The Statue

4 Mirtul 1368

We return to the third floor of the Inn. Cronius is still in his room with the “statue”.

Time to find out if my hunch is right. Jaheira brings out the scroll. The statue starts to turn to… not flesh, but fur. Cronius isn’t happy about this.

I attempt to command Cronius to sleep as Khalid charges in close. My spell fails, but Imoen hits him with an arrow and interrupts his spell.

Vienxay hits Cronius with a Chromatic Orb.

Helga hurls a stone before readying her war hammer. It hits Cronius and knocks him out.

Cat finishes him off. He’s pretty vicious for a small familiar. Then the other cat starts talking.

Imoen: What in Tymora’s name *is* this thing?

Jaheira: Be wary, child. This is a rakshasa, a powerful outsider, and almost always evil.

Khalid: We should be c-cautious. Rakshasas rarely talk before they a-attack.

Verr’Sza: So, the mage is dead. If it weren’t you who killed him, you’d be dead already. Now speak. Who are you?

Aegon: I’m Aegon.

Verr’Sza: Hmm. Aegon…

The catlike creature sniffs me.

Verr’Sza: You have a peculiar smell… bitter and metallic. I can smell urge and death from you. Why?

Aegon: I witnessed the death of my father recently – it happened so fast. It was so strange. There was this man in peculiar armour… he slaughtered him.

Verr’Sza: That may be it, or not. It may also be something else.

This man you killed. He thought I would make a fine bit of merchandise; he thought I would sell for a good price to some collector. Fool. I should have ripped out his throat, but you took that chance from me. Nevermind. I’ll have my prey regardless.

I slowly put my hand on my weapon’s hit.

Aegon: I see.

The rakshasa glances at me.

Verr’Sza: No need to be afraid, kash’hraa. I have a different target. I want to kill a certain man – Pashu Kohvu. He was to meet with this fool close to – what did they call it? – “the stone circle”.

Aegon: It sounds like the place where Gorion was murdered. I can show you the way, if you join me.

His eyes watch me with suspicion.

Verr’Sza: You want me to join you?

Aegon: Yes. That’s the deal. I’ll show you the way, and you aid me in my revenge afterwards.

Verr’Sza: Hmm. You do intrigue me… and I rather enjoy your bitter aura. I would like to see how many people it will affect.

There’s something about this creature. It senses death in me. I realise I have killed almost half a dozen people by now. How is it coming so natural to me?

We loot Cronius’ corpse. He has 256 gold and another Stone to Flesh scroll. Was he planning on turning the rakshasha back at some point?

He was also carrying a quarterstaff that seems different to a normal staff. Jaheira likes the feel of it so she takes it.

He was also wearing some wizard robes, but we don’t know what type.

Our new friend is heavily wounded so I heal him with a blessing from Corellon.

He tells us his name is Verr’Sza.

He belongs to the rakshasa’s Naztharune Rangers.

As a Naztharune he is able to create a Reflected Image of himself.

He is able to drain life from his opponents.

And he can blind them if he needs to.

He tells us that all rakshasa can shapeshift into human form.

He is also a skilled tracker.

I have come across this ability in previous runs, but I haven’t found any use for it.

He can also move very quickly if he needs to.

He wears leather armour and wields both a short sword and a ninja-to.

He also carries some throwing daggers as back up.

He has a potion of healing in his belt for emergencies. I suggest to him that he should shift into human form for no – the other guests may not react kindly to a rakshasa among them.

Vienxay breaks into Cronius’ drawers and finds an onyx ring inside.

We decide to re-equip ourselves before we head to the stone circle. Imoen says she will stay behind and clean up our mess. I think she just wants more time to study Tazok’s book.

Thorengrim is still selling his weapons on the ground floor. Jaheira picks up a sling and some bullets, split mail armour, a helmet, and a small shield.

Verr’Sza also picks up a helmet.

Khalid buys a longbow with some arrows.

Helga takes only a helmet.

We’re all set. I tell Verr’Sza that I will show him to the stone circle, and we make our way out of the Friendly Arm Inn. He suggests a small break before we leave, however.

Aegon: No, I’m not.

Verr’Sza: Hah! Maybe you should be, fragile thing.

I heard some of your conversations and I checked you journal. You grew up in some old library with monks and this Gorion of yours. That’s the man that was killed near the stone circle, yes?

Aegon: Wait – you read my journal? You have no right to do that.

Verr’Sza: You should have been more cautious. So?

Aegon: Yes. Gorion was killed near the stone circle. Happy?

Verr’Sza: You described your attacker as “a man with glowing eyes, a deep voice, wearing steel plate armour and helmet with horns and ornaments that look like sharp teeth”. That’s the man who’s after yo and who you may want to kill. But you don’t look like someone who would stand a chance against a skilled warrior. He killed Gorion and your journal mentions him as an experienced wizard. So what’s your real plan?

Aegon: I need to gather gold and learn how to kill. Then I’ll find him and end his life just as he ended Gorion’s.

