The One True Game: According to Hoyle, and Others

JoeBlank

Explorer
We explained our situation, and to our surprise Sgt. Reginald related that Yung had been peaceful, with no trouble from orcs, wolves, giants, or living walking trees. I inquired about the possibility of passages beneath their well, and they confirmed that there were none. The did agree to send a squad of ten men to Outpost X, bearing spears and shields, and to supply us with much of our needed equipment. An additional three men came along with the intent of returning to Yung with the mules and the bodies of our dead. We made the short trip without incident and sent for Darius to report our return.

Sgt. Darius put the new men to work building pits, and making spikes and firewood. He then asked to meet with me to express some concerns. My open nature and sense of honesty had created something he saw as a problem, as he informed me that he would have preferred that the tunnels in our well remain a secret. I apologized for mentioning this to the men at Yung, and expressed a willingness to follow orders to a greater degree in the future.

He also noted his concerns about the fact that Yung was only about half a mile from our position and yet had suffered not attacks at all. As I was agreeing with him, he made for the door, catching Mirel outside listening to our conversation. He had me arrest her, but he ended up on chastising her for not behaving in a military fashion. He warned her not to let curiosity get her into trouble.

We spoke with Chervac about the men from Yung, and he indicated a familiarity with Sgt. Reginald, although he did not know him well. He agreed to take the men from Yung and continue the training I had begun for our pikemen. The three extra men from Yung left with three of our mules, three horses, and all of our dead.

Once things seemed to be working well, we had lunch and then Darius declared that we would return to the dungeon, and he asked Cpl. Sif to accompany us. As we had covered all of the upper level, we found our way to a set of stairs that led us down about twenty feet. This led to a carved room and then and archway. Past this point we could only see rough passages, that appeared natural rather than man made. The carved wizard we had seen at the entrance to the dungeon was on either side of the archway.

Darius attempted to walk through and was mysteriously repelled, falling to the ground. He was stunned and out of sorts for a minute, and then attempted to pass again, with the same results. Both I and Ben also tried and were unable to pass. Cpl. Sif was also unable to make it. However, for unknown reasons Dram, Mirel and Igor passed without any problem.

While we pondered the reason behind this, Igor explored a little ahead and soon returned a new man. He informed us that he had consumed a potion, and we could all see that his back was no longer hunched, his hazy eye was now clear, and his leg was no longer lame. There seemed to be no logical reason for this development either.

We agreed to head back up top and debate how we could get around the mysterious archway.
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
Posting on behalf of AllanyaKT

- Mirel is a serving girl from the Keep. She looks out of place at the Outpost and seems more a tagalong than a conscript. She is noticeably younger than the next-younger conscript by several years. She hasn't reached her growth year yet, and so only the dwarf is shorter. She wears a set of battered leather armor that is obviously too big for her. Beneath that, she wears sensible un-dyed cotton shirt and breeches. She also has good sturdy boots and a warm woolen cloak. She keeps two weapons tucked into her belt, a dagger and a sling with a small pouch full of stones. She brought with her a short bow but doesn't know how to use it. She is a wiry child with a deep tan and she keeps her long sun-bleached hair pulled back in braids to her waist. She has bright eyes and brighter spirits. She is practical though impulsive, and fairly resourceful in her own right. -
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
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[SESSION 3]
[DAY 5 - Sunday, Mao 22nd, CY 81]
[the following morning]

Posting on behalf of AllanyaKT


Tales from the Perfect and Unbiased Memory of Mirel of Margrave County​



It was a good morning, though I wanted a sturdier breakfast. I swore I'd never complain again of waking before dawn to milk the cows and steal the eggs from snappish hens. The six mules and horses still at the Outpost gave me no trouble when I fed them and brushed them down. Walking them around the courtyard is very light work when they decide that's where they want to walk. But I had no real chores without a broom, for the men digging trenches kept both of the shovels. Mucking out the stables can wait, and moving the animals to less used stalls would keep me from having to muck for several days.

I spent the rest of the morning talking among the farmers. I guess I reminded a lot of them of daughters or younger sisters back home, and they were all friendly. We talked of many things, mostly gossiping and such. They seemed afraid to talk of plans for after their month here ended. The deaths of a third of the Outpost so quickly hit everyone hard. I asked if the men if they might like to send messages home. Most of them lived near the Keep and I figured Brother Hetrick would help with the reading or more likely get someone else to. The men seemed cheered up a bit by the idea, and I said that I'd see what I could do, and get back with them on it. I figured to ask Brother Ben to help with the writing, and he'd be able to make sure nothing about the well or anything was sent out.

