I have kept a daily journal for the last thousand years, because history is long and my mind can hardly contain it. Most day's entries are little more than my own pretentious blathering about the nature of good and evil, or bitter whining about my affliction and my spiritual imprisonment. Today's entry will not be like that. I fear my life has changed again, for the worse, and possibly forever.
When I woke up this morning, I did not expect that I would end the night stuck in the town keep, nursing my wounds. But I didn't count on meeting the Barbarian Gravius, His friend Cadien, or the rest of this crew of violent miscreients either. I swore to Bahamut to repay my debt, and Bahamut lead me to this place, and to these people. Clearly, I have not yet suffered enough, if this is to be my life. But if protecting Cadien and Gravius is how I must repay my sins, then that is what I shall do.
From what I've gathered, Gravius and Cadien have known each other for a long while. Until recently, they were members of a caravan guard, guiding the governor's daughter in to the township of Greenest. They didn't really want to talk about their past with me, which is understandable, as I am a Golden Dragon Paladin, and they are fighting people who worship a dragon god, and are too ill informed to know the difference between good dragons and bad dragons (Hint: It's the metallic skin.)
What little I know of their past adventures I learned when Gravius confronted me in the keep, where I was taking refuge from the onslaught of cultists, kobolds, and drakes, and the lightning storm caused by the blue dragon circling the town.
Gravius, a rough and tumble barbarian whose face was more scar than skin in spite of his young age, approached me, accompanied by a shifty character, whose eyes darted from side to side as he spoke. Gravius asked several questions about who I was and why I was there. He had a faraway look in his eyes, as if enchanted or compelled somehow to speak to me. Confusingly, he spent a lot of time talking about riding bears and dragons, before asking me for money, which I was happy to give to him. As we talked things over in my native tongue, the barbarian and the rouge swapped occasional words of mistrust in Elvish, under some mistaken apprehension that the course ears of a dragonborn would be unable to understand. He later mentioned that he had seen me in his dreams, confronting a five headed dragon. (The same five headed dragon depicted on the equipment of the cultists? It's hard to say, for now.) Ultimately, Gravius and Cadien persuaded me to assist them in rescuing the governor's daughter from the outskirts of the town, and a group of people stranded in a church besieged by cultists.
I would later learn, of course, that Gravius and Cadien were at least partially responsible for the cultists pitting themselves on the church in the first place, but I can hardly hold that against them. How were these dumb humans to know that the church was occupied?
As we conversed, Glenfang approached us, and began speaking in elvish. I was aware of Glenfang, by reputation though not by sight. Legend holds that the poor wretch was raised by wolves, and has spent the last 100 years mourning his dead companions, and protecting the town as they had protected it. Glenfang had not eaten in sometime. The stench of hunger was strong upon him. He had seen me giving gold to Gravius, and wondered if I could also share some food. I made a vow to Bahamut in ages long past that I would help and protect any righteous man that asked, so I said to GLENFANG, in the language of the elves, simply "I will ensure that you are well fed and safe, so long as you will help us in protecting this town from the evil that besets it."
If Gravius and Cadien realized that my grasp of the Elvish tongue rendered their attempts at secret conversation moot, they gave no indication. It appeared that speaking in Elvish or Draconic among themselves came more readily than speaking in common, which they did haltingly and poorly, if at all.
After having impressed upon me the importance of their mission, and convincing Glenfang and I to join them, Gravius and Cadien set about searching for a member of the palace guard in order to get a message to the governor about his daughter's caravan. Cadien pointed a greyskinned creature, with horns, who was playing the flute to a small group of onlookers.
I approached the creature and spoke plainly "My name is Bobson Dugnutt. My friend and trusted companion Cadien, has important news for the governor. He has informed me that, despite appearances to the contrary, you are the highest ranking military officer in this room. Is that true?"
The creature bristled, and then spoke "Yes, I am the--" he was stopped short by a sharp, but not particularly strong, blow to the back of his head. A voice from near his knees spoke "My name is Escobear (Pablo Escobear), I'm the leader of the governor's forces. What business do you have with him?"
Escobear wore the finest, most ornate armor I have ever seen. The sunstone in the middle was among the largest I've ever encountered in person, and I wanted it. I was clearly not alone in this, as I heard Cadien mutter in Draconic "Holy shit, look at that armor."
Cadien and Gravius pulled Escobear to the side for a discussion. I'm not certain of the contents. Meanwhile, I continued to speak with the greyskinned being, and his beguiling flute. After much discussion, I discovered his name was Brad. Brad, the Bard. He was what is known as a Tiefling, or a half demon.
He blamed this affliction on a lack of proper nutrition. Impressing upon me the importance of eating your vegetables. "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll turn into a Demon!" he said to me on more than one occasion.
Ultimately, I decided that he was a force for good, or at least a force for good nutrition, and I asked him to join us on our quest. He agreed, so long as we promised not to hit him in the back of the head every time he lied to an idiot, and we let him eat his vegetables.
I found his terms amicable, and rejoined Cadien, Gravius, and Glenfang to inform them of our luck in recruiting such a masterful flute player. As we approached, I heard Escobear promise his armor to Cadien, on the condition that Cadien rescue at least 30 of the remaining townspeople. I noted this with a hint of jealousy.
