Journal of Miyara Kyosuke (58)
We have dispatched this set of ghouls. The
dagger has dispatched most of them, but the dwarf-like largest one in
plate seems to be unaffected by it. While Pireseri is pondering
this, Alex comes over. He pulls off his own helmet, then tries to
pull the helmet off the body, now obviously a chaos dwarf. Alex
checks something on the neck, then gets down on his knees and quietly
prays over the body.
Rabena tends to Miyara, while I wait until she is
finished before I would let the small woman work on me. As she's
doing that, both Pireseri and I notice that the signs of haos on the
dwarf ghoul seem to be fading away slowly. Slowly I realise that
the face that is clearing is that of a very aged King Gadrik. All
is clear -- Gadrik sold his soul to Chaos to save his son.
Alex finishes his prayers by taking something small
from a pouch on his belt and eating it. He stands up, takes out
his axe and tosses it on the ground, shrugs off his pack and other
items. The axe hits the ground with a clash, and the others look
I start retching violently.
Alex waits until I finish, or at least until I'm
quiet again. He then says in Nipponese, "My name is Alex. I
am a servant of his lordship Kind Mendri of the Dwarves of the Black
Mountains. Mendri sends you his compliments, thanks you from the
bottom of his heart for previous services you have rendered unto him,
and begs you that you might render him one more service for the good of
his father, himself, and the dwarves of this world." Although he
spoke in Nipponese, everyone else seems to have understood him
perfectly in their own language too.
Miyara stands, and equally formally says, "What is
this one more service you require?"
"As I think is clear to you, this is Gadrik,
Mendri's father, who has for the past 23 years been affected by the
chaos gods. It would be disasterous for Gadrik's name and
Mendri's reign and indeed the whole of dwarfdom if it was obvious that
Gadrik was a victim of Chaos. What Medri asks of you is that you
allow Gadrik's body to be discovered, allow it to be known that you
were his killers, and never tell anyone of his Chaos affliction.
As I hope you can imagine, this would be disasterous for your own
reputations. You would be hunted by every right-thinking
dwarf. Of course, Mendri would be forever in your debt, as would
all dwarves, although they would not know it. This is a lot to
ask, but my lord would not ask it if it was not of the utmost
Miyara asks why it would be us who killed him.
He replies that it would not be plausible that
Gadrik, king of all the dwarves, would be the victim of ghouls.
I say, "I cannot tell a lie of such magnitude."
Miyara says there are others who could be blamed for
his death, and she doesn't agree to the stain on our family's honor.
I ask, "Tell me, how did Gadrik restore Mendri to
"He traded his life for Mendri's."
"Thank you," I say politely. I was right after
all, although I say nothing.
Miyara tries to reason with Alex. Alex says
that Mendri is camped a few miles from here, and has come to negotiate
with the dwarves that have inhabited this ancient hold. The
negotiations will be tense and possibly violent, but Mendri hopes to
solve this peacebly if that is possible.
I am starting to dislike Mendri. In my
opinion, the ogres killed the correct dwarf.
Alex says, "If you wish, you can accompany me back
to Mendri's camp, and once negotiations are completed, you can explore
this ancient hold under more peaceful circumstances with Mendri's help
Miyara says we should continue on and make sure this
cave is free of ghouls now, and that he can return to Mendri and we
will join him when we're done. Alex tries to talk her around, but
They wish each other good luck, and Alex picks up
his stuff and leaves.
As soon as he leaves, I say quietly to Miyara
that I would rather fight ghouls than be subject to Mendri's
duplicitous political whims. I tell her I believe Alex is already
on his way to blame us for the death of the King. She agrees
Gadrik's body now looks like a dead dwarf. The
signs of Chaos have entirely evaporated. It looks like he died of
wounds in combat.
I ask Goru what all that about dumping his gear was
about, and the eating. Goru doesn't know about the eating, but
Hosei says it was probably the tongue of some animal for the spell to
speak with us. Goru thinks Alex was trying to express as well as
he could his own and perhaps Mendri's desperation.
