Essenya

The Journal of Justice

It’s only been two days in our journey and I’m reminded how hostile this world is. By the end of the first night the party haphazardly encountered Auvri, one of my quarries. His patrol of orcs had better numbers but thankfully the party knows that deception can help us to survive outside the town walls. While the paladins I read about in texts of old would probably never resort to the deviousness we employ to survive in these wilds, it was a different world. The knights of old may make the point that survival should not take precedent over one’s honor. I say that my death to keep my honor would not bring justice to this realm; survival by any means is the only way to cleanse this realm. Perhaps I am just a tool towards the ideal, so that justice may be brought to the land again.

Anyway I digress, in the end, an expedient ambush made quick work of the orcs and worgs. Afterwards, we found an object that had something to do with the celestial bodies, the god of light, and the fallen Dhorne Empire. The entire party was intrigued by the object. We decided to see what this object would lead us to. Although I must say I’m wary to be following a legend of the past when there is so much do be done in the present (many people to bring to justice). Anyway, we followed the hired ranger to a temple that had slipped into the ground. An earthquake perhaps? Maybe the foundation gave way to time?

We slipped into the temple unnoticed. We met with orcs and some sort of magical construct. The fights did not come with ease, a few of us suffered life threatening blows, but fortunately our group has many adept healers. I was able to subdue the construct to get a certain amount of information and then I dispatched the construct. Although I must say I’m unhappy to destroy the construct while it was helpless, I was assured that the object was not of the living. I did give the construct an option to argue for its continued existence. It was the least of rights that I could afford for a form that contained sentience. We struck a deal with the orc leader, continued life and trial for information on the temple and the celestial object we held. It’s all still riddles overall. I fail to see how this small device could bring the return of an empire. I’m partially inclined to destroy the device to leave the past behind in one blow from my silvered hammer, but perhaps the decision should not fall to one man.

Finally, we come to the room in which the party can find respite. Although, here we are with a talking dragon statue that says the way forward comes with patience. I’ll write about the statue another time. We need to rest and heal; I assume more orcs will come back from patrol in a few hours. I’ll make sure to block the way back in case orcs do arrive…

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Ief's Log
Someone Can Read Orcish, right...?

Amongst the copper coins, you notice one that has the bear-headed wyvern on it.
When twisted, this coin opens into two pieces. Within the two coin pieces, you find a few notes on paper…

We’ve summoned both the Shadow and the Gruumshborn. They are adequate tools.

I hate this place.

I find myself longing for the walls of Baertrandian. This hole does little for my humor, nor the men’s. I know they’ve begun to crave the flesh of people. I worry they’ll indulge soon. I worry that I, too, may devolve in this wretched place.

The Shadow told me Kurndan finally located the Sanctuary hidden amongst golden leaves. Good news and progress, but the Gruumshborn here is taking painfully long. How many memories and secrets can such a place have? I know. Elves.

The men raided a merchant caravan headed for a southern city. The worgs managed to keep their riders from eating the people alive. The riders kept their warriors from indulging. And still, we barely hold our sanity.

I hate this place.

The Gruumshborn finally came across the Fortnight. What madness. Insanity. I wish i could’ve been there to stare them down and demand answers. Regardless, it’s closer.

I really do hate this place. An arm off an elf what do wonders for my mood, right now.

Sev went missing the other day. Probably an elven retaliation. The forest up top stinks of their steps.

The Gruumshborn is an oddity to me, still. To stave off whatever wild thoughts of a human’s thigh I might have… fresh from the body… To stave off whatever wild thoughts I may have, I shall consider the nature of the Gruumshborn. It is a curiosity. A sentient being, but not living. I imagine this particular creation was stolen from one of Vecna’s cultists. The Gruumshborn is maddeningly evasive, and yet excellent at holding secrets. I wonder what it knows about me. I wonder what it knows of my men. Sometimes, I wonder what it would taste like. I wonder if it wonders what I’d taste like. I think it’s looking at me.

Egarn and Ogshu have been inciting the others. But, Auvri helped keep the calm. He is a blessing of the god.

I cannot describe how much I incredibly hate HATE HATE HHHAAATTE THIS PLACE.

Finally finally finally finally!! I nearly ripped off my own arm for some fresh meat. Just a bloody morsel in my mouth! But, finally, the Gruumshborn found it. The damn thing found it! We’re sending Auvri and some other riders to bring it back. Finally, I can summon the Shadow with good news!

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Craig's Journal
Chasing Orcs

Dear Father,

After morning prayers, I found the bard and our guide already awake. I still have yet to learn why Vadas wears an orcish cloak, but he seems to hold no love for the race. This was proven continually later in the day. The bard, Tatsuya, still hasn’t displayed the potential you told me of. By your wishes, I shall continue to watch over him. As I’ve told you before, Justice has far more capability. Last night, he spent far too many hours listening to stories of his main quarries:
Kizarri, a tiefling necromancer
Auvri, the peacebreaker

Of course, I’m sure he heard legends of Warwick. I still cannot confirm this Warwick’s identity. It is a mystery weighing on me heavily, as it must on you.

Tatsuya and Vadas had decided to go to Kazikshire. I had hoped we would go to Amvil so I could see how the bard and paladin react… but, towards Kazikshire we would wander. Justice was still resting from being up far too late. After it was decided we would travel by foot, I hired a laggot for Justice so he could catch up. Father, you remember the last time we left Justice days behind? Of course you do. I still regret it. I’m sorry I was so foolish.

