A Proudfeet tale
~Entry 1 - Beginnings~
Well, here I am, in Norwick. Can't believe it, never thought I'd set foot in Narfell, let alone be here on my own.
The carts that brought me here were coming to get lumber, and so this is where they dropped me off. I had to sneak off, of course; they weren't necessarily aware that they'd helped me get here. And at first, I wasn't even sure where -here- was, all I knew was that they'd stopped and that they were getting ready to load the carts up.
So you could colour me very surprised when I got out, and found myself in a rural town with dirt roads, and a massive stone town hall. Almost like the man (and yes, it was definitely a man) who built it had an inferiority complex.
But I poked around for a bit, met a woman named Chae who smelt of death but seemed nice enough to me (maybe I had nothing she wanted? Always look innocuous, it's a good way to stay safe), and a hin named Roslyn, who was a detective. A hin detective! We talked for a while, and they told me that whilst Jiyyd had been, well, won, that there were still devil outsiders there. No more portal, but it was hopelessly contaminated by evil.
My heart fell.
Not only were there demons and devils in Jiyyd, but the old Silver Valley was full of trolls. TROLLS! How on earth can I, an Acolyte of the Hin Fist, hope to defeat such monsters? I was ready to sneak back into that wood cart and head back to ma and pa.
But Roslyn, Arvoreen bless her heart, told me that there was still hope. There were other hin still in the region, and that together, with some help from the tallies, we could probably get in there, beat the trolls and demons and devils back, and lay Rinnel and Lynna's ashes to rest on their old farm.
Could we do it?
I don't know, but I need to find out.
~Entry 29 - A new beginning~
Since I last wrote, things have moved at pace.
Reyhenna and Vick spearheaded a "cleansing" of Peltarch. Removing all those who oppose the crown, putting the enemies of the King and all who are associated with them in gaol. Smoke and a few others escaped, but at least I know that they're no longer within the system.
I know Vick taught me to not be a hero, but he's very good at ignoring his own advice. And I'm glad he did.
That sort of thing is someone else's problem for the moment.
Definitely not mine.
Instead, I've been out testing myself. Made it through the nexus all the way to Avalon, and back again. Pushed through the Underdark to get as deep as possible. Fought my way to the Elemental Plane of Earth, deep under the Bugbear mines, past the monstrous spiders.
I've heard of a maze full of Minotaurs... it's on the list. And apparently there's a portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire, up past the ogres on the Icelace Beach. It's on the list now too.
I want to go over the Orc Bridge, the bridge that everyone says no-one can cross.
I want to fight my way to the centre of the Illithid city, and crush the Elder Brain.
And I want to climb the spire of the Lost City, and scream my name from the top of it.
This is my new beginning.
A home will come, and it will be glorious.
But first, I will secure my immortality through being the best Hin Fist monk to ever walk this realm.
~Entry 28 - Endings~
I'm writing this entry, sitting in what will soon be named Hinhold. There's a spot here I've picked out for a new home for myself, a hole in the ground like our Stoutfeet cousins prefer. Something simple, with cushions and a nice larder. Somewhere I can invite my friends to relax and rest inbetween our various jaunts.
Somewhere I can call home.
Somewhere I can build a family.
Not with a husband, and children. But with kindred souls, those who choose to bind themselves to one another, and to me. Like the Hincredibles.
Because I have come to realise that all things eventually come to an end, and I need to hold tight to what really matters.
Rule 50 - A Hin Fist must learn the wisdom to know when to hold a position, and when to abandon it. Nothing is eternal.
I died, just the other day. First time ever. Overwhelmed by mercenaries, unaided by my allies. Lucky strikes, and enough spells that I could not withstand them. But the error, really, was my own. I held my position when I should not have; I should have retreated, should have run back to the others. I forgot Vick's rule, about not giving a damn about others, about making sure that the information got back, and so did I. I tried to stop others dying, because Syltria had died the last time I did retreat. Only minutes before I died myself.
What a damn hero I am.
I was fired, just the other day. Again, first time ever. I put in a report about what happened with Smoke on that mission against the Silver Host, which, really, was a mission against the evil that he himself created. Redacted everyone's names, except my own, Vere's, and Holmsmead's. Vere is dead, Holmsmead is dead as well, although we spared him and I ensured he recovered enough to see the day out. Seems Smoke wasn't willing to take the risk on him, so he engineered his death as well. And why was I fired? Because I put in the report, and wouldn't give the names of others. Don't want Smoke going after them, or me, and I don't want the hierarchy to hurt them either. Refused to tell Hresh what he wanted to know, and got fired for my trouble.
What a damn hero I am.
So now I sit here, and I write in my journal, and I think about my future.
Ramsteg is not around. Not sure if he's left the realm for good, or just gone for a trip.
Autumn is doing well in the Defenders, best archer I've ever seen. Gom is lucky to have her.
Tiffany? She's someone elses problem now. Vicks, probably, heh.
The Monastery is under construction, but so is a lot of stuff in this place. Walls, fortifications, even a town hall. Looks like it'll be better than Peltarch by the time they're done with it.
All things come to an end, but there are ends, so that there can be new beginnings.
Here's to tomorrow.
~Entry 27 - Following Orders~
I received orders recently, that did not sit well with me.
I carried them out, to the letter, despite the order giver's wishes to change them at the last moment. This seemed the right thing to do.
I find myself in conflict. The Farscouts have been like a family to me, and yet, can I trust the hierarchy?
I wish to follow orders. Orders and laws make sense of the world.
Except when the orders and laws are misused by others for their own ends.
Such orders and laws are not fit to be referred to as such; they are power grabs dressed up as something else.
And yet, down that path lies anarchy.
What is a hin to do?
~Entry 26 - The great wheel turns~
I have done my best to train Ramsteg; but he is a quick study. In terms of pure power, he is near my equal, and I believe he will soon exceed me. This does not sadden me, but instead brings me joy, because it means that as a master I have succeeded. Each generation to come should exceed the prior.
Yet, there is still something missing for him. Patience. Peace. Flow. He has found within himself an antipathy from scouting, and is instead drawn more towards the martial aspect of our art. This is no problem, and in fact, I welcome his identification of what it is that drives him. I have recognised this and given him the title of Journeyman of the Hin Fist, promoted him to Private, and transferred him to the Infantry division under Scott.
This isn't to say that I won't miss having him around in the office, or training him. I've grown rather fond of him, and truth be told, I'd rather keep training with him formally. And yet, and yet... I know we'll still always have a bond, that he's only in a different division and I'll still work with him, and that he will likely always view me as his master, or at the very least, as his teacher.
Time passes, and everything changes.
Rule 54 - Nothing is eternal, even the gods can die. Do not fight this, but embrace the changes in the world around you as an aspect of the timelessness and order of existence. A hin fist must be as flexible with their reality as the universe is with its continuity.
