[the script on this page is very formal, as if written by someone working very hard to keep their emotions in check. In the binding of the journal are multiple ripped off pages that make you think this entry has been written more than once]
It’s been a while since I last wrote in my journal Ade. I just haven’t felt up to it for the last few weeks. A side effect of the many tragedies I witnessed after my last post. It was too upsetting for me to focus on, and I needed some space before I could turn my attention to the events of the White Smithson Night. You see, last I wrote you, I was about to leave to discover where Baldric’s hammer lay, but the events of that adventure were so far removed from what I had envisioned that it took me a while to process and gather my bearings. I write to you now with the knowledge that Patty, my dearest lass, was slain before my very eyes. My future was snatched from me, as if in reward for all that I hope to achieve. The life I had foreseen, where I could settle with my lass and grow old, fat and happy, is gone. Sure, maybe she will come back to me. I certainly know I’ll search for the chance to recover her, but the fact that she must even make the choice saddens me beyond thought. The fact that I need to rely on the very forces of nature I was so ready to rage and rail against worries me more so. What if she refuses, or the man I find botches the job. These thoughts keep me awake at night, and make it difficult for me to snatch a moments rest. I will find the riches to restore my lass though, nothing will stop that. Not the day, the night, nor the gods themselves will stop me from giving her another chance at life, and let all that attempt such a foolish thing tremble before me.
Once again, I rush ahead of myself and leave you lost in all my yapping. I forget that though I name you Ade, you are no singular person, and aren’t there to watch these events as they unfold. Though you, dear companion through time may have heard some of what occurred on the night of the White Smith, I will attempt to detail it as best I can. We arrived at The Arrow At Rest late at night on the day we left Longspear, only to have Lillavida direct me upstairs to talk to her supplier Ssal’kin. The man in question was a member of a race of lizardfolk, though I am unsure which. He was set up in Thurka the Bard’s room, and encircled by pillows around a small table. The room was filled with blue smoke, so I inhaled deeply. Good manners thought I, though it seems fate itself was working against me. After introductions, and a quick drink, I started to notice the effects of the smoke on my speech, so I quickly turned the conversation to the things I wished to know. Ssal’kin told me Baldric’s hammer lay in a shrine in the smith he founded, entrusted to his love Patricia. Apart from this, he also told me that another had been asking about the hammer recently.
Though I was alarmed someone may find the hammer before me, it did not occur to me how terrible this news truly was. After some further questioning, I came to the conclusion that this other quester was likely to be trouble for my home, and stumbled down the stairs of the inn. Unfortunately, the blue smoke had affected my judgement terribly, and the other members of my party would not accept the urgency of my mission. They chose rather to sleep comfortably than to begin travel forthwith, and my fortitude though strong, was not enough to maintain my momentum under the effects of the blue smoke. This stubbornness of my compatriots held true for the whole trip to the Smith, and they refused to travel as quickly as I would have liked, for fear it might tire them out. While I am not going to hold the events of the White Smith against them, I hope that they feel as responsible as I do for the deaths of that evening. Had we but pushed a little harder Ade, I believe we could have been there before the onslaught, maybe saved Thermior’s children, or stopped my father from going so far.
Unfortunately, we didn’t push ourselves Ade, and the others are blameless because they had no reason to believe we should. Though I felt awful foreboding, even I joked and laughed on the trip to the Smith, thinking it the safest place in the world. I was so wrong Ade, and while I do not blame my fellow party members, I believe that each of us holds a certain amount of responsibility for the things that happened, and certainly we are each responsible for offering those that died a chance to be restored to life. So, when we finally arrived at The Smith On The Hill, it was too late. The walls were breached, the people were gone, and many lay slain. Slavers Ade, Slavers had come to the Yeomanry League, and were attempting to leave with some of the worlds most talented craftsman. It took me a while to figure that out. Upon seeing my home laid to ruin, I felt that anger from before. I was enraged, and in my anger one bandit fell below my hammer. Another was attempting to burn homes to the ground. He was a mage of some form, and so, when he fled, I burned him with Alchemists fire. His death was not clean Ade, for he had torched my home. I watched him burn. I must confess I don’t know what else was happening at this time, though later I gathered that Thermior the gem crafter had been in some trouble that the others rescued him from.