Gravius distrusted Brad immediately, and proceeded to interrogate and attempt to intimidate him.
Gravius turned to him and said "You can join us, but if you cross us, I'll chop your cock off."
Brad the bard laughed mirthfully, and responded "I don't have one."
For a moment, no one moved or spoke. I could see Cadien's eyes dart downward, and then back up several times, trying to divine the truth of this statement. Finally he said "Wait, seriously?"
With a smile, Brad replied "Eat your vegetables."
We left the outer keep and proceeded through an open courtyard, to the inner keep, which had been converted in to a makeshift hospital. I was moved by the screams of a man who had lost his arm to the servants of the dark lord, and laid my hands upon him imparting a measure of peace and healing in to him. I cannot, of course, regrow limbs, but it is my sworn duty to prevent and alleviate suffering caused by Tiamat and his disciples.
At this, we were approached by an older man, dressed in fine armor, his arm in a sling. He was accompanied by a very young man, whose face had the pallor and unnatural age of a practitioner of magic. As the governor approached us, this young man conjured some manner of enchantment behind his back, and eyed me with suspicion.
The older man introduced himself as the governor. Gravius and Cadien, speaking over one another in stumbling stilted words, told the governor that they knew of his daughter, that she was safe outside of town. The Governor was relieved, and begged us to fetch his daughter and ferry her safely back to the stronghold. He requested his magic wielding friend to accompany us on our journey.
At this point, fearing that they might have forgotten (dumb humans that they are) the people trapped in the church, I interjected. "We have to save the people in the church." Cadien, for his own reasons, agreed. He asked the Governor many questions about the average size of the church service, about the god that they worshiped.
Agreeing that this too was important, the Governor gave us his blessing to rescue the members of the church, but implicitly indicated that he considered their lives less important than the life of his daughter. He looked sad.
We walked back into the outer keep, pressing Escobear for information. As we spoke, the sounds of the violence on the street came to a fever pitch. We could see through the gate that a sizable force was gathering, but they appeared to be focussed more on pillaging, and for some reason, just waiting outside the gate.
Clearly, we couldn't exit the way we had entered.
Escobar told us of a secret passage, disused and ancient. He gave us the key and led us to the entrance. The key turned without issue, and opened onto a disused tunnel, dark and damp, barely wide enough for us to walk down in a line. And so, we did. I with my mighty dragon breath in front, torch in one hand, javelin in the other, unsure of what horrors would await us in this dark cavern.
We walked for several minutes without incident, and then suddenly we heard a chittering, as if thousands of tiny legs and tiny mouths were approaching from around the bend in the tunnel ahead. Scant seconds past, and then I saw them. Dozens of glittering eyes, a horde of rats skittering towards us.
I acted without thinking, hurling my torch at the mass of rats. More than half of the rats in my siteline fell dead in an instant, writhing in pain. Behind them, the chittering grew louder. I knew in this moment, there were more coming.
Before I could recover my senses from the initial shock of these horrible creatures and the gnashing, angry, scared noises they were making, I felt a sharp pang, as Glenfang tripped, embedding an arrow in my shoulder.
The next few seconds are a blur. I know that Theo summoned more fire, I remember breathing fire myself. I know that the majority of the rats were burned, and those that remained fled. I counted myself lucky that we escaped from the fiasco so lightly injured.
We reached the end of the tunnel without further incident, and found that it ended in a large metal gate, rusted and ancient. Gravius took the key that Escobear had left with us, and tried it in the lock. It fit, but would not turn.
Impatient, I reached for it myself, and turning hard, I snapped the key clean in two. I was mortified. We were on a mission of salvation, and I had just impeded our progress.
Theo, quiet so far, spoke up at this point. "Let me take a crack at it" he said, summoning acid in an attempt to melt the lock. The lock deformed before our eyes, but did not give way.
Enraged, I flew at the gate summoning all my strength to rip it from its mooring. When that proved to be insufficient, Gravius joined us, his Barbarian arms bulging with a crisscross of scars. The gate came free all at once, with a loud clattering.
We found ourselves on the bank of a river near the outer edge of town, hidden from site behind a stack of decaying barrels and boxes. Always eager to find something neat, I began picking through the crates. I discovered that they were full of decayed vegetable matter, and generally nasty shit, some of which I pocketed.
In my zeal to pocket this nasty shit, I completely missed an arrow that flew from the far bank of the river, and embedded itself in the wall over my head. We were under attack.
On the far bank, we spied two cultists silhouetted in the moonlight in their black robes, and a number of Kobolds rushing towards the bank of the river. Acting quickly, Theo spun up an enchantment, and two of the kobolds fell to the ground, their lizard faces disappearing out of site as the slept. The rest rushed the river bank, and attempted to swim across.
Many of the small creatures were swept away by the strong current, but two made it to the other shore, and proceeded to attack us. With little effort, I drove my sword through the skull of the kobold closest to me, and I was still holding his limp body upright with my blade as Cadien and Glenfang launched a volley of arrows at the attackers on the far bank.
