70th day of Winter, 59 AD
It has been many days since I last set thoughts to parchment – in truth, I remember not when last I had the time or inclination to do so. Since my sudden and forced departure from my beloved home of Femo, the days and weeks have blurred together into a long and torturous journey westward, away from the legions of Sithasteni Orcs that have taken away all who I knew, and all that I loved.
And so, on this coldest of Winter nights, I find myself huddled around a low, hooded fire in the depths of a wood near the forgettable attempt at a hamlet that is called Crickton, scribbling notes so as to remember the events of today (I know not why, but feel compelled to record, nonetheless). Perhaps I may eventually find this useful, perhaps not.
It was in Crickton early this morning (verily, it now seems ages ago) that I came upon a group clearly not of this forsaken place, and felt compelled to join them – out of boredom, or loneliness, or guided by the hand of some unknown godling, I know not, but among their company I now find myself (frozen fingers and all).
The group were in the midst of interrogating the strangest of men (Wizzillim? Villizum?… it matters not) about the nature of a subterranean dwarven complex to be found nearby. The man was clearly a scholar, and of the very worst kind – I feel he was droning on more to himself than to us, and his uncanny ability to bore us to the edge of unconsciousness rivalled the strongest sleep magicks I have yet encountered.
As with all valuable ores, however, dig deeply enough and you will find a nugget. The old intellectual confirmed some details of the complex that the party had encountered, and offered tantalizing hints of other, and greater, sections of the ruin that could be explored. Indeed, the point was made that riches may lie within those dank catacombs! It was the prospect of securing a few more gold pieces that yanked me from my near-slumber; these many weeks of scarcity, living on game and creek-water, have greatly improved my appreciation for the weighty jingle of a few coins in the belt pouch.
Returning to the hill near the great lake where the entrance to the complex lay, we encountered an organized guard of Orcs – ORCS, DAMNATION BE UPON THEM – securing the portal on top of the hill. I struggle to record these next words, because my mind reels at the reality of what I witnessed – but we also spied another group with a mixture of Orcs (damnation be upon them) and humans. Humans. TOGETHER! What strange and hellish circumstance brought together Orcs (damnation be upon them) and humans to work in concert will forever lie beyond my ability to understand. After witnessing with my own eyes the depredations and cruelties that the Orcs of the Sithasten mountains visited on the people of Dawn, the people of Femo, my city, indeed the people of my own family – I tremble with rage at the thought of humans in league with the Orcish devils (damnation be upon them). I pledge, with these words, that I will exult in watching the spark leave the eyes of these humans as they bleed out upon my sword. I swear it.
After a failed attempt to split the guard detail in two and draw them into a trap we had set in the woods, we have pulled back to this frigid campsite to regroup and consider our next move. That we will stay here and find a way to re-enter the complex, I have no doubt. The bravery of the warriors I have joined is beyond question, after seeing for myself the peril to which they subjected themselves in attempting to draw the Orcs (damnation be upon them) into our trap. Not since the Thrice-Blessed Stand of Heroes at the doors of Femo Basilica have I seen such valour in the face of evil. I will do my utmost to reflect this courageousness myself.
And so, as this 70th day of Winter slowly becomes the 71st, I will close this journal and move a little closer to the fire – the ink is beginning to freeze and I can no longer feel my feet. As always, may the memory of my Orc-slain father warm my soul, harden my heart, and steady my hand.