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Monday, 31 December 2012

Eddard's Diary: Chapter 3 (Con't)

Eddard's Really Bad Day part 1

Punching an Innocent
In the morning, after an uncomfortable night spent sleeping in the loft area of the warehouse, Wren asked me to go keep an eye on the orphanage while she and her charge lay low in the warehouse.  After what I saw last night, I knew that sending Wren  out today would be extremely dangerous as it seemed half the city was looking for her.  I knew that, by now, there would be a bounty out on her.
I changed my appearance slightly from the body guard persona.  I wore one short sword, instead of the pair, and carried the short bow.  I muddied my cloak and wore it with the hood up to conceal my identity.  Not being an expert in disguise, I didn't know what else to do, so I left it at that.
I made my way to the orphanage, by a round about route.  I didn't dare take a direct route for fear that I was already being followed.  I found a wall to lean against a little ways up from the street entrance of the orphanage.  It wasn't long before I saw a mercenary type- someone I thought I recognised from Minx's the night before- walk into the place.  I waited outside, and when he came out, I followed him.  He went out to one of the caravan holding yards outside the city proper.  The area he went into was obviously rich, likely Amnite, and extremely well guarded.  I noted where this camp was.  It wasn't long, though, before the mercenary I'd been following came out of the camp and made his way back to the orphanage. 
This time, when he came out of the orphanage, he wasn't alone.  With him, was a very young girl that bore more than a passing resemblance to the girl in Wren's care.  I didn't believe the girl was a relative of his.  I believed the headmaster had sold another one, because the first had yet to be found.  This belief forced me to do something about it.  I can't stand by and allow a young girl, whose only crime was having no parents, be collected for slavery or prostitution.  I had to act.
The problem was, how?  I was alone.  No back up.  No way of getting back up.  If I merely followed, and he made it back to the Amnite Merchant's camp, I'd lose any opportunity.
I saw where they were going, into a market square.  I moved down a street, confident of their travel path and ran to get in front of them.  I came to the entrance of an alley that led back onto the main road.  I waited, catching my breath, preparing mentally.  And then they appeared, walking together up the street.  I walked out of the alley mouth, headed for the mercenary.  As I came within half a metre of him, I shoulder charged him, knocking him off his feet.  I scooped up the girl and ran.
Behind me, he was calling for help, saying I had taken his daughter.  The girl's shock at being taken was quickly wearing off and she started to fight me.  I dodged with her down side streets, I tried to tell her she was safe.  She wasn't buying it.  When I could see one else around, I clocked her one, hard enough to knock her out, if I didn't do something, the mercenary or city watch would catch me for sure, and the girl would be at the mercy of whatever fate awaited her at the hand of these slavers.  I had no choice.  I also wasn't happy about it.
I ducked into a small one room hut, grabbed an old blanket, wrapped her up in it, and took her, again by circuitous means, back to the warehouse.
I wasn't followed.  I entered the place and took her up to the loft.  I gently placed her in the blanket on the straw.  Wren was no where to be seen, but the first girl was still there.  I started to explain the situation to her, telling her what happened, when there was sound of a search party in the building. 
All I heard was," I bet the bitch we're looking for is in here."
Terrific.  I got my bow ready.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Quick Notes on Eddard's Diary

There are a few things followers of Eddard's Diary need to know. 

The most important is the idea that I'm four or five posts away catching up to the current game timeline.

The other thing to note is that Chapter 4 ends with a massive fight, and I suspect that combat will take two posts by itself to write.  I am going to try to describe it as much as is practical- but there were large portions of the fight that my character couldn't see.

I hope you are enjoying Eddard's Diary as much as I am enjoying bringing it to you.

If any of you have ideas on how Eddard's might be better presented, feel free to email or comment.

Eddard: Chapter 3 (Con't)

On The Run

As soon as that thought entered my head, I knew it was the right one.  Mystra's Tears, what did you do Wren?
I knew I had to get out of there.  But instead of leaving right away, I pretended like I found her when I entered an empty room.  I stayed there for about a minute- long enough to check in on my client.  Then I walked down the stairs, and straight out of the building, taking only a quick detour to walk past Ulf, who looked completely unaware something was up.  All I said to him was "trouble."
I walked out of Minx's.  It took a heap of effort to keep from running, but I knew that would only draw attention to me.  It wasn't long, however, before the city watch was headed past me to the festhall.  I had made my getaway.  I headed straight back to the Inn where the party was supposed to be staying.  Garrus and Logan were in the taproom with Thoram.  Of Azzarak, Wren, or Ulf there was no sign.
I did what I could to alter my appearance, and then sat with the others.  Ulf did arrive very shortly later.  No one knew where Azzarak was.  As we sat there debating our best option, a street urchin arrived and gave a note to Garrus.
"It's from Wren," he said," it's directions to a warehouse."
"Let's go," I said rising immediately.
We walked through the streets, trying not to make ourselves conspicuous because of the late hour.  As we neared the place, we were stopped by the city watch. 
"We're looking for a young half-elf female.  You seen her?"
I let Garrus do the talking.  I suspected that my presence as her bodyguard would have been noted, and the watch may soon come looking for me.
"No, we haven't," Garrus replied.
"Do be careful," the guard said,"she is a murderer and a thief.  She is extremely dangerous."
Garrus nodded, "we will."
The guard called over to his comrades,"C'mon boys, lets try over here."
As the guards moved away, Garrus said, "We need to get in here,"
I didn't see how we were going to get in, without Wren to pick the lock, but Garrus produced a key and unlocked the door.  I never asked. but the key must have arrived with the note. 
We went inside the warehouse.  It looked disused, almost derelict from the inside, but once the door shut behind us, she told us what happened.
She came across a deal being made for a 12 year old girl- being sold by a guard Sergeant named Rogan, all happening on the second floor of Mother Minx's.  She felt she had to act, to spare someone from the life she had in Amn as a slave.  Rogan was killed, and the girl taken into Wren's protective care.  According to Wren, the girl was sold by the headmaster of a local orphanage.
Committing murder to save someone from slavery, it seemed a fair trade to me, somehow.  I was just happy I got out of Minx's before they got onto me.  It was because of this, that I was nominated to stay with Wren and the child. 
I felt obligated to try to save them all from slavery, but I wondered if it was possible.
I also wondered how this little escapade of Wren's would affect our chances of rescuing the others.

Eddard: Chapter 3 (Con't)

