I’ve signed on to guard a caravan loaded with ore bound for Hive Tyran. It seems a simple enough mission, but as I look around I see only the dirty faces of miners and refugees. For such important cargo, our employer seems unconcerned with its security. A few men stand out as seasoned, though I do not particularly like what I see in their eyes. One is a Goliath barbarian wielding two mighty weapons and wearing the mark of many battles upon his flesh, his kind I know well enough; his loyalty will last until the money runs out. The other I find harder to pin down. His eyes speak of pain, though weather it is he who has borne it or he who caused it I am unsure. I wonder if this man cares about anything and if money will be enough to control him to the end of our course.
Day 2 (day before the attack):
The other mercenaries hired for this job are as green as they come! I’ve done my best to provide advice to these men, but like so many first time mercenaries, they believe in the strength or their close comrades rather than the experience and tactics of someone who has been there and done that. I only hope that should we come under attack they will follow commands more willingly. What I did learn is a rumor that there is to be a dignitary travelling along with us along with her own personal retinue. No official word of this has been uttered. Why all the secrecy?
We have been attacked! The bandits came upon us in the deep tunnel. We were able to fight them off before they could commandeer or damage the train though I fear their true target may have been the dignitary who was killed in the attack. I did my best to convince the others that we should leave the crime scene for others to investigate but I’m afraid they didn’t listen… The families in the passenger car seem exceptionally shaken by the events, though they don’t seem particularly willing to speak of it.
We reached Parsade without further incedent. I did my best to convince our contact there that we were undermanned. I understand their reticence to hire more guards in these economically bleak times, but the results speak for themselves… The next portion of our journey will prove more arduous, we’ve been provided with caravan beetles to haul the ore through the newly completed tunnels between here and Hive Tyran. Fresh cut tunnels are a trial under the best of circumstances, I can only hope the extra hands they’ve hired are ready and willing for the darkness ahead.
On the road we met with a Drow merchant, Carath travelling in the opposite direction. He offered to buy our shipment from us and finish the journey in our stead and insinuated it may be in our best interest to do so. In truth, I have no interest in becoming a full time caravan guard and was tempted by his offer, but neither do I wish to return to Hive Essen any time in the near future. We decided to finish our duty but agreed to leave the shipping business to the Drow and his men.
An interesting thing happened today. As we were walking Au’Kan Shi’Rin, the barbarian from the wastes stooped to pick up a rock. Pausing for a moment he seemed to commune with it and to my surprise told us there was a source of water nearby. When pressed, he said the rock had whispered this information to him… I thought he had gone mad, the darkness sometimes does that to a man, but not wanting to offend one so mighty in battle I humored him. To my surprise he led us to a hole in the tunnel at the end of which we found something much more interesting than the water (for there was water there) that had led us there. There is more to Au’Kan than meets the eye, certainly, and he told us about the temple we had stumbled upon. Apparently it belonged to the Spider Clan, a group of Rockborn who once lived in this area. He wishes to take word to them, a journey that will lead us deep into the wastes. From the little experience I have in the wastes I’m not sure I wish to return, but I think with Au’Kan’s knowledge of the terrain and the rest of the group to back us up we should be able to face the dangers that await.
We completed our shipment to Hive Tyran, a city I haven’t visited since I was a boy. Since then Tyran has done well for itself, the whole city is alight hearkening back to the cities of Paradise told in tales. Now I stand at a turning point, if I stay here my family will eventually catch up to me and I’ll have to answer for my absence. But there is so much I don’t want to deal with right now, I know grandfather’s secret and it could change many lives, but why must I make the choice of whose? No, I think I will continue on into the wastes and take my chances with the unknown.
The wastes in this region are drier than any other place I have been in my life, even the slightest hint of a draft beings with it a foul sporelike particulate that swirls about and covers everything. Worse the dust lies thick on the ground, hampering our travel and making every step more difficult. Au’Kan insists we are headed in the right direction, but he changes direction often… Perhaps there are simply unknown dangers that he is trying to avoid. I find it hard to believe the Goliath or any other creatures live in these places.
We came upon a ruin of a settlement and sought respite from the difficult journey these past few days. Unfortunately we were not the only travellers at these ruins. A band of elves attacked us, summoning a mighty swarm of cave beetles against us. The battle was fierce, and against millions of tiny creatures driven by some higher intelligence not all of us escaped with our lives. Bor’ess was cut down and devoured by the swarm which finally disappated when the elves themselves were killed. With no knowledge of his family or wishes, we made what we could of a cairn and buried his remains.
