The Night Wars

Meanwhile, back at Nahru
Nakamura

Our trip back was subdued and uneventful. Both White and I busy mulling over the events in the caves. Both of us had successes and failures that set us to considering ourselves, our course, our knowledge. White glowed in the dark then entire journey, disconcerting on this side, it must have been doubly so from his. To have your magic fail and backlash so badly you are draining off the residual for days… But. I digress. At the Umakazi Obalaho plantation we learned that reinforcements had finally arrived at Nahru. Ironically enough, their arrival came after the Celestial had declared the war over. It irks me to think about how much the town could have used the fresh troops and the supplies moons ago in the dark of winter even though I am pleased to see that the people here have not been completely forgotten. Perhaps, with an entire battalion in the garrison someone will see fit to send soldiers out to clear the Dawn Caves and release the captives. This knowledge, along with good exposure to open air and the sun heartens my spirit… and the fact that two divisions worked their way out to all the plantations with a measure of those new supplies to share out heartens me even more. Perhaps a new Celestial, a female Celestial is what these islands need.

We waited to escort the Obalaho foreman and twenty barrels into the city, it slowed our travel, but it was the least we could do to repay their hospitality. When we arrived the town looked like a beehive someone had whacked with a stick. At the Sun and Shade we discovered there was not a room to be had, that The Little Bear had replaced The Shouting Fox and… that The Lord General of the Golden City had been through.

I miss all the fun.

Banners were everywhere, streets had been cleaned, windows and doorsteps wiped down, decked out with black cloth. In the Barracks of the All Father we found beds and more details. Seems Her Most Excellent Lumarina Danshar, Lord General of Tet’shir, The Lord General of the Armies since the assassination of her father at the beginning of the war. Word of distant places comes far and few between during times of war and although the Golden City of Tet’shir is our protectorate, here in Nahru we had heard very little and even less as the war waged on. With the only news and orders coming from Lumarina’s brother, Ebbreth Danshar the Generals of The Fox stopped looking for word from across the channel believing the city lost long before she was officially declared so. However. Several days ago word came from the Ukisada plantation that The Lord General had arrived with a handful of her army of The Tiger… in a fishing vessel no less, and was en route to Nahru. Turns out we only missed her by a day or so. Short tempered and agitated she stormed through like a tempest taking over the garrison, selecting members of The Fox to add to her handful of Tiger making a detachment, and heading off in what was described by the Leader here as “a huff”… didn’t even bother with the banquet or parade the City Fathers had hastily planned. Bet that ruffled the knickers of the local “royalty”… I miss all the fun.

Anyway. Staying at the Barrack here I have added myself to the roster, and as I am the only Hammer in residence am standing guardian for the services as part of my duties. It was after dawn service yesterday that I met a solitat and Godiem Garret, who apparently likes my smile and knows me from over the course of the winter. From them I learned little more than gossip about The Lord General’s activities, however, Garret did offer to take me to see his Letat. As there is no one I know, or who knows me as an irregular in charge any longer I was finding it difficult to get any sort of access or audience to plead my case about the Dawn Caves. I would take this opportunity and hopefully manage to convince the officer that there was indeed need.

In actuality, that didn’t turn out to be too hard. The Captian that Garret introduced me to was polite, listened, thanked me for bringing her the intel, promising to send soldiers out to clear the place. At this point I refused to be dismissed and managed to work myself and White into the agreement. She sent me on my way to wait for my “orders” with reminders that I am not military, that I go along as guide, that the soldiers get looting rights and most importantly, the ranking soldier would BE IN CHARGE. Now, I’m proud, but, I spent many moons dealing with this mentality before I was accepted and trusted for my own merit and worth so it was easy enough to swallow any comments and agree. I had my soldiers, half a detachment to be precise and two seven day to route the denizens of the cave. I may not be in charge of it, but, the captives inside those caves were going to be found and released.

Now we wait for two days it will take for the half detachment to be organized. I plan to use that time to do maintenance on my kit, things are looking a little worse for wear… and I think it is time for four legged friends again, perhaps feelers out for good dogs would not go amiss either.

