Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Tellin Town

Dollano 19, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Tellin Town

We started the day at sunrise, as usual. We headed down the mountain to the coastline so we could walk on land that was flatter. That worked pretty well except when we had to walk on loose sand. That slowed us down, but there was usually some bit of solid ground we could find.

Our destination was a small coastal town called Tellin Town. After seeing it, I’d say that it barely qualifies as a village. Couldn’t have been more than a few hundred folk there, though I was impressed by the variety. There were quite a few zweyjen (no surprise there), and then a smattering of heola, ishiri, plenty of dwarves (but not from Begkragk’s Kingdom), and some crawn. I think I even spotted a martle ambling away down the beach.

I couldn’t see why Donnessling wanted to get to this place, but I found out shortly after arriving. He approached one of the zweyjen fishermen on the beach who recognized Donnessling right away.  They exchanged a hug and some back slaps. Donnessling knows a lot of folk!

Donnessling pointed over to the rest of us and, after taking a long look, the zweyjen motioned for us to follow him (her? Hard to tell with zweyjen). We were led into a wooden building on top of one of the rocky cliffs above the beach, where we got a large meal. Lots of fish, mushrooms (a strange kind I’d never seen before), and several kinds of seaweed. Delicious! We all had seconds, and some had thirds.

“This is Sheshoffiss,” Donnessling told us once our bellies were full. He was pointing at the zweyjen. “He will help us cross the waters back to Shawmancer Island.”

That’s when Donnessling abruptly stopped and turned his head to listen, as did his nossring comrades. I heard it a moment later. There was a clang of weapons and then sounds of shouting, and battle.

We all rushed out of the building and down on the beach we could see Begkragk dwarves. A lot of them. They were attacking the fishermen, who had taken out nets and wooden poles to defend themselves. It was not a fair fight, but I don’t think the dwarves cared about that.

When they saw us on the cliff, they gave a shout and a number of them headed up toward us. There were too many of them.

I looked over at Donnessling and Sheshoffiss expecting them to be shouting out orders or running, or both. But, they weren’t. They were both just as calm as if someone just told them of plans for a picnic.

The two of them held each other’s hands and closed their eyes. It was the strangest thing. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. There was a purple light coming from Donnessling. I of course recognized it right away. He was using the Eye of Zanyr. But, Sheshoffiss was shining, but with a white light, and the two lights seemed to blend and swirl around each other. Things went so quiet. I could hear the crashing of the waves on the shore, water against packed sand, as if my ear was held right against the sand where it met the water. And I could feel a throbbing, like the pulse of a heart.

Suddenly, the purple light coming from Donnessling, streaked out from his body like hundreds of shafts of light, each shaft propelled by a white light behind it. There was a blast across the beach and over the water and the lands around us. Every dwarf was blasted from their feet and tossed into the air. Sheshoffiss’ folk and ours were untouched, but the dwarves lay scattered across the beach. At first I thought they were all dead, but then I could see chests heaving. They had been knocked out by the blast that Donnessling hurled at them, and hurled it he did. I looked over and could see him standing next to Sheshoffiss with his hands on his knees, panting like he’d just fifty miles.

“We must go,” Sheshoffiss said to Donnessling who nodded in agreement, and then said, “All of us.” Sheshoffiss nodded back.

The details don’t matter at this point. The fisher folk pulled long boats out of hidden caves. They were already loaded with supplies. We all boarded the boats and pulled out into the waters that would take us to Shawmancer Island.

Just before we boarded I heard Sheshoffiss say something more to Donnessling, “Three Eyes have not been in the presence of each other for many long years, and not with Dey.”

I think I saw something completely amazing — three Eyes from the Crown of Drawnwyn in the same place at the same time, with two of them being used, and one of those two was, if I heard Sheshoffiss right, the Eye of Dey, which looked to me like a white stone.

Note To Self: Don’t mention this to anyone back in Naldrin City, at least, not until I’ve had a chance to learn more about this Crown of Drawnwyn thing — provided I actually get back to Naldrin City alive.

The sun was setting when we landed at a safe place on Shawmancer Island. Allalling told me we were not far from Berimandry City.