Honestly, at that time, I had thoughts only for my family and so I moved toward the Smithson Manor, thinking to find the rest of these brigands at the main gate. Unfortunately not, they had already infiltrated into the heart of the Smith, and in their aggression, my father must have seen but one recourse. I still do not understand what happened, but one moment the manor was there, and the next it was gone in a flash of bright white light. Well, the top floors were gone anyway. As I entered through the manor’s gate into the smaller walled circle that was the manor’s garden, I saw something I hadn’t expected. Patty came running out of the manor, and started running towards me. I know not why she was there, but there she was. I tell you, I’d been gone for but two weeks, and slept with multiple women since id been gone, but I missed her something terrible. Seeing her was like inhaling after holding your breathe as long as you can. It was like surfacing from a long dive, or awakening from a bad dream. Ade, even injured she was graceful. My Patty, my lovely lass, and I had missed her so. She was right there, and then she wasn’t.
As she ran towards me she was struck from behind by a throwing axe. It sunk into her back up to the hilt, and after that I have very few concrete memories. I remember telling Jarvin to fix her, and I remember running across most of the courtyard in an instant. I remember my party closing behind me, attempting to fell the villain that had stolen my future. I remember him cutting chunks out of me, but i barely flinched at the inconvenience. I tell you Ade, when he was knocked unconscious I came so close to splattering him to pieces and crying in the mess. This lunatic, a man I have never seen before in all my life took something from me so important that even now I feel like someone has pulled my heart out of my chest. All I could think of as I lay staring at his unconscious form was “where is everyone, what else have you taken from me”. Whoever this man is, I tell you he did not die that day. We did take his future though, just as he took mine, but I am jumping ahead in the story again.
With the villain that took my love from me unconscious, I regained awareness of the world around me. It was all I could do to keep from breaking down right there. An then I noticed her. Patty, my Patty, standing lifeless with her big blue eyes staring at me. For a reason I still do not fully understand, she was awakened from her death to deliver me a message about the family well. It’s a well in the walled off manor garden that for as long as I can remember the family has never used. Whenever I asked about it as a kid my dad would shush me and tell me it was tradition. He would say that it was important everyone drank the same water. To be honest, I wonder if he even knew the real reason we never drank from the well. Well, as my lifeless love stared at me, animated by some fruits joke of a spell, she spoke a message for Baldric. I don’t know why someone would drag my lovely lass into the heroes’ story, but apparently they thought it was a swell idea. Pity she had to die first [at this line there is a smattering of water marks on the page, like someone had started crying as they wrote this sentence] to deliver the message. All she had to say was that the well was important, and that she had loved Baldric something fierce. Maybe it was a message from the past Patricia intended for a Baldric that never returned. Who knows, though some day I will find out.
Then she fell again, and this time blood poured out of her wounds in a torrent, as if my very life were flooding out of her. I caught her before she hit the ground, closed her eyes and laid her down next to the well. It was so much to process Ade. My home exploding, my lass dying in front of me before I could even act to save her. I needed space, so I left the others by the well, and went looking for the corpses of my family. I expected to find them inside the manor. Weirdly enough, it was still standing. No roof to speak of, but the walls seemed fine, and everything on the ground floor seemed intact (except the kitchen, which was on fire). As I walked through the wreckage of my home I found no corpses, no people, not even the bodies of the enemy. I felt numb Ade, it was too much. Where were my brothers, or my sister? No one was in the labs downstairs, or the craft rooms of the ground floor. As I walked through my home, the only sounds that greeted my shouts for them were the sighing calls of the wind. The place was deserted, and i was left more confused than when I had first arrived. I turned to the only man I knew could tell me anything, the man that had killed my love. I barely remember what he looked like on that evening, though I remember clearly that he was broken. I had Lysander use the newly bought healing wand on him, and asked him a simple question. What was happening? He spat in my face, and made some foolish remark, so I slammed him into the wall so hard he started bleeding to death again. I repeated this three times, before I even noticed Jarvin ranting at me about what I was doing. As I looked about, everyone surrounding me looked scared or confused. To be honest, I still don’t understand what their problem was. This man’s life was mine, and he had something I needed, so I motivated him in the most time efficient way possible. Yet it seemed this methodology was putting me at odds with Jarvin and the others.
Thankfully Endolynn is a quick thinker, and a smarter person than I. She had some manner of mind reading spell prepared for the day, so when Lysander woke the brigand again, she used it on him to read his thoughts. Her reading laid this horrible business plain to sight, and she explained that he and his fellows had rounded up most of the smith folk and herded them off like cattle. Finally, she told me that this piece of trash had fought my father so well that he had felt the need to blow himself up. Even as I sit here that statement sounds so bizarre. My father would never leave this plane while the rest of his family needed him. So either he disappeared before the explosion, or something went wrong with one of his spells. That is the only logical conclusion. It brings me no comfort though Ade, for either my father is dead or he is somewhere else, unable to bring the folk of the smith home for some reason. That meant the task was up to me. I realise the brigands can’t have more than an hour on us, but in our current state we are no match for them. Endolynn has cast her spells, and I have used too much of the healing wand for little gain. It is at this point in the story that it is hardest to keep calm. I ask the others to search the main compound for any survivors, and while they are occupied, I set about finding the Hammer.
