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Journal for Feb. 11, 2010
Experience Awards: Next Session:
Calais
  3,100
Date:
  Thursday Feb. 25th 2010
Enzo
  3,100
Location:
  Jason's
Corman
  3,100
Time:
  6:30 PM
   
Dinner:
  Dave

Thursday November 19th IC 1428
PictureCeleste Vittorio - I had not realized how much in life I had taken for granted. Something as simple as a blue sky and the scent of wild flowers is more grounding for me than hearth or home. Our time in Eldred’s cross was a mixed blessing. The Duke’s hospitality was exceptional and the celebration he afforded us for the wedding was beyond generous. I am still disquieted by the notion that Mouse is father to an evil empire right below our feet. I find myself at odds with my beliefs for resolving this matter. When I spoke to Calais regarding this matter I was comforted that he was of like mind. Though I hesitate to dismiss the issue we agreed that for the time we would give him grace. At least until we can formulate a plan that does not end in destruction of a known associate and friend.

Calais informed me that the Imperial Stuart and the Emperor have requested our presence in the royal palace in Astoria. This is truly an unexpected honor and a worthy distraction from our current tribulations. As a courtesy we made our way across town to Corman’s construction site. He and his followers were hard at work on a meeting center for the worship of Dagmar. Corman express that he was engaged in this project for at least a few days and couldn’t be moved. We said our farewells and with little ceremony Casper transported us instantly to Astoria. Our arrival on the main boulevard was not treated as an unusual activity as bystanders regarded us as little more than another obstacle to be navigated around en route to their destination. Standing outside the ancient and awe inspiring facade of the Lighthorse garrison was humbling. The expanse of the city in general seemed intended to make one feel small. The statues of the celebrated politicians and heroes that lined the streets loomed overhead like titans silently observing their diminished offspring. A squeak from Silverhawk was my fist clue that we we entering the grand bazaar. Her youthful zeal was refreshing as her already large eyes seemed to expand beyond their moorings. As she flitted from one shop to another I took in the entirety of the great market. All corners of the empire and beyond were represented here. Thessaylian wares sat next to captured Grimme artifacts. A few rows down a Castillian spice merchant was pedaling various pastes and curries. Before I could fully embrace the enormity of the market Silverhawk returned with a sack full of jars and jugs containing all manner of mustards. One again I envied her free spirit and unfettered approach to life. An information merchant corned us for a time intending to sell us news and maps of the outside world, only to find himself in the company of adventures more travelled and informed than he.

After a full day at the market we retired to a local inn. Enzo was eager to continue the honeymoon and aside from a little tenderness of the flesh I was more than happy to repeat the performance of last night in the city of our founding fathers.

In the morning we acquired horses for the other three and set about journeying to Chateau Vaal in the southern edge of the Black Forrest. I realized that night in our encampment why the moniker had been attached to such a green place. When the last embers of the sun burned away we found ourselves wrapped in a cloak of night so dark as to wonder wether ones eyes were open or closed. Even Silverhawk whose eyes seem to attune to the smallest amount of light commented on the conditions. Calais alone avoided the malady of humanity with his enchanted spectacles. Aside from an encounter with a diseased boar the trip had been uneventful thus far. My restful night would soon yield slumber to violence in the suffocating dark of night. I awoke to the sounds of battle. All around me I could hear the spark of life fading and wondering if the sounds were friend or foe. Before I could fully sort it out, it was over. Later in daylight I observed the carnage. Eight enormous ogres had stumble on our camp thinking us easy prey. Their small minds must have had difficulty understanding their final moments. How many had this band dispatched before us. At least we had put their marauding to an end at the paltry expense of a good night’s sleep.

At our relocated camp while we ate breakfast, Enzo shared the details of his flyover of a nearby brigand camp. It appeared to be a mixed group of human fighters and rogues. We elected to continue on to our destination without further investigation.

The journey by horse was pleasant at the cold freezing night temperatures climbed comfortably. Clearings where the sun shone through were a welcome break from the chilling shade. as we continued south we passed by an obelisk marking the edge of the Vaal territory. Half an hours ride further on we entered the outskirts of a small hamlet. Sandwiched between a narrow river and a steep incline up to Chateau Vaal the collection of buildings was a welcome respite from the proliferation of trees and hills. The first building was a respectably sized inn and public house called Feagan’s. The proprietor was a lean tall man in his fifties with a comely wife who worked the kitchen while he attended the bar and guests. We were greeted warmly and offered a local favorite known as Wort. I had seen similar distilled drinks like this an they were common to the Black Forest. I had never really established a taste for distilled spirits and eschewed the beverage. Enzo and Calais both sampled it with satisfactory reviews. The local favorite dishes seemed to revolve around river trout and by the tantalizing smells issuing from the kitchen I had no doubt the penchant was well served. Calais Asked the owner if there was a place to wash up. The proprietor directed him to a water pump just outside the entrance. With our horses safely stabled out back Calais and I clean up while the others ordered drinks and food. Is was good to see the seasoned ranger relaxed and jovial. Since our departure from hell each of us has made the slow acclimatization back to the real world. The journey for him seem to be the furthest. Perhaps it was his natural inclination to the wilderness that made our journeys through hell so injurious to his mental condition.

While we were washing up we had occasion to interact with a couple of castle guards on leave. They confirmed that the Baroness has been afflicted with an illness and was currently bedridden. Calais eyes betrayed his rage at the news. Later he confided that the Baronesses’ uncle has been trying to usurp her title and lands since before the fall offensive of IC 1427. If not for his intervention, along with others from D Company, her fate would have already been decided. I could see that this had gotten personal and the weight of it was not lost on me. We were here to resolve this once an for all.

Once we were back inside we enjoyed a fine meal and some good conversation with the owner and his wife. Several armed me entered the pub as we were finishing up. Feagan identified them as Bartolo’s men. They had a cocky attitude about them and Feagan confirmed that they believed themselves deserving of it. Several of the locals departed upon their arrival. It didn’t appear that the ruffians were going to start any trouble here. As a result Calais suggested we move on and pay a visit to the Baroness.

The trip across town was enjoyable. the local merchants and craftsmen had a fine assortment of skill for such a remote location. When we reached the end of the strip of buildings the road continued on into the surrounding hills. We could see stone and wood buildings nestled in amongst the trees. As we turned up the hill toward the castle we could hear the sound of combat. Silverhawk and Calais bolted ahead to discover to of the baronesses men exchanging fire with half a dozen brigands in the tree line. The guard were taking cover behind a fallen tree as they fired crossbow bolts into the trees. The log in front of them was peppered with arrows, but neither of them looked injured. The two ranges wasted no time taking action. The tow of them sent a murderous rain of arrows into the trees. Within seconds the brigand were fleeing. Calais and Silverhawk bounded down the incline an up the hill into the trees. They emerged minutes late with a captive brigand.

The brigand was eventually forthcoming that he an the others of his band had been well paid to launch skirmish attacks against the baronesses guards. He didn’t know who had delivered the payment, but even he suspected Bartolo. After a good scare, we let him go with a promise never to return.

The guards on the road revealed that Bartolo was living in the castle with thirty of his own men. The men were pass war veterans that has served with the noble and were loyal to him. Even with nearly a hundred guards working for the baroness the guards admitted they were outclassed by Bartolo’s men.

It seems we have found a worthy cause.