And just as everything changes, I have a new student, it seems. Although this one is not a hin, nor a monk. Her name is Tiffany, and she is of orc-blood. A Peltarch citizen, and a scout in training, she came to me and asked for help.
It will be a hard road for her, harder than it was for me. My size and natural dexterity help with the task, as does my appearance, for others underestimate me. For her? She is large, and whilst graceful, her bulk and the local's attitudes towards her heritage will hold her back. Promotion up the ranks is unlikely, and in the field, she may accidentally become a target for our ranks due to her skin colour.
These things do concern me, but she wants to learn, and I will not prejudice against her, for many did the same to me, albeit for different reasons.
"You're too small, too weak, too female, too young..."
Seems that she and I have our work cut out for us, but I am confident that with focus and dedication, almost anything is possible.
Now, to check with Ros as to where we're up to with Hinhold.
Sometimes, change can be a good thing.
~Entry 25 - To hell and back~
Many have told me tales of adventure, of the battles of good and evil, of angels and demons and everything in between.
I listened to their tales, but thought little of it when I was younger. I lived here, in Faerun, and when my time came, I would go to the Green Fields promised to all the faithful of Arvoreen. Planar travel was for heroes and villains, not little hinnish girls from the caravan. Only in my worst nightmares did I even consider that I would see the bleak plains of the nine layers of hell.
Yet now, I have seen hell, literally, with my own two eyes.
And it was not the result of an untimely death and poor life choices, instead coming from something no-one yet understands, and a deliberate choice to attempt to protect others.
I was coming off another one of my long patrols, having gone in a circuit through the lands that border on Peltarch soil, destroying the foes I came across. Kuo-toa, ettins, worgs, orcs, giants, manticores, lizardfolk and kobolds had all fallen by my will. I then turned my gaze towards the sewers and cleansed them of undead and cultists, as well as oozes.
Whilst I knew my work would only suffice for a time, it was better to beat back the wolves than to leave them at your door.
Upon coming out of the sewers I was greeted by a most horrific sight; massive bat-winged creatures diving from the sky and attacking Peltarchians!
Leaping into action, I made a straight line for the largest mass of them, which happened to be in the Commons. Several adventurers were near death, so my timely intervention almost certainly avoided loss of life as citizens ran screaming indoors.
Once the creatures were defeated (I did some research and found that they called Abishai and Winged Horrors), together with several others including my superior, Vick, we headed to where he thought the creatures had come from, citing a series of nursery rhymes that the docks children had started singing only in the last tenday that spoke of a high and cold location where these sorts of beasts had come from, and where a portal might be found.
I will spare you of the mundane nature of our trip to the feet of the Coldstone Mountains, a trip that I have made several times now. We did encounter more evil planar creatures on our way there, even encountering them fighting the Creel in Fort Ormpur.
But it was as we began our ascent that their presence became more troublesome. Feather-winged ones called Erinyes joined the fray; their speciality being mind-affecting magics, and their numbers became more pronounced the higher we went.
Pushing through the snow, we made it to the monastery, where we found the monks of the endless order thankfully unharmed, and after resting up and myself giving orders (which felt odd, as there was a superior present!), we continued on through the Snow Goblins, past the Ice Spiders, and up higher and higher until we found what I can only describe as a tear in the fabric of reality, a tear that shed a horrific crimson light upon the snow.
It was through this "portal" in the midst of some standing stones that the fiends were coming, but with no visible way to close it, I made the decision that we would go through and attempt to find a way to do so, AFTER I had scouted.
That last breath I took before I stepped through, I swallowed hard.
Would I come back from this alive?
What would I find on the other side?
A quick but silent prayer to Arvoreen, and I darted in, the heat and stench of the place assaulting me more than anything I had ever experienced.
And ahead? A literal army of evil. Evil creatures controlling chains telepathically, more and more feather-winged female temptresses, and other horrors besides.
I mentally made a map of the area, assessed the greatest risks, and stepped back to inform the others, giving them minimal time to prepare before going through again, not trusting my nerve to hold.
This is hell!
I have NO business being here!
And yet, I was indeed, in hell. Poor life choices indeed.
The things I learnt about myself that day... that the Kytons, the chain wielding outsiders, were no threat to me. That the Erinyes could do nothing to me. That Nessian Warhounds were just as hard as I remember them being.
And that when you see a Pit Fiend, you run.
Which is exactly what I did, and afterwards, the others remarked to me that not only had they never seen me move so fast, but that they had no way of keeping up with me.
I went to hell, and survived.
And I brought back a stone from the soil of hell.
Perhaps it will help us close the portal.
Magical methods were tried, even mundane efforts, but nothing worked. More research is need, perhaps more powerful and ritualistic magics, but for now, that portal remains open, spewing forth its evil denizens to torment the folk of Narfell.
I may go and explore there some more, but if I do, it will not be for "funsies" as I have heard some foolhardy adventurers say.
The only reasons one travels to hell, is to test oneself against the mightiest that they have to offer, or to stop a greater evil from being unleashed.
rei_jin last edited by rei_jin
~Entry 24 - Apprentice~
So, it seems that I have a new apprentice.
Is the universe aligning for me or something?
His name is Ramsteg Roundhouse, and he is a Hinnish monk, trained originally in the Sun School, but without a master currently. He gladly accepted my offer of training, and to be my apprentice.
He seems to be cautious, willing to take instruction, patient, and physically gifted. All excellent traits for a monk. He does not break easily, stands his ground when necessary, and retreats when it is wise. All excellent traits for survival.
I will also be overseeing his development as a Farscout, for he is gifted at scouting.
The two hin, one moustachioed and the other feminine, knelt facing each other in a courtyard in the Defender HQ. Neither seemed overly emotional, but rather, focussed and determined.
A small crowd had gathered; mostly other Defenders coming off shift, or about to come on, and the odd one skiting off work. There’s not that many monks around, and since Yana retired and left there hadn’t been anything like this.
After a few minutes, when their breathing was completely synchronised, the feminine hin spoke.
“The mastery of self is our task. Not to master a combat form, or to master our environment, or even to master a foe. Mastery of self is the most important task of any seeker of the way.
Close your eyes with me, and listen to the beating of your heart. I have matched my own heart’s rhythm to yours, just as my breathing is matched to yours. Close your eyes, listen.”
The moustachioed hin did as instructed, the two of them closing their eyes. A few of the onlookers closed their eyes as well, and one of them, an elven Farscout, scowled and whispered to the others
“Fark, she’s right. She’s matched ‘im.”
As their chests rose and fell in rhythm with one another, the moustachioed hin nodded to himself and spoke softly.
“Master, I hear it, but how does this help with mastery of self?”
