Shadow Hunters

From the diary of Miria D´Urban HighLady of Lencia. Part 2

Dear Mother,

Now before we depart for the depths again, I will take some time to reflect on yesterday´s events. Last night I wrote to you of how we entered the Horned Hold through the trapped door and made our way to the duergar leader in his rooms. Today I will continue from that point.

As I said, Sukeva was fighting Murkelmore while I was holding two duergar brutes at bay and the rest killing a mage. At that point the leader seeing that his mage was done for and that the two soldiers were not far behind decided to escape and seek more help. Pushing aside Sukeva the damned duergar bolted through a secret door in his fireplace, so quickly we finished the other two and chased him to the adjacent room.

Keep in mind dear mother that at this point I was spent, heavily injured and the others were not much better, but we needed to finish Murkelmore before he had time to rise the whole fortress against us. So we barged on the other room, some kind of slave holding area, only to find that, curse them!, it was guarded too. The guards rushed at us and we had to beat a hasty retreat. Stride cast a cloud of darkness but a duergar mage somehow managed to land a foul spell on Sukeva slowing him.

At that moment time stopped for me and my heart froze. I was not seeing Sukeva in front of me. It was me again, cornered by the ghouls and ready to die. It was Mordred holding me, pulling me on his charger and then being dragged underground by the hungry undead. My beloved savior, first from myself and countless other times from our enemies, how I miss you my Mordred, may Pelor reward you eternally for all your kindness to me.

It became very clear to me. There was no way in the Nine Hells that I was going to leave a trusted friend to die again. I put Raven´s Tooth on Shera´s hands and ordered her to run. I had decided that like Horatius at the bridge, I was going to hold the line and allow everybody to escape and if I was to find my death inside the hold, so be it. Steeling myself I advanced and pulled Sukeva behind me while the duergars charged us.

The first round went badly for the both of us. The black dwarves managed to hit us no matter what we did and bloodied Sukeva. While Sukeva broke off from the fight I managed to close the door and spike it with my javelin. Alas!, it was not enough. The duergar hammers tore down the door on a couple of hits and closed on us again. Defending myself somehow I made it to the other door of the room. Fortunately I was the last and everybody else was making good time towards the exit. The duergar landed more blows on me and then I knew I was going to die. My armor was battered, my shield twisted, blood flowing freely to the floor I was hemorrhaging to death and with only a dagger to fight back, ready to charge them for the last time when Shera saved me.

Instead of running away the silly girl closed on my position saying that she was not going to allow me to die. With some gestures she cast some spell of hers and suddenly my wounds closed just enough and I got my strength back a little so I could close the door on the cursed duergars. This time apparently held long enough, with a burst of speed I charged Shera picking her up and jumped in the next room while Syral closed and bolted the door. From there it was easy enough to make it to the secret door and the trapped room again. Out of the Horned Hold at last we made a harrowing escape from the duergar patrols and traced our way back to the Nine Pillar Hall without further encounters.

As I am telling this I watch the gnome deep asleep. While I caress her locks I wonder what to think, on the one hand I do not want to die again but surviving when my friends do not would be to die in the inside. I barely know some of them (and now Stride seems to have turned back into a nameless drow, there seems to be a big curse there), but even if I pick on Syral for being such a child and sometimes mock Sukeva for being… Sukeva, I would not mind sacrificing all for them to be safe.

I am starting to believe that it is some kind of balancing act of universal justice. The same way Mordred loved and cared for me I love my companions (except perhaps for Stride until he stops changing) so I will say it here so you can hold my secret safe, I love Sukeva, I love Shera and I even amusingly I find myself loving that jealous she-cat Syral and will do my utmost to see them safe as long as I am able.

Your loving daughter.

M.

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From the diary of Miria D´Urban, HighLady of Lencia.

Dear Mother,

Yesterday I think I died. I was fighting an ogre when his pet hellhound jumped on me and then I do not remember anything else. I woke up in a funny place cold and grey, full with strange people in robes that could not remember much. But that is not what the priest said when greatgran died. There was also a big skeleton that tried to trick me but I managed to outwit it and escaped back to the world with the help of an old man. I saw a platinum dragon too but I do not know why Bahamut was doing in the other world, I do not like the gods messing around with my life. When I made it back I found that poor Elias had died too, I do not know why he came to the Nine Pillar Hall but until we find enough money to resurrect him the priests will keep his body safe.

After resting a little bit Sukeva just told me that now we have to work for the mages killing a renegade some place around a sea of shadows, where he is holding Karal hostage. Not bad we can kill two birds with one stone and then I will deal with the damn ogre on our way out of this place.

Lost! We got lost again, I hate this place and the iron eating monsters. I am down another lantern and lucky that I could escape with my armor intact, not thanks to Syral, the kitty spends too much time hissing and too little working out. I almost got Sukeva to give me the floating ring for a while.

Found the stairs to the sea. Apparently they were built to connect the duergar cities with the upper mountain, Shira managed to fool a patrol making as if we were on a diplomatic trip. That little one has a silver tongue I wish I could do the same but nobody pays attention to me unless I am threatening them, it is so depressing.
The sea of shadows was kind of dark. Without light we could see a green star glowing but of course without light I cannot see anything at all. So we stumbled around for a while until we found a bridge. Then followed it until guess what, we found another pack of undead! I swear half the world died inside the mountain and cannot be still. I hate it! I hate it!

After resting a little bit finally found the green star. It was a tower and inside some minions from the renegade mage. Killed some in the ground floor, climbed a rope (Sukeva fell down again) and killed a few more nasty monsters, including a follower of Vecna that tried to scare us tearing of his face, very impressive but I killed it anyways. Alas! we were late, somehow Syral managed to spoil the magic ritual the Vecna guy was doing and instead of eating Karal´s soul it ended up inside a black gem like the one Sukeva was carrying around.
Syral being the magpie she is took the gem and transformed into Karal. It was such a surprise, I had to grapple her so Sukeva could take the gem from her lest the transformation be permanent, I would not like to travel with a Karal looking she-cat although her looks were very much improved by Karal´s skin tone. Here the gnome was less than helpful jumping on top of me while screaming in my ears that we had to make her take the gem off. Strange enough Sukeva did not help me much. I wonder why?, perhaps he is afraid to touch Syral.

Pity that there was not much loot inside the tower, a few wizard books and some gold. I never get what I need. We should stop chasing magic users or I will not get a new armor in a lifetime. And now we need to find a way to get Karal from there so he can reincarnate like he was always saying. Will he turn into a she this time or Devas never change sex? I will ask Sukeva what he thinks.

Your loving daughter.

………..

M.

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