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In the elven forest-kingdom

The weather was lovely on the next day and I felt rested, ready to start a new day. We soon reached the forest village of Woodsinger Elves. It was just astonishing. Everybody in the world knows that dwarves are the greatest builders and can construct any building, anywhere... but I think that even we can't create such a place of natural beauty as the elves did here in the Harken Forest. Their houses looked just like parts of trees, skilfully and masterfully woven with branches, ornamented in an unique way. I just can't find the words to describe it. We were received in a very hospitable way, though the food was not as tasty as at home. Only vegetables and fruits, nothing really filling. Ah well, can't have everything, can we?

The elves told us about the old Mystel Ruins and about some wolves... or maybe werewolves... that roamed there. It seemed that if we were to get rid of those foul evil creatures, the elves would help us. Without further ado, we decided to go there as soon as we could. The elves showed us a magical way to travel between the trees, covering huge distances with one step. They called it, uh, pele... tele... portation, or something. I'm not a big fan of magic myself, but this idea sounded well. We could save so much time!

When we arrived to the ruins, we observed the area and I smelled the air... Everything became clear to me. Those weren't real wolves, they smelled orc! YUCK! I HATE ORCS! Even my urgrosh Orcbane became somewhat warmer and started... um... shaking a bit, as if it was getting ready to battle. I was so relieved knowing that I won't be killing any creatures of Gozreh, but foul unnatural creatures. And then I saw the first wereorc... I couldn't stand it any longer! Before I knew it, I was running forward, it felt like my urgrosh controlled me, trying to bury its blade into the orc skull. But I didn't mind, I wanted to kill the unworthy creature as soon as I could... And that's how the fight started. We walked around the deserted ruin, searching for more enemies. Then Brayden's blade started shining and we knew this meant trouble (for orcs).

We decided that it was time to get into the building. Fighting the werewolf orcs wasn't an easy task, but we managed to pull it through, not hesitating, not even waiting for the foul creatures to go out from the darkness, changed into even uglier monsters than they were... if it's even possible. Erik started his battle song and a new strength filled our hearts. Wic was sending her silver arrows one after another, wounding and killing our foes. Brayden showed what he could accomplish with his sword, and he could a lot, as I could observe. Pavane was busy casting protective spells and other mysterious incantations that probably put fear into the smelly hearts of our foes (I don't know about magic, so I am not sure... but it looked spectacular!).

After clearing the top level of the building, we decided to go down. I thought I smelled more orcs there. I was so excited that I ran down through the stairs and into the big catacomb... and suddenly I got hit by a bolt that was hidden in a trap. Ouch, it hurt! But who gives a damn about some traps when there are orcs ad other strange creatures to kill! There was one very old, mummy-like orc, probably a shaman - who would give a rats ass who he was? - that cast a spell on me and suddenly I felt much eeaker... but still I managed to kill him together with my brave companions.

And suddenly, everything was finished as soon as it started. The foes were not a match for us! It was until after the fight that I realized that I, on my own, just with my urgrosh, killed three orcs! When I look at it now, I think it looks a bit different, as if it was glowing or something...

It turned out that the orc-shaman-whatever had been guarding some orc treasure. They robbed everything from humans, elves and Gozreh only knows from whom - because it is of course not possible that they would create such magnificent magic items and treasures on their own. We packed everything that seemed of value, we even found some spare weapons that we plan to give to the good people of Albridge and to the freedom fighters in time for the battle with Iron Circle. I hope they will know how to use these rusty weapons.
And after a good deed done, the ruins finally cleared of these stinking orcs, praised be the name of Gozreh, we decided to leave the place and return to the elves. I hope they will praise our victory and our names for everyone around to hear!

A peculiar night at the Albridge Inn...


"Today is a good day to get up from the bed, finally!", I thought. I felt much better, my wounds have healed and it seemed like my strength decided to come back to me. I wasn't sure where we were, but Wic explained that we traveled all the way to Albridge already. To think that I was ill for such a long time! Our foes are stronger that I expected. I'm happy, because that means we have some serious fighting ahead of us, the opponents being not as easy to eradicate as we thought. The Blades of Anthar shall however prevail, no matter how strong or vicious the foes are!

 The inn in Albridge.

We met other guests in the inn, Brayden, Lilith and Pavane. They seemed nice and friendly (especially Pavane who offered us a very tasty wine to drink - even though I like the dwarven spirit best, I have to admit, this particular wine went well with the dinner). It turned out that our three new friends have heard much about the Blades of Anthar (sure thing! it'd been suspicious if they haven't heard about us at all! Us, the brave heroes, the saviors of the Dalelands!). After hearing this, I started liking them even more. Not everyone around us was so likable, though. There were some other guests in the inn, I haven't noticed much of them but I was convinced they were Woodsinger elves. They kept to the dark corner of the room and went to their rooms early in the evening. I saw Wic looking at them suspiciously, I guess she didn't like them much for some reason... which I found rather odd, since we were to go to Harken Forest and try to convince the elves to help us fight the Iron Circle. Little did I know that I was to get acquainted with both the reason behind Wics cautious stares and the real nature of those strange guests later in the evening.
Our new friends turned out to be Iron Circle's enemies, and everyone knows that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (it is a dwarven proverb, by the way, didn't you know that?) so we decided to travel together to the Harken Forest. Especially since Ilorath and Willem have been attacked by some severe mysterious illness and had to stay in the local lazaret untill they got well. I bet this disease is Iron Circle's doing!