To the northeast we traveled. After a few hours, Tatsuya spotted a mounted orc. One day, you must tell me how their worgs became so intelligent and the riders remained so foolish.

Vadas, our guide, opened fire on the worg. As I said earlier, his orcish cloak appears to mean nothing. There are no ties of affection. While I prepared burning hands, Tatsuya hid. The bard attempted to disuade the orc from attacking. While mostly successful, the worg’s injury gave it a certain… clarity of purpose. The beast charged while the befuddled orc attempted to reconcile what was going. As Vadas continued to pepper the beast with shot it came within range. As you taught, I released the rays of dawn. Yet, the worg was a most cunning beast. In one smooth maneuver it… sideways spun… through the air and over my head. Having released the spell I was unable to slash at the beast as it attacked Vadas viciously.

Vadas’s twin blades put down the beast as Tatsuya shifted tactics and began using artillery. I doubt the orc was under the spell of his word, anyway. Vadas let it be known that he wanted the demihume alive, and bludgeoned it with his blade. I was worried about the orcish relentless rage.

So, I impaled the thing with my blade. Once it was bleeding out and unconscious, I spared him from death. Tatsuya and Vadas began to interrogate the orc. Of course, it knew little. If we had wanted to learn plans, we should’ve caught the worg. Now there’s an intelligent creature. But, hindsight is where the sun is brightest.

We learned of a sunken fortress the orcs inhabited, and that they had intermittent rivalries in the area. Half of the information was unsurprising, but I’ll report on it anyway. I think the orcs skirmish with and raid travelers between Kazikshire and Pelldon’s inn. They seem to use the sunken fort as an operations base. However, the southern caves (where they were likely more comfortable) have come under goblin rule. I trust you find this as confusing as I do. The only cause I can think of is the goblinoids have a powerful ally… beyond even a hobgoblin commander. I worry about what, though. Perhaps it is a minor demon? I can only hope. Tatsuya, and even Justice, may not be ready for what it could be.

Justice arrived and after a brief discussion let his laggot return. The others hadn’t realized I had negotiated with the shepherd to borrow the beast for a third of its normal price. I was glad to see Justice again, but it seemed as if the night had weighed heavily upon him.

After disposing of the filthy orc, we traveled onward. Our guide’s path veered a bit off course, and we lost a few hours before the path was corrected. By this time dusk had arrived. Justice managed to spot some orcs. Two riders and a group of others. Vadas, Tatsuya, and Justice devised an elaborate trap. I had the honor of being the bait (perhaps they misunderstood my joke about retreating so I could recover my magical reserves?). It is ironic that they would so little trust my abilities, and yet trust my mettle to face the enemy without retreat. Father, I will be with these people for as long as you like, but I will continue to question your belief that the lion sleeps here.

The fight was a blur. Tatsuya’s light startled the worgs and orcs. The beasts fumbled into traps. Within moments, a barrage of my magic and my allies’ arms downed a worg and orc. But, the orc alive? The peacebreaker. It took all of us flanking him for Justice’s hammer to crush the orc. In the end, Auvri did fall. I obtained our blade before the fight was over. I think my companions begrudge the apparent greed. If you could send some coin their way, I think they would find the trade more amicable.

The last worg saw his rider fall. I know Auvri is more cunning than most orcs. Undoubtedly the beast was sorrowed by losing a rider of comparable intelligence. It opted to retreat. Justice abjured the beast and a following barrage downed the beast. The nearby orcs had heard our skirmish and began to approach.

We reset our traps and Tatsuya dismissed his lights. I kneeled to pray for the lives we had taken today. And… to also fool the orcs into thinking I was no enemy. If they swarmed us, I intended to channel the radiance of the dawn. But, the orcs fumbled over the traps. Vadas unleashed an arrow that rained a hail of thorns. This decimated most of the orcish force, who were unable to evade.

Tatsuya dueled with one orc. After impaling it with his rapier, the demihume was filled with that awful madness. It swung at him, but fell. The leader of the orc troop exchanged ferocious strikes with Justice. Both Tatsuya and I lent him magical aid. My spiritual weapon ripped into the leader’s back, but still he stood. Justice dealt him a smart strike, and the orc briefly stumbled. Its relentless nature was stopped when Vadas slashed into it.

I will recommend we rest as soon as possible. Justice has already taken Auvri’s head. I’m sure Kazikshire will recognize the bounty.

In the Light of the Dawntree, whose hope we embrace,
“Craig”

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Where Next?
Rumors of risks and rewards...

…after staying the night in Pelldon’s inn, your group has acquired several rumors.

In Kazikshire, to the east, Mayor Hodgsworth is throwing a festival. He needs a top-tier entertainer. There are also rumors that an organization called The Haunting have begun to incite rebellion in Kazikshire. It’s very likely the mayor would also pay to deal with the disturbances.

Warwick is the last word whispered by the insane. The bounty on the enchanter’s head is ever-growing, and rumors of his actions are becoming more widespread. No one knows why he uses others to do his bidding. But, whatever his master plot, it’s likely he’s heading north to Bagton.

An arcane plague has been spreading through Amvil. The small thorp has become a de facto quarantine zone for the last few weeks.

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