Tragedy of the Drunken Priest

Aegon and company successfully infiltrated the bandit camp. They have been given the responsibility of standing guard over Tazok’s tent. It’s almost time to take out the bandit leaders for good, but things aren’t going to be so easy, if they’re even possible at all.

1 Flamerule 1368

We take a formation to make it look like we are protecting the tent. I’ve never guarded anything before. I think of the Watchers back at the Keep. Always hung over and forgetting their weapons. I’m surprised Candlekeep still has a supply of antidotes.

We hear discussions going on inside. We start our own discussion, one on strategy. We decide to take them by surprise. We charge in, and I am immediately recognised. We prepare our weapons, but they are more prepared. Cat is poisoned by hobgoblin arrows and dies. The Weave takes me with him. Everything starts to fade…

We hear discussions going on inside. We start our own discussion, one on strategy. We decide to take them by surprise. Wait. What just happened? This is a bad idea. We need to be prepared. I suggest we take shifts on our guard duty. Get ourselves rested, our magic prepared. These aren’t going to be ordinary bandits.

The night passes and day breaks. Before we enter the tent we prepare our protective spells. It’s time. The battle is long. Viconia confuses some of the bandits. We summon allies and throw Magic Missiles around. Then Drake falls to powerful magic. Xan is struck down by a hobgoblin’s arrow. Rose is slashed open by a gnoll’s halberd. I see an arrow flying straight toward my face…

We hear discussions going on inside. We start our own discussion, one on strategy. We decide to take them by surprise. But I am hesitant. Visions of my own death swirl around in my head. This doesn’t feel right. I remind the others that Tazok left for the mines. It doesn’t make sense to go in now, we need Tazok. We should scout the area first, and return later with the hopes of catching the man in charge.

We leave our post and travel south, out of the bandit camp. No one seems to notice or care that we are leaving. We find ruins to the south of the camp, and the original occupants seem to still be around.

We charge straight into the zombies and they are easily beaten down. Drake smashes them with his Rift Hammer, while the rest of us pick the others off from a distance.

Deeper in the ruins, some skeletons are wandering the grounds.

We take on the usual strategy, with Drake rushing through their volley of arrows as the rest of us keep our distance. Unfortunately they raise their spears and Drake runs right into them.

A Potion of Healing brings him back into the fight, and Viconia moves in to heal him back to full strength.

They give Drake more trouble.

But he smashes his Rift Hammer down and its shockwave destroys the remaining skeletons.

We heal ourselves up and gather some of the remains of the undead creatures. We get a pile of bones from the skeletons.

Mur’Neth also takes some body parts and a maggot infested body from the zombies.

Drake is beat, and Viconia’s healing spells are drained. These ruins are far enough away from the camp, so we take a rest. While we set up camp Drake questions Xan’s philosophy on life.

Xan: Why?

He sighs.

Xan: Because it is pointless, why else? Seeking out pointless delusions to amuse me briefly will only make the inevitable more painful.

Drake: Oh, come now. It can’t be worse than the pile of misery that you already are, can it?

Xan: If there is one thing my experiences have taught me, then it is that everything can always get worse.

Drake: True. So what shall you do, just mope around until you finally reach rock bottom?

Xan: I could, but what is the point?

He sighs again.

Xan: It will happen one way or another.

He seems annoyed that Xan would throw his life away. Perhaps he has forgotten that us elves have a lot more life to live. We can afford to throw some of it away, if we so choose.

Meanwhile, Viconia approaches me to offer her thanks.

Viconia: Bel’la dos, ussta abbil. Here’s to a fruitful companionship. May our enemies fall before our might!

Aegon: And if they do not fall, they’ll at least tremble. I’m liking you already, drow.

Viconia: Such is the spirit that will keep m- keep us alive.

Ulu z’hin maglust dal qu’ellar lueth valsharess zhah ulu z’hin wund lil phalar. Though I walk now apart from the House and the Queen, my pairing with this group may yet keep me from the grave. Aegon ultrin!

Before I crawl onto my bedroll I notice Drake, shirtless, doing push ups.

Aegon: Not bad. I see you’re used to this.

Drake: Perhaps you’ve never experienced it, but this was common practice while I was in the Amnian army. It was even more rigorous than what you see me doing now. The mere mentions of the drills you had to perform left the new recruits shaking down to their knees.

Aegon: What was it like in the army?

Drake: You’ve never been in an army, have you? It was quite an experience. There was the good and the bad. It built discipline and mutual trust, but then there were the fools trying to outdo each other like it was some academic course. And the rations? Don’t even get me started on those. You haven’t bitten into anything less chewable than Amnian hardtack, believe me.

Of course, for me, it was more of an opportunity. To keep up with my brother Gabriel, that is.

Aegon: Gabriel?

Drake: Have I not mentioned the name before? Gabriel was my elder brother.

Gabriel was a high-ranking officer within the military. When I completed the basics of my priestly training with the Tyrrans, he suggested that I join him at the army where my skills could be put to good use.

Usually, becoming a soldier means going through the approval of the bureaucracy, but… Amn was at war against orcs at the time, and the recruiters were desperate enough to take even criminals into their ranks. It didn’t take much for me to join.

I ended up being little more than a flag-bearer… But I didn’t care. I just wanted to be in the battlefield with my brother, and possibly break some orc skulls on the side.

Aegon: I can tell you respect your brother greatly. What was he like?

Drake: Gabriel was, without any doubt, the definition of a hero. Knight of the Order, commander of his own division, all his soldiers loyal to a fault, ready to die for him… how ironic that in the end, none of them got the chance, though plenty fell at his side.