Igor was also out talking with everyone. He was talking much more than he had the other mornings. He told everyone about the voice he heard right as he was healed, and that Sgt Darius is the one who healed him. It didn't make much sense to me, as Igor was across the wizard's archway when he was healed, and Darius couldn’t even go there. But I thought about what happened when Darius touched Brother Ben, and so I didn't say anything. Many of the farmers were really impressed with what Igor was telling them, likely thinking about that too.

At midday, Sgt Darius called a meeting of all the corporals, and Kayla and I were supposed to go too. I guess he figured that I'd just listen in anyways, but this was one meeting I'd've been happy to be far away from. He accused Igor of the deaths Sgt Guido and fourteen men, of poisoning their food. I made myself really small, and sat as quietly as I could. Just because I don't like Igor doesn't make him a killer. But I couldn't say anything good for him so I said very little at all. Kayla and I caught each other's eyes, and she said about as much as I did.

"He cheated me at a game," said Dalin, and I nodded, for I had heard about that already. "But I don't think he'd kill anyone." he said. Dram agreed and so did Brother Ben. They both said that even though they didn't know Igor very well, they didn't think he killed Sgt Guido or the men.

Then they started talking about the deaths. Guido had been drinking before he died and gone blind of it. But the others hadn't been drinking. They died of a soup that Igor didn't even cook. He was down in the well tunnels with us when the men got sick. Smittee had cooked the soup. So Smittee was called in and asked questions. His answers didn't really make sense but several people nodded like it was important. Igor answered more questions and made even less sense. Or maybe I was just missing what was going on right in front of me. I'd think about it later.

Then Sgt Darius and the Corporals decided that for everyone's safety, neither Igor nor Smittee should be allowed to cook at all. Brother Ben asked who was supposed to cook instead. He and Igor both know that I've been a kitchen girl for a couple of years now, and I sat there thinking "please not me, please not me, please not me…" My name never came up, and I was glad. Several of the farmers were mentioned instead.

And then the whole discussion turned all the way around again. All charges were dropped. Guido was deemed to be dead of strong drink, and the bad soup that killed the fourteen men was a dreadful mishap. The whole task of kitchen keeping was given back to Igor, who is now held to task for everything about the cooking, and any future such mishaps would be on his head. I was relieved, but I hid it. I didn't want anyone to think I was relieved for the wrong reason. I thought it was likely the best way these talks could end. I didn't want the chore.

Sgt Darius said it would be best to keep the better fighters with the Outpost and to send some of the less skilled fighters to the Keep on the horses, quicker than walking. He looked straight at me when he said that and I scowled back at him for it. I don't know how to use a sword or bow, but I'm good enough with a knife or staff or sling. Less effective in combat… I decided to be quicker with my sling and keep anyone from thinking I can't take care of myself.

After all of that was over, the meeting got a lot better and I didn't feel so much like hiding. The rest of the meeting would've been worth listening in on. We talked about going back into the well tunnels, of sending a message to the Keep, and of chores to do around the Outpost. While we were talking, two of the men on watch knocked, and said that they saw something in the woods. Cpl Dram and Cpl Dalin went with them to check it out. They came back soon saying that the men had seen a huge wolf but it was gone already. The wolf might be with the Orcs who must still be nearby.

I didn't want to go the Keep. I wanted to stay and look around in the well tunnels. And it turned out okay. Kayla pointed out that less skilled fighters on such a journey would be defenseless. Fighters would have to go with them to protect them. Darius took her advice and chose to send a few men from Outpost Yung with Cpl Chervac instead. I was thankful. I wouldn't have to leave the Outpost after all.

Sgt Darius left the meeting for a moment and came back with a letter. He read it aloud, since most of us can't. It was to Sgt Guido, and said that his parents had been captured, and no one knew where they were. Darius said we might help, but I didn't see how we could, for the letter was written months ago by Lady Devereaux when she was still a Captain. It seemed to me to be the reason Sgt Guido might've gone to drinking and I said as much. Darius looked at me funny and said I might be right. I don't think he realized I was still standing close enough to hear.