Verr’Sza: You want gold, power and perhaps some fame, eh? Quite a dream, but to get those, you’ll need more than just luck. You’ll need to learn how to kill. You – someone who spent most of your life in a library. This will be a tough lesson.

You will have to kill. You’ll have blood on your hands. I’m wondering how you’ll manage to stand it.

Aegon: I will stand it. There were assassins sent after me. They almost got me at Candlekeep. I have no other option but to survive.

Verr’Sza: I would like to see that.

I already have blood on my hands. Will this be different? Is it harder to kill a man you hunted down? My thoughts are interrupted by Helga.

Aegon: Because people keep trying to kill me.

Helga: Aye, that’s why ye take the fight to them first. Suppose if ye don’t know who they are though, not easy.

I fight for dwarf kind. Every dead monster, every little beast gone, for profit, glory, or not, allows my people to live more at ease.

Nay longer they just be in dwarven halls near or elsewhere, they spread about and I nay wish to see their bodies about. That fighting is a thrill makes it enjoyable duty.

Aegon: I suppose that is a noble reason.

Helga: Ain’t about being noble. Just about getting the work needed to get things done. Bloody humans and monsters always screwing things up.

But so long as our goals align, ye’ll have me to rely on.

Is revenge a noble reason? Does it even matter? Vienxay is a noble and I think she seeks to kill her former mentor. Right now she wants to talk.

Aegon: Yes, Vienxay?

Vienxay: I am curious what your plans are for this party. We have been travelling a while together and I wish to understand your objective.

Aegon: Finding out who is sending all of these assassins after me, and why.

Vienxay: A sound idea, of sorts though you need not to fret over them. I will clearly make sure you stay alive.

Just remember to have a plan to deal with them. Such killers will certainly be planning on how to take you down.

Aegon: I will consider your words.

Vienxay: Good. You’re learning quite well, it seems.

When did I become the leader of an adventuring party? It was only a few days ago I was running round doing chores in a library. A Great Library, of course, but still a library. I guess I’m still running around doing chores of a kind. Right now I should lead Verr’Sza to the stone circle. Where my father lays buried. It takes us 16 hours to get back to the Lion’s Way.

5 Mirtul 1368

I tell Verr’Sza we are getting close and he shapeshifts back to his natural form.

There are wolves here but they seem to ignore us. We still steer clear of them.

We find a man at the stone circle, close to my father’s grave. Verr’Sza goes to talk to him.

Verr’Sza: Your friend is dead. Did you really think you could just buy me and make me a part of your collection? You should have picked someone weaker.

Pasha Kohvu: You won’t get me, monster! Your kind deserves no better than to remain stone and become a mere museum piece! Your looks are exotic but you are truly nothing more than a violent and crude beast!

Verr’Sza: Ha! Quite an opinion. Share it with your dead friend, scum. Raaah!

Pasha Kohvu: You – you won’t get me!

Time to earn our keep. Pasha Kohvu throws up some magical defenses. Verr’Sza creates a reflected image.

Pasha creates his own mirror images. Helga summons her flamebolt.

Khalid starts to protect Verr’Sza.

Pasha slashes me with his weapon so I pull back.

Pasha summons a true strike.

He tries to use it to attack Helga, but she cuts him in twain with her flamebolt.

Verr’Sza decides to say a few words for the dead man.

Aegon: Was all this bloodshed necessary?

Verr’Sza: Yes. It was.

So, now they are dead. Should we make a table from their bones? Or maybe a chair would be better?

Aegon: Well, you certainly have a wicked sense of humour, Verr’Sza.

Verr’Sza: Sometimes I do.

I am no toy, and they should have realised that. They can play with weaker scum and make them into slaves, but I’m not one of them. You should keep that in mind. I said I may help you once this job is finished, but that does not mean I will become your puppet.

Aegon: I’ll remember that.

Verr’Sza: Fine.

Anyway – this was the place your… ‘Gorion’ was killed, right?

Aegon: That’s right.

Verr’Sza: Mhm.

Did you bury him?

Aegon: Yes. I buried him right here, where he died.

Verr’Sza: I see. Then we have no reason to stay here. Let’s get moving.

It’s done. We hunted a man and killed him. For a rakshasa. There is blood on our hands now. I get it now. This is different to fighting assassins. But I think I’m ready now.

I’m ready to hunt the man that killed my father and spill his blood on my hands.

Jaheira searches Pasha’s corpse. He has 850 gold on him, as well as some chain mail and a scimitar. They seem enchanted, but we’re unable to determine how. Verr’Sza takes the scimitar. He says he prefers them to ninja-tos.

Jaheira dons the armour.

After we finish re-equipping ourselves, Verr’Sza asks a question of me.

Aegon: I would just kill him. I’m not into torture, Verr.

Verr’Sza: Ha! Just kill him? *Just* kill. Interesting. You’re getting more and more into adventuring and killing the weaker.