Mother Minx's Part 2

Murder by Death
Eventually their conversation came to end, mainly because it was time for to take the stage again.
When she took the stage and began her dance, I glanced around the room to check out the crowd.  As the evening wore on, I saw more and more Amnites enter the room.
A funny thing about Amnites, their society seems to favour ostentatious displays of wealth, and the more ostentatious, the more wealthy, generally speaking.  Where a wealthy man in Waterdeep might wander the streets merely in clothes of good quality, an Amnite will wear piles of jewellery, use expensive perfumes, and surround themselves with bodyguards.
I saw one such Amnite begin to make the approach to my table.  Of his six bodyguards, only two approached with him.  I didn't rise from the table, despite his station.  He was being a supplicant to me, for something he believed I had, and I wanted him to know I knew it.  Its business, not a social meeting.
Still, he had more questions than the last.  Took far more interest in her history than I thought was necessary.  I knew Wren was an escaped slave from Amn, and I knew better than to tell him the truth.  I told him she hired me as protection.  That her last contract ended, and she left Waterdeep, believing the city had no others that would be interested in her abilities, hiring me just before leaving the city.  That's all I knew, I told him.  Other questions would have to be asked of her, for I knew not the answers.
He was a gruff, arrogant man, one used to commanding power simply because he commanded wealth.  The more I spoke to him, the less I liked him.  But I could not turn him away, or aggravate him, that would blow my cover.  He eventually left, sliding me another piece of paper for Wren to look at.
The first merchant stopped back at my table, he asked me,"Do you know what my chances are?"
I said,"That might depend on what you could tell me of the Amnites in Scornubel."
He smiled, and told me a little of the gentleman that just my table.  He said that he was in weapons as well as rarities, but that his tastes in certain things tended towards Sadism.  I nodded, not quite believing him, but then I asked him about the slave trade in Scornubel.
He said "That's illegal." 
 I said, "Okay hypothethically, if anyone traded in that commodity in town, who would it be?"
He gave a name.  "Denthos, without a doubt."
Denthos.  I had the name.  "Is he here?"
"No.  Not yet at least."
Wren's dance came to an end, and I asked him to leave me so that Wren and I could converse in private.
Well she didn't come down.  And soon I noticed bouncers making for the stairway.  As soon as I saw that, I leaped from my chair and ran to stairwell.  I asked the bouncer,"What's happening?"
"There's been a murder."
"I am a bodyguard of the dancer Shara," that was Wren's alias,"I must check to see she is okay."
He nodded slightly.  I ran up the stairs.  I didn't see her with the crowd in the hallway.  Nor did my calls of Shara get an answer. 
It was then I realized that Wren had committed the murder- most likely at least.  If I stayed much longer, I would likely be arrested as an accomplice.  Mystra's Breath!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Eddard Chapter 3 (Con't)

Mother Minx's Part 1

The Game Begins


Wren and I started by going to a dockside establishment that had a seedy reputation, but apparently too seedy.  When we approached the operator about our routine, we were told we could, but the place for us was Mother Minx's.  We wanted to appeal to wealthy Amnites, because we needed to know who of them was in the slave trade.  Minx's was where they went for entertainment, so Minx's was where we went.
The place was big, especially for Scornubel.  In Waterdeep, the place would be considered sizable.  I was somewhat taken aback by the place, but Wren was suddenly all business.  She approached the owner. 
"I want to dance here," she said to him with a smile.
"You any good?"
She gave him a two minute display, and was hired on the spot.
She told me I was to act as a filter.  She knew she would get offers from wealthy Amnites for temporary employment.  I was to select the offers that would require her attention.  As her bodyguard, my role was also to intimidate those who would approach her with other intentions.  I didn't know if I could pull that off, I mean I suppose at six feet I was tall, and fairly well muscled.  I also knew that the two swords I carried made me look dangerous, but I also knew that I was not the biggest man in the world, hells, I wasn't the biggest man in the party.  Still, maybe I was the best choice.  Certainly Ulf couldn't entirely be trusted, Garrus would give himself away- not to mention die before he was seen in a place like this- but me?  I was smart enough to pull this off, and capable enough to operate here.
We went to the main room, she told me to find a table near the front, while she would go and prepare herself for her performance.  She told me before she went upstairs that once her performance began, I wouldn't be waiting long.
She was right.  I tried to do the right thing when she was on the stage, but I have to admit, her moves and timing was exquisite.  And she was beautiful, sexy, and alluring.  I had never seen anything like it.  In the end, I could hardly take my eyes off her.
"Excuse me," said a voice that drew my attention back to the table.
I started at the sound as a very obvious Amnite came to the table.  I quickly recovered.
He continued,"Are you handling her?"
"I am not, exactly.  I'm her body bodyguard.  I handle initial contact with clients, she makes the decision as to what, if any contracts she accepts."
"I see.  I would like to hire her for a week.  I'm sure she will find the pay more that acceptable."
"I'm sure she would," he was finely dressed, and obviously wealthy, but it was early in the evening, and I suspected his would not be the only offer on the table before long.
As she danced we talked some more, he even bought me a drink- a fine, expensive spirit, but I merely sipped it, being careful not to get drunk.  The conversation turned away from the immediate business, as I enquired as to the nature of his business.  If he balked, I would merely explain that as a bodyguard, it was my duty to understand somethings about the client.  I didn't have to explain, he seemed to grasp that.
"I have a good reputation in the town, and I am not known violence or hurting those I hire.  My business is largely in weapons, and as the Goblin war draws to an end, I suspect I'll only be here for a few more weeks, I am hopeful that she may ascent to my contract so those last weeks pass pleasantly."
Indeed, we did have a great conversation, and as her dance came to an end, he rose from the table, passing his offer on a folded piece of paper across the table to me.  But by the end of the conversation, I also knew he was not the one I wished to meet.
When she came down for her break, I briefed her on him.  She agreed with me, but met with him anyway.  That would enhance her reputation as someone for hire.  I thought about the conversation I had with him, and resolved to enquire a bit more about the Amnites in general, maybe find out who was known by them to be in the slave trade.  If I could get them talking about it, I may well learn a name or two that would bear checking.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Eddard: Chapter 3 (Con't)

The Weapons Shop


Being from Waterdeep, I was used to large settlements, all the hustle and bustle.  People moving this way and that all on mysterious errands, conducting their business in the secrecy that only large crowds can give.  Being from rural areas, others were more taken aback.
I was astonished to note, Scornubel being what it is, how simple it was to enter and leave the town.  With merchant camps surrounding the place on three sides, and the river on the last, there was so much coming and going that we weren't spare a second glance upon entering the town proper.  Even though we were heavily armed, and on horseback, we entered the town without incident.
Thoram's business friend had his shop near the riverfront. We went straight there.  The shop, naturally, was run by a dwarf, and after greetings, we questioned him about any Dwarven weapons making an appearance in town. He hadn't seen a thing.
I gave the shopkeeper the armour we took off the bodyguard of the slave merchant, asking if it could be modified to fit Ulf.  This was relatively simple, but as there other orders, the refit and repair was expected to take up to two weeks.  This was acceptable, and he was paid in advance for the work, largely by trading the jewelled dagger I was using.
I was looking for a better set of short swords, given that one had already broken in combat.  All of the swords on display, while of decent quality, didn't seem to be an improvement on the one I already owned.  And then he showed me a blade, somewhat shorter than I was accustomed, with metal that seemed to shimmer in the light.  He told me it was a vermin slayer's weapon, but that the metal cold be forged for a more standard sized weapon.  I lifted it off the counter.  The balance was exquisite, and metal felt marginally lighter.  And its ethereal beauty.  I wanted them.  I thought that those weapons would definitely be for me.  He told me 120 gold.  I didn't have it, but I did give him a 40 gold deposit.  He even asked me if I wanted them inscribed.  I gave him the holy symbol of Mystra, to put both on the pommel and on the blade.
In the meantime, I purchased a serviceable short sword to replace the dagger.  I felt better fully armed.
Everyone had a good poke around his shop.  Azzarrak wanted to use his services as an armourer to reduce the cost of whatever he bought.  The shopkeep, unsurprisingly, wasn't interested.
We left the shop and went to nearby inexpensive inn, so we could plan this leg of the investigation.  Clearly, the party was going to have to split up.  Thoram and Azzarak would try to find work using their "talents," I suspected that would  mean working the docks as labourers, certainly in Azzarak's case.  Wren and I would work as a team.  She was playing the of a high cost dancer, and I was to be her bodyguard.
But what we would learn would set everything everything spinning out of control.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

How the Klutz Killed Christmas

Or.. Slaughtering the Spirit of the Season
Or.. What Not to do at Christmas

There's a lesson here I'm sure.  Too bad I'm an idiot.

You see. it started yesterday, with an accident.  I wasn't the one who caused it, but I made the situation worse.

