I have decided, as I should have from the start, to write the remainder of this memoir in Elleslandic. The, severely unpleasant, last few days have made it abundantly clear that these words might never be returned to my home, so, I prefer to ensure they are of some use to any good soul who inherits them.
“Severely unpleasant days” you say? Indeed, it would be difficult to describe a span of time spent as unwilling gusts to a petty, megalomaniacal, criminal gnome. This is exactly what I told Durnik, Durkon and Mellienas (no comments) would happen if we left our hearth. “Treasure, lasses and dragons!” they said, but to that I say home-cooked food, a comfortable bed and, most importantly, no dragon. Truly, only an anvil-headed fool hears “dragon” and thinks “excitement”. In my, admittedly-limited, experience, where there is a dragon, there is an idiot who thinks he can use said dragon to gain power without being figuratively and literally bitten in the end.
It occurs to me that I may have skipped a few steps. As indicated in my last entry, Baron Aldred had approached us to bring justice to the afore-mentioned murderous gnome. So, we made our way to Clyster with few complications barring a few trolls. On our last visit to the city, we had heard that a dragon had been seen flying nearby, looking into the city, but had dismissed the idea as the normal rumours which tend to spring up anywhere, but, this time, there was a literal flight of dragons hanging around the place. We made our way into the city and had our preliminary meeting with the Leper who indicated that he would arrange an opportunity for us to deal with Gorki. A few minutes after we had left the meeting, the “dragons” swooped and attacked the city. My friends and I were able to deal with those in our immediate vicinity who turned out to be wyverns, a “dumber”, but no less savage cousin of true dragons.
Shortly after the fight, we ran into Verruckt‘s friend Ward and his cronies. They indicated that they had seen the dragon in charge head for the hills outside the city and proposed that we chase it down. This dragon was apparently the parent of the one we had eliminated for Baron Aldred some time ago and seemed a foe beyond our capabilities, but Ward told us that, in exchange for our help and our trust he would bring tools which would allow us to defeat the dragon. Although we had noticed Ward spending some time with Gorki during Nosson’s premiere, our past encounters suggested we could trust the man, so we followed.
What ensued is what a dimwitted, long-dead, dwarven spirit might refer to as an epic battle. Ward and his company had a magical bell, the sound of which seemed to affect the dragon deeply, making it possible for all of us to stimy the dragon, although why Balasar chose to do so from beneath the beast is beyond me. During this time, Minax had rounded some other men and eventually returned to the battlesite with a mysterious long metal tube, which, through her arcane commands, launched missiles at the dragon from hundreds of feat away, actually damaging the dragon. Even with this help, I wasn’t sure we would survive the encounter until the wizard Sengod intervened and put the creature under his control using a strange eldritch crown. This, unfortunately, was not the end of that. Gorki and his minions had also approached the fight. He got Sengod to give him the crown and offered Ward payment in exchange for our capture. Although the man hesitated, it wasn’t for a particularly long period, so, a few minutes after sharing the field with us, Ward and his companions turned on us. Balasar and I had little chance to outrun the gargantuan beast, but I hoped Verruckt and Brocc could get out of reach and hide. I had sadly underestimated Gorki’s investment in our capture.
We awoke chained in an actual dungeon, somewhere underground, where Gorki’s deformed and deranged warden entertained himself with a light version of torure: starvation and the occasional punches. He had obviously not been allowed to inflict any permanent damaged, but, with time, the general dampness of the place was threatening to do just that with my joints. Thankfully, Verruckt was able to teleport out of his restraints and make short work of the hunchback. We were able to retrieve our equipment, everything but our light sourece in place, but that’s as far as we made it before discovering that the dungeon was only accessible through a magical gateway to which we did not have the key. Furthermore, some interestingly placed leaky hole suggested that the whole place had an unpleasant flood-based security feature. As we considered our predicament a literal imp came through the portal, holding a small magical mirror. Through it, the figurative imp, Gorki, mocked and goaded us, suggesting that we would be allowed to avoid immediate submersion if we agreed to play along and danced through his little obstacle course. My partners decided to dance. One of the dungeon’s walls opened and the imp guided us through Gorki’s demented play area. I will spare the details, but suffice to say that there were ice demons, a lightning covered floor, an stenchy acid pit, arrow traps, a giant octopus and a last-minute betrayal followed by an underwater escape. Basically, the stuff of a deranged and obsessive mind.
We washed ashore accross the bay from Clyster. Close-by we could see the captured dragon chained up and harassed by some of Gorki’s men-at-arms. It roared something which Verruckt interpreted as “Free me”. It was obvious that even in our exhausted state, the guards wouldn’t be an obstacle for us and Brocc and Verruckt believed we would be able to free the dragon quickly, hopefully before any serious resitance was mustered. Believing it would be far more angry at its captor, or at least thankful enough not to eat us, we chose to go ahead. We broke its magical restraints just in time as Gorki approached with his crown and ordered it to stop us. The dragon made short work of Gorki’s guard and caught the gnome in his claws. It then offered to delay its own punishment if we could propose a harsher, more cruel one. Keeping the disgust from my face I clearly refused its offer before Verruckt’s instincts could lead us to do something our spirits would eventually regret. This sort of vengeance-fueled fantasy was exactly what had led Gorki to his current predicament. If he had forgotten about us after we had unknowingly foiled his plans, and in the process killed this dragon’s progeny, in Aldred’s lands, we might not have killed his favorite assassins, twice, and we perhaps would have been less willing to interfere in his spat with Nosson and, most-importantly for him, we might not have escaped his demented prison and released the dragon holding him aloft. In the end, what took him down is that he spent far more time obsessing over us than we did even thinking about him. I offered to keep his spirit from its inevitable torment in exchange for a small service, but he chose to hate us until the end. So be it.
Hopefully, when we get out of here, Durnik, Durkon, Mellienas (don’t ask) and I will be able to continue our adventures in Thuland, an arguably safer place for us.
PS: Despite my personal feelings about revenge fantasies, I wouldn’t mind giving Ward and company their just deserts.