Your situation is far fairer than that of those who hired me before. They never had the guts to kill their enemies. They were always weak, while you – it seems that fate has some other plans for you. It demands for you to grow stronger.

Aegon: I hope I’ll reach power and avenge Gorion. No, I know that *will* happen.

Verr’Sza: Seek it and you may get it. You’d like to be a predator, no?

I was hired by some slavers once, many years back. It was in Athkatla. There was a man called Duskhelm, or something like that. He would sell men, women and children. I remember that once he sold a boy to a wealthy family that wanted a “friend” for their son. When the boy was sold, Duskhelm found a toy left by the kid. He felt no shame at what he did. He just took the toy and gave it to his son.

It was just one of many kids he sold. Some had died in his little prison, and he would just have their bodies burnt or thrown into a gutter.

Aegon: Why are you telling me all of this?

Verr’Sza: Oh, nothing. I thought you’d like to be amused with an anecdote or two. Something that would suit your urges.

I’m starting to worry what urges he senses in me. Am I going too far with this rakshasa?

I suggest we look around this area. It’s been a few days, but we may find some clues that point us to our father’s killer. Instead we find a gibberling.

Which dies very quickly.

Then we run into some hobgoblins.

Verr’Sza drains some life from one of the hobgoblins.

I manage to put some of the hobgoblins to sleep.

Helga blesses the party, as Jaheira summons some vines from the earth.

We pick them off at range, one by one, but Vienxay is struck by an arrow…

Damn! Low level wizards die too easily in this game.

The rest of us charge head on in response. The remaining hobgoblins start dropping like flies.

The last hobgoblin gets a lucky blow on Verr’Sza. He reaches for his healing potion.

I get the final blow.

The hobgoblins carry mostly studded leather armour, short bows, and bastard swords. One of them has an iol gem on them.

The others have some spell scrolls. I study them and I’m able to learn how to dimension jump.

We’re one party member down. We check her body. It seems like she could be resurrected if we get her to a temple soon. We take what we can and head back toward the path.

Helga has some questions about my leadership.

Aegon: I think things out on the spot. Things can change at any moment and I prefer to improvise.

Helga: That’s the way to do it. Battle ain’t a chess game, like those…eh…humans of that knight deity. Nay. It a game of tenacity and might.

Battle is all about the moment. You read the swing, the weapon, estimate its range, watch for feints. Some monsters are stupid, predictable. Others…cunning, clever.

Best strategy is to assess and reassess and never surrender. Ye even think about surrendering and ye lost and shamed yer gods.

Aegon: I think I understand.

Helga: Ye nay need to agree. There be many ways to get through the glorious maze of battle. But I thank ye for indulging my curiosity.

Aegon: It was an interesting conversation.

Helga: Aye. It is good to have your mind stimulated. Wisdom will keep ye afloat as we fight our next battles.

Her philosophy makes sense. She’s a dwarf, yet she’s spend most of her life fighting giants. Giving up against an opponent that much larger than you just isn’t an option.

Verr’Sza makes a request.

Aegon: Here you go.

Verr’Sza: Hmm, it should do.

If I were as prepared as you are right now, I wouldn’t even have survived my first mission.

Aegon: Can you tell me about your first job?

Verr’Sza: Fine. But you owe me a drink afterwards.

I was sent to collect a Ruby of the Nightraid Talon, a precious gem held by a pair of ogres. They killed the previous owner, who was to deliver the jewel to a merchant that hired me. It took me a scant few moments to find the imbeciles.

While they argued, I checked an old chest they used to store goods from caravans and merchants, but before I left, one of them realised they were not alone and we had to fight. After a short battle, I cut one ogre’s throat. When the other one got confused by his companion’s death, I ran away.

I returned the stone the very same night.

Aegon: What was it like when you killed him?

Verr’Sza: It was like rough, yet still pleasing sex. The moment you finish… the excitement. Hah, you know what I mean, don’t you? Unless you’re not that experienced. Yet.

He grins.

Verr’Sza: How did you feel when you had your first kill, eh?

Aegon: Strange. As if something had ended. But I had no other choice.

Verr’Sza: Really? You couldn’t run away? There was no chance to get out, close the door, ask for help? No bushes to hide in? I think you actually wanted it to happen.

If you want to survive, you have to get used to this kind of experience. There is no other way.

Could I have run away? I don’t think I could have. Could I? And sex? Did I do it wrong at the Friendly Arm Inn? It felt nothing like killing a man.

Jaheira spots a man standing too close to the cliff edge.

Jaheira: No, by all the gods do not do such a thing! There is so much to live for!

Chase: You’re right, of course. What a fool I was to think this would solve anything. It didn’t solve anything the last time I stood here and was stopped, nor the time before that. I really should develop a better method of dealing with adversity. It’s such a long walk as well. Hmm, perhaps if I had mumsey construct a cliff closer to town. Ah well, thanks for your concern. Ta.

What an odd man. Build a cliff? How does one accomplish such a thing?

We find the path and follow it in the direction of the Friendly Arm.

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