We were using a somewhat iffy table to have our Christmas tree in the window shining out over the driveway.  Near the table was a fridge and freezer.  In searching for the Christmas ham in the freezer, my wife bumped the table and the leg gave way.  This smashed a couple of porcelain cookie jars, but it didn't collapse the table.

I decided to help.  I noticed the power cords for the tree slung over the curtain rod.  I thought this was a bad thing, so I went to grab the tree.  I lifted it off the half collapsed table, not realising there were gifts under it.  These were more porcelain cookie jars to complete the collection and were for my wife.  Naturally, the tree was only thing holding them up, removing the tree meant they too smashed to the floor.

Well, it went to shit from there.

To make matters worse, on an extremely limited budget, I bought her a gift that I thought she would both appreciate and use, completely forgetting that we had already obtained one several months back.  I had forgot because I rarely ever see it.

She did extremely well.  Gave me a gift that I will always treasure, and one I am proud to call mine.  If I ever get another desk job, its going to occupy a prominent place on my desk.

I singlehandedly destroyed the Christmas spirit at my house, as completely as if I'd shot it repeatedly with a tommy gun.

Sometimes I wonder why my wife still stays with me, and I'll wager she's wondering why too if the silence tonight is any indication.

She's been with me ten years.  Christmas and I have never really gotten along, and I have never learnt from my Christmas mistakes.  I suck at it.  I always have; its my worst holiday.  I'm much better at national holidays, where independence or nationhood is celebrated.  Or Halloween.  Or Thanksgiving- though I moved to a country that doesn't celebrate it.  If I have a bit of cash, I'm even good at Valentines day.

But Christmas?

Bah, Humbug.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Eddard: Chapter 3 (con't)

Rude Awakening


Whatever was going on, it was serious.  After explaining to us that she was forced to kill the garrison commander, she showed us the documents.
They showed clearly that Garrus' father, the Baron Redhand, was involved in the slavery ring.
Garrus was the first to voice his disbelief.  I was quick to follow.  These papers ran opposite to everything I knew about how Redhand ran his territory.  His followers and even is people loved the man too much  They were too loyal to him.  This had to be a fabrication.  The question was, why?
We decided there and then to make or next stop Castle Redhand.  We marched as quick as we could to his castle.  It was more of a fortified manor house.  His was a minor holding.  A full castle was too much to expect.
When we arrived, we discovered that we were just ahead of the Count's Sheriff.  He had come to seek evidence of the Baron's involvement.  We attended the meeting in the Baron's hall.  It was clear that they already suspected him, and were going to pin the slavery on him, true or not.
We met with his father immediately following that meeting.  We showed him the evidence we collected at the depot, and told him of everything else we had accomplished.  We even showed him the map with the dates on it that we had acquired at the bandit camp.
Someone was determined to divide the baronies and destabilise the area.  Again, we didn't know why.  I suspected that the people who organised the goblin war, that mysterious cabal of evil mages was behind it.  Wren believed the Amnites organised it all to conceal the slavery operation. Whatever the reason, Garrus believed that his father would not surrender his holding to anyone.  It meant war.
I wanted to prevent that, at all costs.  Whatever was going on, I became more determined that ever to put a stop to it.
His manner grew serious during the meeting.  He asked us to keep everything we had on us.  Garrus told him about our intention to go to Scornubel, to free more of the people taken from the area and he agreed.  We even managed to get horses from him.  Half trained and bit wild, but good quality.  Someone o the Baron's staff knows his horseflesh.
We left the manor without further adieu, knowing that the Sheriff would soon be marking everyone coming and going from the house.  We needed to be gone.  Our time was limited, we believed that the slaves would eventually be shipped downriver to Baldur's gate and then onwards to Amn.  We still had to discover how and when they'd be moved. 
Scornubel wasn't Waterdeep.  Even so, the traffic going through the town made it one of the richest in Faerun, and finding them in that movement would be akin to getting the needle out of the haystack.  A tall order.
We weren't going into the city completely blind.  Thoram knew a Dwarf who ran a weapons shop down near the waterfront, and since we also wanted to locate his weapons and armour, we thought we may as well start there.
It was a three day ride to Scornubel, and despite all the warnings, it was an uneventful trip.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Surviving the Apocalypse

My Choose Your Own Apocalypse  Blogfest entry

So what have I done to ensure my survival to fast coming apocalypse? 

I uprooted myself from my homeland to move to the most geologically stable continent on the Planet.  I have, therefore put myself out of harms reach of earthquakes.  I reside in the lightly populated area of North Queensland in Australia, a full two hours drive from the largest city in the area, Cairns.

I have put myself behind the great barrier reef and live 900m above sea level (about 3000ft), 60 km inland, limitng the impact of both flood and tsunami.

I live in a tropical area thereby bypassing the need for heating my home, and keeping myself out of harms way for any sudden beginning to a new ice age.

Also, by living in the southern hemisphere, the trade winds will keep the bulk of the nuclear radiation away from my house, should the northern hemisphere self destruct in a series of nuclear fireballs.

By moving to an underpopulated area of the globe, I also don't expect the Aliens to bother targeting this area, they'll be after the military and nuclear powers.  Australia doesn't rank.

Geographically, I have done well.

However, the Apocalypse won't be any of those.  The way my luck runs I'll be attacked by an army of starving man eating zombies. 

If that's the case, and I'm facing down such a horde, I suspect, to quote one of the post WWIII films to come out of the eighties, the survivors will envy the dead.  In order to ensure that I do not suffer long from such unfortunate envy, I have kept myself nice and fat, to be an attractive feast for such an army.

I also hope to meet a vampire first, so that instead, I'll be commanding the horde instead of being eaten by it.  To that end, I'm using my blog to advertise for such a meeting.

If you are a vampire and are in need of a reasonably smart, problem solving lackey, be sure to contact me through this blog, so that a meeting can be arranged at your earliest convenience.

The truth is, this end of days will be probably be marked by the birth of the antichrist, or peraps its creation- either through genetic maipulation, natural evolution or even the construction of the first true computer AI.  Which means we still have time to do something about it.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Eddard Chapter Three: Raid at the Depot

We struck, as usual, at night.  Logan and I approached the depot weaving and staggering a bit, speaking with slurred words.

"Thish ya place?" Logan asked me with some pseudo-drunken trepidation.

"I don't undershtand," I said, "My housh was here this morning.."

A Hobgoblin poked his headabove the gate.

"That your wife?"

"Nahh.. my wife's uglier.  Hey!" I said staggering around a little,"who are you and what have you done with my wife?"

"You!" A human called down from the walls,"Get out of here."

"Waffor? This is my house."

"Yeah," Logan said," Who are you and what have you done with his house?"

"I want into my house! I want to speak with my wife."  I said that with all the inane billigerence of a drunken man.

"Go away," the human guard said, "you don't live here."

"Oh but I do,"  I said stumbling closer to the wall, "its my house."  And then I urinated against the wall.

"Get out of here!  Now!" and then the gate opened.

I drew my swords and jumped to the attack.  My concern was the gate.  I wanted to secure it before they could close it.  As the gate opening was the prearranged signal, the archers let fly with fire arrows.

Logan cut his man down, and I took care of the hobgoblin on the battlements.  But we had made a critical error.  We estimated about 20 enemy were here, but there was more like thirty.  Still, we carried the attack.

Garrus and Ulf charged in horseback even as the hobgoblins in the yard formed a first line.  Thoram and Azzarrak came running as fast as the could to join the fight.  Once I secured the gate, I poured oil across the front.  I didn't light it yet.

Garrus rode in and smashed the first line, I charged after him, with Ulf and Logan.  But arrows began to fall on us, as a second line was forming.  I then saw horsemen riding from the stables on the other side of the compound.