And then orders were given, a list of supplies was drawn up, and the really long meeting finally ended. Cpl Chervac left for the Keep with five of the men from Outpost Yung. Sgt Darius, Brother Ben and Kayla decided that the first thing to do was destroy two scrolls that made everybody nervous. They decided to burn the scrolls. Outside seemed safer than inside, so we stacked up a bit of tinder wood and Brother Ben laid the scrolls on it. He stepped back threw a lit torch at the small pyre. As the scrolls were burning, everyone in the outpost felt Sgt Guido's presence. It was really strange, and I was shivering when the feeling went away.
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
Please Forward - TO: Temple of Law - RE: Brother Ben Selzkin

Reverend Father Harthuul Stauk-Flezr

Officium Praemonere

De Jure Fanum

α

If you are reading this letter, you should know: it is the first report I have scribed since initially joining the County Margrave Militia. While I once held little hope of actually getting a message through to you, I have obliged several others of the fighting men and women here in writing to their good friends and families. There is no local scrivener, but it seems ink and parchment are still plentiful. This came about by terrible means as the last patrol stationed at our current outpost – Xavier – was held in fear by a GIANT. I believe this fear kept them from corresponding with County Margrave keep and, henceforth, in hording their parchment.

It would seem you were right about me. Faith does look like courage in the face of danger. Our own contingent has suffered truly horrific losses to this Giant and what we have recently discovered are his minions. I have recruited three brothers to aid me in healing the sick and wounded. I am sad to report that there has been no shortage of either. There are also many who are sick at heart and have needed an ear to listen. While my own dark secrets and fears still lie undiscovered, I have been fortunate to gain the trust of many of those around me. No small courage has been shown by all our members, but a few have stood up to the greatest dangers.

In these handful of days I have had to shake off my usual role of servitor. We have had need of leaders as we have faced and overcome life threatening dangers without respite. The rewards have been few, but you will note by the existence of this letter I have reason to hope. This day, the 6th by my own reckoning, has brought a brighter light into our lives.

(to be continued)
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
For AllanyaKT

We decided to go back into the well. First, though, Darius went swimming in the well looking for something, because the notches to the tunnels keep going below the tunnel opening, but he didn't find anything useful. Kayla also had something she needed to do before we could go to the tunnels. Dram and Igor and Brother Ben and I went to the tunnel door and started playing with it. We made different words of the syllables to see if it would open or close. I was surprised when TonQuaQues opened the door. Sometimes two sounds would open it, other times all three sounds had to open it. Igor tried something with different sounds, and the door opened to that word too.

Kayla and Darius finally came down to the tunnels. Sgt Darius had left Cpl Dalin in charge of the Outpost while the rest of us went into the tunnels. The first thing they wanted to do was look at the circle. Kayla wanted to try to read it. That is what she had been preparing for. It seemed pretty boring to me, standing around watching her stare at the circle, fidget a lot, and mutter to herself, so I slipped out and went downstairs to the wizard's archway down below. I didn't hear footsteps behind me, so nobody seemed to notice.

I passed through the archway to see if there was another archway beyond it, possibly one that wouldn't let me through, but would maybe let everyone pass who couldn't get through the first one. I didn’t see another proper archway or even proper walls. The rock was rough, not cut smooth like the rest of the tunnels we'd been in. Pretty quickly, I came upon a web blocking the whole tunnel so I burned it away. I heard some skittering up ahead and saw a huge spider! I didn't figure it could go through the archway, because if it could've it would've and that room would be webbed over, too. So I ran for it, and got back through just moments before Darius came down the steps looking for me. He asked me what I was doing and I hedged when I answered. I said I was only just looking, which was true at that moment, if not for the whole time.

He let it slide, and took me back to the group, ordering Igor to look after me. Igor didn't seem thrilled with the new task any more than I liked having it fall to him rather than any of the others. Kayla had already figured out how to use the circle. She was standing in the circle and said something. She disappeared, but nobody seemed worried. Darius stepped into the circle. I heard him more clearly, saying Zeligar, the wizard's name, and he disappeared too. Igor told me to do the same thing, but I didn't want to go to a place I couldn't see. I didn't really have a choice, though, and so I went.

There was a library on the other side, with a desk and many shelves of rare books. I didn't know what to expect, but somehow that didn't surprise me much at all. And it was so clean! I wondered how. It didn't seem as though anybody was living here, but it sure looked like it. The servants sure kept this place in good order, swept and dusted and everything. I was impressed.

