23th of Desnus (11th year of the rule of Noleski Surtova)
The peasants are restless and some have even started a vigil for the absent agitator Grigori. Things are so bad I have a second shadow by the name of Gorst. A grim rather large man wrapped in one of the warwolves great cloaks, if he can’t save me from myself no one can. Foul looks follow us everywhere as the peasants grow less shy in their resentment. Damn and blast Grigori to the darkest corners of Hell. Even absent from his soapbox he still plagues us. His twisting of the truth seems to have found fertile soil among the citizens of Leveton. Even Svetlana seems to think we could have done things differently. If only we had come a few moments later to the scene of the assault on his home. I’m sure the were-wolf would have made short work of him and we could have ended the threat of the beast and the provocateur all at the same time. Still, perhaps this way is best. The loss of Grengause and the betrayal of his ideals would have destroyed Karl. He is still berating himself over our failure to end the fight before the fatal blow was struck. The thought of the beast still makes me shudder. How could that engine of destruction be trapped inside the body of a surly woodsman? He shrugged off my most potent magics and kept coming. Even Drogov’s foul concoctions failed to do more than distract the thing.
This road will be hard if the peasants’ aim improves. A tomato arced past us on our way to the Witch’s hut on the edge of town. Vaszilla almost went after the author of the act but stopped herself even before she started; Karl’s influence on the woman seems more apparent every day. She has far more control and far greater understanding of the tightrope we walk than I would have ever credited her with a year ago. I begin to think she may have deeper insight into the path Karl walks than even I do. His patience with the unrest beggars me.
Perhaps, I will call for my brother sooner than later. He always understood the greater good better than I. His counsel will keep me from undoing the good Baron Von Allegmund does here with my tendency towards a brutal and fiery solution to things. I miss Konrad I hope he fares well; the old Baron must be quite the bear these days with Karl’s continued success. Perhaps, he has learned subtlety in his old age and Grigori is a gift from the old man.
I think I will suggest to my lord that he make a small change to his name to indicate the split between the two branches of his family. Van Allegmund has a certain ring to it and would do well for the southern branch of the family.
The Beldame was everything I expected and more than I hoped for. Crotchety, forward and opinionated she was both refreshing helpful. Vaszilla opened up in a way I have not seen before and while it didn’t make sense at the time I am starting to see what the Beldame meant by there is no fire. In this world we have the things that create the fire; the wood and the air but the fire itself is a reaction to a particular combination of those things. The fires I wield are something wholly separate, a “topsy-turvy” thing unto themselves. Which is why I didn’t see things properly from the first. We need to see what it is about the people that allows a man like Grigori to ignite them so and if possible do something to dowse them in a way that prevents their ignition. As the member of our band with the most colourful background Vaszilla might be the one to sniff this underlying current of discontent out. Her role as Spymaster may be fortuitous in the extreme considering the current situation.
One thing that came to light during our conversation after the visit to the witch was the nature of the statue in the temple where we battled Ostel so many months ago. Prof. Ostenenko is well and away too full of himself. He will not take the danger seriously and could be in peril. We leave tonight with the hopes of getting there in a couple days.
24th of Desnus (11th year of the R.O.N.S.)
Our first day of travel went well. Ostel seems unsure if allowing this journey constitutes me being safe but he can argue that point with Garess. We reached Bokken’s hut with a couple hours of daylight to spare. Bokken was his usual hyper helpful oddly combative self when we stopped by. Thoroughly outraged by the witch’s suggestion and at the same time complementary of the very same suggestion. He also provided us with the additional healing potions we requested making this less of a risky endeavour. Bokken’s quest for immortality worries me. I shudder to think what he would do stuck at his current age and mental acuity.
Our Journey to the South was finished for the night when our preparations for a night’s rest was interrupted by a charging horse. Clearly, reared for a wealthy knight I managed to arrest its headlong flight with a trick I’ve seen Karl use. Damn near wrenched my arm out of its socket. The horse’s hooves came dangerously near my head in the process. From the look on Gorst’s face as I made the attempt he clearly was already debating running deep into the River lands versus explaining to Captain General Garess how my head had been split open like a walnut. A rather stern note to myself to never attempt that trick again. As it was Vaszilla’s growing connection to the animals around us confirmed our suspicions of some sort of battle or ambush and we quickly broke camp and set off on the trail.
