Aenor

Entry 7: Terror and the Unnamed Inn
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

While walking to the inn, we discussed our newly earned property. Krawaal wondered if perhaps the property was haunted. We had a good laugh at this, as we were all sure that spirits and ghouls do not exist (Note: never doubt Krawaal in the future).

Our conversation was cut short, however, as we came across another grisly murder scene. Strung across the pathway between two coniferous trees, roughly 15 feet in the air, 20 naked half elves were lashed together, arm to arm and foot to foot. They resembled a grotesque paper chain. They were nude, however each wore a hat or habit that signified a religious order. When we passed under the bodies, I looked up. The fingers and toes of each half-elf had been sanded down to nubs. Blood and viscera dripped from their desecrated toes and fingers down to the path.

We approached the inn near nightfall. It was made of rough hewn, untreated wood. it appeared sturdy, but in a state of disrepair. The sign at the front had been ripped and splintered in half. As we bickered over what to name the inn, I noticed that some of the torches were lit in the inn windows. The building appeared to be inhabited. This incensed us to no end, and we ran to the property. A cold dread overtook me as we stepped into the shadow of the building, but I did my best to suppress it in front of my comrades.

While most of my comrades appeared to be at ease, the dwarves were observably uncomfortable. The three of them became even more quiet than usual, and Krawaal assumed a fighting stance and looked around the building in earnest.

We entered the courtyard of the inn and the main entrance doors swung shut behind us. I glanced around. Two horse heads were skewered on pikes behind us. The voice of a young girl materialized, seemingly out of the ether, and said, “come play with me.” The torches flared up, and then burned lower than before. Since this is a private journal, I have no shame in admitting that I was terrified beyond belief. I began searching for a way out of that inn. However, the only paths open to us were the stable and the entrance to the common room. Both were full of darkness. Turok used a song to summon a bright light, but even this could not illuminate the darkness of the main door.

The group ventured into the stable. I attempted to stay back with the dwarves and the mule. But when the group entered the stable, the horse heads sprang to life, braying and biting and spitting. The decapitated corpses filled the stable, and we were forced into battle with the loathsome beasts. Through my terror, I shot the heads with my crossbow while the others attacked the reanimated bodies. All throughout the fight, the sound of the child’s laughter bounced off the walls.

Tig was badly bitten by a horse head, but we managed victory.

Upon defeating the beasts, I made a calculated decision – my odds of survival were better with the group. I left the dwarves in the courtyard and continued into the stable. Through the stable, we found a door leading into a hallway. Once again, since this journal is private and will not be read by the others, I have no shame in admitting that I walked down that hallway with my eyes half-closed and my crossbow cocked. I heard screams. The torches flared wildly. Blood dripped down the walls, and faces appeared to stretch and scream and bite out of the walls. I felt something crawling around my legs. Dougal attempted to explore some of the rooms on his own, which I found both brave and foolish. But I continued on with Buck, Krawaal, and the others, until we reached the common room.

Here were the bodies of various patrons and employees of the inn. Their limbs jerked and twisted, pulled by their intestines as if they were marionettes, as if they were the dolls of some young child. One corpse was forced to playe demented music on an untuned fiddle. Blood dripped down the walls, and the floor was sticky with the dark effluvium of the murders. The heads of the bodies had been hacked off, and stitched on to different corpses. One woman’s eyes had been removed and nailed to her chin.

Buck poured himself a drink.

Something scurried across the ceiling. It was the body of a small human girl. It had been her we heard laughing. She laughed still, crawling across the ceiling, twisting her head fully around and staring at us. I have no shame in admitting that when she did so, I wanted nothing more than to burn the inn to the ground. I desired to raze the building to the ground, and never return. But the girl would not let us leave. She spoke of a “Red Man” who would not be forgotten.

I panicked, and I let loose a crossbow bolt aimed squarely at the girl’s heart. This did not do anything, however, except irritate her. She began attacking us, as did the puppet corpses surrounding her. Her demented toy followed, an animated doll, stabbing wildly with a large dagger. Dougal was severely wounded in the fight, and went down while fending off the corpses. Ironsong managed to use his gong as a powerful tool of combat, weaving a song that must have been infused with magic, for it dealt great damage to the devil girl.

(Note: Where did the Ironsong study? How does he know such arcane arts?)

After a long battle, the girl succumbed to our repeated blows. Her body lay on the ground, spattered with blood, her limbs twitching, and her bones poking out of her pale skin. She laughed, and spoke again of a “red man” who told her to “play.” She kept speaking of this red man, saying she did this because of him.

When she drew her last breath, the blood stains disappeared and the corpses sank to the ground. The torches went out and we panicked. After much screaming and cursing, we managed to relight the torches and sconces in the room.

All of the bodies had the insignia and patches of the Rift Sea Trade Co. on their clothing. (Note: Perhaps we found the explorers who were sent to Grave.)

After the fight, Gren and Glenda joined us in the common room. Glenda sidled up next to Krawaal, and put her arms around him. While Krawaal did not reciprocate, he did not push her away. We agreed that for now, we should rest.

I spent more time examining the bodies, looking for clues. Around the girl’s neck was a piece of parchment, a message from the Red Man. I will copy it below.

“Stare upon our first masterpiece,
a testament to our expertise

Marvel and adore!
Gape and abhor.
Look. Do not Touch.
Be not troubled overmuch.

The punishment upon which you gaze
is punishment for presumptive ways.
wide eyed wayward pioneers,
seeking fortune on these far frontiers

So go home, little travelers, we were here long before.
This display merely harkens what this land has in store
Perhaps you can live another day.
if you run along now, far, far away."