I’m very glad to be safe again. And, tomorrow it’s back to Berimandry, again.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Battle!

Dollano 18, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Battle

It’s been two days since I last wrote and there’s a lot to tell, including our battle with Begkragk and his folk. I need to start from the beginning, though.

We started off yesterday waking up in the Last Palace of the Kingdom of the Elling. An amazing place. Unfortunately, though, we didn’t have time to explore. We were traveling fast and kept to an outer hallway that took us past the main parts of the underground city. This saved us a lot of time, but lost the opportunity to savor this place. Even though we moved through quickly, its beauty was on full display. A number of times we passed a large opening where I was able to get a glimpse of interior halls. They were filled with murals, carvings, statues, and tall ceilings. Opulence beyond belief. Wanted badly to stop, even just for a few minutes, but Allalling would have none of it.

I could have gotten quite a few good stories for the News out of this place. Just the kind of thing they like.

Note To Self: Go back and get the big story; the history, architecture, and the folk, of course. I should be able to get a good long series out of it. Maybe take Allalling for commentary. On second thought, maybe not.

By mid-day we were out of the Elling Kingdom, and into fresh air. A welcome relief. We found ourselves in a narrow ravine. It was dimly lit, almost like night. The sides were very steep and let in very little sun, and what light it did get was mostly blocked by the thick brush and short trees along its sides. Donnessling liked that. He was pleased that we were well-hidden.

We walked through this gully for an hour or two. Not easy walking but at least we had a fresh breeze.

I don’t know how Donnessling could find anything in the dark bramble, but he did. Before we lost the light entirely, he found what he’d been looking for — a small break in the ravine wall. When we cleared away the overgrowth we found a tunnel entrance going down into the mountain — again into the mountain!

“Here it is,” Donnessling said to us, “an old entrance into the Begkragk Kingdom.” He was quite pleased with himself, as he should have been.

The tunnel was old and it looked like no one had used it in a long time. It was not an impressive thing to see. It looked more like a passageway that might be used by workers or maintenance crews. I’ll have to ask about that later.

Once again, Donnessling proved himself to be a great navigator. There were many twists and turns and new corridors were forever opening up around us, but Donnessling never hesitated. He knew where he wanted to go.

After a few hours he led us up a narrow stairwell that showed light at its end.

“This is it. I believe we will find Begkragk ahead.” Donnessling was eager, but still calm. He nodded to Allalling to get things sorted which he did. His last bit of sorting was to pull me aside and tell me not to follow them into the room under any circumstances, unless he called me. I mumbled something that sounded sort of like a ‘yes’. He bristled, but didn’t have time to argue.

We soon found ourselves near the ceiling of a large empty hall. We had emerged between the tops of massive pillars that ran across the length and width of the hall. We were at least thirty feet above the floor, standing in a small, virtually invisible, walking lane that led behind all of the columns — for the maintenance servers. Allalling turned to me to let me know this is where I was to stay.

Suddenly, we could all hear a loud chanting down below us. It was Begkragk. No mistaking his voice for anything other than two drunk oogerts stumbling through a gravel pit. He was standing at the far end of the hall facing some kind of large statue — looked like an old warrior — and he was reciting something; perhaps an old incantation, and he was holding up a purple gem — the Eye of Zanyr!

He had a couple dozen dwarves standing behind him, listening intently as Begkragk droned on.

Donnessling led his nossring kin along the narrow path until they reached the far end. I swear these nossring just don’t make any sound when they don’t want to. He separated them into three groups and, at his signal, they all leaped down onto the floor and attacked Begkragk and his fighters.

The fighting was ferocious. The nossring had the advantage at first because of the surprise. We were deep inside Begkragk’s kingdom and they were not expecting an attack here.

A number of dwarves fell within the first few seconds, but they soon rallied and moved to protect their king, who had been attacked by Donnessling first thing. Donnessling was able to wound Begkragk, deeply along the length of his left arm, but he was quick to draw his blade with his right. The two were well-matched, and when the other dwarves stormed to Begkragk’s aid, Donnessling was forced to back away.

He had sustained several deep wounds himself. I was amazed, though, to see his wounds heal quickly as he fought on. There was a subtle green glow beneath his thick leather tunic as the wounds healed. The Eye of Darmyn. These “Eyes” were pretty spectacular things.

