Into the Ashlands

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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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 2/8/2009

Dear Diary,

This is going to be a short entry this week diary because it isn’t very safe to sleep inside the Temple of Fire now that we finally got here. It is kind of a bummer because I really like these sleeping bags we got from the Earl, I think I’m going to forget to give them back later. He probably won’t care much since he’ll be so mad we got his horses killed haha.

Anyways, we got started in the Temple by moving the gold disc doodad on top of the pedastal that had a depression on it. As soon as the light of the sun hit the disc a ring of fire shot up from both pedastals and the stone gate lowered into the ground. Apparently an unlucky guy got jammed in the doorway and died because his skeleton came down with the gate. I’m guessing it would not be a good idea to stick your foot in this door to try and stop it from closing.

Walking in past the gate we found a rough hole leading straight down into darkness. There were some rusty rings set in the wall with chunks of a moldy old rope ladder dropping off. One of the other guys was rich enough to afford some rope to let us climb down the hole. Some day I plan to save up enough money to buy some rope. I hope I get there before I get too old to enjoy tying things up. Udo pulled out a sunrod and lit up the area so we could start exploring.

The room we climbed down into wasn’t very big, but there was a hallway leading off to the north. I don’t think we make very good explorers because the first thing we ran into in that hallway was a trap that spewed fire from the walls. We couldn’t find any way to turn it off. Anar didn’t seem to be too disturbed by this though and he ended up just running off down the hall without even really trying to dodge the fire. I didn’t want to look like a wimp so I ran off after him. This proved to be rather painful because my beard caught on fire, and at the other end of the hall Anar had met a bunch of bandits who all got mad at him and were attacking. I think word has spread that Anar has a dinosaur that he doesn’t like to let other people ride so I bet we’re going to be getting beat up a lot until he learns the importance of sharing.

The rest of the group eventually made their way through the fire hallway while Anar and me fought with the bandits. I was so busy swinging my hammer that I didn’t have time to put out the beard fire I had going on. It’s a lot shorter now but I wanted to get it trimmed anyway so that fire trap really just saved me some time. After we got done beating up the bandits we dug through their stuff and found a bunch of extra food and water. We were pretty happy to find something new to eat because I’m sure the bandits wouldn’t have tasted all that good.

Moving on we came into a larger open room that had two orb things lighting the area that were on top of immovable stone blocks. There were hallways leading off 3 different directions with some candles there lighting the way. Walking to the east we came to a gate made out of a bunch of bones lashed together with rope and other junk. I’m pretty impressed that these temple guys would be smart enough to use bones out here in the desert, but I suppose there isn’t a lot of wood to go around so you have to make due with what you got. The gateway led into another large room with about 5 smaller tunnels leading out from it. The floor was tiled and had a wierd design in the shape of some guys face done in different colored tiles. A ring of fire was floating over this guys forehead that painfully reminded me of my beard burning encounter earlier with the fire traps so I stayed far away from it. Carric seemed to think the fire ring was something to stop intruders so I hoped we didn’t find anymore of them later (yeah I was wrong).

Most of the tunnels leading off from this room had these stone archways covered in rune carvings. Carric said the runes mentioned something about tombs so this must have been the temple’s burial ground for the higher up priests and stuff. We explored each of the tunnels but just found a large casket at the end of each of them that was covered in dust and didn’t look to have been disturbed in years. There were more of the firey circles floating around in some spots so we decided to skip the entire area and move on since Ignatius probably hadn’t been through here.

Backtracking we took the large tunnel to the west which led into another big room with a face made of tiles on the floor. I was itching at this point to find some jewels and treasure since we were obviously in a pretty rich temple, but all we found over here were more tunnels. Tunnels covered in huge webs that didn’t look like fun to walk through. I made a point of marking on my little handdrawn map SPIDERS for this room and we left quickly.

We backtracked one final time and headed north through the last tunnel. As we approached the next area we saw the very odd sight of a slowly floating ball of flame circling through the next room. In fact there were several of these balls of flame circling the room. They didn’t seem to give off a lot of light but nobody in the group wanted to get near them for fear of being burned even more than we already were. Anar ran past one of them into the center of the room to investigate the statue of a big jackal that was carved from gold. I was rubbing my hands together at the thought of chipping a leg or ear off this big guy when we heard approaching foot steps and voices from the south. Apparently the group of hobgoblins we fought outside the temple was not the only ones in the area so we had to crack some more heads when they attacked us.

Hobgoblins aren’t very smart as we were able to lure them in close to us by hiding behind some pillars and then we rushed their archers and one spellcaster guy and took them all out pretty easy. I’m happy to say that my beard didn’t get burned by anything else before we sat down to rest so I think we had a successful day. I hope to write again soon diary but we can’t rest for long here or else more hobgoblins might find us.

Toodles,

Orson

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Temple of Fire 2
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Diary entry 2/22/2009

Dear Diary,

This week’s entry is really sad because our friend Carric died when we got ambushed by a bunch of thugs . Things didn’t start off so bad when Ari and I were able to convince Anar and Carric to let us go back and explore the spider caves some more. I think Ari really wants to find whatever it is that Ignatius is looking for down here before he does. Personally I just want to find some expensive shiny stuff that’s easier to carry than a gigantic gold disc so I can fill myself to the brim on ale and mutton. Mmm mutton.