Since I felt sufficiently drunk at that time (that means, being still conscious and feeling that nice tingling in my body, having however problems keeping balance...), I decided to go to bed together with everyone else. It's not what you think, we didn't get together to the same bed, you're having very filthy thoughts, my dear reader! Everyone had their own beds and we slept in double rooms. I stayed with Wic, of course, so we wouldn't get woken up by some male snoring. I know how loud dwarf males snore, so the human males snore probably even more, since they're taller. I'd rather have my peaceful beauty sleep tonight, I thought. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep, because someone was... snoring. Maybe it was Wic, since she drunk a bit too. Of course it wasn't me, everyone knows I don't snore!
Anyway... I was laying down, awake, when I heard some strange sounds, as if someone opened the door to our room. I hugged my urgrosh tight (I feel defenseless going to sleep without it... what if they had rat infestation in the inn?) and waited... it was quite dark, the only light, the moonshine, was coming from the outside, through the window. In the spooky light I saw a strange shape:

First it looked like an elf... but then it started changing shape. Then I finally understood.

The other guests, they weren't peaceful elves, they were evil shapeshifters! I shouted to warn Wic, jumped out of my bed and stroke the first blow. The fight wasn't easy, but we manage to kill the foul creature, thank Gozreh for Wics bow and arrows! Then we jumped out of the room and continued fighting the two other shapeshifters who attacked the other members of our group. Everyone fought bravely and we destroyed our foes, as always. Our new friends could admire our strength and fighting prowess... okay, maybe they helped a bit as well. I think that they may be of use to our group, they just need a wee bit more experience, that's all.

In the morning, after eating a proper breakfast, we started our trip towards Harken Forest. It wasn't the first time we were there and everyone hoped in secret that this time we won't get lost, like the last time... wait, we didn't get lost, we just found another route, perfect for sightseeing, that was it!

Our trip into the enchanted forest didn't start very well... We found our way this time and were moving towards the woodelves' village, but we encountered another peril... Our group of brave heroes came to a halt when we found a suspicious clearing in the forest. There were three dead trees in the middle of the clearing... and I think I saw some bones, too... or maybe it was my imagination. Or the hangover from the last night, who knows? Now I know those spooky, dead, mossy trees were Ghostwood trees. Dryads or some other magical forest creatures used to live in them, they say, and now they are gone, so the trees wanted new companions... Me, Wic and Erik became enthralled by the harsh beauty of the trees. I heard a voice in my head inviting me into the wooden arms, promising unending unity with nature, telling me what bliss it would be... Oh, Gozreh would be so happy, I thought... And by that time I started walking towards one of the strange trees, getting entangled by the branches and roots...
Luckily, Erik woke up and managed to shake off the spell somehow. He understood what was going on and grasping his instrument, he started to sing. Suddenly I felt awake and was able to disentangle myself from the dangerous grasp. Wic was free as well, helped by Brayden. I was glad we had our new friends with us and that they all turned out to be a great help to us and our cause. I still do agree with what Willem said before he was taken ill, they should pay some kind of "enrollment fee" if they want to be members of our elite group. For some reason, no one has taken Willem nor me seriously. Ah those humans, they don't think practically, do they?

And then we heard a strange noise, like... very, very heavy thumping. At first I thought it sounded like Chubby Hodor, one of my cousins who spends his days mostly eating wild boar roast and drinking beer... when he finally gets up from the table and walks to his home, it sounds just like that. This time, however, I was mistaken. It was something, or rather someone, else. A treant, a real treant! I only read about those creatures in books, now I could see the legendary Clement, the oldest treant, the ruler of the Harken Forest treants, they say! For some reason, there were several owls flying around his hear, or rather green crown, it looked like they had their nests and hideouts there.
We had a nice talk with Clement, first he seemed to be angry at us, destroying his tree friends (really!), but then Erik sung another beautiful song of his and Clement seemed finally to understand our position... and he even excused for the behavior of trees! Then he told us how to find woodelves and went on... probably to pass the message about the coming Iron Circle attack to his brethren. I think they would talk about it and think what to do. I had a feeling it might take days...

As you can see, dear diary, it was a very eventful day, so we decided to stay for the night in a nearby glade, a much safer place that the one before. And then, finally, the brave Blades of Anthar started enjoying their well-earned rest.

The deadly yellow moss...


I realize I haven't written for a while, but I had lot of travelling to do with my friends, since the threat of attack on our lands from Iron Circle is almost upon us. So much has changed, many days have passed... days that we spent fighting our enemies, elliminating numerous threats and monsters their gods chose to put in our path. Our group managed to survive it all for now, although it wasn't easy. I've been seriously injured myself and the only reason I'm catching up on my diary (finally) is because the local barber or whoever had patched up my recend wounds insisted on me taking it easy for a few weeks until I get stronger and can walk on my own again.