We finally reached the caves of the spider clan and were introduced to their leader Tria’kani. We have been given 3 days leave as their guests, to partake in their hospitality and wander freely.
I toured the spider farms today. My intention was to learn if their techniques could be reproduced in the hives, but it quickly became clear that in part it is the caves in which the spiders live and thrive that makes this lifestyle possible. Indeed, many of the creatures that breed here could not be brought into civilized society with any hopes of success…
I find myself interested in the lifestyle lived by the spider clan. Everyone is treated with respect here be they young, old, or outsider. Perhaps it is just their custom and without Au’Kan’s protection we would have been fed to the spiders, but somehow I feel welcome as I never have been before. I do not mistake this for being accepted. Already there have been hints of tension with the Hivers but none will speak openly with me about it.
After asking Au’Kan to inquire with the elders what the tension I picked up on could be about we discovered an incursion by human Hivers to be the source. This had the unfortunate side-effect of embroiling us in this conflict. It is Au’Kan’s duty to deal with such things and as his “trusted companions” we are expected to follow his lead in this instance. But to do so could greatly damage our relations with those back home. Still, an attack by humans here is a precursor to war and the conflict will surely cost many hundreds, if not thousands of lives… We will investigate, but I hope to find a way to finish this diplomatically. It is a fleeting hope at best…
After exploring to the east we have concluded that the Hivers did not come from that direction, no sign of travel or caravan has passed through that direction in many weeks and we were lucky to avoid a large band of nomadic elves. This means that they must be coming from Hive Tranis, crossing the sump lake to do so. It seems a dangerous journey for a highly contested piece of land…
We set up and waited for the next caravan into or out of the mine in the wastes to the east. It wasn’t long before a large group consisting mainly of civilians came our way. We approached the group posing as explorers looking for resources for a mining firm from Hive Essen. I told them my name was Seth Greenwold and that the others were mercenaries in my employ. Their leader Gregory regarded us with open suspicion at first but eventually I earned his trust. Privately he advised me that much of his distrust had to do with my Goliath companions, an obvious indication that they were well aware of the attack upon the mine. He indicated their heads might be worth a price to his leader, a man named Kamen. It surprises me that these men, who travel as protectors of a multiracial group of downtrodden psions have such a violent bias against Goliath. Is it that they lack perspective? Do they not realize that they are the transgressors on land held by the giants? We were allowed to progress with the group freely with the understanding that when we were within a half mile of the mine we would leave the two Goliath behind and I would work a deal with Kamen himself for their heads. If all goes well we should gather some intelligence about the keep and eliminate some of the defenses before anyone becomes the wiser.
In meeting with Kamen, I find myself wondering at his history. He tells me that he hails from Hive Essen and bears the scars of a rebel involved in the Rebellion. His hatred of Goliath seems to run deeper than the most recent attack, some personal grudge carried through a lifetime of obvious struggle, but he cares deeply for the psychers under his protection. He seems an outcast, and were his hatreds able to be swayed he might make a strong ally; but are his loyalties to these people or to the Eirdine Lords who pay his fee? I wish that circumstances were different and I could get to know this man better. As it stands, I must be his enemy…
Having worked out an arrangement with Kamen I convinced Greg (I think that was his name) to bring some of his trusted companions to apprehend the Goliath. Hopefully my friends are ready for us when we return. I do not betray this man lightly, for he is only doing what is his duty, but he has chosen to side with racism in this conflict.
When we came upon the group, I myself wondered if things had gone horribly wrong. Only Mikale was visible, clinging to one of the other guards shot by an arrow. When the group was drawn in the attack began in earnest and we made short work of them. We then debated our next step, for to assault the mine in the name of the Goliath will surely induce a conflict which will greatly damage both sides. Our only hope in my opinion is to force Kamen into a situation where he must deal diplomatically with Tria’kani. To that end we will assault the upper level and hold them under siege until they are willing to talk.
With the Goliath on their way we took control of the mine’s entrace and reinforced it against assault from within. I only hope Kamen can see reason and the Goliath are willing to work with him as they say they will…
We were approached by an Enforcer by the name of Stark. He took responsibility for the command of the mining operation and offered us a deal. His claim is that this location was chosen by his superior, a mage Enforcer named Torrik Bale. If Torrik were to be “dealt with” Stark would have no problem leaving the mines to whomever wished to claim them. We are of course being used as a blunt instrument wielded by a man who almost certainly can’t be trusted, but it does present us an opportunity to take care of our situation by eliminating a brutal man instead of one who might otherwise serve a purpose. I think if we are careful, and think our plan through we can turn this to great advantage.