I am not sure who or what this red man is. I do not know if he is mortal. I do not know what he intends to do, or what his endgame is. But I do know this: Grex is far more magical and far more dangerous than I could have ever imagined.

Below, I shall list our loot:

Masterworked dagger
Masterworked saddle
A large jewel (from the eye of the hideous doll)

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Entry 6: The Road Back to Breach
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

Upon leaving Small Ville, we had traveled for several hours before coming across an odd sight. As we descended the mountain trail, a large insect swooped low over us. It appeared to be a moth or butterfly of some sort, but it was large, the size of a bison or a cow. Its wingspan was enormous, and its bulbous eyes refracted the light in a dazzling display. The large, leathery wings (roughly 20-30 feet from tip to tip, as I remember) snapped and groaned, and then the beast was gone, floating deeper into Grex.

I had previously deduced that magic is present in this land, as various fauna and animals appear drastically modified and evolved from those in our home continent. I can only presume that some sort of magic discharge radiates from the land, touching all around it. But I have never seen anything as exotic as this gigantic insect. It creates a large host of questions – are there more? Can they be harnessed? What else has changed? But I have neither the time nor the space to dive into this.

After this encounter, we continued along the road. After an uneventful trip, we happened upon the same daft half-elf as before, Dingle. We were forced into his ferry, and shepherded across the river. I am uncomfortable around the simpleminded, however, we were able to proceed without much conversation. When he attempted to have us all taste his fresh stew, Krawaal simply began walking down the road, with a hand raised in farewell. The rest of us quickly followed.

We continued, day and night, until we approached a river. The same river, in fact, that I had been swept into due to the brutish strength of Jack T. Buck. This time, however, our group was more prepared. Two members forded the river at a slow, shallow point, and we fashioned a makeshift rope bridge across. Upon each tree that anchored the bridge, I carved the following proclamation:

DURGLE FORD

THIS FORD DISCOVERED BY THE DURGLE FAMILY
THIS BRIDGE CREATED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE
BY THE DURGLE FAMILY

HAPPY TRAILS

After the river, we approached Breach. The city had changed in the short time we’d been away. A flurry of activity spilled over the city walls, dust and smoke rising into the sky. A caravan of wagons poured into the city, and a few trickled out. Everywhere, buildings had sprung up. They looked to be prefabricated, made of fresh wood with thin roofs of sparkling mica shingles.

We approached this revitalized town and searched out Captain Ephraim. He appeared tired and weak, and we quickly extracted as much gold from him as we could. Ephraim was nonplussed at our updates, but he did order scouts to Small Ville to help them rebuild.

We brought up the deed to the inn. Ephraim was not upset by this, merely annoyed that we demanded more of his time. I do not understand this. If the inn is truly as valuable as he says it is, why would he not keep it for Kolonia, or for himself? Why has this land not been claimed? I sense a trap, but I do not want to say anything just yet.

We questioned Ephraim on the mysterious “Mordecai” (from the bandit’s letter.) He had not heard that name before.

After leaving Ephraim’s quarters, we found ourselves among the main camp of the Rift Sea Trading Company. We were introduced to their leader, a man by the name of Artemis Rollston. It appears that the Rift Sea Trading Co. has entered into a contract with the Kolonian government to enter Grex. In exchange for the rights to supply and build in Grex, the company must pay dividends to the Government.

Rollston was impressed by our travels and our knowledge of the lore of Grex. Those of us who were drunk were able to hold their liquor, and we struck a sort of business agreement with the Rift Sea Trading Company. While not in their employ, we will continue this flow of information between each other, in a relationship that is, hopefully, beneficial for all.

Rollston also let us know that the Thousand Needles refers not to a pine forest, but rather two a large desert filled with spires of rock. It is near the Cloud Top Mesa, discovered by this mysterious Harford Jones. While this initially made me look a fool, I pinned my misguided hypothesis on Buck.

(Note: Rollston was very impressed with the “Durgle” ford; I have planted the seeds for the Durgle family in Grex. This Rollston could be a useful contact for the Family).

When discussing our future endeavor, Rollston mentioned that the RSTC was contemplating building an outpost in the town of Grave. Since our dwarf companions were heading that way, and our inn was also in that direction, we agreed to set off to Grave. We brought with us the mule and the dwarf couple. Tig had expressed the idea that the two could work in our employ, tending the inn while we explore. An excellent idea, I think.

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Entry 5: Experiences in Small Ville (pt. 2)
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

I write from the back of our newly procured mount, a pathetic looking mule. While my companions believe me to be studying the artifacts procured from the professor, I finished that task long ago. Instead, I continue to document our travels, and give my legs a welcome reprieve.

When last I wrote, we had discovered the remaining civilians of Small Ville hiding in a cave on the outskirts of town. The population appeared to be made up of mainly gnomes and halflings, with a smattering of humans and dwarves. We were introduced to the Mayor of the town, one Wamfizzle Grundledink, and I went through the requisite motions and customs to greet him. While us mountain gnomes generally look down upon the simpler valley folk, I am still versed in their culture. We shook hands, bowed, and embraced for roughly five minutes, praising each other and our families.

At this time, I lost sight of my companions, although I believe Master Krawaal had been sought out by a particularly hefty dwarfess. Tig began talking to a band of rovers, striking up conversation and good-natured brawling. Ironsong found himself revered by the townsfolk, I am not sure they’d seen a half-orc before.