Yes. A lot of write about, indeed. Where should I start?
You probably wonder, my dear diary, what happened after we eliminated the Iron Circle spies and Asmodeus cultists from our village of Anthar. I think everyone started appreciating having real brave women and men in their midst. Especially Dheren, since he was partially responsible for training me and my dear friend Wic. A few days after the close encounter with Asmodeus followers, Ilorath kept getting back to the subject of organizing our group somehow, finding a good name for it, a fierce one (lthough I bet he meant "pompous", have you ever seen a fierce Elf? - No? - I thought so...). He said something about doing more brave things and putting the fear into our enemies' hearts every time they hear the name of our group...
... but we didn't take him seriously, then. It changed later, after our next adventure.

But before I write about it, I have to get back to a certain evening in our humble dwarven abode... First, my mom said something about inviting my brave friends for dinner, since she and my dad wanted to meet them all. I didn't suspect a thing... and when the time of our "quiet family dinner" came, it turned out to be a SURPRISE DWARF FEAST! - Including lots of malt beer and the traditional Apple Glazed Wild Boar Roast... yum! In the beginning of the feast my father got up from his chair and started one of his famous speeches... (yawn) I won't bore you with all the details, the bottom line is that he decided to... (I couldn't believe my ears!)... to give me the family heirloom - the ancient and famous dwarven urgrosh, the "Orcbane"!

I was shocked. Everyone started cheering and clapping their hands and I felt that my eyes were getting a bit misty... it's probably because of the ashes from the fireplace flying around in the air, yes, that must have been it! My father and my mother presented me the weapon and then stood there, looking so proud... to think that they thought me worthy of it... that glorious weapon had been hanged on the walls of our home many, many years ago, after the peace came and my father stopped using it. It is a magnificent and unique weapon that can be used by a worthy dwarf (me! I can't believe!) only in times of the greatest need. My father used it, my grandfather used it and his father before him... no one knows for sure how the weapon came to be, but I heard some legends about it. Who knows, maybe I will learn the truths some day...

After the ceremony, we all started to eat. And drink. And I kept embracing my new, shiny weapon. I looked aroung, trying to record this special moment in my memory, all the friendly, smiling faces, everyone happy, warm, with a full belly - and safe, all the great companions and friends, both old and new. Only the Godess Gozreh knows when we will meet again in such a great and cheerful company. And the beer was good, too!

The next day... well, after I managed to get up and walk straight... my friends heard some rumors from our dear old Jaro the Druid, that there is some strange illness spreading around the plantlife in the area. More and more of the ground and trees kept getting covered (and devoured in the process) by a strange yellow moss that smelled funny. I recalled seeing it in the forest sometime ago, but I thought it was just another kind of harmless moss. Well, it turned out that I was wrong (and that doesn't happen too often, mind you), since the moss kept poisoning and killing not only plants, but also insects small animals. Jaro said that it seemed to be getting very near our village. He also thought that it may be spreading from the Crypt area. Sounds spooky, doesn't it?
The Crypt is our local, um, sort of a monument and the final resting place of some mages that lived in the area many, many years ago. Apparently, they experimented with some foul magic too much and got killed in the process, or something like that. It was a rather boring story and I didn't listen carefully. I had to sharpen and polish my new urgrosh! Priorities, you know!

Anyway... we were sure that we needed to go down to the Crypt. Ilorath decided to go in through the gate first (he's really brave... for an Elf!). Then we walked down the stairs, into the darkness, not knowing what lurks in the deep and mysterious burial chambers. There were many traps we met on the way down, one of them almost squashed our bard (huge stones emerging from the walls!), but me and Willem helped him. The rest was the usual stuff, poisoned darts, masked holes in the floor, you know. Nothing difficult for us, the brave adventurers!

And then, guess what. The crypt was filled with... skeleton fighters. Bad luck, ey? There were even some strange ones among then, like a skeleton-paladin or a skeleton with Erastil symbol around her neck! (and i say "her" because the skeleton had still some strands of long blonde hair sticking to its skull... yuck!)
And then the fighting started. Everyone fought bravely, even when it turned out that there are some wraiths in the Crypt as well! I felt goosebumps all over my body when I saw them. I heard so many nasty stories about the wraiths from the Crypt when I was but a tiny dwarfling... but I thought they were just stories. Only... they weren't. The wraiths were scary, howling pieces of dark mist (don't make me explain it how we could see them in the darkness, only with our torches to keep it brighter, you just felt their menacing presence). It seemed like they were blocking the entrance to one of the burial chambers. Then Wic got a great idea. She used the invisibility charm we found on our previus adventure and tried to sneak past them. And it worked! We kept all the undead monsters busy while she got into the chamber. Unfortunately, the wraiths figured out what was going on and followed her. She did some damage with ther amazing bow, as always, the rest of us got rid of the skeletons and went after her to help. When we fought the wraiths, she could save the day by burning the moss growing all around the mage coffins that turned out to be crushed. I think the evil mages contaminated the area with their foul earthly remains and their dark magic. Willem said that the wraiths that we finally managed to destroy, might have been what was left of the mage spirits... twisted and evil. Yuck. I don't want to think of such abominations.