Needless to say, I had by this point decided that Allalling’s advice was astute and I had decided to follow it. That proved to be irrelevant, though, when a large alarm sounded a few minutes after the battle began. More dwarf soldiers would be here, and soon!

Begkragk shouted to urge on his warriors, knowing that victory was near at hand. However, his shout was premature, fatally so. More quickly than I had ever seen him (or anyone) move, Donnessling leaped between the dwarves in front of Begkragk and drove his sword into the dwarf king’s chest. Before Begkragk could choke out his final curse Donnessling had thrust his hand through the opening his sword had cleaved in Begkragk’s armor and pulled out the purple gem.

Begkragk fell to the ground awash in his own blood and that of several of his kin. The other dwarves were shocked to see their leader dead on the floor at their feet. This gave the nossring their chance to flee, which they did immediately. Allalling, had the presence of mind to look up to find my eyes and give me a  nod. I took that as a signal to withdraw back down the small passageway we had come from.

In less than a minute the nossring joined me. There were fewer of them now than there had been before they left me. There was no time for grieving, though. Several others were wounded, some very deeply. Allalling led the way as we raced down the corridor. As he did, Donnessling was using his green stone to help heal his comrades.

I am too exhausted to tell the story of the chase in detail now. Suffice it to say that Begkragk’s kin wanted revenge and in the worst way. They chased us through their kingdom for the entirety of that night and well into the next day. We finally found an unguarded exit, the one from which we entered, and scurried back into the ravine. This time, though, Donnessling led us up the sides of the ravine and into the mountains higher places.

We managed, for the most part, to avoid the dwarves who sought our lives. The one or two small encounters were quickly dealt with and no dwarves were left to send a signal they had found us.

Now it is night again, and we are all exhausted. Donnessling has found an old cave in the cold heights of the mountains, and he has kept us alive, he and Allalling, with their fierce determination and no small assistance from a powerful green gem.

I can write no more tonight. For now, though, we are safe, and tomorrow we will, hopefully, find our way home carrying two “Eyes”.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Eedard Shows the Way in

Dollano 16, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Eedard Shows the Way in

It was another early morning start. Allalling is not subtle when he gives us our wake-up call. I don’t think that guy sleeps.

A bit of food, barely anything, and then off we went. While I was eating, I could just barely make out Therol’s Bridge far away to the west, and, on its other side, Shawmancer Island. It’s funny, but I missed the island some. I’d just started to get friendly with Horrence and a few others at the Shawmancer Journal, and I got the feeling the local baker and I were starting to get along. She had a spark to her, and I liked that.

I hope to see them all again some day.

Today was a lot like yesterday except that we traveled on the side of the mountain instead of under it. I was glad of that. The mountains are really big on this side of the channel. Shawmancer’s mountains were old and small, but the ones we crossed today were rugged and seemed a lot colder, but maybe that’s just the weather.

The trail we took all day was high up in the mountains, but not nearly as high as the peaks. Some of the trail was built-up, like a very narrow road, but most of our path was over areas where the road had been washed out long ago, or maybe just never there.

A little bit after mid-day we stopped for a meal and Allalling pointed out a city on the coast below us. It looked as big as Partameer City. Hopefully a lot cleaner. I thought we’d be heading down there, but no such luck. Eedard was still leading us further southeast along the mountain trail. When I looked at Allalling to ask, he held up his hand to stop me. He knew what I was going to say (“complain about”, he would say), and just shook his head. I like that guy and I think he’s starting to get used to me. Good enough!

It was getting late in the day, a couple hours before sunset, when Eedard led us all through a sliver of an opening in the rockface. It was narrow enough to be tough going, but we managed it.

What I saw on the other side was a big surprise, at least to me. We came out into a flat area as big as a small stadium. It had tall peaks on every side, and at one end there was a door. It wasn’t just a “door”, though. It was a big door and, though it was old and had suffered some from the weather over time, it was still spectacular. It was quite grand.

Donnessling was giving it a real look. He said, “I haven’t seen this since I was young. Very young.”

