After having explored a large section of the Keep, the party decides to take a rest outside. They make their way back through the Maze of Caves, back past the storerooms and guard rooms, and exit the Keep. It is dark out when they arrive back on the surface.
Arden sits close to the fire in the party’s camp, rubbing his hands together and trying to get the chill out of his bones. “Well that was quite a day! It is very unfortunate that we lost a friend, but I believe we made good progress. Rest up, tomorrow is likely to bring tougher trials yet.” With that Arden begins meditating on what he has learned in these past few days, training to strengthen his mind and bond with the dark powers from beyond.
As he rests and meditates, images of his past teachings flood his mind. Lessons of the power of the Infernal and the dark bindings of their knowledge consume his thoughts, power surges through his sub-concious granting him a firmer grasp on the dark powers he seeks.
Varro helps Brann carry Ehud to the campsite. and after a few moments of reflection on his fallen companion, he joins Arden at the fire. “I feel dat we all have much ta reflect on dis evenin. I be reckenin dat we all will be much refreshed come da mornin.” Varro drinks from the waterskin of ale then offers it to Arden.
Sitting quietly, something he doesn’t do very often, he reflects a bit on your fighting styles, trying to figure out a better way to do things. After a while of going over the lessons of past battles, he is able to come up with a few new moves that should put the hurting on some Filthy Greenskins. His axes feel lighter in his hands, and his eyes feel even more trained for combat than before.
Arden takes the waterskin from Varro and drinks before returning it to the Dwarf. “Thank you friend.”
Wilam finds a patch of grass and sits cross-legged in it. He begins a short traditional chant that aligns his mind. He lets his mind recount the experiences of the last week… battling kobolds, meeting new adventurers, defeating undead in the graveyard and finally discovering what may lie beneath the nearby keep. Finally, he sifts through some loose scripts and pages that were wedged between random pages of his tome.
Studying them closely, he can’t seem to remember where they came from. After transcribing a particularly interesting Elven text, he decides to give it a try. He reads the text of the key phrase, “ξεθώριασμα φεγγάρι”. Instantly, but only for a moment his body fades into a ghostly mist. Hmmm… interesting indeed! It seems these moon elves are more useful than their primitive nature suggests. I’m sure I’ll be able to use this in the battles to come. Wilam spends the next hour making an exact copy of the spell on a page still attached to his tome.
The knowledge gained from the pages found in his tome give him confidence in his quest to understand the mysteries of the Divine. One step closer to mastering his Arcane Arts. The more he learns, he feels, the more powerful he becomes. The energies derived from these spells is a dangerous tool indeed.
Wilam eventually tires of his studies and falls into a deep sleep. He doesn’t remember to offer to help with the night watch.
Brann sits down after carrying out the ritual to preserve Ehud’s body. He is drained from the day’s fighting and the loss of a comrade. However, looking over to Belimir lightens his spirits as he sees the druid appreciating his shinies.
Being able to take pleasure in the simple joys of nature and the world around. When did I lose the ability for that level of appreciation and wonder? I’m not exactly the oldest of dwarves yet. Brann chuckles to himself as he conjures up images of his clan elders and realises he is far from old in the eyes of his clan. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from Belimir, we certainly don’t get many like him back home.
“Come Belimir, while you inspect your new shinies why don’t I tell you about those stories I learnt from my teachers in the halls of Moradin.”
Belimir never felt this tired. His muscles ached, his head was throbbing and shinies just weren`t that interesting. Sure, he played with them for a while, watched how the sparks changed colours when he was watching the fire through his amethyst, but he grew tired from it quickly. I must become stronger. He appreciated Brann`s interest in his training, and since he promised him a story or two, Belimir went to the dwarf. Maybe it will change his mood.
Brann starts to share some of the heroic tales of great dwarven clerics that he learnt from his temple elders while growing up. He tries to explain how the source of power that the clerics draw upon is a way of channelling the energies that exist in the world as an aspect of their deity.
“Moradin is always watching over us and his power infuses those who worship him. When we are acting to help spread the message and faith of his teachings, we are able to use some of his power to aid us in our endeavours.”
“I’m not sure how it works for those who walk the arcane paths”, he says nodding over at Wilam and Arden, “but I sense that the way you are able to harness the powers of nature may be closer to our clerical ways. Perhaps you can share your ideas to help my understanding?”
That wasn`t much of a story!………An introduction maybe? Belimir carefully listened for what Brann had to say. He was silent for a few moments. How can people believe in such small things as Gods?
“In nature, only one thing is important. Balance. Unlike chaos, where everything dissolves and gravitates towards entropy, or the cities where races try to organize things by artificial laws, nature takes care of itself, in perfect balance. Nowhere can you find such harmony or such tranquility with life being present at the same time. But nature is delicate. Balance is delicate. In their short lives, races don`t see that they are affecting this balance. Long before your Gods established themselves as rulers of the universe, the primal spirits were there. Manifestations of all things present and living. Souls if you`ll have it that way, of mountains, of seas, of the stars. Of every stream and every breeze, every stone and gem in the ground. As the living world evolved, so did these spirits take form of the new creatures and now you have The Great Bear and The World Serpent, The Watchful Eye and The Silent Death. They existed in this world, organized things by the simplest of laws. Even now they are here, present in every part of our life. You rarely see them at work, you don`t hear them when they speak, you don`t even have to believe they exist, but they are here. And through them, we, the Primal disciples gain our powers, evocations.” His voice slowly trails off to a whisper as Belimir was thinking about something, then suddenly, his eyes were again fixated on Brann, a smile on his face. “You still owe me a story old dwarf. And if it`s good, I`ll tell you one legend of the Primals in return.”
