As I approached the light, I could hear familiar voices. It was Thamior and Lysander, chatting about where I may have gone. It was too soon Ade, and I had no intention of coming back to reality. I was tempted to turn tail then an there and hide in the riddles of this tomb. I didn’t. It’s not in me to hide from my troubles when they’re insisting on forcing themselves to the surface, so I walked towards the light. Sure, I wasn’t done in here yet, but the lad sounded unsure of himself, and I didn’t want him to worry. After a moment of standing at the intersection he finally noticed me. Being able to see now, I made note that there were no murals down here after all. Or at least not yet, though there was a door behind the big iron grill behind me. Anyway, Lysander was chatting to Thamior, who it seems was hanging out of the well. For a man that had recently lost both his children, this guy was holding himself together very well. I mean, at the time I had no idea what had happened to him, I was too busy dealing with my own troubles, but now that I look back on it he had a steel grip on himself I can tell you. So, to cut a very long and faff filled story short, Endolynn had to lay eyes on me to be sure I weren’t dead (for some inane reason they thought I had killed myself), and the poor lass had been cryin’ torrents. She was so upset she hugged me without thinking. It was nearly too much Ade, I very nearly lost hold of myself. After that, I shooed them all back up the well, though now Lysander had patched up my bleeding holes, and was even kind enough to leave his glowing spear with me. So I ventured back into the dark, while my companions went up to the surface to try and find out where the rest of the smithfolk had been taken.
So, as I approached the ruddy super riddle filled door of possible pain in my arse, I racked my brain about Baldric. An then, almost as if Endolynn was down there with me perched on my shoulder givin me advice, it occurred to me that Baldric hadn’t made this ruddy place. “It was his wife, Patricia” whispered the non-existent Endolynn. So I tried to remember all I could about her. Honestly, id had this bizarre idea that she had been a barmaid, but then I remembered this strange story about the smithing of Baldric’s hammer, and how the Arch mage Patricia had been instrumental in its forging. I know right Ade, the daft lass was an Arch mage. Of all the things. I mean, this lass went to the trouble of building this super secret tomb under The Smith On The Hill in the most unlikely place for anyone other than a Smithson to look. An then she put a bunch o’ daft riddles in the way. I tell ya, none of my family have been riddle lover’s. They be faffy, and just a git’s way o’ feelin’ superior to everyone else. An she was me great great granmam or somet’in. Yeesh. So, I remembered a line from this one riddle I heard. Now I think on it, pity it never occurred to me that Granmam was a fan of riddles, because there be an awful lot in the tales of Baldric. So this one, is all about how you come into the world on all fours, and move through it on two legs. Then I forgot the end. Still, it was a start, so I moved through the door with four gems above it. An entered another nondescript room with a bunch of doors in it an a bunch o’ glowy gems above them. So I went through the one with two gems, and woo. I got it right a second time. Still, I got the last one right wrong. I figured it was that you left the world on one, since you go out on yer back. Turns out, I was very wrong, and promptly got attacked by a glowing piece of metal. Arch mages are right weird, ill tell ya now Ade. Anywho, turns out the right door was the one with 3 gems above it, but I cannae figure out why.
So, I got me pieces of metal, and went through the door behind the iron grate. An that gave me a grand view… of a bunch of stairs going further down. So I travelled the stairs, thinkin’ at any moment they would disappear below me and id fall to my death. They didn’t, but still. Daffy arch mages can do anything, I’m utterly convinced of it now. At the base of the stairs was a giant hallway, with a bunch of statues set into small alcoves along it. As I stepped forward, the statues lit up with fire, and it became clear that they were statues of a man smithing something. As I ran forward great gout’s of fire flew forth from the statues and I had to make a mad dash for the other end of the hall.
[seems something else was written before the last sentence, but scratched out with a small note in the margin saying “tis my journal, I’ll write what I want, even if it aint quite how it ‘appened”].