Victory! We saved the day (and the village) again. To make the moment even happier, we found some treasure in the Crypt that we took with us, of course. The yellow moss kept burning and smoking, its destruction was imminent. When we got out of the Crypt and looked around, we saw that the moss that had previously covered the ground, was being burned and destroyed as well, vanishing with the source of the plague. Jaro and Dheren were very happy that we destroyed it and saved the village again.
In the evening, since we needed some rest, we went to the inn and sat down, sipping the beer slowly, talking baout the events of the day. Eric was composing a new song about our triumph over evil and Ilorath kept talking about how a brave group of adventurers we were. And I just sat, polishing the blade of my urgrosh that served me so well today. Such an amazing weapon, its blade glistening in the firelight... I noticed that Ilorath was looking at it intently and then he shouted: "I know! We will call ourselves: THE BLADES OF ANTHAR!"

Believe me or not, I agree with him. I think it's a very fine name!

About Dwarves: our social structure


All the clever scientists (mages, of course - who else?) think that they figured out the dwarven social structure.
You certainly read many thick tomes about how dwarves are divided in clans based on their practical abilities and functions, blah blah, blah. How the basis of dwarven society is patriarchy - where cleverest and most able male dwarves rule the clans, how they are competitive and often fight their opponents, the strongest wins, yadda yadda yadda.

Yeah, right.

And have you heard about the Cloaked Matriarchy? No? I thought so.
It is the only system that actually works within the dwarven society. The male dwarves think they rule the clans, make decisions, etc. But when they get really drunk and start planning another fight or silly war (silly, mind you, as opposed to the conflicts which are needed for the dwarves to gain more wealth and land) - their wives hit their husbands with heavy objects... on their heads of course - so that the men can start thinking logically. And that's why all the male dwarves wear helmets indoors as well. I bet you always wondered about why the male clan members don't take their helmets off their heads even when going to sleep. Well, now you know.

Anyway, a dwarf is, um... "approached" by his wife... on his helmet, preferably with a skillet or with a rolling pin. He either starts thinking logically (for some reason at that point the men are very respectable and agreeable when it comes to listening to their wives), or he falls under the table, completely drunk. In the morning, they don't remember anything anyway and everyone goes about their business as usual. And the future and prosperity of dwarven society is saved once again.

And since we talk about dwarf females - yes, dear human reader, there are dwarf females - LIKE ME!!!
It is not true that grown male dwarves just pop out from the stone deep in the mines. Seriously, where did you hear that? I don't understand where you humans get those ideas. It is true that many dwarven women wear beards, especially the warrior women, and that's how you people confuse them with men, especially since they drink just as well as men. Just because the human females don't do those things and lead very boring lives just sitting at home and giving birth to hoards of human squealing babies, doesn't mean that we dwarves have to choose your strange path. I simply don't get it - what is wrong with a woman wearing a beard? It's just hair, after all. You should try it all, it keeps you really warm in winter!

This is a picture of my mother, Grizelda Brightblade, when she was a young dwarf maiden 
(just before she started growing her beard).
She stole my dad's heart by whipping him, um, winning a duel with him. 
Her weapon of choice - double sided staff. She still keeps it in her bedroom.

There is a Secret Matriarchal Council. Its members are clan leaders' wives of course - how do you think their husbands got their jobs in the first place? The Council makes the crucial and most important decisions. And afterwards, the council members make their husbands think that all those ideas were theirs. Clever, huh?
Anyway, my mom Grizelda Brightblade is one of the council members and she shared the secret with me. I'm the one to be the next true clan leader, not my elder brother, against to what everyone (especially the humans in our village) has been thinking. The clan leadership is handed down in the female line, mother to daughter. They just have to find me a suitable husband (really... I think they will be searching for a long time, since currently no young and eligible bachelors in the clan are up to the task - lucky me! more time for adventures with my friends!).

My parents as a young married couple. 
They look happy together, don't they?

I have another idea, however. Why not ruling the clan on my own, after I have proven myself? Then I could choose the husband myself (preferrably one that looks like this ). I'm a bit concerned that my parents may find me a husband who was strong, brave and clever... some 200 years ago. For the sake of our political alliances with other dwarf clans, you know the story... *sigh*

And now, dear reader, I have to kill you, because you know too much about the secrets of dwarven society. No non-dwarf knows of these things and it has to stay that way...

About Dwarves


Many things are said about us, dwarves, that are not quite true. Who is to blame for that? Mostly humans, this young and immature race. They have their ideas about the world, their mages write a lot of books with their theories and then send these all around the place. And everyone believes everything that those old farts write. Just because they are old. And because they fa... um, nevermind.