Her eyes snapped open, and she smiled
“I can teach you how to slow down your pulse so much that you seem comatose and even functionally dead. To speed up the natural healing processes of your body, and purge poisons before they even begin to impact you. To move like the wind. To strike like fire. To stand firm like the earth. To flow like water.
Our way is not one element or another; it is perfection of self and the incorporation of all that is within us into the mastery of the way.
But, breathing and pulse are first. We begin here. So, I will set the rhythm now, and you will learn how to match it.”
He frowned, but nodded, as she broke the synchronisation and the lesson continued, the crowd thinning. Seems there’d be no sparring today.
The elven Farscout stayed though, and watched. This sergeant intrigued him, and maybe he could learn a thing or two.
~Entry 23 - A Deadly Foe~
I stayed with the monks from the Order of the Endless for three months. Learning from them, as well as sharing what I could. We all have much to teach one another, if we only keep a beginner's mind.
After three months though, I knew I had to return. If nothing else, Vick needs me in the field providing reports.
So I scaled back down the mountain, and headed to Norwick... there was one more thing I wanted to try before going back to the city.
I had heard many times of the power of the aberrations known as Beholders. Beasts with a massive central eye that creates a cone of anti-magic. Giant jaws that could bite a hin in half. And nine eyestalks, each of which fire off a different magical ray that my resistance to magic will only have a passing impact on.
Few go there, fearing that they would be turned to stone, or struck dead on the spot from a single blast. Most of those who do go, do not return alive.
But, I had already done what I had thought would be impossible. I had made it to the Monastery of the Endless on my own. How much harder could this be?
Straight through Norwick, and down south past the lake, then west into hobgoblin territory I snuck. West, west, west, until I came to the cave marked with a blood red X.
This was my destination.
After drinking a few potions, I walked through the cave, ignoring the Gauth, or lesser beholders. There were a few fake beholders... Gauth that had been enlarged through ritual magic and enchanted to explode in flames upon death... to scare away the unprepared.
But I was not unprepared, and their explosion was expected; dodged easily.
Deeper into the cave I went, and it was then I came face to face with my foe.
It fired its rays at me, and two of them struck home immediately... I felt them trying to drain my life from me, and shrugged it off, launching into battle.
Rather than attempting to bite me, it fired its eye-rays again and again while I danced, dodging each one. My fists flew through the air, striking mercilessly at its massive central eye. The Beholder roared, which drew the attention of two more, but it died with a final, crippling blow, remaining floating in the air as I ran to engage the others before they could engage me.
Now, two on one, they were emboldened, and the cave walls flashed with light as they fired ray after ray at me. Rarely did they find their mark, and even then, I was able to push through the pain, defeating my foes and leaving them as nothing more than odd corpses, levitating as they do from their float bladders.
Taking out a rope, I tied them to it by an eyestalk each, and walked back to Norwick, to take a boat north and find a taxidermist.
Before I left though, I took the time to check the remains of an adventurer I found there. Disintegrated into a fine dust, all that remained was a magic wand, and a suit of armor. A reward of sorts, I suppose, although hardly useful to a monk.
Where to now though? What challenges are left to me?
I think that perhaps the establishment of a monastery is indeed the next step.
May the Dojo of the Four Winds be reborn.
~Entry 22 - Ascent~
The Creel are coming.
The Defenders are gearing up for war.
And I want to be sure I'm ready.
For years, I have had a goal. To scale the Coldspire Mountains on my own, to get to the Monastery of the Endless there. Drink from their ale, and train with them.
It was time. Succeed, or die trying.
I had my potions, my gear, and my training. Enough healing vials to keep an entire unit alive through several battles.
I was ready.
The hin took her first step off the ferry, the ferryman watching her nervously. She had a focussed look in her eyes, one that was fearsome to behold.
Heading to the ruins of Jiyyd, she slipped into the shadows, and disappeared.
This place held no fear for her anymore. She knew that she had earnt the right to be here, where angels and demons once fought. Where her ancestors had lived, farmed, been born, and died. One day she would be buried here too, and join them.
But her destiny was not to be found amongst the rubble. Not today.
Heading west, ever west, she moved from cover to cover. Past the undead, their pale bones and putrid flesh rotting in the sun, the scent wafting and turning her stomach.
Past the empty farmhouses and empty fields, overrun by weeds... an area that soon enough would be reclaimed by the forest if men did not intervene.
Past the wolves who fought over bones and rolled and played with one another, unaware of her presence downwind of them.
Past the Dark Enchantress' abandoned tower, a stone monument to the power of evil and a reminder of what happens when one overreaches.
Past Fort Ormpur, itself the scene of a thousand thousand battles over the centuries. Probably fought over by the forces of good and evil since humanity first came to the realm.
And finally, to the base of the Coldspires, where her ascent would begin.
She checked her boots, her gloves, her robes. Her potions were secured in her belt in strips, each easily exchanged for the next one. Buffing potions on the right, healing on the left, and her "oh crap" potions front and centre.
She prayed that she would not need them. Up here, there was no help to be found. Only survival of the fittest.
She would succeed, or die trying, her bones to become a monument to the follies of arrogant monks, probably gnawed on and cracked for their marrow by a hungry winterwolf and left to be bleached by the bitter cold and the blazing sun.
Her first step onto the mountain... she felt it. Many had attempted the journey before her. Most did not achieve it.
"Arvoreen, aid me. Rinnel, Lynna, this is for you."
Another step followed, and another.
Exhilaration filled her. She was doing it! She was really, finally doing it!
Ahead, a trio of winterwolves. Their feet and fur adapted for the snow. Their noses perfectly evolved to handle the icy climate. There was no sneaking past them.
So, she did what she did better than anyone else.
She ran like her life depended on it, straight past them... they howled, and the hunt was on.
She ran past another, and another, until the entire pack was on her tail. Four alphas, and at least a dozen winterwolves.
She ran like the wind whistling through the trees, like the arrows flying through the air from the well-positioned snow goblins.
Until finally, she reached a clearing.
And it was there that she took the form of the reflective farmer while the pack encircled her... waiting, watching... what was this small human doing? Why was it here? Why was it not scared?
Led by the Alphas, they attacked... classic wolfpack tactics. One attempting to come over the top, the other nipping at her ankles while they moved around her... and instead of falling, she flowed like water, struck like fire, held her place like earth... she would not move from where she stood her ground.
A flurry of kicks and punches, elbows and knees and even the odd headbutt... everything was a weapon, everywhere was where she was to assault them, and nowhere was where she was when they fought back.
The alphas fell first, their skulls crushed by her merciless onslaught.
The wolves became confused, disorientated, as their numbers thinned. This is not how it is supposed to go! This is not right!
The rest of the pack followed the alphas to the grave. Brave though they were, they were no match for the power and precision of the master of the hin fist. She would not stop until she achieved her goal, and they were simply another obstacle to be overcome.
