August 5, 2011

An excerpt from Balen's missives home (translated from Dwarven):

Mother & Father,

No one can be happier than I am that I have managed to survive what we expected to be a terrible battle.  It was terrible, but I was not able to take part.

We rushed North with all haste to return to the caravan, hoping to get there in time.

What we did not know was that those enemy that fled before us were not seeking to attack the caravan.  Instead they lay in wait to ambush us.  The group had taken a wagon and affixed both horses to it.  Hours into our rough journey we rounded a bend in the trail to be confronted with a thick blanket of smoke.  I grabbed by gear and immediately jumped from the wagon.  As I did so, a flurry of crossbow bolts pelted the side of the wagon.

My compatriots barreled through the smoke wall as I rolled to a stop.  I could hear the whinnying of the horses, which were obviously in great pain.  While my shield was beside me, there was no time to ready it.  I drew my warhammers as I stood and rushed the enemy.  Two spearmen had seen me and left the group of crossbowmen to face off with me.    One spearman tried to keep me at bay while the other engaged me.  Both clumsily missed connecting and I was able to knock the fight out of both men in maybe two seconds.

The crossbowman had moved to the other side of the smoke barrier, presumably to engage the rest of the party.  The horses made such noise that I was convinced they were being tortured to death.  There was a loud crash and I could hear my compatriots entering the battle.  Instead of rushing to assist them behind the smoke barrier, I trusted that they had matters in hand and I made sure to dispatch the spearmen before cautiously regrouping.

By the time I could get back to the group, the crossbowmen and their leader, some sort of evil cleric, were dead.  The horses had been set on fire and went wild, throwing most of the party out of the wagon before trampling the cleric on their way to crash the wagon into the trees.

We gathered up out belongings and looted the corpses.  Surprisingly enough, they had absolutely nothing of value to them, not even some basic supplies.  We did find some shovels and Zaki found some tracks.  As we took care of the battle site, Zaki scouted out the tracks.  He had found something and had called out he was in trouble.  The whole party rushed to help, but of course being longer-legged they got to him well before I could.  I was able to reach the Elf lass first.  She was squared off with a giant cat creature called a Lioness, and a few seconds from death.  The Lioness had clamped her mouth across the Elf's throat and was biting down hard.  Fortunately this really immobilized the Lioness and I was easily able to plunge my warhammer deep into her ribcage, dropping her dead.

Zaki and the Hobbo girl had taken down another Lioness when all of a sudden a great roar was heard.  A male Lioness had come to the battle!  The Lioness was a brute with a huge ring of hair and a battle-scarred face.  Although it was far away it immediately charged the Hobbo, who had turned and fled at the Lioness' roar.  That beast was fast and I didn't think, I just reacted.  Probably the dumbest, or bravest...funny how those two often work together...thing I've ever done.

I used my skill in mimicking animals to roar back at the Lioness.  When he heard me his head snapped like it was on a swivel and he abruptly altered his charge, coming for me instead.  Its path brought him past Zaki, who was able to take a swing, but missed.  The Lioness lunged at me, but it was easy for me to deflect his blow.  I was able to throw at elbow it the Lioness' face, but missed.  My follow-up did not miss.  I cracked that thing so hard it was sent reeling back and down.  The Hobbo came back to engage the beast and Zaki was about to do the same, but I waived them off.  This was my kill.

There was a fourth lioness in a pit that our earlier foes evidently had dug.  It died from it's wounds.  The male Lioness was skinned and I requested the pelt as a trophy, as well as the moniker "Lionsbane".

We made out way back to the caravan, but it was too late.  There was a great battle between the caravan, some cultists, and apparently a detachment of Kalamaran soldiers.  The caravan had been prepared and survived because they were able to set up adequate defenses.

Master Gorum welcomed us back, absorbed the news we had to deliver, and awarded us our pay.  There is a chance that we might fight back against this cult of bandits, or we might work our way up the coast some more.  There is also a chance that we might go West over the pass and into the resistance camps.  For that reason, more than any other, I have dropped my surname and have adopted "Lionsbane".  I changed my name when I left home to insulate the family the best I could from my actions here.  Now that I have been gone for a while it is time to do it again.

I expect it could be some time before I can write again, but we will see.

May the Ancestors Watch Over You, as they have been watching over me.

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