“I do indeed owe you a story.”
Brann takes a deep breath, recalling the facts of a story he learned about long ago.
The cleric begins:
“Thoragrim was one of the great ancestors in my clan and a great champion for Moradin. His greatest battle was against a vile demonic entity that threatended our clan. An evil human sorceror had used his unnatural powers to raise a fiery raging demon-beast named Chogath. It had run rampant over the nearby settlements and Thoragrim and his companions set off to face it in the valley outside our halls. They had to fight through swathes of cultists that were worshipping Chogath and had taken many wounds before they finally faced the demon.”
“During the battle Thoragrim’s companions charged at the demon and blasted and rained upon it with blade, axe, thunder and ice. Thoragrim was taxed to his limit pouring forth his healing energies to keep his companions fighting. It was not enough however. Despite inflicting many wounds on Chogath, one by one Thoragrim’s companions were killed by wounds too severe for him to heal. At last he faced Chogath alone, drained by his efforts but also filled with rage and agony over his companions and the fate of their settlement. He uttered his final prayer to Moradin and advanced on the demon with his faith blazing brightly around him. As Chogath charged and tore at him, the power of Moradin channelled into him and ripped apart the demon, but it was too much for the mortal body of Thoragrim. Thoragrim was found by his clan barely holding onto his life and brought back to the temple of Moradin. He followed in the footsteps of our ancestors and went to stand at the side of Moradin.”
“Although he saved our clan and defeated a great evil, that is not what made him a true champion of Moradin. After his death, his journals were read to pass on his teachings to the next generation of clerics. Within these it was discovered that Thoragrim had been having visions of the final battle and his companions death for many months. He had known that the battle he was going into would result in his and their deaths but there was no mention of whether they would be victorious. Despite this, Thoragrim had devotion in his deity and the faith and belief that he was carrying out a higher purpose. He did not beseech Moradin for knowledge of the outcome of the battle. He fought and knew that he was championing a cause greater than his and his companions. It was this belief and devotion to Moradin that allowed him to overcome Chogath and save our clan. Our power comes from our faith and it is only by following the true path of our beliefs that we will be bestowed with the gifts to further them.”
Brann sits back to reflect on what he has said and how it relates to Belimir’s talk of the great natural spirits.
Belimir listened carefully to Brann`s story. It was interesting, although, for him a bit predictable. But he still liked it. And the fact that these dwarfs have great respect for their ancestors. After thinking for a while about this story, he began talking about a legend he promised Brann.
“When the Gods made war against the Primordials, at the dawn of time, battles raged across the worlds for uncounted centuries. At one point, Gods gained the upper hand, banishing and imprisoning some of the powerfull Primordials. Still, the war threatened the very existance of these worlds. In the last days of this war, a force made itself known throughout the cosmos. Spiritual expressions of the worlds themselves. And it was these spirits that declared an end to the conflict. These worlds will not be a playground for neither Gods nor Primordials. Both forces were banished to their home planes, and mighty spirits decreed a balance. The world would remain a place where matter and spirit mingled freely, life and death would be two parts of an orderly cycle. Seasons would change in their unending wheel without interference. Gods and Primordials could still touch these worlds it, but could never rule them again.”
“Well. That was fun.” Belimir says it with a large smile on his face. He really liked this casual, story exchanging conversation with Brann. “We could do this more often, don`t you think?” After saying that, he stretches and without a word, changes into a white panther. He winks to his companions and is off to the bushes to find a nice place to rest.
Francis slowly removes his armor. He sits quietly, staring at the flames but concentrating on the last few days. After a long while, he says, “I sink zat—ahem—I think that tomorrow will bring plenty of opportunities for revenge, which is what Ehud would have wanted.”
Varro takes first watch and decides to himself who he will wake to take the next watch,
“hmmm, well if I be reckenin da way I be figurin I should be reckenin den I be reckenin dat I should be wakin someone dat not be a finger waggler, so I be reckenin dat …. hmmm …ale… mmmm … good stuff …wut was I reckenin…DAMNIT … oh yea … I be reckenin dat I should be wakin a finger waggler … hmmm …no wait dat aint right … not a finger waggler… yea …is dat be it …not a finger waggler… yea, dat be right…. so who be it dat don’t be wagglin der fingers? … well der be wilich… no he be a waggler, der be Darky,,, na he waggles from time to time ta time… how about sneaky …he don’t waggle dat I be knowin ov … he be a gud one ta be a wakin, or I be figurin dat half-pint be a gud choosen I recken. so who be da one I be wakin … oooo …ale…. mmmm… “