A veritable hill of dead surrounded her, but that was not her concern. Let the druids worry about ecology and the like. Hers was the power of ki, the power that lies within all things, and she was its mistress.
Quickly, she set off again, stopping to defeat creatures she had never seen before... an undead encased in ice, like some kind of monstrous construct. A spirit that must have frozen to death and become reanimated by its hatred. And one with a blade that blazed with coldfire, a single touch of which would destroy flesh.
Until finally, she reached the plateau, where the winterwolves no longer roamed, and the snow goblins lived. Their scouts called out in their tongue, and the horns blew... the warparty assembled.
Grinning to herself, she launched into battle once more. This was her destiny, and none would thwart her.
Within a few minutes, the plateau was quiet, save for the sounds of a single set of feet, walking through the snow.
Throwing down the head of the snowgoblin warlord with a wet thud, the now-bloodied hin entered the Monastery of the Endless, kneeled in front of the master of the Dojo, and spoke these words.
"I am Merlynna, master of the way of the hin fist, and I would learn your ways."
~Entry 21 - Legacy~
I remember when I was a child, there was a, well, let's call it an incident. Mama and papa were driving the wagon, keeping the ponies on the track. They weren't moving fast, so they had let me play on the grass beside the track, as long as I stayed near enough to the wagon to hear papa singing... he liked to sing different hinnish travelling ditties as we went along.
So anyway, the wagon was moving, pulled by the ponies. I was playing in the grass; doing cartwheels, checking the flowers, playing with the beetles and watching the birds fly by, and mama and papa went around a corner and through a crossroads... and I lost sight of the wagon, so distracted was I by the things around me.
But, I was seven, what concerns did I have? Once I realised I was alone, in typical hinnish fashion I walked to the creek which was only a few yards from the track, took out my handline with hook and sinker, dug around for a worm, and sat down to do some fishing. I figured they'd be back for me.
That was about lunchtime.
So I sat there, cross-legged on the bank, line in the water, waiting for my parents, waiting for a bite.
I got a bite on the line, brought it in. A small bream, big enough for me for a meal though.
Gathered some wood, and started a fire with a flint stone and small dagger.
Cooked the bream. Ate it.
Waited some more.
The sun went down, so I stayed by the fire for warmth.
"Any minute now" I said.
But they didn't come back.
A wolf howled in the distance, sending a shiver down my spine. So I put some more wood on the fire, and sat a little closer, with my back to the flames, facing outwards, towards the road.
The moon rose in the sky.
What I did not know, is that the wagon had hit a pothole and broken a wheel. Mama and papa had to take the time to fix it, and they couldn't leave it unattended with their sale goods and all our earthly belongings in it.
So I sat, waiting, until after midnight.
Crying, curled up with my arms around my knees, rocking back and forth, whispering quietly to myself "I'm not afraid of the dark, I'm not afraid of the dark..."
But they came, and mama cried, and papa scolded me and cried, and they wrapped a blanket around me and congratulated me on such a splendid fire.
The next day though, I didn't go and play in the grass. I stayed in the back of the wagon, scared that I'd be left behind. Scared that I'd be alone. Scared that the wolf would come for me.
Over the days that followed, I looked through all the boxes and bags for things to keep my young mind occupied. Mama taught me my counting and reading as we travelled, but that didn't fill in enough of the day.
So I stitched, and I drew with charcoal, and I fiddled with the spices, seeing which ones I liked and which ones made me sneeze or tear up. Still don't like cloves. Ergh.
I think it was on about the eighth day of my self-imposed detention that I was bored enough that I went to the book chest. Mama and papa didn't have many books; you can't when everything you own has to fit in a single wagon. But they had the accounts books, and they had the family history books, and a book of recipes, and this really interesting picture book. It had pictures of people moving about, pictures of hands and feet, and even pictures of stepping patterns, along with writing that seemed to have been recorded in a hurried fashion, with odd words that I didn't recognise... words like ki and meditation and chakra.
I showed it to mama, and she frowned and tucked it away, saying "Things like that aren't for little girls Merly."
"Well dear, that belonged to your great grandfather Rinnel... it's his writings all about the way of the Hin Fist, what he learnt back when he and your great grandmother Lynna, you know, the one you're named after, well back when they lived in the Silver Valley."
"Mama, what's the way of the Hin Fist?"
She sighed, and looked at me with a very serious face, the sort of face grownups get when they want you to stop asking questions
"It's a system to teach hins how to defend themselves and those they love, and how to defeat the people who want to hurt them, all without using weapons or armour. But, it's not the likes of us. We're simple folk with little enough in the world that no-one is bothered by us, and as long as we don't bother others, then we can get by in peace."
I nodded, not really understanding her, but knowing that I had every intention of reading it when she and papa weren't looking. Some of the things the bodies in that book were doing looked like a lot of fun!
Plus, wolves are serious business. If one had come for me, that night by the fire, what would I have done? Probably been wolf dinner, that's what.
I knew I couldn't do much reading when mama and papa were with the wagon, but... when we got to the next town, they'd be setting up shop, and they'd want me to go and be somewhere else so I couldn't be a distraction. Which was exactly what I intended to do.
Two days later, we arrived in Nashkel, near the Cloud Peak Mountains, a town of about 3,000 folk, which was more than enough for us to be able to sell our wares. Papa set up outside the Belching Dragon where he could sell his knives and tools, and mama could sell her gloves and boots. Blacksmithing and leatherwork run in the family after all, and they've always been a good way to make the coin we Proudfeet needed to keep going. Papa even got his portable forge and anvil out, offering to do repairs if folk needed them, and he didn't do that very often at all.
I stood and watched for a time, but sure enough, mama waved me off when the people got about two deep, so I ducked back to the wagon, grabbed my great grandfather's book, and ran off to the town green which at that time of the morning only had a few children like me on it. Taking note of where I'd come from, I sat down, cross-legged in the grass, and began to read.
The introduction at the front of the book, obviously written later as the page had been stitched in by hand with different thread to the rest, read as follows;
To those who come after me,
I, Rinnel Proudfeet, as author of this work which I hesitate to even call a book, want you to know that what comes after this page is a humble attempt to catalogue the secrets of the way of the Hin Fist.
It is, by no means, a complete account. I myself never became a master of the way, and although I like to think that I had some small skill in the monastic arts, there were always others whose abilities dwarfed my own. I have sought to learn from them, to record what they taught me directly and by observation, and to record it for prosperity not only so I could learn from it, but so that others could as well.
It was always my dream to teach my children the way, but with the loss of our ancestral home, it never never came to pass. Mastery requires time, and that is a luxury ill afforded to refugees.
So, in lieu of that, I offer this work to whoever finds it, that it would carry out the task I never could; learning and passing on the way of the Hin Fist. And that person, is you.