You know, Mages, especially human mages, like to drink wine. They say it's only for the health purposes... but we know better, don't we?
So they sit in their towers or wherever they like to sit, drink wine, bottle after bottle, and write some stupid things about us, dwarves. I guess they think that they have a right to do it since they are so tall and bearded. Hmmpf!

We allow them to write those things as it makes the world misinformed about us, dwarves. And when everyone is misinformed, they tend to make mistakes. It's very useful when you deal with the enemy - or a trading partner, I assure you. Several hundred years ago, an old Mage by name of Marcus Polonius traveled from the land of Peremonien to our lands and when he returned back home, he wrote some kind of a travel diary. My ancestors got one copy from seafaring traders and kept reading it every night - and laughing their heads off. For example, the mage wrote that we dwarves live underground, like moles, and are afraid of the sunlight. Several years later, some traders from Peremonien came by. And guess what - they brought us some old-fashioned lanterns to use underground. Of course, we respectfully declined (as the old saying says, you don't bring wood to the forest, do you?) and asked what else they had. It turned out that their wagons had been filled with their fine peremonian colored glass - they planned to travel to Bern, but couldn't do that because the winter was coming sooner that year and the wanted to get back home. So my great-great-great-great-grandfather Zorander Brightblade told them, keeping a poker face,  that of course dwarves lived underground, so the clan didn't need any glass since there were no windows in our clan houses. And because of that fact, the glass is totally useless for us, but since they look like nice humans, we'd buy the merchandise from them, so they can return home safely. And guess what - we didn't even have to haggle! They lowered the price substantially, we closed the deal and everyone went their way.

And what happened next? We sold most of the peremonian fancy glass to the High Elves of Bern, charging them triple the nominal price of the Peremonian traders wanted (since we bought it for 10x less, we earned 30x more money! That's what I call a profitable trade deal!).
Some of the glass we kept to ourselves -we needed it for the windows in the village. Oh yes, did I mention then at those times we were already building the best buildings in the whole Aelos?
Remember, kids - the modern dwarves do not live underground anymore, we just mine shiny things there. 

A dwarven cottage in our village. See the tinted window on the right?

At home with Asmodeus


Dear diary!

An awful thing happened. Or, in fact - two awful things... now, when I think of it, the correct number is four.

First of all - I kept thinking about what we can do to not to pay these /%&/&%&/¤%¤ 50 GC to the carpenter and his greedy friend, stonemason - or where to get the money from. I was on the way to the dwarven part of our village, when I met my three "fanboys", Fero The Fist and the brothers Felo & Falo. They run towards me and asked how I was doing... ugh. I know what they have been after, every young dwarven maiden at my age knows that! It is my pocketgold I get from my Father every week, that's what they want!!! Filthy dwarf youngsters! (Of course, I'm not getting any money from my Father, we are a humble family with no particular wealth but our family connections and the ability to brew the finest beer in Dalelands. We don't have gold at all, I tell you!)
They started smiling, their cheeks pink, their words... stupid! (They kept talking about me having to choose one of them and marrying them [I told you it was all about money! Which I dont have, by the way.]). I had to stop this nonsense.
I said: "Listen, if you really want to impress me, show me that you are really brave dwarves and clean up Alduvar The Mage's tower." - I saw their faces, they went a bit pale.
Felo and Falo gulped simultaneously, but Fero said: "Well, okay, my dearie, we'll do anything for you --- but it will cost you a kiss."
"Two kisses!", corrected him Falo.
"THREE kisses, they mean!", added Felo.
Well, they do have a bit of dwarven blod in them after all, they sure can haggle! A agreed for 3 kisses on their cheeks without even thinking. I will think of something later and try to escape the horror of touching their almost-unbearded faces. Okay, maybe they have some short beards, but they are not as long and fine as the masculine beards of the true dwarven heroes of old.

The Dwarf of my dreams...

Oh, how I long to find a real dwarven hero with a voluptuous beard... I could sit on his lap every evening, comb it and braid it in three fine, thick braids and then I could sharpen his enormous battle axe while he tells me stories of battles he took part in... All that bone-breaking, orc skull-crushing, the blood of dark creatures splattering all around the place and their helpless cries... Ah... my Father says I'm a hopeless romantic.

I went to sleep dreaming away... but when I woke up, I didn't remember much. I just had a huge headache. Why? Well.. maybe I drank a mug of ale or two. Or maybe more... maybe not only the ale... It's all because it dawned on me what my friends wanted me to do in order to get the money for fixing the stupid mage's old tower. They. Wanted. Me. To. Get. Rid. Of. My. Precioussss... SWEET WATER PEARLS!
I got them, I mean - WE - got them from the Brownies. The pearls were just perfect. Every night when I went to bed, I looked at them, caressed them and said good-night to them. I know that they were very happy with me! And now I have to give them away... just because they are worth exactly 50 gc. That's what they are worth to everyone else, money. Not me, of course, I worshipped them for their beuty and their unique form... as Gozreh creations only. Nothing to do with the money, oh no.
So, now you understand why I needed to drink something more than just regular ale.

