From the Journal of Trevelyn Gravie

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

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.

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