Protect this book, it is my life's work.
Learn from it, that is its purpose.
Teach other hin what you can, for this is not a dark tome that has to remain contained, but light that dispels the darkness around us.
And do not be afraid to try new things, to add to it, or to remove from it. All things change with time, and even the monastic arts are not immune to the shifting sands of fate and chronos.
Know that if you are reading this, that I and those who have come before you, are with you even now, through the distilled wisdom of the ages. We are your people, and you are our hope for the future.
Be proud of who you are, and do not fear failure, it is, perhaps, our greatest teacher.
After reading that page quickly (I had no idea of the importance of it), I flipped forward to the first lesson, that of how to stand properly. Apparently I had been standing wrong my whole life... how could that be?
Anyway, that first day, I fell in love with the way of the Hin Fist, and I spent until dusk trying to copy the pictures and instructions I saw and read in it. The other kids got in on it too, all of us trying to work together to attain in a single day what took my great grandfather his whole life. It's probably no surprise that we failed!
When my parents came to the green and found me asleep, curled up on top of the book, they must have carried me back, for I have no memory of getting into bed myself. I do remember having loud dreams that night, like there was an argument nearby; whether that was real or not, I don't know. I do know that when I woke up in the wagon the next day, they said nothing about it.
But the next time we stopped at a town, mama made sure to leave the book unattended, and to shoo me off to entertain myself.
I never forgot the night that I spent alone by the track, a fire at my back, and a wolf howling in the distance.
And I never forgot how it felt to be alone.
Now, I carry Rinnel's gloves with me, everywhere I go, and he whispers to me through them. They're not the best gloves, really, they're only fit for an acolyte. My own two pairs of custom made gloves are far superior to them.
But I sleep with them on, a reminder that I'm not alone, even when I'm out in the woods on a long-range patrol.
And lately, he's been whispering to me about legacy, about who will come after me.
I've met a few monks; Keira, for one. Nafisa and her sister Nadia. Blue Sparrow. Jasmal. Even Margot, another hin. They've all come with their own experience, their own training. I've shared what I could with each of them as appropriate, yet I feel like this isn't what Rinnel means.
Do I need to start a monastery?
~Entry 20 - The Great Staircase~
(I asked an artist at the college to paint this for me from memory, I think he did a good job!)
The time had come.
Things in the Underdark were getting really rough. There are these creatures, we call them "thralls". Some of them look like goblins, or hobgoblins, and a few look like orcs, or minotaurs, or even giants, but they do not behave like them. Magical abilities, toughness that I've never seen before, and a ferocity like a rabid dog without any ability for language... these mark the thralls. And they're spilling out of the deeper parts of the Underdark into the area where the umberhulks lair, near the Kuo-toa. It would not take much for them to move into that area, and, eventually, into Oscura or even to the surface.
Vick and others had seen the movements, as had I. And we were concerned.
So a trip was planned, and mounted.
Joined by Vick, Shesarai, Diadne, Thau'lira, Syclya and Rubo, I led the way as we went to areas I had heard of, yet never seen before.
The great staircase, it is called.
I know if you follow it far enough, and don't lose your way, or your nerve, you can go from Oscura to Norwick, or back the other way.
Nevermind the illithids along the way though...
I took point. I've never taken point on such an important and dangerous mission.
Spells were piled onto me, such that I've never felt so empowered before.
And we needed every single one.
Hostile magics flew through the air, axes and arrows used in anger against us... and deeper we went.
After defeating what must have been the thirtieth or fortieth thrall (how many of these things are there?) we heard loud footsteps coming from below... a thrall giant!
Tumbling about its feet, I was able to keep it from the others and, eventually, break its legs and snap its neck.
But that was not the most dangerous foe. Far from it.
The floor below contained a horror I have heard of before, but had not seen.
A squid head.
It blasted us with psionic energy, like a scream in our minds... but that was not enough to distract me. The damn thing seemed like it had coated itself in magic, so there was not much I could do to it, but dodge it? Punch it?
The most satisfying moment of the entire trip, was when my fist hit its head hard enough that I heard its skull crack, its tentacles writhing one last time before it fell to the ground, dead.
After we gathered ourselves, I looked through the next door... and saw that we were outclassed. Victory was possible, but only at too steep a cost, so I called the retreat, a call that Vick supported.
We made our way out successfully, defeating even more thralls as we climbed, but we saw the light again, and were glad of it.
But that trip... it unlocked something deep inside me, and I have crossed the threshold.
The mastery that I have sought, of the way of the Hin Fist.
I have it.
I am ready for you now, Linam the Swift.
~Entry 19 - A real foe emerges~
Word came to me of a cave where enemies of Peltarch had been spotted... out of all the places they could have been, south of Jiyyd was not what I had expected.
Yet going there, entering a cave I had never been in before, I encountered men and women, armed and ready for battle. They looked at me with anger and confusion, and came for me, yelling for their comrades to take up their blades to end my life, and the lives of my companions.
Keira. Abby. Aruhan. And an unknown warrior.
Apparently there were normally spiders in this cave, but they had all been destroyed, cleared out for these renegade defenders to take up residence. Beds, supplies, camp kitchens, even an armory were present.
Peltarch does have real foes, it seems, and they were preparing for a battle.
We took the battle to them.
Fighting through wave after wave of foes, we beat them back, killing them where they stood, offering no quarter, and they asked for none. This was a grim affair, slogging through fight after fight as if their offense was personal; they wanted blood, and ours would do as an appetiser.
First floor, cleared... but the sounds from the floor below told me that they were ready for us. What we faced there was another notch up in difficulty, with warriors who would have done well facing off against ogres in Peltarch. Warriors we could really use in the city. Yet, they had chosen to stand against Peltarch, and so death was their destiny.
I drank over nine pounds worth of potions, their empty vials shattering on the cave walls as I tossed them aside. Healing and augmentation magics were used and drained, but we got the better of them.
Most of their casters could not detect my movements, and so they found themselves on their asses and being punched in the head by a cranky hin. Their archers were no good in melee, and were quickly found out. Their warriors were tough and hit hard, but by focussing on them we were able to take them down.
We prepared ourselves for a final fight against the best of their forces, but fortune favoured us... their leader and one of his lackeys saw us across an underground lake and left their defenses behind to come and fight alone, thinking they could defeat us.
They were wrong.
The foes of Peltarch defeated, the cave became silent other than the sound of our breaths and the ripple of water.
Dragging the dead into the light, I piled them high and set them alight, collecting their helms as evidence, and together we returned to Peltarch.
That day, victory was ours.
~Entry 18 - Sight beyond sight~
One of the things I’ve enjoyed with having the run of the Mortuary, is that it’s somewhere in the city most people do not want to go. I can have my alone time quite easily here; in fact, I’ve been able to set up a small training room in a long neglected storeroom.
