The Leguinean Bargain
We found the Visiroths already ahead of us, but managed to best them. Leguinea offered us little hospitality and obstacles so strange and dangerous that it must be faith that allowed us to survive them and complete our mission. I will include my notes from those days here. As the days grow hectic and the weight of this war burdens me, I will write my texts in a more nondescriptive manner, hence I have named my newer journal as a War Diary.
We were given new horses and fresh eguipment from the Watcher’s arsenal. Rhyss magh Tidol joined us and I found him to be a very pleasant person. Nevertheless, he was a skilled diplomat and could easily hide any mischievous agendae.
I noticed that Grzegorz was really beat up and tired with a strange smell of honey and spices following him. I did not dare to ask what he had been doing last night. Occasionally I saw him murmuring something to himself. Who knows what rituals these wizards perform in their solitude?
Travelling south-west. After two days we reached Leguinea. It is a sullen land. The people are weary of strangers and always travel well armed. Luckily Aeran knows the local language which he picked up during his mercenary days.
We arrived to Barkshire by midday. It was raining and quite dark already. The city must have been a sight to see in its glory days, but now was ill-kept and its tall buildings partially ruined. Patrols of heavily armored soldiers were a common sight. Whoever kept the order here ruled with an iron fist. Rhyss magh Tidol guided us inside the city and to the small fortress in the middle. It seemed like the stone keep was the only building in the city that was well maintained. Rhyss explained that we were entering the keep of the local ruler Dougan Kaeulgan. He referred to the manacled wretches working at the courtyard as “servants”. Surely we are strangers in a strange land.
Inside the keep we were guided to the main hall where a crowd of local nobles were cheering around a fighting pit carved into the stone floor. Two muscular gladiators were beating each other with their bare fists in the pit. Apparently blood sports were popular here. Rhyss pointed at the head of the local noble house: the rough looking bald headed man named Dougan Kaeulgan surrounded by bodyguards and two other significant looking persons: Fescue Drusmetol, the representative of the house Metol, and Harkan Drusthul, the representative of the house Thul. Harkan was a giant of a man but still outshadowed in size by the two half-ogre bodyguards he had. Rhyss told these other two were the representatives of other noble houses that competed for the land’s crown. He was to acquire the armies from one of them – whoever gave the best offer for their services and their mercenary armies. What truly disturbed us was not the sight of the Leguinean audience but the sight of red in one corner of the room: Visiroths! There were five of them draped in blood red cloaks talking to each other. While Rhyss proceeded to greet the Leguineans, Branden snuck closer to the Visiroths. To aid him Grzegorz casted a spell that allowed Branden to understand and speak any languages he heard.
After the first formal introductions Rhyss came to us and told that he would have to talk to the Leguineans alone. This troubled me as I had a healthy suspicion of the slick noble man. We, however, had no choice but to agree as the Leguineans were personally demanding this. I warned Rhyss that if they would try foul play, he should shout us to help him. The negotiators retreated to private rooms at the back of the great hall, leaving us to mingle with the drunken nobility.
We waited in the hall and satisfied our appetites with the food that was served. Branden returned to us and told that the Visiroths were suspicious of the fact that the Leguineans had taken Rhyss to their private rooms and that one of them had suggested that they should simply cut their guts open and be done with it. We saw the Visiroths retire to their own quarters and didn’t see them again that night.
And so we waited.
The night was spent waiting and early in the morning Rhyss magh Tidol marched into the main hall triumphantly. He insisted that we should find ourselves a tavern and have some breakfast. The waking city was ominously quiet as we travelled the cobbled streets.
We walked to the nearest tavern and ordered some breakfast. Rhyss ordered the most expensive wine, praising the Leguinean drinks as the finest in all lands. He explained to us that Leguinea had been torn for centuries because there had been no legimate king to sit on the throne for ages. In order for a man to become the king of Leguinea, he needed to have the The Horn of Leguinea, a ceremonial symbol of power and the royal heirloom of the king. Unfortunately that horn had been lost for centuries. Luckily Rhyss just happened to have a scroll with the location of the horn with him and that he had shown it to the Leguineans, starting a bidding war for the horn. Whoever would get the horn would give their full support in the war against the Visiroths. The three candidates had their good and bad sides: Dougan Kaeulgan commanded the biggest armies, but he had the reputation of abandoning his allies when it was convenient for him. House Metol had much smaller armies, but they were formed from the famous Leguinean crossbowmen and were highly motivated and trustworthy. House Thul employed the deadly ogre and half-ogre shock troops that caused horrible destruction in the field of battle, but were an unruly lot, infamous for looting and raping where ever they went – including the local population they were supposed to be protecting. The Visiroths might be there to bribe the Leguineans to keep clear of the war, but the promise of the The Horn of Leguinea would be much more valuable than any amounts of gold.
