From the Journal of Trevelyn Gravie

Being an Account of the OD&D Adventures of Trevelyn Gravie, Priest of the Church of Traldar.

6.09.2004

11th Nuwmont: New Friends for an Old Man Part 2

The Laughing Gnome is a fine tavern run by a perpetually cheerful Gnome by the name of Landar. It's been some time since he came to town, a skilled adventurer wishing to settle down. I can't recall the Tavern's former name. But it makes no difference. Landar entered the Tavern and asked the owner something to the effect of 'How much for the whole lot?'. Amused by this odd little Gnome, the owner named an outlandish price. Before he knew it, the Gnome had piled a huge mound of platinum on the counter, a small fraction of the wealth Landar had accumulated, and the deed had changed hands. Today, Landar's suit of armor is displayed by the fireplace, along with other trophies of his exploits, each one a tribute to his youth.

As usual, the Tavern was bustling. Half the soldiers were enjoying a post-duty beer, whereas the other half were enjoying a good pre-duty ale. A few townspeople were enjoying Landar's relatively decent cooking. Seated at the corner table, Garly, Anya, and myself had settled into a most interesting conversation. It seems Anya had been a stowaway in the same caravan in which Garly was travelling when it was attacked by Orcs. Badly injured, they made their way back to the Keep. I'm not sure what transpired after that - it seems Marcus learned of their exploits and thought them suited to return, or at the very least, guide me to the site of their ambush.

Although the two had only known each other a few days, they seemed to be the closest of friends. Their trust in each other should prove valuable should we encounter anything, but at the same time, I'm the outsider. They give only the broad strokes of their story, and I have yet to get a clear explanation as to where their map came from. Supposedly recovered from one of the lost patrols, it's clearly an unfinished mape of the area North of the keep, though it makes little sense: A small valley circled by a hilly ring dotted with cave entrances, with handwritten notes detailing the threats within. Goblins, Orcs from two tribes, an Ogre, a Minotaur. A scrawled question asks the same thing I'm wondering: How can so many races and tribes coexist in such a small area? Who could be leading them? A system of explored caves to the far North of the valley, if the map is correct, would seem to be the lair of whatever force is bringing this threat together. However, a frontal assault would leave either flank open for whatever beasts live in the surrounding caves.

The map deserves thorough study, but Marcus left with it in order to make a copy for the Keep's records. He says he'll return it in the morning. After some discussion, Anya and Garly feel this is the best time to depart.

6.07.2004

11th Nuwmont: New Friends for an Old Man

The Duke's Road Keep, where I found myself stationed some years ago, has become a home to me. Though only an Acolyte in the Church of Traldar, the people here have long since accepted me as one of their own. The permanent residents seem to take things as they come -- even a 53 year old Acolyte. Of course, my age and relatively low rank in the Church makes me an easy target of the snide sort of jests that quite frankly are beginning to wear on me. For some time, they were easy to ignore. After a while, any doubts about my commitment to the Church or my capacity to serve were laid to rest. If they wanted to believe me lacking in ambition, then so be it. But it's been almost ten years since I rejoined the Church and was assigned here -- one would hope they'd get some new material.

As an Acolyte at the Keep, I've come to know the soldiers quite well. I've watched the bright eyes of the young, filled with false bravado, darken and grow cloudy after months of mind-numbing drills, dangerous patrols into the borderlands, and the realization that they forfeited their lives for the protection of wealthy merchants.

This morning, one of these soldiers came seeking my counsel. For weeks now the caravans passing through this isolated - yet vitally important - area have been coming under attack. On the borderlands, such things are common, but it's the ferocity of these attacks, the body count, that's taking it's toll on the morale of the Keep. This young soldier told me of his patrol the previous night. Looking into a reported attack, his squad was ambushed by Orcs. A great battle ensued, and every one of his comrades fell. Every one except for him. He ran, hid himself, and watched as the Orcs looted and pillaged the caravan and the bodies of his patrol. As he spoke, I saw in his eyes a lingering fear. I wish I could say I gave him wise counsel, that he stood with a renewed sense of purpose and marched out of the Church determined to prove himself. But in retrospect, I feel I was too harsh - perhaps, in his eyes, I saw in him something of myself.

Afterwards, Ustin, the Head Priest of this particular Church, came to speak with me. In a way. He was actually looking for one of the younger acolytes. Marcus Peregrinus, one of the soldiers stationed at the keep, was putting together a party to investigate the disturbances to the North. Ustin seemed to think one of the Acolytes would make a fine addition to the party, but he found me instead. Unsure whether or not I'd be up for it, Ustin explained Marcus' plan. He was more than surprised when I quickly agreed.

Living as a Cleric of Petra, the Goddess of the Besieged in the Duke's Road Keep, a military outpost on the borderlands for the past decade or so, one tends to learn more than their fair share of military strategy, tactics, fortification, and the like. The party obviously needed someone with such knowledge. I'm not boasting when I say I was the one most qualified - not to mention most expendable - to fulfill this role. If I could help protect the Keep by scouting out the enemy to the north, determine what threat they posed to the Keep itself, then of course I would accompany them. After all, as far as I was concerned, this mission was one of reconnaissance, to determine the threat and the strength behind it. In retrospect, and knowing Ustin as I do, it was probably his intention to ask me in the first place - he just expected this stone to be too old to budge.

Around lunchtime, I made my way over to the Tavern where I was to meet Marcus and the members of his party: A young woman, Anya, small yet lithe, attractive, apparently an archer of some skill; and a female Dwarf, Garly Stronghollow of the Stronghollow Clan (as she proudly announces to all who ask), smaller though not as lithe, but handy with an axe and eager for adventure. I am by no means an expert in Dwarven culture, but Garly seemed to be an odd sort of Dwarf. Anya was the bigger enigma, though. It seemed as if she knew something and enjoyed keeping it from you too much to share it. Unfortunately, as for this party of adventurers, this was it. There wasn't a troop to spare, as Marcus explained. It would be up to us to discern the threat. Two very inexperienced adventurers and a very experienced Acolyte.

Marcus had an errand to run and he left us alone to get better acquainted.