Working as a Far Scout, working with the dead, both lend themselves to isolation, and really, that’s okay, even good to me. I don’t really get tallies, and I’m not like most other hin. Some see that as a problem, but, why should it be? So what if I’m not like others? I can do things others can’t, so why shouldn’t I be different? Why shouldn’t I embrace that difference?
Now, this doesn’t mean I can’t work with others, or even lead them... it just means that I do it in my own way. If I was a politician, or a regular Defender, that could be an issue, but for me where I am? It’s a boon to me, lets me keep people unbalanced. And unbalanced people are more easily directed.
Which brings me to my point, of seeing things differently... and sight in general. Because that’s something that’s been a problem for me a few times now... in specific, fighting foes in the dark or who are invisible.
If I wish to unlock the powers of the way of ink, I first need to master the way of the hin fist, and that requires that I learn sight beyond sight... what some refer to as blind-fighting. It’s about... feeling where your opponent is, learning to hear their heart beating in their veins, to smell their scent as they move, to feel their movements through the ground beneath both our feet.
And so... I close the door to my store room, blindfold myself, hit a lever which sets the machinery going, and spin in a circle until I’m so dizzy that I can barely stand.
Then... I move through the obstacle course without seeing what is before me.
Arms whirl, clockwork grinds, and I dodge and weave.
Or at least, I try to.
The bruises and welts I have so far are an indicator that I haven’t mastered it yet.
But I will get there.
Linam the Swift demands it.
Rinnel Proudfeet desired it.
And I NEED it.
I see the world differently to others.
To become a master, I must know it differently as well.
~Entry 17 - A new job~
Things change, seasons shift, new challenges emerge.
And I find myself cleaning autopsy tables, scrubbing floors, and moving body bags.
When others told me that I dealt in death, I did not think it would become quite so literal.
The Peltarch Mortician, a Doctor Avenzeula, who most assuredly does not go by "Dr A", nor by his first name which I am yet to discover, is a kind but firm older human male who has held this post for many years now. He has a dry sense of humour, a keen interest in the ships that come and go from the harbour, no immediate family, and an odd body odour.
I wonder if I should tell him about the last bit.
In any case, working as his assistant is not overly burdensome, nor is stressful most of the time.
I've seen my own share of dead bodies, created more than a few in my time, but never the innocent, and never the very young or very old, or the pregnant, or the ill.
Here in the morgue, we see mostly those who have died of natural causes, although for some, natural causes seems to include being shanked by a fellow poker player for somehow coming up with five aces. I don't want to tell you where we had to remove the cards from to discern THAT one.
It's interesting, because you learn a lot about the different movements in Peltarch, in terms of who is rising and falling in power. A few bodies were pulled out of the harbour the other day, linked by nothing but the fact that each had the same tattoo on their left shoulder blade.
Seems that gang is on the outer then.
Why am I here? Guess I should record that in case I want to look back on it later.
A few reasons, really.
Firstly, I need to get better at understanding anatomy, wounds, how much punishment a body can take, and so on. There are some things you just can't find out from the living without getting sent to jail, and other things that are just better not explained to others.
Secondly, I think it gives Vick some satisfaction that I've got my hands being kept busy by doing some good for the city in a tangible way.
And thirdly? Working here gives me a chance to keep an eye on things... like I said, you learn about movements in the city, often before others would. The dead do not lie, and they have messages for the living.
Sometimes, that message is "beware".
I'm waiting for a message about a herald... and I know it's coming soon.
Be patient Merlynna, just be patient.
The herald is coming. The message in blood told you as much.
~Entry 16 - Testing myself~
When seeking to learn about your ki, there are two main avenues of exploration.
The first is to centre yourself in a calm and peaceful place, and to look inward that it might be drawn out over time.
The second is to place yourself in a high stress environment where you are forced to look inwards to find the resources to survive. This is far quicker, but far more dangerous and likely to result in failure and death.
Of course, me being me, I went for the second. For all the supposed wisdom I have, I can be rather intractable.
Three deadly foes:-
A Vampire Monk
An Evil High Priest and his minions
I have survived, having cleansed a tomb of undead, emptied a cavern of evil outsiders, and stopped a ritual to bring disease to Peltarch.
What have I learnt?
Well, other than that I need some tougher armor...
I have learnt, that I am stronger as part of a small but cohesive team.
I have learnt, that I can withstand blows that would fell many others.
I have learnt, that I am not peaceful like many monks are... that I am violent and aggressive.
To be fair, I already knew that last one. With nicknames like “Murder-mitts” going around, it’s kind of hard to avoid.
Yet... that doesn’t bother me?
I am three things:
A scout:- the eyes and ears of a city
A defender:- a shield to protect the ally
A solder:- a weapon to destroy the enemy
So, what have I learnt about my ki?
If I have an elemental affinity, I’m yet to discern it. I seem to have a connection to all four... moving like the wind, overwhelming foes like water, defending like the earth, with the passion of fire.
I know my ki is strong... it empowers me, drives me onward. At times it feels consuming, like I am simply ki given material form, that who Merlynna is matters less than finding an outlet for my ki.
Is it internal or external? I can feel it in both, affecting the situation around myself, but also affecting me inwardly.
Is it ranged or melee? Definitely in melee... I feel no desire to engage in ranged combat... I’d rather sit back and watch others use a bow than get involved myself with my sling. My actual preference would be to somehow be launched into the combat!
Rule 34 - A hin fist will seek to know themselves, for until one knows themself, they will not be able to know their enemies
So... melee and strong. That’s my ki. But that’s a pretty broad definition.
I need to know this, to understand it properly, to be able to use it, control it, shape it, rather than having it do that to me.
Mastery of the monastic arts is mastery of self.
Maybe I have a longer journey to go on than I had hoped.
~Entry 15 - Embracing the truth~
So... striving to become the Master of the Monastic Arts.
That means I need to prepare myself to face Linam the Swift again.
And that means that I need to learn how to strike faster, harder, more accurately.
And it means that I need to understand my ki... my chi? Inner flow of energy and consciousness... the thing that I disrupt in others when I stun them, the thing that I channel when I force my body to heal rapidly.
It's not something that I like to admit, but I have to. To myself, even if to no-one else.
My grandfather never really understood how ki worked.
Neither did I.
Clerics and druids channel the power of their deity to wonderful effect. Fighters train and martial themselves. Barbarians rely on pure adrenaline. Rogues use their wits and guile, much like bards use their presence.
None of them has anything quite like ki that they draw on.
Gods, writing it down I feel like a fool. I've been harnessing, using, disrupting a power that I didn't even understand.
Linam used ki to balance massive boulders on top of small stones. By rights, it shouldn't be possible. The weight of the boulders alone should crush the smaller stones. They shouldn't balance there, they should fall off. Yet Linam managed it, and seemed to do so with relative ease.