A few hours later we encountered the scene of the ambush. A dead squire and his horse and two young owl bears feasting on the entrails of the horse clearly having already worked over the dead man’s body. After slaying the two beasts we found another, bloody, trail that lead off and we followed it to a large creek passing the corpse of yet another young owl bear.
Badly wounded and his companion dead the owner of the horse must have grabbed a couple logs and floated off down the water in a desperate attempt to escape the nasty beasts. We followed til dawn and at that point with the trail leading further away from our original destination we rested and then split up. Vaszilla and One-eye after the wounded man and Gorst and myself on to Prof. Ostenenko hopefully in time to warn him of the eerie nature of the statue.
25th of Desnus (11th year of the R.O.N.S.)
We were far to late. All we found was death. The exterior of the excavation was barren and left behind were two monstrous wolves, an unholy welcoming committee formed from some weird ectoplasm. I was pleased to learn they burn rather well. Gorst more than proved his worth when he smashed one of them into two pieces, the corruption they were made of splattering everywhere, dissolving as we destroyed them. Having read of such things during my apprenticeship I quickly tracked down the focal points for the wolves and finding the rune covered wolf skulls I broke them to prevent the wolves from reforming.
We jury rigged the pulleys that had been ruined after the last person left and we entered the lost city moving quickly by Mage light through the cleared passageways. Gorst it seems has taken his assignment to protect me rather seriously. We were on the ledge that leads away from the base of the buried tower and along the top of the chasm carved by the underground river when the animated bodies of the workmen attacked us. Gorst quickly stepped into the gap easily cutting down the poor undead workmen a second time. One of them managed a fearsome blow that left me reeling. After the battle Gorst had a few sharp words for me regarding choke points and letting the warriors do their job. Valid points if only I could listen. The Eisenberg love for the fray runs strong in my veins.
It quickly became apparent that Prof. Ostenenko did heed my warnings about the shadows and madness that seems to lurk in these halls. His explorations were in a completely different vein from Ostel’s, he had set up a rope bridge to cross the chasm at a different point and his men had started excavating a building near the top of the far cliff face. It was there that we found further tragedy.
The rest of Ostenenko’s team were there his apprentices waiting for us as undead horrors doomed to an eternity waiting for whoever may come. I am sad to say none of his people had escaped whoever had fallen upon them. With Gorst standing firm against their advance we easily dealt with the abominations.
There was one body not risen against us and when we checked we found an additional horror, just a more mundane one. Rot grubs had infested his body and nearly ate into Gorst’s hand through his leather gauntlet when he moved the body. Luck was on our side and a little well placed fire destroyed the vermin.
The final horror we faced was perhaps the most tragic. Prof. Ostenenko had been slain as well and out of the shadows he came warning us of the threat that had overwhelmed him and his men. The Mivonese Necromancer had slain them to a man and then strategically placed them as a deadly reminder of who we face. Luckily for us the bizarre nature of this place combined with Prof. Ostenenko’s great strength of will allowed him to maintain some sort of free will even after he was raised from death.
After his tragic tale he he demanded I destroy him while his will was still his own offering the few things of import he had managed to hide before his death as reward for such a grim service. Once I agreed to scatter his ashes on the surface he willingly stepped out of hiding and into the path of the scorching ray of fire I summoned forth. My only payment for his sage counsel and generosity was to spread his ashes on the hill top near the entrance to the city.
Gorst and I are returning to the city now hoping that Vaszilla was able to rescue the wounded noble. One thing is certain; I have much of dread import to discuss with my lord Karl.
On a happier note the treatise Prof. Ostenenko gave me is going to be invaluable to the point where it will bring my own research to a higher level. I also think I may have figured out how to unlock the size limitations on the rolling ball of flame I have used to great effect. Between the witch’s obscure suggestions and this text my power has grown greatly. If possible I am more excited about the Kyuric Tiles he gave us once deciphered they too can only add to my power.