We made our way out of the cave. The heavy dwarfess (Note: named Glenda) who was so enamored with Krawaal turned out to be the one who treated Tig and I for the sloshes during the fight. She is a nurse of sorts. She began treating our companions – suturing the burnt skin of Jack T. Buck and aiding Bizswazzle. The dwarfess was accompanied by a dwarf (Note: named Gren) who is a butcher, among other things. These two were aloof, and looked at the other villagers with what appeared to be either puzzlement or disdain.

It was easy to see why they looked upon the others this way. A full-fledged celebration had begun, a mad festival. As the village continued to burn and residual explosions rocked the townsfolk, the gnomes began to sing of our heroic deeds. However, since no songs had been written about us, they each attempted to improvise their own song on the spot. We were surrounded by an ever-growing crowd of gnomes, each belting his own tuneless song at the top of his lungs. Many of the humans attempted to fight the fires that raged throughout the village, and after a particularly deafening explosion, some of the gnomes ran to help. An impromptu parade had started however, cutting off the fire fighters from the village well. This led to an all out brawl between the fire fighters and the revelers. Through it all, several gnomes made valiant efforts to sing, and most of the water that made it up from the well ended up splashed on the mad parade.

We made an effort to distance ourselves from the spectacle. The mayor of the town, however, had not left my side since the cave. The Durgle family reaches far, and before he entered Grex, the mayor had heard of the might of the Durgles. It appeared that he wanted to please me more than anything. While I loathed this insipid man, I put up with him as best I could. He would prove useful later on.

We quizzed the mayor on the mine near his town and its connection to the professor. It appears that the professor had discovered something in there that may have played a part in him losing his mind.

An antechamber had been discovered a while ago, and while some of the runes found there had been recorded by the professor, it had been scoured clean by the townsfolk who valued the precious metals. While they may have made a fair amount of money, the fact remains that they desecrated an ancient ruin of immeasurable cultural worth. I was incensed by this, but it would have done no good to berate the mayor now. He could hardly run a functioning town, how could I expect him to understand the repercussions of his actions?

(Note: The difference between valley gnomes and mountain gnomes is large, and the difference appears to have been magnified in Grex.)

(Hypothesis: Perhaps due to the extreme poverty of the valley gnome population, all of the poorest, daftest, and feeblest gnomes from the valley communities made the migration to Grex for a chance to succeed in life.)

When we reemerged from the mine, we found the hamlet of Small Ville in a state of chaos. Fires leapt from building to building, and remnants of the previous brawl still lingered in the streets and pathways.

We had been paid by the Kolonian army to visit Small Ville. But we embellished our story for the helpless mayor, bamboozling him as to our true motives. In his excited state, we were able to swindle nearly every cent away from the man. We made out with the entire mining fortune of the town. He also gifted us the town’s pack animal, a sickly, anemic looking creature named Herschel. Once he realized what he’d done, the man became shrill and panicked, even more emotional than before. Taking advantage of his state, I gave him a small gift, a fraction of a fraction of what he’d given us, in order to ensure his loyalty for to the Durgle family.

It is always easier to take advantage of someone in an emotional state, after all.

The two dwarves departed with us. They could not put up with the eccentricity of Small Ville, and seem to harbour a disdain for gnomes. Truly, I have seen them look at me with disgust, as if they expect me to revert back to a drooling valley gnome at any time. However, Glenda has taken a real shining to Krawaal, and I have seen him look her way several times (Note: Glenda and Gren’s relationship is, at the moment, unclear. Additionally, does Krawaal have a predilection for larger, more robust women?)

We left the village. Glenda had bandaged Buck, and he stumbled behind us, yelling, due to his temporary deafness. Fire had singed all the hair from one half of his head and turned his skin bright red. We made haste for Breach.

Loot Gathered:
- 3 alchemical delivery systems (attach to weapons to deliver chemical blasts) and 6 flasks
- A cold iron dagger
- All of the gold in Small Ville, totaling 3000gp
- Mule (possibly diseased)

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Entry 4: Experiences in Small Ville (pt. 1)
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

This entry comes several days after our time in Small Ville (Note: This is the proper, less racist moniker of the gnome encampment. Must us gnomes be seen only for our size, or our more eccentric brethren? Alas. The human race is truly dense.) I must continue the narrative where I left off in the last entry.

After we had regrouped, and doused the flames that consumed Buck, we found the body of this “professor.” This man was naked, his pubic and facial hair smoldering from the alchemists’ fire he had lobbed at us. Although he was nude, there were still several interesting features around his body. He wore a thin rope like a sash – I found a metal tablet dangling from this sash. He also had a leatherbound book full of formulai and equations. I assume them to be excerpts from an alchemists book, or perhaps extracts from his own concoctions

(note: These experimental equations and formulai may be dangerous. I must only attempt to use them on strangers. Preferably weak or feeble minded strangers.)

In a small pouch, we also recovered 2 flasks of green liquid (which I believe to be acid) and 2 flasks of orange liquid (which I take to be Alchemists fire).

While rooting around the body, Tigen was able to find a potion of cure light wounds. I am not sure where he found it or which orifice he pulled it out of.

At this point, Jack T. Buck, who was already scorched from our previous encounter, discovered a small box in the alchemist professor’s lair. Upon shaking this box, it exploded in his hands, knocking all of us back and throwing Buck through a wall. The fellow, now temporarily deaf and fully covered in flames yet again, began screaming and thrashing, destroying anything he could reach.