We cut down the first seven or eight quickly, but a second line of 15 was forming, egged on by human sergeants.  I took a bad arrow in the side, and fought on, hurting, and I must say not very successfully. 

About 2 minutes or so since the battle started, and 3 of us were wounded.  The battle was not going our way.  with more hobgoblins joining the archers second rank, we sounded the retreat.  And all of us pulled out of the compound.  Miracle of miracles, we didn't lose anyone during the combat.  I was the last to clear the gate, and lit the area on fire.

The party scattered, all heading back to the rendezvous point by their own ways.  It was better that way as we figured if they caught one or two of us, the others would at least get away.

And we all did eventually meet there.  No one from our side was killed.  Wren was the last to meet, but the papers she found on the leader of the fort implicated Sir Garrus' father.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Eddard Chapter 3: Adventures in Scornubel

The Depot

The morning confirmed my belief.  We were leaving to investigate the depot we spied upon earlier.  Garrus thought that we may be able to obtain evidence about the destination of the unaccounted for slaves.  I wanted to put that place out of action.  I thought that with the addition of our mercenary friends, we had a good chance of doing just that.

Tia wasn't working that morning, but I tracked her down at her room behind the Inn.

"I have to leave again," I said," we're going after the others who were taken."

"Please take care of yourself," she replied.

"I will.  I am coming back, I promise you."

"How long will you be gone?"

"I may be back in a few days, but I suspect it won't be for very long.  I'll have to leave again."

She nodded slowly, and we kissed again, but it was lacking the raw passion of the previous night.  I think neither of us were really looking forward to being apart again.

I bought some pies for the road and we marched out.  Garrus and Logan in the lead, on horseback.

When we returned to the depot in hills, we had to devise a plan.

After much debate, and Garrus and Logan doing most of the planning, we devised a way to draw their forces to fight us.  The archers would should over the low wall with fire arrows, setting the grass and hay on fire, forcing the livestock kept there to panic.  Logan and I would approach the front gate, pretending to be drunks on our way home.  I was to mistake the depot for my house.  As part of the lure, I'd flash that jewelled dagger around a bit, hoping to get them interested in a foray.  All of this was so that Wren could slip over the wall on the opposite side of the depot, to take the boss alive, or failing that, obtaining any documents that may shed light on the who and why.

If it all went south, I devised a retreat that involved laying oil at the gate and setting it alight after the last of our people got out.  This would frustrate any pursuit, hopefully long enough to make our getaway into the night.  We set a rendezvous point a few miles away.

Despite the opposition numbers, we believed that we would win.

Eddard Chapter 2: Conclusion


We returned to the temple, taking those we freed from the Amnite slaver.  When the high priest learnt of what we accomplished, a celebration was the order of the night.  I wanted to mark the occasion with someone special, so I returned to the Troll and Maiden.
I approached the innkeeper, as when I entered the taproom, Tia was hard at work serving.
"Is there anyway I could arrange the night off for Tia?" I asked him.
The Innkeep was pleasant in his response.  "As you can see, the bar is rather busy tonight, I don't think I can afford to be without her."
"There is a special celebration at the local temple, as many thought taken as slaves have been returned."
"That's good news, but we are so busy." He said, perhaps a little annoyed that I was still talking to him.
This was going to be difficult, but I thought I had an ace in the hole.  "As you know, my friends and I have been staying here quite often in recent days, and as we need base of operations in the area.  We were thinking the Troll and Maiden would be ideal.  Letting Tia have the night off, might help convince us."
The Innkeep looked unsure.
"Remember, Thoram travels with us."
He considered for a moment, but not for very long.  "I think we manage without her tonight. "
Tia was surprised when she was called over, and given the night off.  We strolled arm and arm back to the temple.
In my absence, they had gotten the feast ready.  They sacrificed a cow, and prepared vegetable dishes of amazing complexity and variety.  Bread, beer, and wine were served with the feast, and nearly every local resident attended.
We were treated like heroes.  Thoram ate everything they put in front of him, and the more he ate, the more was placed in front of him.  Ulf bailed early, preferring to chase the wenches at the inn, but the rest of us stayed.
But before the night  broke up, I walked Tia back to the Inn.
In the light of the lamp at the taproom entrance we stopped, Contented and happy,  I looked into her eyes and she in mine.
"Freeing slaves," she said, voice dancing across my consciousness like a song of intense beauty," I hadn't realised your work was so dangerous."
I nodded, "Its what I do, but, Tia," I said with emotion than ran from my heart," You've come to mean so much to me in such a short space of time, I don't know why, but, no matter the danger or the situation, I still find a moment to think about you.  I will do the things I must do, but I need to know you are here."
Her answer was a kiss, long and hard in the lamplight.
We said our goodnights, kissed again.  Tomorrow, I knew, I would be off again.  But I would tell her in the morning.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Music Overkill

It's that time of year again, by now your ears will be overwhelmed by the continual assault of this "music" all month long.

And must we start slipping Christmas music into the shops and malls as early as November?  Is the 31 days of December not enough? I mean hell, that's 744 hours with which they can numb the mind, make us forget the meaning of Christmas, and turn us into shopping automatons.

Look, I'm not trying to be a complete scrooge, but honestly people, there's 31 days and there are not that many Christmas Carols.   How many times must one endure the tired strains of Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, or Silent Night?  This last in particular sung by anyone who reckons they can sing, including TV stars.

Thus far this year, I have been fortunate to avoid much of this mind numbing, desensitising assault by virtue of my job.  Working outdoors hath its benefits, though not many, for my face looks like someone mistook it for lobster, but perhaps its a small price to pay.

I can point out, happily that all is not lost.  There are a handful of people that have produced excellent Christmas albums, and or songs.

Chris de Burgh wrote a song postulating that perhaps the star of Bethlehem was actually a UFO and it was an alien that marked his birth.  I reckon that's believable.

Mr. Hanky's Christmas Album is worth a listen.  There are a couple songs that do make me laugh.  Laughing is good at Christmas.  Take "Christmas Time in Hell", or the message from "Dead, Dead, Dead" or the slightly goofy "Carol of the Bells"... There are other songs on that album that make me laugh, but somehow they are not quite as Christmassy....

Twisted Sister made a Christmas album I genuinely like.  Heavy metal music and Christmas go together surprisingly well.

And, last but not least, I must mention Sarah McLachan's Wintersong.  A beautiful collection of songs, some favourites, some written specifically for the album.  Including a song about death.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Eddard: Chapter 2 (Con't)

Decisions, Decisions


The knife he held to her throat was jewelled, and his sickly sweet perfume filled my nostrils.  The girl trembled in his grip.
"I leave with the girl," he repeated.
I had to think quickly.  I was never faced with this decision before.  As a paladin, I knew that I could not go back on my word.  I hoped he knew it, too.
"You leave.  The girl stays.  We let you live." I said in my most authoritative tone.
"You won't keep your word."
"I have to.  I'm a paladin." I replied. He smiled slightly when I said 'paladin'. Though his very presence made my flesh crawl and my stomach nauseous, I could not have him kill the girl, or take her into slavery.  I had to deal.
"I don't believe you.  The girl stays with me."
This was bad.  Stalemate.  "Just leave the girl and go," I said.
"You won't sacrifice her to get me, you can't.  You're a paladin." He sneered at me.  "I am impressed though.  You got through my guards.  I honestly didn't think you could. Still, touch me, and you deal with him.  I don't think you'll survive."
Through all of this, the big guy in the corner was still, waiting for orders.
I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't make a move.  His option was just as unacceptable as him killing her before we could kill him..  There had to be another option.  But I didn't see it.  I was bound by my word, and I would not give it.
Surprisingly, the other party members said nothing through all of this.  Until Logan said,"Clear a path.  You can go.  But the big guy stays."
I sheathed my swords even as the fat man sneered in triumph. 
We stepped aside, and he moved to the room's exit, the way we had come.
Logan must have given a signal, but I didn't see it.  Two of our mercenaries released their arrows, and the fat man, with the arrows in his back, fell like a sack of meat.
His bodyguard went nuts.  But I was mad, and my weapons quick.  I leaped at him, ignoring my injury, drawing and striking simultaneously.  My left blade snapped like a twig on his armour.  But my right hand blade found a gap and sank into his side, to the hilt.
He stopped, mid draw. "Urk.." The others cut him to pieces.  Literally.
We found 100 platinum pieces on the merchant's body along with that fancy dagger.  We collected the armour off the Big Guy.  And in a back room, we found 6 more people taken for slavery.
Logan saw the way out, and I didn't give my word.  He saved the girl, and my honour.  My respect for him grew immensely.
We took them back to the temple of Chauntea.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Eddard Chapter 2 (Con't)

