The Innfellows

Bannin Journal Entry Three

I slept fitfully that night, because even though I had escaped the clutches of the hobgoblins, the other members of my party were walking straight into a trap. I had escaped with little more then the clothes on my back, so had to scrounge and forage for food. I will confess that I had never received formal training in how to survive the wilderness, and only after several hours of hunting about, was I able to pick some berries that I remembered as being edible from my childhood. Shivering, starving, bruised and beaten, I suddenly became aware of the distinct possibility that this might be the end. The sinking fear started to creep into my thoughts, but concern of my friend Gabriel, kept me from giving up. He saved my life when we first meet, perhaps now I could find some way to return the favor. They were walking into a trap, and would need help. Of course, being without equipment of any kind or weapons aside from what lay at the tips of my birdlike fingers, I didn’t know how much help I could have been, but I had try. After some searching I found some narrow tree that had been carved out by a lightning strike some years ago and settled down to try and get some rest. Perhaps a little sleep would clear my thoughts and help me find some way to deal with this. At that point, as my hunger was gnawing at my bones, I had a vivid memory of my human mother, cooking the most delicious apple dumplings. The smell seemed to permeate my senses and for a moment I was lost in the memory, taken from that dark place in the forest to bask in the comfort of the home I left behind. I cherished that memory and savored the moment, because it seemed like forever since I had any memory of life back home.

H’Ramont 16th

I awoke on the Morning of the 16th to the loud clamor of armor and weapons. At first I didn’t know what was going on, so I moved to the edge of the forest and looked out at the hobgoblin keep in the distance. That was the second time I saw him, but it was the first time I realized what he truly was… The Warlord, and true leader of the Irontooth clan. We had been such fools to think that a mere shaman would control such a complex and powerful tribe as the Irontooth. The Hobgoblin warlord was a massive brute who inspired fear in troops and beasts around him by virtue of his mere presence. The other hobgoblins cowered in his presence and made all sorts of obsequies gestures to placate him.

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As I watched, scouts were being deployed and much of his force was being sent to wait in ambush. Archers were moved into position, heavy infantry deployed in covered camouflaged pits, skirmshers and assault beasts being positioned so they could quickly come around the side of the keep to attack the group as they were being led down the trail. It was both terrible and fascinating to watch as creatures I had previously assumed to be a marauding rabble, quickly and efficiently went about their duties in preparation. All of it was powered by the sheer will and presence of the Warlord. If he were to be killed, another of his sub-chiefs would step up and take command, but it would take time for him to consolidate his power. Although they were efficient, they were also evil and selfish in their very nature. This foray alone had taught me a great deal with regard to the true nature of evil and how it responded to others. There seems to be nothing more dangerous then claiming to fully understand the complexities of evil and trying to predict its behaviour. Time would tell if Gabriel and I had another chance to repay the hobgoblins for their hospitality, but I truly hoped so. In the meantime all I could do was record what was happening and hope there would come a day when we could use this experience against them and the War-chief.

I circled around the keep, staying far enough from the sentries to avoid detection, because I had to know if it was indeed my friends they were preparing to ambush. Maybe in my hopes, I was searching for some way to warn them, but there was a lot of ground to cover and the others were almost on top of us. To be honest, I had also lost track of time out there in the forest. The hobgoblin hunters who had captured me took a direct route, and so I had been taken straight back to the keep while the others had been led through a meandering path to give the Warchief time to prepare an ambush. When I had first been taken by the hobgoblins I half expected to see the others captured there as well. The Hobgoblins had many slaves, and so perhaps we had been separated. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had arrived almost a full day before the others who had not even been captured yet.

Hobgoblin scouts were deployed on either side of the ambush, making any approach to try and warn them exceptionally dangerous. At this point, even if I had moved close enough to communicate the danger of an ambush, there was still an army of hobgoblins ready and chomping at the bit to rush forward and take all of us down. So, I hunkered into a tree, and tried using some stones or other signaling devices, but it was no use. I was simply too far away, and the trap was already sprung. The Shaman led them into a clearing.. where the warchief and his entourage were waiting. Then the signal was made to attack. Hobgoblins surged up from the ground, circled around the keep and poured in from the surrounding forest to attack our small party. It was plain by their hideous expression that the hobgoblins were hoping for some sport and not a quick surrender, but as I saw my friends being led into the keep I can only assume they had realized what would have happened and gave over their weapons.