This serves two purposes for me Ade, and I recommend puzzle solving to anyone overwhelmed in grief. Firstly, it gave me something to focus on, allowing me to process what had happened and formulate some sort of plan. The other purpose is simpler. I see no reason why the hammer would be buried miles underground, for it is likely the only ones searching for it are of Baldrics line. Thus, a magic weapon lay beneath our very feet, and could prove useful in the next stage of our plans. As I search over the well, I find nothing of interest except that the wells ladder extends far below the surface of the drinking water. A bizarre design for a well, and so, after taking all of my armour off and leaving my hammer up top, I descend the ladder, leaving my lit torch just above the water line.
It was so surreal, being under the water of the well. I knew I couldn’t stay long, but I had to go for broke. I pushed as hard as I could, hoping my gamble paid off. Turns out I was wrong, and the water never ended. I drowned on that day Ade, and I as a ghost I write to you in the hopes you do not repeat my mistake…
Ha, had you worried there didn’t i. I realise this be a sad story, but I am still Baldrin. Stubbornly so, and I will not let the barbarity of other’s rob me of my sense of humour and wonder for long. So, as I was saying. I travelled through the water, and after ten feet of it, I emerged into a sunken, dark room. That’s right; the smart folk that built this secret shrine to my great great great dead gran pappy weren’t smart enough to put lights down here. I couldn’t bring my lamp, or my torches or anything, since they’d get wet. As frustrating as it was, I was forced to move on ahead in the dark. I was methodical, calm. I had to be Ade, and in the dark I was able to deal with some of my anguish. Strange enough, being in the dark gave me a safe place to cool off. I may have even cried while I was down there, I remember naught. So, I moved through the darkened shrine of my extra dead relative. As I searched, I wondered if there were pretty motifs down here that would never be seen. Eventually I came to a split in the hall I was searching down. It branched left and right, and there was a small room just in front of it. The room had two small holes that something could slide into, and a big iron grill in between them. Straightforward enough, I headed down the left branch first. At the end was a wooden door, with a small room beyond it. The room had a bunch of runes arrayed on the floor. Above the door was a small indentation that said “he who wields it will understand”. Oops, gettin’ ahead of myself again. I forgot to mention that the floor of the room lit up with a magical glow as I stepped inside. Thus, I could see the ruddy puzzle arrayed before me. So, the runes arrayed on the floor were dwarven. As part of my smith training, both dwarven and elven were hammered into me by my da’, so it was pretty easy to figure out what the floor said. The runes, if you stepped on them in the right order, spelt hammer. So, I followed them to a small box on the other side of the room. About half way there I noticed I was still bleeding from my fight above ground. Hell of a thing to realise that one wrong step might actually kill you. Glad to say it helped hammer home some of the importance of what I was doing down here (heh, get it.. hammer home…). Helped me see the light as it were, and realise that I needed to hurry to save the rest of my kin.
So, in the box was a small glowing rod. As I picked it up, the lights went out. The rod itself was well crafted, but it’s glow was barely enough to see the back of my hand. I deduced that it probably goes into one of the holes next to the grate, so I headed back to the intersection to follow up on the next piece of the puzzle. As I closed on the next wooden door, I made sure to check the outside of it this time. Engraved at the roof of the door were the words “travel the path from birth to death”. The room I stepped into had four doors, with small brightly glowing gems placed into the wall above them. I came out of the door with four gems above it. To my right was a door with three, across from me was one with two, and the one on the left had one gem above it. I stood and stared.
Honestly, I had no idea what this puzzle could be about. I like the odd riddle, but I’m not a fan of possible death occurring every time you get the answer wrong. Worse yet, nothing I could think of about Baldric suggested he had a strange obsession with doors as a baby, and nothing else in the room gave me an indication of what to do. The best answer I could give was that the door I had exited was the ‘birth’ door, and thus I should walk my way down the number of gems. Guess what, short answer, that was wrong. As I entered into the door with three gems above it, I saw a man standing in a glow maybe three paces from me. As I approached him, he lashed out at me. He was some form of zombified corpse, but he’d never rotted down here. All I could do was defend myself, so I lashed out at it with my right hand. My fist connected with the thing’s skull, and caved it in. I was lucky, but feared what may happen in the next room. I could only assume I had made the wrong decision, so I stepped out into the room again. Only, it wasn’t the room, but the hallway I had come out of, and now I could see. There was a light ahead of me, coming from the direction of the well and spilling out into the main part of the intersection.
The writing continues on the next few pages…