Everyone was looking through the books and such. Brother Ben, Darius, and Kayla said that the books would be very helpful, and pulled out stacks to read later. Igor and Dram looked at the books too, and pulled out stacks to take with them. There was nothing in a library for me, and so I sat by the door waiting. Darius looked through the desk and pulled out a map. It sort of looked like the one I had drawn, but was much neater. I was happy with mine. It seems I had done it right. The map also showed another room, but we had already guessed that it was there.

So I kept mapping when we finally left the library. The hallway went left and right, but was shorter on the left so we went that way first. After a turn, the next room was a bedroom. There was a mattress with clean straw, that would feed the mules for a couple days, and I could make a broom of it too. I took enough straw for the broom and tucked it into my belt. Darius looked in the wardrobe and pulled out a cloak that was twice as tall as himself. Dram took the slippers from under the bed to add to that boot from the iron chest upstairs. Everyone else looked around, but I didn't see anyone else take anything.

The last room on that hallway was full of creatures, mostly heads and skins hung on the walls, and some stone-like statues in the room. Darius quickly took the weapons away from the statue-creatures, which looked alive for all that they didn't move at all, not even breathing as far as I could see. I looked around but didn't touch anything, except to pick up a sling from the pile of weapons Darius had gathered. It never hurts to have a spare. When Darius and Igor broke the heads off the statues, they bled. After a few moments, the heads began floating back towards the statues, and the blood was pooling around, going back in too. I felt sick, and when there was a tug on the sling I had picked up, I let it go, and went back out into the hallway.

As we walked back by the library, we looked in. All the books were put away and I wondered who had done it. Kayla said something about magical servants that took care of chores and things, the same as might be cleaning up the bloody statues in the trophy room. I wondered what would happen to me if these magical servants took over the Keep's kitchen and put me out of work. I'd likely end up working out in the fields or go back to shepherding. But then, magical servants could do that too, just as easy. If magic was so helpful, I wondered why no one made it more common. If I had a magical dairy maid, I could sleep in late. And I couldn't be happier if I never saw a dirty kettle again.
 


JoeBlank

Explorer
I had to miss a session, which is the reason for the narrator shift. But I like the variety, so I may try to con howandwhy99 and AllanyaKT into a rotating schedule.

Probably need to change the thread title, since it is not entirely "According to Hoyle".
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
Brother Ben pens again

Of the 42 souls who originally began our appointment, nearly half have died. For this, I blame myself. Many secret agendas and unknown plots plague our small group. I spoke already of the Giant and you should know that he attacked our encampment without hesitation early on. Later, we were beset upon by both wolves and orcs. The latter stalked and killed what I believe was a Fey Tree from the Faerie realm. Its death was a terrible sight to behold and brought tears to many mens eyes including my own. So few here have ever heard of such creatures, for only to meet one in its death throws is a poor beginning.

Some time later we discovered that the well within our small outpost tower held an ancient secret: a maze of tunnels from days gone by. The connection between our current strife and these tunnels was puzzled out after meeting with another outpost – Yung – just to our North. But I am getting ahead of myself. I say to you the names that were inscribed before its entrance door: Zelligar and Rohgan. While these names held little meaning for me before today, my faith in the breadth of your own learnings is strong. The grandor therein is beyond any story I have heard of Ducal palaces and Barony castles.

The greatest danger in my mind has been that our small, but true group of leaders, and myself, had become so enraptured by the wonders of exploration that our own obligation to the men (and the some few women) of the outpost was being shirked. The truth of this struck home to me in the cruelest of ways. You see, while our explorations have uncovered a number of pits of which some appear to hold potions (as if in mass storage), the one potion of life reviving fruit juice laid to the wayside when it was of utmost need. Fourteen of our number had taken ill that very night from what we believed to be rotten food. In my haste to rest my own body for the exertions the morrow, the bodies of those ailing were not left under proper care. Though the three brothers, Goodrich, Grizzle, and Gresslam each took their normal watch of the ill, no one was of the knowledge to soothe the ongoing pains. The next morning brought my greatest shame: every one of the men who had fallen sick died in the night. This includes the seven lame who were here upon our initial arrival.

