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    Durian Starfire’s Journal
    Posted on Fri, October 24, 2003 by Trickster
    BusterBudd writes "Read the secrets of a party of adventurers exploring the eastern Flanaess in this journal, recovered by some of their successors. The secrets of Greyhawk await!

    Durian Starfire’s Journal
    By: BusterBudd
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    Durian Starfire’s Journal

    9th day of Fireseek
    For academic and personal reference will I mark down my thoughts, views, and experiences for a journey of historical, academic, and self fulfilling pursuit. Also, at the request of my aging yet ageless mentor Master Gopple and the fact that this will be apart of my final grading paper.

    I purchased this journal for the grand sum of 15 silver coins, at a small bookstore/tavern called “Grimm’s Tables & Tales” favoring the academic minds of Rauxes, across from a quiet and lovely little Inn, that is modestly priced, “The Bookworms Bed”.

    Rauxes is a wonderful and spectacular city, host to some of the great flying ships of The Great Kingdom. A colossal achievement by the meeting of minds and craft. The lands best craftsmen, carpenters, and shipwrights worked hand-in-hand with some of the brightest and most powerful mages of our age. Their identity kept secret; however, I surmise that some of the “Eight” had a hand in this as well. To date, I believe the Royal Library rivals that of Greyhawk’s, however personal preference still holds over Greyhawk. I shall donate more time and study to these airships when this journey is completed. One thing that is notable in the cold in this city. No warm water to influence the air makes this a cold place indeed. I have had to purchase a heavier set of clothing to guard against this permeating chill. I hope spring arrives soon and brings warmer weather. I like not this cold.

    11 Fireseek,
    Blast this cold! If I didn’t know better, I would remark that hell has frozen over and it would still be considered an awful place, however I digress, Rauxes’s academic quarter is hospitable.

    Hyratus Gopple, my mentor and friend has some odd premonitions at times and I believe this one is the mother of them. Several months ago, while attending the Library of Greyhawk, we came upon some ancient text, about 700 years old, which referred to a demon warrior of the Fruz.
    It was an account taken down by a Gerraden Millos, a fellow practitioner of the arcane studies and an adventurer. He and his group had stumbled upon some Hydarian Orcish ruins along the Eastern Central region of the Raker’s mountain range, approximately five days travel by foot along some very rugged terrain, due East of a small village
    called Aurichold.

    Hydarian Orc or Orc of Gridnas, were a more evolved orcish society according to old text. Hydaria was the name of the region they lived in, so titled and detailed in the Chronicles of Churn-ru-sket. Gridnas was
    the founder and legendary figure for the founded city of orcs’ of
    the same name. Hydarian reference is now used as a means to date ruins and related historical text indicative to the region.

    The text related mainly to the ruins, but also made reference to orcish historical accounts, since the rise of the city of Gridnas, the Orc wars according to orcs, and an obscure area was referred to. Orcish rune writing in a shaman’s room within the ruins referred to a centrally located mountain about two weeks north of Gridnas, which contained a series of “red” caves? And within one of these caves was a spectacular arrangement of six black pillars, “...that seemed to absorb the torch light and had large, strange, silver runes, itchy to the touch”, and within the circle of pillars a weapon of some sort, believed to be a sword that glowed a sickly green, protruded from the floor, blade outwards. The orcs dug around it to discover that it held a “kizzic” or demon kind, encased within the stone.

    Apparently this orcish shaman or the shaman’s spiritual mentor was apart of the party that unearthed this creature. The creature and the sword still in its grasp, was wrapped and taken back to a place called Vorc, a meeting arena for the orcs about a day outside of Gridnas. There the creature was awakened, and bargained its life with the promise to make the Orc’s of Gridnas “...rulers of all they looked upon”.

    There was some account that several orc warriors tried to take advantage of the creature in its weakened state and take its sword. They lost and the text was translated as “ drank upon the being of orc and left only a shriveled bag of flesh and bones”.

    A level of respect and fear was granted this creature, which called itself, Sussa-Sequissivic. There was more, but Hyratus was more interested in the mention of these black stone pillars.

    Greatly intrigued by this finding, we were able to find other accounts from the past 600 years or so, on events in the region. This Sussa creature apparently divided the Orcish rule and lead a strong band northward. Fruz dialect referred to a demon kind that wandered into the cold reaches of the Corusk Mountains. A despised tribe of Frost Barbarians known as the Rogaland tribe befriended the demon. Soon the raids and skirmishes beyond their borders gave rise to a new power in the North. Apparently a short lived one. Other books spoke of the battles and how this demon creature’s sword was a bane to all from the pits of the hells themselves. A dwarven rune spread related a battle that slew Sussa in a great battle somewhere in the western area of the Blemu Uplands and the Teesar Torrent hills south of the ancient and wicked city of Spinecastle.

    A more important document was one by a priest of the Rogaland tribe who recorded how Sussa would disappear for several days, before the summer or winter solstice during the southern campaigns to an area referred to by the orcs as “Sussa’s Cradle”. The priest, named Yagar Yewors, followed Sussa once and how in his over watch of the creature he entered a cave of red stone. Inside he saw obelisks of great power,

    Sussa stood in the centre doing some kind of ritual with his sword, when a crack in the air appeared and a sickly green essence wisped from his blade into this slit in the air, terrifying screams drove him away and he quickly returned back to the tribe and tried to convince the Lead Elder that Sussa bode ill times for them. He was quickly laughed out and banished, to live out his days as the Hermit of Bonewood.

    So, with that and some other research in Rauxes’s Royal Library we set off for Rel Astra in a few days, onto a ship soon after, and head North along the coast to Marner.