While the others attempted to help Buck, I stepped aside to examine these boxes. I was able to find another one containing 2 stones with runes on them. Using my powers of deduction, I was able to construe that these are Thunderstones, which explode upon agitation. I also chanced upon a masterworked alchemist lab.

We then spent entirely too much time attempting to coax answers out of our badly-burned gnome friend. (Note: Her name is Bizswazzle. A name so steeped in Valley-gnome culture that I cringe writing it). She continued to ask me if I was a person by the name of “Bizswiggle.” I admit that, aside from the intense burns covering her body, she was quite comely. However, my companions grew tired of her nonsensical chattering and set off to the mine at the edge of town.

This mine had been sealed, ostensibly to protect its inhabitants from the crazed professor. We fit the Thunderstones into the pile of rubble blocking the entrance, and stood back. I then procured my crossbow, and took aim at the thunderstones. Inspiration swelled up within me, and I was able to strike the stones on my first shot. The ensuing explosion cleared the entrance of the mine. However, Jack T. Buck, in his dazed and deaf state, did not understand what was happening, and stood too close to the blast radius. He also did not hear our shouts and cries, and when he turned to the explosion, he was struck in the gut by a sizable chunk of rock. This bowled him over and led to another bout of screaming rage.

At this point, we decided it would be best to leave Buck and Bizswazzle outside of the mine. In their weakened states, they may not have been able to survive any future encounters. Dougal, in a display of patience, waited outside of the mine and tended to Buck and Bizswazzle.

Inside the mine, we encountered supremely odd folk. The vast majority of them were kind and well-meaning, if a good deal simple in the head. But it would seem the professor was not the only eccentric lunatic in the town.

Alas, I must continue this entry another day, for the fire already grows dim. Krawaal and Tig are wrestling beside the fire, while Dougal and Buck wager on their matches. Turok is working on a new song to commemorate the Kolonian landing in Grex, attempting to implement “harsh vocal stylings” to represent the cold hardness of this land.

I shall continue this entry in the morning. For now, I shall rest.

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Entry 3: Continuing to the Village
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

Unfortunately, my recollections of the next few days are hazy. I was overcome with a terrible case of The Sloshes, and in my illness was struck with a fever that incapacitated me for some time. As such, this entry in the journal will be shorter than usual. I will stick to the necessities.

(Note: Tig was also overtaken by the illness, and spent much of the last day being violently ill from his mouth and anus. I believe the Sloshes came about due to an undercooked rabbit we had for dinner. While I am not sure who prepared it, I am sure that I will be taking more control over the preparation of my meals from now on).

After we regrouped from the bandits, we continued up the north road. Our journey was uneventful. However, we did cross the paths of a migratory herd of Wool Spiders. I had only heard of these majestic insects in old histories; to see them was truly an awe-inspiring experience.

Unfortunately, I was not sick for our next encounter, although I wish I was. We came across The Boatman’s Inn, where we met a well-meaning Half Elf named Dingle. This poor cretin was not simply “touched in the head.” His brains had been stirred up so thoroughly that it was a wonder he could survive in Grex at all. While his company was exasperating, his operation was adequate. For lunch, he served us the finest meal I have yet had in Grex, a savory meat stew with hearty chunks of meat and fresh carrots. Without his help we would not have been able to cross the large river next to his inn.

After we were ferried across, we continued our trek. My legs were sore at this point – It was all I could do to keep pace with the others. As we made our way South, we came across a gruesome sight – the corpse of a gnome lying in the middle of the path. This gnome had been severely burned all over his body. Flakes of his skin took flight on the wind. I took sketches of the scene (note: this appeared to be a murder. However, it appears to be unrelated to the previous half-elf mutilations we have encountered.)

At this point we set camp just off the main path. Buck managed to capture several rabbits and a Winged Pika for dinner.

Midway through my watch, I felt a pain in my stomach. I was incapacitated with The Sloshes for the rest of the night. When we broke camp, I was so weak from illness that Ironsong had to hoist me over his shoulder and carry me down the path. (Note: Tig was much sicker than I was. Due to the explosive and spontaneous nature of his symptoms, as well as his weakness, he was stripped to his undergarments, hogtied, and dragged along the ground behind Buck, Krawaal, and Dougal. An unpleasant experience for all involved, I’m sure.)

The next several hours are a blur. We approached Small Ville (The colloquial and correct name of the town) and chanced upon another Gnomish body – I am told that Dougal was able to resuscitate her, although she was incoherent upon her waking. At this point I must have become delirious from fever – This woman we rescued appeared to be covered in scabs and burns; she was most hideous.

I then saw the image of a naked gnome running through the streets, hurling fireballs at our party. A most unusual sight indeed. His skin was shiny, as though he was covered in a sort of oil. His bright purple hair sprung from his scalp and crotch. I could not see properly, but there appeared to be marks all over his body, bright scars carved into unknown shapes.

I was set down by the Half-Orc next to Tig. My companions gave chase to what I believed an odd hallucination. I lay in the street, trying not to spew sickness on my clothes. I watched in increasing confusion as my friends leapt about the town, springing from rooftops and giving chase to the naked gnome. This gnome tossed fireballs at them, great gobs of liquid fire. At some point a dwarven woman stole up next to me. She looked anxious to help, and when I told her about our quest and my ailment, she quickly procured a potion that soothed my stomach and fever.