The true number of dead is actually two more. The first a fatally injured man from the previous patrol. And the second our very own commander, Sgt Guido. As a man who drank himself to death and to whom I personally vowed to keep under my watch, his death was already on my mind when the other fourteen died. The entire next day I spent in intensified grief. As you yourself know, the number of people who live at our Temple is few indeed. I am at once overwhelmed and greatly shamed. This day was productive for the remainder of the team who fortunately managed to keep the spirits of our company from sinking to low by searching out the nearest sister outpost to our own; outpost Yung which I mentioned earlier. Five of their men are now stationed here in the stead of the ten who died; the bodies of which were carried back to outpost Yung for transport to the keep and proper burial. Five more men are on their way from Yung as I write this.

Even in my grievous state, it is true that, by the light of the setting sun, we decided to once again enter the halls below. Such is the extent of our passion. We made little headway this time, but I bring up the matter because a rather unusual event occurred, more unusual than normal as it is, one which has an importance you shall soon discover. Most of our time was taken up with solving the riddle of an arcane archway that blocked our path. Some managed to pass under, while others were painfully rebuffed, the why is still unknown to us even now. Igor, who was one of the few to pass through, went to scout ahead before we left for the night, so we might better prepare in the morning. (assuming we solved the riddle, of course)

The oddest of odd, is that this man whom the gods had twisted and struck all of lame, hunchbacked, and one-eyed-blind came back as a whole man. He mentioned that he imbibed a potion down a path within, but once above and afresh the next morning, he lauded our new leader, a dwarf in the service of Father Thor, as the creditor of his remarkable transformation. This was dubious to me as it seemed an outright lie, but as I have been the recipient of this good dwarf's holy healing before, and as he did not rebuff the statements himself, I could see no reason for me to speak up.

The matter is, the same morning, Sergeant Darius the Dwarf, one and the same as I mention above, called a meeting of the corporals. I am allowed to go to these as I have been put in charge of the infirmary per prior orders. Only this was no normal meeting. Our dwarf friend brought charges against the no longer peculiar Igor. While I at first believed Darius' intentions to be untrue, as other's lies often bring about the worst from people, I later took heart in the fact that he believed his accusations to be firmly founded. Let me explain.

Igor is our camp cook and responsible for the preparation, serving, and all other aspects of the feeding of our men. The night that we were in the tunnels below, another of Igor's assistants prepared the meal: one “Smitty”. In final judgment, we all determined that Igor held no malicious plan to sicken or kill those who had died. That fault is squarely mine, if unmentioned. Smitty had used sour or rotten vegetables from an unknown source and variety and added it to the day-old soup. An honest mistake, but one that cannot happen again. I was glad that Igor was able to prove himself that day. As he is a new man and might indeed owe his change to Darius, he deserves a chance to enjoy his new life, one without pain or bigotry. Woe be to me who had forgotten the potion of life healing, so the other might still have life as well.

Another event on the list of this days doings. One you yourself may be interested in Father, is the revealing of a soul transfigured and, I can only hope, traveling to the heavens. You see, of the treasures we brought back to the surface, two were of an unknown magic ensorcelled onto scrollwork. A wisewoman named Kayla entrusted these to me for destruction. But as they went up in flames, I beheld a vision: our dead commander in the smoke of the fire. He was very angry, just like when he was alive. I can only hope he has now found peace in the afterlife.

Our plan as we entered the oddly named “Quesquaton” mazes again, was to explore the remainder of it before heading to the archway. But we soon had to go after a missing girl who is always underfoot. Her name is Meer-Elle as I believe she says it. I have kept my eye on her since our arrival as she is in the most danger owing to the nature of trials only grown men should face, and only in grave need at that. But she seems as inquisitive as any of us. There is no keeping her out of the caves.

Fortunately, Kayla determined the functioning of some power circle carved into the stone floor. We actually were transferred without movement to another section of the maze. This portion is as I believe what a wizard's home would appear, if any were still living today. Oddly this one still seemed to be in clean and working order, unlike the rest of the maze. This led my questioning to the place as a hoax. I won't go into the specificities of such a place, as I am sure you have heard many a tall tale of such places yourself. The one important point to mention is the great number of real books on shelves here. Far more than our Temple holds and many of the of a religious nature. I have removed some for my own curiosity, but find we may need to keep them in the faux wizard's lair as it is still the safest location in our vicinity.

Ignoring the bizarre, we did finally arrive in a long columned corridor of marble and sculpted stone. The columns themselves were carved into beautiful human figures larger than life. It is only by the wisdom and suspicious nature of Darius the Dwarf though that we still live.

