Phaedra’s Journal – Second Entry

The 57th Day of Winter, 59 AD. (2/8/23)

This was it, the beginning of my very first expedition underground, and into a Dwarven outpost no less! What fortune! To think that all my years of studies of the legendary history of the Dwarves had finally come to this moment of actually stepping inside one of their edifices. We were immediately confronted with a choice once down the steps, left or right. On the wall directly ahead was an inscription in Ancient Dwarven, Obroam and myself could actually decipher it: Pain Brings Service. What on earth could it mean?

There was a freshly dead body, presumably of a cultist, laying in the passage to the right side. Something had burned off a third of his upper body, so we opted to go left, following a rhythmic metallic tapping, but finding that many corridors soon branched off the first, creating a twisting maze of tidy flagstone tunnels.

A metal chest was tempting, but seemingly guarded by obscure lights in the passage, and with little to no benefit to be seen from prizing it open, we opted to keep exploring. Around twisting passages some more, past metallic pipes running floor to ceiling that seem to contain a whistling sound. Some minor undead hovered above skeletons shackled to the wall and attacked. Fearful at first, our fighters found them to be easily dispatched, and we investigated the alcove, finding some sacks tucked in the corner. Obroam gave them a poke with his sword, raising a cloud of dust that sent him into a coughing fit.

I inspected the contents of the bags further, find 22 vials of various substances, liquids, powders, that very much resembled some of the magickal accoutrements our school masters instructed with. Stashing them to identify later, Obroam unshackled the skeletons and laid them out, remains of humans and littlings. Brother Calandro reminded us that the Dwarves were not known to have been the good guys, this could be evidence of that.

Pushing deeper into the maze-like passageways, we discovered an alcove housing a pedestal upon which sat the grotesque visage of a foul and loathsome god. Obroam was so offended by the sight of the thing he refused to even approach it. I got close, realizing it must be an idol of some sort of terrible deity, perhaps proof the Dwarves themselves were engaged in such blasphemous worship. Obroam implored Rem to pour holy water on the thing and destroy it, but Rem was so disgusted in his attempt to splash water on the thing and seeing the drops of holy water sizzle and evaporate before even making contact, Rem turned back, handed Obroam his holy water again, and walked away. Shifting Dwarven runes decorated the walls around the idol, but I have not been able to decipher them as of yet.

Phaedra’s Journal – First Entry

The 56th Day of Winter, 59 AD. (1/18/23)

This was an inauspicious day to join the experienced adventuring party as a fledgling magic-user. We found ourselves backed against an artificial mound, faced off against a line of ten uber-orcs and a handful of goblin archers that had ambushed the party out of the woods. Arrows rained down on us from above, finding their targets in hirelings spread across the mound and sending us scrambling. There was a strangled scream as someone fell behind me, punctured by an arrow. I had never experienced such a sortie before, what excitement!

Then there was a tense moment to see who would make the next move, when I, Phaedra the Prestidigitator stepped up, chanted the arcane words and made the hand passes, and caused a wave of drowsiness to hit the uber-orc leader and two of the goblins, causing them to drop to the ground in place, snoozing peacefully. Snarling in surprise, the rest of the orcs moved in to attack. The violent scrum of melee was all flashing swords, bear claws and sprays of blood, and I was terrified the bestials would overwhelm our line as they swarmed in.

Luckily, with bravery and panache, our fighters held the line, but while this was happening, I looked around in fright, after casting one spell I was utterly defenseless apart from my stave. The young warrior Gustave, seeing my distress, came running down the mound towards us, loudly proclaiming, “Don’t worry Phaedra, I’ll protect you!” before being promptly cut down by a goblin arrow buried deep into his chest. He hit the ground at my feet as I screamed “GUUSTAAVE!” in terror.

Seeing my companion fall at my feet suddenly filled me with a feeling of blinding rage as I unwisely charged into the heart of the battle, fully intent on playing golf with the orc-leader’s head. But alas, my strength failed me, and I was hardly able to dent his skull cap with my mightiest swing. It soon dawned on me how bad of a position I had put myself in, when an orc, wielding a strange weapon attacked me, disarming me of my stave and striking a violent blow across my body. Grievously injured, I reeled back and collapsed near Gustave while my companions bravely fought on and forced the orcish retinue into bloody capitulation.

The battle was over, everyone assessed the dead and the dying, laying on hands and bandaging wounds. Gustave would survive, but just barely, and was so injured as to be unable to move, making the journey back to town seem untenable, but the prospect of entering the dwarven underground with an injured party seems even more ill-advised. What are we to do? As I said, an inauspicious day indeed…