The Slaver


We exchanged shots for a bit.  I was trying to give other members of our party cover while they too descended the ladder.  Seeing what I was doing, Ulf grabbed his bow and did the same.
On my third shot, I took a bolt in the shoulder.  Not a hard wound, but I was a little more cautious.  I checked first before jumping out and firing.
Then Wren came off the ladder.  When she saw what was happening she prepared her sleep spell. I also heard a grunt.
Checking behind me, Thoram had picked up the bench.  How he managed this, I do not know.  I knew he was strong, but this display of strength still surprised me.  Wren cast her spell and three of the four hobgoblins fell.  Thoram, using the bench as mobile cover, charged their improvised barricade.  I threw my bow down and charged after him, drawing my blades.
Thoram single handedly knocked their cover over using the bench as a ram, and we were through to the next room.  Five hobgoblins awaited us, though they were surprised at how quickly we broke their barricade.  We ran over their barricade and smashed into their line.  I had both shortswords drawn, attempting to overbear the hobgoblin in my path.
He withstood my charge and a desperate fight ensued.  My wounded shoulder wasn't allowing me to swing my right blade properly, and the fight was my most difficult yet.  I attacked and he parried, he attacked and I parried.  Steel rang on steel all over this little cavern. 
Only Thoram and Ulf made the melee look easy.  A giant swing of his axe cleaved a hobgoblin in two, and Ulf's weapon was shortly covered in blood as he severed the head of the first he encountered.  Those two overwhelmed their opponents easily.  They took two apiece for every one the rest of us killed.
I did, after some time, manage down mine.  I was breathing heavy, tired, and wounded.
Wren simply dispatched the sleeping humanoids.
With the hobgoblins dead, we charged into the next room.  What we saw gave us pause.
My eyes were drawn to very large man in heavy armour.  Heavily armed, he looked ready for us.  And then I saw him.  A rather fat man, dressed in the silks and style of an Amnite merchant, holding a knife to a girl's throat.
"I leave, with the girl,"  he said.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

A Poem

No Respite

And what of Dreams?
The kind when the lights are out,
Feared images brought forth
Twisted memories given life
By the gnarled hand
Of Decayed Innocence.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Eddard Chapter 2 (Con't)

The Hole in the Floor


The farmhouse looked, empty, abandoned.  The grounds weren't kept, and the barn was little more than a ruin.  Windows were boarded up, and he whole place looked as though it hadn't been occupied in some time. 
Yet, Logan was positive.  This was the spot on the map.
The stillness of the scene almost had me believing there was nothing here, but for the map, I would have believed it. 
Wren went for a close inspection of the grounds.  There was no sign of recent activity outside the building.  She saw nothing, except a lock on the main door.  The lock on this place looked out of place.  If the place were abandoned, why a lock on the door?
The whole party approached the place cautiously, wary for any trick or ambush.  But none came.
"Can you pick it?" I asked Wren.
"I'll try," she sounded anything but confident.  "I suck at this."
She fiddled with the lock for a few moments.  And she looked at me and shook her head.
Thoram piped up.  "I'll open it." 
I thought, well he's a Dwarf, and Dwarves know about things like that.  "Go ahead."
He stood some distant away from the door, sizing it up.  Too late I realised what he was going to do.
The door crashed to bare splinters when his body, moving as fast as his legs could carry him, impacted the door.  The sudden noise sounded like a fireball in the near silence.
Weapons drawn, we charged in after him.  The house, naturally, was empty.  The dust of neglect covered everything, except a fairly obvious trail of disturbed dust on he floor.  We followed it to a part of the floor where the tracks disappeared.  A trapdoor.
We figured whoever was down there, knew we were in the building, and therefore even attempting such stealth as we could was a waste of time.  We smashed the trapdoor to bits.
A hole in the floor, deep and dark enough we couldn't see the bottom.  Logan threw a lit torch down there, and we were able to see a ladder leading to a lower level some 20 feet below the floor of the house.  There was no movement in our rather restricted field of vision.
"Who's first?" I asked, but then I probably didn't need to say anything.
Garrus had the best armour. "I am," he said, already reaching for the ladder.
I was third.  Behind Ulf.
Garrus reached the third last rung on the ladder and jumped the rest of the way.  As he hit the ground, quarrels shot past him, one ringing off his armour he dived out of the way.  Ulf did the same thing, and bolts went wide.
When I jumped off the ladder, I immediately dived to the side.  I was quick enough.  Two bolts would have hit me full in the head had I been just a touch slower.
To one side of this circular room was a heavy bench, near the ladder.  A short hall directly opposite the ladder led to some sort of barrier, possibly a heavy table turned on its side.  From behind it, I could hear the now familiar grunting of Hobgoblins, and the sounds of crowsbows reloading.
We were caught in a trap.  We were easy targets for the hobgoblins.  My first thought was to my companions descending the ladder.  I strung my shortbow, jumped into sight and let loose a shot.
It smacked into their cover.  This wasn't going to be easy.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Eddard Chapter 2 (Con't)

The Caravan
We decided to follow the caravan.  We wanted to determine where the stolen goods were going, as that caravan may well contain Thoram's weapons and armour.
We followed it through the hills as it skirted Redhand land.  There were very careful about not entering it, and we were careful not to be seen.  As it approached Arlos land- the neighbouring barony, we decided to attempt to elicit information.  Six o us got decked out as though we were a Redhand patrol, letting the Baron's own son take the lead and approached.
We accused them of trespass, but they, rightfully denied it.  The caravan guard captain was most cagey and would admit nothing.  Outnumbered as we were, we didn't dare push the issue.  It would have meant our deaths.  We let the caravan continue.
But we resumed following.  After the caravan cleared Redhand land, we followed it onto Baron Arlos'. It entered a village and unloaded at a warehouse.  I asked Garrus to blacken his shield, fearing that Arlos might take exception to his presence, especially given what we were about. 
The Caravan was, for the moment, a dead end.
That left one unaccounted for location on the map.  We would go there next, but first we rode back to the Troll and Maiden.
When we arrived there, Logan spoke up," We need more missile ability.  We can't take that compound without it."
I agreed." How do you propose we get it?"
"We'll have to hire some mercenaries.  There should be some looking for work."
I thought that this would stretch our gold, but I wanted to take that compound."I'll check around."
I went to speak to Tia.  When I first caught sight of her, my heart skipped a beat. That she had become to mean that much to me in such a short time worried me some. 
"Tia," I said, perhaps a little too breathlessly," It's good to be back."
"Eddard," She said smiling when she saw me.
"I'm sorry we won't be staying longer, but I'm wondering if you could tell me if you know of any mercenaries that might be looking for a short term contract?"
She frowned. "No, I'm sorry but I'll ask the innkeeper as soon as I get a chance." 
The next morning we were surprised at breakfast when a rather big human came and sat with us. "I hear you're looking for some mercenaries."
Garrus replied,"We are.  I am Sir Garrus Redhand, my companions and I find ourselves in need of some fighters.  What weapons do you favour?"
"My men and I are longbowmen."
We hired them, despite the 35 gold pieces or a share in the treasure, whichever was greater.  Four longbowmen to add to our strength.  We left as soon as we could.
Two days later we sat outside an abandoned farm house, a few miles of the main road, east of the inn.
"This is the place, I'm sure of it," said Logan.
It didn't look like anything much to me.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Well, I've gotta work in Cairns for the enxt three weeks which means I'll be blogging sporadically to say the least. 