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And Back Again
** GM Update **

6th day of the Moon of the Goat,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

Having returned to Naru after a farily uneventful trip, they have discovered that the army has been replaced and supplemented. And news comes that the golden city has fallen. On top of that, The Lord Genral of Tet’shir was here, and she was not pleased that the Shouting Fox had been replaced by a black army, the Tiny Bear. On a stroke of luck, they meet one of the ranking officers of the Bear, and he dispatches a detachment to the Dawn Caves, and the civilians may accompany them….

After several days, they have arrived back to the Dawn caves…

Inside, they find the underground river has risen about 2 feet…and they have to virtually swim into the chasm…but it is not lit…

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The folly of digging out goblins
Nakamura

So. Rested, calm a little battered a little worse for wear, but healed, ready to go on we ventured out of our protected bubble. The water was as cold as I remembered, but higher by some measure. It took longer to come out from under the dip in the ceiling, longer to reach free air and the crevasse above. Dark and quiet we scouted, shone lights into corners and cracks, and climbed back up onto the kill room side. All was the same as we left it, but, we could see at the end of my light that the doorway had been barricaded. We pushed the planks back across and tiptoed across to investigate.

The door was the first of the traps. I know that goblins are ingenious creators of horrid traps and pitfalls, but I had not encountered them in such creativity and number before. It turns out, I am very good at finding traps. But we didn’t know that yet. We were still puzzling out the jumble of wood, rocks and debris plugging our path inwards. With some patience and some careful poking around we realized we were looking at small bags tucked into the crannies, the pointy ends of swords, spikes and other sharp metals balances along edges. White decided it looked as if it was intended to catch fire and explode outward. A chanted prayer gave us a shield, White ignited the door… and feeling slightly silly we crouched behind my prayers and watched it burn steadily. No explosions, no rain of sharp, pointy things.

We watched it burn, waiting for things to come boiling out of the room at us. Nothing. Beyond the burned remains of the door we found the bunk room, now basically empty of any furnishing… and empty of any living being as well. From there we chose the right hand passage, more narrow than the other, but, it looks to run along the cliff face outside… and… my prayers told me our enemies lay in that direction.

Slow and careful we moved down the corridor finding trap after trip wire after trap. Here is where discovered that I was good at finding them. Luckily,, none of them were apparently deadly to giantess lummoxes like myself, but, the further in we went the more dinged, cut, punctured and bruised I became. While we travel along we could hear a storm raging outside… that was how close to the surface we were, and how terrible the storm. More than once the sudden booming of thunder sent my jumping several feet out of my skin… but… we moved forward and inward and scouted down side corridors with blatantly obvious pitfalls, some that petered out into nothing, and others that held, what must have, at one time been seriously nasty traps, but now, after so much time left unattended were almost laughable in the result of their execution.

Once, we crossed a bit of a river that intersected our corridor, only to have White miss the jump and fall in…. down to the bottoms of the earth I think. I was lucky to get him back, what with the current and the steepness of the walls. But. Finally we find evidence of residents… bodged together wooden walls and hides. White sets the first one on fire, while I storm the thing through a rain of arrows and rocks… only to find the space behind empty of creatures… and another wooden wall.

Again White sets the wall on fire, again I storm the thing through a rain of arrows and rocks… and once again I meet with nothing and no one… but a third wall. This one seems better built and actually goes from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. I’m hurt, getting angry, and and have taken a solid thumping from a rock on a chain, but I know I was smiling at the memory of the squealing and shouting as each wall went up in flames. I stand as shield while White once again mumbles his spell… the arrows are hitting good and solid this time. I’m bleeding, getting angrier, ready to storm the thrice damned wall flames or not, but something goes wrong. From behind me I hear a funny little thud and turning, I find White crumpled on the stone floor. I can see that he is breathing but… backing up, I nudge him, call his name, try my best to keep the barrage of pointy things from hitting him… but he does not respond. At that point something just grabbed my heart and my brain and squeezed. All I could think was to get out of this gods forsaken hole and get back into the sunshine. To the Dread Lord with all of these blighted little creatures… I picked up White, tossed him over my shoulder and made for the kill room.

I don’t remember the trip back down the corridor. I’m not sure how I got him over the bottomless water flow, or down the hole into the cavern below… but somehow I did… and I kept walking with him over my shoulder, the storm had settled into a simple solid rain but I kept walking until dusk. It was then I found this small shepard’s cave. White woke up a few hours ago, but I have bid him sleep. I will heal with rest and time, but he needs sleep more than I for once. On the morrow it will be soon enough to discuss the happenings within the cave.