After a great deal of legwork and a trip I hope never to repeat across the largest sump-lake I’ve ever smelled we have set our plan in motion. The location we chose was the ____ a tavern and gambling hall that Torrik and his men often frequent. With the assistance of ___ a psycher amenable to our cause I was able to obtain employment as a server and we were able to sneak the Goliath into the room which borders Torrik’s favored suite. The plan was to weaken the walls between the rooms so the group upstairs could take him by surprise while we who remained below tied up his retinue, but the structure proved too difficult to damage without leaving obvious holes. Instead we were forced to take him head on with his guards at alert. The men drank the whole night, suspecting nothing. Finally the man of the hour took his leave accompanied by a woman. I began the attack, unleashing the final diversion, the Crimson Mask lives again! Hopefully, though there were no survivors, this will help to confuse pursuit. Also, as my grandfather did before me, I will use this identity to bring hope to the downtrodden and help them to rise up against the tyranny of oppressive rulership. Or I will die a painful death in the attempt…
After a full week of hiding in Hive Tranis we have finally determined it to be safe to move out. We’ve been well taken care of by our new friends amongst the psions and I was able to purchase a suit of armor reinforced by some of their finest craftsmen able to be dismissed at command. It’s ability to disguise clothing may be useful in future campaigns.
We returned to the mines to find Stark preparing to leave. The miners are to be relocated further east near the lake where we sighted a large group of elves. I can’t imagine their lives will be any easier there, but at least they will not be in direct conflict with the Goliath. I spoke with Kamen about the potential of making peace with the Goliath, but his deep seeded hatred for them seems the primary roadblock.
The Goliath welcomed us back with a heroes welcome. I feel we have made genuine allies here. I hope that it will last. It seems to me that our world is standing at the brink of great conflict, with racial tensions and the push for resources setting all sides against each other. Our leadership amongst the hives seems to have no care for anyone beneath them, least of all those of other races, but if we are to survive, let alone thrive we need to learn to at least work together. Tria’kani may be willing to do so. I spoke with her of the potential of moving a small group of my family members to her land under her protection and command to advise in and hopefully take an active part in mining the red nurium that these mines produce. I believe that if a trade agreement can be worked out for this rare ore it will only help to strengthen the position of both parties. We have also learned the secret of the song of Dia’ni that should grant us entrance to the doorway we discovered.
Our trip back to Parsade was shorter and less dangerous than our trip to the Spider Clan’s lands, I wonder if Au’Kan Shi’Rin was lost on the way in without telling us… In any case, I have sent word to my father to meet with me here in a week, that should give us enough time to explore what lies beyond the door and return. There seems to be a new trade federation group formed, travelling between here and Hive Tyran. I asked one of the men in uniform about it; he said their leader is Careth, the drow we met previously while hauling ore.
We passed the door to find a large complex beyond. It seems at one time, very long ago indeed, the Goliath lived here. What drove them from these lands, and why is there no record of this place? We explored a bit beyond the fortress and came upon a beast unknown in Sector 9. It was a reptile the size of a riding beetle with sharp talons and teeth and huge batlike wings! It reminded me very much of the image my grandfather found… Perhaps there could be a connection. In any case, we were able to overcome this creature and will take it back for further study. There is much discussion in the group about what to do with these ruins and the unexplored expanse beyond. This discovery could be hugely profitable, but do we wish only to use it for monetary gain? I think we may have been presented with an opportunity to use this place as a haven for those who are being driven out, for those who wish no part in the conflict I can feel is to come. But how to keep it safe? Is it even safe now? We know so little about it. Our first step must be to explore so that we have more information about what is beyond.
So much has transpired in the past two weeks that I have had little time to write. We have decided to establish ourselves within the temple and endevor to bring a settlement force of Goliath and humans there so that we can better explore and map what lies beyond. To accomplish this in secret will require diplomacy and cunning, but I believe it can be achieved. We must first determine our resources. Ideally we will be self sufficient, bringing in more to settle later only after establishing our foothold securely. We must also look to the future, bringing in miners and craftsmen to make what we will require to continue. Further down the line we will need to see to our defenses. We cannot keep this place a secret forever, and no doubt the Eirdine lords will seek to benefit from our hard work.