Growing Stronger Through Pain
My world of late has been one of pain and broken awareness. Life in the legions was never so deadly. I write now by the firelight of a campsite adjacent the Haunted Forest, or so the locals call it. My wounds are once again bound but the pain remains great. Before I scribe the tale that brought our group of adventurers here, I must lay down our closing adventure in Yarrvek – at least what I can remember of it.
Shortly after rescuing Cassicus val Tensen, the Coryani lad, we learned that smugglers connected to someone in Yarrvek were planning to rendezvous near the docks. In bold but misguided fashion we staged an ambush at their meeting spot and waited through the night. The only event of note occurring through the long twilight hours was a beacon from a lighthouse on the bay. As day broke we realized our plan had failed to net the smugglers. With few leads left to us we learned that Blackstone, the new mayor of Yarrvek, inhabited the old lighthouse that had signaled our ambush site during the night. Impatient and frustrated by our wasted effort through the previous evening, we resolved to question Blackstone and set out immediately for his tower. We soon discovered that Blackstone was at the root of not only the smuggling operation but also of the recent assassinations, kidnappings and riots in Yarrvek. After being repeatedly beset by traps in the lighthouse, we discovered that Blackstone had constructed a hideous guardian known as a flesh golem. After forming a battle plan that included a trap for the creature, I entered its lair with weapon at the ready. My only waking memory of combating the abomination was its fist impacting my face. I awoke at the administrations of healers from the city and stood witness to the defeat of an even greater monstrosity than the one that felled me at the hands of the city captain and his men. Upon the destruction of his last guardian, Blackstone cheated justice by leaping from the lighthouse and dashing himself on the rocks below. For our part in uncovering and uprooting the traitorous Blackstone, members our entire group were hailed as rescuers of Yarrvek and showered with gold and favors.
I spent some weeks working to repair the hard-hit slum quarter of Yarrvek and drilling with the city guard. While dining one evening in our regular haunt, my companions and I were approached by a pathetic, starving, wart-covered gnome. Apparently he had heard of our deeds rescuing Yarrvek and was in need of some rescuing himself. One thing I learned from my training in the legions was to be ever watchful of agents and never discount even the most pathetic of beings. If ever a creature looked pathetic or cried loudly of hidden agenda, this one did. His story was compelling enough though I detected no motive other than self preservation. He admitted thieving and claimed he was now hunted by servants of his victim. He claimed to have sold his loot to an explorer who was heading for ruins to the north and so was no longer in possession of the property he had stolen. With nothing for evidence of any wrongdoing save words from the warty gnome, the only way to get to the bottom of this tale was to offer him a place at our table and bid him wait with us for the bounty hunters he said were close behind. We did not wait long. There were three of them and they lacked all diplomacy. Threatening our lives and demanding we hand over our new charge, they had obvious ill intent and showed no regard for the law. I would have been happy to adjust their attitude but our follower of Illir saw fit to barter for a week’s time so we could find the missing explorer who now held the stolen item. The next morning we mounted up and rode north with the gnome in hand. Though I now doubt he is of any consequence and presume him a thief, I will not allow the gnome to fall prey to hunters for to do so would be an even greater crime than the one he admits to.
My tale comes full circle now, for it was two days into the journey to the ruins that we set up camp near the Haunted Forest. During the night I was awakened by Ip to see ferocious bear-like forest creatures assaulting us through the woods. Grabbing shield and sword, I charged the nearest and dealt it a terrible wound before falling beneath its claws and beak. My enemies of late seem quite capable of vanquishing me and I have never before felt so ineffective. Thanks to the efforts of my companions I was spared the fate of becoming a feast for these creatures and am now well enough to scribe this entry. Tomorrow we must rest before continuing to the ruins. Our allotted week is running out and, Nier willing, we will soon face the bounty hunters again.