So, at the end of the hallway was a pair of giant doors that lead into a small domed room. At the end of the dome opposite me was a small altar with some scroll set atop it. Afore that were a massive sarcophagus with the most ornate carvings of a forest scene set into it. They depicted the forging of Baldric’s hammer in what can only be said to be far too much detail. I mean, these reliefs were so ornate I felt I could reach in and touch the damnable hammer as it were being made. Tell ya what, arch mages don’t spare any effort on their tombs. See, that’s who’s in the box. On the top is a major carving of Patricia, with a veil covering her face. Fancy robe to go with it. The room itself glowed, and it made the whole thing feel kind of like a bad blue smoke trip. Still, no hammer to be seen, so I moved to the alter and read the ornate scroll. It read as follows:
Childe of warrior’s maker,
Listen to my cry!
Pass beneath the moon’s gaze and cease
When her sparkle fills your eye.
Speak words of shaping, open the path,
To where my husband lies.
Do not give in to thy gluttony
Take no thing that money buys.
Go not for silvered, nor for gilded,
But something in between.
Hewn from rock, no key nor lock,
No diamond to be seen.
If you are my husband’s son,
You will know the way.
I think, when I read that I cursed out loud. It echoed around the chamber, like I was being laughed at. I can honestly say that at that moment I felt utterly lost. Words of shaping, the moon’s gaze. To me, these things suggested the hammer lay somewhere else. I mean, it makes sense from a mage’s perspective, all they have to do is teleport there. Except my family specialises in smithing and the working of magic into smithing. I mean hell, Fawkes didn’t even touch magic until he was 20 for crying out loud, and the few adventurers in my family often never took it up in the first place. Well apparently to the magic users of the world, if you can’t use it, you aint worth there time. Even after finding the damnable hammer, im still annoyed at my great great gran for being so short on foresight as to not foresee the likelihood of her family not all being ruddy mages. For crying out loud Ciril is making better stuff than most full-fledged Wizards, and she’s 16.
Well, I can safely say I got loud an angry in that room, and then I stormed out. I figured it was a dead end, and Id best just find my family without the hammer. It’s what Baldric would have done, and its what I was going to do. Except, as I careened up the final hallway towards the well with the scroll in hand I noticed something odd. At the base of the well was a big black shiny stone, with a small circle around it. An as I came back out of the small corridor, the moonlight was streaming through the well shaft onto the stone, and making it glow. Twas uncanny Ade how bright the damn thing was. So, at that I dropped the scroll and scrambled back up to the surface intending to get Endolynn. After calling for her from the well, I asked her for a word of shaping, an she flat out refused to give it to me. In her words “you cant just start using magic Baldrin, it takes study and time” so the lass clambered on down the well. Turns out im not the only one that cant just use magic, she had to pull out the wand we swiped from Auraluna’s crazy death dungeon. A wand of stone shape it was called, and aren’t we lucky we didn’t use it, couse when Endolynn pointed it at the ground and zapped the wand, the black stone spiralled out an made a staircase heading down. I say lucky because when she was finished the wand fizzled and dried up, like it had run out of steam. Apparently it only had one charge in it. Seriously granmam was lucky we had one at all the crazy woman.
We headed down the staircase for maybe a minute, and came out into a room that I sorely wish to see the like of again, but without the esoteric poverty rules attached. Seriously, this made old mage had amassed an absolute fortune, and then told me not to touch it. I could have resurrected at least half of the smith with that much gold. The only problem was that I didn’t know how many of them were dead, an if I wanted to save them all I probably needed some magical skull bashing help. So I ignored it, while Endolynn read over the scroll again. See, across from the stairway were 6 hammers, with words in Dwarven scrolled above them. Now, I could tell you Ade about which was which and how to tell them apart, but I feel that you should figure that out for yourself, ive given you enough help. Still, I didn’t think I’d picked the right one when I grabbed it. I mean, the ceiling didn’t fall in or anything, but I expected it to shine or glow. Hell, it didn’t feel all that different to my other hammer. I suppose now I think of it that was a probably a dead giveaway. I mean, a new hammer is a bit clunky, and the handles are just a bit rough. This hammer though felt amazing. A perfect fit for me hand. Plus, it was made of stone. That’s it, just a big, six foot 8 inches stone hammer, with a massive head and the dwarven word for hammer chiselled into it. I was so nonplussed I honestly tossed it on the ground and left it behind. I walked down the passage that opened behind it, climbed the ladder to the surface an nearly left it down there. I did go back for it, I even checked it out by slamming it into a wall and literally nothing about it suggested it was special. To be honest, now I think about it, that is exactly as it should be. Honestly, I don’t want a big flashy weapon; a giant hammer is flashy enough. It just took me actually finding a hammer like that to understand that.
