Bear Claws

13. Shadows and Solitude

I am very confused. The priest of Avandra tells me to remain faithful. He says Avandra left me because I was not faithful enough. In what way have I been faithless? I have always sought to further the precepts of my faith. I value freedom and luck and try to help others recognize their independence wherever I go. How have I offended my god?

I find I am also uncomfortable with others. I desire solitude and the jovial nature of my friends leaves me chafing.

My friends were attacked by some hired thugs. They captured one who seemed to know little. When speaking to the magistrate Alain, Alton and Brin came with information they had gathered. I suggested using this information to set up an operation to capture Modra, the apparent leader of the Dark Ones responsible for the Orc attacks. The Magistrate didn’t seem interested. He told us to follow our leads instead.

James and Xaladin were fined for torturing their prisoner. James became angry and assaulted the Magistrate. He spent the rest of the time in a cell.

One of the leads we were given by Reniss, sister of Jen of the Farstriders, was to look for Modra in the Happy Beggar. In the Happy Beggar I spoke with an old man named Brenat. He claimed to have knowledge about Modra but said he hadn’t been seen in years. When he left one of the workers told me he had been asking those same question just before we arrived.

Motioning to my comrades I pursued. They must have discovered some other clues because only Reniss followed. Brenat proved altogether too spry for his apparent age and managed to elude us by use of carefully placed ruffians.

As darkness approached a small mouse brought me a message from Xaladin. “Return to the cellar.”

I asked Reniss to keep looking for the elusive Brenat and returned to the Happy Beggar to join my comrades.

This anger and carelessness do not seem like me. I feel my death has made me more focused and driven to find answers. Also, I am less patient. After my failed attempt to find Brenat, a man I should easily have smelled if not outrun at a walk, I feel a burning need to smash things.

On my way back to the Happy Beggar I will stop at the prison and try once more to bargain for James’ release.

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12. This is how I died...

This is how I died.

Kalad instructed us that in order to seal the vents we must fill the Nexus with boiling water. We found a strange shadow creature helping the orcs in the boiler room. We made quick work of them and opened the pipes to flood the Nexus.

Inside the Nexus we found Tusk and a Shadow Warlock. Alain was thrown from a height attempting to climb to the control panel that would flood the chamber. He nearly died but survived.

The rest of us attempted to fight our way to the top. The warlock came close on the upper platform and I hooked a grappling hook around her leg and tried to pull her off. When she didn’t move I stepped off the ledge. She fell on top of me. I held her down and broke her hand, forcing her to call off the orcs. She laughed, threw me aside and attacked. I fled, trying to regroup with my comrades but she caught me and darkness descended.

I found myself in the presence of Something dark and terrible. Incessant whispers plagued my mind and I plead with Avandra for solace and safety. For the first time since I spoke my vows she did not answer my prayers. I suffered alone.

I awoke a week later amidst revelry and celebration that somehow seems hollow to me. My companions killed Tusk and the Warlock and saved Overlook and the lands beyond. I feel drained and used. The shadow creature claimed one of my fingers as trophy and I find my grip is weaker at its loss.

May Avandra give me strength to stand against whatever future is coming.

I fear I no longer have the courage to act on my own.

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11. Madness in the Dark

Our trip to the Vents took us two days. On the way we talked about what brought us away from home, what we thought of Orcs. I struggle with the hatred around us. How do we know we are in the right?

We found the Farstriders camp at the entrance to the Vents. Inside was a cramped and claustrophobic twist of tunnels that were filled with madness. Many times we heard voices whispering to us. Insidious words sowing distress and betrayal. There were warnings that Kalad would kill me in my sleep, that all the dwarves hated me. I know this is not true, but I found I doubted Kalad’s faithfulness all the same. He has been most taciturn since his ordeal with the Orcs.

We helped a lone Orc fight some beetles that corroded our weapons and destroyed my armor. The Orc turned out to be a liar and a worthless source of information. He seems to be another spot of evidence that the world may be more black and white than I had supposed.

We encountered another room where echoes magnified, deafening us and destroying our ability to communicate. Another room where light had no power, no existence and where spoken language could not be heard.

Clearly somebody toys with us.

Alton has been hearing a voice telling him he will have to pay soon. He prays to Ioun constantly. James does not like us talking about it without including him. He does understand.

