The Quest for Haven

Cal's Diary

More of the same again today. Nothing changes and I despair for the future, it seems I’m to live my life as a boring blacksmith. The only thing of note was one of the monks from the monastery outside the walls being seen in town. Everyone seems frightened of them, but they don’t scare me. They are imposing, but I feel no threat from them. Maybe I’m less afraid of death than I am of being stifled in town, achieving nothing with my life. Maybe my childhood seeing the deaths of so many in Haven and losing all family but my two sisters and Lauren my cousin has hardened me to death more than the normal townsfolk.

Another day goes by with nothing new. I repair pots for Mistress Harcombe of the Black Sheep, learn a little more about forging and fetch & carry for Thorgrip my foster father. In the evenings I hone my skills forging shuriken in the hope I will one day use them in Adventures. As always Thorgrip chuckles and calls me a dreamer. He says there is no such thing as a adventure, just dead warriors and foolish boys. But I still remember the lessons my real father taught me about honour and valour. The tales of Gal’s father Darius fill me with hope as well. Though “father” disapproves of Gal and his parents.

Today was going much the same as every other day for the last 3 months, if not 6 years, until I made one of my increasingly frequent visits to the Drake’s Demise. Gal was being obnoxious about my plans to seek excitement. He has no Adventure in his soul. How two such brave and dedicated parents could raise such a lazy and timid son is beyond me. Anyway! We were in the Drake when Eldeth ran up from the cellar screaming. Apparently the place is infested with nasty things. Jurgen Bloodaxe took up a log from the fire pit and went down looking grim. He soon came back up though, bleeding from dozens of bites and looking shaken. White as a sheet he said “vicious little buggers” and locked the cellar door behind him. This would seem the perfect opportunity to show my worth! Darius and Jalatis have been training me after all. But if Jurgen couldn’t stand up to the rats I’m not sure what hope I have.

I guess I’m not brave enough for Adventure after all…

Out of a dangerous curiosity I went back to the Drake tonight, although Gal refused to come. Coward. It was much less busy than normal, but even so there was little left for Eldeth to sell. You could see her eyes were red from crying and she was worried sick. I was just about to head home when in runs a young dwarf with a huge scythe and wearing chain mail. He grinned at Eldeth and kissed her before running down into the cellar with a purposeful look on his face. If only I had that sort of bravery! Then again, I waited for an hour and he didn’t come back. Eldeth looked even more distraught.

Today begins a new era in my life! I feel battered and bruised, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve proved my worth and I can’t sleep for the excitement!

The Drake’s Demise didn’t reopen this morning, but that was pretty boring compared to the rest of the day. One of the strange monks visited the forge whilst Thorgrip was out, he was huge and wearing pristine white robes. He asked about a young dwarf. It appears the dwarf was one of his order. I explained what had happened the previous night and offered to show him to the Drake. Brother Grimm agreed and I ran to get my gear.

When we arrived at the tavern Eldeth had bolted the door and was crying behind the bar. We persuaded her to let us in and braved the cellar. It was packed with ravening rats, hordes of small biting ones, ones the size of a cat and several huge dog like foul looking beasts. We fought them off and dispatched all but one or two of the little ones, but not without a few bites. Sadly we found the body of the dwarf, he was unpleasantly gnawed on.

When we explored further we found they had broken through one of the walls from underground passages. Wounded, we retreated to the upper floors to rest and bind wounds before carrying on. It was dark by the time we were ready. We followed the passageways, killing more of the ill favoured creatures. In their ranks were hideous Rat-men! They were quick and powerful, and their bites itched horridly, but we defeated them as well. They carried strange tokens similar to the sign of Sora’s Redoubt. I could tell this worried Brother Grimm.

As we left the Drake having succeeded where all others had failed before us, we saw the trader arrive in town. He looked much worse than us, and none of his guards were with him. It seems he barely made it through the hills this time.

Today begins my first great adventure. I have signed up as a caravan guard to return to the great Sora’s Redoubt with the travelling merchant Barakus. Not only that, but the impressive Brother Grimm will be joining us. Already we seem to have an understanding and work well together. It’s all happening so quickly!

At last my life is going in the right direction! I can’t wait for Adventure! Honour! and Glory!

Our travels began quietly enough. But Barakus soon informed us we would have to take his normal route, at least part of the way, as he wanted to stop and bury his dead. This seemed foolish to me, as it would take us right to the point of the ambush he barely survived. He’s paying the wages though, so little I could say was important. Brother Grimm agreed with Barakus as well, so I guess I‘m wrong.