After a little discussion, Miyara points out that
there have been rumors that Mendri killed him to take the throne, since
there was no body,
I add that I'm not convinced that Mendri isn't a
Chaos Dwarf himself. Goru does not think he is. He does say
that Mendri is in a struggle to hold on to his own kingdom, and the
principal group of dwarves opposing him -- the Royalists - would like
to see Mendri replaced with one of their own. It's the Royalists
who are upstairs right now, and I must admit I sympathize with them.
Goru adds that something about this place has drawn
both sides. Both sides what to keep us out, so that they have it
in their possession. It would be a major feather in either side's
cap, and could be the deciding factor of who would be king of the
Miyara points out that Mendri is the rightful
king. His father gave his life to pass on the succession.
If Mendri does not frame us for Gadrik's murder, then she would like to
try to find a way to help him fix this mess. If he does blame us
for Gadrik's death, then the Miyaras have to go to war against
him. I nod my emphatic support. She continues, saying that
in either case we need to keep control of Gadrik's body in some way.
I mention that we are to be involved in a dwarvish
civil war, then, on one side or another. Miyara rightfully
corrects me, saying that we are always on our own side.
I say that we can block the way we came in -- with
an elemental -- and drive out the Royalists, holding this place until
the matter of our honor is resolved.
Miyara says that holding this place against them may
not accomplish anything. It would still be us against the dwarves
out there, and their numbers would just grow. She points out that
we should move on to find the sogin roku of water, and we need to do
something with the body. We will carry the body with us at least
until we can find a respectful place to conceal it. We must keep
control of the body.
I still feel sick, really bad, and weak from the
spasms. Rabena has resumed working on the wounded, and me in
particular, and after a few minutes I feel fine again. I am a
little worried about whether Chaos has infected me, but there are no
signs and I put it aside.
Goru respectfully wraps up the body of the King, and
carries him. He wants to be in the middle, so he would not
crudely have to drop the body to fight.
We move out. I lead, having volunteered to do
so, with Pireseri right behind me. Ashu follows next, Hosei,
Carimera, Rabena, Sun, Barake, Goru, with Miyara guarding the rear.
The passage splits. To the right is a very
steep slope up. To the left is relatively level, but quickly
curves out of sight. Miyara directs us to the level route first.
The passage curves right and widens out into a more
open area, but there seems to be nothing of importance here.
We then arrive at a rectangular room. Pireseri
points out that there is a shaft in the ceiling that goes up about 20
feet. This room is clearly cut rather than natural, as is the
shaft. This is a dead end, so we need to go upwards. We return to
the steep slope.
I climb up quickly, with a rope so the others can
come up safely. There are lots of loose rocks on the way, and
occasionally post holes. Some of the holes contain the burnt stub
of the original post. At the top is a large pile of rocks each
about the size of a double fist.
I tie down the rope, and the others come up one at a
time. Pireseri is first, but he slips and falls almost
immediately and lands unhurt. On his second attempt he manages to
reach the top. Rabena also falls, but lands acrobatically and
safely. We decide to tie her to the rope and pull her up.
No-one else has any trouble.
This room was once a torture chamber, and is filled
with the rotten remains of such tools. The stench of barbarism is
strong here. Their methods were clearly very crude. One way
from the room is blocked by rubble, and it is in that direction that
the rest of the floor continues. The open way leads to a natural
room, which contains rusted swords, axes, spears, armor, and a grisly
collection of bones and skulls. We will have to get through the
rubble, which was clearly intentionally caved in.
Aside from climbing up the shaft, clearing the
rubble is the only way onwards. Goru says it would take between
two and four days, depending on the trouble it turns out to be.
It seems that we must try the shaft. I do ask
Miyara why the barbarians have the rocks, since the sogin roku of earth
would would be useful here. She says that is because they are
barbarian rocks. I bow to her superior intellect.
So we descend the slope again. I easily walk
down last, throwing down the rope before I come. Pireseri has
trouble again, landing heavily, but is not seriously hurt.
At the base of the shaft, we pause again to work out
the best way to ascend.