AAR[3H] Rituals of Engagement (2020-04-29 2000 GMT)

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Re: LFG [3H] Rituals of Engagement (2020-04-29 2000 GMT)

Post by Sharkforce » Thu Apr 30, 2020 3:48 am

From the Journal of Zivilyn, Windling Magician: Rituals of Engagement

Temur, a good friend of mine, had asked myself and Rama to join him in a ritual that would allow him to get engaged to the Orkish woman of his dreams, Tuya, who was a Chief's daughter, and thus the rituals of courtship were rather more involved than might be expected (and more particularly when Temur is also a Chief's son), and so that he might be able to learn their ways (it was all very complicated to hear, but I think the gist of it is that Temur's tribe mostly prefer to use melee weapons in mighty charges on their horses, while Tuya's tribe favour a more mobile skirmishing style with ranged weapons). When he asked who else we might bring along, Rama and I mentioned another adept we had journeyed with in the past; Daldorer, an Obsidiman Nethermancer stout of spirit. The four of us would need to go out into the plains to the north of the Servos Jungle and protect a herd of horses that had been under the guardianship of his intended's tribe before the scourge from all harm for a week. This may not sound incredibly difficult, but of course any journey out into the world has it's risks, and anyways, I was sure Temur would enjoy the company as well, not to mention being able to have someone watch his back while he slept (and vice versa). And of course, I'll take just about any excuse to enjoy the surface world. It's been nearly a year since the gates of Throal opened and I still do not tire of it.

In any event, the four of us set off from the gates of Throal and enjoyed good conditions for travel for the first several days. On around the 5th day I think (or maybe late in the 4th) we spotted at a distance a group of people coming towards us, acting as if they did not have a care in the world (I enjoy the surface as much as anyone, but these people just seemed like they felt the need to dance about, throwing caution to the wind). My first thought was that they must be mad. As it seems, this would not be *entirely* inaccurate. After performing our greeting rituals (I modified the basket I had been using as a frame for my shelter along the trip so far, it was quite nice in my opinion!), and introducing ourselves, we found out that they had just come out of a rather harrowing experience coming from the direction we were headed to. It was as if luck had abandoned them entirely - sleep evaded them, they could not find water in a wilderness full of streams and creeks, and so forth. They also mentioned having seen a horse killed by crocodiles (and just think about how much bad luck you need to have to run across crocodiles and still not be able to find water!). In any event, they were excited because they had "given themselves up entirely to the Passions" or some such thing and had been feeling luck return to them.

Personally, I think that sounds rather odd, to say the least. I cannot imagine, say, Thystonius telling *anyone* to just rely on his blessings without expecting one to give it their all, nor Astendar blessing anyone who does not give it their all in creating something of beauty, but it did not sound all that dangerous, at least, not at first. Rama, however, had just had an awful experience in helping found a town that he later found out was devoted to the Mad Passion Raggok. He was suspiscious of their talk, and rightly so; it turned out the Questor who had called them to abandon themselves to the Passions (he *claimed* his name was "Steav" or some such nonsense, but the name is so obviously outlandish that it is probably false) was, in fact, a Questor of Raggok, and was trying to lead them to the newly established town (Grakor, I believe the place was; if Rama says it is a place where no good thing can happen, it surely must be true). We warned the folk away, and I am sure I heard the Questor muttering curses upon us as we left. In hindsight, I worry that we may not have done enough to prevent the spread of corruption there, but what were we to do? We could scarcely slaughter people for the crime of being happy in a weird way, after all. At some point, this town will need to be dealt with, but that is a story for another time.
In any event, we continued onwards, and a mere day afterwards we also started to struggle to get sleep. It required a supreme effort of will to keep my mind calm even some of the time to be able to feel at all rested. It is hard to say whether the land beyond the northernmost tip of the Servos has some curse or corruption upon it, or whether the Questor had managed to place an actual curse upon us somehow (if Raggok is taking an interest in the region, perhaps I should learn more of what his followers can do, so that I can be better prepared in the future). These haunted nights caused us no end of trouble on our excursion, making a difficult task that much more challenging. I suppose Temur will at least be able to tell his intended of the added difficulty to impress her more (apparently, that was pretty much the point of this ritual is to take turns impressing each other, so really from some perspective if the whole thing had been easy I suppose that would have actually been, ironically enough, a disaster).