I could see Eedard give him some kind of devilish smile. I didn’t like that guy when I first saw him, and I have to say that I’ve not gotten any fonder of him. I don’t trust him one bit. I’m not sure Donnessling does either, or any of us.

Then Eedard spoke out. “I have completed my part of our agreement,” he said. “Now, I shall collect what is mine.”

Donnessling didn’t look happy. Not one bit. He also looked like he was resigned to doing whatever it was he had to do. “We shall conclude our agreement, inside these doors.”

“No, we shall do it here, or nowhere!” The belligerence of Eedard’s reply surprised me. Thinking back on it, I believe he was terribly fearful. He glanced over at the door several times and it looked like they had some bad memories for him. Some very bad memories if my sense of folk is any good, and it’s very good.

Donnessling just gave him a look and walked to the doors. They didn’t open easily. It looked like they hadn’t been opened in a long time, but, with the help of a few of his folk, they opened the doors enough and he went in alone.

It took Eedard a while. He was stamping mad, and kept yelling toward the doors telling Donnessling he owed him his part of the bargain, and other less pleasant things. But, he finally gave up, and knew it was the only way he’d get what he wanted.

He took some kind of a lantern out of an inside pocket of his coat and with a lot of cursing he went through the open doors.

Allalling ordered the doors closed, and the nossring did as their commander said.

Then we waited, and we waited quite a while. It was almost sunset when Donnessling finally pushed the door open and the two of them walked out.

Eedard was carrying a large burlap bag over his shoulder with something in it. I couldn’t tell what. He looked very happy, with a smile that looked like it would break his face if he smiled an ounce more. Without a glance at any of us, or back at Donnessling, he trudged off toward the northwest through a different mountain trail and quickly disappeared.

I looked back at Donnessling. He looked haggard, like some task had required every bit of strength he had. Allalling came forward and they nodded to each other. Donnessling turned to the rest of us, “It’s been a long day, and a good one, my friends. As you can see we have reached the ancient home of the Ellring, our cousins from long ago. Sadly, we will not meet them. No one can now, but we may meet other things, and so we must be careful. And, in the end, if we are fortunate, we will find a way into the Begkragk Kingdom, and will retrieve that which was taken from us.”

When he finished, Allalling ordered the company to make our way into the large hallway just inside the doors. He lit several lights along the sides of the room that revealed resplendent walls of carved wood and stone, and bright gems.

We are spending the night in this “entryway”. It feels strange to be sitting in our rough, dirty traveling clothes in such a majestic place.

I never thought I’d see anything more spectacular than what Naldrin City has to offer, but, I have to admit, that this trip north has opened my eyes.

Last thing before sleep — I’m pretty sure I saw a blink bat when we were outside of this place. In the morning I’m going to try to find it and get a message to Bobby. It’s been much too long, and now I’m more than just a little worried.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Meeting Eedard

Dollano 15, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Meeting Eedard

At first light Allalling had us up. I don’t mind the early days, but I’m used to an early day starting after the sun is well up in the sky, that’s all. I call what these nossring are doing is getting up when it’s still night. But, the time for sleep is not today.

The tunnel was pretty dismal. It clearly had not been traveled, at least not by folk, for some time.

The nossring had some kind of lights with them, so we used these as we got deeper into the tunnel, past the opening. Even so, it was not a lot of light and revealed a lot of debris and litter from who knows what. There were also a lot of cobwebs, but they were really enormous. Appalling, and others, warned me away from coming into contact with them. About a mile in there were a set of webs that covered almost the entire tunnel, so that took a while to get through, without getting ourselves in trouble. When I asked what kind of trouble it would be, they told me to hush. Not much of an answer, but I suspect I didn’t really want to know the answer.

We’d traveled for at least a couple of hours when Donnessling stopped the company. He paused, and looked around at the tunnel walls and roof, like he was trying to remember a particular place, and then he called out, “Eedard, will you not talk with us? Or, will you give us your blessing to pass through your realm?”

Then there was this voice. It actually sounded at first like the stone in the walls was creaking against itself. I got the feeling it had been a while since this voice had been used. Once it became clear, I could make it out saying something like, “…Donnessling. You have not yet seen me and already you abuse me. You and your clod-thumping followers woke me from a pleasant sleep. And, you even bring a human with you this time, like the old days when …”

Donnessling interrupted to say, “Yes, yes, Eedard, I remember. My memory is not so frail.”

