By Torag’s hammer… I would have expected that all the time I spent in Tian Xia would have prepared me for anything, but these spider beasts are far from anything I would have ever imagined from this plane – and I have seen all sorts of oddities out East.
After we left the hive and returned to the fortress, it took a matter of days for us to recover before we were well enough to venture forth again.
Some of Gabric’s allies had arrived – a ponce and a gnome. Delightful. One spoke of flying buttresses and other nonsense. No matter. At least they bothered to show up.
Gabric suggested we go out in search of allies among the Shoanti barbarian tribes, towards the North.
Sister and elder brother argued and bickered the during the entire trek. Brothers 2 & 3 argued about something else as well. Awkward brother… I have no idea where he wandered off to. Scouting perhaps. We made our way into the Wind clan territories and brother Galen nearly ended up being a feathered pin cushion. Apparently we didn’t even notice that they were there. Then again, Gwernach never admitted to being a particularly good scout…
Brother spoke to them about the impending threat of the void callers… or whatever in the nine hells they are and are supposed to be called. The patrol leader immediately changed his tune and led us to their village.
We spoke to their chief and requested the assistance of the Wind Clan. Their chief in turn asked that we travel to their sacred burial grounds, choose a barrow and recover a totem of one of their great heroes. Wonderful, the Gundrikson clan has been reduced to an overglorified delivery service. Father must be rolling in his freshly dug grave… or trying to roll. Maybe they encased him in rock to prevent such things.
Goering, the patrol leader fellow led us to the barrows, and stopped short of the location. He said he was forbidden from entering. Right, and it is perfectly fine to send in foreigners and interlopers. I’ll never understand these mud-hutters.
What he failed to tell us until AFTER we had returned from recovering the token was that no one had ever returned successfully. I was this close to setting him ablaze.
We delved into the oldest looking barrow… it was rather strange. While we were underground, it did not feel like we were physically underground. Dwarves and all. There was a strange spiritual magic at work there. We came upon a well made… for humans anyway, rock wall. Brother #3 bashed it down and sister carefully arranged the mess so we could patch it up later.
Deeper… or at least it seemed, we went until we came upon a great hall. Tables, platters and weaponry on the walls.
In the center of all this was stone coffin. Seems we have found ourselves a dead hero. Brother #2 joked that maybe the moment we opened up the coffin and grabbed the totem, the corpse would lunge at us.
Geril and Garrek opened up the coffin. For something crafted out of stone, it lifted easily. Inside were the remains of a Shoanti hero, name unknown. Gundarin carefully extracted the totem from the hands of the body. And began talking to himself. Here I thought I was the crazy one.
A contest of strength against elder brother? What nonsense is Gundarin spouting? What – oh. Right spiritual magic.
He was talking to the spirits of the dead. Of course. This was made very apparent as the hall itself came alive. Or about as alive as a bunch of barbarian tribes spirits can make it.
The hero made his intent clear, he wished to challenge Galen to a contest of drinking. Brother initially faltered, but at the urging… uh… prodding of elder sister and Gundarin, he gave in. Very reluctantly.
The spirits invited us to join them in their festivities. Eating with departed spirits probably falls on one of the less odd things that I have done, so I joined them. For the first time in my life, I had experienced the sensation of intoxication from alcohol. Never in my life would I have expected that. It was glorious. Also the dead make very good mead. This is something I will have to take note of when I return to the brewery. If we make it out of this mess.
Elder brother succeeded in the contest, and we gained the blessing of the Wind tribe’s hero. Taking the totem, we hurried out, repaired the wall and greeted a very surprised Goering. He led us back to the village at a rapid pace where we were given a much warmer reception upon returning with the totem.
The Wind chieftain agreed to give us his aid and went forth to gather his warriors. We inquired as to where the other nearest tribe was.
The Moon tribe were the closest and were on friendly terms with the Wind tribe. With shoanti ponies, we made haste to the Moon village. At least we didn’t get stuck full of arrows this time as well. Or stopped. At least until we made it to the bloody entrance.
Requesting an audience with the Moon chieftain however was… difficult. As she had locked herself in a dream-trance.
The shamans said that a certain herb grown in the Northern mountain range would certainly make her exit the trance.
Galen and I wanted to dive into the dream world and retrieve her, but the others wanted no part in it and we headed to the mountains.
They warned that two search parties had gone up and have failed to return to the village. Wonderful, some sort of people-eater is out there. At least they gave us warning this time.
Plains, plains and cold. We tied the horses down once we reached difficult terrain and hurried towards the mountain. It grew colder. At the foot of the mountain, what greeted us was rather gruesome. The signs of battle, broken weaponry. A foot. Well that solves one mystery. Something showed up. Ate some people and people ran away. Wonderful.
there is a haze in this particular section of the stone’s records – likely caused by a brief hit of opium
We made it up this bloody cold mountain range. Gwernach managed to drop himself into a crevasse. Once.
After fishing him out, we found the flowering herb the Moon tribe had described, grabbed as many as possible and set out to return. It was getting late and Galen had found an ice cave where we made camp for the night.