    17 Fireseek
    Rel Astra, a pleasant sea faring city with much history and overall friendly peoples. We met with Master Tuckmyster today. He has arranged for us several other scholars from Rel Astra’s educated masses and introduced his cousin’s sister Jennet, a spry and happy person. I am to understand she will be accompanying us on our Journey. His cousin, Jenny’s brother, Tibby Tumblebush, Warren Watershed; a historian, Hertal Crowfoot; our guide of the Green Bow Scouts all the way from Marner, Varro Copperstone; an archeologist of orcish culture, and Loren Mestiphospolis; scholar, historian, and dabbler of demonology and the mystic arts. Loren and I share a great deal of interest and I believe this will be a very educating experience. Also, last but not least Pratt D. Croft, our sea captain of the proud ship The Moon Dolphin,

    20 Fireseek
    Preparations have been completed. We set sail on the morrow. Weather is a bit stormy to my liking, but Pratt assures me all will be well.

    22 Fireseek
    We are away and a little over a day out of port. It will take some time to gain my “sea legs” as Pratt cares to call it, but his crew is exceptional at their tasks and the weather holds.

    24 Fireseek
    Dolphins arrive mid-day and accompany us for several leagues. Pratt says this is a good omen. Loren and I have been comparing notes. It seems there is a mythical blade of power that keeps resurfacing in our research that was conducted.

    It seems that the sword wielded by Sussa, who was demon-kin not kind according to Loren, was lost in battle to a member of the Frost Tribe Trodhiem. The warriors name was Grantogo Swiergnov who dealt Sussa the vital blow that “mortally” wounded him. Grantogo search the lands over slaying orcs, driving them back into the mountains, his blade soon became know as Swiergnov’s Might.
    When Grantogo died the sword was buried with him somewhere in the Black Root Hills a northern part of the Timberway.

    I’ll be glad when we see a port soon for provisions; my sea legs are still unfounded.

    25 Fireseek
    An awesome sight indeed is to see the full moon of Luna upon a cold, calm ocean. It appeared big enough to reach out and touch.

    Varro seems to share my sentiments on these elusive sea legs. I do believe we are loosing weight, not that Varro or I didn’t need to shed a few pounds, but I would have preferred a simpler way.

    26 Fireseek
    One truly does not have a grasp on just how large the world can be until you travel it.

    The weather threatens to be a “doozy” as Pratt has described it and we put into the port town of Oakenhart, a quiet little town that stretches along the rocky east-side coast of Drummer Island. Lots of fishing boats in the harbor and a few large war ships, most impressive.

    2nd day of Readying
    Well after several days held up inside a 300 year old Inn called the Sea Lion, the storm has past and after some minor repairs to the sails, we head out once more. Pratt believes it should be good sailing for Kaport Bay. This was some what fortunate for us to arrive in Oakenhart when we did.
    I met a man by the name of Sylvester Hohlm. His family hails from the Frost Barbarian lands and he told me of a Library of sorts that is located in the capital city of Krakenheim. His uncle Gault Hohlm, is a scholar there and teaches the old Fruz. It may be beneficial to seek out Gault and learn what secrets this library may have hidden within its written lore.

    5 Readying
    The weather was cold and wet today with high winds and waves. Pratt’s weather prediction didn’t hold true. My sea legs are definitely not with me on this journey. I must say though, if it wasn’t for the light heartedness of Tibby and his sister Jennet, this might have been a dreary journey.

    7 Readying
    The weather has cleared once again and the sails are full. Spirits are high and Warren seems to be really getting into the seamanship side of things.

    The dolphins have returned what strength these creatures possess.

    8 Readying
    I had a bad dream last evening. I was on an island, alone, and something was calling out to me from an old ruined temple. Skulls of creatures I was and wasn’t familiar with paved my way. I enter a dark area and a deep blood red light appeared thru the cracks of a stone door, there a foreboding feeling about me as I reached for the door I awoke.

    This day has been a bad day for me; I’m dropping everything and bumping into things. I think I should just go back to my bunk and wait for the morrow. An eerie silence has fallen upon the ship, even the crew are not there jovial self.
    The weather has grown still and cold. Some of the crew mutters about these parts of the waters called the Dead Surf, being over the graves of ones lost to the sea.

    11 Readying
    The last few days of been relatively uneventful. However tonight is one of the most powerful nights for arcane incantation, as the full moon of Luna and the new moon of Celene fill the night sky. What a wondrous sight to behold upon the open ocean! Loren is chanting within his cabin and the Halflings are throwing fruit over the side, while I sit upon the bow and watch the night sky. I overhear Pratt and a few of his sailors comment on how they are glad not to be on the Dead Surf on such a night as this.

    12 Readying
    Ah! The port of Kaport Bay. A busy little spot with some rather shady looking chaps about. Pratt has given the evening to his crew and on the mid day of tomorrow we will strike out for Johnsport then onto Marner.

    13 Readying
    We wouldn’t be getting anything here, Pratt has reservations about the stores had here, but we had stayed a night to get some fresh water. A cloaked stranger by the name of Lirian approached the ship and wished a private audience with Loren. However, when I returned with Loren, the stranger was no where to be seen.

    Some of Pratt’s men had a little scuffle at a local tavern and then very early this morning before sunrise, we had an intruder aboard. This intruder escaped only with their identity, at least there appears to be nothing missing.

    Glad to be back out sea, at least out from Kaport Bay.

    15 Readying
    Johnsport. What an interesting spot indeed. We stocked up on provisions for the final leg and I visited a most interesting apothecary, aside from being a very knowledgeable woman, she was very seductive. Sianne I believe was her name, if only I was younger. Met a young lad named Twerf, he spent quite a bit of time with Tibby and Jennet.
    Apparently he was able to get Pratt some good deals on provisions and equipment. Quirky kind of lad, too much energy for my liking and full of questions, too many questions, I have a gut feel about this lad that doesn’t sit well. Loren and I were warned by this little fellow that mage craft and the arcane arts were met with much scepticism, ignorance, and fear and to watch ourselves while in Johnsport.

