Dungeon Noir

The Quest

Soren, the young paladin, having received his vocational call to the order of Bahumet, begins a quest to recover the Sword of Bahumet, lost in somewhere in the Snakewoods or the Troll Mountains. With that end in mind, he assembled a party of childhood friends. Ja’Qen, a knowledgeable and woodwise half-elven ranger as scout; Marq, a 14-year-old rogue adventurer, looking to spend some time out of town; and Keltyri, a battle-worn war-cleric of Clangheddin. All join Soren with the hope of battle, loot and adventure.

After some deliberation, the party decides upon the cautious route northeast to Triaebor, passing Greenest and then turning south across the Greenfields into the Snakewood.

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Blessings

The party traveled uneventfully through the first day. On day two, a shadow was spotted in the sky. After a nervous moment of doubt, the adventurers were pleased to discover a beneficent lammasu who offered his blessing to the questing group.

Nearing Greenest, they were accosted by two crossbowmen who were easily dealt with. Upon investigation, a camp was found showing evidence of four highwaymen and signs of the Blacktalon mercenary band. The group continued to Greenest to warn the farmers and gain some assistance.

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Greenest

The townsmen at Greenest were both appreciative and apprehensive. They were grateful for the party’s handling of the road bandits but troubled by the insignia they wore. They hoped the crossbowmen were deserters from the Blacktalon band. A suggestion that the Blacktalons might be operating in force for some dark power was whispered among the fearful folk. The party, though troubled, felt their purpose drew them further into the troll mountains and away from any ensuing intrigue on the plains.

They left at dawn and witnessed bands of horsemen in riding through the farmlands of the green plains. They were able to avoid incident and encountered a lone woodsmen late in the day. The fellow, though helpful at first, turned on them when they left the open lands and entered the Snakewood. A werewolf, he viciously assaulted the party, summoning others to his aid. The party, through violent battle, vanquished the beast and his minions and spent a troubled night amidst his loot at cave littered with loot and the remains of former victims.

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Groc's Diary
One word about me keeping a diary and I'll rip your arms off

I don’t know why the Blacktalons keep coming after me, I was only a foot soldier in a platoon on the lowest rungs of the heirarchy of the Blacktalons. I fear they may be seeking the wand we obtained in the paladin’s tomb. I do not know what they would do with it, but I know it would not benefit anyone but themselves.

On a happier note, I was pleased to see a temple to Helm in Traeibor, not many now worship the god of protectors, especially this far up north. I hope to pray and seek guidance about what we should with such a powerful artifact, or how we are to protect it from enemies that are powerful enough to summon demons with such ease.

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Into the mountains?

The party moved across the dried out fields of late fall and into the low hills toward the south. They kept to the lesser traveled roads and lanes to avoid the possible notice of the Blacktalons.

The party ventured into light foothills of the northwestern Troll Mountains. Climbing to higher elevations invited trouble. The whistling interruption of a huge chunk of earth crashing to the rocks beside their trail warned the party of the presence of some giantish interloper. The bellowing laughter of the frost giant incited the charge of their Paladin who crashed into the monster, wounding it and unhorsing himself. The giant took advantage of his edge and assaulted the knight. Keltyri charged his warpig into the fray. Wounded, Soren stopped to bind his own wound. The crippled giant pounced and ended Soren in a bloody, pulpy mess. The party rallied and through furious combat, destroyed the giant. The party, regathering itself, decided against the heights and turned toward the lower path through the Snakewood.

Entering the light forest, a hermit was encountered. When questioned, he mentioned some ruins and a cave in the forest. A bargain was struck for the Keltyri’s canine companion, who was quickly gutted, skinned and presumably devoured later on that night by the unkempt loner. This was of little concern to the party, however, since as soon as they entered the woods, they were set upon by a large werewolf. The silver arrows of Ja’Qen, and the quick thinking of Keltyri, allowed them to avoid contamination and put an end not only to the unholy cur, but his two wolf pets as well.

The party backtracked the animals to their lair and discovered a horde of valuables, presumably from the werewolf’s previous victims. After a night’s rest, they continued. In the morning, after a few hours walk, they discovered a half-orc in Blacktalon livery tied to a tree.

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The Temple Path
Ja'Qen's Dilemma

I am leading the party through the forest Northward as we make our way to the temple the hermit had told us about. I am apprehensive as we move on only because such an evil creature told us of its whereabouts.
“But was he truly evil?” I wonder to myself, for if he had not chosen to become a werewolf but simply accepted his fate as being out of his control would he then be evil for simply being what life turned him into? I wonder of such things constantly, it is the curse of the ranger I suppose.
Nature itself is unpredictable and cold and heartless, yet there is a beauty in that chaos, and as someone who had no family to remember, I instead call nature my mother. I accept my fate as an orphan and know that there is no changing it, yet I hope that my future children and grandchildren have more than acceptance prepared for their lives.
But what if I had been born to an evil lord, or in contrast a gentle king, would I then simply be good or evil because of what life dealt me? Or would I have been evil regardless of how good a parentage I had, or good and gone against the evil rule of my father overlord?
I genuinely do not know….

