Mystara and the Path to Immortality
Skrogg's Journal - Chapter 2
9th Felmont, Day 84
Thor’s Teeth, it seemed the night would never end (and the next day too, but first things first…). After we had our supper and sat around the campfire discussing the days events, we turned in for the night. We all took turns keeping watch, as we were not sure what other beasties would be out there. Halfway through Thorsgrim’s watch, he awoke us all with a cry of “Wolf!” As I groggily got myself out of bed, I remember thinking that wolves shouldn’t be attacking a large group of people, especially with a fire, but as I became more aware I realised Thorsgrim’s anxiety. The “wolf” was as large as a horse! It’s jaws looked like it could swallow a man ( or a Hin at least) whole. We quickly formed a defensive line, with Kurin and I grabbing a fiery brand from the still burning campfire. We waved the brands at the wolf, while Ragnar shouted at it, hoping to scare it away. This had no effect and it rushed at us trying to bite Thorsgrim. After a short melee with fur, flame and steel flying, the beast was finally dispatched by Ragnar. It took a bit to settle down after that. Sven skinned the beast, intending to make a cloak for Ragnar in honour of his decisive blow.
The next morning dawned much like the last few, cold and wet. We travelled onward to the west through the forest. Azimi caught up to us not long after we started as she had bought some horses from the manor. I was unsure how I was to ride one of these beasts but Sven, who had some riding experience, showed us the basics. The horses will enable us to travel faster towards our goal, The Rock.
Later that morning our travels were interrupted by some playful Sprites. These small faerie folk flitted around wanting to play and Azimi indulged them for a while. I took the chance to have a snack and quick nap as I was still a little tired from the wolf encounter. The sprites warned us that there was a large creature up ahead, possibly up to no good. Heading the Sprites warning, we cautiously rode up the trail. Sure enough, we soon saw a large creature (at least 8’ tall carrying a large axe) blocking the trail.
Ragnar hailed it (it looked like an Ogre from the tales), it didn’t respond but instead started towards us. We dismounted and Ragnar told it to halt so we could converse further. Again it seemed to ignore us. Those of us with bows and crossbows opened fire (Azimi had a blowpipe, but I don’t think the dart penetrated the Ogre’s hide as it seemed to do nothing) and landed a few good hits, but the beast kept coming. As it reached us, Kurin and I struck at its legs with our axes while Ragnar struck high with his Pole-Axe. The result of this teamwork was a decapitated Ogre. I must remember this tactic as it worked well. The Ogre had a small bag of coins and we wondered if he was trying to extract a toll off travellers using the trail. No longer will travellers need to worry about this evil beast taking their hard earned coin!
A little further down the trail, the path split into three. Looking at our map, we decided the more direct path was to the west, so we ignored the northern and southern trail and headed towards the snow capped mountains and The Rock to the west. The forest still had its autumn clothes on and was quite beautiful. The leaves were wonderful combinations of reds, yellows and orange and with the mountains in the background, made quite a sight. Unknown to us, we were being stalked…Taking us by surprise, a group of ten men armed with sharp looking daggers, emerged from the forest. Their skin matched the forest colours! No wonder we didn’t see them, they looked exactly like the trees. A rather angry sounding conversation ensued (I couldn’t understand as they were speaking the Northern tongue). Sven filled me in as it went on. We were trespassing on their land so we must pay the price (it seems everyone wants money around here…), they wanted us to surrender our weapons and come with them. It seems we were all agreed that a warrior never gives up his weapon so Thorsgrim and Kurin suggested that we give an oath to come peacefully. This wasn’t good enough for these “chameleon men” as half their number suddenly disappeared and reappeared behind us with one of those fierce looking daggers at Azimi’s throat. Although Ragnar, Thorsgrim and I were ready to meet the Valkyries in Valhalla, our comrades were not, so we threw down our weapons in disgust at such cowardly behaviour from these “men”. We were blind-folded and led to a cave system that served as these peoples home. I could hear Ragnar fuming and cursing the whole way. I feel for the young man, all he wants to do is prove himself in battle, but things keep conspiring against him. I understand the glory of battle, but I would think that a glorious battle would be more than a fight over a “toll”. I’m sure Ragnar will find his battle soon. The price turned out to be a trial by non-lethal combat. If our champion won, we would have passage through the land, if we lost then some of our party would be enslaved by these people. Fearing that Ragnar was in no state of mind to follow the non-lethal part of the trial, I volunteered to be our champion. The club that was to be used looked to be used in a similar way to my axe and this was a good opportunity to prove my worth to the party. I feel that they think my size limits my ability. I was pleased that there was no objection to my volunteering and I think our choice surprised our hosts as I heard a few sniggers as I stepped forward to do battle. My opponent underestimated me too, as he “blinked” around the ring seeming to play with me. But I managed to land a few solid blows and his demeanour changed, he started to realise that maybe I wasn’t such an easy beat. Slowly I wore him down as we traded blows and I finally knocked him down, earning our passage. Hopefully this will help my friends realise that size matters not. We were led back to the forest and allowed to continue on our journey. Although we parted on peaceful terms, I doubt that it would remain peaceful if we met again. The wounding of our pride with such an easy capture will leave a lasting impression.
Towards the end of the day, we arrived at a bridge spanning a wide but reasonably shallow river. There was an arch over the bridge which had some writing on it. I couldn’t read it but Azimi said it told us that men must give the water its due if they want to cross. Another cryptic clue. Azimi, Kurin and I crossed the bridge with out any incident, but as soon as the others tried to cross, then very river came to life! The meaning of the arch seems be to very literal, although I still can’t figure out what the “due” would be (knowing the day, probably some coins…). Two snake like creatures made of river water rose up to attack Ragnarr, Thorsgrim and Sven. Thorsgrim was grabbed by one of these watery snakes and dumped into the river, Sven dashed across the bridge on his horse and Ragnar battled the second snake on the bridge. I fired a couple of arrows into the creature trying to drown Thorsgrim but they didn’t seem to be doing a lot, the creature was made of water after all. Sven bravely tied a rope to his horse and himself and dove into the river to try and rescue Thorsgrim who was being weighed down by his armour. I helped the horse pull Thorsgrim out of the river after Sven had tied the rope to him too. We discovered the others battling the second creature on the other side of the bridge as it had pulled Ragnarr into the river. We managed to defeat both creatures and pull Ragnarr from the river, but not before he lost consciousness. We thought he had drowned, but Azimi using her healing skills managed to bring him round. One wonders what else could happen to us this day.
As we were looking for a place to camp for the night, Sven noticed we were being stalked again. Hoping it wasn’t the “chameleon men”, he skulked off to investigate. He found a single Dwarf watching us. The Dwarf, whose name escapes me, is a miner in the area and was only curious about our party and doesn’t mean any harm. In fact, he invited us to join him at his campsite and challenged Kurin to an axe throwing contest. Some gems were bet and the throws made, but despite a good throw from Kurin, the miners throw was better. Azimi suggested a double or nothing rematch and the miner, who strangely seemed to take an instant liking to Azimi, agreed. This time Kurin made no mistake and threw better. Thorsgrim seemed upset at Azimi for some reason. He seems to think that she did something to the Dwarf to make him change his mind. Maybe it has something to do with her powers, but I think I’ll stay out of it. We sat around the fire listening to Dwarven tales before heading to bed. If we have many more eventful days such as this, then I will be old before my time…