I think the voice choked on some words, but Donnessling quickly spoke again, “Come, old friend, let us meet in person. If my memory is well, we did that at one time also.”

That’s when I saw him (I’m guessing a him), Eedard. He was a mess. Very old. He seemed to be of the human race, though it was hard to tell under all the rags. It looked like he had a limp, one to which he seemed very accustomed.

“Do you bring me a gift? I can tell you have something of great value, old friend.” That’s what Eedard said. I’d never met him before, but I have to say, I took an immediate very strong dislike to him. He seemed like someone not to be trusted. I started to move forward, but Allalling put a quick stop to that. He gave me a look, and I knew we weren’t going to have a discussion about this, so I just shut up and listened.

Donnessling and this fellow (hermit?) Eedard went back and forth. A cagey conversation on both sides. It was just like Donnessling said; Eedard wanted the Darmyn stone that Donnessling carried. I’m not sure how he could tell that Donnessling was carrying it — something to figure out later. He worked hard at it, but Donnessling was refusing and telling Eedard that he wanted his help as a guide. Before too long, things got heated.

“And, should I give you my help for nothing then, OLD friend!” Eedard practically spit that out into Donnessling’s face with a strong emphasis on ‘old’. He was definitely being sarcastic. He was also getting more used to conversation.

“I would not insult an old friend, and certainly not one as powerful as you, Eedard, in such a way.” Donnessling could use the word ‘old’ effectively, too. He was giving as good as he got. “In return for your help I will give you something, but not the Eye.”

NOTE TO SELF: Figure out why they keep referring to this rock as an ‘Eye’ (and it feels like they say that with a capital ‘E’.

“Then I will have it’s use for a day,” is how Eedard came back.

From there the two of them negotiated. It’s more accurate to call it bickering. Whatever it was, in the end Donnessling gave Eedard two specific uses of the stone (the ‘Eye’), and Eedard would lead us to our destination. Neither of them were happy with the final agreement, so it was clear that the negotiations had been successful.

With that Eedard led the way. For the remainder of the day, we made our way down large tunnels, worked our way through narrow ones, and many times pressed ourselves into passageways that we never would have found on our own.

Just an hour ago we came out into a small ravine on the southern side of a mountain range along the coast. To the south we can see the lights of a city and further away, across the waters, are the peaks of Shawmancer Island.

Tomorrow is town and then, hopefully, finding the northern entrance to the Begkragk Dwarf Kingdom.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Crossing Therol’s Bridge

Dollano 14, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Crossing Therol’s Bridge

We crossed Therol’s Ice Bridge this morning, and it’s a marvel. It really is just ice. I was pretty nervous crossing over something that high and long. The length of the span is almost two miles, and, well, it’s slippery because it’s ice!

Actually, the thing that made it really slippery was that there was a really big wind blowing across the channel so, it was washing spray against and up and over the bridge. So, it was water on ice.

At one point I stopped to look over the side and I saw the most peculiar thing. The ocean water that was hitting the bridge didn’t just slide off. Some did, but most of it seemed to be absorbed by the ice of the bridge. Amazing, and maybe that’s how the bridge has managed to stay around for so many millennia. It just keeps feeding on the waters around it. I asked Allalling about this and — well, I couldn’t hear all that well because of the wind blowing around us, but he nodded a firm agreement with my theory. I think he was impressed that I had seen that and figured it out so quickly. Yes! It’s always about letting folk know what you know!

It took us a while to cross because the wind was so strong. In fact, Donnessling had his folk tie us all together into a long rope line. It was good he did. I’m sure we would have lost one or two folk if it hadn’t been for that.

It was good to be on solid land again, once the crossing was complete. But, then we had our next problem to deal with. The road that led away from the mainland side of the bridge had been wiped out by a mountain slide or something similar. I could see that Donnessling was surprised at this, so it must have happened recently (given how Donnessling seemed to be current with just about everything going on).

Here’s the really interesting part of today’s story. I overheard (accidentally) Donnessling talking with Allalling about what they should do.