This temple is clearly a place of great evil, for we just now feel moderate safety for the first time in several hours. We were set upon by a score of orcs and several ogres early in the morning. I myself held off the orcs with my bow, which I now have named Whisper, for it brings death as a silent kiss upon my enemies. I have no battle cry and no reason to reveal my presence in most cases. My elven armor is nearly silent and so is my bow, taking 9 orcs this day.
Following the orcs into battle I know that there were 3 ogres attacking us from behind, but I could not help for fear of the orcs overwhelming us, so I fought with my back to the ogres and hoped that our new orc traveler, Groc could handle the ogres, and between him and Keltyri, I heard they slew two of them on their own.
What is troubling, though, is how the third ogre was killed, for it was the Black Talons that had come back for Groc that killed it.
We rode off in an attempt to run away as we knew not how many Black Talon members had come after us, but after seeing them, Groc flew into a rage, turning to charge their leader, an imposing figure in all black, with a flaming longsword. Keltyri and I did what we could to kill the other members of the Black Talons that were set upon Groc so he might take out the leader himself, and he did so with surprising ease. Apparently the leader tripped, TWICE, and Groc slew him with an ease that was startling to me.

And now we sit with lizardmen in their camp, apparently on our way to the temple they watched us for an unknown time, even my keen senses did not detect them until they chose to show themselves, a feat which even now stuns me for I am not easily surprised these days.
They asked our assistance in driving the evil from the temple in exchange for their help in getting us there safely through the marshes, but again my mind is torn.
For what is evil but the absence of good? Yet how is evil destroyed but by its destruction, so then, I wonder, were the Black Talons good in killing the ogre, or is it simply evil killing evil for the sake of evil?
And what of mercenaries who choose only to work because they enjoy killing, yet they only kill monsters and other evil creatures, are they then themselves evil as a desire to bring death and destruction is far from good? Yet they destroy evil themselves.
This dilemma weighs heavily on my mind, but for now I must sleep, for tomorrow we reach the temple.

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The Ettins
The Savior

We had a plan today, a plan that should have worked.

We had studied the comings and goings of the temple for days, observing the changes of watches and the daily activities of the orcs guarding it, and we thought we had found our way in.

Marq went with me, equipped with a stone that Kelytri had cast a Silence spell upon. Marq threw the rock into a grouping of two orcs, the plan was to kill one and capture the other so we might interrogate him to find information regarding the temple. I missed my shot.

The orcs were more observant than we anticipated and I made the error of underestimating their awareness. The moment the silence spell crossed over them we charged, Marq dropping the first orc easily, but my arrow missed its mark so I gave chase.

At this point I did not know what became of the rest of the party, only that I had to catch this lone orc before he could alert the others and have both my friends and myself killed as a result. So I continued to chase, dodging around a well-placed trap along the way.

But the orc was too fast, and he reached the entrance to the temple before me, thankfully he did not see it fit to yell or my story surely would have reached its end. I called out to the ettin guarding the entrance in goblin, hoping it would understand me and my appeal to break it free of the chain holding it to the temple if it could just help me. But before the words had fully left my mouth the ettin jammed its spear fully through the orc, lifting it high and slamming it down, somehow in such a way as to not alert the other orcs on watch.

I stared in awe at it as it motioned for me to follow it into the temple, going against every impulse inside of me to run away from the ettin, knowing that in the confines of the temple I stood little chance against such a creature on my own. Inside the ettin showed me its companion, another ettin.

In that moment I prayed to every god I knew that the ettins were not looking for a fight, and was thankful beyond I thought possible to see the ettin motion to the locks around their ankles. I understood their intentions as I tried to pick their locks with one of my arrows, it took several long and frustrating moments, but after I opened the first manacle the other was rather easy to open. Prior to leaving the first ettin motioned for one of my javelins, which I gave him and on his way out pf the temple he showed me a secret entrance into the temple I would otherwise have found only with great difficulty.

He kept my javelin and left with the other ettin in a strange level of silence for such large creatures. All I could hear from outside the temple were the roars of 4 mouths and the shrieks of many more orcs.

My understanding of evil creatures and what makes one evil is again challenged this day.

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I hate spiders
seriously, spiders, why does it always have to be spiders

whichever god created spiders, i’m gonna ram an eggsac down their throat. They leave their stupid webs everywhere, they get gunk all over everything, AND THEY HAVE 8 EYES….. who needs eight eyes, what do those two extra ones on top give’m a nice view of their fat butts. I just cleaned my armor of webs and no sooner than i do then, more show up. Their only redeeming quality is the nice squishy sound they make underneath my boot…… Anyway, we’re finally on our way to find this rod, pretty easygoing so far. Oh, i see some merchants up ahead. I wonder if they have food. I could really go for a nice juicy stea…….

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