I have more "Adventures of Eddard" (the game continues and I'm falling behind, but the next three weeks I may be able to catch up because I don't see how I'll be able to play at all, and I'm taking the tablet to Cairns so I can at least blog) and I'll be continuing my music themes post with at least one more- unusual themes.  I should be able to get in an Eddard post today.  With a bit of luck.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Music and Science Fiction

I am a lover of music.  But I love no specific type.  I basically listen to everything- pop, blues, metal, classical, country, but the song does have t be about something.  I especially appreciate music with unusual themes.  Some of the music I like has science fiction themes, and certainly the reason I'm first attracted to the song is because of this simple fact.  For today's brief discussion, I'll have to get my SF geek to guest post... excuse me...

"OI!" Bang. Bang. Bang.

"Whatcha want now?  I'm watching Babylon 5."

"Again?  You've seen that, what, about a thousand times.."

"Go away."

"But you said you'd do the guest post for music and SF."

"Is that now?"

"Yes, its now."

"Shit!  Okay.. I'll be out..."  Sounds of shuffling, muttering, and a really loud belch, and then the door opens...

Okay, I'd like to introduce my inner scifi geek...

Hey,  just a sec while I get used to the light.  He doesn't let me out often...

Right,  music and SF.  There are some artists and bands that have been rather prolific in this area.  Some of the artists that are well known for it include Peter Schilling and Rush.  There are also others with which you may not be so familiar, like Kate Bush or Mister Mister.  And no I'm not going to lower myself to the standards of Timbaland's The Morning After, a song made popular by the Eclipse franchise, a video at least that popularises vampires- totally making them uncool.  Being a vampire was cool 20 years ago- with shows like Forever Night.  Its been done to death.  The blood has been sucked out of it now.  A stake has been driven through the heart of the genre.  Its body parts have been cut off, scattered, burned in separate locations and the ashes buried. Nuff said...

Peter Schilling.  A German artist and one hit wonder with his Major Tom Coming Home- about an astronaut who suffers an accident in space and decides to return to earth knowing that reentry will kill him.  This song is unofficially related to David Bowie's song "Space Oddity" (I don't mention Bowie's music because while it may be indeed that he is from space, more importantly because his music predates me, and I am not familiar with it enough to comment).  The song is on his Error in the System album, which also features a song called "The Noah Plan"- mankind leaving Earth before it is destroyed on massive starships.

Kate Bush.  She wrote a SF song?  Well....  Cloudbusting.  It's based on the memoir of one Peter Reich, whose father built a Cloudbuster, a machine that could make it rain.  The father's name was Wilhelm, and he was arrested and imprisoned as he was "a threat to the men in power."  I don't know the truth to the story, but, if the memoir is not true, then the song qualifies.  Plus its rare that a pop song's dominant beat is actually a march.  I love the song.  I love the beat, and Kate Bush's voice is haunting.

Mister Mister.  A pop band, true, but they did a really cool song, Silent Running, about an invasion and the "High Command" retreating, and people being forced to live under occupation.   It is well written, with dangerous advice "Teach the children quietly, for someday sons and daughters will rise up and fight while we stood still."  The song is SFish, and a warning.  Remember this was written before the end of the cold war.

Rush. As a band they have gone to great lengths to include SF lyrical themes in their music. A triumph of music is their 2112 album. The whole album tells the story of a dictatorship in the future that has banned music, but a lone man discovers a guitar, and this discovery, naturally, has a great effect. It is a classic, and is even honoured in Guitar Hero has being tracks you can unlock. The music is complex, and it is a masterwork.

On the album Moving Pictures, they did a track called Red Barchetta- a song about a guy who, after the implementation of "Motor Law" sneaks off to his uncle's farm to reveal a car, a red Barchetta, that he takes, quite illegally, for a drive every week. It even describes a chase through the countryside by futuristic hover cars, ad is based on a short story written by Richard Foster written in 1973 called "A Nice Morning Drive."

On their album Grace Under Pressure, there are two songs of note. "The Body Electric" describes the urgency of an android gaining self awareness, and ends with it praying to "the mother of all machines." And my personal favourite, Red Sector A- a song with imagery so potent I actually had nightmares. Based upon actual experiences in Nazi Death camps- particularly Bergen-Belsen. and the verse,

I hear sound the gunfire at the prison gate,
Are the liberators here, do I hope or do I fear..

Is frightening in depth and psychology of the camps. Instead of referring to the Nazi camps, the song is set in some kind of post-apocalyptic future. The song is disturbing.

While I'm sure there are far more, these are the ones that caught my attention and stuck in my head.  I'm going back to Babylon 5 now.  Cheers.

Well, I'm glad he's gone.  He has a problem with lecturing.  Aww hell.  I could watch some B5.  When I next talk music, I mght deal with unusual themes...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Eddard: Chapter 2

New Information


We looked around the room, surprised at our own success.  Then we pushed through to the back area.
Three things immediately caught our attention.  The first thing was that the room was rather small.  A crude throne in the form of a massive chair.  It was battered, and there were a few cushions scattered about, and light came from a couple of torches in sconces along the wall.  There was a table to one side, and on it was a small pile of gold and silver and an expensive silver goblet encrusted with a few semi precious gems.  But that was the second problem, there wasn't enough loot in this room to represent the vagaries of the bandits.  Thoram's Dwarven armour, the stolen cattle and even the missing peasants were no where in evidence.
The last thing was the most telling, with a large map pf the area on the wall, and local villages mapped, and under each a date.  Some of these villages had already been hit, as indicated by the date.  Some villages were marked with dates that were yet to come.  In addition, there were three marks on the map that were unidentified.  We determined that one of those marks was the bandit camp where we were now.
As we gathered the coins, the party speculated at the map's meaning.  I thought it fairly obvious.  This was just a small part of a large operation.  We decided to immediately go to the nearest unidentified point on the map.  That meant north.  We exited the cave to discover the bandit camp abandoned.  The goblins had fled.
"What if they," I said indicating the now vacant camp,"went north?"
"They would have scattered," replied Logan.
"Yes but some of them may have headed in the direction of their nearest allies."
Garrus caught my meaning.  "Who can ride and use a bow?"
I nodded.
"Logan, he's gonna borrow your horse.  We'll ride ahead.  The rest of you can catch up.  We'll sweep the area in front of us, and kill any we see.  It's better we go to this place unheralded."
We ran to the horses and mounted hurriedly, and rode off at a fast trot.
We caught up to a band of four a while later.  Running north.  I tried a couple of shots from the saddle, but this was a heavy war horse, and I wasn't used to the gait.  My shots went wide.  The goblins turned and ran into a small copse of woods.  We charged through trees after them, but they made better time  and came out the other side to climb down into a gully.  Garrus took his horse down after them, I reined in. and as the goblins were climbing the far side, I took aim.  Three shots, three kills.  The other got out bow shot, but Garrus urged his mount up the other side and ran it down.
We headed north for while longer looking for others.  We didn't find any.  We holed up and waited for the rest of the party.
Where was the livestock and stolen goods?  Where were the missing people? 
What was really going on?
When the party caught up to us, we started north.  It took most of the night and part of the next day to get there.  We only stopped for a brief just before dawn.  We slept quickly and were on out way well before midday. 
We arrived before dark, and as we looked down it from where we hid on a hillside, we figured out a couple of answers.  This looked to be a supply centre of some kind.  The compound was large, but the wall surrounding it was more of a fence.  Only the gate  had a rampart where guards stood.  There were a mix of humans and hobgoblins down there, and it appeared that they were loading mules.
A caravan was leaving, soon.  We had a decision to make.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Eddard: Chapter 2