The morning was even worse. As soon as I finished my breakfast, the Three Lovebirds approached me proudly and said that they cleaned up the mage's tower (they demanded a kiss each!) and it turned out that they found an old map of Eagles Eyrie! Amazing! I wonder how the Old Fart, um, I mean, our great mage, came into its possesion. I wanted to see this map right away, but guess what Fero said - they wanted one kiss more. Each of them. Oh, and I had such a hangover (now that I think of it, I think it is quite possible that I drank some goat milk in the evening by mistake, instead of - that explains the headache!)... And I was so tired. But I really wanted to see the map - especially after what my Father said (I can't write here what he said, it is a secret! All you should know is that I really have to go to Eagles Eyrie and... find something. Something of the utmost importance. Important Dwarf Business, humans! I won't say a word more!).

So... maybe... well... how to put it... finally I agreed to kiss them (YUCK!!!), but I don't want to talk nor write about it. I will just keep drinking beer and hoping I will forget it all.

Then I met Ilorath in the village and he said that last night, when he was watching the house, he saw our thieving halfling "friend" Zert trying to sneak into the house of Adamelus (the guy that we think is a spy for Iron Circle). As soon as he opened the window, some invisible force sucked him into the dark house! I bet it is haunted! Now we know that we must act - we decided to get into the house in the evening.
Before that, we paid the craftsmen to fix the Mage's Tower (with by beautifullll pearllllss..... myyy.... preciousss....) and  the old mage Alduvar (why do all those humans have names starting with "A"?) was so happy that he gave us lots of magic potions, elixirs and a walnut. But not a regular walnut - it was an enchanted walnut that disarmed any traps we may encounter when getting into the house.

"How does it work?", asked Willem.
"You throw the nut against the door and it disarms and opens all the traps", explained the GM.
"And what does happen if you eat the nut instead?", Will keeps asking.
"Then all of your body openings start to, well..., thay start to open.", explained Ilorath.

We got into the house as soon as it got dark. The nut worked (noone ate it, luckily) and we avoided any magical traps and alarms. We slowly walked inside through the dark hallway and into the dining room. It was very quiet and empty. The I thought I saw something moving in the fireplace... or maybe it was just my imagination, it was just the flame... We opened the door to the kitchen - adn we saw a black dog with red eyes standing there and sniffing at us. Wic was thinking fast - she grabbed the leftover chicken from the table and gave it to the dog. It started eating the meat instantly, not uttering even the slightest sound. The doog looked really evil and unpleasant, but kept eating and didn't care that we were there. Pheew, we were saved. I'm happy to have such a smart friend as Wic, she always knows what to do. If it was me, I wolud probably smash the animal's head with my urgrosh... but it would have started barking by then.
And then, when we thought that we can quietly proceed, Will shouted: "GET AWAY FROM ME!!!"

I turned back to him... and I saw an ugly imp that flew out from the fireplace (I knew there was something there!) and started attacking the cleric of Sarenrae, his god's enemy. Poor Will tried to hit the infernal creature and then Ilorath came to help him, but it was of no use. They were trying to hit the air - the imp was too fast and too cocky, laughing histerically all the time, pulling their hair and tried to attack them. I wished I were an ice dragon and could breath ice on this little obnoxious unnatural creature. And then smash it with my tail. And eat it as a dessert...

At the same time, me and Wic tried to hit the dog. Maybe it was my hangover... but I seemed not to be able to hit it. This infernal dog noticed what we were doing and started growling at us. I took out my urgrosh and wanted to kill it with one, clean movement, but to no avail. I just couldn't hit the beast. I made a mental note to myself: no more goat milk!!! It is not healthy for a dwarf warrior princess like me.
You probably wonder how I was able to fight the animal, since I am Gozreh's follower. Well, the answer is simple. I sensed that it was not natural. Its eyes were red and he smelled of sulphur (I think, at least, I had trouble with my sense of smell after yesterday, when I sneaked intu my dad's provate study and tried to sniff on his secret stash of... um, nevermind. It's a family matter. Nothing to concern you.). But the thing that convinced me 100%, was his, um, outfit. The dog was wearing a lot of black studded leather straps all over his body. Think about it for a moment, imagine the infernal dog... and tell me that's natural. It's not! It is so wrong in so many ways!

I managed to finally kill the beast and was instantly faced with a new danger.
We made so much noise that the house owners finally appeared. I knew their son who worked with us sometimes in the City Watch. I thought that he was a decent fellow. Until the moment, that is, when he pointed his dad's crossbow at me. The bolt swooshed past me and Wic, not damaging anyone. Bad luck for the Asmodeus cultists! And then I saw Adamelus and his wife. She looked, um, much different from her usual... um... self. Remember the dog? I think they dressed at the same clothes' shop and it's not at my friend Holten's place. She had a lot of studded leather on her (well, actually, the leather straps were very revealing, I bet she was very cold in that strange outfit). Was there something improper going on in this house? How do the Asmodeus followers worship their god, anyway?