Now… I am still simmering. The anger frightens me, and I wonder where it came from. I fervently hope it is not something that will grow and take over my life. Perhaps the sun will shine tomorrow and all will be made clear.

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A Cave, A river, and fear
Drusan Blynn

Translated from Zhander

Although I am not certain, I do not think more than 2 days have passed in these caves. I have never feared the dark, but I have never seen such pure darkness, so that not a hand before my elven heritage eyes can be seen. Before, I could make out the ring on my finger and the number of fingers extended, but here…It gives me a chill of fear.

Light and, I speculate goodness, have rarely seen these cave walls. The sour earth smells mix with the fresh water, but also the dusty molds and fungus. Although I have never had a sharp sense of smell, in the darkness, I feel as if it is sharpened, perhaps through giving it attention. I have learned the magic of sharpening my hearing, but the soft drone of water, and the echos from just our feet defeat any real value. We have found that the dwellers within these caves need some light, seemingly much less than even I, but they appear to be blind in the deep dark as weel as we. Asuka has put that to use, as she has learned to summon light to her hand. She feels it comes from her Father, but I do not she yet understands the truth of magic, though we have discussed it almost to the point of anger. The light, though dim enough, does provide us sufficient light and is uncomfortable to many of the troglodytes that dwell here. But in the darkness that follows, sometimes I hear vauge chitterings and scratchings.

As we have known, the goblins are fond of traps. we have found many with varying levels of success and injury. Many of these caves are natural, but several have been worked to some degree, making the floors mostly safe to walk, but in the darkness even the small irregularities can prove debilitating…a stone rulling into a dip underfoot, or a small ridge catching a toe…and when carrying a lamp, the shadows reach out to grasp, but in the swaying light of a misstep, darkness reaches from unexpected places.

The river we have been forced to enter is cold, but not icy. Once wet, however, it is a long time drying and the chill of drying clothes…Hopefully we will find the people taken alive, and my book intact, or completely destroyed…burned fro feul perhaps. For if we find anything else, I am not certain of our course. If the people remain unfound, perhaps Asuka will wish to continue in their pursuit. If dead, then she will feel she failed. But if the book cannot be located, or verified destroyed, I fear the hands it may be in.

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...and big brother enters the fray...
Nakamura

I wake some time later, I believe I can feel the sun setting somewhere distant, my mind is muddled with dreams of light. We sit quietly, over a cold rations breaking our fast, mulling thoughts, considering dreams. White has woken me because he observed the return of the goblins, and they have brought reinforcements. Whispering, we decide on a plan of attack which utilizes my new understanding of light, and his wild elements… and it all goes rather well… until I notice, on my next watch that there is tar running in a stream down into our little kill room… and then… the orcs light it… There is smoke, flames, it is horrible. I still hurt, I am slow… we desperately do not want to go down the holes to the room below where most certainly there is an ambush waiting. We decide to rush the crevasse, dive in and head for the hidden bubble room. However we don’t get more than 4 running strides out of the kill room than we are attacked by orcs materializing out of the smoke and the gloom. I call my sword into my hand and wade in, anger more than the smoke blurring my vision, making it hard to focus on some things while others are crystalline and clear. Where the anger comes from I don’t know, but I let it drive me forward. The fight seems to go on for ever… one orc goes down and over the side, but the other continues on. Both White and I are hurt badly, but I am only anger, not pain, not thought, just anger. We finally prevail and scramble over the edge, dropping into the cold, cold water, wading upstream in the almost darkness. I cannot see, but White, with his elven blood can make his way with the light from the fire above. Taking my hand he guides me under water, up the stairs and gasping, into the bubble.