As the night's darkness deepened, Wren disappeared.  One minute she was there,the next, gone like a shadow.  On a chore that will set off my first foray into real combat.  It wasn't until she disappeared that my nervousness, so long held in check, started to make my hand tremble.  Sooner than I thought possible, the signal, a bird call,  was heard, it was time.
We rushed the cavern's entrance, weapons out.  We were as quiet as possible, which wasn't very, because of the armour jingled and the weapons slapped against our bodies making an ungodly clamour.  I have no doubt the goblins heard us approach.
We stormed the the cavern.  I was front and centre, my Divine protection making it harder for evil to hit me, and those closest.  We burst into the first chamber, two hobgoblins were standing in full weapons and armour.  Four more were sitting at a table. 
My weapons were in my hands as I cut and thrust simultaneously, my cut missed completely, but my thrust drove halfway into its belly, wounding it badly.  Its backhanded swing put a rent in my chain mail.  Steel rang on steel as he blocked my next swing.  I easily dodged his response.  Again I swung the weapons one high for its face, he parried, but the sword aimed at its belly sank to the hilt.  It collapsed, dead before it hit the floor.
Thoram struck the other, severing its head from it shoulders in a single sweep of the battle axe.  I moved to the table where Garrus, Ulf and Azzarak were engaging the other four.  I took one attacking Garrus (he was holding back two) by complete surprise, as my swords drove for his flank.  He spun and my offhand attack as my fore hand short sword slashed across his chest, drawing blood, wounding him slightly.  He swung at me, his blade cutting through my armour, cutting a scratch across my neck as I desperately snapped my head back in an effort to spoil his reach.  It worked, because his cut didn't kill me.
My blades rang on his, and his mine as we traded swings and then, as he parried my right hand swing, my left found its mark, sinking into its side with a thrust, I'll never forget the look of surprise on its face as it coughed blood and died.
I looked around the room.  Garrus and Ulf had dropped their opponents, and Thoram was moving towards the back of the room where the tunnel led deeper into the hillside.  Like me, Azzarak had killed his.
Even as I looked towards it, three hobgoblins charged through it.  They were noticeably larger, and better equipped then the others, and one towered above the others.  Azzarak and Ulf charged it.  I took the one on the left.  Garrus, having dropped his, moved to the other bodyguard.
I engaged mine with a fervour.  Steel rang on steel was our weapons crashed together, and crashed again.  Neither could gain an upper hand.  I was wary, which probably made this battle harder.  I knew a good hit would kill me. 
Thoram moved on the big one even as Azzarak took a hit.  That wicked battle axe of his preventing the chief from pressing the advantage.  My primary weapon rang off my beast's armour even as I dodged another swing, and then Logan said,"Goblins."
I could hear the noise coming from the exit passage.  It sounded like the entire camp was coming to get us.  I redoubled my efforts as they came closer.  Logan and Azzarak moved to block the entrance with Wren. 
I got my second short sword through its guard, drawing more blood and ducked under a reprisal swing.  Thoram took a mighty swing at the chief, seriously wounding it.
Goblins tried to push their way into the room, nearly overwhelming the defenders, but somehow they kept the goblins out. 
Ulf Hit the cheif square dealing a hard blow to it belly, as it doubled over, Thoram's axe claimed another head.  Garrus dropped his bodyguard and all three turned to the door.  I was left to deal with the last one myself, alone.  It took a great swing, obviously intent on finishing me, but it was overextended, and my right blade slammed into its jaw and into its skull.  I had some trouble pulling the blade away.  By the time I turned around, the fight was over.
The goblins broke and ran when they saw the last one fall. running out of the cave like the devil was at their heels.  Maybe he was, Ulf chased them to the entrance, throwing a spear and killing one before they slipped into the night.
I was breathing heavy, and the priests prayed for healing.  I felt my wound partially close as Logan called upon the power of Red Knight.
After we got out breath back, we headed into the back room.  What we found there disturbed all of us.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Eddard's Diary Entry 8

Leaving the Troll and Maiden


Sure enough, the next morning, we were set to go. 
As we readied ourselves at the gate, Tia came rushing out. "Eddard, I have something for you and your friends."  She handed me a small wrapped parcel, it was warm and smelled delicious.  "Pies, not long form the oven.  Thank you."
"No.  Thank you," I replied, "I know my friends and I will enjoy them very much."  There was something more to the look she gave me, and I think it was mirrored in my own eyes.  She already meant something to me. I'm not sure why or what, but my pulse quickened in her presence.
I handed them out, one apiece.  They were greeted with smiles of approval from the party members.
Naturally, both Sir Garrus and Logan were mounted.  Fine armour.  Fine weapons.  Fine Horses.  Must be nice to have money.  I knew as a paladin I wasn't permitted to accumulate wealth, and most of the wealth I would gather would end up property of the Temple.  I also knew, though, that fine equipment, a fine horse and certain other fineries were expected of paladin.  And in my work, I may have need of some variety.  I knew this, yet, I was envious.  The two days I had of relative relaxation were gone, and it took a couple of miles to get the road rhythm back in my stride.
So my first duty was to my equipment.  A horse, armour and weapons.
We spent the day marching along the main road.  I took the rear of our little group.  Naturally the knight and his adviser, on horseback, took the lead.  Wren made a complaint bout having to walk around periodic piles of manure, and the smell.
It didn't worry me because I knew that I would have a horse one day.
We stopped, halfway to Halfbrook.  There were still a few hours of daylight left.  We set out watch order.  With roving bands of goblins and hobgoblins, we had to protect our camp in the best way possible.  I sat with Thoram, enjoying the remainign daylight.  We were soon joined by Ulf. 
"So," I said to pass the time away," I wonder what the stories are behind some of our companions."  I said this not engage in malicious gossip, because I knew very little about them.  Speculation is all it was.
"What do you mean?" asked Thoram.
"Well, take Wren for instance, she is clearly Amnite." I said. "I bet she was a slave, and escaped when she was very young.  I bet that's when she learned her trade.  On the streets."
"Hmm," Ulf thought aloud,"Maybe she was a slave herself and had to do things..."
"Huh?" that was Thoram.
"Well, maybe that's where she learnt to hate men.  After all, she rejected me..."
"Mystra's Breath," I said," Will you let that go?  I'm pretty sure she doesn't hate men.  Just most men."
We grew silent as she approached.  My little pastime was a disaster.  I filled the remainder of the day some camp-associated tasks.  I was on second watch.
The night passed uneventfully.  We set out early and achieved our destination a little after noon.  We were told by the mayor that the bandits were a few hours march from the small village.  We headed out immediately. 
We could smell the goblin encampment before we saw it.  Wisely, we asked Wren to do a little scouting.  The camp itself was set in a shallow valley.  The goblin camp was obvious, but she found the hobgoblin's entrance.  A cave set 50 metres away from the goblins as though the hobgoblins cared not for the habits of their goblin allies.  She told us there was a sentry at the mouth of the cave. 
Our plan was basic.  We'd ignore the goblin camp and concentrate our initial attack o the hobgoblins.  There were two main reasons for this.  The Hobgoblins we considered to be the better fighters, and we wanted to use any surprise we had on them.  The second was that by the time the goblins attacked, we'd be in the cave and able to limit their ability to swarm us.  We would attack under cover of darkness.  It would be led with Wren taking out the sentry.  The rest of us would rush the cave.
We estimated the goblin numbers to be down, indicating that raid may be taking place somewhere.  This was the best time to hit them.  We waited for nightfall.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Meeting the Final Party Member