I was feeling well enough to join my companions when I saw a large explosion. I rushed to the scene, only to find Jack T. Buck covered in flames and screaming. He stripped off his burning clothes and began running, his leather hat streaming fire behind him. The naked gnome (apparently some sort of Professor; I missed that detail in the haze of my illness) was killed by Krawaal, who choked this crazed wretch and beat him to death.

I chronicle these events while we regroup after the fight, and attempt to stop the fire from taking Jack T. Buck. Tig appears to have recovered (Note: Perhaps he was visited by the same Dwarvish woman as myself?) I have added diagrams and pages from the Professor’s workbook. I anticipate much work ahead. If I am successful, this backwater mining town will be a crown jewel for the Durgle family.

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Entry 2: Journey to the Village
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

Day 2:

These past few days have been eventful. Although I am late to fill these pages, the drama is still fresh in my memory. I will commit it to the written word as quickly as possible.

We awoke after our drinking contest to a grisly sight. Balthazar, our half-elf friend, had been murdered in the street. I am not sure if his murder was motivated by wanton cruelty or prejudice against his race. Balthazar had been nailed to a wall and appeared to have been struck repeatedly in the face, showing many fractures and contusions along his skull. He had been disemboweled, and his intestines were nailed to the wall in a halo above his head. These events are made even more distressing by the fact that Balthazar had not fully competed in our drinking game. He must have been sober for the entire ordeal. And we slept just inside, our minds too numbed by mammoth’s milk to hear his pain.

While collecting ourselves after the death of Balthazar, we made acquaintance with a new fellow: One Jack T. Buck. This man strolled into our shanty unannounced, clad entirely in leather. His large-brimmed hat hid his eyes, and his hair had been wrestled into a tail behind his head. He carried with him a large weapon and a bindle that appeared to be full of raw meat.

This Jack T. Buck appeared to be drunk, although I did not see his liquor (note: Perhaps his bindle-meat has been soaked in an alcoholic marinade of some sort). While none of us had invited Buck into our shanty, he stayed with us, and remains a member of our clan today.

After the arrival of Buck, I unscrewed the ceramic capsule we had won from Burndugle the night prior. In it was a map written in mysterious script. Using my inspirational powers of deduction, as well as my astute intellect, I was able to decipher and deduce some of the map’s portents.

First, I noticed the Great Falls, located far to the east. Through the fugue of my hangover, I remembered being told by a stranger the previous night about a man named Harford Jones (Woodsman, explorer, archaeologist, etc). Jones had spent much time exploring the area around the falls, and had last been seen in the “Thousand Needles” which I take to mean a large, coniferous forest. The truth of this story cannot be proven, however – how would this story work its way back from The Great Falls to Breach?

Regardless, the map indicated the Great Falls and The Thousand Needles as destinations. They were circled, and the map was marked with unknown symbols (perhaps I can learn more of this language as I spend more time in Grex).

I still have my doubts about this map. It is too convenient, too neat, too straightforward.

While I was reading the map, my companions huddled around me. I am the only one who can decipher this map. As such, I hold a surprising amount of power very early into our pilgrimage. I can tell them anything I like – perhaps this map will be useful, regardless of its veracity.

Upon decoding the map, we were intruded upon by Kolonian soldiers. Captain Ephraim, the man who greeted us in breach, begged our assistance. Truly, he did beg, as this sad, well-meaning man very nearly prostrated himself before us.

It appears that the captain has lost all contact with the Gnomish settlement to the north. (Note: He used the phrase “Tinker Town.” However, I refuse to use such a vile slur. Gnomish technology is responsible for the evolution of our societies. We are inventors, not “tinkerers.” Truly, human arrogance knows no bounds. But I digress.)

((This Gnomish settlement could have ties to Master Durgle, or be of value to him in the future. Will update soon.))

The captain did not have the men to spare for a scouting mission North, and offered to pay us the wages of a soldier to do so. We refused, as we were curious about the Falls. However, the captain offered the deed to a lodge along the north road. This lodge is apparently located at the meeting of two large rivers, and will be quite valuable in the future. Sensing the man’s desperation, we held out for more. By the time we were finished with the poor man, he had offered us each 8 days of wages as well as the lodge. That is 80 gold pieces each. Truly an exorbitant sum of money. Less than one full day in Grex, and I have already netted more gold than most farmers make in a year.

We set off north. After the prefabricated buildings and muddy thoroughfares of Breach, the untouched woodlands were a welcome change. The travel was uneventful. My companions stumbled along beside me in varying states of inebriation. Jack T. Buck chewed on his bindle meat. Eventually we reached a river. While fording the river would have been simple with mounts, it was difficult considering the strength of the river and the intoxication of my allies.

While Dougal and Tig crossed, Mr. Buck was overcome by the current, being pulled downstream. The oaf gashed his leg, and was all but useless while the rest of us attempted to pull him out. Due to either his drunken state or a simple lack of awareness, he dragged me into the river while he was hoisted out. Luckily, I managed to swim out, and did not lose my belongings. And, praise the gods, Buck managed to save his bindle of meat.

We set up camp soon after, with Buck redeeming himself by creating a fire and finding food in the wilderness. I spent the night documenting the various sights and sounds of this new land. (Of note: There appear to be giant, nocturnal Hill Toads in this area. Interesting, however their songs and croaks are quite irritating in the evening.)

As the next day began, we continued to the village. Along the way, I spotted a peculiar sight just off the road. A half-elf woman had been nailed to a tree and beaten repeatedly, seemingly to death. Her wounds were consistent with those of the late Balthazar. Additionally, her breasts had been carved out of her chest and nailed into her eye sockets. (I am uncertain about these killings – are they the work of an organized hate group, or a deranged individual? Are these mutilations exclusive to half-elves?)

