Journal of Teranu Plainstrider
The Mountain Keep
Roshi has been bed-ridden for weeks now. Through all the care the dwarves have given him here at Krona Peak, the only thing we can really do is wait. The priests and healers came in and out of his room for that first week, looking confused and bring books and holy water to try to exorcise the demon that infested his arm. After many attempts, they came to some assumption that the demon was gone, and all that was left was a scar.
Whenever James and I would look in on our friend, we knew that nothing could be done, and all the work the priests had done was more annoying than helpful. The only solace he seemed to get was in the building of arcane mechanisms, which he got pretty good at. Even made a dog as a companion, which he says he’s connected to.
Rumors have come in about Rhesh Turakbar and his horde. At first I was worried for my clan in the Greyplains, but Rhesh has turned his eye upon the Eldeen Reaches and the Shadow Marches. It is still unclear what he’s doing there, but with House Tharashk headquartered in Zarash’ak, the Triumvirate will keep a watchful eye on him.
With all this time at our hands, and being able to do nothing but wait, James and I have meditated in our own ways. James spent most of his time in his chambers in House Sivis. I could tell he feels as peace there as I do along the mountainside.
Having been raised on the plains of Drooam, I identified much with the Bloodfeather tribe during our stay with them. Both tribes respect nature to the fullest, and try to give more than receive. Vision quests, rites of passage, trials and tests – all are familiar to me, and all rely on dealing with nature to understand Eberron more. Then we saw the true nature of the “Holy” Uldra, and I’m not so sure how close we are to Eberron anymore.
Then to stay with the dwarves in Krona Peak, the capital of the Mror Holds. In many aspects, the dwarves are just as respectful of the land as the tribes of the Talenta Plains. They have worked with the mountain to develop a truly beautiful city. Even in the outlying areas of Krona Peak, the dwarves have integrated nature into their life. They have developed a … balance with the world.
Rhogar would be proud. He told me I would realize my path when the time has right…
Everyone and everything has an inherent right to exist, and even prosper … as long as the balance is kept. It is a strange balance, one that I am only just starting to understand. One aspect is clear: the corrupting of men, the defiling of nature … there is no place for such things in the balance I seek. Gnomes may hire minotaurs to cleanse a mine then lease it to the dwarves, all while sitting on their comfy chairs. This I do no mind, as gnomes as a race can usually talk anyone into doing anything. I do not know why I do not mind it. Hopefully the spirits will help me in my journey.
My guardian and friend, the King of the Frostfell, has already helped me immensely already, and smiles upon my decisions of late. Strangely enough (at least for me), both of us feel more at peace with the chilling wind on my face, frozen snow covering much of my fur, than I have anywhere. If my homeland wasn’t being destroyed, I could spend many days on this mountain, who’s trails, cliffs, and outcroppings I have gotten to know by heart.
As the healers cleared Roshi, we said out goodbyes to House Sivis and took the Lightning Rail west. Being of the “civilized” races, James and Roshi sat in the front cars, while I traveled in the rear cars with the other “savages”. Being around the two of them as much as I have, I forgot how much fun I had as a Liondrake Mercenary, specifically because we were all “savages”. There were even a few orcs and goblins who’d heard of me. Apparently Newthrone is still doing well with their new command, now a skeleton crew, with most of the Mercs on their way to the Shadow Marshes.
We transferred trains at Rekkenmark, taking the ferry across the river Scions to Thaliost. We were kept under careful watch by the Silver Flame, being the “savages” we were. Some were infuriated by this treatment, but most of us just took it in stride, as most of us already think as condescendingly of the Silver Flame as they must of us.
A week has gone by, and the trip is the same. Kings Crown, arm wrestling, and stories of brawls and battles fill the cabin, many told by me. While stopped at Vedykar, a goblin was able to retrieve several casks of blood ale, which we much enjoyed.
I will miss them when we have to depart ways.
One night, as we laid down for the night, the train came to a stop at a station … and powered down completely. Peering outside, we saw nothing but mist and the mage-globes the conductors carried. Most of the other folk in my car went back to sleep. A Liondrake sergeant, named Gurzark, came up to me as I peered about into the fog. “Can you see anything through this cursed mist?” I answered no. “Bah, we never know what happens – the conductors never come back here.”
While I don’t mind being seen as a savage, easily being able to brush aside the looks of the Silver Flame, and even be corralled like livestock … I will damn well be respected. I jumped out and went forward.
James and Roshi had debarked as well, as I saw them milling about in the mist, wondering what was going on. James and I went up to see, hoping to overhear a group of conductors and guards nearby. When we got close, I closed my eyes, tuned out the sounds of nature, and found a spot downwind of them where voices carried well … and listened.
