Jeyya’s Diary: 12th of Coldeven,
Well, no-body died. But just the ROAD to Castle Zagyg is scary. And I’ve been “outed”. We got some nice gems but … adventuring is turning out to be an intricate and dangerous ordeal. Like that bard said, ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ I could use more thrilling victories.
So, do I start at the beginning? Last week, while Obelix and the rest went with that dwarf Derringer to Serpent Ridge, I visited Ragly the Devout, resident priest of St. Cuthbert. I hoped to learn about Haugeman Algot. According to that log entry I found, he was the priest from Yggsburgh that delivered me to the Brothers. That entry read, “From Haugeman Algot, a demon child.” Yes, nice way to come into the world, already branded. So I was shocked to find that Haugeman has been dead for 250 years whereas I’m only 22! What I did learn, amongst other things, was that Haugeman was very involved with Castle Zagyg, and even had his ashes spread over the Castle when he died. Again, a mystery. While I should investigate this priest Oldham who is an admirer of Haugeman, evidently Castle Zagyg is my next destination in finding clues about my mother.
And what a journey to that destination!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was drinking in the Outs Inn tavern, quite annoyed at the bartender who belittled our adventuring goals while happily accepting the gold we acquired out risking our lives. Why do we give this philistine our gold again? I suppose it is because he serves excellent elvish wine. After that last trip to Serpent Ridge, such wine is a necessary ameliorative. During that evening’s drinking, we made the acquaintance of five more audacious souls. First, there were two humans, Desy and Vincent. Vincent’s cuteness is marred by his snobbery, but I appreciate Desy’s attitude. Desy acquired some unwanted attention from some local louts with more wealth than sense or manners. I thought Vincent was with them at first. United, we sent them packing and made three new friends, a halfling named Koulya, an elf going by the name Thrinity and a gnome, Inara. Suddenly my 5’4” was no longer so diminutive, at least in comparison.
Along with Obelix, they agreed to brave the road to Castle Zagyg. With the addition of two “swordsman” from the mercenary’s guild, we made quite the company!
Besides more of Vincent’s haughtiness, we had an uneventful trip over the Urt river north on the Menhir Hills road. Off we went into the Little Hillwood, and that’s where things started getting “interesting.” Yes, I’m referencing the ancient Baklunish Curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
The pure malevolence of the sounds, coming at us from all sides? It got under my skin. Haunted is the very precise word. It bothered some of the others, but I am ashamed to say that the palpable darkness of the forest petrified me. Those damnable apes, swinging across the trees – or even the trees themselves. I’ve heard of awakened trees with homicide in their oaken hearts. I dare say that many in the Hillwood appeared ready to uproot themselves and commit murder. Note to self: Next time I enter the Little Hillwood, I will bring an extra change of underwear.
Thankfully, the rest of our company was not so intuitive to imagine such horrors. They handily dispatched hobgolins, minions of a chief named Ugmuktik who rules some section of Castle Zagyg. Despite my fear, I had some joy in learning this. If only there was another way to the Castle besides that horrible forest!
I proclaim Obelix “king of the apes.” He aided us in avoiding them by speaking calmly while the rest of us creeped away. Truth, I was tied to a donkey by this point so I didn’t do much creeping.
There were spiders on the track as well. If I hadn’t been incapacitated, I would have suggested burning them out – burning those trees not being a bad idea on its own merits. But I can’t argue in that no-one was injured or died from poison sting. Will the glint of treasure – bait laid by preternaturally clever spiders no doubt – still be there when we return?
Vincent marred his physical beauty yet again by thinking that speaking ill of my mother would motivate me. But I think he got his comeuppance! I shall have to tease him about his taste in poetry, as he became entranced by the words of a harpy. Or should I suggest that he found her physically beautiful as well? The rest of the crew put that foul feathered bitch into the ground. Poor Vincent lost his girlfriend, hah. “She” was also quite wealthy – a diamond studded bracelet, 2 smaller and one large ruby, a sapphire, a tiger eye and a magical dagger in an amethyst studded scabbard.
Oh diary, I shouldn’t gloat! In the midst of my terror, I lost my hat. My horns aren’t large, but this was not an occasion where I could put my hair up to hide them. As if I wasn’t already shaken with fear, now I had the concern that my compatriots would turn against me as if I was a demon….
Having already risked our lives together, I don’t fear that Obelix would turn on me. He’s no prejudice priest at least. Many of the others seemed tolerant and understanding of outsiders. But I worry about what the two hirelings, Walter and Gregory, may say to the Watch at the Gate. More on that, diary.
Finally, Vincent proved his worth. We were challenged by bandits in the woods. Unobserved, they fired arrows and threatened us, demanding that we pay and return. Vincent, ever the smooth talker, managed to convince them that they should let us continue, and that we would pay them a portion of our reward from the Castle. Not likely! But it did allow us to escape that situation. Frustrating, diary – a few sleep spells and bandits would be paying us instead of the reverse.
Onward we trudged through the forest. Rather, they trudged. I was still tied over the donkey.
That evening the howling of wolves added to my shivers. Red eyes sparkled at us between the trees. Thrinity scared them away with her bow – “warning shots” she called them. Effective.
Finally, diary, with the coming of the sun I regained my courage. And there, through the woods was the Castle! But yet still the journey was not over. A clearing separated us from the Castle – and the battlements were manned! Perhaps we should have attempted approach at night? Luckily, we found a ravine that joined the Castle’s dry moat so we could approach unhindered. And there in the ravine, beneath the Castle’s walls were caves. Perhaps this is where Ugmuktik, chief of the hobgoblins, lairs with his treasure! Or at least it will be a means of entering the Castle unseen. Humanoids were on other battlements. I wonder where in the complex is a clue to Haugeman Algot?
But that will have to wait until the next trip. We were too low on provisions and have to return to Yggsburgh.
But what shall I do about being discovered? For the short time I’ve been there, I’ve grown attached to Yggsburgh, far more than I ever was to the Monastery. It seems so easy to find companions, and I’m nearly anonymous in the crowded streets.
Can I escape this fate by entering the city on my own, away from Walter and Gregory? Something dark inside me says that there is only one way to be certain that I will be safe. If I do that diary, won’t I be proving them right? But is moral superiority worth it if I am hunted from my new home, or worse, caught by those that would judge me guilty on appearance alone?