    16 Readying
    We leave with an afternoon tide and make our way towards Marner. Something feels wrong, but I can not place a finger on it. The weather is getting cooler, despite the fact that an early summer approaches. I believe I secured some interesting information from an old Fruz woman, a fisherman’s widow.

    Telana is shunned by most for being a half breed and was referred to as a spooky old “witch” or sea hag, one who speaks to spirits of the sea and the like and lives in a small wooden shack near the docks. After an awkward introduction and odd silence Telana began telling me about her husband, Yaguar, who apparently had the blood of giants in him. He was a large man, over 20 hands high and lived on the sea most of his life. He, most like herself, never seemed to age as quickly as others. Her love for him seemed very much there in the far away look she had, her moistened sea blue eyes and whispered speech, remember gentler days long past, with soft fondness of his memory.

    She told how, one early spring morning, just before sunrise, he departed. He had been quiet for several days before after finding a strange ornamental wooden box in his net which he thought he had kept hidden from her till the day he left. He prepared the home, by fixing the roof leak, replaced several shutters, and bought her a bleached white knitted wool shawl from the town, to which I then noted a rather bedraggled grey wool shawl wrapped about her thin frame. He left that morning with tears in eyes but would not tell her why, only that he would return.
    With great remorse and unspoken cries she knew he would not return. She never saw him again after that.

    She has wandered the shore line every day since waiting for his return. I asked her about the wooden box he had found, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and told me that he had left it behind. It was empty, except for a single gold coin that always returned upon the early morning light of the next day.

    When ever she has spent the coin for food or clothing or to throw it away, it would return. She then grew stern with me, stared out across the cold sea, and said that my quest would fail, that the motions of events have long past started and that I was to be most careful, that “it” would rise, others sought “it”. A white raven would break the silence and bring ruin.

    I was flabbergasted by her change and charge of emotion and that she knew of my quest as I remember not saying anything of it. I asked her to explain, but she became agitated with me and bid me farewell, to return south before it was too late for me, that my star tattooed friend was already committed t his path of destruction...Loren? Had she seen us together earlier to make such a comment of his identity? How?

    She then turned briskly away and left, walking back towards her small shanty, not looking back, but whispering something about storms on the future will cast many shadows across all lands. It had grown late, so I had to hurry back to the ship, perplexed and stunned with disbelief. As we left Johnsport, I saw her standing on the far end of the shore, north of the town, standing there, waiting knee deep in the cold ocean surf, staring at me? or was it the ghostly memory of her lost love, till I could see her no more.

    This evening I reflect upon my meeting with Telana and have recorded my encounter with her as I believe her days are fewer to be then already seen and such a remarkable person should be remembered.

    17 Readying
    I had a most livid and disturbing nightmare. Falling in the dark, hearing screams of the desperate and horrified as I fell. I awoke in a sweat and stayed awake into the morning hours wondering if there is more to this exhibition that seen. Such events and actions of the past have awakened or released evils, was this such a possibility? I shared some of my thoughts with Loren about this possibility. His demeanor has changed and he seemed a bit stand offish at my concerns, calling it the worries of old fools.

    It is later in the day and I have met Loren at the mid-day meal table, he apologized for his earlier behavior, that he had slept ill and felt some misgivings as well but reassured me that things would be alright, however I do not feel assured by this and wonder if I should seek a higher authority once we reach Marner.

    A phrase keeps plaguing my thoughts...Ubiquitous Sanatorium, I know not why. Maybe if I can get a good nights rest, my mind will steady. I must seek out Warren for his night-cap remedy.

    18 Readying
    Another day gone past, grey skies and cold winds have been at our sails and backs since our leave of Johnsport. The Halflings seem to be less cheerful than their usual self; however the odd joke still gets by and warms the heart, what an amazing breed these Halflings. I am beginning to miss my dusty, book infested study back at the college. The sturdiness of solid ground, the warmth of a fire, the relaxing feel of a hot cup of elven grey tea, and a good discussion of academics with my peers.

    Soon, it is figured that this exhibition will only take another 2 to 3 months before we can start back again. Indeed. I hope my cat Clafable will not forget me, lo chew another one of my quill pens. I shall try to keep busy, I’m told only 3 more days and we should be in Marner. Apparently it would be sooner but the weather is not in our favor.

    Loren has shared with me several interesting thoughts on this ‘demon’ referred to in some old text he picked up and had translated in Johnsport.

    21 Readying
    Here I am at the ports of Marner. I can not say I enjoyed the trip wholly, but it was relatively uneventful and educating. I will miss Pratt and the crew of the “The Moon Dolphin”, as the days gone past has formed friendships that will never be forgotten. I hope we can secure “The Moon Dolphin” for our trip back south.

    There is a small archive of a records /library that I intend to check out while Tibby arranges our equipment, provisions and labor. I estimate we will be in Marner for another one to two weeks, while we wait for the weather to become more hospitable. There are some ruins and old battlefield sites I can explore near here with Warren and Varro while we wait.

    22 Readying
    Slept most of this day away. I have decided that I will continue with this exhibition. I have sent a letter back with Pratt for Hyratus.

    23 Readying
    The Frost Plains, a small strip of flat grassy land between the village’s of Cormik and Grassflats. Here, recorded in Frigal’s account of “The Shade of Orcs”, a good historical piece I was able to secure on loan from the small library, actually more of a large personal collection a Mr. Jesimo Loftwicket, a rather portly sort of a man, not at all native to these lands of fair skinned, light haired, and attractive north men and women, but he boasts of having the best cook for a wife in Marner, evidently so. Aside from that, the account reads of a little over two centuries recounts a two day battle that was waged along these Frost Plains and I mean literally over two days, Hundreds dead to both sides, with the allied tribes of the north men being victorious, but at great cost.