There was a catch to the aqcuiring of the The Horn of Leguinea – according to ancient laws none of the competitors for the throne were allowed to acquire it, as it had to be in the hands of a neutral party that decided who was to be the next king. Rhyss smiled innocently – it looked like it was us who should have to go and fetch it. According the the ancient scroll that he had managed to conveniently find the horn was located in the barrow mounds of the ancient Barrow Kings – the first rulers of Leguinea during its golden days before the rise of the Ellysians. I asked him what would stop the Visiroths from retrieving the horn now, as its location would surely be passed to them one way or another. They surely had made a competing offer by now and acquired the location of the horn. Rhyss frowned as he sipped his wine and began to say that he had not tought about that. His answer was interrupted as he suddenly began to vomit blood on the table and judder – poison!. I immediately began to treat him as Branden ran to the kitchen to see if he could still catch the one who had poisoned the wine. I cast several spells to fill Rhyss’ stomach with water and forced him to empty the contents of his stomach. I repeated the process several times to remove the venom out of his system and finally I crushed some coal from the fireplace and mixed a drink from it. Rhyss was unconscious but apparently I had saved his life for now. Branden and Aeran returned and told us that the bartender had been paid of to turn his head while a man wearing a symbol of a fox on his cloak fixed something with the wine. Branden and Aeran didn’t catch the poisoner.
I wrote a quick letter to Dougan Kaeulgan and demanded that he would imprison the Visiroth traitors immediately if he wished to see the horn. I gave the sealed letter to the bartender, gave him a payment and ordered him to deliver the letter. Then, without further hesitation, we saddled up and galloped west towards the barrow mounds. Rhyss magh Tidol was tied up on one of our horses and I treated him more time to time.
We traveled as fast as we could with Rhyss magh Tidol. On our way we heard from local farmers that a group of four riders were travelling ahead of us and they had a lead of 8 hours. Apparently they had left as soon as Rhyss had shown the scroll to the Leguineans. They must have spies on every corner of the city.
The horn did not come easy, I must admit, but instead of fighting with the Visiroths, we faced an even more dangerous enemy, and that encounter nearly cost our lives.
We arrivedto a small village called Lakashnar that bordered a dark forest that would eventually lead to the mounds. An old ugly farmer sat by a fence as we rode towards the forest. A cold shiver ran through my spine as he stared us with his blank eyes. We asked him whether he had seen riders pass by and he told us that indeed, ten hours ago four riders rode into the woods. We shared a nervous glance. Something in this place seemed wrong. While pausing for a quick rest in the forest we found a small altar off the road. It was littered with tiny bones. They looked like they had belonged to a newborn…
We continued forward silently. Eventually, as the night began to fall, we arrived at a canyon that had an eerie feeling lingering over it. A thick fog had risen out of nowhere to obscured our vision. As we rode forward we ran into a camp where we found the four Visiroths dead, still lying under their blankets. They looked like every fluid had been drained from them, leaving only dry corpses with a look of absolute horror on their faces. Their horses stood calmy tied the trees nearby.
We left our horses at the camp and as Rhyss seemed to regain some consciousnes I helped him with us: I dared not to leave him alone. We ventured deeper into the fog and tried to find ourselves towards the barrow mound that was to hold the The Horn of Leguinea. The fog was so dense we had to move in a tight formation so no one would get lost.
What happened next was something I’m still unsure. Despite staying close to each other we were suddenly separated and mummified warriors clad in ancient garments began attacking us from the fog. All of us ran lost in the fog, unable to hear anything despite each of us shouting for the others. I managed to escape from the undead pursuing me and found Rhyss magh Tidol wandering helpless in the fog. As I helped Rhyss I suddenly heard sounds of movement behind me. I had no time to react as Camil, who thought I was a wight, emerged from the smog, impaling me with his sword. I felt numb as I saw the stunned face of Camil who pulled his sword out of me. I fell down on the moist ground and thought this was it.
I was pulled up by Camil who had imbued me with his healing touch. I continued to administer healing to myself and quickly regained myself. The undead were slowly circling us, waiting for the kill. Rhyss lied beside us, his skull caved in by the undead. As I and broke through the wights and headed deeper into the fog the paladin told me how he had found himself lost with Aeran. He could not help the mercenary who had been pulled screaming underground by skeletal hands. The mercenary had finally met his match. I whispered a prayer for his soul, praying he found tranquil in the underworld of Tír na-Slinn.
We finally stumbled at the barrow – a cave hewed into the side of the canyon. Signs of violence marked the entrance – trails of blood and gore led into the cave. We found Grzegorz covering in the tunnel leading further in. He was franticly trying to bandage Branden who lied bloodied on the floor. With my final powers I managed to get the ranger to his feet and we continued along the corridor. It led us into an ancient burial chamber. Within was a large black cauldron and six crystal shards hanging above it, two of them shining with ghostly inner light. Inside the cauldron we saw the image of us all sleeping at the camp where we had left our horses. A quick calculation told us that the two shining crystals belonged to Rhyss and Aeran who had perished earlier. We decided to break the crystals in the hope of dispelling what ever was happening when suddenly the roots hanging from the roof attacked and entangled us. A figure walked into the room: the old farmer we had seen before the forest! The man talked to us in a squeaky voice: “Such misbehaving children you are. No use in putting up a fight. You belong to me now…” The peasant began to cough violently, as a clawed hand suddenly emerged from his mouth. A whole arm reached out of the peasant, reaching down at his chest, and then ripped his skin off like a grotesque coat. A form of an ugly old hag was revealed behind the false front. The hag laughed at us in a horrible crooked voice. Branden and Grzegorz froze still as the witch approached them. The witch attacked Camil, who was still free from entanglement, and quickly put him down, ripping the paladins chest open with her talons. I tried ripping the roots that held my hands and restrained me from casting any spells. I watched as the witch began to tear away the flesh from Grzegorz until only a gory husk remained. As the witch approached me I managed to rip of the roots and summoned a manifestation of a spiritual hammer that floated in the air. With my last breath I commanded it to shatter the crystals. Then the witch beheaded me.
