Reign of the Axe

Wob Zi's journal
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Elaine - Session Eleven
When I leave, it will be with two goblins and a troll, Hawklight!

This isn’t over, Hawklight. I’ve seen through your ineptitude, and if you think I will leave the fate of any creature in your hands, you are gravely mistaken. I know a wererat back home that treats his enemies better than you treat those in your custody. You have no excuse! You shame the bird after whom you are named!

I do not believe that the entire Order of Heironeous will hunt me down if I take the other goblin, and if they do, they were our prisoners first. All that we brought back were our prisoners. Hemming was our prisoner, and we left him in the custody of Doster for questioning. The goblins were our prisoners, and we left them in the custody of Doster for examination and healing regarding the current situation. Hemming and one of the goblins is dead. Half of the prisoners we left to Doster are now dead. If that doesn’t wake someone up back in headquarters, then there is no hope for the lot of them.

Even if I have to kidnap the remaining goblin, he will not remain with the paladins. His life is in jeopardy, and I will not stand by this injustice.

In other news, I am making progress with my research. Although the news of Ghorg’s death is informative, it was a wasted effort. These are the magic types that Master Gerard would call “lazy magic,” meaning they rely too heavily on their magical arts for mundane things. Instead of studying this illness and proceeding, they immediately throw magic at it. When the magic fails, they are left without a Plan B. Same goes for a magic user that blows through all his magical energy without thought of needing things for later. It is foolish and often suicidal. In this case, it was homicidal.

I have given the victims names. Ghorg is the previously noted Goblin C, Rotfoot is the previously noted Goblin B, Murch is the previously noted Goblin A, and Tim is the previously noted Troll. They are people too, and it is so easy to forget that when you’re dealing with something different than you. I thought I was pretty good with the goblin names, but I confess I know little of troll names. I know they are not their real names, and I would be happy to find out their real names and call them by those, for that means we have cured them.

Getting the troll out will be difficult, nigh impossible to do without Thunk and the others. If we have a way to roll the cage, though, with the semi-cart that Francis and Larry are hopefully working on, we can at least move him once he’s at the surface. I am not sure what his disposition will be if we can cure him, but hopefully, he will at least be moderately friendly towards us. Having a troll as a best friend could be a great boon, and Deneva and Thunk can speak Giant. I wonder if any of my companions speaks Goblin. I have heard that some goblins speak Giant, Gnoll, Elven, and Orc, and my companions speak those. If I’m really lucky, maybe one of them will speak Draconic, but that is slim.

How does one explain to Thunk that the paladins don’t have the goblins’ best interests at heart? If they did, they would have taken them and the troll to Heironopolis with Nado and the infected paladin. The goblins and troll are expendable because of the form and culture in which they were born. They are just as much victims in this as Nado and the paladin, probably taken from their homes and experimented on. They probably had friends that were also taken and didn’t survive the process. Murch and Rotfoot are now missing one of their clansmen, and the gods only know how many were killed for them to be taken.

To the paladins, they are fodder. I bet they didn’t even feel bad for the one they caused to explode. Why should they? He was just a goblin?

The whole mess disgusts me.

I swear to Boccob, if the men and women of Hextor are just as incompetent, I might lose my mind and claw them all from the face of the earth.

I was looking forward to the party, probably more than the others. We’ve done a lot of work for these people, and I was excited to have a hot meal and wine. I know the ‘no weapons’ rule bothered Korwindel and Deneva, as it should. In my experience, however, it’s only illegal if they catch you with it. I don’t look like it, but I spent a good couple of years stealing my food. I couldn’t get back into Master’s tower, and suddenly I was outside with no clothes that fit, no food, and no money. No one wanted to give anything that looked like I did the time of day, let alone something substantial.

My wererat friend taught me that business. He can be a sonofabitch to those he doesn’t know, but he’s really solid once you earn his respect. By Boccob, I wonder what he’s going by now. He changes his name at least three times a month. I’m not even sure he knows what his real name is. I need to talk to him about some really nice lock-picking tools. He’s highly resourceful, especially at obtaining less than legal things.

