Journal of Miyara Kyosuke (79)

     I have to mention the death, several days before, of Pipo.  He will not be missed, at least, not by me.

    The same fate has not befallen Zockri, who wants us to leave him to be eaten by hawks, impaled on the remains of his own house, and with an axe wound in his head.  I say we should leave him, as he is paying for his dishonor the only way he can.
    Pito wants to heal him, at least.  I ask him if he has no concept of honor.  The barbarians have no concept of honor.  They pull him off the shard, and pull him clear of the hawks.  He does not seem to heal, but he also does not die.  Rabena and Pito work together on healing him.

    With everyone healed and fed, we rest overnight and set out fresh and healthy the next morning.  Zockri does not want to go with us.  I say that having healed him, he should come with us.  He could help us at Karack Vagnal if there is anything we can do to the stones.  I try to talk him into coming, but he backs away and leaves.  I will never understand barbarians, thank goodness.

    So now we have to backtrack through Yetsin Valley.  We are west of there now.  Kadar Gravning is in Winter's Teeth Pass, so we have to return to Yetsin Valley, then to Winter's Teeth, to KG, and then north towards where we think Karak Vagnal is.  We think it will take ten days to get to Kadar Gravning, including foraging and hunting along the way.  Of course, Kadar Gravning itself is now a ruin after what we did to it.  It should then be another for days, Rabena tells us, to Karak Vagnal.

    The journey passes uneventfully.  We assume that Mathilde is likely to be on our trail.
    As we get closer to KV, we find the remains of what might once have been a well travelled road.  We follow it through woods in a valley.  As we begin to come out the other side, coming out into a clearing, we have arrived.    There is a large bronze dwarven head with a double door in it.  There is a tower on one side of the clearing, and a stream runs down another edge of the area.  Stone columns, now fallen and simply missing, would have decorated the area.

    First we investigate the tower.  But on the way over there, the ground suddenly gets very soft and turns to quicksand.  I leap away to safety quite easily.  Everyone flailed around, but most of them slipped under.  Ashu managed to get mostly out of it and thought he was ok, until it suddenly became dirt again, trapping him at the knees and everyone else underground.
    I try to summon an earth elemental to rescue everyone, but can't make it work.

    Suddenly a crossbow bolt slams into my back.  It seems to have come from the top of the tower.  I run for the tower as the nearest cover, and look for a way to the top.  On the way I get a clear sight of three dwarves leaning over aiming at me.  I dodge their shots while shouting that we are not enemies, that they buried a dwarf.
    The top of the tower erupts in flame -- perhaps Ashu caused that from the stone.  There is screaming from the top.  It only lasts briefly, then Ashu tries to pull himself out of the ground.
    I've shouted, I'm about to break down a door, we will surely be friends soon in the barbarian fashion.
    I kick the door open, which slams into the wall behind it.  I fly through and land gracefully on the first floor of the tower.  There is no-one else here.  I climb quickly up the ladder built into the stones.
    On the top are three screaming dwarves, badly burned.  I first aid them all.  They stop sceaming at me, but two are clearly in intense pain.  I tell them that their trap buried our healer.
    Meanwhile, Ashu has controlled an elemental to pull the others from the earth.  Under the influence of the stone of earth, they cannot be hurt by it.  I am ashamed to have forgotten that.
    Rabena and Pito heal the dwarves before they question them.  I believe they should be alllowed to be free, and should not ask them to leave their post, and this is what we do.  Ashu says that he incinerated two more dwarves who attacked him from behind.