    We will start digging in a few areas that our local guide says are ok, on the morrow.

    24 Readying
    These are accurately called the Frost Plains. I thought I had gotten use to the cold weather, how wrong indeed. Upon the morning rise, our entire tent was cast in a blanket of thick frost, but by mid morning it was gone.

    Our digging was harsh with the ground half frozen, but we were able to find several items of note. Scale links of mail armor, several orcish arrowheads, an orc sword, and partial skeletal remains much to Varro’s delight an orcish skull was also recovered.

    25 Readying
    We arrived back in Marner by mid-afternoon. Over a hot seafood chowder we shared with Tibby and the others our findings discussed what our plan should be to find the Hydarian Orcish ruins in the Eastern Central region of the Raker’s mountain range.

    Approximately five days travel by foot along some very rugged terrain, due East of Aurichold, which happens to be only 5 to 7 days away.

    26 Readying
    I awoke early and took a nice hot bath, had a hardy breakfast and a nice brisk walk by the docks. This isn’t so bad; I might just get use to this.

    I returned the book to Loftwicket today, who was interested in our findings, which for the most part of the items, we left with him. We were treated to a fantastic meal of whitefish with rosemary; no wonder the man is so portly.

    While preparing for tomorrows venture we were warned of a storm approaching and so put up and prepared for it. Varro brought out a set of dwarf runic stones and began a game of some sort, interesting, but not to my liking.

    The wind has picked up dramatically and a wall of dark clouds has settled upon the land from the direction of sea. The small bay is full of whitecaps and the ships look like toys in a tub of water, bouncing about.

    27 Readying
    I awoke to a shutter being ripped off the window and rain, more like slush, whipped in upon a cold wind. We quickly boarded the window and started a nice warm fire. Tibby was wise in his suggestion to bring in some extra firewood, as this storm doesn’t look like it’ll pass too soon.

    Bother! Another pot makes the total to four, a boot courtesy of Hertal, an empty potato barrel, and my chamber pot to collect the water dripping in from the roof. A newly thatched roof indeed! We’ve collectively decided to look for some reimbursement for this.

    28 Readying
    The storm seems to have settled here and decided to place this area to ruin, before it is thru. The innkeeper was almost blown off the roof trying to repair the holes, he was somewhat successful with the boot and chamber pot being freed of there water collecting chore, much to Hertal’s and mine appreciation, however the butcher across the street was not so fortunate, as the large tree next to his shop/home split and crashed into his front window side. We assisted as best we could under the circumstances and ended up with a fresh hog over the fire for our troubles. My how much better food tastes after a hard task! Tibby and Jennet broke out a bottle of apple berry wine, culled it by the fire for a little heat and with a dash of cinnamon spice, perfection. What a delightful treat that was and it worked better than Warren’s night-cap.

    1st day of Coldeven
    As with a new month, so was it that the storms worst has gone by. Still a mix of rain and snow falling, but the wind has subsided and we begin to clean up a bit and make travel plans to our next destination. I must remember to have a little less of this apple berry wine next time, my senses are dulled and my head ached for a good part of the morning.

    2 Coldeven
    Our hired labor will not be available now for a couple of days due to damages done by the storm. If all goes well we should be on the road by the fourth. Hertal has secured some maps of the area and news that the weather should be more in our favor over the next week.

    3 Coldeven
    The horses and ponies are ready, (I don’t see much of a difference between what they call a horse and pony up here though, both are small), food aplenty, dry, warm cloths, but no laborers. We wait till tomorrow.

    Just as well we did stay today; I only became aware of the fact that I needed more ink to continue this journal. Mustn’t disappoint Hyratus, least I received a poor grade for an incomplete recount of this journey.

    4 Coldeven
    We leave for the village Aurichold. The weather is cold but pleasant. Hertal has introduced three of his fellow Green Bow Scouts who will accompany us. Jurgur, Melgellan, and Hurg; Hertal’s brother. Jurgur is the oldest and most experienced of these northern frontier men, I figure he’s as old as I with a good 50 winters under his belt. Actually Jurgur surprises me. He demonstrated an insight into the arcane arts and I later found out he once “dabbled” in his youth. Melgellan is of half human, half Hydarian Orc. He is a massive and powerful warrior. He is quiet and keeps to himself a lot to himself and mainly only seems to relax around Jurgur. Apparently Jurgur is the closest thing to a father figure Melgellan has since his birth. Neither will talk on the issue.
    Hurg is definitely Hertal’s brother, the likeness is there and the mannerisms. These men are all competent and skill fighters and I believe Tibby has done a supreme job of hiring them for this exhibition.

    Finally, I come to our four laborers who showed up this early this morning. Originally six where requested but circumstances allowed only for four, still Tibby has done well. Deet, Syto, Krimm, and Luodo. All hail from the city of Marner and are somewhat an example of the diverse racial population of the city.

    Syto is the odd apple in our barrel. The other Marnermen are not familiar with him and his skin is a pale grey. He doesn’t look healthy but carries himself well. The others do not associate with him much either.
    All in all, I believe this trip will be exciting and beneficial for not only for Tuckmyster, but Stone Grove’s library as well.

    5 Coldeven
    Another battle site along the Frost Plains, we set camp and begin to dig a little.

    6 Coldeven
    Tibby, Warren, Varro, and I have decided to spend an extra day at this camp site. Some interesting finds have surfaced, in particular a Hydarian Orcish war hammer with special properties about it. It was discovered under a pile of bones of orc, man, and dwarf. I think Varro almost fell over upon its discovery. Jurgur commented that it was most likely an orcish chieftain’s weapon.

    We just finished combating pair of creatures of unnatural origin. They appeared as a kind of wild cat, but while and pale blue in color, with huge forward fangs and breath that caused frost upon one’s skin. Hurg and Tibby became injured during the encounter, but the beasts were quickly slain by the combined efforts of our group.