When we got there I thought my fears had been realised when, whilst scouting ahead, I saw some thugs looting the corpses. Again I questioned the sense of trying to bury the dead. They had been out here for several days already after all. The others were insistent though and we soon discovered my fears were groundless. We finished off the looters with ease. For a merchant Barakus is certainly no slouch with a blade!

Things got a little more “interesting” that night. Our camp was plagued with attacks. I can’t help but think if they’d been a little more bold, or a little less overconfident, they could have swamped us in one attack. Idiots!

It seems the first day was the only day of any real incident on our journey to Sora’s Redoubt. There was virtually no sign of bandits or foul creatures for the rest of the entire journey.

I almost fell when the Redoubt came into view. I must have looked like some sort of country bumpkin. I don’t really remember much of Haven, but I’d heard it was bigger than Sora’s. Nothing can prepare you for it when you see it. It’s enormous and fantastically impressive! The inside isn’t much less of a shock either. Brightly lit caverns on multiple levels. And not just rough caverns but properly and quality worked and finished. Barakus paid us handsomely for the service and recommended a few things to do in town. The merchant’s level seemed a bit up-market for the likes of me. So I suggested we stay on the bottom level, for farmers and miners.

Things certainly don’t seem like they’ll be dull here. Added to the Rat people and the murders Barakus told us about when we signed up with him, the fields are sickening and the mines have collapsed. There is something serious going on. I don’t know why, but I sense a conspiracy of some kind. It’s just too much of a coincidence. After talking to some miners we offered to take a look at clearing out the mines of nasties. First though, we decided to scope out the fields later tonight!

That‘s one day I won‘t forget in a hurry. I haven’t felt this bad since Thorgrip thrashed me for leaving the forge lit all night. Things started easily enough. We split up and kept an eye on the fields, I spotted a figure acting suspiciously and snuck up on him, knocking him cold. We took him back to the tavern and interrogated him.

It turns out he is being blackmailed to poison the crops whilst his family are held hostage in a warehouse. Brother Grimm is a scary, scary man and I think he really would have callously murdered the poor fellow if he hadn’t fully cooperated. And not quickly either. We tried to catch them delivering the poison in the morning, but by Moradin these people are talented! I swear I was looking right at the door and between blinking, the flask appeared. No trace left either.

So it was plan b, get Peter to tell us the location of the warehouse and bust in and save the “damsel” and her kids. Easier said than done. They were clearly professional and they’d left two real hard nuts with good equipment at the door. We took them down, but not before picking up some bruises and a couple of nasty cuts. Luckily the occupants were mostly untrained rabble, but they were persistent.

The Dwarfs acquitted themselves as you’d expect despite their dishonourable employment. It seems most are not fully willing parties to what is going on, they are deathly afraid of whoever is in charge. The Elven warriors were typically Elven, trying anything to avoid a real honourable fight… though they fought well and hard, so I guess that’s unfair. Sometimes I think Thorgrip’s prejudices have taken route more than I thought.

We did have to retreat before securing Jane, but luckily the idiots were still hoping to pull off their plan and just sat waiting for us while we regrouped. Things got really tricky when we found Jane. Mainly because there were two of her. Some tricky woman leading the outfit had managed to disguise herself as a duplicate Jane. Things were going well when I battered them both senseless to be safe, but unfortunately Grimm left his unattended to see how I was doing in my interrogation. This let the woman slip her bonds and escape, taking the dwarf we’d captured with her. I thought she’d turned into a rat, but we found her bonds untied, so that guess may be wrong.

Well, we’ll meet again and next time she won’t be so lucky. I feel we should report this to the militia, but if we’re dealing with shape shifters, who’s to know how far they’ve infiltrated the Redoubt. If I was them, I’d certainly have placed at least one person in both the government and the militia. Either way, the mines are next for us. After that we’ll start to see if my theories are sound.

We’ve taken a day’s break to rest and make some preparations. I’ve placed an order with a blacksmith for some weapons and armour and hired 5 dwarven miners to be part time guardsmen. They took some persuading and I think they think I‘m a bit strange in the head. Hopefully it will make me more credible. And it’s a step in the direction of liberating Haven and re-establishing it as a productive town.

The dwarfs suggested they join us in the mines to shore up as we went along. I agreed, but told them they should stay somewhere safe until we had the job done. So we’ll be going in tomorrow morning. Success will be a real feather in my cap and should get me noticed. Probably by the wrong people as well as the right. But that’s a problem for another day.