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It should be interesting to note, this was the last I saw of the idiot warrior woman, and the half elf mage. Gabriel was led towards a collection of cages, while the others were marched towards the kitchens and the mess hall. I shiver to think what may of happened to them, but I don’t think the tower of High sorcery will concern itself with pursuing the half elf any further.. (unless their bounty hunters cared to check the Hobgoblin privy for some sort of personal affects.) As for the woman, I suspect she was lucky if they only killed and ate her. There are harrowing horror stories of female prisoners who were taken to humanoid camps never to return. Bastard half breeds must come from somewhere, and rarely are such couplings voluntary. As I said, she was lucky if they killed her, but I have no idea what really happened, as I never saw her again.

Gabriel and the others were taken into the keep and I could no longer tell what happened, so I sat impotently out in the forest, hoping for some break that would give me a chance to free them.. but that break never came.

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Bannin Diary, Part 2
H’Ramont 12th (November)

It was three days on this leaky tub, meandering upriver at a snail’s crawl, and most of us were starting to climb the cabin walls in frustration. We had left Dunraven quietly and my attempts to get to know the others have been rebuffed for the most part. The Elven Magi was recaltricent as ever, and I began to wonder about the safety of our journey. Just before we left, a red robed mage of High Sorcery took him aside for a private meeting, and he left pale as a sheet with a look of petulant defiance on his face. The Baronial Vizier to Dunraven was not pleased with whatever was said between the two, and ominous glares constantly passed between the elf and the Vizier until we left. Our trip would have been difficult enough, without trouble from the Tower. Anyhow, the elf would not speak of what happened, and so I would not press the issue, for now.

My earlier suspicions were unfortunately confirmed with regard to the intelligence of our female warrior. After dragging a few words from her in some mangled semblance of an introduction, she betrayed her true ignorance by opening her mouth and offering a few words.

It was all forming into this hard knot in my stomach as we continued our trip upriver. The temperature was rapidly decreasing, so it couldn’t be much longer before we hit Ice and were forced on foot. We had ample supplies, but for some reason the trade delegation still had not reported or sent any word, so something was waiting for us up there. I suppose another game of cards with the captain will help pass the time.

H’Ramont 13th

Today was a very exciting day, our first real battle as a group, and all things considered we did fairly well. Just as expected we hit an ice blockage in the river and the captain began to veer to the side bank when we heard several loud sounds. A hobgoblin raiding party had lain in wait, and attacked as soon as we hit the ice dam. Before I realized what was happening, grapplers had been tossed from the far bank and were being used to haul us over towards the hobgoblins. Most of us resorted to bows and crossbows, while Gabriel, in a feat of daring acrobatic skill, ran down the grappler line to engage the Hobgoblins on shore. Black shafted arrows peppered the side of the boat as hidden archers returned fire and Gabriel came within striking distance of the Goblins.

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Everything became a blur, as I nearly passed out from fear when an arrow almost pinned my skull to the foredeck behind me. Gabriel twisted and turned, punching and kicking with bone breaking power as the rest of us kept pouring arrows into the Hobgoblin attackers. Finally everything began to turn, and the Goblins fled or were killed where they stood.
It should be interesting to note, that Gabriel refused to kill the Hobgoblins, and spared the life of any that he engaged personally. The rest of us had no such compunctions about slaying the raiders which would have likely strung up our entrails before sacrificing us to whatever brutal God or goddess they worshiped. After the battle, the leader of the raid identified himself as some sort of important figure to the hobgoblins and requested the opportunity to parley.

It looked like he was some sort of shaman, as during the battle he had cast several weavings at us in their attempt to take the ship and its supplies. Fortunately for us, they failed and now he was at our mercy. The name of the Hobgoblin tribe to which he belonged, was called the Iron-tooth, a name which Gabriel seemed to be familiar with, but wouldn’t discuss at the time. And so, at Gabriel’s behest we entered into parley with the humanoid, and he explained that we had gained his respect, and that by following him back to their camp they could discuss a deal that would allow us to pass unscathed through hobgoblin territory.
I had my misgivings about the whole affair, but I would be lying if I said that Gabriel’s optimistic views were not becoming infectious. The idea of a long journey through Hobgoblin infested terrain, fighting back ambush after ambush really didn’t appeal to anyone, so perhaps some safe passage north could be negotiated. Gabriel seemed to be an accomplished diplomat, who had some sort of familiarity with these Iron-Tooth, at least enough to know what he was doing. Something however, just kept tickling the back of my mind and setting off that little alarm in my head.