    Tibby seems to have recovered well after Jennet’s attentions, but still suffers from a fever. Hurg is walking about as if he was never struck. Loren has taken several samples of these creatures for further study.

    7 Coldeven
    We are again upon the path. Nothing further was found and Tibby’s fever has seemed to pass during the night, though he still seems weak from the encounter.

    10 Coldeven
    Three days upon this path, with little more than the far off cries of wolves and the squall of geese.

    Another small herd of caribou has been spotted by Hertal. The meat from two caribou caught several days ago is almost gone. Aside from my increased appetite, I have actually lost weight.

    11 Coldeven
    I was pleasantly gifted today. After our evening meal of caribou meat, mushrooms, and some kind of tasty boiled sunroot, Melgellan gave me a warm cloak fashioned from the hide of caribou. He warned that the hide still needed time to cure properly; but that I could wear it and it would help guard against the damp. This is the most he has spoken the entire trip and even Jurgur seemed surprised by his actions. I must admit I failed to properly cloth myself against this northern weather.

    12 Coldeven
    Signs of civilization at last, if one could call this a sign. We have arrived at a small Inn called the Silver Leaf, just outside of Ratikhill, is about four buildings in total, including the outside privy. I hope and look forward to getting a nice hot bath and eating something other than caribou and sunroot.

    13 Coldeven
    Urta, a rather large and manly looking lady and wife to the Innkeeper of the Silver Leaf, has lived in the region for some 66 years with her family ties dating back 300 years. She is a natural story teller and I find her tales quite intriguing, especially in concern to the mention of the demon warrior, Sussa and the Hermit of Bonewood.

    May I note here that Urta also makes a very fine rhubarb pie. Another interesting point to weight is her abilities with an axe. I pity the orc or man that ever upsets her.

    14 Coldeven
    It has been determined by Tibby that our newly acquired guide, Wellen Birgstock, will lead us to a large area of orcish ruins, possibly the same ones I have read about before. We will be striking out on the morrow for Aurichold.

    15 Coldeven
    I have discovered this to be my last page as several sheets of my fine parchment have become wet and torn. I shall see about acquiring more, hopefully, in this village of Aurichold.

    16 Coldeven
    The village of Aurichold, much like a small stockade village alike the ones found near border lands. I’m informed by Hertal that orc’s and gnolls, amidst other creatures threaten the village on a regular basis. The men here are hardened warriors as well as are most of the women. A silver mine is but a few leagues away towards a southern mountain called Blackwood. Both orcs and men have mined there, the right to do so is given to a victor of battle.
    A champion is chosen to fight on both sides; the winner gets to mine for a season. Much to my dismay the battle has already been fought.

    This season, the orcs mine.

    I suggested that we leave the bulk of our gear here and find the ruins first with a smaller party. Then set camp and send for the others with the gear. This is received well and we learn from Wellen that the orcs are more aggressive this year. They have even been so bold as to approach the gates of Aurichold and have apparently claimed war against two local tribes, or as they are sometimes referred to as packs, of gnolls.

    The orcish war drums and horns could be heard all through the evening. We were told by the locals that some sort of ritual or ceremony was being performed, possibly over a recent victory against the Black Mane pack. We came at a bad time and that straying into the ruins would be a dangerous endeavor.

    17 Coldeven
    We struck out early, prior to sunrise, and made our way towards the ruins. The weather has clouded over with the threat of snowfall and the wind is cold from the north.

    Hertal and Hurg have returned with news of an orcish hunting party nearby. Hurg does not believe there will be any problems with them as they are a smaller party and are following a small herd of white tail deer. I hope he is right. The closest I have ever come or wish to be to an orc is Megellan.

    As we camp for the night, it seems Hurg was correct about the orcs.

    18 Coldeven
    The trail we are following appears to be an old road. Every now and again we walk upon cobbled stones or see small piles disturbed by tree roots. This winter foliage of deadwood, bushes, and pines and the added foot of snow make’s travel arduous and slow.

    We have come across a large set of ancient weather worn grey stone statues in the shape of two orcish warriors to either side this old roadway.
    Pitted and moss covered with the hard chiseled lines worn smooth by time.

    Wellen seems certain that we have arrived at our destination. A shallow stream rests just beyond and upon a small rise we can make out the silhouettes of what appears to be the ruins. Wellen bids us well and returns towards the stockade, the path is relatively straight forward and between Hertal and Jurgur, I am at ease with the ability that we can return safely.

    Large, crude spears posted with orc skulls attest to some kind of “death warning” to other orcs and creatures unlucky enough to stray upon these ruins. Megellan suggests that we heed this warning and approach carefully.

    Varro has given me a crude map he has draw of these ruins. We haven’t entered any of the structures as of yet, but there is definitely something awry about this place. Mostly dead trees abound within the ruins common grounds. The earth and stone is charred and trees are scorched.

    We have decided to enter the largest structure of the three still standing. A large set of iron doors inscribed in old arcane Hydarian Orc runes bar our way momentarily as Megellan forces them open. The inside walls are full of pictograms and orcish runes. Varro and I decide to stay here and to try and decipher it, Jurgur remaining with us, while the other venture down a large set of stairs leading to an area below.

    The pictograms are crude at best and seem to be over written with the orcish runes, either meaning that the orcs found these ruins and recorded there own tales or wrote over older orcish script and pictogram over hundreds of years. The inks are faded, with the orcish runes being more predominant and justifying there later recording.

    Varro and I have compared our notes and determine that a “spawn of a slayer of Sussa and possessor of Sussa’s might, was slain in a great battle farther north of here. We are able to determine the name Swiergnov as being the title or name of the “spawn”. The battle was lost to the Swiergnov? and his kind but not before he was mortally wounded by an orcish warrior named Drivarsh Stone Eater. The area is described as near a water fall of great height. “The man home of Pine Hill” is referred as a strong hold and “the remnants of the orcish clan named Jomish, a proud clan of Hyrrka Sussa of old had all died in the battle” for this “Sussa’s Might”.