During Gwernach’s watch, he roused us. He heard curious windy howling sound during his watch. Glad to hear that at least Gundrik’s tooth wasn’t planting strange ideas in his head or that ridiculous token he grabbed hasn’t completely taken over his mind.
Something… had made a hole in the cave. A very large hole. Whatever it is, I do not fancy the idea of being eaten in my sleep. Gathering our things, we found ourselves in a massive ice cavern and series of tunnels.
Gwernach said he heard the voices of precious stones. Indeed he found a sizeable pile of large smooth gems. As we gathered around to examine the stones, we failed to notice the large lizard thing that came upon us. After it tried to eat Garrek – it failed after being stabbed and slashed repeatedly to its death by brother #2 and sister.
At least it wasn’t a dragon. More of some sort of bastard degenerate dragon lizard thing. I really should have paid more attention back in the Zoology of Reptilian Monsters in Mage College. The best I could determine was that the thing is dead. And big. No matter. The beast is still dead. And decapitated. Sister lopped the thing’s head off and has decided to drag it back with us. For the Skull clan she said.
Garrek cut the beast’s guts open to see if it was the one that had eaten the Moon tribe search parties. It wasn’t. Instead we found more of the gems in its gullet. Awkward brother began calling the gems ‘Poo-stones’. I rapped him across the skull with my staff. He also started skinning the beast, rambling about making lizard cloaks to keep us from the cold. No matter. The less time we spend in this godsforsaken mountain, the better.
We returned and happily found our ponies, still in one piece and made haste to the Moon village.
The shamans immediately prepared an elixir from the herb and fed it to their chieftain. She regained consciousness and the first thing elder brother did was blast her with holy fire. I think all that time spent in Highhelm has unhinged him. Also all the backstabbing from stupid Uncle Ironhide and Silvermane may have driven him partially mad.
The Chief, she said she saw what was coming in the near future and immediately agreed to aid us in our mad quest. But first, she needed another favor – we had to activate a godstone. Whatever that is. Which was also in the bloody mountains.
This is one of the reasons why I left Highhelm. I got sick and tired of mountains. There’s something to be said about fields of grains and nice flat plains.
Always mountains. Gwernach went scouting ahead. Scouting being a loose term. I think the weird Void token and Gundrik’s gold tooth keep him distracted. Perhaps he has joined their hive mind. Or created his own weird hive mind.
We were ambushed by more of those dead men spider creatures. One in particular stood out. It seemed somewhat more… heroic? Or about as heroic as something that had spawned from the maw of some sort of flesh spider abyss would be.
The thing struck Gwernach in the forehead with an arrow. He’s still alive. Maybe the arrow will keep things from corrupting him further. Or drive him madder. That has yet to be seen.
Here is something to consider. While our clan may have rode under the banner of the Rat, the harbingers of death and destruction… there is something to be said of a creature that withstands an empowered lightning bolt. My initial instinct would be to feed it another bolt. That or run for the hills. Running for the hills is usually frowned upon in most cases.
The deadman however beat me to it, as it cast a dirty look… gaze… uh… whatever counts a dirty look at us. I could not tell if the damned thing had eyes from this distance. It made for the mountain side and climbed up and away from us before I could blast it again.
We dealt with the remaining fodder and continued through the mountain range. In the distance across a massive lake, we found the Godstone. As massive as the Moon tribe had described it. Going around the shore… no dwarf in his right mind… or wrong mind would even considering swimming across. Maybe except for brother #2. Pirate and all.
We approached and there laid in front of the stone were various offerings and sacrifices. Notably… a number of those items were gigantic. During the time I spent in Goka, I recall very rarely that there would be coins the size of wagon wheels and furniture the size of great warships. Giants. The massive footprints close by were also a very good hint.
As my siblings began arguing (as usual), with Gwernach possibly attempting to converse with the massive coins, I approached the stone. Tossing a bag of coins onto a nearby smaller table, I placed my hand on the stone and felt a sensation of warmth and friendship. Now if only all mind altering substances made me feel like this.
Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling not much else happened. How is this… stone supposed to empower the Moon tribe anyway? Bah. I’m not the spiritual one. Galen is. Someone else can figure that out.
I forget which of my siblings decided it was a good idea to seek out the giants however… but seek them we did.
Following the massive footprints, we found a castle in the sky. Admittedly, one doesn’t see too many castles in the sky very often. I suggested teleporting everyone up there. Garrek refused to have anything to do with that and instead smacked the tethering chain with his hammer. He got the giants’ attention. Surprisingly.
The giants descended… and failed to notice us. Brother tried to swing at the chain again and failed miserably.
At this point I lit up my pipe and ignored my surroundings. We ended up in the giant city and met with their leader, Gunther. Elder brother blasted the giant with holy fire. He stirred and referred to us as ‘small blurry shapes’.
When the subject of the void callers was brought up, Gunther recalled the ancient crusade, and he had taken part in the battle ages ago. In his current state, he was in no condition to aid us, but the giants provided supplies to our base and sent us off in search of Gunther’s son, Cloudbreaker.
Again I would have thought my journey to the East would have prepared me for all this. I suppose it hasn’t. Now where in the nine hells did I put my pipe…?