I shrugged off these thoughts and focused on fighting our enemies. Adamelus' wife casted some strange spell, making me weaker with every injury she received. Black magic, I'm sure! She was such a b... an evil person, I mean. Luckily, Will healed me, so I could be strong enought to fight some more... But it turned out that everything was already finished! Ilorath injured the imp, so the ugly creature escaped. Adamelus and his son were dead, covered with wounds and Wic's arrows sticking out of their bodies. Pheew, that was close. I was so happy Wic with her bow was with us, otherwise they would have to build a burial mound for all of us.
And what about Adamelus' wife, the Asmodeus priestess? We finished her off together. She looked disappointed, though. Probably she thought that her god would save her. Instead, the annoying imp appeared, sucked out her soul and escaped to its master (something tells me we haven't seen the end of him yet).

All was done - the lair of followers of Asmodeus had been properly cleaned. We searched the house and found many curious things (including a somewhat disturbing collection of books) and secret rooms there - including an internal toilet with a magic fountain! Imagine that! And guess who was the first to try it out? Our playboy Illorath. When he went out of the toilet room, he looked really pleased... I don't want to know why. I won't use that place, it may be full of dark magic. What's wrong with going behind a bush every thime you feel the need? It's much more natural than some magic flushing system!

Now I can say that the day (and night) wasn't really  that bad. It ended with cleaning our village of our enemies and followers of evil got. Asmodeus wasn't happy, I am sure. We found a hidden room that was his temple - it contained its terrifying statue. As soon as we got in, we heard a demonic laugh and the statue started burning.... a shiver run down my spine. I wasn't scared, mind you, not at all, it takes more than some cheap trickery to scare Hornikatta!

Oh, and by the way, remember Zert the halfling? We found him unconscious by the statue. I think they wanted to offer him to their god, but we stopped them in time. Zert was so happy to have survived the ordeal, that he gave away all of his possesions and went to the temple of Sarenrae. He made Thalia really happy by saying that he wants to commit his life to her god. He became an acolyte or a cleric of some sorts (not that it interested me, the organization of Sarenrae worship is so complicated... Gozreh keeps it much simpler and more reasonable!).

And then we received a letter from Dheren, my boss:

For the service of keeping the peace in Anthar
Defeating a great evil priest and a the Iron Circle bandit spy
I hereby transfer the ownership of Adamelus (hereby known as the traitor)
House and belonging to
Wic of the Border Watch
Hornikatta of the City Guard
High Elf Ilorath of House Belcadiz
Sarenrae Cleric William of Glantri
It is for those five to decide how to divide the property and belongings of the traitor
The monthly tax for the house will be 3 gold coins, which is half the sum that the traitor had to pay. The taxes must be paid every month or a yearly sum of 36 gold coins may be paid in advance.
This in the name of our great Baron Ilmeth Brand, Lord of Riverdale
Signed: Dheren Ogresbane

Imagine that, a whole stone house for all of us, and all that is there! What a great day, I'm so happy that Dheren finally recognized what our group can do and how strong we've become!
Now it's time for me to finish - i have to run to my Father and ask him whether he can help me with leasing of our new cart (formerly belonging to Adamelus). You ask what "leasing" is... ? Well, it's an ancient dwarven word that means, in short "I own something that you need so I can lend it to you if you pay". The deal is, I leave the cart at the cartwright's warehouse and he finds someone interested in renting it or maybe even buying. If that person doesn't have the money (and who does nowadays), they can borrow it from my Father. He offers the best interest rates in the Dalelands! And you can insure your loan, in case the war comes here. What is "to insure"? Well, sit down, so I can explain it properly. It is an old dwarven concept...

An eight-legged meeting... in Harken Forest


We've all listened to these bedtime stories when we were kids. "Boy Who Cried Spider", "Little Red Battle Helmet", "The Dwarf Princess and The Spider", and so on. Every time I went out with my friends, being just a very young dwarfling, my dad often said: "Don't go anywhere near to the Harken Forest, there are eight-legged monsters there, just waiting to suck all the blood from young, suculent dwarflings!" I always thought that those stories and sayings were just, well, fairytales (spidertales, perhaps?).
Who would have thought that I would actually see some of these tales come true. Well, almost.

We decided that it was time to save Tarim, the herb-gatherer who got missing somewhere near Deklo Grove in the Harken Forest threee days ago. And so we went there, not knowing whether the man was still alive. We are the brave heroes of Dalelands after all!
As we went into the forest... guess what happened first. Yes, we got lost. I won't pretend that I knew anything about the forest, so I asked Wic about where we should go, since she and the Border Guards sometimes visited the area by the forest. Wic was convinced that she knew the right way to Deklo Grove. So we followed her. And followed. And followed. And followed. Strange, I always thought that the Deklo Grove was only about one hours walk from the edge of the forest... and not three... Anyway, when walking through the magnificent old forest, I kept admiring all the Gozreh's creations, the beauty of trees, the fine colors of moss and grass, the wonderful creatures we encountered. Harken Forest thrived with life, even the birds were singing praises to Gozreh, the Goddess of Nature. And while we walked, Eric sung us songs and told the tales about the forest. Ancient treants were supposed to live there, as well as elves, of course. I thought I could even smell their perfumes there...