    Another odd set of runes talk about a lost war party that buried the “Hyrrka Sussa”, and below it in a deferent set of orcish runes is the account of a resting place on a “land of Orros”.

    Varro has given me some ancient papyrus. One a map with orcish runes and the other a recount of an orcish war party’s shaman that had escaped devastation and buried their “Lord Sussa” on an Isle of Orros, definitely in relation to some these accounts recorded here on these walls.

    I am trouble though. There is a partially collapsed wall with several different accounts over time related events that speak of or refer to three snake symbolic pictographs, each named Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera.

    If my memory serves me correctly these are the names of demons.

    Note to self to confirm this with Loren.

    There is much here scribed and painted upon these stone walls. Gruesome accounts of sacrifice, great deeds by orcish warriors at battles that span over three centuries. There is an account of the great orcish chieftain Gridnas, some of his exploits and referral to the settling of the Orcish city named Gridnas. An orcish calendar is located on a separate slab of metal set into the floor. This would be worth a small fortune to several scholars that I know of in the Stone Grove. The technology and literacy displayed here is very uncommon from the species and tribes of orcs I have read about. I figure it will take several days just too properly decipher a fraction of the knowledge and history recorded here. It seems we have stumbled upon an orc equivalent of a library and museum.

    Several hours later the others returned from below. As we thought, there are several levels more below. A huge cash of artifacts, tombs, and more rune covered walls.

    A large set of iron doors below were discovered. The party plans to open them on the morrow after we finish exploring the rest of the ruins.

    One of the tombs was protected by arcane means; it seemed to belong to a great orcish warlord named “Hyrrka Ietak”. I’ve heard of this name before. I was able to disarm it and thank the gods, Megellan was beside me. In one fell swoop of his great sword, he defeated the animated corpse as the lid was removed. The undead creature harmlessly wiggled about a bit before it grew still, much to the morbid delight of Loren I might add who appeared amused by the whole incident. Inside an orcish battle club of great craftsmanship was discovered, it too held arcane properties about it. Also numerous jewels were spread about inside, much to the delight of Tibby.

    In another area of the lower level, we breached a sealed wall and found a sarcophagus of some alien design. The walls glowed a pale green and the entire chamber seemed much older than the rest of the structure, ancient and wicked. Warren took several rubbings off of the sarcophagus. Then with the assistance of Hurg we managed to open it.
    Inside was a tome constructed of black scales, and bound with a large silver seal. Aside from the book, a robe and an odd dagger, the skeletal remains were just as alien as the sarcophagus. Jurgur and Loren, the first time I’ve ever seen them agree on something said we should not disturb the remains. I sketched the fascinating skull and we took the tome, but left everything else. We sealed the wall and place a warning on it. I was not as disturbed as the others over this, where they seemed to have a sense of fear from it.

    19 Coldeven
    Today is a dark day indeed. Warren and Luodo fell to the ravages of a monstrous, dark and evil creature. It appeared as a huge, spherical mass of scaly hide, with a large eye, gaping mouth with razor sharp fangs, and a sea of tentacles with eyes on the tips. It was dealt several blows before we were able beat it into and lock it in a passageway, though I no not how long the doors will hold against it.

    As surmised, the rest of the ruins are barren on the surface, however the other larger structure lead to a huge underground amphitheater where we met this horrible creature!

    Hertal and Jurgur suggest we take what we have and leave while the daylight lasts, as they believe this creature is a dweller of the dark, so when night fall gets here...

    Varro and I have copied and recorded as much as we could from the runic scriptures and pictographs. We also quickly loaded a spare pack horse with items found.

    Rest in peace Warren. Rest in peace Luodo.

    21 Coldeven
    It was night fall as we reached Aurichold. I am beat as we had to travel hard and fast to avoid a gnoll war pack. I am glad to be in a nice warm hall again with a hot cup of rum root tea and dry cloths.
    22 Coldeven
    It has been decided that we will venture north in search of this Sussa’s Might or as the Fruz call it Swiergnov’s Might. Varro, Loren and I have spent hours going over the lore we have acquired over the last few days, both from the ruins and locals. We have agreed that Varro should hold onto our written accounts and notes, except for my journal of course and the few sketches I’ve made.

    Loren has confirmed the names Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera as being demon type creatures to some, cursed creatures to others. He knows of text on them back at his residence. He will prepare properly when we can and summon it.

    23 Coldeven
    We leave for Marner. Such a loss of life and a loss of an opportunity of a lifetime, I was hoping we would be able to stay longer, at least a week, but these turn of events and the barbaric political environment between the orcs and gnolls and men, has placed obstacles that need to be addressed. I would like to know that I would be able to return here under calmer circumstances.

    25 Coldeven
    We have been on the path back to Marner to replenish our supplies and rest for a few days before we strike north in search of Grantogo Swiergnov’s possible burial site somewhere near a set of falls, just west of the village of Pine Hill.

    The horses bare the weight of riches and the dead. Warren and Tuodo’s bodies are born back with us, a constant reminder of the reality of it all.

    28 Coldeven
    The days have been long and cold. We are all tired and look forward to getting a good nights rest and full belly at the Pine Wood Inn. Tomorrow we should be there.
    1st day of Planting
    Marner. The business concerning Luodo’s death is quickly attended to by Tibby. I feel a great loss at the memory of Warren. They are finally laid to rest atop of Sea Sight Hill, the local burial grounds.

    2 Planting
    We quickly obtain provisions and bid fare well to Deet. Syto and Krimm agree to stay with us for the same wage, but request a small share of any more treasure found. Tibby is accommodating and even gives then a share of the recently found treasure.