We drew lots, and it was decided that I should remain behind with the boat and supplies, to wait until everyone else returned from the negotiations. After gathering only enough food to get them there and back, they set out on foot with the Iron Tooth shaman in the lead. I just hoped everything turned out all right. Anyways, It was off to cook some of the fish I caught in the afternoon, and maybe a round or two of cards with the captain.

H’Ramont 15th..

It was all a trap…. A stinking trap and we fell for it, like idiots!!! The others had barely been gone a few hours when I was talking with the captain, and a Black shafted, Hobgoblin arrow pierced his throat with that wet, squishy sound. I cried out and hit the deck as more arrows and hooting laughs came up from the side shore. I couldn’t count how many were there, but there were a lot of them, and I froze, not sure of what I could do. I was the only one left on the boat, as a second raiding party had circled around to take me out while the others were being led straight into a trap.

We were all screwed, we got lazy, and now we were going to have to pay the price. I didn’t want to die, so I kept my head down as they shot more arrows into the boat. It didn’t take long for them to realize that I was pinned and wasn’t going to budge without some encouragement. That was about the time I heard a loud crash, from a masonry jar that had been tossed into the boat. This, slick, grayish slime spread out over the back half of the boat.. then seemed to pull back into itself. I couldn’t help but stare in horror as it pulled together into this wet, sticky looking grey blob, then extended some sort of psuedopod to look for prey.

With a shout, I jumped over the side, wearing my pack and hanging on to the side of the boat as the thing started to slide over in my direction. As I felt movement in the boat I pulled my taloned hands away just in time, as a lash-like psuedopod flicked into the wood and burned a gouge with its acidic ooze. The boat started to sink and this thing was lashing at my hands. So, I did the only thing I could do.. I let go, and surrendered myself to the current. A few minutes later, the Hobs were fishing my half drowned body from the river, and stringing me up with my hands and feet tied over a long shaft. That was about the time things really started to go downhill.

They had rushed me back to their camp, taking a different route then the one my friends had been led down. The Hobgoblins wasted no time in putting me to work, and I was chained to a gang of twisted mongrelfolk, working to clear away some sort of debree along the south wall of the keep. It was hard, as I was beaten repeatedly.. and as much as I wanted to cast some sort of spell to smite my tormentor, I knew it would only bring my swift death. I had thought about using my cooking knowledge to negotiate some sort of deal with the hobgoblins, but it was the desire to negotiate and look for an easy way out that had landed all of us in this predicament in the first place. No, I had to be patient and wait for some hole that I could escape through. Fortunately they had no idea about my race either, and so mistook me for one of the mongrel folk I was chained with.

That Night was the worst, and I don’t think I will ever forget it. I was ankle deep in excrement, and surrounded by creatures which may have walked on two legs but did not deserve the title of sentient beings. They were animals, and came up to sniff me in hopes of finding some morsel of food. I showed their “leader” one of my wings, and he pulled out a feather to show the others. An instant later his blood sprayed across my face as I tore out his throat with my talons. I screeched a warning to the others as he fell into the excrement with that wet gurgling sound, and the mongrel folk slowly reeled him back. At first I thought they intended to mourn him in some way, but as they ripped off his tattered rags and set their jagged teeth to his flesh, I realized that they intended to make a meal of their former pack leader. It took every bit of my self control to keep from retching my guts out, in that foul little hell-hole.. but it made me realize that I had to get free… I had to get out, because I couldn’t last here.

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Now, I was no thief or cutpurse by any stretch, but I did posses enough cunning to work my way to the top of the pit and crawl out. Fortunately they figured me for another mongrel-folk, and so we had no cage or lock over the top. After sneaking out of the pit, I had several close calls with hobgoblin guards, but managed to sneak to the edge of the compound, and use my wings to glide out past the sentries. Before first light, I had escaped the keep, and was hiding in the forest…

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Bannin Journal Entry One

November 7th

I keep this diary now.. as some form of record of our journey. I don’t know who is going to read this.. but I feel its important to leave something behind, so someone at least knows what really happened, and why we did the things we did. They say it is impossible to judge a man, unless you have walked a mile in his shoes. I invite you now to walk for a time in my shoes, and see the world through my eyes, and you can judge for yourself if what I did, was right or wrong. These days I begin to wonder if there ever was such a thing as true right or wrong. The line between good and evil blurs so much that I can hardly see the difference anymore. One rules by fear, the other by force and law. One seeks the blood of innocents, the other seeks the blood of its faithfull martyrs, one thing they both share is that their plots or plans never seem to move forward without the waters of the world being made red with blood. I was born as a human, to a loving mother and father I still think of often, but these days I can hardly remember.

