Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame crimson, and I am content.
Robert E. Howard, Conan the Cimmerian
We’ve finally struck out of Arenjun to start work on Carter’s job. I’m still uncertain as to what that exactly is, but I do know it involves getting to some place in Stygia. By all accounts that’s one of the most dangerous places in this world to travel to, so I look forward to our eventual arrival with both excitement and fear.
Being on the road again was a mixed blessing. It’s good to be moving again, with a (somewhat) clear purpose, but the traveling is hard, particularly with all of the new people with us – all the other guys save the Professor decided they wanted three women with them on this journey. The Professor wasn’t left out of the new faces department, though; he’s managed to hook up with Svetlana, the She-Wolverine of the North! Good for him, I say; and it’s good to have her axe with us on this trip.
We met a few other travelers upon the Road of Kings. Of particular note is the ‘three wise men’; these fellows were out of the west, and had come to see the son of Mitra born in Zamora. Joining that to the comet that was currently overhead in the skies and the other omens we’d been hearing about and witnessing, suffice to say there was ample evidence that we were all going mad – it was either that or we were in our own Biblical saga. I’m not going to venture my ideas on the subject, but it was fun listening to Pete’s thoughts on the matter!
At one point we happened upon a village that had been overrun, with no apparent survivors. We looked around and happened upon a young priest, hiding in the hidden room under the altar – I’ll leave it to your imagination as to how we happened upon him… He told us a tale of how ‘goblins’ had come out of the mountains and slain all but those they took as prisoners. To be honest I was all for leaving the village at that point, but I was convinced to do the heroic thing and look for the survivors. I didn’t really think we’d find anyone, but we are the Brotherhood and companions, so I stuck with my friends despite my thoughts.
To my surprise, we did find the goblin’s lair. After a quick discussion of strategy, I snuck in to do a little recon. I managed to follow one of the little buggers to where he met another, and watched as they held a discussion of some sort; then the one went further into the cave complex as I snuck up and dispatched the one that remained. I then rejoined my companions and we entered the lair. A short bit of exploration later yielded a goat pen and then two more goblins. We managed to kill one but the other was able to run yelling into the caves; we fell back to the entrance and awaited their assault. When it came it was quick and ferocious, but their numbers were not what I was expecting; when it was over we had killed maybe a dozen or so of the goblins, and had only suffered some cuts and bruises in return. After seeing to our wounds, we decided to enter and finish the job.
Only we didn’t have anything with us to give off light (apparently all those years of roleplaying hadn’t really prepared us for the realities of delving into a dungeon). So I started giving Steve a hard time about all the ‘magic’ he’d been studying, and then he shut me up when he held up a hand a produced light. I’m not gonna give him any more crap about studying that stuff; I don’t think I really believed he’d pull it off until then, regardless of what I’d witnessed in this world so far.
With the light Steve provided, we entered the warren and soon got utterly lost in the twisting passages. Again, we weren’t really prepared for this kind of journey. And to make matters worse, a short time after embarking on this little quest of ours an earthquake hit, bringing part of the ceiling down around us and blocking off passageways both before and behind us. Our only choice at that point was to press on and hope there would be an exit from the caves that we’d be able to use. At least most of the goblins had died in the quake, a good thing since they would have had a major advantage in the tight quarters we found ourselves in. We did run across a few performing a grisly act upon the villagers we’d come to rescue; we were too late for that goal but the goblins met their end upon our steel. I only wish we weren’t so quick in our performing the deed, as they deserved to suffer for what we saw around us.
Eventually we did manage to find a way out and return to the village. We also managed to find five surviving villagers, though only four left the caves with us. They were each locked in some sort of contraption. As I had purchased lockpicks in Arenjun, I took to the task of setting them free. I had four saved, but on the fifth my hands slipped causing a trap to spring, which decapitated the poor woman. That is a death that will, I believe, weigh on my mind for some time to come; if only I were more skilled I might have been able to get all of them out of those traps.
So now we have yet another four people with us, at least as far as the next town or village we get to. At least we have enough food for the journey, and will probably be able to gather a few more things from the town before heading on.