I woke up at the camp where the Visiroths lay dead. My friends surrounded me and Aeran and Grzegorz woke up next to me. I felt dry as if my bodily fluids had been drained from me. With great difficulty we managed to rise to our feet. Our other friends seemed to be asleep, but no matter how we tried we could not wake them up. Apparently we had managed to break the crystals that kept us three in slumber. It seemed that morning had come while we had been fighting in our sleep and the fog had disappeared. We decided to divide: I quickly rode to the stone shrine we had seen in the forest and Aeran and Grzegorz ran to the barrow mound. Grzegorz cast a flying spell and quickly flew towards the barrow mounds. As I arrived to the shrine I destroyed it, but it had no effect on the spell.
Grzegorz arrived to the barrow mound first and flew inside. Inside he found the witch in a trancelike state. Grzegorz ended the witch in a cruesome way: he floated above the hag and poured several bottles of acid onto the meditating witch. Suddenly the hag regained conscience, but it was too late for her as the acid burned through her face and skin and eventually corroded her skull and head. She dropped dead and immediately our friends woke up at the camp. A moment further and they might have not ever woken.
The The Horn of Leguinea was found at the hag’s lair along with other ancient looking jewelry and old Ellysian gold coins.
We travelled back towards Barkshire. The effects of the witches slumber are beginning to dispel.
We arrived st Barkshire in the evening and met with the Leguineans. The clergy of the local religion had arrived to make sure everything went according to their ancient laws. After negotiating with each of them we ended up choosing Dougan Kaeulgan as the one to give the The Horn of Leguinea. In exhange he offered the help of his men: 6000 mercenaries within a month and more later after he had been crowned. Grzegorz and I played a little show of magic and intimidated the Leguineans that they should not betray the pact we had made. A formal document was made and signed and we receaved one of the Visiroths as a hostage. The Leguinean mercenary army was to be sent to the capital of Aenoria. I dared not to change this fact as it was already written on the agreement and I had little knowledge on the tactics that had been made on the use of these reinforcements.
We decided to leave and ride through the night. Before we left, I met the representatives of the competing houses and warned them of joining the side of the Visiroths. I suggested them to support their new king and help Aenoria. I explained them that with the favor of Aenoria on them, they might eventually become the ruling houses of Leguinea. It was the house Ulgan that would take the major beating from the coming war and the choice I had made to give Dougan Kaeulgan the The Horn of Leguinea was simply the choice of who was the one that could be sacrificed out of the three houses available. This did not please Harkan Drusthul, but Fescue Drusmetol listened to me more interestedly.
We travelled back to Caern Môrn.
We arrived to Caern Môrn. The city was filled with worshippers of the prophet Ferdiad. Everyone was praising the wisdom of the great man who layed prophecies and foretold great things. I quess no one had actually seen the madman they thought as the ‘’sayer of wisdom’’.
We rode to the palace and were greeted by Ross magh Connacht. He told us that two armies had emerged from the Mynydd-Brynn mountains. The other was heading towards Dinaes Powys, the capital of Manaaw and the other was heading towards Caern Môrn. Robert magh Connacht and the King had gathered an army and was now marching to face the Visiroths at a valley called Creigoth Serth. It was a place where they thought they had the strategic upper hand to defeat the enemy. I delivered the news from Leguinea and Ross was not very pleased with the fact that the mercenary army was to be sent to the southern capital. The thought that, once again, the southerners were being saved at the expence of the north irritated him. I explained to him that I dared not to interfere with the plan as I had too little knowledge of the larger scale plans made.
During our voyage to Leguinea he had been looking into The Priory and their movements within the city. Apparently some mage had been helping them, although witnesses had seen them arguing on multiple occasions. This made sense, as users of white magic couldn’t perform a complicated teleportation ritual that they had used to escape the city. Sweeney had said he had also found out something important regarding the teleporation. He was with the army that had marched to meet the Visiroths.
We left Rhyss magh Tidol to the care of the palace doctors and the pale noble man thanked me with a raspy voice. I explained to him that he would require powerful clerical treatment to cure the damages he had suffered and that I was not yet potent enough to do that myself.
We decided that we would join the army and help as best as we could. We restocked our eguipment. I met Davy and left my previous journal with him and asked him to spread good things about us the way he had apparently used Ferdiad to create a massive group of worshippers for the crazy prophet. I told him that it might be useful to get some fame for our group and boost morale in the coming days.
As the night began to fall, we rode towards the first battle in the oncoming war.