So, in that entire hubbub I left Endolynn upstairs. I didn’t mean to, I was just a bit scattered. Still, I shouldn’t have left her up on the surface. Turns out that the secret tomb had an escape ladder that lead into Smithson Manor. I came out in a small hidden room that lead out into one of the ground floor workspaces. It also had a safe, but Endolynn had already worked gone through that and collected the papers left there. So, as I exited the manor and said hello to Endolynn she asked me if I had found what I was lookin for. Obviously I said yes an showed her the hammer. Then she fainted. That’s right Ade, just looking at my hammer made the poor girl go weak at the knees. I’d have laughed if I hadn’t been so worried about the world at large.
The next part of the story is a bit darker than I’d like. Obviously the gang had set all the bodies from the smith to rights in the centre of town, and went through the belongings of those foul folk that would desecrate my home. Each of them had also prepared their gear so they could travel quickly. Well, all of them but Jarvin. He insisted he was able to run quick enough to keep up, but I cared not. If I left him behind so be it. This, by the way Ade, is not the dark stuff. The dark stuff is what followed.
Apparently the man who had hurt my Patty was named Hatchet. Fools name if you ask me, but still. It seemed as if Thamior and Jarvin had attempted to get information from him, as well as another bandit that survived. They didn’t get much from what I understand, but at least they’d tried. After discovering this I asked Hatchet a simple question. I asked him where they had taken my family. Ironically the git tried to reason with me. Told me if he said anything some guy would kill him. He was honestly more scared of them than he was of us. So I explained what I would do with him. I told him that id been thinking about it, and that I was going to take from him what he took from me. He wanted to die, but I wanted him to live. I was going to cripple him Ade, take from him something he seemed to care about as much as I had cared for Patty. At this, he lost his mind and spilled his guts. He tried to make me promise to kill him, and I gave him a half truth and a lie. After he had those he told me that my family were nearby and where they were. I then went to work on him. I had someone bring me wood nails from the manor, I don’t remember who. Then I took those nails and started to hammer them into Hatchet. I had intended to have him healed with the nails still in, so he couldn’t move easily without hurting himself, but Jarvin would have none of this. To him, what I was doing was not a just punishment, but torture. Heh, if I had been about to torture someone I wouldn’t have just used nails, but still.
As Hatchet screamed for mercy, Jarvin cut his head off. He honestly believed that was the right thing to do. I’m going to try to explain how this made me feel Ade but I didn’t understand it at the time, and I’m still not sure I do. I think that what it truly boils down to is that I don’t trust Jarvin to do what’s right by the rest of us. As awful as that sounds, I think that’s what it is. It’s his stupid code and inability to make the hard calls make him unreliable and a danger to the rest of us. As we move through life, we will make mistakes, and he has shown me at least that he won’t care, and that he’ll judge us as he sees fit with no room for flexibility. I spit on that life view, and have no respect for those so inflexible that they cannot understand the need to bend in the wind. In the time since this night, I have made some mistakes and taken my anger out on those I care for. Ill apologise to them as soon as I can, but I will never trust Jarvin to put us afore his order’s code. His choices have too often cost us as a whole, and I have no patience for those that cannot grow beyond their limitations. Maybe I simply write this in anger, but my only view is this. Hatchet took from me my home, my family and a person I love more than life itself and Jarvin could not even tolerate me taking his ability to hurt people away from him.
So, that whole affair was particularly messy. To be honest Ade, the darkness I saw in myself that day scares me some, but I think of it more as an asset than a burden. I doubt very much that I will ever be pushed as much as I was on the day of the Smithson White Night, so I doubt that ill see that darkness again. If’n I do, then I pity the soul on the other side of it more than anything else. So, after that mess we set off to find the rest of the smith folk. I hadn’t trust Hatchet to tell me the truth so I asked Lysander to have his dog track Fawke through his gloves. Unfortunately it had been raining since I went into the well, and that must have confused the scent, so the poor wolf went the wrong way. Can’t blame a body for trying, even if it did send us the wrong way and take precise minutes away from us. Still, eventually we turned around. At that point I was a bit worried so I started running. I knew the general location of the bandit camp, and ran there as fast as I could. It was a small copse of trees just beyond the smith. When I got there, I found I’d left poor Endolynn behind. I decided to walk into the trees, and give Lysander’s wolf another go at tracking. Jarvin stayed behind, waiting for Endolynn. We weren’t the most subtle folks, so torches were lit for us to see, and poor Lysander’s wolf got carved up by razor wire strung between trees. As Lysander worked to remove the wire, I dressed in my armour. I’d taken it off to make it easier to run, but now that we were so close I felt I needed it again.