As we wound up the mountain path to the Gnomish village, we encountered an overturned wagon along the road. This seemed to be an obvious trap, but Dougal and Buck continued forward – I admire their bravado. Men appeared on the ridge above us and behind us and shouted at us. Before they could react, Tig turned and punched the man behind us in the face, The man’s jaw shattered and teeth fell from his slack mouth. In an instant, the skirmish began. I did not see much of what happened, but I managed to get off several shots with my crossbow. After the battle, we recovered a great deal of loot from the bodies and the wagon. As we recover from our wounds, I shall list the loot below:

Flask of Potion (Alchemist’s Fire)
Small vial with the symbol of Omnor
Flask of Holy Water
2 Vials of lantern oil
Healer’s kit
Breastplate
Heavy Wooden shield
Dull Iron Dagger, cold to the touch (Magic?)
Heavy Crossbow
Longsword
2 tindertwigs
Whetstone
Wooden holy symbol of the Eight
28 Gold Pieces
Flask of Heal Light Wounds
2 flasks of green acid
Smokestick
Tanglefoot Bag
Masterworked studded leather armour
Leather bag of thieves’ tools
Flask of cure light wounds
Flask of alchemist’s fire
Finely crafted Longbow
Smokestick
Short Spear
15 Gold
2 bottles of Elvish Morning Dew
2 bottles of Kolonian Wine
2 mini-kegs of Dwarven stout
2 casks of Yondic mead
2 glass jugs of Rover Moonshine
2 large bladders of fermented Mammoth’s Milk

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Entry 1: Impressions of Grex
Collected Pages from Pindleton's Journal

Journal: Day 1

I was not sure how long the journey into Grex would take. Rumors in Korr varied wildly – some saying we would ride on Cave Goats through an underground chasm over the span of eight weeks, others saying we would be flung over the mountains by a giant Kolonian trebuchet.

The truth appears to be closer to the former, with the tunnel we traveled spanning multiple days. The engineering of the tunnel was formidable – the curves and steady gradients show admirable foresight. It must have taken almost as much time to plan as to excavate. Thankfully, the steam powered wagons ensured that the tunnel remained free of any horse or cattle manure.

Not much was learned about Grex yet – nothing that would interest Master Durgle, in any event. I spent most of the journey asleep under the glow of the phosphour lanterns. As we approached the exit, I was able to glean more about my companions.

Most stunningly, Turok Ironsong, the half-orc Skald, is among us. I had been a fan when he was toiling among the tavern circuit of Korr, and had even managed to hear him sing at a few festivals and holidays. My profession took me away from Korr for a time, and when I returned I did not see any more of him. There were rumors that he had left to join the Philharmonic and stories that he had thrown himself into the volcanic heart of Korr. I must admit I am surprised to see him here. Perhaps he seeks to write the music of the first settlers. Or perhaps he is now a common crook.

I am reasonably certain that there are at least two criminals among us, although only one appears to have the potential to cause any real harm. Tigen (note: refers to self as “Tig”) seems to be a pugilist, and a rambunctious one at that. His Rover accent is thick and he is covered with their marks and tattoos. He appears to have been thrown in this wagon due to public intoxication. His nose is broken and he claims to have great aptitude in combat. While I have only known him a short while, he seems an agreeable fellow, if a bit unaware of his own strength – much like a mastiff or a boarhound.

The other convict I am less sure about. He is a human and his name is Dougal, and he appears to be a disgraced Kolonian soldier of relatively high rank. The man smells of liquor and is quick to a temper. At times he appears to be disoriented, unsure of his surroundings. He carries with him a fearsome weapon, one that looks to be made of lead piping, rusted nails, and bolts. It is chained to his military belt, a clear symbol of how far he has fallen. (Note: Perhaps Dougal has stolen the uniform. It is certainly possible.)

I do not know much of the other two in our group. Balthazar, the half-elf from Arc, has been aloof from the rest of the party. I am not sure if that is by design, or just due to his disposition as a half-elf. Balthazar often speaks of his training, leading me to believe he is highly trained in either a martial or religious order. He carries with him an ancient sword that he claims will lead him to the magic of lost generations. His cause is clearly noble, and I am keen to see if he finds any magic. I am sure that Master Durgle will be as well.

Krawaal Rinderhack ranks among the most striking dwarves I have seen – he is bald, for one, without the prodigious beards found on so many dwarves in NewValGar and other areas. I was not able to learn much about his motive, and this will require additional digging. He seems to be kind enough, although his constitution makes me wary of crossing him. Rinderhack seemingly possesses immense strength and, as I learned, not much can take him down.

Our guide was one Phineas Phunkleworthy, an insipid gnome who was very much impressed once I strategically dropped the Durgle surname. My relationship with Master Durgle certainly has its perks.

Outside of the tunnel, we were greeted by a Kolonian soldier. He welcomed us to the town of Breach. There is something admirable in the sheer audacity of this small encampment. For here is a small bit of civilization spitting in the face of the unexplored wild.

As expected, this town holds all types. Many people seem friendly, although there were a few that appeared to be quite dangerous. Perhaps releasing hardened criminals into a lawless society was not such a good idea after all.

I have not seen enough of Grex to form an opinion on it.

I remained with my odd companions as we left the wagon. They appear (at least for the moment) my best bet at success in this wild expanse. We were approached by a slovenly halfling, one Barnold Burndugle II. He claimed to have been a master thief and escape artist, although I do not believe him. I have never heard of him in all my years as an investigator, and he appeared to be too drunk and fat to be any good at escaping anything except for sobriety.

