Chapter 15 - "The Missing Keep"
Editors Note: Although marked as Chapter 15, this is the first of the recorded journal entries. I used to write up the exploits of our old D&D games, and when we started this one, didn't bother. Then I started webdesign and thought that rather than the faded old schoolbooks (which in 2006 are around 15-20 years old) I would start writing again, and add the journals to a more central place. To get a sysnopsis on what happened prior to chapter 15, read here - Grassy.
With Lord of the Dance accompanying me, we head back to Palfrey's Keep with the rest of the party in tow. Daisy, now full of beard tugging vigour at the restoration of her eyesight and hearing, gave us little information, and soon her enthusiastic cake baking grew weary. Following on from Linton's veiled snippets of information (obtained by Quinton earlier) - snippets only because the whole story would be revealed once he was a fully charged member of our group, Lord of the Dance suggests a trip to the Library for some educated reading. The six or so hours that are spent in the Library are not used very well, as the shifty eyed scout cum magician Magrick is spotted colouring in books on animals, the Dance Lord was seen by all reading 'The way to enjoy better sexual relations by using an elastic band, 3 sheep and a Donkey' in his efforts to improve his courtesan ways, and I found that all of the religious books where on the top shelf, and someone had hidden the ladder.
Quinton was suspicious by his absence, and I believe the poor boy cannot read, maybe I will school him in the arts at a later time. Agador was the only one to find anything of use, a reference to a very large building bill, and the restoration of a spire, something that this keep lacks. Refinding an earlier clue, we deduce that there was another keep, which befell a great tragedy, the loss of some 350+ plus men, and a new keep (presumably the one we are in) was built a 120 years ago. We know that whatever happened, Count Palfrey does not want it to be public knowledge, and has buried most (if not all) of the clues - to what, still remains a mystery.
Magrick decides to scout the lower levels of the keep (invisibly) to see whether any old foundation stones or any other information could be found, but returns a few hours later with no new information, although manages to confirm that this keep was not built on the remains of the old one.
Kiuper is next on our list of people to see, but Magrick spoils any secrecy we (in our own way) attempt, buy asking directly about an old keep. I can see that soon our latest line of neckwear will be the hemp rope of the hangman's noose - charge Treason. Kiuper's reaction was either of ignorance or a skilful mask, as he knew nothing of what we asked, so we move onto Milbourne.
We arrive late at the town, and as the rest of the group head to the Inn, I catch Grizzler, just as he leaves the pub, in a state of drunkenness. Knowing that any information gotten in this way would be useless, I escort him home. This turns out to be more difficult than I thought, as the act of kindness is repaid by Grizzler attacking me, punching me once in the eye, and once we had finally got into the house, hitting me round the head with a frying pan. I had to punch him really quite forcefully about his personage before he was subdued. Returning to the Inn, I sleep soundly, until the following morning when my prayers to Gorm are uttered.
Heading back to Grizzler's, I am followed secretly - read clattering around, by the others, and while Grizzler asks about his strange punching dream, I make breakfast. The conversation soon turns to the whereabouts of any old ruins, but I was becoming distracted by the sight of all of the windows and cracks in the walls being full of Elven faces. It wasn't long before a small piece of parchment (thrown by Quinton) bounced off the cheese board and into my beard, while the Dance Lord's parchment plopped into my tea. Unravelling these, I find questions to be raised, and soon we are talking of the 'Scourge' - an orc uprising that was crushed by the townsfolk, with Grizzler amongst them. He then leads us back to Garyold for further information. This is not before Quinton has to be forcefully removed because every two minutes he would crash open the door march up to me and start asking me to ask Grizzler questions, quite rudely interrupting our breakfast.
We find Garyold with his lady friend, and after a few smutty words from the Dance Lord's mouth, we hear that in one battle, when chasing some orcs, he had come across the remains of a brick road. He describes the area within the Thornwood opposite the Blessed wood, and points out that the area was 'very foreboding'. Thanking him, we decide to head towards Thurmaster, camp the night, and begin our journey in the light of the morn.
Packs filled with rations, we head off, following the riverbank on the Thornwood side deep into the forest. The general idea is to look for 'clues' - an old disused jetty, the ruined path mentioned by Garyold, a garishly painted VW camper van, or in my case nothing at all, as it requires my full and total concentration to clamber over logs and around large bushes.
Suddenly the woodland background noise is shattered by the voice of the Dance Lord shouting 'attackers in the woods' before he launches off into the nearest bushes. Myself, Agador and Quinton run (or in my case clamber) in the direction of the wood elf, while Magrick seems to have other things on his mind as he gaily chases butterflies in the light that is breaking through the trees with a stupefied smile fixed to his face. Robbie meanwhile, has crashed through a bush, leapt over a log, and as he lands he is confronted by the sight of five orcs. These orcs, seeing only one little elf, laugh, pull out their battleaxes, and get immediately blasted by Robbie's magical spell of bright blinding light. Four of the creatures drop instantly - the last turns and runs, followed by the Falcon.
I arrive to find Agador and Quinton with four unconscious orcs, and so kill all but one of them. We wait until Robbie arrives back (tying up the surviving orc), and Magrick turns up as well. Robbie informs us that he had killed the other orc before he could inform anyone else. Turning back to the one trussed up, we find that he bears the shield with the skull on it, and also stinks exceedingly of fish. He begins to be tortured by the caring sharing elves, and although I hate these creatures with a passion, will not stand for this barbarianism from the elves. He is killed revealing nothing, and I despair at our fate in their hands when the tables are turned.
Night comes and goes, and moving to a semi quiet spot, I begin my morning prayers. These are interrupted somewhat as a dark cloud obscures my view of my books, before I collapse under the weight of a sharp toothed and clawed animal. Scrabbling for my axe I am mauled gain, until a familiar blinding lightly surrounds me. The animal becomes a dead weight on my back, and as I roll it off, I grip my axe and stand in my blindness incase of any further attacks. The suspected attacks come, but they are of a verbal nature - issued by the rest of the group, talking of 'Buggering Bobcats' and the like. The cat is killed, skinned and has its tail cut off, which is then deftly placed in my back pocket by Magrick. My sight returns minutes later, and we continue our journey, although I cant quite work out why the rest of the group are making cat calls and 'meowing' at me all day - that is until we stop for dinner and I find a manky tail protruding from between my legs.
Sleep comes to us all (except those on watch) but I am awoken slightly before sunrise by the shouting of 'Bugbears in the camp'. Instantly awake at this warning, I am greeted by the sight of Agador waving his genitalia around, still in the middle of the process of performing the act of urination. Readying myself I run in, only to see Magrick lazily open one bleary eye and send a glowing ball of light into the furthest of the Bugbears. Talk about uncivilised. Agador, still urinating, manages to perform what only the top wizards can do - cast spells with one hand whilst waving his bellend in the other. Magrick's Bugbear goes down, and so he begins to prepare breakfast for the rest of us, while Agador's, Quinton's and mine follow shortly after. While Robbie is still fighting, we all act as seconds, watching and healing ourselves while the ungodly Bugbear glances about, probably wondering what these strange humans are doing. Finally the Falcon drops his foe, and we return to the camp for some of Magricks fine tea.