Which tells me that ki can be projected and used as an extension of will.
Rinnel has nothing written down about how to do that.
So, I went and sat with the masters in the dojo in Oscura. Asked them about it, as the only monastery within easy reach.
After an appropriately gruelling training session with a very noisy punching bag, one of the masters answered my question.
Ki is the inner strength of a thing, whether it is a person, a tree, or a rock. All have ki, whether they realise it or not.
Ki is as hard as stone, yet as soft as a feather.
What this means, is that your ki is not unlike a lever through which you may move the world around you. But first, you must learn three things, and decide on two more.
Firstly, you must learn the character of your own ki. Each person's ki is different, and has a different strength, a different feel, a different taste. Some have an affinity for one element over another. Some are better at using their ki at range, whilst others might only be able to use it close to their own body, or within themselves. And some have a weak ki, whilst others are strong. These truths will help you understand the character of your own ki, which is like a board that you carry with you everywhere you go.
Secondly, you must learn about your other resources. Every life is different, for each is shaped by the circumstances and choices within it. This is everything from gold and magical items, through to friends and family. These things become the rock which you may place under the board; if it is strong enough, it will withstand the load, but if it is not, it will fail and so will you.
Thirdly, you must learn wisdom. Wisdom is learnt through understanding the relationships of those around you, the needs and wants of the community, the challenges they face, and so on. Wisdom can be found in the history of those who have gone before you, through their losses and victories. The more you know, the more you are able to make informed decisions, wise choices, and to control your circumstances. This is how you find your place to stand, for without this, the board and rock are useless.
With this done, you now have two choices to make.
What is it you desire?
What will you sacrifice to make it a reality?
Use your ki, your resources, and your wisdom, and you can achieve your desires, if you are willing to sacrifice what it will cost you. A strong enough and long enough lever with a dense enough rock and a sufficient place to stand, can see one person move the whole world.
Be aware though, that sacrificing can change the nature of your board, of your rock, and of your place to stand. This can mean that by seeking what you desire, you ultimately bring yourself undone.
This is why few ever attain true mastery of the monastic arts. The cost is too high, and the very act of seeking it can destroy the seeker.
Yet, without suffering, there can be no victory.
Without pain, there can be no revelation.
With this new knowledge, I know I have a path to follow.
To learn the character of my ki.
To learn about my resources.
And to learn wisdom.
For I know what I desire. Mastery of the Monastic Arts.
And I will give everything that can be sacrificed to achieve it.
Rule 6: A hin fist will use every edge they can, for their enemies will not hesitate to do the same
This is the truth that I must embrace.
I cannot sacrifice everything I have, for it will leave me empty.
Yet there must be sacrifice, suffering, and pain, for victory to be achieved.
Wisdom is found in learning what must be retained, and what must be released. Wisdom is seen in knowing which battles to fight, and which to retreat from.
Today, I fought a battle I would previously have run from.
A vampire adept, deep within a tomb. Supported by his spawn.
I downed four incredibly expensive potions, stepped into melee with him, and slew him where he stood with the aid of my allies. His coffin was destroyed, and his eternal unrest was ended.
Previously, I would have celebrated this, but today... no.
It can be argued that without the potions, I could not have defeated him. That without allies, I would have failed.
These things are true, but these resources are still MY resources.
The will to face him was mine, and mine alone. None forced me, none demanded it.
The training I have done, the equipment I have obtained, the fitness I have... these are no less mine than the name I bear.
Today I do not celebrate, not because I did not do something worthy. But because I did, and it has taken me far too long to do so.
Today it leaves me pondering how much I have been holding myself back, how much I have neglected my potential, how much I have failed in the instructions given to me by Linam.
Today, I embrace the truth.
I have been weak.
I have been unwise.
I have been ignorant.
And I cannot allow myself to remain so.
Firstly, I must learn of my ki. Whatever it takes, whatever it costs. I will walk my own path, and I will find the answers I seek.
I'm coming for you, Linam the Swift.
And when I do, I will be ready.
rei_jin last edited by rei_jin
~Entry 14 - On Becoming~
It's been a long time since I wrote here... quite honestly? Because I wanted to try out the lifestyle that Bell tried to draw me into. That lifestyle is not... well... disciplined. It could be, I suppose, but it seemed to be more marked by chaos than anything else.
Having never really "let my hair down" as some of the tallies would say, I thought I should honestly see if it is for me or not.
Should I mark this as my teenage/rebellious stage? I am unsure.
In any case... this is how it went...
Not long after Merlynna met with Bell and got to know him, there was an... let's say influx, of new and young hins into the Narfell region. Whether they grew up there and became adventurers, or moved in from other realms, well, the stories are mixed. But through circumstance they became known as the Hincredibles, and their ranks included:
Macavity Teagage, also known as Crackshot Macavity; a scout and archer supreme, known for his willingness to ask questions and to speak the truth whether it is wanted or not.
Ray Biers, also known as The Hulk; a barbarian who shouts rather than speaking and is rather uncontrollably violent most of the time.
Fern Aublaise, also known as Inferno; a sorceress supreme who consumes all her foes in fire, and at times, her allies.
Bellamin Silvershaper, also known as Captain Peltarch; the just and mighty hero who protects the weak and innocent, doing things for the good of the land.
Merlynna Proudfeet,* also known as The Iron Fist; the one who strikes fear and fist into enemy's hearts across the realm.
Batilde, also known as Bat-Hin; the unofficial leader of the Hincredibles, because it seems to be only she who can keep the others in line. She has keen scout skills, a focus on protecting the balance of things, and a kind and gentle heart.
Together, the Hincredibles set out to right wrongs, protect the innocent, and smite evil. Well, let's be honest, there was a lot more smiting of evil and probably evil than anything else. Oh, and earning gold, because being SuperHinroes is expensive, what with wear and tear on outfits, healing potions and gadgets, paying fines for law-breaking, and so on.
Early on, Macavity decided that all proper heroes had to have an arch-nemesis, and he settled on Vera as being the one, what due to her wielding a scythe and looking all brooding and stuff. She, for her own part, was equal parts amused and annoyed, and took it upon herself to both antagonise Macavity and help out the Hincredibles to confuse him, as much as was possible.
Roaming across the land, they went everywhere from up north on the Icelace Beach, down south to the Wyverns, out to the west to Fort Ormpur, and east through the Gnoll woods and the Gypsy Camp. There was no stone left unturned for the Hincredibles to adventure, at least, in so far as they only went places that would not see them mercilessly killed in an instant.
Of course, what with time together and the intimacy of battle, partnerships emerged. Bat-Hin and Captain Peltarch are now courting, and Inferno and Crackshot are as well. The others haven't paired off, partially because of insanity on the part of the Hulk, and partially because Iron Fist has no interest in romantic relationships.