It was over in a moment, almost as quickly as it started, and we found ourselves alone again, save for a sleeping kobold on the far shore. After much debate, Cadien and Gravius decided to cross the river, and interrogate the remaining kobold. As they did, I skinned the Kobolds, stashing one pelt and one skull in my pack, and placing the other skull, the one I split open, over the hilt of my blade.
Gravius and Cadien donned black robes, similar to the ones the cultists wore (Where they obtained these, I know not) and crossed the river, taking the strong current with ease. From my position on the far bank, I was able to catch snatches and snippets of the conversation. Cadien and Gravius asked the Kobold many questions, and did not seem happy with any of his answers. After several minutes, and largely without warning, Gravius swung his axe at the small lizard.
In the ensuing chaos, the Kobold lodged his knife in Cadien's cheek, before finally receiving his deathblow in the form of a well aimed firebolt from our side of the river.
I am beginning to like this Theo.
Having learned nothing of value, we set out towards the church of Chauntea in order to rescue those trapped inside. Cadien was very intent upon this, but I sensed his motivation was likely not entirely pure.
We arrived at the church under cover of darkness, approaching it from the rear, at the site of a crumbling wall. Glenfang undertook a quick recon stroll around the perimeter of the church, and reported back the details of our situation.
It was grim.
On the other side of the crumbling wall there was a small squad, two cultists and six kobolds, resting casually. At the front entrance, there were half a dozen more, with a battering ram between them, intent upon breaching the church. Every few minutes, a patrol consisting of even more men circled the building.
At this point, astoundingly, our little vegetable demon proved his worth. He told me to sneak around the side of the building, wait for "the signal" and then shout as if I was an army general.
I left our squadron at this point, on that very task, so I have to take the others at their word as to what happened next, though I can scarcely believe it. Apparently, Brad began chanting, he glowed with an unearthly light, and suddenly in the distance, we could hear the sounds of an approaching army.
I assumed that this was, if not the signal, at least a signal, and I bellowed "Second battalion form up! The enemy is just over this ridge."
From my vantage point, I could see all the men who had been until recently so concerned with breaching the church doors, turn their attention to the north. As they scrambled to prepare for another skirmish, I slinked back to join my crew.
As I circled the building, something astounding happened. I was not there to witness it, and I have a hard time believing it, so I will recount it here as it was told to me. Apparently Brad the Bard reached in to the mind of one of the people within the church and said "I am Chauntea, be ready to leave through the back exit on my signal. Eat your vegetables."
In the chaos of Brad's distraction, half of the people who had been guarding the rear of the building had scattered to the other side to take part in the battle they thought was coming. Quick as lightning, Theo summoned flames from his hands and burned the life out of the remaining kobolds, while Glenfang and I dispatched the stragglers.
Before my eyes, Brad cleared the distance between the hedges and the back of the church. He knocked.
"Is that you Chauntea?" one of those taking refuge asked.
"I told you to wait for my signal, didn't I?"
The door opened, and a confused, frightened group began to emerge. Uncertain of why this greyskinned demon was acting as an emissary of their god, they stood hesitantly.
Brad, with a twinkle in his eye, said "eat your vegetables" and turned back towards the party. I saw several of the farmers within reach in to packs and pull out vegetables of various kinds, and began to munch on them as they exited.
I took this brief reprieve to remove the head from the dead cultist nearest me, and to skin it roughly with my sword, adding another skull to my collection. This one had a javelin lodged in it’s open mouth, which appeared to have cleaved the brainstem from the spinal column. I made note of this, as I packed the Javelin and the skull in my pack.
The parishioners ignored me as the exited, but they recognized Theo, and trusted him when he said that we would lead them to safety. As we departed along the bank of the river, back towards the secret tunnel to the keep, I saw Brad performing another ritual of some sort, and then I heard a knocking coming from far away within the church.
Assuming that this will be a sufficient distraction, we guided the villagers, thirty-eight in total, to the entrance of the tunnel, at which point there was much debate. Theo believed that we should continue our mission, and rescue the Governor's Daughter, Cadien believed that we should guide the refugees to safety within the keep, and seek medical attention before continuing.
Ultimately, we chose the latter path. With myself, and Glenfang in the front, the villagers behind us, and Theo, Cadien, and Gravius bringing up the rear, we made our way back through the tunnel and in to the keep.
Once inside, Cadien made his true purpose known, parading the people we rescued past Escobear. Escobear, a man of his word, tells Cadien he has no other armor, and that he will need this suit should the keep be breached, but that if they both should survive until morning, he would be glad to hand over his armor.
As a show of good faith, he removed the glittering sunstone from the center of his breastplate and pressed it into the eager hands of Cadien. The dwarf looked crestfallen, but also somehow hopeful.
Theo brought us medical supplies, and we gathered together for a few moments to rest before moving on. I took that time to write this account. About an hour has passed, and I am feeling strangely revitalized. Even the casters seem to have a bit more magic around them. I must assume that my god, Bahamut, was so moved by the way we cleansed the worshipers of the bad dragon god with fire that he has blessed and healed us. I said as much to Brad, who just smiled and said "I don't know about you, but I eat my vegetables."
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