Everyone has an agenda, and with reguard to all of this I have learned to trust those who supposedly keep the balance least. Druids were the cause of my suffering not so long ago, and the pain of those moments haunt me still, making me wake from sleep with a panting breath or a terrified gasp.

It was November, and as I looked around, the land was firmly in the grip of Winter as I made my way down through the mountain passes towards the city of Dunraven. It had been a long trip from the grove of the druids and exhaustion played about every fiber of my being. I can’t help but laugh as I consider the first time I met Gabriel Rhen, this outcast monk, who would become my dearest friend.

It was late in the afternoon, only a few short days travel from the city proper. Some manner of river beast resembling a large crayfish, had surged up from the waters as I had stopped to rest at the river’s edge. It had caught me by complete surprise, and before I knew what was happening, my arm was snagged by its claw, and was only seconds from becoming a morsel for this ravenous creature.

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It was his timely intervention which kept me from becoming so much fish bait that cold November morning. He rushed in to attack, and I felt the magic pour from me to draw itself into a spell that would enlarge him. My powers of the Art were even less potent then they are now, but it was still enough to give him the upper hand and let him kill it. Afterwards, we spoke for a time and set up camp far from the waters of the river.

At that time I had discovered that he too was headed for the city, so we decided there was safety in numbers, and we would best travel together. Like everyone else, Gabriel was curious at first as to what race I was. It was with considerable embarrassment that I had to confide in him, I had no idea. It is a mystery that I still have yet to answer.

November 9th

My memories of the previous life I led are failing, but some things still remain clearer then others. Today started off as a good day, as some of my happier memories worked their way into my dreams. I can only hope that these happy memories will be the last to leave, as other remembered moments, are better left forgotten.

As I entered the city gates of Dunraven, I cannot help but feel the sting of memory from my early childhood. It always was a teeming city, alive and bustling with people, but also accompanied by the foul stink of unwashed humanity. For all their power and majestic glory, you would think Gods or the magi of High sorcery could come up with some great dweomer that would rid the cramped cities of that horrid stench. The drifting whiffs of open sewer mingled with the heady aroma of sweat and stink until I wanted to retch everything I had eaten for the past few days. Even when I was a boy I didn’t remember it smelling this bad, but things were different then, I was different. I was here because I needed to get some distance, earn my place in the world. Settling down was just something I could not do. Sooner or later the druids would come for me, and I didn’t want to stay in one place too long, making it easy for them.

Gabriel and I met with the Baron, who told us about the trade delegation heading North into the lands of the Scro. Why anyone would live in that blasted, gods-forsaken territory is beyond me, but that’s where they were. Furthermore, no one seemed to know a damn thing about them, except that there were enough to cause concern among their neighbors to the south. Diplomats had been dispatched, even a cousin of the Baron had been sent to see that the trade delegation reached its objective intact. But no one had heard from them in weeks. This was where we came in.

The promise of gold and Title of Yeoman were given to the ones who successfully brought back his kin in one piece. The odds were not good, but at this point, two desperate outcasts like Gabriel and I, had nothing to lose, So we accepted. Before setting out from Dunraven, our group had numbered five. Gabriel and I, an Elven magi who was apparently running from the authorities of high sorcery, and lastly a Warrior woman who was a fair hand at combat, but probably about as cunning and sharp as your average lump of mud.
After stocking up on supplies, we hired the services of a riverboat captain to take us North as far as he could. Once we hit ice, from then on it would be up to us.

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First Day on the Job.
How to woo flapjack!

A keep boat pull up to the dock in the bay of Halron. A swashbuckling woman with long hair, and a Elf man carrying his Long bow close to his leather clothes step onto he dock.

Morgan Says, “Lets go to the harbor masters office and see what we can find for work or news?”

She lean close and whispers his name “Arceus…” kisses his cheek This way my love…smiles

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