In any event, we came across some harpies again on I think the second day after the nights of unease. I am reminded of Temur's ponderings last time we encountered them, at how they seem to be so abundant when they only seem to have women of their ilk. Pity the poor fool who has to go find out how they reproduce, though, they're sickening enough when they're just going about business as usual. They said the absolute most repulsive things to Daldorer, which I shall not repeat here; you can thank me for letting you keep your lunch down some time if we ever meet later. Frankly, sometimes I think it would be nice to have something to allow me to unsee or unhear things... something more reliable than alcohol, I mean. In any event, the harpies were thankfully able to be put down quickly and efficiently by our superior skill. This turned out to be a great blessing, because the restless nights were making it extremely difficult to recover from injuries. I was very grateful to not need to wear my body out as much as a warrior often does while fighting at this point, but we had not come out to the wilderness to surrender.

We found the herd of horses the next day at a watering hole. As it turned out, this must have been the watering hole where those people we passed earlier had seen a horse eaten by an crocodile, because there were several of them in the water. They caught Temur off guard, and sorely wounded him; fortunately, he is quite resilient, and did not die, and he decided to put some of his other skills to the test; often he will charge in and strike down foes with his axe, but this time he skirmished around the edges of the fight and fired a crossbow at them (he must have picked one up after our last battle with the harpies, when he found it hard to reach them in the air). Well, at least he did that after we finished off the crocodile that had gotten a hold on him with its teeth. Rama continued to stay close, probably because he does not yet have a missile weapon of any sort to my knowledge. I have never seen him use one, in any event. That fight was much rougher than the harpies, in the end... they ambushed us just as we got close to the water, and their bite seemed to be quite powerful (thankfully, though I did not fly out of their reach in the hopes that if another came out it would strike for the smaller and weaker-seeming target, I did not have to feel it myself, but both Rama and Temur were quite wounded by them, and poor Ayanga was forced back to the Spirit Realms for a time). I prepared a Hero's Feast afterwards, which did much to help them recover, but again the attack on our minds as we slept continued and it was a great struggle for them to make a full recovery. They would not, in fact, fully recover until we were almost back to Throal.

But thankfully, we had found the horses (and a good thing too, I would not have wanted to spend too long wandering in the wilderness out there with wounds such as theirs, searching for a herd that could be almost anywhere) and were able to follow the herd and keep it safe. I myself was able to befriend one of these noble beasts, though a proper Name for her has not yet come to me. Her combination of strength, speed, and toughness make her far more capable in combat than Jolly Jumper (who I still have yet to train for combat).

Almost on the last night of watching over the heard, as we were setting up for camp, Rama was able to spot an ambush coming. Later on, Daldorer would tell us these creatures were ghouls, and that their poison is known to wear off when they are killed (which I can attest to myself; I got quite a nasty scratch from one of them, the poison was very unpleasant, but did indeed wear off when the ghoul that had clawed me died... re-died? Whatever, you get the point). I might be willing to risk taking a bite from an crocodile when I'm in good health, but with these ghouls, even the Resilience of the Polecat was not able to keep their toxins from eating away at me. After I got hit the first time, I decided to keep my distance (and even then, a ghoul still tried to jump to reach me; thankfully, he couldn't land a good claw on my agile person, and afterwards I flew even higher and from then on they could not reach me; I have heard too many stories of Windlings succumbing to poisons that larger folk withstand much more easily).
There was also one more powerful ghoul there, and something else, I think. Temur could feel it too; we all felt as if *something* were almost... well, for lack of a better word, poisoning our luck. I do not think it was chance that we were attacked by ghouls. Something is out there north of the Servos, something that commands ghouls and steals luck, that makes wounds fester and perhaps haunts your dreams as well - I'm still not sure whether the Questor's curses followed us, or if he was perhaps just taking advantage of a region that was corrupted to dupe people into joining his cult. Or perhaps, and this I dearly hope is not true, the Questor is actively working together with something else to drive people to worship his mad master. Further investigation will be needed, and I will need to prepare myself better to face these challenges. I hope that this threat may be ended before it grows too large. The herd of horses did not seem to be affected by whatever taints this region, so there is some hope, but I fear for the spirits of the land if we do not cleanse it quickly. I would not want to face future generations and say I stood by idle while a second Scourge took the surface away from us again.

