Diary of Joranvis Widdlewood, Junior-Apprentice of The Twilight Academy, Galduria
Journal entry, 25th of Rova, 4711 AR
The solution to my problem continues to elude me; The scrying stone I crafted remains defective. Despite all my efforts it continues to produce the same results. If I remain unable to resolve the issue, then I will fail Advanced Arcanic Crafting and be unable to advance to the position of Senior-Apprentice for yet another year!
I have, however, learned more as to the likely cause of the defect. In speaking with Junior-Apprentice Bueller, I have learned that the very adventures whom my scrying stone insists to focus solely upon were not only here in Galduria just a few weeks ago, but two of them even ventured inside this very academy! No doubt one of the meddling fools did something to interfere with the initial stages of my creation, explaining why all I can see now through this worthless stone is their bumbling exploits!
Still… Despite their transgressions, they have proven to be of some mild entertainment. I’ve barely been beyond these walls in several years; As such, observing their laughable attempts to survive on their journey North, whilst constantly seeming to be at one another’s throats does provide some small satisfaction, and at the same time does allow me to travel (at least in spirit) where many here cannot (nor would even think to).
For instance, let me recount for you now their latest foolishness…
Shortly after entering the frigid Land Of The Linnorm Kings, that bumbling excuse for a “wizard” (as he calls himself) had decided to rob a store within the city of Jol, of all things! It would seem that there were some magical trinkets within that he desired. Being short on coin though and completely failing to understand the simple concepts of barter or fair trade, he decided that he could use his “magic” to enter the store at night and take the trinkets he so desired. He attempted to enlist the assistance of his comrades, but it would seem they at least had better sense. Their was a brief altercation between him and the shady Chelaxian (raised words and something about the Chelaxian leaving his service), before he stormed off into the night alone.
Of course, the crime went exactly as one would expect. His “magics” all failed him (clearly he has not even a basic schooling in spellcraft), so he resorted to brute force in order to enter the store. Much to my amusement, he was greeted by a particularly large Winter Wolf guarding the shop, which proceeded to make short work of him. It must have been particularly well trained though, as rather than simply eating him (as he deserved) it rather stood guard over his unconscious (again!) form until the City Guard arrived to arrest him.
Back at their caravan, his companions were rudely awakened shortly after by none other than the Captain of the Guard who, for some reason, seemed rather upset with the wizards companions. They were promptly escorted (with little choice in the matter) to the Jolsburg, seat of the “great and compassionate” Opir Eightfingers (a most ironic reputation, given that he is neither of these things), ruler of Southmoor. Upon reaching the Great Hall, the party was no doubt pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the sight of their wizard, shackled and on his knees, and a most disgruntled Linnorm King. “King” Opir then proceeded to enlighten the party as to the latest exploits of their companion, and express why this had left him somewhat vexed, to say the least! As elected spokesperson, it was explained to the deceitful Chelaxian that his party (minus the wizard) would be expelled from the city for a period of 7 days. After which, one of them would return to represent the wizard and hear the weregild that was due for his crimes. If it went unpaid, then the wizard would become a thrall, working off his debt as a servant over the course of however many years it took. Rather than trouble him, this seemed to amuse the Chelaxian greatly – No great surprise, given the pairs inability to cooperate for any length of time. He was, however, blissfully unaware of certain facts which would be made clear to him shortly (and much to my amusement).
While the wizard was led away to the dungeons below the Jolsburg, the rest of the party returned to their caravan and explained the situation to those that had remained. The news was met with much shock and surprise, followed by frustration and annoyance. Several believed that this was the wizards own doing and that he had caused enough trouble, that it would be simpler to move on without him. The despicable Chelaxian was first among these. That is, until it was explained to him that their greatest prize so far (some seal of some kind) had still been in the wizard possession at the time of his arrest. Oh how you should have seen the Chelaxian’s face fall upon hearing this! Had I not known otherwise, I would have thought that someone had delivered news that his own mother had just died… if he even knew his mother, and hadn’t probably killed her himself!
