Chapter Twelve

April 30, 2011


            Brianna sets out to fish, while I work with Korvinean to do some stealthy hunting.  Briggette and Ulric go after small game.  We gather a good amount of food for the coming week. 

The next morning, we travel upriver, and after about two hours, we come to an area with several dead fish along the edge of the water.  Korvinean notices that they seem to be deformed with multiple different abnormalities.  We figure that roughly half the fish in the area have been affected.  Korvinean walks over to a tree and pulls off a leaf, apologizing to the tree, “Pardon me.”  He places it in the river and watches it float away, making sure that it doesn’t immediately shrivel. 

We continue further upriver, and about two hours later, we come across a dead deer.  The creature, however, is not normal, and has two additional legs growing out of its abdomen.  Korvinean comments that it doesn’t appear to have been killed or even diseased, but rather, that it just keeled over where it stood.  Korvinean wants to cut it open to have a look, but Brianna and Ulric express their concern over the idea.  He decides that he must go ahead, and discovers nothing unusual inside the beast except that there is no musculature to support the additional legs.

We move on up river for another hour when the ground starts to move next to Korvinean, who has scouted ahead.  A giant spider bursts forth from the ground and attacks. 

We all attack, and shortly, we end him.  Other than being extremely large, the animal doesn’t appear to be deformed.

Korvinean scouts ahead and we continue on.  Shortly, he gives a call that lets us know he senses danger.  Suddenly, several figures jump out of the trees, one landing near Brianna, one near Ulric and another near Korvinean.  Brianna immediately attacks the man next to her, and he shoots at her.  Briggette turns Chancellor in that direction and knocks the two combatants apart.

“What is the meaning of this?”

Brianna begins, “This dumbass…”

Briggette holds her hand up in her sister’s face, “I know your meaning! Shsh!”  She turns to the man and says, “I asked you a question.”

He does not reply, but now that we have a moment to gather ourselves, we see that these are elves.  They have arrows nocked, but not drawn.  One of them asks, “Why are you here?  Why are you trespassing on our land?”

Korvinean speaks to them in Elvish, “Who is your leader?”

One elf steps forward, “I am.”

Korvinean says, “Let me take you to our leader.”  He leads the elf to Ulric, then translates the questions.

Ulric replies, “St. Cuthbert told us to come.”

Korvinean translates that, and adds, “I know it is distasteful to use, but if you understand the common language, would you please speak it so that we may all communicate?”

He answers in Elvish, “I suppose.”

Ulric says, “I apologize, elf, but my King has not informed me of anyone claiming this land as their own.  We were told by St. Cuthbert to find a river of blood, find its source and abolish the evil that causes it.”

“The river leaves our territory, and goes into the (he uses an Elvish word here) territory.”  Korvinean tells us the closest meaning is “The Enslaved Ones,” but that it is also used in a derogatory way.  They continue to converse, and Korvinean asks if they will guide us through their territory up to the edge of the next.  He sends one of his women, Kurie, to lead us through.

We follow her until around 6:30pm, when Kurie suggests we make camp.  After some squabbling about leadership and how everyone should be addressed, she tells us that if we continue, we will be forced into a swamp in a few minutes.  We go ahead and make camp.

The next day, about two hours after we pass through the swamp, Korvinean is off relieving himself, and Kurie tells me in Gnomish that we are now in their territory.  As we continue forward, we come to a body of an elf that has beaten to death.  His studded leather armor is broken and battered.

Ulric asks Kurie, “Do you know him?”

“He is one of them, the Enslaved Ones.”  She refuses to touch him, but points out, “he has something on him.”

I find that his sword is broken, but it seems odd regardless.  It seems to be one of the strange curved swords from the southern seas.  I also find a scroll case.  It is not trapped or locked, and it contains two scrolls.  One is in Elvish and one in Common.  Each has a lot of writing, as well as a large symbol inscribed below the words.  I give the letter to Ulric to see if the symbol is identifiable.  He recognizes it as belonging to a group of elves that came from the South Seas several hundred years ago before the Great War.