When id finished, I found Lysander hadn’t been able to cut the wire, and he was particularly worried that other creatures would get hurt by it. Even as I swung my hammer Jarvin and Endolynn came out of the trees. Beyond us, we could see distant lights of the enemies’ camp, and with everyone here and the wire broken we set forward to recover the last of the Smith folk. I charged forwards, hoping that I could make up for my lack of sneaking with speed, but the crafty bandits had set up a pit trap and I wasn’t quick enough to react to it. You know Ade, were always taught bandits are stupid. I’m more inclined to say they’re unpredictable. I mean, what sort of person ignores how late their leader is in returning to camp, but also has the fore thought to set traps around it, even though he’s still out there. Maybe his lieutenant just didn’t like him much, or they have secret signals to warn each other. Still, I’d say it’s a good way to hurt someone you like as much as someone you dislike.
Anyway, as we charged towards the enemies’ camp, our chance at surprise long gone we found the bandits waiting for us. Weirdly enough they hadn’t prepared for us, but they were standing waiting. They didn’t launch any attacks on us as we left the tree’s behind, nor did they have their hostages arrayed before them. They were just waiting. Mayhap it was coup, and they were hoping to kill their boss while he was weakened. Who knows, all I know is as I saw them, and sprang to action, I felt my blood boil. These motley gits had broken into my home and hurt my people. This rag tag bunch of twats that weren’t smart enough to attack us while we were in the tree’s or use their hostages to good effect thought that they had it all wrapped up. Their arrogance offended me, and I went to work on them. Even as the fight progressed the dumb second in command had her cohort run off to kill the hostages. That’s right Ade, kill them. She didn’t bother to threaten us, or ask us to stop, she just had this guy run off to kill her pay day. Her intense stupidity made me so angry, that I hit her so hard her head was forced into her torso. Not off, around or behind; into. Even as the fighting around us died off I thought that was probably a bit much. It just sorta happened Ade, I couldn’t help it. Then I noticed the world around us.
In the fight, Lysander had forced the very land itself to reach up and grab my opponents. I remember splattering a giant man’s head, but there were no giants here, and there beyond the second in command that still stood before me laid the ruins of multiple mages slain by my party. Out of a tent far away from me backed Thamior, and then, as I watched the man sent to dispatch my family. The faceless thug of my enemy, emerged from the tent with a knife to my mother’s throat. Even as I moved to intercept them he backed into the forest followed by Thamior. It was so dark in there, I couldn’t find them Ade. I couldn’t see bugger all before me, but I could hear the world. As I searched, I heard a man scream. It sounded like Thamior, and as he went on it resolved itself into yells for help. I rushed towards the sound, hoping that Lysander wasn’t lost in the trees as I was. I came out into a small clearing, with the moon clear in the sky lighting it up. As I came into the clearing, I could see Thamior cradling my mother, Myrren. There was blood everywhere, and her eyes stared up, lifeless. The cretin had slashed her throat wide, and let her bleed out, and All Thamior could do was try to stem the bleeding. Suddenly, as the world started to crash in on me I saw the foliage beyond my mother move, as if someone had run into it. I was off. I’ve never run so hard in my life Ade, but here I did. I sometimes caught a glimpse of the man as he ran ahead, but I never got close enough to catch him. I don’t know how long I ran Ade, but at some point he must have slipped into the trees or stopped moving and I had lost him.
[here the pages seem splattered in tears that smudge the ink a little]
The man that killed my mother got away that night Ade, and I don’t know what to do. No matter how strong I get, how can I stop this from happening. Her death added to my father’s and Patty’s broke me and it has taken a long time and much effort from my friends to put me back to rights.
[the writing continues on the next page]