Clearing the mines was certainly an interesting experience. Lots of dangerous critters and some really weird magical thingies. Not something I really want to talk about, or remember if I’m honest.

At least we’re starting to prove quite popular with a lot of the townsfolk. The mines will soon be reopened, the fields are safe for the time being. But I’m still worried, the crazy street demonstrators are getting worse by the day and the watch seem unable to do anything about the murders. It may be time to pay a visit to the militia and see how we can help more.

We’ve got the job to solve the murders, but if truth be told I’m lost. I’m sure it’s linked to these people who went missing for a while, but we’ve talked to them. They seem perfectly normal! I just don’t get it. Apparently people joining the watch keep getting warned off. So I think it’s time to loudly volunteer. I’m hiring a room on the level above and I’ll “get drunk” and announce I’m joining the guard to solve the murders. Grimm will be waiting in the house to ambush anyone who comes for a friendly chat. Can’t wait to see their face when they see him.

That didn’t go so well. These people are smarter and more dangerous than I thought. We barely survived that. And one of the rat-men got away. But at least we know why we had problems with two Janes. I’d never heard of a Doppelganger, but Grimm seemed to have heard of them.

We’re planning on talking to the people who went missing again. Maybe following one or two of them and if that doesn’t work patrolling the streets. It feels like we’re getting nowhere. I know we’ve accomplished so much in the last month, but this is just so frustrating!

At last! A breakthrough!! We quartered the civilian level, I took one, Grimm another, the militia the third and my helpful Dwarven friends the fourth. I got lucky spotting the Dwarf lady we had our suspicions about. I followed her discovering a house which was providing shelter for her controllers. After a slightly foolish attempt to scout the house which ended in setting off a number of traps and getting into a tricky fight with Hobgoblin, Grimm joined me and we released the woman from her domination by killing the Hobgoblin Mage.

It seems each mage only knows of one other house, but it seems to work in a circle. Find one and you find them all! We have a few busy nights ahead of us. Time to warn the watch to take in all the formerly missing persons and to then kick over each evil nest.

I know I haven’t written anything for a couple of nights, but it’s been far too hectic. And I have had a lot of thinking to do. We’ve been going from house to house stopping the Mages. It seems they have very little in common bar their greed or hatred of humans. We were very nearly finished by one Tiefling who had the power to fling hellfire around. He was impossible to pin down and he seemed to have an unerring ability to hit Grimm at a weakness in his armour. Not that I guess steel is a great way to stop hellfire anyway.

We’ve just finished the last of the control houses, although not all were occupied so we must have a care about their former occupants. After all our hard work and bleeding we were no nearer to solving the case. We may have stopped the murders, but the central figure still eludes us and we were at a loss for anything to do.

Well! No sooner had I finished updating my diary and we’d set off to see Akmenos at the militia head quarters to update him, than we were told of a mysterious hole in the level floor which seemed to open into a tunnel. Apparently this should be impossible due to the magic of Sora’s Redoubt, but it was certainly there.

Of course we immediately investigated. In a central chamber we found, quite literally, the brains behind the murder. It was in fact a Brain in a Jar. The strangest thing I think I’ve ever seen. It seemed to reach out and take control of my body. Forcing me to attack Grimm. There was nothing I could do to stop myself. The control wasn’t total though, I managed to slip free of its mental grasp a couple of times to help Grimm finish of its guardians. Grimm put an end to its plans. But not before it revealed it was only a hireling for some mysterious group.

I’ve finally decided that I need to write down what happened. Grimm won’t tell me any details, he just asks what I saw whilst I was “out”. I know what happened though. I know I was dead. She was there. Waiting for me. I know she brought me back.

Of all the Gods I thought who might be interested in me helping them further their plans, or who might have an aim in common with me, she was the last I’d have imagined. Apparently she has similar feelings about Haven though, if for different reasons I suspect. It seems Brother Grimm has been marked for greater things than that which we currently do.

I am to help him set up a second order of the Brothers Grimm in the Mansion outside Sora’s Redoubt. I am then to work with him in destroying the undead threat in Haven. I can live with that. I must keep him alive and to help me, She has touched my soul with an echo of her power.

For a second, I felt a fragment of her indescribable being touch mine. It was terrifying. Agonising. It was bliss.

We set off towards the Mansion, the journey was relatively quick and easy. We decided to search the watch tower first. It turned out to be full of undead monstrosities. No sooner had I climbed 5 feet up the ladder which seemed the only entrance, than some hideous spectres had floated out through the walls and begun to attack us.

