The Journal of Fawkes Hamelain #3

Mirtull (?), 1480 DR

OFF THE EASTERN COAST OF THE MOONSHAE ISLES

Nearly 24 hours have passed since I last wrote. The night did not conclude peacefully after my encounter with Selûne. It seems that our bard, Thunderfist, dozed off when he was supposed to be keeping watch. The next thing I know I was being roused into action - Barendd was missing.

Not soon after we took up the search within the temple was Elias ambushed from behind by some wretched undead creature. What had been a man was now a beast of claw, teeth, and pallid grey flesh. When the surprise of the sudden assault had worn off, Genos and I were able to dispatch the creature easily in combat. Several of the creatures we discovered roaming what had once been the food stores of the temple until we came upon a gristly sight.

A map of the manor Keestake drew for us.

Barendd, still alive thank Ilmater - but impaled upon one of the meat hooks meant for cattle, a fresh meal for the ghouls. Genos and I tried to remove him as painlessly as possible from his torment on the hooks and Genos was able to stabilize his wounds. By morning, he had healed. While I do not doubt Genos' ability to field dress a wound the seriousness of Barendd's injuries cannot be understated. I have no doubt that the lady Selûne sped along his healing that his good Dwarvish soul could escape this doomed island. Were it not for her help, Thunderfist's carelessness may have gotten Barendd killed. There is no time to brook the subject now but his irresponsibility will need to be addressed by Adventurer's Anonymous. I never tolerated such laziness as falling asleep during a watch in the Goldshire militia and I will not tolerate such laziness in my adventuring team.

The approach to the Sea King's manor was treacherous. Not due to any terrain, but simply the constant patrols of both orc and goblin pirates that had come to raid the manor made approaching it without being filled with black goblin arrows difficult. Something I've managed to avoid so far in life. We spotted a natural trench in the earth that ran east to west approaching the manor. Our party was able to quickly and quietly make our way almost entirely to the manor wall without being spotted.

I say "almost" because even as Elias used his illusory rocks (I really must get him to teach me that trick) to hide us from the closest orc patrols Thunderfist felt it necessary to 'distract' them and 'lure them away'. What he really meant was he intended to leap out of the trench and get himself spotted like a damned fool. Yet another dangerous display of the lack of discipline in that half-man.

Once our furry footed friend was spotted by the orc patrollers Genos leaped into action. I saw the man run along the wall of a trench as if it was the very floor we stood on (another trick I wouldn't mind learning) before landing a kick square into the orc's face. In contrast to Thunderfist, I would take this strange warrior Genos on any campaign. I saw him trade blows with the orc until Elias saw an opening and roasted the bastard with a bolt of fire produced from thin air. As for me, I was never so happy to have a crossbow as that moment. The second orc patrolman was well on his way back to camp sprinting to warn his allies before I was able to cut him down with a bolt at a distance of near 30 yards.

After the commotion with the patrolling orcs I was glad when Elias was able to scurry up to the windows and help pull the rest of us inside. Of course, we were still charged with protecting the Lady Melisana and Keestake. Poor Keestake, the fellow nearly went into shock when he saw the state the interior of the manor was in. It had been his job for who can say how many years to keep the place tidy, a task the orcs and goblins made quick work of undoing. We managed to console him and rather than try to quietly move over half a dozen people through the halls, it was decided that Elias and Thunderfist scout out the manor while we secured the entry room.

Of course by now I should have learned my lesson.

They were apparently successful in locating one of the magic artifacts Selûne told us about. They were apparently also located a pack of hounds bred for war and their goblin masters. Not a moment longer than I had finally begun to enjoy the peace and quiet afforded by the half-man's absence did I hear the fast footfalls of our companions sprinting past the room we were in - followed by a pack of hounds baying for their blood whipped on by a goblin pack master. Fortunately for us, in their frenzy they paid us no heed as they chased our would be scouts. With our fleeing friends on one end and myself, Barendd, and Genos hitting them from the rear we made swift work of the pirates.

A fine blade that feels extremely light in the hand.

When the blood was done spilling we got a look at the prize the goblins were after. A strange rod clutched in Thunderfist's hand which glows with a magic of divination (or so Barendd said upon examining it), seemingly pointing the way to other sources of magic on the island. We followed that magical glow deeper into the manor. It lead us first to Viledal's room where we found some old potions and a magical dagger engraved with dwarven runes.

Onward we went, down into the manor towards the crypts where Keestake said the old escape ship would be. Our luck at avoiding the majority of pirates roaming the manor ran out when a particularly vicious looking orc wielding a spiked chain was able to trap us in a pincer maneuver with orcs closing from front and back.

The final hall which approached the crypts became a bloody scene in seconds. I rushed forward to take the leading orc myself nearly splitting the beasts chest in two with a single axe blow. With the greatest threat removed I took defensive positions to protect Lady Melisana and Keestake holding the guard with Elias while Barendd and Genos took the offensive. It was the first close quarters combat our group has seen and I am proud to say everyone held together, even Thunderfist.

When we finally made it to the crypts we emerged into a large chamber with piles of crates, some marked as containing weapons and armor. Non-orcish armor and weapons? Praise Tempus.

As the crates toppled down on my head, triggered by the thin line of wire I nearly tripped over in my excitement at being properly armed and armored, I realized that the Sea King Viledel was a fan of traps. I clawed myself out and emerged to the sound of roaring laughter from both Keestake and Thunderfist.

"To the abyss with this cursed island!" I cried out kicking splintered planks aside and massaging my fresh bruises. The island held another twist of the knife for us before we could leave. Keestake's mental state seemed to be slipping the closer we got to actually reaching the boat. Even though he had acknowledged our necessity in acquiring the magical arms and equipment of the late Viledel, here at the final moment he reverted back to the loyal right hand man he had once been. He could not see us leave the island with Viledel's treasure. In truth, I believe he has been on this island for decades at least and I don't think his mind could take the idea of finally leaving. In a sudden betrayal he revealed that the hidden passage we had entered into the crypt by was now sealed.

In Memory of Keestake - May Kelemvor guide your soul to a peaceful rest.

Not only that, but the map he had drawn us of this floor was inaccurate. Unfortunately, we were forced to knock the pitiful old man unconscious and find the way out ourselves. I regret that he could not complete the journey with us as without him we truly could not have escaped with our lives. I know in my heart though that it could have been no other way, it is the destiny of older men to die carving a path for younger men since the beginning of the ages.

Not knowing the way and hoping the ship or something nearby it contained magic we continued to follow glow of the magic rod Thunderfist took from the upper manor. Thank all the gods - it worked. We saw the ship and though I have not seen many I knew right away this was a fine vessel, even for its age. But one final obstacle rested in the path between us and salvation. The final resting place of Viledal the Sea King and his family, still entombed in the stone coffins where they were meant to be loaded upon the beautiful funeral ship we were now escaping with.

They... did not stay resting. I do not wish to describe the horror of what they had become. It is not my place to tarnish the final moments of their lives and I will not recount it here.

Lady Melisana showed us how to take the ship out of the cove and to the open sea. We had barely reached the edge of the storm clouds covering the island when Selûne's wrath was made manifest. Never have I witnessed such a thing and never do I wish to again. The island cracked and sundered like clay, sloughing into the sea piece by piece until nothing but the ocean remained.

And now? Now I get to sleep in an actual bunk. For a few hours at least.

~Fawkes Hamelain~