And then we finally found Deklo Grove. And Tarim - he was hanging from a tree in the middle of the grove, covered with some strange white substance which strangely reminded me of a spiders' cocoon... That's when the big, hairy, enormous, terrifying spiders came! I can tell you, they didn't look anything like the spiders I would usually put into my brother's bed when we were children! Yuck.
We didn't waste the time. Wic quickly started firing off arrows with her bow, Illorath took out his sword, Willem started his prayes, Eric started singing louder (can singing scare off spiders?) and I took out my urgrosh. The fight begun. Wic shot one of the two spiders right in the eye - he was dead on the spot! I helped Ilorath to finish off the second one. I must say that this elf is not that bad when it comes to fighting, he certainly has a potential. I wonder if he could fight as well with a dwarven battleaxe.

The spider were killed, so I went to save poor Tarim. Gozreh teaches us to protect all the living creatures (mind you, giant spiders are unnatural and Gozreh has no mercy for abominations!), so I ran as fast as I could to free him. He looked like he would die at any moment. No wonder, being stranded in a cocoon for three days, without any food... I managed to free him, luckily, but I was so concentrated on saving him that I didn't notice what was happening to my friends - untill it was almost too late.

It turned out that the spiders had a mother. She was a giant, furious beast, almost twice as big as her children (both killed - and that made her even more angry! we have a special word for that in our dwarven tongue: "förbannad" - sounds furiously, doesn't it?). I saw a big red shape on her back - I wonder if it was the sign of Asmodeus, this evil god could create such foul creatures and be happy with sending them as a menace to the people living in Dalelands.
I ran back to my friends to help them fight the monster. I attacked the spider mother when I was winded after all that running - and that was my biggest error. I didn't reach her, but she attacked me back, I fel to the ground, almost fainted, feeling the poison in my veins... everything went black, I felt dizzy.... I'm not quite sure what happened afterwards, I know that I tried to get up and fight again, the world was literally dancing in front of me. I had even trouble holding the balance. Then I heard a shout "Victory!", I think it was Ilorath. I felt someone telling me to drink something (it was Will with his vial with antidote for spider bites). Slowly I started feeling better, even tough I was still as weak as a baby elf.

When we returned to the village with Tarim, his wife was overwhelmed with happiness. My friends were running around with their errands, I just sat by the inn and rested. One spider bite more and I would be saying hello to my Goddess in her realm.

In the afternoon we went to Alduvan, the famous Mage who lives in our village. We wanted to sell him spider parts and other ingredients for his magical mixtures. He promised to help us and give some of his specialities, but... the old fart started whining that first he wants a tower wall repaired and then - his roof mended (what roof?! the only leftovers of his hay roof were rotten through, we could clearly see the sky above us! I wonder how he manages to sleep there when it rains.) Eh, those filthy mages. He says the "hole", which I call "the lack of roofing", helps him to make astronomical observations. Yeah, right. But he wants to get rid of it anyway, lots of drafts and such. Then he wants to have his little barn and fence mended and his tower cleaned up. I will not waste precious space on my parchment to write about the filth I saw there. Let's just say he has problems with grasping the concept of emptying his chamber pot, washing his dishes after each meal - and putting them away (He leaves a plate on his laboratory table, covers it with lots of parchments and magical ingredients and on the next day he puts another plate with a piece of roasted chicken and a lonely mouldy turnip on top of it - and the cycle starts all over again. When Ilorath saw it first, he almost got a heart attack. It's good that he didn't see my brother's room... Those elves are so fragile.)

Where was I. Ah. I tried to convince Tarim's wife and other village women to clean up at Alduvan's place, but they only screamed in terror and some of them shut the door in my face. When I think of it, I gather that they may have been cleaning there once or twice already before. Poor souls. I have no heart to harass them more. I talked with the local carpenter and the stonemason - he agreed on fixing the mage's house but it would cost 50 gold coins altogether. 50 GC! What an outrage! It's almost the price a dwarven artisan would charge! Unheard of! Even though these are hard times with the war and Iron Circle menace, but still. 50 GC for a stupid fence, roof and fixing a wall! COME ON HUMANS! WHEN WILL YOU FINALLY ADMIT THAT YOUR CRAFTSMEN ARE NOTHING COMPARED TO OUR DWARVEN STONE AND WOOD ARTISTS?!


I almost forgot to write that something really strange happened as well. Talia the priestes of Sarenrae was complaining about a thief who stole something from her temple. It turned out to be the halfling we met the other day at the inn.
At the same time, it turned out that we finally are sure who is spying for Iron Circle - a rich citizen called Adamelus who has been living here in Anthar for last two years. He and his family are strange folks, they keep to themselves... Ilorath said that he would go and investigate the matter. He was to observe their house throughout the night, because we heard a rumor that Adamelus and his son like to disappear somewhere late in the evenings. Suspicious! I wanted to join Ilorath but I was too tired after being poisoned by the spider. Which is now a dead spider, HA! I went to bed instead, but I kept wondering what the morning would bring... Good night!