    The dwarves say there were five of them and ask about the others.  I apologetically say that Ashu killed them when they attacked him.
    They are here to guard this dwarven hold, just the few of them.  There is nobody else here.
    We're here to investigate a certain event in dwarven history.  Would they mind if we look around respectfully?  We don't want to disturb anything or offend any spirits.
    The one who's been talking doesn't answer those questions.  She points to the head as the way in.
    I ask if there are any dangers we should watch out for.
    She says there are, but she doesn't know what they are.
    I ask what she can tell us about Karak Vagnal.
    She says something in dwarven to Goru, who says in Nipponese that she says that honor forbids her from saying.
    I bow, say I understand, and apologize.  I ask them if honor permits them to allow us to investigate.
    Ashu invites them to come, but she says no.
    If we investigate and go inside, are you going to hinder us?
    She says no, and I thank her.
    Goru asks in common who sent them.  She thinks about it a long time, then in dwarven gives a long speech.  Goru paraphrases that they are members of a secret dwarven society, called the Brotherhood of Memory, whose task this last 4000 years is to look for the reuniting of the crystals, prevent it happening, and if they do reunite them, then destroy them and/or their bearers.
    Ashu asks if they have knowledge of these crystals, and can they describe them?  What happened to them?  Where are they now?
    She seems confused by the questions.  Ashu asks her what the history of the crystals is.
    4000 years ago they were made here, originally intended to be crystals of power, but something went very wrong and powers of chaos now hold them.
    Powers of chaos?  I ask.
    Ashu asks what she would do if she had one, and she says that deciding what to do with them is not her job.  Ashu asks if her job is to make sure they don't come here, and she says yes.
    I ask what would happen if they did, but she doesn't know.  I ask if she is willing to show us where they were made, and she says no.
    Ashu asks why she thinks the crystal bearers would come here.  She doesn't know.  Then why guard here?  Because it was where they were created.  So chaos has them now. Apparently.  How did chaos get their hands on them, does the use of the crystal cause a person to be bent to the will of chaos?  She believes you have to be under the will of chaos to possess them.
    Aren't they just scientific instruments?  How does chaos come into it?  That was the intent of the creators, it didn't happen that way.  What does a scientific experiemtn gone horribly wrong have to do with ancient dead gods?
    She says apparently they are no longer ancient and dead.
    How do we know they're not agents of chaos?  How do we know you're really who you say you are?
    In common, she says, "I am Moira Surestrike, dwarven warrior of Karak Heirn, member of the Brotherhood of Memory, daughter of --, son of ---, son of --- (going back 10 generations)."
    "Very well, I apologize, I am sorry.  Thank you," I bow.  Barbarians don't have the imagination to make that stuff up.  I believe it.
    "If you will allow my companions to go free, I will unlock the doors and show you how to disarm the first trap."
    I say yes, and thank her.  I let them get their weapons and go out of the tower, of course.  They seem uncertain that we would do that.  But I have shouted and broken down a door, and she seems honest and honorable.
    The other two take their weapons and run into the woods, while Moira remains here.
    I ask if she wants to accompany us.  It would help us respect all the traditions, as we do not want to offend.
    She says, "With respect, the only way to avoid offending is not to enter.  I must therefore decline to accompnay you past hte first trap."
    "You deserve to know why here.  We are here to fight chaos by learning about how the stones were made."
    With anger, she says, "Then you are either fools or liars."
    "Then I am a fool."
    "Let's get it over with."

    This is one of the best and most honorable people I have met in this barbarian land.

    She walks over to the large bronze head  She walks up the steps, takes out her war axe, smacks the brand new padlock.  It pops open.  She pushes open the doors, walks down a short narrow hallway.  It is covered in dust, gravel, and sand, and what used to be mosaic walls before it was looted and plundered.  It ends in a heavily rusted spiral metal staircase heading down.  She begins descending.
    I continue to to follow closely but not right on her back, with the others behind me.
    One of the steps gives way under her feet, dropping a large sack of rocks from the ceiling.  She stands still while the rocks smack her on the head.  She stumbles a little further down the stairs and falls.  She pulls a knife from her sheath, which she lays on the stairway, and stabs herself in the stomach.
    I go over to her, and thank her.  I tell her she is the most honorable person I have met since leaving my homeland.  She drags the blade through her guts, spilling them on the stairs.  I tell the others to stay back, as I kneel respectfully before Moira.  I tell her that her honorable death will not be forgotten.

    The others, not paying attention to Moira, see that the metal stairway is at one end of a very long wide hallway, 30' wide, and extends off as far as their light can show.  It is about 250' long.  The entire floor is covered with pumice, and it is clear from the wall markings and height of the ceiling that the cooled lava is pretty deep.  The petrified remains of a number of individuals are frozen in agony clearly attempting to escape, dwarves all.

    I honor Moira's spirit for a while.

    I then proceed down a little ways so all can pass her body.

    Sun suggests that the lava destroyed all the traps.  I say that while the lava is consistent with the failed experiement with the stones, it could also be a trap waiting for us to trigger the next layer.