Speaking of no clothes that fit, I might be taking Deneva shopping whenever we get to Ignavus. I could use with a few new clothes as well, especially now that I can afford that Whimsey Shire Cotton that supposedly feels like a cool summer’s breeze upon one’s skin…feathers. Maybe it’ll help me out with my flying lessons to wear clothes that feel like a cool summer’s breeze. Yes, I know that’s irrational. Makes more sense than Doster Hawklight!

At the party, I had some wine. It was supposed to be me proving to Korwindel that alchemy is not witchcraft, and for a moment, I entertained that I had numbed my own tongue for about a minute, but nothing I had put in there would have contracted that much of the numbing agent by casual contact with another component.

A wizard with retarded speech is a screwed wizard. I should start making adjustments for this weakness.

I was disappointed that Korwindel dismissed my concern so easily. Let down. Hurt, maybe? Maybe I am growing too attached to these people. Maybe I was stupid to think that I could have friends. Here is a man who wants to learn to kill wizards, and there’s nothing to say that the first one he’ll try and take down will be me. Should I risk it? I cannot guard myself from him very well now, and he’s proved that if he wanted to pick someone off, he could do it in a gravity-defying fashion.

I saw him talking to the guards, and he made him drink from the wine bottle. The guard tried to toss his glass, but Korwindel made him slurp it all down. The guard didn’t stick around quickly after that, which verifies that it was not my doing. Thank Boccob for palette-cleansing ginger.

When the Locusts struck, my pillow of doom was at hand. I’d not checked it in, and the wine made me paranoid. The pillow itself looks fairly harmless when it’s not being hurled at great speeds. You can barely notice the nails in it! With that and all the cutlery in a ten foot radius, I’m ready to fork some shite up. I just have to pretend they’re all Doster. It will be simple.

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Elaine - Session Ten
I am DONE...

To: High Priest of the Temple of Heironeous, Heironopolis
From: A Concerned Citizen

Respectfully to the High Priest of the Clergy of Heironeous,

I am writing to you in order to inform you of the neglectful actions of the paladin sect that was sent to aid the town of Lindellin, headed by Paladin Doster Hawklight. I wanted to like Paladin Hawklight. He portrays himself the way most envision a Paladin of Heironeous to be portrayed: strong, just, charismatic, a natural-born leader. The man exudes the kind of stability that the masses long to follow. To the common people, he has fulfilled this expectation in every way. However, the longer my companions and I worked with Paladin Hawklight, the more we recognized that he is grossly-lacking certain qualities.

First, he blindly hired a gnome bounty hunter in order to investigate a wizard supposedly involved in kidnappings. Not only did this bounty hunter accept bribes from prisoners for their immediate release, this gnome bounty hunter was so greedy that he ended up selling valuable information about people who were supposedly his companions in this endeavor to the suspects, putting myself and the rest of those investigating at severe risk.

Second, upon the discovery of an unknown illness that doesn’t respond to general treatments, we deliver infected individuals to the Paladins of Heironeous, believing that they would be knowledgable enough about dealing with the ill to prevent it from spreading. This was in error, however. They did not, and one of your poor paladins was infected with this unknown contagion. Heironeous bless his soul, and may a cure be found quickly.

Third, the lack of insight of Paladin Hawklight could lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent people if the infected subjects manage to spread the contagion. Heironopolis is a very large city; Lindellin is a moderately-sized town. An accidental outbreak has already happen with your paladin brother, and should one break out once they reach Heironopolis, there are many more people at risk of infection and death. The infected should have been quarantined here, where there is a much smaller population in case it gets out. These are tragic situations to speak about, but we must be realistic about the scale of the situation. As the leader of the sect of paladins sent to this town, I feel this decision reveals the naivety of the man the Temple of Heironeous has put their faith into to lead these other people.