So it was decided that this misfit band of adventurers would set up camp outside of the city of Jol, to return in 7 days in order to pay the weregild and collect the troublesome wizard. Once the caravan was established outside, yet still close to the city walls, talk turned to their provisions. It would seem that while they had enough food to last 7 days, their firewood was in short supply. A most unfortunate and perilous circumstance, given the bitterness of the climate on the Southmoor. It was decided that, despite the dangers of giants, trolls and creatures of the Fey, a small number of the party would venture to the edge of the Grungir Forest, in order to retrieve firewood. And so it was that the lumbering half-orc, the fanatical healer, the dirt covered ranger and that dastardly Chelaxian departed upon a single supply wagon, laden with only a creaky ballista as there only hope against almost certain death!
They ventured into the icy wastes, in the direction of the forest. Their journey took many, dull hours, of which I must confess I did not observe all. Perhaps I missed yet further bumbling antics – No doubt the half-orc attempted to attack, or perhaps copulate with a tree or rock, or some such. And to be sure, the tiresome Chelaxiax in his stupid hat most likely exerted all his diplomatic skills in a yet another failed attempt to convince a fellow party member that he was NOT a traitorous bastard! These and many more such exchanges I may have missed. However, at last I did return to the scrying stone, the party had chanced to cross paths with a giant – Most exciting times were surely ahead!
This 14 foot tall, shambling brute is native to these parts, but not always a common sight in such a vast, icy tundra. So I was most keen to see how he would react, upon crossing paths with this band of hapless adventurers. Not well, as it turns out! Despite their feeble attempts to avoid him, the giant was soon angling directly for the party and their wagon.
It was at this point that the tattooed barbarian had his moment to shine. As a side note, it is my belief that he bears so many tattoos in hope to hide the scars and absolute ugliness that lies beneath – If so, he has not been successful! Hideous or not though, surely he must be a master tactician of some kind, for the plan he formulated next was truly ingenious and not ridiculously stupid and foolish in any was so ever (it is unfortunate that sarcasm does not carry well to paper)! His most subtle and cunning plan was to, and I write no word of a lie, tie himself to one of the ballista bolts and have the insidious Chelaxian FIRE him at the giant!!
How could this most fiendish of plans, containing not a single drawback or oversight, possibly go wrong you ask?! The answer, of course, is obvious – Even had the plan been genuinely faultless in it’s design, the half-orc made the calamitous mistake of involving the incompetent Chelaxian in it’s execution! The nefarious fool’s aim is clearly far less practiced than his ability to convince the other fools amongst his party that he is, in fact, NOT a wicked, devious, backstabbing little knave, who will sell them all out at the first opportunity to do so, should it furthers any one of his many “brilliant” schemes; So many of which he has, that no doubt even he becomes confused upon waking each morning, as to who it is he called “ally” prior to dawn’s breaking that he must now betray before nightfall comes again! But I digress…
The ballista, once fired, sent the oafish half-orc well wide of his intended target and far over the giant’s head. So far off the mark in fact, that the giant didn’t even seem to notice the airborne barbarian tied to a 6 foot metal tipped stake, hurtling by through the air; Or perhaps the sight was simply so bizarre and beyond the comprehension of his primitive brain, that it simply chose not to even attempt to process the event! Whatever the case, the half-orc’s brief experiment with “flight” was brought to a sudden and no doubt painful conclusion, when he impacted the ground at speed, some 60 feet beyond the giant. Though momentarily dazed, he was still surprisingly quick to pull himself back up and begin jogging haphazardly in roughly the direction of the giant, still armed with the ballista bolt. Fortunately for him, the diminished brain size and thickened skull common to hybrids of his ilk no doubt protected him from the impact to an extent, whilst at the same time resulting in most of the horrific injuries he had surely just sustained failing to even yet register!
As these events played out, the ranger and cleric had taken a defensive position near the wagon, and were at least attempting to do the giant some harm with diminutive bow and paltry “divine” magic. The loathsome Chelaxian however, seemed to think it best to fire ballista bolts AROUND the giant, rather than at him; Perhaps another of his schemes, whereby he lets the giant eat his companions, allowing him to later relieve their mangled corpses of all their belongings!
