DDA3 – EYE OF TRALDAR
9 THAUMONT OF 1005 AC
FRANCISCO DE LA CORONILLA Y AZEVEDO (AKA ‘VERMILION’)
A strong sense of nausea is clouding my senses. I perceive everything around me in a distorted and confused way. It is undoubtedly because of the fatigue that is taking over my whole body, driven weary and tired. I look to my companions as we head towards the Fortress Gates and the Watch House. Now they seem exhausted too. I do not know where they will draw the last energies needed for what awaits us now. I am supported by my blind faith in Ixion, the Lord of Light. With him by my side I do not fear any challenge. I am conscious that whatever happens, it will be the result of his will. I’m just a tool to accomplish his masterplan. But the others? Have they the same inner strength? Probably Azulenia has it: her faith in Petra is strong too. Elarik draws strength from his ideals but he is grievously injured, while Immeral has a mission, to recover the Opal Eye, toward which he is wholly dedicated and from which he seems to draw an inexhaustible strength. Undir is an enigma. Taciturn. Mysterious. What worries me more are the demi-humans. Reed is an arrogant and spoiled halfling. He is individualistic and I think he would be the first to turn his back on us if he got the chance. Tordek is crazy. Completely crazy. Undoubtedly, in the last twenty-four hours, this anger has proved valuable but even he seems completely worn out. I do not think he will still be able to make use of his fury, to tap into this inner brute force.
After we got rid, in the Keep Tower, of Paurillian, an abject servant of The Goat and its undead thralls animated with necromancy, we headed upstairs. We should have met Aurelian, the Bargle’s apprentice there. Instead we met some mercenaries and Aenolas, one of the officers stationed at the tower. Under his feral hits Elarik before, then Tordek risked to succumb. And Azulenia herself. Only the energy of Undir’s blue crackling lightnings, the Immeral’s fire arrows, my sacred fire along with the combined actions of Reed and Jenn, allowed us to get the better on the grim officer. If we keep still a tiny hope of recovering the Fire Opal Eye we owe it only to the healing staff that Leraith gave us and the timely release of Nikolai, an old alchemist forced under duress to work for Bargle and Aurelian. As soon as we freed him, the old man has proven more than collaborative and gave us access to the reserve of healing potions produced there for his tormentors. It was him again that informed us of Aurelian’s escape plan. The right hand man of Bargle learned of our presence inside the fortress and for that he is preparing to leave Fort Doom to rejoin his master. According to Nikolai now he is in the Watch House and that’s where we’re headed.
“Hey you! Stop there. Where do you think you go?” The only guard who stands between us and the inner door of the fortress comes forward menacingly. I hear Tordek gnashing teeth but before anyone can even start to move, I hear the arcane words flow very naturally from the mouth of the old Nikolai Monescu that walks beside me. Three glowing darts of magical force whiz by me, and with deadly accuracy hit in the chest the soldier, bringing him down instantly.
“Quick, quick.” Azulenia is the most reactive. With a leap she passes over the body of the guard and hurls herself at the door, pushing it just enough to let us in. The next is a large room from which we know, you can get out of the fortress, through a small door. But not now. Although the idea of opening it, run away from that place, mingle with the crowd is strong, we know that the object of our research is now only one step away. In one of the two adjacent rooms. Jenn, the hin commando beckons us to be quiet. With small silent steps he approaches a door. He puts an ear upon. He shakes his head. The gesture is eloquent. Elarik, with the few remaining forces raises a bench. Petra’s champion and the dwarf run to his aid and together they set it to block the door. “We will have only a few moments before the guards are able to open the door just the same. This will give us just a little advantage when we attack” the young traladaran whispers.
At that point, all of us observe Immeral that until now remained silent, closed in himself. “It’s there!” he whispers softly, pointing out the other door, the one ajar on our left.
As we approach the thick wooden door reinforced with metal bands we hear voices. Some men are arguing heatedly. A voice stands over all the others, acute and annoying, such as that of an old woman. “Aurelian!!” mumbles Nikolai.
There is no time for planning, studying the situation, so regardless of the consequences of our actions we rush into the room, aware that this, in one way or another, will be the last battle.
Three men sit at a long table. Aurelian, wrapped in his flowing dark robe sits at the head of the table, on the opposite side to the front door.
In his hands he turns around a small chest. He is the first to notice our entrance. To his right sits a soldier in chain mail. The effigies on his surcoat show a rank of captain. In front of him sits a man with shady and disreputable features. The deep scars and tattoos on his arms and neck betray the murky past of a convict. However, as we are looking to the trio, we are not aware of the four guards lined up along the wall of the room. In no time it’s the chaos. Sword sounds, grunts, flaming arrows, bolts of energy and blood, blood, blood.
Reed and Jenn rush under the table, exploiting their short stature and from there, armed with crossbow the first and daggers the second, they carry out a real massacre. The first to suffer from it is indeed Aurelian to which the commando slashes the belly. Nikolai proves a valuable ally. His magic is more powerful than ours and in no time the four guards are down, neutralized by a powerful magical sleep. We pounce as a group the other two individuals and, despite their determination, we overcome them. Before we could even think to recover from the effort we hear the strong blows strike the door closed by Elarik. The guards of the guardhouse noticed the commotion during the clash in the room and are trying to break down the door.
“I have it!” Immeral rejoice, moving away the body of Aurelian and opening the carved wooden casket. A golden light diffuse in the room, illuminating his face that, for the first time, relaxes into a broad smile.
“Hurry up then. There is no more time” I exclaim, and I’m already running toward the door that from the Fortress Gate gives access to the city of Fort Doom.
The subsequent stages, those of our frenzied escape, are still confused in my memory. By reports of my comrades I can say that after leaving the fortress we mingled with the crowd and soon we were reached by Petronius and other members of the local resistance. Hidden inside barrels we faced an uncomfortable journey to the port and, from there, we boarded a merchant ship directed to Specularum. A ship with an evocative name, to say the least, which bodes well for the days to come: A New Hope.