Once in the tower it was a case of fighting our way down through the levels until we were sure all of the abominations were destroyed. It was hard work, taking almost a day and a half. But we got the job done. Tomorrow we enter the Mansion proper.

Goblins, I hate Goblins. Sneaky, cowardly, smelly and evil. We found a rabble of them guarding the lower entrance hall in terror. After killing a few in quick succession Grimm called for them to surrender. True to their cowardly ways they did. We questioned them and tied them up in the pantry.

Next was the “boss” and his scum. The fights were short and brutal. The Hobgoblin mage was dangerous, but no match for us.

Then it happened. I thought I was going to die. Grimm was going to slaughter the captured Goblins where they were tied up. I couldn’t let that happen. There were only a few, they may be evil but they posed no threat and I will not be party to murder. If he wanted to kill them he shouldn’t have demanded their surrender.

I stood between them, knowing I was going to die if it came to blows. There is no way I could have defeated him trying to knock him unconscious. After my experience with Her I simply cannot intend to harm him. It was all I could do to argue with him.

Thankfully he saw sense and we sent them fleeing into the wilderness. Hopefully to run far from here.

Now it’s back to Sora’s Redoubt to reequip and send word to his order that the way is paved.

The Story So Far...
according to the DM

Our story started in the quiet fishing village of Restharven, where Brother Grimm was sent by the elders of his order to investigate the disappearance of one of the order. His investigations lead him to the Drake’s Demise, which he discovered was closed due to infestation. Once he and a young men he had encountered, Cal Thornblade, managed to convince the landlady, Eldeth, they discovered that the missing Brother had been in love with Eldeth and had gone down into the cellar the night before to deal with the infestation and had not returned. Brother Grimm and Cal ventured into the cellar and soon discovered the corpse of the missing Brother, being eaten by rats. After being attacked by and killing several groups of rats, the two were faced with wererats who were discovered, once killed, to be carrying curious symbols of the Sora’s Redoubt coat of arms with a strike through it.

On their return to the town, Cal and Brother Grimm witnessed the merchant Barakas arriving, battered, bruised and guardless. After questioning him, and after Brother Grimm was given a task by his order, they signed on with him to guard him on his return to the fortress city.

After a 2 week journey interrupted by concerted attacks from bandits, the three arrived in Sora’s Redoubt, where several problems were plaguing the inhabitants.

The mines had suffered several cave ins and were now infested by monsters, the crops had died in the fields, there was a ‘haunted’ mansion outside town and the residential quarter had been plagued with a severe rash of murders.

The two companions, once they had left Barakas at his shop, set out to help with these problems. They first headed down to the lower level and dealt with the monsters in the mine, helping the dwarven miners to restore the tunnels to their previous state.

Next they discovered that the fields had failed because they were being poisoned. Through judicious use of fear, they persuaded the poisoner to tell them why he was doing it and shortly set off to free his family from their kidnappers. Despite a brief confusion when the leader of the kidnappers, who was a doppelganger, disguised herself as the woman she had kidnapped, the kidnap was foiled, and the crops have started growing again.

After this, the pair started investigating the murders. Soon they had discovered that the murders themselves were being committed by seemingly normal people, all of whom had disappeared for a day a fortnight before the murders started. After some more investigation, the base of operation of one of the murderers was discovered and, in the process of investigating that place, the two found that the murderers know nothing of their actions and are being controlled by a cabal of magic users, one of whom they had just killed. Over the course of a few nights, they then followed a trail of notes from one location to the next, eliminating magic users who were controlling the murderers, until the last note they came across lead them back to where they had started. Thinking they had to start looking for the central mastermind in this plot all over again, they returned to the militia headquarters, only to run into some militiamen who had just avoided falling down a hole that had appeared in the street in front of them. Investigating this hole, Cal and Brother Grimm came across a chamber in which were several animated severed hands, a bird made from human skin and a brain in a jar, which was psychically mocking Cal. After a brutal showdown, the two heroes emerged victorious, and the magic binding the murderers dissipated.

Finally, the two headed out of the city to deal with the rumoured ‘haunted’ mansion. Once there, they discovered that the rumours were, for once, accurate and that the tower build next to the mansion was teeming with undead. Working their way through the three floors, they cleared the taint from that place and turned their attention to the mansion, where a tribe of goblins had been living, having moved in before the undead appeared and been afraid to leave since. A short and bloody confrontation with the leader of the group, a nasty hobgoblin, enabled the heroes to clear the goblins out of the once opulent mansion, with the few with the sense to surrender set free into the hills.


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