    Varro and I gave a good portion of our treasure to Luodo’s wife and children, in addition to what Tibby and Jennet gave.

    By midday we struck the roadway north towards Abonhoth and into the wild lands of the Fruz tribe’s trade town of Ulthek.

    3 Planting

    4 Planting
    A full Luna moon tonight. Loren is off somewhere doing some unknown practice in favor of this full moon, he worries me at times. I glad he is on our side.

    5 Planting
    Abonhoth. A small fortified village with an old stone keep housing it land lord Hurgaf, who presides over the mainly woodsmen and miner population of Abonhoth. The Red Boar, a local pub and Inn, is a warm little place. Definitely the best stew I’ve ever tasted. I was told the meat was bear and the roots, vegetables, and grains used were all locally grown.

    The land along the southern approach is rich farmland that was being seeded by the women of the village. A strong Suel strain is evident here with these people. We spend the night at the Red Boar, good rooms but little food or choice of it was available. It seems that it was a hard winter.

    6 Planting
    Back onto the road. Tibby and Jennet seemed in good spirits and start a nice little travel tune for a good part of the day, though I’m no singer, I’m told I make a great baritone?

    We helped a herder and his son with their flock of sheep as they struggled to get them towards Abonhoth. They had several that had strayed away from the flock. Smelly animals or would that be us? I miss not having a hot bath everyday.

    8 Planting
    A Forest Ogre attacked us last night. It was already wounded and wished to eat one of our horses, but when told no, it became angry and attacked us. It was a quick and pitiful demise for the Ogre.

    This Ogre possessed strange garb, a mixing of armour types and bear skin clothing, and an odd assortment of weapons; a stone axe, a crude broad short sword of goblin craft, and several stone tipped spears.

    9 Planting
    This forest must have an Ogre problem, three more assailed us during the early evening. Hurg, Krimm, Loren, and Megellan were all wounded by this ordeal. Hurg was the worst, with a spear thrust into his the rib cage. He bled a lot, but Jennet believes he will live. Megellan was also hurt badly. Loren caught a thrown stone across his chest and may have a few cracked ribs. These Ogre are definitely something to contend with, and they are not as stupid as one is lead to believe.

    10 Planting
    Hurg has recovered somewhat better from having a good night’s rest, and the others look no worst for wear. Hertal and Jurgur say we should be in Ulthek by tomorrow afternoon if all goes well. They warn us that arcane practice is shunned upon there and to watch ourselves. Our appearances alone will draw enough attention and prejudice, as there is also a dislike for folk from the southern lands.

    Jurgur says one does not wear a sword in Ulthek unless they know how to use it well. Challenges are an honor bound issue here and not to accept one is either to be branded a coward or slain by the locals. Jurgur also says our coin will not go far here, especially if its southern marked coin. I am not looking forward to this place, however the prospect of a hot bath encourages me to get on with it.

    11 Planting
    Ulthek! Its worst than I expected. Huge cold stone walls enclose a ratty overgrown village of mud and wood huts for the most. The streets are mud and the smell of cooking fires, urine, and animals permeates the air. Every now and again a cold ocean breeze blows thru, thank the gods. Not a very welcoming place either. We have been watched and scrutinized every step.

    Jurgur seems most at home here, conversing freely with a few, but only to gather a sense of mood and anything note worthy. He urged us towards a grey stone building towards the dockyard. A weather beaten sign read “Mountain’s Fountain”.

    Hertal commented that it is the only place relatively safe for foreigners, the only place to stay and the only place our coin could be used without drawing too much attention.

    After a warm meal of salt fish and cabbage, I hope we are not here long, we all gathered at Tibby’s room to discuss our next course of action. Jurgur had some bad news.
    Several men of the north are making inquires about us and one watches the Inn, who they are and what they want is unknown but we all agreed it is not good. Hertal and Jurgur have had time to make several inquires about a large water fall and the family name of Swiergnov. An ex-Green Bow, who they trust by the name of Aynar, knows these lands and will meet with us at first light outside the western gate to take us to a village called Pine Hill.

    The sooner we leave the better.

    12 Planting
    Off to Pine Hill.

    13 Planting
    Yesterday was rushed as we tried to leave without notice to whoever is watching us, so I had no time to write. I do not believe we were successful as Jurgur, Megellan, and Hertal has strayed back behind us to lay in wait for any possible followers.

    Also, Syto disappeared late last night and could not be found. We at first feared for him, until we determined that his gear was also gone as was a small but noticeable portion of our treasure.

    The path through this expanse of the Timberway is rugged, more alike a goat path. The trees are large and ancient. I wondered and asked Aynar if any elvish folk lived within its boundaries. He said once, as song and story have past along to him, long ago elves lived here. A large tree town called Greentop, where men and elves and dwarves would trade and share culture, but constant war with gnoll packs, tribes of bugbear and orc, and goblin types wore away the magic of the place. The elves abandoned their city and withdrew, where no one knows for sure except that they are rumored to be still around.

    Jurgur and the others have caught up with us. We were being followed but they made a false trail which should give us several hours at least.

    14 Planting
    Pine Hill, a small forest village. Jurgur warns that the same sentiments of Ulthek are common amongst the peoples of these lands. We decide to wait outside of the village, while they go in to find out what they can about the location of the waterfall.

    Several hours have gone by and it had grown dark by the time Jurgar, Aynar, and Hertal returned. There are a series of old burial mounds on the northern side of the Pine River at the top of the water falls about half a day’s journey from here. Aynar, wishing no dealings with burial mounds, bids us farewell and leaves in the cover of night. My worries are partly laid to rest as Hertal assures me that Aynar can be trusted and pledged his assistance if we should need it again. Now who is following us, why, and how will the locals feel about us digging around the tombs of their ancestors? Hertal shrugged his shoulders and says “the gods find many ways to amuse themselves, through our diversity and determination to succeed will they be most pleased and bless our path”.