Finally the half-orc returned to the fray, seeming quite angry. Perhaps ignorant of the mortal danger he was putting himself, he began to pin-cushion the giant with the enormous ballista bolt, at the same time circling him in order (it would appear) to entangle the giant’s legs within the rope still tied to the bolt shaft! If this was a deliberate strategy, then perhaps I had underestimated the barbarians intellect; Given proper training he may even be able to handle simple tasks, such as pulling a plow or turning a mill wheel. It would seem though he had not the patience to see his strategy to fruition – Instead he chose to drop the improvised spear, switch to his rather unwieldy greatsword and simply begin hacking at the giant with it. He showed little skill in swordsmanship, though proved none to be necessary when he landed a particularly powerful blow that cleaved clean through the giant, cutting it into two lifeless halves! If his kin also show such strength, perhaps I should prepare a thesis on how his kind may be put to work performing menial labour? I’m sure they could be easily outwitted, captured and controlled for such purposes.
I must admit, at this point, events grew less interesting. The rest of the journey to the Grungir forest was uneventful, and as the party began the tiresome task of gathering lumber, I lost interest. I had already spent far too much time observing them, and needed to return to my studies. I decided to leave them to the monotonous tasks of surviving the next few days, and would pick up my observations when they were scheduled to return to determine the wizards fate; Assuming of course that they even survived the next few days. Perhaps I would return to find them all dead, having murder one another over some slight or disagreement! One could only hope.
As it was though, when I resumed my scrutiny, they all yet somehow continued in their annoying habit of breathing! To my amusement though, it was the reprehensible Chelaxian that was chosen to return to the Jolsburg, in order to once again represent the wizard and pay off his weregild. Why the other party members thought that a wise plan I have no idea, but I hoped it would provided for an entertaining scenario. Upon his arrival at the Jolsburg, the untrustworthy one was once again lead to the Great Hall, before Opir Eightfingers and the bungling wizard in chains! It appeared that his time in the dungeons had not been kind on him – He was filthy, disheveled and even missing a tooth! The weregild was set at a high price, but much to my disappointment, within the reach of the parties coin. However, the duplicitous Chelaxian seemed reluctant to pay such a some. At which point events took a most interesting turn – An alternative to the weregild was offered. A test, through the use of some magical artifact. As the rules were explained to me, it became obvious that the 2 fools were being presented with the Prisoners Dilemma riddle! Each would simultaneously place a hand within the magical box and make a choice with only 2 options. However, the result of these options would depend upon the choices combined. If both chose “virtue” they admitted to their guilt and would each be placed under a temporary penance. If one chose “virtue” while the other “vice” (denying guilt), the former would be punished whilst the later greatly rewarded. If however, they both chose “vice” both would be permanently placed under a severe penance. I must admit, I was most excited to see how this played out. No doubt both would be offered a reward of great personal value, making the choice of “vice” oh so tempting. They had both shown little or no restraint in the past, when presented with opportunities for gain of those things each considered “valuable”. So the likely outcome was obvious to one as perceptive as myself. The test commenced and the players took little time in making their decisions – The chosen runes flashed before them, and it was just as I had predicted – “vice” in both cases.
It was then, as I awaited to see what the great punishment would be, that a strange thing occurred. My view through the scrying stone bent and twisted, before I was thrown back by a powerful wash of energy that escaped the device. I must have struck my head as I fell, as I awoke some time later, upon the floor of my chambers. I pulled myself to and saw from the water clock that I had been unconscious for only an hour or so. Yet when I returned to view events through the stone, the party was on the road again and far from the city of Jol! It would seem that the artifact was powerful indeed, and had somehow altered causality to set the caravan days out from it’s previous location. I observed though that both the blundering wizard and double-dealing Chelaxian each looking quite feeble and dejected. Surely they had received their punishments but it was unclear though as to what they were. I wished to stay further to determine their fate, but I felt quite nauseous and unsteady from my fall, and so ended my observations for the time being. I have yet to return to them, choosing first instead to record them in this journal.
Kaltharnus – 400XP
Caleb – 400XP
Mug – 400XP
Krojun – 400XP