Exile to Graystone

July 23, Year 157 of Kelaine
The Cold North

It’s been a long journey. Too long. And too cold. A lesson in oxymorons; who would have thought that wind and ice could burn?
Rhaegar, C’Tuma, and I arrived in Graystone yesterday. It certainly isn’t the most inviting of cities. Leave it to the Dwarves to find comfort in the harsh wilderness of the mountains. But it’s certainly better than from whence we came. The Hesharii seem to be occupied in the South for now, gods bless those poor souls.
Our funds were nearly gone by the time we arrived, but we managed to find a nice inn at a relatively low cost—at least, once I’d talked the innkeeper down a bit. Apparently this town isn’t too friendly to non-humans. I’ve never been so happy to draw myself a steaming hot bath; at least for the night, I could forget the cold.
Unfortunately, the whinings of my empty coin purse call much louder than the caress of a warm bed. And so we venture back into the cold today. The imperial legion stationed here is stretched too thin; they can barely muster a town guard. It seems, though, that this means work opportunities are plentiful. We talked to the commander, one Cornelius Ventor, and from him learned that there’s a possible Orc encampment at a place called Cragmere, northeast of the city. So we’re making preparations to investigate the encampment and report back—and hopefully make some coin in the process.
We’ve also heard rumors of hauntings nearby. Supposedly the dead walk the caverns of Icehall Cave. Baseless superstition, if you ask me, but of course C’Tuma is all intrigued.
And as if I needed another reason to hate the North, now we learn of terrible beasts that plague this place: shrykes. Even Rhaegar blanched at the mention of them—apparently he encountered them back on Asaheim—and I’ve rarely seen Boss-Man so much as bat an eye at danger.
So it’s barely a day in the North and we’re already up against Orcs and ghosts and shrykes. I knew there was a reason I left in the first place.

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July 24, Year 157 of Kelaine
Goblins and Spiders and Orcs All Die

We did indeed find some Orcs.
For the most part, it was an easy cleanup. The Orc soldiers posed little challenge, and their traps and secrets were laughably simple. Oddly enough, we received aid from some Goblins, who were apparently slaves of the Orcs. Before today, I’d never met an intelligent Goblin, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything. It would have been nice of them to warn us about the spider, but that was a challenge easily overcome.
A considerably closer shave was our run-in with the Orc spellcaster and his cronies. I watched Rhaegar go down to an axe; I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him involuntarily hit the floor. Luckily I managed to shove a healing potion down his throat and he was back in business in no time. All told, we took care of the Orcs with little trouble.
If anything, the most stressful moment of our recon mission came during the hike to Cragmere. We saw a shryke. By which I mean, as we were cowering under a fallen tree for shelter, we saw a small rodent disappear in a flurry of talons. If I never face a shryke myself it’ll be too soon.
We collected a nice bounty on the Orc chieftain, though, so it seems the minor inconvenience was worth it.

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July 26, Year 157 of Kelaine
Taking Back the Tomb

We got around to investigating Icehall Cave today. The rumors we had heard about it turned out to be true … sort of. What we ended up finding were not ghosts, but a small clan of necromancers, who made life surprisingly difficult for us.
They very nearly stopped us before we were ten steps into the cave. Some corpses that had appeared frozen solid in the icy walls of the cave nearly brought us to a quick and untimely death. C’Tuma would probably say that only the intervention of the Raven Queen brought us through that fight, that it was not yet our time to die. Well, perhaps he’s right, but I say it was liberal use of healing potions that saved our asses.
After easily wading through some reanimated skeletons and zombies, we discovered two things. The first was that Icehall Cave had once been a tomb dedicated to the Raven Queen. Of course, C’Tuma was outraged once we also discovered a necromancer responsible for desecrating the tomb. He ended up taking the brunt of the necromancer’s and his undead minions’ attacks, but it turned out for the best. A world with one necromancer fewer is a good world in my book.
After some scouting revealed dangers we were wholly unprepared to face—including a guardian wraith that actually turned out to be a useful ally—we decided to camp in the tomb for the night and continue our purge in the morning. I spent an uneasy night in that cave; unsettling visions plagued my sleep; perhaps a portent of the fight to come, but I fear they may have been omens of far more terrible events.
In any case, we were rudely awakened by the shuffle of undead footsteps, and then the fight began in earnest. The newly risen High Priest of the Raven Queen, under the command of another necromancer, posed quite a challenge. We ended up fighting in cramped quarters, and with Raegar unable to move for most of the fight due to some evil magic and C’Tuma once again taking most of the hits, it was down to me to take out the High Priest. Which I did. Eventually.
With C’Tuma satisfied that our work was done, we set back for Graystone—and had our first run-in with the dreaded shrykes. They were just as bad as I had imagined; we managed to drive them off, but Raegar barely made it to town. I was very nearly carrying him by the time we got a room at an inn—not an easy task by any means. A healer from the temple assured me that he would be at full strength within a day or two, but for now he’ll have to take it easy.

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