The main thing that has marked the progress of the Hincredibles, is the swathes of dead foes left behind by them. Their small stature and voracious appetite for smiting has led to some using the analogy of a plague of locusts, consuming all before them.
Their greatest hour may be yet to come, but at the same time, these adventurers are maturing and developing into more full and rounded individuals, meaning that the rapacious character of their early days has passed, giving way to a measured approach to life, or at least, more measured than they were previously.
As I write these things, and look back, I know that I have enjoyed my time playing pretend with the Hincredibles, and I will likely continue spending time with them. Yet, it is not the life for me. Mine, is a life of discipline, of hard work, of committing myself to the tasks before me without hesitation or concern for self.
I tried becoming... happy. Peaceful.
But it's not for me.
Instead, I must seek, strive, and become the Master of the Monastic Arts that my great grandfather Rinnel longed to become.
I must accept the mantle he has passed on to me, and become more.
Only time will tell if I succeed, or die trying.
But I will not live my life wondering what could have been.
~Entry 13 - Fun?~
I’ve met a most interesting hin, a paladin of Yondalla. His name is Bell, Bellamin Silvershaper, and he’s perhaps the most curious person I’ve met in this land.
Not because he’s fast, or strong, or tough, or smart... the realm has its fill of those people.
Not because he’s slow, or weak, or sickly, or stupid... the realm has its fill of those people too.
He’s curious to me because he genuinely sees value in hearth and home, peace and love, joy and hope, and happiness and fun.
I met him in the commons a few days ago... we chatted a little, which was nice? But I ran into him again outside the gnoll woods; he was with Erurk and Rubo. They invited me to join them, which was fine by me, and so we went into the woods for a trip with Rubo’s own unique brand of hunting.
He’s not the fastest. But he kept up, determined to be a part of what was happening.
He’s not the strongest. But that didn’t stop him stepping in to combat with his short sword and giving it his all.
He’s not the toughest, but he wanted to protect me.
He’s not the smartest, but he knows the right things to say.
We cleared out most of the gnolls without trouble, until we came across a gynarch who proceeded to knock Bell down with only 3 swings. He died, quickly and messily... and I did the best I could to keep my calm. Picked him up and walked out of the woods, where Rubo raised him after praying to Garl.
And do you know what Bell did, when we’d brought him back? He apologised for the trouble, and got up, ready to try again.
Together, we cleared the gnolls, the spiders, and the goblins before getting back to Norwick.
Afterwards, we went up to Peltarch, sold everything, and got some rest... and he and I had a long talk.
I took a moment to look through Rinnel’s Book, but it was no help.
Rule ?? - (the hin fist rules have nothing on this)
Bell said that I wasn’t just a weapon.
Bell said that family and friends are important, that they should be why we fight.
Bell said that it was important to rest, to have fun, to be happy.
I... don’t know.
I don’t know what to say or do in response to that.
We went to Hero’s Bluff, ate pastries, and fished. It was... fun?
I don’t know if there’s room in my life for happiness and fun, or for family. Friends, sure, to a point; but anything more?
Relationships are complicated, and who would want a wife who might one day disappear and never been seen again?
There was one more thing Bell told me. He said that if I kept bottling up my emotions, that I would crack. That I was working too hard, losing sight of what’s important.
I think he’s wrong, that I’m doing what I need to do to fulfill my calling.
But what if...
What if he’s right?
~Entry 12 - New gloves, a new challenge~
The time finally came, and I got my new gloves. They're accurate and powerful, and make my strikes the same. They made a good difference with the worgs, but I knew I needed to try something tougher.
So who did I speak with, but Cecil? He just happened to be in the Peltarch Commons, and so did a few other worthy folk... so I suggested we head north, to the Giantspires and the Ogres who live there. Cecil agreed, and we set out.
I have to say that it was an eye-opening experience for me, as we got past the manticores and hill giants without issue, then into the Giantspire Ogre caves.
Across a bridge that they guarded with casters and axe-throwers, then into the caves proper where they had set reloading fire traps to alert them to the presence of their enemies.
Note to self: duplicate that if I ever need to defend somewhere long-term. Or get Vick to do it.
The axe-throwers were fine enough... I am definitely stronger than when I last took them on in the attack against Peltarch. Their casters they call Stoneshapers, and they're not too bad for me. Their warriors though, they would probably take me out one on one. And their berserkers... ergh. They are fast, hit hard, and seem to have no fear whatsoever.
Rule 22 - There is always a stronger foe to test yourself against
We pushed our way through the caves and came out on the other side into daylight... a brightly lit forest, filled with oversized animals and more ogres.
Cecil and I tested ourselves against a giant bear, and came out victorious. I have some ideas about animal essences and enchanting that I want to try out, so that hide will come in handy.
But the ogre berserkers... One came running at us, along with several of his friends. And let me tell you, they were no friends of ours.
I'm thankful that we fought them at a choke-point, so they couldn't surround us, or I doubt I'd be here to write this entry. As it was, my vision was getting blurry and I'd taken a hell of a beating.
Kathea went down, bleeding out. Cecil was healed almost continuously by Rubo and by drinking potions. Tirreth stayed invisible and cast what spells he could to aid us without putting himself at risk.
Eventually we were victorious, but we wisely decided to retreat... and a good thing we did to, for we ended up having to sneak invisible back out to the Icelace beach under the watchful eyes of the ogres.
I need better defenses next, or I won't survive long enough to get stronger.
~Entry 11 - Contrasts~
I've been working hard at getting stronger. There's three elements to it for me, firstly, knowing the land and its occupants, secondly, equipping myself well, and thirdly, training hard to master my art.
I'd be lying if I said it was easy, or simple. In some ways it is simple; follow the steps and the outcome is almost certainly assured. But following the steps is notoriously challenging, and it is why so few succeed at becoming a master of the monastic arts.
I've been able to secure multiple items for enchanting, now I simply need the gold and the individuals needed to complete the task. Tirreth is helping me out, which is wonderful, but I think I'd bleed him dry if I got him to do everything for me.
I'm seeing more and more of the land all the time, even took myself deep into the Rawlins and fought bugbears and wyverns. Trying to dodge their poisonous tails is challenging indeed!
But I'm finding that orcs are maybe the most challenging foes I face regularly. And it's how no two orcs are alike... that gives me the most trouble.
Took on seven orcs with bows at once... no problem.
Took on a single orc with a hammer, nearly killed me.
Why is the orc with a hammer more dangerous than seven with a bow?
Rule 16 - No two days are alike, and neither are two foes ever the same. Treat each warily
What this does show me, is that I need to focus on improving my gear perhaps even more than I need to improve my martial prowess. Magic turns a blade or hammer more ably than even the sharpest strike.