(to be continued)
 
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AllanyaKT

First Post
Tales from the Perfect and Unbiased Memory of Mirel of Margrave County (cont)

We went down the hallway to the right this time, and when we turned a corner, the hallway was twice as wide. All of us could walk side by side down this new hall, except for the huge stone columns running down the middle of it, of course. There was a throne at the other end of the hall. Darius looked at the first statue, and then the second, but when he got close to the third one, it moved. The statue didn't want Darius there, so it attacked him with its stone fists.

I thought that maybe while Darius was fighting it, that I would be able to dash down to the end, and see if any other statues could move too. It wasn't my brightest idea. I never saw the statue turn to me. I was running, and then there was a voice telling me to be healed! I hurt all over, more than I've ever been hurt before, and couldn’t remember why. When I opened my eyes, I was looking up at Darius, then the statue's fist, then the ceiling. Darius had one hand on my shoulder and was also trying to block the statue. He yelled something, but my ears were ringing and I couldn't hear right. But I knew I had to get back to the end of the hall where the statue couldn't reach. When I got there and cleared my head a bit, I could hear better, and that seemed to be what he was yelling for me to do anyways. I still hurt all over and was dizzy, so I asked Brother Ben for the waterskin from the first pool, and then I felt much better. I thought about that voice I heard, and figured I'd talk to Igor about it later.

As soon as Darius moved back to the entry, the statue quit moving and turned back into the column again, just like it was before. Darius shot an arrow at it, saying that if it didn't have hands, we could walk by it just fine. A bit of stone chipped off, but the column didn't move any. It didn't seem to react at all. So Igor and I also started chipping away at it with arrows and sling stones, too. The first huge fist fell, and still the column didn't do anything. The second arm fell just as quickly. When Darius walked up to it again, it didn't move. Breaking its arms had worked. We moved down the hall a bit, but Darius stopped us quickly, for he thought the last column in the line was the same as the third one. We never got close enough for it to move, but just went ahead and broke its arms off. It didn't move when we passed it, but then, it might not have anyways.

The throne was very big, with lots of gems in it, and likely more valuable than anything I'd ever touched in my life. I sat on it just because nobody stopped me. My feet wouldn't touch the floor, so I crossed them and tucked them beside me. I looked out down the hall, and thought it was fun, for I'd never have gotten away with it at the Keep. It quickly wasn't so much fun anymore when I saw the bits of stone broken off the statues moving back towards them. It seemed that the magical servants were following us, and already knew of the mess we had made. They seemed to be sorting the stone chips and trying to match them together, and it was taking them much longer than with the statues in the trophy room. I didn't want to sit on the throne anymore, so I hopped down.

Dram said that he needed to go back up to the outpost to check on the men and oversee training. My stomach was telling me that it was starting to get late, and I figured he also went to make sure Smittee wasn't cooking. Igor and I gathered the arrows that missed the statues but hadn't broken. He also looked very closely at the gems on the throne. Darius was looking around, and finally said that we had to move the throne. He thought there was something behind it. Without Dram's help, it seemed to take forever to push the throne even two fingers' width. But sure enough, it had moved a bit into the wall. The throne was in front of an open doorway that perfectly matched the shape of the throne.

We had to pull the throne out again, which took even longer than pushing it in, and then we pushed it to the side, which took forever. Darius went into the little room behind where the throne was, and then told Kayla she needed to see it too. Kayla came back out saying she couldn't read it because she wasn't prepared anymore from reading the circle. Since it was getting very late by then and we were very tired from pushing the throne around, Darius decided to back up to the Outpost, and wait until the morning, when Kayla could look at it again.

The magical servants were still very busy sorting the stone chips from the statues, and that reminded us that they would just move the throne back into place, and we would have to move it all over again. Brother Ben said to try pounding spikes into the floor beside the throne, wedging them in like pegs, to keep the magical servants from sliding the chair back in front of the little room. I didn't figure the idea would work, for the servants could easily slide the chair a handspan to the left and then lift it over the low pegs, or else move it around the pegs, or even just move the pegs out of the way and then put them back after the chair was properly placed.

We went back to the library after Igor and Brother Ben laid in the spikes. As we passed the two broken columns, I put some good-size stones for slinging in my pouch. They weren't tugged back like that other sling had been. They must not have been from an important part of the statue, I guessed, or not part of why the statue could move. When we got back to the library, Kayla pulled two of the books she had looked at earlier. Darius and Brother Ben each pulled a couple of books that they thought might be helpful, such as about the underground river that the well draws from. Igor also grabbed a large handful of books, and there were empty places along the carefully neatened shelves from where Dram had taken books as he passed through earlier.