“There is the old tunnel,” Appalling told Donnessling. “It’s well-hidden but I could find it.”

“I’m sure you can find it, my friend. That is not what concerns me. The last I knew the tunnel was guarded by Eedard.”

“Eedard would help us, Donnessling. As wingfell told us, he had been found by the Guild Enforcers and they were not kind.”

“He is lucky to have escaped them.”

“They were lucky to catch him,” was Allalling’s response.

“True,” was Donnessling’s response. Then I saw him thinking through something, and then, with a big sigh, he spoke again to Allalling.

“I do not wish to be in Eedard’s debt.”

“Agreed, my friend, but it must be done.”

Then Donnessling said something quite telling; “I know what favor he will ask.” He reached under his tunic to pull out a cord with a bright green stone at its end. “I will not give up the Eye of Darmyn. He knows this, but his price will be some use of it.”

The two of them just stared at each other for a minute, and then Donnessling turned to the company, “We head for the tunnel.”

And, that’s where we are now. We have stopped for the night for some rest. I’m wondering who Eedard is and when we shall find him, or when he will find us.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Therol’s Ice Bridge

Dollano 13, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Therol’s Ice Bridge

It was only one day’s travel, but a long one. We walked down the mountain to get to the coast, and lo and behold there was a road going along the coastline just up from the beach. I learned again not to underestimate Donnessling. That guy knows his geography.

The road hadn’t been tended in a long time, so the walking could be a bit rough at times, and there were several points where the forest had overrun it, but it was a lot better than trying to make our way through the up-and-down in the mountains. I was glad of that and so were my legs.

Therol’s Ice Bridge

We reached the bridge about an hour before sunset. I was just shocked at the structure. It was beautiful, and, like the name says, it’s made out of ice. I don’t know how that can be done, but it looks like it can. Donnessling and his folk took no particular notice. They’d clearly been here before, so I was the only one ogling the structure. When I asked, the nossring told me that the bridge was old, very old. They said it was, “before the Third Era”. Since this is the year SP~4,909, it means that it’s five thousand years old, or probably a lot older.

I was in mid-ogle when Donnessling came over and stood next to me. I let him stand there for a minute. Yeah, it was a bit rude, but I wasn’t in the mood for what he was going to tell me, and I didn’t really care if he got a few ruffled feathers, though, it’s pretty hard to ruffle that guys feathers.

Note to Self: Picture Donnessling in my mind with a head full of feathers and a long feathery tale. I guess that’s the kind of mood I’m in right now.

He let me start for a while. I think he wasn’t going to give in to my petulance, but, to be honest, I think he knew that the bridge was a pretty damn magnificent thing to set eyes on.

After a minute he leaned down to me, but before he could say anything, I turned on him and told him that there was no way he was getting rid of me at this point and, unless he tied me to a rock, I was going to follow him and his folk. I think I said that kind of loud, because when I was done, I noticed that everybody was looking at us.

Donnessling sighed and looked away. I started to say some more, but he put up his hand. He did that pretty forcefully, like he understood my point (or he’d had enough of my point).

“I can’t slow down, Rhonda, for you, or anybody.” He stuck his finger at me on the second half to make his point, as if he needed that extra bit of flourish. “I won’t put anyone in danger looking after a human, not even you.”

I admit I was flattered when he said ‘even you’.

“If I fall behind, then leave me behind!” I wasn’t having any of it. “I know how to fight. Not like your folk, but I can fend for myself.”

When I saw him unmoved, I added, “And, I can write the story and get it published.”

Still unmoved. He was about to do something, like tie me up or the like, when it suddenly hit me.

“I know the Queen of the Isselt’s”

That got his attention.

“Yup, she’s a relative of mine.” Well, a pretty distant relative, but still family is family. “And, the Isselt’s live on the mainland near the part of Begkragks’ folk on that side of the water. And, they trade with those dwarves and know how we could get into their mountain.”

I’d made the best point I could, and it seemed to be good enough. Donnessling turned and walked away, and with his back to me he said, “If you fall behind, we’ll leave you behind!”

I call that a successful negotiation. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to do all that stuff I said I could.