Aegon: He died in the war?

Drake: Yes… the fool. He died defending Murann from the ogre mage Sythillis.

It was a hopeless campaign, or at least I thought at the time. I tried to convince him of that, to fall back and seek an alternative, but he refused. “It’s my duty as a Knight of the Order,” he told me. Damned fool… well, he got his wish, at least. Murann was saved… at the cost of his life, and that of half of his men.

To this day, I still don’t know if it was worth it. Sythillis lives on, and will no doubt try again, whether it be soon or years from now. Gabriel’s sacrifice bought us naught but time.

Aegon: You’re saying your brother fought Sythillis himself?

Drake: *By* himself, one on one, from all accounts. Though I wasn’t there to see it.

Aegon: You weren’t there?

Drake: No, I wasn’t. I abandoned him, and I’m not proud of it, even if it was him who gave the order. I would have fought Sythillis at his side and used my body as a shield if it meant Gabriel had the chance to end him right there.

He refused to either leave, or allow me to stand with him, no matter how much I pleaded with him. I begged for him to see reason, but he wouldn’t have it. What happened next? He died, that’s what. Nobly, for certain, but what did it matter? It was a failure, no matter how you look at it.

Aegon: You seem to hold a grudge against your brother for dying. Why is that?

Drake: I don’t care how heroic his deeds seemed. He chose death without hesitation, without regard for what would happen to the family, or the damned burden he placed on my shoulders by throwing his life away for a grab at glory. Selfish bastard…

Aegon: What burden are you talking about?

Drake: Nothing. It’s nothing. I’ve spoken too much, and I’m tired regardless. Go to bed, Aegon. I’ll do the same.

He disappears into his sleeping bag and falls silent. I lay awake for a while. I have read about the troubles survivors of war can have. But books don’t do it justice. This is my first time seeing it. Drake has proven himself to be a good man, a brave man, and a strong warrior. But his is perhaps the most broken of us all. It’s not surprising he spends a lot of his down time with a beer keg in hand.

We awake in the morning and I prepare my Mage Armour for the day. Xan and I Identify some of the items we have been holding onto. The harp given to us by the Lake Poets was once used for a sadistic kind of torture. Having no fear can be a bad thing some times, but it also can help us fight against mages. Rose likes to perform, so she holds onto it.

Garclax’s axe once belonged to an adventurer called Tremain, who had a habit of tripping his opponents.

We run into a pack of wild dogs this morning. They ignore us, except for one dog that decides to test our mettle.

Cat shows it why this is a bad idea.

Moving away from the dogs we get close to the road. There are some larger bandits preparing an ambush here.

We are charged by both an ogre and an ogrillon. We pelt them will bullets and crossbow bolts while Drake holds his Rift Hammer ready.

They get close and we try to keep our distance. Drake smashes the ogrillon’s chest and it falls to the ground.

Drake and Cat manage to get the ogre’s attention.

The ogre is beaten bloody and attempts to flee. It has no escape.

Their weapons aren’t interesting so we move back toward the road. Unfortunately, we find that there was more to this party of ogres.

An ogre mage! We immediately prepare our defensive spells. I get Corellon’s Dispelling Screen up.

Another ogrillon, presumably the ogres’ leader, shouts orders at the mage.

Xan tries to put the leader to sleep with a Power Word.

Viconia calls upon Shar and Confuses the ogrillon.

I attempt to Hold the ogrillon as well, but it resists.

While Drake attempts to engage the ogre mage, the leader slashes Drake in his back.

Before he can react, the ogrillon sinks his blade into Drake and his corpse slides off its blade.

No. I won’t let him give up his life like his brother! We will survive this and get to a temple.

Shar embraces us and we turn invisible for a moment.

This causes the ogrillon leader to wander off in its confusion.

I attempt to use my Wand of Frost on the mage, but it has no effect.

The mage casts a Battering Ram at Mur’Neth. It is hurt, but still standing.

Viconia attempts to pull the mage into close combat, and I pull out a scroll of Spell Thrust. Time to disable the mage’s defenses.

I follow up with a scroll of Dispel Magic. The mage uses a Color Spray on Viconia. Thankfully Drow are resistant to the Weave.

With its defenses down, Xan learns that he can use his Wand of Magic Missiles effectively.

No it is unable to defend against us, the ogre stumbles with every bullet we throw at it. It eventually falls to Viconia’s mace.

The mage carried an enchanted bastard sword, as well as a scroll of Invisibility Sphere. I pack this one into my scroll case.

It also carried a couple of gems which may be valuable. We gather up Drake’s body while keeping an eye out for the ogrillon leader. For some reason, Xan thinks this is a good time for a history lesson.

Aegon: Please.

Xan: The First Flowering… the Crown Wars… the rise and fall of the greatest elven city, the Myth Drannor… slow descent through the years…

It’s harder than I expected. It’s almost like recalling a beautiful, poignant love story which you know ended in disaster – and this story is yours.

It is difficult. I am sorry; no, you will have to read a book. I am truly sorry, Aegon.

Aegon: I can understand your pain.

Xan: It means a lot to hear you say that. It does.

Thank you, my friend.

I say it. But I don’t mean it. My pain is knowing the story and not feeling it. I am an elf, but I have only read our history in books. I haven’t lived it.

We search the area for the confused ogrillon. I don’t want to leave without taking revenge for Drake. All we find is another of the bandits on the road, but he isn’t interested in talking.

We realise the search could be futile, and we need to get to a temple soon. We move south on the road. Time to return to Beregost.

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