When we reached the top of the well, Cpl Dalin reported a quiet, uneventful day. Cpl Siff was asleep and no one else was in a sickbed. Dinner was better than breakfast, and then I found an empty bed and slept.

The animals gave me much more trouble the next morning. They were quite grousy to me. One of the horses was off his feed, and none of them wanted to go back into the stables. They didn't mind being brushed and everything, but they tried to pull away from me when I walked them around the courtyard. They wanted to go outside but I didn't feel it was safe, and I had run short of carrots and such to bribe them with.

After taking care of the horses and mules, I sat down with a staff and the straw I had picked up yesterday, and I made a broom. Nobody seemed to understand why I wanted a broom so much. But sweeping is such an easy task, the same motions over and again, and you can get into a nice rhythm and not have to worry about it. And in a crowded place like this, it's the only way to find some privacy. Nobody pays much attention to a busy maid. That's how I learn the most interesting things sometimes. Nobody expects a busy maid to answer many questions, but she's still good for gossip if she wants to. Time alone inside my own head is worth as much to me as breakfast. I still had many things to think about, and the ramp up to the top of the Outpost was long and dirty, and now I had a broom. Not the best-made of brooms, but broom enough to sweep with.

Many things crossed my mind over the next candlemarks. Dalin and Dram had most of the men outside training, so keeping out of the way wasn't too hard. Kayla, Brother Ben, and Sgt Darius were reading the great books, and paid little attention to me as I swept. I pondered over things that Smittee and Igor had said during the trial, the voice Igor said he heard when he was healed, the voice I heard when I had been knocked out, how a burning tree could walk, what made corpses stand back up and fight, how Brother Ben made the corpses not able to fight, why speaking any sounds from Quasqueton would open the door, what some of the pools did, why Dram and Igor and me were the only ones who could pass the wizard's archway, how to talk Igor and Dram from taking the books out of the library, if I should learn how to carry a shield, or if that would worsen my slinging. Then the Outpost went on alert, and that broke up my thinking.

Someone was coming up the path! I was near an archer's slot so I went to look out too. Many of the farmers all figured out who it was at the same time. It was Pendra and Certa! We were very surprised that Certa and Pendra were coming here. And most of us looked forward to a good round of storytelling in the evening. Sgt Darius went out to speak with them. As he approached them, we could see more men following Certa and Pendra. They were leading an army! Fully a hundred soldiers, real soldiers, not conscripts, were marching along behind them. Elian, the Elfen advisor from the Keep, was also with them and he spoke with Darius, the Dwarf, for quite a bit as they all approached the Outpost.

Pendra and Certa didn't come to the Outpost, and I was very disappointed. After getting the army safely here, they left back through the woods again. Elian didn't come straight to the Outpost. First he went to where the burning tree had fallen, and he stayed there for a bit. He seemed very sad when he finally came into the Outpost. Sgt Darius told us that Elian wanted to have a meeting with everyone who had been in the well, except for Cpl Siff, who was still abed.

During the meeting, Advisor Elian told us that he had heard of the well from the Sgt of Yung, who had sent a message. The things of Rogahn and Zeligar have been lost for a long time, and he was very glad that we had found them, for it might help defend Margrave from the war. I was relieved, because it meant that Cpl Dalin and I didn't mess things up when we spoke about the well at Outpost Yung. It turned out okay. Elian also told us that the burning tree was called an Ent, and this Ent was named Greenwillow. Greenwillow had given his life trying to protect the secret of the Outpost. He had grown the trees up all the way close to the tower walls, hoping to hide the Outpost from the giant and the orcs, and others who wanted its secrets.

After Elian finished speaking, Sgt Darius told of the tunnels and what we had found so far. They looked at the map he had pulled out of the drawer in the library, looking for places that might have doors we did not see. Elian said that finding the secrets of the tunnels was very important. He also said that bringing the army here might have drawn some unwanted attention, and the Outpost may be attacked even more heavily than it already was. Cpl Dram and Cpl Dalin agreed to stay above ground and help get the soldiers settled into watch shifts.