Anyways, we headed back to the webby area and had Carric burn his way through the tunnels for us. Eventually we came to another small room with a tomb in the middle but we couldn’t risk lighting the webs on fire in case everything went up in smoke. After cutting our way into the middle Carric was able to read the runes on the box, “Desmoo the Eye Falcon”. I’m curious as to what exactly an Eye Falcon is but I wasn’t able to think about it long before a bunch of spiders came out of the walls and started biting us.

I think spiders are icky so I didn’t hesitate to squash them all with my hammer. One of them was able to get away which always bugs me because I absolutely hate it when I go to squish a bug and it crawls under a table or somewhere I can’t get it. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping very well until I find the stupid spider. Ari rushed to open the tomb up and grabs a few things before running out. The dead guy in the coffin had a pretty swell mask on made out of gold that I’m sure he wouldn’t miss so I quietly stuck it in one of my pouches and caught up with everyone else.

I think Anar and Carric are pretty mad with us by this point since they made everyone return to the room with the jackal statue and floaty fireballs. As we’re standing around trying to figure out what to do that damn imp we ran into a few days ago swooped down and stole Udo’s brooch. This was apparently really bad because one of the fireballs immediately jumped on top of him. I ran in and pushed him out of the fire (burning even more of my hair off) before he burned up. I wasn’t even done brushing the burnt hair from my beard before Ari walked over and gave Udo his brooch back. Apparently the imp didn’t get very far before Ari skewered him on a couple of arrows. I wonder what imp on skewers over a fire would taste like?

We milled around some more while Carric and Anar tried to grab a couple of fat rubies from the eyes of the jackal statue. I thought it was pretty funny watching a couple of guys so against grave robbing to be stealing gems from a holy statue thing but I was able to cough and pretend like I wasn’t laughing. After Anar crawled down from retrieving the gems we noticed the room get cold and all of the fireballs faded and disappeared. With the heat a bit less oppressive in here Ari is able to find some tracks in the middle of the room leading off to the west and to the east. We flip a coin and decide to tromp off to the west.

This tunnel is just as boring as every other tunnel down in this stupid temple, but it does have some neat scorpion statues carved from black stone. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach though as it seems whenever we see a statue of something we end up running into the real thing later on. If I see a statue of a dragon down here I quit.

At the end of the tunnel we come to this huge auditorium room that has sandy floors and rows and rows of benches lining the walls. Another big statue of a carved scorpion is in the center of the room and off on the side opposite of us there is a wooden gate. Ari told us to be quiet as the gate started to rise up. Then we watched a couple of skeletons slowly shamble out dragging chains attached to a live giant scorpion. I would have settled for scorpions the size of the statues we saw in the tunnel, but Anar was pretty set on us not letting the skeletons get away so we ran into the room and started bashing some heads (or whatever it is that scorpions have if they don’t have a head).

After we finish with the scorpion everyone wanted to use the gated room to sleep for the night. I wasn’t very tired since I spent most of the fight standing still after the damn scorpion stung me in the leg and I went numb from my waist down. Oh well. A pile of refuse that were likely people at one point reveals a charred ring with the seal of Holborel on it so we know that Ignatius has been in the area recently. We rest for a time and then head back into the jackal room to investigate the other tunnel.

After a bit of a walk we come upon a pair of doors on opposite sides of a tunnel with melted and scorched flooring. We’re not really sure what to make of this mess until we see a slimy pile of goo ooze out from under 1 of the doors and go underneath the other one. We could see bits and pieces of half eaten things floating in the slime so we don’t even hesitate to clean up these gross bastards. Among the junk in the slime we find another Holborel signet ring and figure that Ignatius must be close. A quick glance through the rooms the slimes were patrolling turns up some gems and gold that we pocket quickly on our way through to another door to the east.

Immediately after stepping through this doorway we trip over a mixed pile of hobgoblin and human bodies. It seems the temple guards tangled with Ignatius’ goons here and a bunch of both groups died and their corpses were left laying. Approaching the door to the north we can smell sulfur and burning coming from beyond it. I hoped that we might find Ignatius’ burning corpse on the other side, but my luck as always stinks. Instead we ran into a freaking river of LAVA cutting right through the tunnel with some rickety slabs of stone stretched across it as a bridge.

Playing it safe we send Anar across first with a rope tied around his waist as a anchor. Slowly everyone begins to make their way over the bridge, but things got even worse for us as a group of Holborel dweebs left behind by Ignatius stumbled upon as just as we were all getting away from the lava. A bunch of humans with some big dogs and a bald headed dwarf with a beard that wasn’t even half as long and full bodied as mine. I immediately charged the dwarf and met him head on because he was the obvious leader of this ragtag group of misfits. In the confusion of battle the bridge must have gotten wrecked as Carric ended up stranded on the other side of a big jump between him and the safe ground.

The fight raged on for a long time as everyone was bleeding from multiple wounds and that stupid bald dwarf was just shrugging off all of our strikes. Carric fell under a hail of crossbow bolts which must have pissed Ari off something fierce, because he kicked that crossbowman right into the lava. We finally took the dwarf down and were able to get across the lava to try and help Carric, but Udo said that we were too late and he had already died from his wounds.

We all stood around forlornly while Udo cast some magic on Carric to keep his body from rotting before we could take it out of the temple (I even took off my helmet like a respectable dwarf). We couldn’t take him with us so we were forced to leave him under a carefully stacked pile of rocks with Udo’s warding magic on it. Our first priority right now is to find Ignatius, but then we need to get Carric back to the city and try to scrounge up enough money to get him healed. I wonder how much somebody would pay for braided beard hair if I scalped the other dwarf.

Feeling sad,

Orson

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