    I never thought of Hertal being so spiritual.

    15 Planting
    In the early morning we entered the village and I was introduced by Jurgur to an elder by the name of Gizurr Roelv of the Frost Tribe Trodhiem. He is familiar with several ancient runic languages and is willing to assist us if we keep our word not to disrespect the burial grounds. The village no longer uses the mounds, haven’t done so for over a 100 years. The place is thought haunted and left alone, however some of the elders still visit their ancestors, something lost to most of the youth.

    We reached the upper falls by mid afternoon and decided to make camp several hundred yards from the mounds. The area is mostly over grown and it will take some time to find the burial mound of Swiergnov. We are all excited about the prospect finding this ancient artifact. Varro is busy getting everything ready. A quick bite to eat and we start looking.

    Time to get some rest and start again early morning. Gizurr is a wealth of information about old stories, songs, and children’s tales about the mounds, the battles that the warriors buried here fought, and much more. So far we have about a third of the burial grounds done, but Varro has found some older ones closer to the falls. Tomorrow should reveal something more relevant to our search.

    16 Planting
    I believe we have found Grantogo Swiergnov’s burial mound. At last, I was beginning to doubt if we would find it at all. There are a series of mounds that are well over 200 years old and the runes scribed are most difficult to read at the best of times.

    A large stone slab depicts a tale of a great battle and Swiergnov’s fall. Unfortunately the slab is in several pieces with some crumbled away. There are others that give a brief history about how Turrgof Swiergnov son of Rodtugo==f Swiergnov slayer of the orc chieftain Sussa and wielder of Swiergnov’s Might. It told of how the sword was taken up from the ground where it fell from a monstrous orc chieftain named Sussa who was slain by Rodtugo==f and how the tide of battle changed. Elven kind of the Greentop reinforced their position and scattered the orc hoards. Since that time the sword had been handed down to the first born of Swiergnov. It said Turrgof had no other children after Grantogo and Grantogo took several wives but could bare no children, so when he died, his family’s Might was laid to rest with Grantogo and his fathers upon the lands they were born upon.

    Gizurr related how there was a settlement along these banks a long time ago and was the birth place of Rodtugo=f and his fathers. The orc wars took all that away and the majority of the old burial mounds are that of the inhabitants of the ancient village called SnowStone. Some of the ones who survived started the foundations of Pine Hill, such as Gizurr’s great great grand father.

    Tibby seems convinced that this is Grantogo Swiergnov’s burial mound, yet we have yet to open it as powerful shaman magic has it protected. A curse to any who would disturb Grantogo Swiergnov rest, which I believe it, is very similar to a death ward, which I have come across once before, a long time ago.

    Tibby has scribed and sent message to Ferrin Tuckmyster by way of Hertal as agreed upon if we should discover such a relic.

    We are loosing daylight, so instead of pursuing it any further, we agree to tackle this first thing in the morning.

    17 Planting
    After several attempts to dispel the death ward, Loren believed we had succeeded, however I was uneasy at this and with out thinking and my failure to react in time, Loren pried open the protection slab and died.
    There was a bright burst of light and air and he was gone, not even a hair left to mark where he stood. We were stunned for some time and hesitant to enter.

    I went forth, alone.

    I will not scribe what transpired then, at least not now. All I will say is that I felt as if I robbed my own father when I emerged with the sheathed sword, the sword of Swiergnov’s Might or Sussa’s Might, depending on whose account you read.

    18 Planting
    We’ve returned to Pine Hill. Another two days to Ulthek and we will try and get a ship south to Marner, then back to Rel Astra and draw this exhibition to a close, finally.

    We have friendships formed over these last few months that will last a lifetime. I hope Hertal makes it back to Marner safely. I hope we all make it back to Rel Astra safely. I miss my cat and stuffy office. I know I will be quite content to remain put for a very long time.

    Megellan stands constant guard over the relic. Tibby seems nervous, and with good manner, a young boy has approached us to ask if the men waiting in the woods were waiting for us. Tibby asked how many, the boy replied about a dozen. They all wore black except for the mark of a white raven upon their chest. Perplexed, but not stupid, we decided to wait them out.

    It has been several hours and they have not entered the village. We have decided to divide ourselves up and make for Ulthek under the cover of night. Tibby, Jennet, Megellan and myself as one group with the relic and Jurgur, Varro, Hurg and Krimm as the other group to lead these unknown assailants away from us.

    19 Planting
    We’ve stopped for a quick break. It seems that we have succeeded at deceiving them. I must find out more about this White Raven symbol.

    We are on foot, with our horses with the other to maintain the illusion of eight riders.

    21 Planting
    The weather has been kind and we are making good speed. Megellan has expressed concern about Jurgur, but is loyal to his task of seeing us thru to Ulthek.
    24 Planting
    Blasted gnolls. We came upon a small hunting parting and the battle was costly. Jennet and Megellan were badly wounded from the incident so we had to rest a whole night. Several escaped and we feared that more would soon follow, but it did not happen.

    I took a look at the relic blade again. It is an alien and evil weapon that must not fall into the wrong hands. Gods give us the strength to prevail.

    27 Planting
    I know not if Jurgur survived. Tibby, I and the others made Ulthek late last night. We waited at the “Mountain’s Fountain” for as long as we dared. Our pursuers may have entered Ulthek it is unknown, but we are keeping to the shadows and use the night as our cover.

    Jurgur and Hurg nearly brought tears to my eyes as we literally bumped into them at the docks seeking passage south to Marner or further. Varro was soon to follow with Krimm. We are all together again.

    28 Planting
    We’ve secured passage aboard a trade slip called the Morning Breeze, Torrieo and his second mate Nurt seemed a little too eager to accept our offer. I feel uneasy about this but Tibby says we must depart tonight as our seekers have entered the town and are looking us.

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