I thought that the new soldiers might help with training the conscripts, maybe by pairing a conscript with a couple of soldiers during drills. I spoke to Kayla about it, and she said she would ask about it. But when she did, she told everyone that it was my idea in the first place. I was so mad I figured that I wouldn't ask her to speak of things for me again. Even though Elian and Darius both said it was a good idea, it wasn't seemly coming from the youngest and lowest in status, and she shouldn't've put my name on it. She doesn't know how to gossip right.

We started getting ready to go into the well. Kayla said she needed to prepare herself again. Elian gave some parchment to her, and she smiled when she looked at it. Sgt Darius asked Elian if he wanted to explore with us, and Elian hedged when he answered. I thought it was funny.

While Kayla was getting ready to go into the tunnels, I watched the soldiers setting up camp outside. They were quick at it, the nearest of the fallen trees were already moved out of the way, and the first row of tents was up. I saw some cookfires going, and that made me think a bit. If perhaps the conscripts were working together with the soldiers, of course they would all eat together too, and from the cookpots of the soldier's camp, rather than the Outpost kitchen. It wouldn’t even look badly against Igor, since he was helping in the tunnels, though there would be no saving face for Smittee. It seemed like a good way to deal with the trouble, but I didn't say anything. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can see the easy way out of things.
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
The Last of the Letter

howandwhy99 said:
Ignoring the bizarre, we did finally arrive in a long columned corridor of marble and sculpted stone. The columns themselves were carved into beautiful human figures larger than life. It is only by the wisdom and suspicious nature of Darius the Dwarf though that we still live.
You see, two of the statues actually moved in action against us. Walking the grand corridor, nay a full hall, was enough to incur their wrath. Darius suggested the wise course and some of our group attacked from afar until the arms of the creatures fell to the ground. Only then was it safe to pass on to the far side, where a large metal throne embedded with gems greeted our eyes. The throne itself was as grand in décor and as high backed as ten feet. After a short scan of the area and an opening behind the back of the throne was spotted. After some long hours of extensive pulling and pushing the throne was moved far enough aside. Darius and Kayla entered, but the rest of us decided to head back to the surface. Kayla mentioned that more runework like those enscribing the pools and power circle were in the tunnel as well.


[Redux for Letter: DAY 6 - Moonday, Mao 23rd, CY 81]

This last night was somewhat better and I slept without dreaming. The terrors of the past days were drawn out of me and I felt pleaseantly relaxed as I awoke. I mention this as I felt time to read after daily scripture the works of the library below that I had brougtht above on our exit out of the caves. My eyes scanned the text quickly, and several things within are enlightening for me as to the workings of our present day religion. I am not sure if these feelings were a premonition (though you may know) of what was to come, but grand glorious day that it did!

You see, the Army of Margrave has arrived. On top of all the men to protect us, the advisor to Lady Margrave herself is on hand, the Elf Elion, to witness the findings from our little caves. His first actions were to the dead Fey Tree, of course, but after a short advisory to Sergeant Darius, all of us met and learned of the true secrets of the Zelligar and Roghan dungeon palace. It would seem that it is truly steeped in history. I do not know if you have ever met an elf personally Father, but I must say that my own meeting was exhilerating! He seemed to speak with a clarity and sense of wisdom that contained all the ages. I believe our own zeal may have convinced him of our own desires concerning Quesquaton, as he charged us with the complete and total exploration of the caves below.

This is the turning point for our little band. No fewer than 100 men sit around our crumbling tower in protection of us. The great Elf Elion has given us warning that even greater forces may be attracted now that the Army is here, but I say “We shall not shirk this duty!” We stand upon ancient grounds which only the good folk, gentry, and religious personages of County Margrave may call their own. If I but had the voice of our own precentor, I would sing the praises of such a place. Our little tower shall no longer be unworked and, morever, none more of our number need fall of our own erroneous ways. I have tears in my eyes these days as we plan once more to enter the caverns below. Bless me Father, for I have truly had my faith renewed.

These grand announcements bring me to my final news. As for the spiritual life and goodly protection of the men in our encampment, I have determined that we need daily prayer and services. If at all possible, I pray you may send an experienced member of our Temple to lead us in these times. Due to my own needs they are small. Please pass on any letters that you receive in this bundle and ensure the families of those whom we fight with. Also, if it is at all possible, please send a gown, mantle, and instruments for services to Margrave keep for my own use. My promise is that they will be used well and I will return them to you as early as possible.

Your Son,

Brother Ben

Ω
 
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