The anger has faded some. But the fear it has generated has not. White tells me he saw goblins hiding behind the barricade they made across the doorway, rocks hailed down on us as we retreated… I saw nothing beyond my rage…I have no trouble healing White this time, and can spare a prayer or two for myself. But we must rest. Rest and hope that they will not discover our hiding place. Rest and hope that we have made a dent in their numbers. Rest and hope that they don’t have reinforcements on the way. Rest. Yes. That is a good idea…

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Deep into the caves
** GM Update **

About 23rd day of the Moon of the Hog,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

The have emerged from the crevase and been involved in a fight. They have discovered a sophisticated “murder room” above one of the enterances.They have killed several Orcs, Goblins and even a dog-man. However, they were wounded and retreated again to the small bubble like room. They rested, and headed back, finding several traps along the way, as well as some connections that may lead out again. White nearly gets lost in an underground river or lake, and they are spotted again…

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Knock and the door will open
Nakamura

Rested, we steel ourselves and head back into the water coming out of the tunnel with the crevasse above us. Watching for a few moments we quietly confer about how far up it is, if we can climb or not, and then we hit on a plan, however, before we can implement it, we hear quiet footsteps. A goblin appears, leans over and looks down into the water for a long tense moment as we press ourselves against the rock walls, pretending to be nothing but shadows. Apparently seeing nothing he continues on across the plank bridge and disappears. We give him time to be good and gone, then, using a prayer for carrying fallen comrades off the battle field I lift White up high enough for him to scramble up and out of the river channel. Shortly a rope and a helping hand have me scrambling up and over the edge myself.

We find ourselves in a passageway that is intersected by a crevasse. A wooden plank bridge lies across the gap with a stone bowl lamp at the base on this side. Across the way we can see a wooden door. Down the passage on our side of the chasm it appears to disappear into a dark drop. We head that way to investigate finding the oddest, round room I have ever seen. There are alcoves all around the perimeter, seven to be exact and each one has a rope pegged into a hole in the ceiling. In the center of the chamber is a pulley system of some sort. There are benches and buckets around the outside. The buckets have tar in them…. It takes a little investigating, and a little head scratching, but what we think we have figured out is this must be a kill room. There are holes in the floors of the alcoves and one in the center of the room… lifting their covers we can see to a cave below… and there is diffused sunlight coming from one side…. We THINK we have found a room directly above one of the openings in the cliff face… one that allows access to these tunnels, but also is defensible by dropping hot tar on the heads of those trying to get in.

Confident that we now have two ways out we work our way across the rickety, and alarmingly bowing plank bridge. Stopping long enough to light a good lantern and get weapons to hand, we look at each other, grin, and with one gloved fist I rap on the door. Disbelievingly it is opened by a squinting little dog man. The combat that ensued was actually fun. I found laughter bubbling past my lips as the goblins and dog men we found in the chamber beyond fought against us almost comically. To say the least, we surprised them by knocking on their bunk room door… from the latrines no less. Well. Okay. It was fun until I chased a dog man down a narrow corridor, stumbled over a trip wire and took a board filled with various metal spikes in the face… and chest… and stomach… and legs…

Hurting and bleeding profusely, I retreated back to the bunk room. While White watched the two exits in front of us and kept the burning door (how it came to be burning I’m not certain, but I believe my good wildly magical friend was involved) I prayed for healing. Three times I prayed. Three times I was answered with silence. No warmth. No blinding sun on the other side of my closed eyes. Nothing. Disconcerted and frightened by something that had never happened before I dug out my amulet, a sun in splendor, and pressed it to my heart. That did work. Seems one does not have to have confidence for an object imbued with a prayer to work. My bleeding stopped. Some of the punctures closed. But still I am hurt. I’m not happy any longer. I’m enraged by the nasty little beast’s duplicity. Disgusted by my own short comings.

We have retreated to the killing room, pulled the plank bridge over and brought with us the crude oil lamp. We hope to rest. We can stop them if they try to cross the crevasse again, or retreat down the holes into sunlight if that fails. I almost want to retreat into sunlight simply because.

I lay here on my damp (despite my best efforts) bedroll, angry, hurting, afraid. ANGRY. I have never been so angry in my entire life. What if it is true? What if followers of the Sun Rider cannot be heard below ground? More, I think, it is my emotions that keep my prayers from being answered. He answered quickly enough when I called on the stretcher to lift White… Now… to calm myself, rest, recover. They know we are here now. It won’t be long before they will confront us, or we must move onwards towards our goals.

Surprise is lost, but we can hope that is all.

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Guards or The Battle Begins
** GM Update **

22nd day of the Moon of the Hog,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

After leaving the odd alcove, they reach the crevice…

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The Dawn Caves - part 2
Nakamura

We arrived back at the ridge and familiar cliff face with plenty of light to spare. Deciding we should watch activity again before deciding where to venture in, we returned to our previous hide, discovering it was a little worse for wear, but unmolested so settled in for a snooze until dusk.