Burndugle claimed to have a treasure map of sorts – something that would be of great aid in my work for Master Durgle. I was tempted to take the map from the halfling, either by cunning or intimidation. I feared angering anyone so early in this year-long trip, however. The halfling challenged my companions and I to a drinking contest, wagering his supposed map against our collective gold and supplies. Thankfully, among both Tig and Krawaal, we were able to best him at his own game.

I am not certain of this, however, because I passed out midway through the challenge. The dice were not with me this afternoon, and I was forced to drink several glasses of fermented mammoth’s milk. I had never encountered such a vile drink, full of curds and hair (not sure if hair was pubic or mammarian in nature. Best not to think about it). I am told that Dougal, myself, and Turok succumbed to the alcohol, falling unconscious in the mud of the street. Balthazar ceded the challenge (apparently his order prohibits him from consuming alcohol? Perhaps he is an Arc Willonist? Must learn more). On the strength of Tig and Krawaal, we managed to procure the paper from the halfling. We were then apparently dragged into an inn or home of some sort, where we laid to sleep off our alcohol sickness. I am writing this now among the snoring and vomiting of my companions. Dougal may be dead.

I have many questions about my companions and their motives. I must not let them distract me from my true objective; however, they could serve as valuable allies as I pursue my ends. We are set to open the paper soon. I hope it was worth the hangover.

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Entry #21

The floor is coated in a thick, ankle-deep mucus. Along the perimeter of the chamber are six, colored stalks of muscle and mucus. In the center of the chamber is a great creature to behold! With its haunting gaze our magical powers are suppressed and Sargolath, this many-eyed creature, speaks. It taunts us and tells us that it will kill us for its master, Isothogga, Sargolath also admits that Priam came before us and is collecting all the relics of the Last Heroes. Four mutant-lizard creatures are called from the filth. Another creature appears before us from the pool of mucus with an amorphous form with many mouths and spouting words of madness. Ozhar and Aethr destroyed a lizard-mutant and it burst into a swarm of instects. These insects attack and overwhelm Worak. The gibbering mass of mouths seized me, but I was able to shrug it off and resist its evil power.

Hedherijannikker created several illusory walls to blind Sargolath, but it was only partially successful. The party begins spreading out and attacking the pillars of muscle and mucus, except Aethr who turned and attacked Gregory Floman. By the hells! The mouth creature is burning me with acid and now those insects are swarming over me. I am blinded by acid and bugs.

Ozhard destroyed one of the pillars with a force spell! Rulpsen smote another fleshy pillar with a Flamestrike spell, perhaps the fight is turning for the better. Finally Worak slew the gibbering beast.

We pressed our attack and Sargolath threw many magical rays at us. At last Aethr used great arcane might, flew up to the many-eyed beast and slew it with a mighty blow. In its death throes the organic structure began collapsing and we fled. In the fighting Rulspen was transformed into stone, but Jaramin swept up the amulet relic. We see the wretched beast plaguing the dragon’s trove fall deep into a black chasm.

Xoxicuzato appears before us and brings our party to the upper level. She changed form to that of a fair lady with green hair and reptilian eyes. She explained to us that Isothogga is a truer and greater evil than the dark gods or chromatic dragons. She further explains that Priam was the prophet of Isothogga, so this evil has a face… we are given a great treasure and take with us the Eye of Elias. Xoxicuzato went on to tell us that a blue dragon from the sea of Razure has fallen ill or become lost. This dragon olds the Black Bane Banner. Perhaps these two items are enough to defeat Priam Wolftongue.

Hedherijnnikker stepped forward and took off his hat and explained to us that he had to leave. He must hunt down Priam on his own terms along his own path. He will return to the seas and search the waves, ports, captains and scallywags of Aenor in search of our foe. To him Xoxicuzcato gave the magic boat of the Last Heroes, a folding ship. Jaramin and he had a moment, after all it was their uncle that brought them together.

We are gifted mighty treasures and our team officially becomes known as “The Warriors of Greywater Keep.”

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Entry #20

We meet with Glent Brofford and he agreed to guide us into the jungle. It is going to be an arduous trek. We stop at a friend of Glent’s to stable our horses. We start our journey by hiking along the river. Our first camp is built by the bank; woodcutters and laborers camp out here.

The jungle is hot and misty; there are many exotic birds and other creatures I have never seen before. Now that we are into the thick of the jungle it gets very dark at night. There are eyes and other creatures that spy on us. There are bugs and briers that make this trip truly awful. My legs and lungs burn a little; we must be getting higher. Its also getting cooler, rainy, and a little windy.

Some of our allies are able to tell that those eyes that have been watching us in the night are reptile-creatures. Perhaps these creatures are Glent’s lizards. Ozhar conjures a somewhat real horse for anyone to ride; this is a magical horse that can walk over mud and other debris without any issue. Glent saddles up and we continue. Gregory Floman has contracted some kind of illness; his skin is covered in red welts and boils. He is diseased with some form of jungle fever. He is winded and weary, so I removed his suffering with a spell and prayer. That night we rest in a planar pocket created by Ozhar – free of bugs.

