And so we reach a critical moment for the Outsider's Aegis. The previous encounter with the Troll should have been a big hint that we were in way over our heads. Alas, we went back for more and got hammered for it. As a player, this was a tough sessions. We lost two characters (one to death, one to player departure) and we all felt a little lost. Katja's log adds an appropriate level of drama to the situation and outside of meta-game issues, it was another seminal moment in the development of her character.
June 26, 2000 (New Moon)
I am having great difficulty writing and I am overcome with grief. We have lost one of our own and our fellowship is breaking. And I fear that it will be some time (if ever) before the Outsiders Aegis reaches that lost Oghma temple.
After our initial defeat at the hands of the trolls we did our best to assemble a strategy to combat them effectively. General Boaz had some brilliant ideas involving luring the trolls out with a bait of wild game and incinerating them with vials of burning oil. While recouping in Harcomb, we purchased supplies and gathered our strength. Sunny attempted to hone her skills by sparring with Dolb and Freidrich Karshon's men. One of the few happy moments in these last few days was seeing the slight framed Sunny humiliate one of those arrogant knights.
On Sunday the 22nd we set off to execute our plan. It began as a lovely day. Discovering that our meat had been stolen over the night turned out to be a boon as I was able to work off some of my jitters on an early morning hunt. I brought down a large stag that I then slung over Drachen's. Unfortunately, we never got a chance to properly bait the trap as the troll smelled us coming almost right away.
It was initially only one troll and he was some ways off. I cast a spell to ward Boaz against evil and dismounted to help prepare the pitch. When the troll entered range, Kreed threw a flaming javelin and Boaz charged into melee. Sunny hurled flaming oil and set the creature on fire. I attempted to invoke the power of the Goddess to install fear in the troll, but it was too stupid to know real fear.
Then the other two trolls appeared out of the bog. Kreed and I both failed in setting them on fire with flaming oil. Orion fortunately landed a magic missile on one of them. Then Kreed scored a hit with his massive sword while Orion hit another. And Kreed continued to pound away on one of them but they would not go down. I began to fear that we would have to retreat again.
In the confusion of the battle, I found myself in melee combat with a troll! Dodging and parrying, I was barely able to avoid getting torn to pieces and I still took a nasty wound. It was Drachen who saved me as he entered the fray upon hearing my cry. I took cover behind him and withdrew to a safer distance.
And then it happened. I hadn't been paying attention to that side of the battle but our much respected General Boaz was most cruelly slain by the original troll.
I think I must have screamed but I can't remember. I do remember casting a hastening spell on myself so that Sunny could make use of Drachen to retreat. We had to retreat. We had lost Boaz and we still had not slain any of the trolls. I must have shouted something to that effect.
But the remaining members of Outsider's Aegis were able to escape and inflict some parting damage on trolls as well. Orion felled the one that killed Boaz. I moved in and keep him down longer while Bix invoked new magic powers in his sword to inflict yet more damage on the regenerating creature.
But we needed to focus our attention on the two that still lived. Kreed took a series of brutal blows and was knocked down. Orion hurled an acid arrow and I followed with a regular bolt from my crossbow. Sunny made an attempt to scoop up Kreed from the back of Drachen, but Kreed's weight got the better of her and she fell. A troll wasted no time in clawing her most viciously.
As it so often happens, it was Orion that saved us. He cast his glitterdust spell and the trolls stumbled away blindly, dazed by the sparkling dust. It gave us just enough time to heal Kreed with the whacking wand and beat a hasty retreat with the body of Boaz, the last priest of Oghma.
I'll leave it to Bix to eulogize our fallen friend. I do not have the talent to eloquently communicate how I feel. All I can do is think of the hole that I feel in my heart. Boaz was the most difficult of the group for me to grow to like. He was often very critical of me and I mistakenly took this personally when I should have took it as constructive criticism. Boaz was the wisest of us all and I regret that I'll never be able to learn all I should have from him. He could have been a terrific mentor for me because even though he followed a different faith, I sense that his god was an ally of mine. And we would certainly need his expertise if and when we eventually reach the temple.
But that seems so far away. We have been defeated twice as we attempted to merely scout the exterior. And without Boaz, how can we hope to get any closer (let alone face the certain traps on the inside)?
I also find myself questioning the reason for this. Boaz was destined to be with us. He was revived from a petrified state and met up with us on that fateful night in the White Grove. Perhaps his destiny was only to defeat the Bastard Thomas Dunn, for Boaz played a critical role in that bit of heroism. But what about Oghma? Was Boaz truly the last priest of the forgotten god? Would Oghma call another to replace him? As a follower of the Silver Huntress, I now feel an increased sense of mortality. Just being the last priest of a religion is no shield against the cruelties of fate.
I find that I can hardly write about the rest. We journeyed back to Harcomb in a state of mourning. And as we returned to the village, other villagers shared in our pain. Father Carmine offered to lay him to rest until we could suitably intern him within the walls of the Oghma temple. Tom Delorean also helped sponsor a wonderful funeral for our fallen friend. As with young Fergus, Bix performed a moving tribute, though his own emotions made it difficult to stay focused. In general, we all comforted each other for several days. I also sought solace with the O'Finns, which brought out even more painful emotions in me (it is too difficult to write about such things right now... better to put it out of mind).
It almost doesn't seem worth it to mention it, but our clothes and other supplies were now largely ready. At least had something clean to wear to Boaz' funeral. And because of Boaz' sacrifice, the town's leather worker withdrew some of his grudge against us... enough that I felt comfortable commissioning some masterwork studded leather armor.
Yesterday, the day after the funeral (and after Kreed's foolish attempt to scout the troll bog alone), we finally got down to the business of discussing the future of the Outsiders' Aegis. I argued that we should continue to remain together since I still felt the pull of destiny.. And we owed it to Boaz to find a resting place for him beneath the Oghma temple. But Sunny would have none of it. She confessed that she had other business to attend to and had to depart. I think I must have cried right there. Our little family felt like it was breaking up. But Bix, Kreed, and Orion agreed to remain with me and carry on with our mission. I think Bix just liked the company but Kreed and Orion both seemed to feel some additional responsibility to honor Boaz and his forgotten god.
Sunny seemed touched with our dedication and agreed to rejoin us in Duma Fafne. Bix and I gave her the diamond earring that we found so that she now had a matched pair. I also told her to give my regards to Morandil if she saw him.
Today is the 26th of June. Appropriately, it is a New Moon. My Goddess is at the nadir of her power and influence and so is the Outsider's Aegis. But things can only get better from here. We have a new mission to recover a family heirloom for Sir Karshorn. Admittedly, few of us have any reason to pursue this quest other than for the substantial sum of money that he offered us. But we have reached an impasse with the Oghma temple and perhaps a little side quest will help us come back with a fresh perspective.
The quest involves tracking down the Scepter of Karshorn, last seen in the town of Walszcezk. We are to be paid 2,000gp for its recovery, 250gp of this up front as an advance. Somebody named Vladj the Red is associated with the scepter. As we pass through the town of Nollin (on the Leinster/Midrallian border), we will meet up with one of Sir Karshorn's men. We will know him from the Karshorn house symbol (a red sparrow with a rose on a white field). This village is a 2 week ride from Harcomb.
But first, we have an obligation to check in with Emily's parents. Orion hopes she will continue to travel with us, but I fear that she's just not cut out for this sort of thing. Better to see her safe at home. On the way back through Harcomb, we'll pick up our remaining supplies (including my new armor and the Dunn's spear).
Strange Stars OSR Excerpt and Update
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