I thank all the goodness on the planes that the clergy in Heironopolis are, no doubt, much more attentive and knowledgable about containing problems such as this. I pray no bad happens.

Fourth, we took a man in for questioning regarding the investigation of the wizard kidnappings, a mercenary named Hemming, and he was killed while in the custody of your paladins. This prisoner has been nothing less than an exemplary witness, cooperative, non-violent, and the last time I saw him, he lay dead on the ground in front of a horse-drawn cart in a pool of his own blood. A paladin sat on either side of him when he was assassinated.

Fifth, I am an alchemist, and thus qualified to research the type of ailment since it is not responding to the divine touch. On multiple occasions during my research, I was pulled away from my work to respond to the summons of the paladins. Instead of sending a message to alert me to the situation, which can easily be sealed, carried, and not require my wasted time, I made the hour walk to their location in order to hear a message. All of these messages involved their neglect in some way, and the more time I spent away from my research, the longer this threat remains a threat, the longer these infected individuals remain ill. Paladin Hawklight has become an obstacle in my mind to finding the cure, denying basic requests for testing in order to accelerate my study. He claims it is because “there are better alchemists in Heironopolis.” While I do not doubt that there are skilled alchemists in Heironopolis, he is denying the help at his fingertips for one that is several weeks travel away, during which the illness can worsen and possibly kill the afflicted. Perhaps he could not trust me, you might think. He trusted me enough to find kidnapped townsfolk. He trusted me enough to hunt down a wizard. He trusted me enough to drag me out from my work to share confidential information. No, trust is not the issue here.

Lastly, the assistance that I was offering was done out of the kindness of my heart. In a situation like this, time is critical, and since I believed the paladins were there doing their best to remedy the situation, I was willing to give up my time, supplies, and energy to help find a cure. This assistance was dismissed without a second thought. Perhaps pride kept him from accepting assistance in categories which he was not qualified, or perhaps he was that ignorant of what an alchemist actually does. The latter is not unheard of. Either way, as the leading force of this sect of paladins, to dismiss assistance freely given in a field that one is not knowledgable is unwise.

I have done my absolute best to assist this dire situation for the citizens of Lindellin, and the Paladins of Heironeous, who are supposed to help the citizens, have stood in my way at nearly every turn. I have lost so much time in trying to identify this contagion because of their carefully-disguised inaction, that I am now forced to find assistance elsewhere to make up the lost time. I know that these paladins are not representative of all the clergy of the just Heironeous, and most of them do their duty in a way that would make your god proud. It tears at me to write this letter, but if this was happening with me, with someone else representing my faith under my leadership, I would at least want to be notified of it, whether or not I decide to act on the information.

That is all this concerned citizen has done, given you the information. Do with it what you will. May Heironeous bless you and send a speedy recovery to the infected.

Sincerely,
Elaine Darkwing
Last Apprentice of Gerard Fatereign

  • * *

There are no words in the raven language for how disgusted and infuriated I am right now with Doster Hawklight.

However, there are plenty in Common, Draconic, Aquan, Terran, Auran, and Ignan. Bor’idek sst’less jagar’est! Elliesh suupell ethla! Mmb’k mmmown nek! B’bemm bubub (click) mebb! Vethileth yzinde aethereth!

Gods damn the ignorance of that man!

He has wasted so much of my time! Due to laziness and neglect! This contagion is now on its way to Heironopolis, where it will no doubt infect all of the city within a few weeks because they do not know how to contain a threat like this! Do they understand that blood is not that unorthodox of a thing to request when researching a contagion? I give my own blood to the experiment, and they didn’t bat an eye when the shriveled woman took a sample of Nado’s blood. Why is it so strange for an alchemist to ask for it? Ignorants, all of them! What do they think alchemy is? Devil worship?!

Waste my time, will you, Doster Hawklight? That’s fine. I give you no more of it. I am done with you and your stupid summons, and you will regret your slight against me before this is done. You are all talk and all inaction. I am finished with men of Heironeous. I shall see what the followers of his greatest rival have to offer.