He came back after lunch.
"There are a couple of candidates in the area," he said sitting down,"but the one I've heard the most about is Wren."
"By Tempus' hairy balls," Ulf said, spitting out some ale,"Not her!  She's an uptight bitch."
I turned to look at Ulf.  I hadn't known him long, but I think I knew why he said that.  "Turned you down, eh?"
"Not just turned down," he said."She actually led me on for a bit.  Got real close to me like she was going to take me up on my offer, right about then I realised that there was a dagger aimed at my scrotum.  I mean, she coulda just slapped me."
I nearly spit out my wine.
"Anyways," continued Logan," We will have to go and meet her.  A bit of a loner, she has a camp about a half hour's walk from here."
"How good is she?" I asked him.
"She's an excellent scout.  She had great success in the recent campaign.  She also is known to use magic.  There is something else.  She doesn't like knightly types."
That left Garrus out of meeting her.  He is too well known and a proper knight.
"I'll go." I said.
"But you're a paladin."
"I know.  But we can't send Ulf.  There's negative history there.  The half orc could give her the wrong impression.  I'm actually not sure how she'd take to Thoram.  With them out of the picture, that leaves us.  Less than ideal, but, I am not quite as knightly as Sir Garrus.  I'll also let you do most of the talking."
And so we left the inn.  We eventually came to a clearing about a half hour away.  It had but one occupant, a very attractive half-elf with dark skin.  It gave her an exotic appearance, and one I can honestly say would have drawn me to her, but somehow, I wasn't interested.
"Who are you," She said, angry that her solitude was interrupted.
"Hello," Logan said," We are very sorry to have interrupted your day, but we would like to discuss a matter of some urgency with you."
She still looked annoyed, and to tell truth I don't think she liked the look of either of us.  "Make it quick."
"I am Logan, a priest of the Red Knight, and this is Eddard."
"Well met," I said quickly.
Logan continued,"We are embarking on a mission to wipe out a known goblin/hobgoblin bandit group that is looting, killing and taking people from the area around the village of Halfbrook.  The Mayor of Halfbrook has been seeking someone to come and help him, and we have decided to aid him."
"What's that to do with me?"
"We need a scout," I said," and you are the best one in the area."
"Thats true," she said, but her tone hadn't softened at my attempt at flattery.  Still she hadn't told us to leave.  Yet.
"May I lay it all out for you?" I asked.
When she nodded, I said, "Defenceless people are being killed, and the bandits are doing it.  It isn't right.  We want to end it.  We offer you what we've offered everyone else.  Equal share in the treasure."
She thought about it for a while." Okay, but there's something you need to know.  I do my job, I do it well.  I don't take orders and no body tells me how to do my job."
Logan seemed a little put out.  I just smiled, inwardly wondering if I've opened a can of worms.  "Agreed," I said," We can certainly live with that.  We are leaving in the morning from the Troll and Maiden."  I expect we simply caught her between jobs, or maybe she'd pissed everyone off with whom she's previously worked.  Doesn't matter.
"Agreed." she said.
We had a scout.  I was happy with that.  I think.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Songs About Death

**Warning! Contents may depress!***

As I have mentioned previously, I seldom talk about this, but a number of circumstances have crossed my path in last week or so that has got me thinking about it.  So, in order to put some of it away, I'm going to talk about it.  A little.
My first wife, may she rest peacefully, passed away some time ago.  I rarely talk about this because revisiting the emotions, even now, is difficult for me.  Reliving the events is something I rarely ever do.
But I do remember becoming somewhat obsessed by the reality of inevitable death.  This obsession, and her funeral, led me to listen to what other people were saying about death.  Through the poetry of music, the loss that death brings is heartbreaking, and seeking to understand my emotional distress, I thought I'd listen to what the others were feeling through their poetry.
I amassed quite a collection of music by assorted artists and bands.
There are the obvious songs:
Hurt, by Johnny Cash.  And When I Die, Blood Sweat and Tears.  Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks.  In the Air Tonight, Phil Collins.  Painted Black, Rolling Stones.  Green Green Grass of Home (I can't remeber the artist).
Pink's Who Knew is beautiful song about the loss of a lover.
Wallflowers One Headlight is a lovely song in Cohenesque style.  Beautifully put together.  I think the song is about suicide.
Rush's Afterimage which opens with the powerful line "Suddenly you were gone, from all the lives you left your mark upon.."  In many ways the song, memories of the time they had together mirrored my own.
Frank Mill's If You Love Me Love Me Love about an old man who sang about his loss until the day he died (I, in romantic fashion, though of myself as the old man, in the future, but was saved from that by my meeting The Wife).
Emerson Drive's Moments If this song means nothing to you, I have to wonder if you have lived.  Its not a song about death, per se, but about the contemplation thereof.
Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss Whiskey Lullaby:  I can't even describe the depth of this song.  Its heart wrenching. Like Moments I cried when I first heard it.
Live's Lightning Crashes.  I first heard this song on the cult TV show Strange Luck.  Powerful, emotional, and a statement on the circle of life, and death.
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's Where the Wild Roses Grow.  From Nick Cave's The murder Ballads Album.  A must hear, and by far the best song on it.  About murder.
Alannah Myles The Last Time I Saw William.  About the senseless tragedy of man's life who could have been so much more.  "I saw love, loss, and loneliness in the corner of his eye, I never did see William cry."
Loreena McKennit's version Carrighfergus. A lament from a dying man who would rather be with his love, who I think is dead.  It explains the Marble Stones as black as ink line.
Sarah Mclachlan has written many, but she has two I consider more beautiful than the others.
Drawn to the Rhythm.  A song about suicide, the first two verses explain the emotions, but the last explains the result.  At the risk of getting in trouble with Nettwerk, the last verse is:
In the still and the silent dawn, another day is born.
Washed up by the tireless waves, body bent and torn,
In the face of the blinding sun, awake only to find,
That heaven is a stranger place than the one I left behind...
But the most beautiful and emotionally charged song for me on the subject is Ben's Song.  From her first album Touch.  There is no substitute for her subdued piano and purity of voice in the song.  It is a powerful lament, or a dirge, and one, that for me, is the ultimate on the subject.  It is still hard for me to listen to, but again, at the risk of offending Nettwerk and the artist who penned it,  I'm going to give the entire lyrics.

On the hills of fire the darkest hour
I was dreaming of my true love's pyre
Who will bring a light to stoke the fire
Fear not for you're still breathing

On a winter's day
I saw the life blood drained away
A cold wind blows on a windless day

Hear the cry for new life the morning's flame
You were the brightest light that burned too soon in vain
Who will bring you back from where there's no return
Fear not for you're just dreaming

On a winter's day
I saw the life blood drained away
A cold wind blows on a windless day
There is a genuine sense of loss conveyed in this song, and Sarah conveys it on more than one level.  This song clearly marks her as one of the most powerful and beautiful voices in the last 25 years of music.  If you have never heard the song, you should listen to it at least once.