Xaladin tried to swim a rushing river when he had many safer options open to him. The fool. He nearly died. Alton’s floating disk turned out immensely useful in saving him from death.

Finally Kalad recognized where we were and lead us to the Vents. We found Orcs and a Troll desecrating an altar to Moradin with the remains of the Farstriders. We killed them.

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10. Forge Fires Burning

We dispatched the Orcs attacking us and were joined by Xaladin, a Druid looking for his brother. I was immediately impressed with his abilities and find him… Acceptable as a companion. Though I’m not sure he can be trusted.

I questioned one of the Orcs. He seemed to think that he didn’t need a reason to attack the dwarves. I d ont understand how anything can be violent without provocation. What is justice if both sides fight merely out of hate?

Beyond the hall we found a huge descending staircase that twisted over two hundred feet into a mountain valley. The Orcs had claimed the stairs and we fought out way down to the bottom. In an attempt to surprise the Orcs I lashed several ropes together and swung from the stairs onto a lower platform.

Beyond that was the Dwarven forges, filled with Orcs, fire and destruction. The Orcs were beating a dwarf for collapsing the tunnel. He is a paladin of Moradin. He has told us that the Orcs can get through the mountains by going through the vents. We must make sure the Farstriders have succeeded in sealing them.

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9. Deeper Delve the Dwarves

Beneath the stairs we found a small room with two doors. Hearing the sound of Orc voices behind one door we went inside to find two Orcs, hiding in the chamber. In an attempt to smoke them out Brin offered his bedroll as a sacrifice. The smoking bedroll filled the room with smoke and made the battle difficult. After dispatching the Orcs I tossed one of their bodies on the bedroll to put out the fire. Unfortunately the body ignited. James extinguished the fire with his great spray of urine but the stench was enough to make Alton stumble and fall in the smoldering steaming mess. His vomit only added to the stench.

Through the other door we found a small chamber with an emaciated and caged bear. I was able to coax it out, calm it and lead it to the exit. I hope it will recover and find safety. I wish there was some way I could see how it is doing. It seemed a poor animal. Alain tried to stop me from rescuing the bear. Had he been less of my companion I would have struck him.

Farther down we encountered an ogre that barely fit into the hallway. We dispatched it with little real effort.

Deeper down the hole we went. The dwarves main hall was littered the slain bodies of monks and clerics, killed while sleeping. We interrupted the Orcs in the very act of looting. The battle was vicious and long and we all sorely needed a rest. Just three hours into the night Alain woke us with the sound of approaching Orcs.

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8. Orcs
The Siege at Bordrin's Watch

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Loovat has taken time off to be with his son. In his stead Alain has joined our party.

We were recruited to help defend Bordrin’s Watch from the invading hordes of Orcs. We travelled to Overlook, stopping to check on a helpless old farmer on the way. In Overlook I saw other Dragonborn. They seem very proud and sure. I wish to speak to them but don’t know what to say, finding no commonality. News of Orcs makes me worry for the clerics in the temple of Avandra. Are they safe?

We found a letter from a demon written to Alton. He tells me the demon is the one he made a pact with to avenge his village. He feels confident he can take care of it. I trust him.

We journeyed deep into the mountains to warn the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. When we arrived we found Orcs feasting on the flesh of the priests. We scaled the wall and vanquished them, burying the charred remains. Inside the Monastery is blood, gore and feces. Under the desecrated altar to Moradin is a stairway. We go down, the Orcs must pay for these crimes.

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7. Rescue Tuvok

After the feast a group of villagers brought in a dead goblin. In its flesh was carved the words “Bear Claws.” On the person of the body was a message in cipher that we were able to read only a name and a town, Feldor and Nimon Gap. We borrowed horses from the townspeople of Brindol and rode as fast as they could carry us to Nimon Gap. Once there Alton and James set up in the inn eating mutton and drinking wine while asking questions about Feldor.

Loovat and I, too anxious to sit still, sought out the merchant houses, nocking on doors and waking up merchants to inquire about Feldor. We found a cloth merchant who said Feldor was his employee but that Feldor wouldn’t be available until morning. Unwilling to give up we sought out places he might be hiding but had no luck until dawn when we approached the merchant again. When Feldor saw us he started to run and we gave chase, finally catching him after Alton slid under a passing cart and tangled in his legs. We questioned him and he claimed to have been influenced by bad companions and in over his head. Alton took pity on him, seeming to understand the feeling. I wanted to tie him up and take him to Skull Gorge with us but Alton turned him over to the merchant with some stern words to look out for him and give him another chance.