Hello, Temple of Hextor. I believe we can help each other…

  • * *

To: High Priest of the Temple of Hextor, Ignavus
From: A Concerned Citizen

Respectfully to the High Priest of the Clergy of Hextor,

You are busy, and I will be brief. I am Alchemist Elaine Darkwing and have come upon an unknown illness in the town of Lindellin that cannot be healed by basic divine magic, or even those idiot Heironeons would have been able to take care of it. They have obviously never come across any kind of contagion like this before, as their incompetence has led to one of their own getting infected on top of the original victims. They are now on their way to their high temple with these infected subjects, which will no doubt lead to mass contamination. I don’t really care about the Heironeons, as I feel they would have brought this upon themselves, but their stupidity should not be forced upon the rest of hard-working society.

I humbly request to speak with a Hextorian priest of your choosing about a mutually beneficiary arrangement regarding the discovery and administration of a cure, as well as spreading the gospel of the Scourge of Battle himself. I will leave Lindellin soon and head towards Ignavus, and I will be arriving before the next month ends if all goes well during travel. Since there will be much more of a variety as far as assistance goes, I would like to turn to those who are known for their cunning and unwavering hardiness in the face of adversity, as this is not just any contagion. It is also my professional opinion that finding a cure for this illness will also open the door to curing the magical ailment that has spread through Ignavus for some time now. Should a cure be found with the name of Hextor attached to it, I have no doubt that will gain many donations and followers to the faith as it is distributed. It might also be interesting for those same idiot paladins that hindered the research for a cure be forced to come begging to you for it in order to save their poor comrade and all those poor souls they will inevitably infect.

Do not judge my utility of them too quickly, generous leader, for I could only use what I had at hand in this dire situation, and, frankly, I believe even you would expect more out of those heralds of inaction than what I received. It was pathetic to behold, and most fortunate that it didn’t cross your eyes.

Thank you for your time, High Priest, and Hextor bless you and your hard-earned path.

Your humble servant,
Elaine Darkwing
Last Apprentice of Gerard Fatereign

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Deneva's Journal #5
This could have gone better...
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Elaine - Session Nine
Alchemy 101

Gathering the necessary components for testing is now my first priority, as is forming a complete plan for testing. Identifying a mystery contagion this dangerous will require lots of protection. Will need to find as many gloves as possible, but that should be the last component I need. Gloves must be changed frequently for safety and to prevent cross-contamination of substances.

First round of experiments involves the infected blood. I have Nado the dwarf’s infected blood, the infected blood of Goblin A, B, and C, the infected blood of the paladin which I managed to grab from the paladin’s burn pile before they got rid of all of it. Thank Boccob they managed to mop up most of it with relatively clean bits of cloth. The sample is still workable, but it must be noted that it is not a pure sample.

The troll subject is a bit more tricky. Although it would be a good idea to use blood from the actual subject, in this case, the risk is too high. To compensate for this, because I do believe that the troll should be assisted, I will ask Thunk for samples of his blood. Despite his race, he is also a victim in all this, just like the goblins. To punish them for being victims is cruel and horrible. I need to check on those goblins too. We left them to the paladins, but given their recent oversights, we might need to keep our own surveillance on the victims. If Thunk acquiesces, I will mix the samples of his blood with Nado’s blood to hopefully create a very basic substitute for the troll victim, which I will test in place of the troll’s blood. Note that this sample will also be impure. Risk to obtain real troll blood is simply too high.

The contagion must be identified. First and foremost, information must be gathered about what kind of contagion we are dealing with. The more information we know about it, the easier it will be to find a cure to combat it. The questioned samples will be tested in various ways alongside Thunk’s pure blood sample and my pure blood sample. We will be the control group. Neither of us are contaminated.

