think of how we can get even one of these discs back to town but all of our horses are dead and Ignatius didn’t leave any wandering around the area. I wonder how long Udo could carry it if I tied it to his back?

Enjoying a nap,

Orson

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The path ahead...
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