One day a few miles up the cliffs of the jungle we are snared by a trap. Vincent spotted a lizard-man shortly before we all fell into a spike pit. The lizard hunters surround our pit and began speaking. Gregory Floman said something and then portaled us to the surface. The lizards rattle their weapons and began chanting “mess-ha-wek!” and then addressed in draconic. The lizard man said that we were expected by a female lizard creature named Xoxicuzato or “garden of flowers” in draconic. The lizard-men escort us along a narrow path between spike traps. For six hours we travel before we reach a rocky ledge and waterfall. We step through a darkned crack in the rock and come out into a sunset valley. The mountain sides are covered in stone houses. At the far side of the valley is a sold gold pyramid. Not all the kings of old Valguard and Kallonia had so much gold. This is the land of Xoxoctlaca “the children of the garden of flowers.”

This place looks like any human settlement; there are folk farming, smithing, sparring and so forth. We are the first “non-scaled” creatures to have come here. Apparently our coming has been prophesied. We are brought to a large clearing before the pyramid and a winged lizard-man greets us. He is bedecked in a brightly colored feathery regalia. This creature must be a king or priest; it has a great bearing. He welcomes us and bids us to speak to their great mother. He introduces himself as Kamaxoxhi, the messenger for Xoxicuzato. Evidently it is a feat day and we are not permitted to speak to the “Great Mother” until we eat. We are seated down before a large table to feed. We are given a set of jewels and feathered mantles to dress us finely as guests. I suspect we are going to be fed to their mother, which I suspect is a dragon. We are marched up to the gold pyramid and there are many many lizard creatures with drums and colorful dress.

The messenger, The Mouth of Xoxicuzcato, announces that this ceremony will produce a new mouth. The speaker threw himself down on a ritual orb, felling himself on a blade, his blood draining onto the glass sphere. A melee of lizard warriors breaks loose and we prepare our spells and march up the stairs. At the top of the pyramid we find a gold dragon statue. We go inside and descend a great staircase leading inward. As we walk a green orb appears before us, several eyelids slide open and an eye of a dragon opens before us. A terrible voice is heard. It speaks; we have arrived on a foreseen day which occurs every four years. The dragon explains there are even more powerful evils than the dragons or gods. Priam came before us eight years ago and attempted to take the Eye of Elias. An ancient evil known as Sargolath has corrupted the dragon and stolen the treasure we seek. She bids us to enter her domain, the treasure piles are magnificent! Her scales are a deep emerald; not even the grandest of stories serve as justice to the enormity of Xoxicuzcato. The dragon points us towards a tentacle monster in its lair and bids us to slay it. We leap down into the monster’s gullet and are pulled into its insides.

We fall down a disgusting tunnel of living flesh and mucus. The tunnel drops us off into an organic chamber filled with nasty creatures. The team butchered the monsters. We pass through into the next organic tunnel. Our passage is dark, wet and burns with acid. We find ourselves in a large chamber where I can hear a low pulsing sound. Suspended from six muscled arms is a mass of flesh. On its face is a great eye and mouth with numerous eyes-stalks. It boomed a great voice announcing itself as Sargolath, herald of Isothogga.

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Entry #19

Priam strangled Duke Maulthar Goretheon and tossed his lifeless body over the banister. The monster vanished and the clay golem smote Rulpsen’s sabrecat form down. Priam is gone and the Duke is vanquished. So now we must face the golem. Ozhar rushed in, spells fligning, what luck! The team surrounded the golem and destroyed it.

We collect the Duke’s possessions and move up the stairs to Goretheon’s chamber. There we find the Duke’s familiar, a raven named Blackwise. The creature is pleased its master has been slain. It helped us recover Duke Goretheon’s writings. He kept track of some of the Last Heroes’ travels. In his notes it says that the write of Willon was last seen in the Arrenil and Golardreth’s Gaze was last believed to be somewhere in Silvenil. However it would seem that Priam has taken these items.

We climb up the stairs to the roof to find the Kallonian Imperial troops have taken the wall of the fortress. Hedherijannikker used a spell to get the soldiers’ attention and announced the defeat of the Duke. The battle is over and the Kallonian commander, Captain Feldrias, addressed us. We are permitted to return to our ship and crew; our journey to the Verdwyld continues. Aether buried his father and we set sail.

During the journey Gregory Floman deciphered some of the Duke’s writings. It suggests that something is to be found in Kallonsport. Something about a guide and that perhaps there’s a dragon or some ruins or something nearby that will lead to a magic ring, likely the Eye of Elias.

We sail for several days and spot some Imperial ships on the horizon. During the trip Aethr read some of Duke Goretheon’s journal. Apparently Priam approached the Duke and promised him great power so long as they sacrifice a great number of innocents. These are vile men.

When we reached Kallonsport we find that the city is in a great deal of commotion. The rulers of the Eight Families have elected to cede from Kallonia. That explains the number of Imperial Vessels along the river. The locals say the city is now called Freeport; no doubt the Empire will have something to say about that. Here the air is warm and heavy. To the East are great green mountains.

We asked around town looking into any knowledge on sites of power, ruins, dungeons and dragons. We found a filthy fat dwarf who claims to have gone deepest into the Verdwyld jungle. I cured the drunken dwarf of his sickness and began questioning him. He says the jungle is a dangerous and mysterious place. The dwarf described a dungeon temple he and his lads entered. There they found carvings on the walls depicting sacrifice. They kept searching, but each night a member of their company was taken. They eventually encountered bipedal lizard creatures doing battle with each other. Four of their dwarven allies were brutally executed by a lizard priest. This bloody ceremony issued forth a giant dragon. The rest of the dwarf’s company were killed. He fled, but was not the same when he returned. We entreated his aid to guide us into the jungle to the temple.

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