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From the Journal of Rama, Obsidiman warrior

Post by OldKingCole » Fri May 01, 2020 11:32 pm

Temur of the Monkhiir-Tenger, an Orc Spirit Rider and an Adept known to me approached and asked for my help in a personal endeavor. He sought the hand of a daughter of another chieftain, Tuya of the Gaazar-Eej, in marriage. Though I lack an understanding of the complexities of Orc courtship rituals I was able to see the desire of my friend and gladly agreed to help. Zivlyn the Windling Shaman was also involved and together he and I recommended Daldorer the Obsidiman Nethermancer who joined us.

The request made by Tuya was for Temur to journey north of the Servos, find a herd of wild horses and to protect them for a week. We prepared our packs and planned our route and I began looking forward to once again journeying under the open sky.

Our first encounter stills chills me. We met a group of Namegivers who were in a state of ecstasy - they claimed they had been saved by a red-robed man who refused to provide his True Name. I demanded they display their artisan skills and could find no fault. When we spoke and found out they were being shepherded to the village of Grakor, I tried to counsel them to forsake their journey.

For a second time, I stayed my hand from violence, attempting to sway these Namegivers with words but they would not heed me. I could not find a justified reason for violence - the artisan skill of all, even the man in the red robe, seemed genuine. I had only my own misgivings and my duty to Temur weighed heavily on me. Were I to slay this man, should I abandon my vow to lead a group of unarmed and unequipped people to Throal on my own? Would they listen to one who sought to gain their trust by killing their guide?

I tried once again to use my words to try to save them from the fate that awaited them at Grakor. In response, the man in the red robes cursed at me. I again stayed my hand - such words as I hear in the markets of Bartertown did not merit a response. I now believe a deeper curse lay hidden in the words he used.

We were able to find the herd near a watering hole. Temur’s joy at finding the horses which numbered over a dozen was great. His spirit mount was able to bridge the gap between the beasts and our party and they seemed to accept our presence. However, when Temur approached the water, a crocodile erupted from the water and seized his leg.

We sprang into action to find the first was not alone. A fierce battle followed as we tried to free Temur from the jaws of the creature which grasped him while also attempting to fend off the others. The crocodiles fought till the bitter end and we were triumphant but Temur’s leg was grievously injured; it took both myself and Zivlyn to tend to the wounds and close the wounds.

Temur’s challenges required he spend a week with the herd and sk we spent the next days living as the Orcs lf old, following the horses, making camp when they stopped, telling stories to pass the time. The days were not restful as the nightmares continued to plague each of us.

Near the end of our sojourn, we spent the evening in a small copse when we were ambushed by a hunting party of the dead. This is the second time I have faced walking corpses north of Throal, these were more dangerous than the cadaver men I had faced before. Viscous poison dropped from their claws and a hideous intelligence guided the leader of the undead monstrosities. I was glad we had Dalroder with us, his knowledge of these beasts and his abilities as a Nethermancer were a key to winning this fight.

During the battle, I sensed a presence that seemed to be hindering our efforts. I felt weakened, my abilities lessened. My arms were weakened and I dropped my shield - something which has never happened before. It seemed the nightmares and some unknown will bore down upon us, seeking to sap our reserves and end us.

Once the dead were bested, no other beings disturbed us and the remainder of our vigil was peaceful if not restful. Zivlyn was even able to claim one of the horses as a mount and I believe everyone who knows horses in Throal will be jealous of his choice.

Our nightmares ceased when we returned within three days travel of Throal which further increases my unease in leaving the village of Grakor undisturbed. Something must be done and soon.

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