The second round of experimentation will involve how the blood affects other beings. I will see how it affects other races, such as the halfling children, Korwindel if I can convince him that I am not worshipping devils over here, and whomever else I can convince to lend me a sample. I will also test someone of divine nature, but I do not believe Doster will part with his blood that easily. I might have to resort to guilt-tripping to get it from him, but my intentions are very pure. I do not mind supervision if they wish, as long as I get my sample. And stay thirty feet away for safety concerns.

The third round, assuming that the contagion is identified, will involve various means of a cure. It must be noted that a complete cure is sought after, not a partial cure. Partial cures or results that are less than perfect must be further—

Apparently, the rest of my traveling companions have made friend with a fellow outside. I am slightly worried by how…enthusiastic they are about things. Do I smell brimstone or did someone uncover a rotten egg…?

As I was saying, partial cures or results that are less than perfect must be further tested. Perhaps there is a side-step alternative that needs to be introduced and the first step is merely a stepping stone to the true cure.

Something must be learned of this contagion through these experiments that will bring us closer to a cure.

I am also concerned with time. They are taking Nado and the infected paladin to a very populated city. It would have been better to leave them here in case of an outbreak. I do not mean to sound callus, but this small fishing town has a smaller population at risk of infection. I certainly would not wish anything bad upon these good people, but with something this dangerous and contagious, these risks need to be hedged in our favor as much as possible.

Please, Boccob, give me the intellect to surpass this.

Korwindel gave me someone’s reagent pouch. I’m not sure how he got it, but it might have something to do with the commotion outside last night. The components inside it are for very high-level magic. If he managed to snag it off someone, I’m sure there was a reason. I will keep it safe for now and question him about it later.

Korwindel wants to learn how to kill wizards. I am…slightly put off by this question, but this new information we have learned will bring us across the paths of some very strong wizards. His interest in wizard-slaying will be useful, although I must be wary about this knowledge turning around and biting me. I must not tell him everything until I know him a little more. I am still relatively weak, so I have no doubt that Korwindel could kill me if he wanted to. He did say he would teach me how to speak Gnoll. That would be an interesting language. I wonder if it would allow me to communicate with some breeds of dogs, much like Risher’s teaching.

I would like to try to fly soon. I’m going to need a lot of practice to get the correct form back. I used to be able to fly, but I’ve only been able to fly as a polymorphed bird, not in my current form. The weights will be different, my appendages will be different. Risher said he’d teach me if I stop hoarding all the bread and share. He also wants some dried lizards.

Notes to Self:
Shopping List: gloves, dried lizards
Forage List: grass for more sun protection potion for the new arrivals (might as well brew more potion while I’m working)

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Larry - Session Eight
Alpha!

Oh boy! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Alpha came home! I was busy sniffing the poop of the long-faced dog with hooves, and then I smelled Alpha! I smelled Alpha, and then I ran and ran and saw him coming up the stone trail!

Beta Larry and Alpha Female were so happy that they started drooling from their faces! I am so happy that the Alpha came home. Beta Larry is still a pup at heart and he needs Alpha around. I am so happy that Alpha came back. I am so happy that Alpha is back again.

Alpha has been through a lot. I can smell it. I smell the dirt and rotting things that sound like they’d be fun to roll in. I smell deep things, and I smell Not-Food Bird and her pack on him. I smell other people on him too, and lots of things that smell bad.

I jumped on Alpha to make him smell like home again. He did not yell at me for jumping this time, and I am happy. He also did not yell at me for cleaning his face, and I am happy for that too. I am happier than last week when I finally caught that rat with the fluffy tail that laughs at me and ate it. That was a happy day because the rat with the fluffy tail gets dead, but Alpha coming home is even happier!

Alpha Female made lots of food for Alpha. Alpha was getting very thin. Maybe where he was, they didn’t have rats with the fluffy tails or hard meat to chew. I even got a chew bone to celebrate Alpha’s return!

I am so very happy Alpha is home. Beta Larry and Alpha Female are so happy too. My pack is home safe again.

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