I still feel like it is a mistake.

We rode to skull gorge and found the hobgoblin, Krundar Thornblade, that Feldor told us about, alone in the tavern. We spoke to him but he became belligerent until we could take his sniveling pride no longer. He fled from our fury and we followed him to the northern shore of the lake. From there we crossed the lake on a small boat to a large island. Zombies and ghouls attacked us from the depths of the water. Brin was nearly drowned and James was able to simply wade around in the water because of his height.

On the island we found a small room guarded by Krundar, who made the mistake of calling Alton a little man one too many times. He died burning. In the room was a portal that took us to a large room with an altar where Tuvok lay, part of a sacrifice to Vecna. Loovat jumped across the room to save his son while James, Brin, Alton and I attacked the priest and his minions of undead.
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The priest died when Brin knocked him down and Alton lit him on fire. James saved my life when the priest transformed into some kind of hideous, necrotic creature that nearly killed me.

Tuvok is safe with his father. Now we must return the horses we have borrowed from Brindol and check on Feldor on the way home.

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6. Where is Tuvok son of Loovat

After taking Mirtala back to Brindol we again made the journey to Rivenroar where we moved methodically through the rest of the dungeon. We encountered the leader of the New Band of the Red Hand and fought in a close scuffle in a tight hallway. On his body we found a note indicating that perhaps his actions were directed by somebody else. There is some higher authority behind all this evil.

We also rescued a teenage girl, Jalissa, and the young buy, Thurann. Jalissa is scared and emotionally traumatized but she responded well to encouragement and healing. I gave her a warpick and told her to help protect Thurann to give her something to do. She seemed to take heart from the challenge and showed great courage. I would like to check on her later and see that she is doing well.

We cleared the entire dungeon of the goblin and undead infestation that seemed to be everywhere. Tuvok was not to be found but a note indicating that he is being held at the Lake northwest of Brindol was found on the body of a wight.

We hastened back to Brindol with their artifacts and children. On the morrow we leave for the lake country.

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5. Mogran
but my friends call me "James"

Returning back to Brindol we found another adventurer, Mogran — who goes by James, who was willing to accompany us. James is a Goliath Runepriest who will provide some much needed leadership to our party.
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Continuing past the portal room underneath Rivenroar we found a room covered in filthy webs that stuck to our feet. We were forced to burn the webs away with fire and acid while fighting the Ettercaps that had taken up residence there. Once killed we found Cartinex in a corner, dead and wrapped tightly in webs.

From there we explored more and rescued Mirtala as well. Mirtala was severely traumatized and we had to expend some effort calming her down. Perhaps she will be okay once her life returns to normal — she was nearly eaten by filthy rats, which is enough to give any person nightmares for years to come.

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4. Ana killed by Bear
Bear killed by Bear Claws

Exploring the passage under Rivenroar we came to an eerie room with what looked like a large painting on one wall. When I tried to inspect it closer a gelatinous monster slithered form it and attacked us. The monster was accompanied by two specters that were able to turn invisible and the encounter left us beaten and in bad need of rest.

We made camp outside the castle and Mary applied her cooking skills to making a stew for everybody, with the judicious use of the hottest peppers she could carry. Unfortunately Alton suffered intestinal discomfort after ingesting too much of the stew. Once the bowels had calmed down Ana kept watch while in her trance and the rest of us slept. She woke us during the night because of a sound coming from a nearby clearing. When we investigated we found the cave bear we had encountered a few days before. It was clearly rabid and going mad. Ana tried to sneak around behind it and divert it away but Brin stumbled into the clearing and brought us to its attention.
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During the ensuing fight Ana was killed by the bear’s slashing claws just before we felled the mighty beast. We mourned Ana but used our loss to give us strength, taking the claws of the bear to wear around our necks. Mary removed one of the bear’s massive fangs and fastened it in place of the spike on her warhammer as a constant reminder of the loss of a companion and danger of underestimating a foe.

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