About eventide I am poked awake by White who points. The activity had begun, from the eighth opening over an orc has emerged. He walks up and down the scree slope, appears to check the ground, looks out towards the horizon, never settling his gaze on our hide, then disappears into the sixth opening, the one we discovered last time had a rickety wooden door several paces inside. In short order he returned followed by a good dozen other creatures in varying sizes. The light has mostly gone by now and details are hard for me, but, they headed down the slope almost directly towards us. We hunkered down, hands on weapons, hoping against hopes that they we had not been spotted… and not spotted we were. The party passed within fifty feet of us, grumbling and gibbering together as they marched towards the south west. We crouched, watching them, each other and the cave entrances eyes large, shaking our heads and even smiling when we realized we had gone unnoticed.

Once the group was good and gone we collected our packs and crouching low, we kept the small rise between us and the entrances as we made our way to the far end of the cliff face. All it had taken was a nod between us to come to the realization we had both decided the furthest entrance was the best place to start.

We got into the first opening on hands and knees without incident. It was a short crawl through to a larger chamber that contained several rows of decrepit and decomposed wooden boxes. Not interested in sifting through centuries old storage we lit a lantern and prowled the room looking for another exit. Jackpot. In the far right corner there was an odd plaster patch in a decidedly corridor-like shape… a little digging, a lot of kicked up dust, and we were through to another corridor. This one only went several paces before opening up into another chamber, this one long and narrow with water at one end and a more successfully stopped up exit on the other.

Exploring this room we discovered metal hooks, box fragments and piles of ancient detritus that gave solid credence to these caves having been used for something, very possibly smuggling, at one time. The only readily visible exit, located at the narrow end had been filled with what looked like bags of dirt and rock. A little prodding and digging showed us that going that way would be nearly impossible without tools, time and noise dampeners. None of which we really had to spare, so we turned our attention to the wide side of the chamber where the water resides. Upon inspection we discover that it is actually an underground river passing through the chamber. Where the river entered the room metal bars blocked the way, however, where it exited there was nothing… and… space between the roof of the channel and the water. Standing, and looking and considering something catches my eye. Light. I see flickering light from down river. We quickly confer, decide White is the best one to investigate as he can see in the dim light without taking a lantern, so… off comes the unnecessary, a rope goes around his waist and White goes into the water and disappears into the gloom of the river channel. I’m not waiting long before he returns, telling me the light is another hundred feet beyond the rope, easily, but… he also tells me the water is not deep, nor the current strong, so I join him, stripped down to the necessities, in the cold water.

We work our way down, at one point having to duck below the water where the roof dips down to meet the surface and find an opening above us, like a large crevasse in the floor above. The flickering light comes from an oil lantern, nothing more than a bowl of oil with a smoking wick, at the base of a plank across the crevasse. We stand in the dark, chest deep in water, quietly considering how we might get up there when we hear scuffling… we watch as a goblin, in his stone shoes, shuffles and clunks his way to the edge of the crevasse and dumps the contents of a bucket into the river. Disgusted by the smell that wafts towards us, we are grateful to be upstream. When he has gone we head back upstream… only… hand on the wall, White finds a ledge, right at the point where the ceiling dips and we have to duck under water. I wait, he explores, coming back to tell me there is a niche, with stairs leading to a bubble above. Upon checking, it is above water, dry, and with no other entrance or exit a very safe place.

Chilled from the water and tired still from the past several days, we have retrieved our packs and possessions and are curled up together in this odd little bubble under the hills. The inside is polished and smooth, an odd little chamber to say the least. But. It is dry. We are cramped together, curled around the hole in the middle of the floor. But. We can rest unmolested. I am pleased. So far, nothing we have encountered has caused me to doubt myself or my Father… but I have heard rumors… I cannot help but wonder if losing the sun on my shoulders will begin to effect me. I suppose until then I will keep to my prayers and endeavor to move forward as if it doesn’t matter.

A fire to dry out by would be nice.

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Smuglers Cave
** GM Update **

22nd day of the Moon of the Hog,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

In the mid-morning, following Dursin putting BladeRunes on his thin blade, they enter the cave that had been plastered part way over. Inside, they open what appears to be a plastered entrance. Beyond that, they find small river that crosses through the chamber…that leads to a chasm, and odd side chambers.

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