I started hearing voices. They were asking each other why there was no one at the station, and that they needed to recharge the train. Two had already been sent to check on the recharging stone, but to no end. They wanted to send someone else, but no one wanted to go, so they were going to draw straws. Then I heard James fall in the distance…
We went back and I told them what I’d heard. James and I confronted them, telling them we’d go figure it out, but we’d need a guide. One guard, Andrew, was selected to guide us. He looked of decent build, as if he could hold his own, but I told him to stay close regardless. James boosted his confidence as best he could.
As we went up the hill, the mist lowered, and soon was below my waist. James continued to be hidden for the most part, which he used to his advantage. We came upon a field of newly tilled dirt, where several scarecrows stood. Several murders of crows hung about the still-leafless trees, some on fences, even some on of the scarecrows themselves. I swore they were watching us, but we continued on, slower.
The mist started to thicken, and felt as if we were back in the bogs in Q’barra. It became tough to move. The mist swirled about like a slow stream, creating several small eddies where the mist comes together. There were several areas where the mist was thicker, or lighter, we tried to navigate our way through. At this point, we knew the mist was arcane in nature, and were at the ready.
A TRAP! The mist grew thicker quickly as we got closer to the village, and the scarecrows came to life. There must’ve been 20 of them, surrounding us. As they came closer, we saw their faces. It appeared as if someone had made a mask of a human face, and put it on these scarecrows. They stumbled towards us as if the mist had no effect on them. I tried to defend the party as best I could, but like the skeletons we faced, hordes of minions is not my strong suit. We held off as best we could, but Andrew fell and was lost to us. We had to keep moving or else the mist started to grab hold of us.
The scarecrows were easily dispatched, but the mist continued to be a menace, and sapped us of our strength the more we stayed in it. We all made it out, but felt weaker than we should’ve after a fight like that. We all hoped that that would be the extent of the danger we’d face … but we all knew that was a false hope to have.
After regaining our strength, we traveled on into the village. Immediately we saw what was causing the mist, as it poured out of the village courthouse continuously. Crows continued to hang out the other buildings, as if they were watching us. According to James, the scarecrows were controlled by someone, and when they hit you, their master knows what they see, and who they have attacked.
We lit a torch, and entered the courthouse. James disappeared off to the left, and Roshi hung back holding the torch as we stepped inside.
Corpes. Must’ve been 30 corpses hanging from the beams along the roof of the courthouse, all with their faces peeled or ripped off! In the center, by the bar, stood an old hag and a cauldron filled with green liquid. Four hideously large crows perched on either side of her, staring at us.
“Do you like my decorations?” she said as she cackled at us. I had seen enough, and charged. I jumped clear of the cauldron and gored her with my horns. I sent her all the barbaric rage I felt, seeing the villagers bodies descecrated as they were. Hit after hit I pummeled her, before her magic cursed me, transforming me into a sparrow. She teleported far into a corner of the courthouse, which I followed, wings flapping clumsily.
The crows started to attack James and Roshi, and that’s when the rage subsided. She pushed me past several of the toppled chairs, which only made my next move easier – making her come to us. I knew we worked better together, and I helped James deal with many of the crows. My guardian felt my rage and sadness at the bodies that hung, and quickly wanted to join the fray.
Over the next few minutes, we attacked as a team. The hag was forced to come to us, and once she got without our range, James, I, and Roshi pulled her closer, where she met her end. The crows were much more difficult to deal with, and much of our blood was spilt. Soon these abominations were destroyed as well.
Looking amongst the remains, we found a magic staff by the hag. The train’s guards (including Andrew!) were found below in the holding cells of the courthouse along with a few of the villages, who they told us what had happened. The hag, named Sathria, had demanded “protection” money from the village. After years of paying, the village realized wondered why they needed protection. Soon they found out, and the hag let loose her fury, bringing forth creatures of the Feywild with her.
While I spent my time bringing down the bodies, James and Roshi were busy figuring out the cauldron. In the end, it was easily taken care of, as all we had to do was tip it over. Underneath, we found a Khyber dragonshard, the recharging crystal the train’s conductors were looking for.
We brought down the bodies and pilled them in a cart. Taking them to a nearby barn, we tried to set up a pyre as best I could, hopefully to bring what peace we could do these villagers. We watched the fire for a bit, befire making our way back to the train.
The sun had come up, and the train’s occupants had come out and started making some breakfast. We haven’t even gotten to Passage yet…