Korvinean asks how we should properly handle the body.   Does custom demand it’s burial or burning or some other handling?  We decide to bury the remains.  Kurie tells us where to go, then parts ways with us.

We come to a large, thorny hedge, perhaps twenty feet tall.  There is a gate, just as tall as the hedge, which appears to be branches grown out of the hedge and cultivated into the gate shape.  Off to the right, there is an arm-width hole.  I check it, and find no traps, so Ulric reaches in.  He pulls a rope at the back of the hole and sets off a series of chimes.

Suddenly, a head appears from the hedge.  “Who are you?”

“We are representatives of St. Cuthbert and King Delrith.”

“Wait there.”  He disappears.

A moment later, a second armored head appears through the hedge.  He recognizes that we have a protector of St. Cuthbert who is not yet a knight.  He banters with Ulric, and mentions that his great-grandfather was a brave man.  He also mentions his larger than average genitals and wonders if the legends of human penis mutilation are true.  Ulric politely confirms.

“Are you here for El Rahib?” he asks.

“We understand there has been some sort of curse,” Ulric says, “but that is not why we are here.  We are here because your river runs red with blood.”

“Ah,” he replies, “I am reasonably certain the two are related.”  He looks over the rest of the party, and pauses when looking at me.  “She has horns.  That is not normal.  Do you vouch for her?”  He addresses Briggette.

“I do.”

“And him?” he indicates Korvinean.


He turns to people unseen behind him, “open the gates.”

As we pass through the hedge, we see that it is nearly twenty feet thick.  Once inside, we see that there are rivulets running through to the hedge, places where you can enter the hedge, and a catwalk along its top.  We are greeted inside by the captain of the militia.  He asks whether Ulric or Briggette is in charge, and Ulric says he is in charge, but defers to her in matters of religion.

The Captain is a wood elf with long blonde hair and very long ears.  We have noticed that these elves wear metal armor and carry steel weapons.  He tells us that there is no inn in town, but one of the houses will be happy to give us hospitality.  Ulric tells him of the body we found on the road, and he thanks us for taking the time to bury him.  He takes us to a sort of meeting room and tells us he will find what men he can to help in our mission.

A couple of young groomsmen come and take our horses, and we are led into a plush room to wait.  We don’t want to soil their furniture with our road dirt, and  when we ask for a place to wash up, a beautiful young elven girl comes in, and we see that she is veiled.  This is highly unusual, but we go with it.  We are led to different rooms, one for the females and one for the males.  We get cleaned up and slightly pampered.  They take us into the sitting room and give us a tray with meat and fruits, as well as a very delicate wine. 

A short while later, the Captain and a couple of older men show up.  He tells us that the river of blood flows from the mountain, that is its source.  At the foot of the mountain is a temple where the Siswa practice.  He tells us that many of the monks there are not there of their own free will.  He says that to learn more about the curse, we have to speak with Rahasia, the woman who wrote the letter.  We continue to talk about the challenges we face, and a moment later, a beautiful woman enters the room.  Even though she is veiled, it is obvious that she is one of the most beautiful women any of us have ever seen.  Some of the men in our group even have trouble speaking.

She asks, “Are you people of valor and courage?”

Ulric answers, “We were on the way before we found your letter.  The man who carried it—who was truly a man of valor and courage—was killed by those who have neither valor nor courage.”

She asks for our help in finding out what has happened.  Ulric explains that while it is not our primary mission, we will do everything we can.

She tells us, “the mountain was not always here.  There used to be a tower on top of the area . . . .”  She goes on to tell us about her history and upbringing as well as some of the history of the area.  She tells us about the god Elias and how his temple came to be placed at the foot of the mountain.  We agree to do what we can, and she says she will take us to the temple.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Ulric says.

“My father.  My friends.  My fiancé.  My choice to make.”

Ulric looks at her sternly and says, “Your father and your fiancé and his friends all went to the temple so you could stay here and stay safe.  You shouldn’t throw away the life that they all worked so hard—perhaps even died—to protect.”

“As you will, m’Lord.”


She agrees to find someone else to lead us to the temple.  After she leaves our company and we begin to settle in for the evening, Ulric writes a letter to his father explaining what we’ve found and outlining our plans.