Personal log of Balthazar, Paladin of the Order of Valor...
Hello, loyal readers (or else not so loyal)! I have a quick note to make to those who are actually in my group, since that's likely to take up the bulk of my readership. First off, yes, my character's name has changed. Nethmaethor sounds too elven (in fact, it IS Elven...Quenya, to be exact), and the only reason I used it in the first place is because I didn't want to hold up the game while I spent an hour thinking up a better one. Nethmaethor's a name I've used before and will probably use again. But now it's after the game and I've had some time to think about it, and I've renamed him Balthazar.
Second, I've greatly expanded the backstory of my character, and in so doing added a little bit of backstory to the world outside of the campaign setting. I hope no one minds.
When we set out from port to fight in the crusades in the east, my head was filled with dreams of finally earning my right to the rank of Templar of Heironeous. Up until now, my only duties have been to keep the peace in an already peaceful part of the country. But things didn't go quite as planned...I'm not sure what exactly happened, if we were ambushed by our enemies or by pirates or by some unrelated third party that mistook us for their enemies, but we were attacked in the dead of night, and the ship was destroyed. I washed up on the shores of this island.
I soon met a wandering monk named Falric. According to him, the island is recently torn by civil war. It began as a war of succession, but then the military and the various mercenary armies revolted together, and set up a new regime. This regime was...Hardly in keeping the teaching of Heironeous, to say the least. For a while, I kept my head low and followed Falric through the wilderness, hoping to find my bearings and get to a port where I could make my way to the east, where I was supposed to be. The plight of the people of this island is certainly not insignificant, but it seemed then to be beyond my control.
Not far from a city twenty miles north of the capitol (landlocked, unfortunately), we bumped into an elven ranger named Fenrir. Elves are rare things, evidently, but more traveling companions are always welcome in a wartorn land. There is strength in numbers. Soon after we met Fenrir, we were attacked, but these were not mortal waylayers. Three skeletons attacked us from the brush. Falric grappled with the first while I ran to meet the second as he charged us from the opposite direction. In the distance, a third skeleton appeared, which Fenrir...Attempted to engage. His aim leaves something to be desired, though his ability to avoid blows is unparalleled.
I took a grievous wound to my arm during my fight with the skeleton, but was able to split him from skull to femur in return. Falric, meanwhile, continued to grapple with the skeleton, who feebly attempted to break away, while Fenrir managed to shoot himself in the foot, then stab himself in the foot, and then managed to accidentally hit his target. I arrived and delivered an uppercut to the skeleton which left it as demolished as its comrade, and meanwhile Falric beheaded the last skeleton with his bare hands, then used Fenrir's sword to chop the top off and began wearing it like a hat. That woman is perhaps not entirely stable, but I don't think I'd have survived the third skeleton if she hadn't kept it occupied.
"Ah, Falric," I said, "Once again I'm blessed to have you at my side in battle..." I turned to the elf. "Fenrir...Good effort." I said, and set to bandaging my wounds.
As I bandaged my wounds, Fenrir began to poke around the remains of our fallen enemies, and discovered a curious amulet amongst them (the only thing of value they carried). Upon it was engraved a ghoul with jagged bones protruding from its eyes. Not willing to leave such a clearly evil item on the roadside, I took the risk of grabbing it and suffering whatever ill effects it brought on. A chill came over me, and my mind went numb for a moment, but it soon passed and I thought nothing of it. In desperate need of healing, we headed towards the city which, despite Fenrir's fears, had not been overrun by the undead.
Once there, I found that the combination of a heavily wounded paladin, a monk wearing a skull as a hat, and an elf in these thoroughly human lands made it a bit difficult to collect information, but I found a single small halfling willing to talk to me. "Are there any temples to Heironeous here?" I asked.
"No," he responded, "No one trusts the gods in these times," he said.
I found this disconcerting, but continued. "Any clerics at all, then?"
"How were you wounded?" the halfling asked.
"We were ambushed by skeletons outside town," I responded.
"Ah, that explains the skull, then!" the halfling said, gesturing to Falric. "There is one cleric, in the Sick Pony Inn," the halfling said.
"Very well, then," I said, "What can you tell me about this?" I asked, and revealed to him the amulet.
"Put that away!" he said, "That thing is evil!" I pocketed the amulet immediately, and the halfling left before I could ask him further about what it was. As he left, he grabbed both my coin purse and the amulet. A nearby passerby spotted him and yelled "Thief!", tackling the halfling to the ground. I retrieved my coinpurse, but the halfling had the amulet clutched to him. "Give that back!" I said.
"I would rather die than see something so precious in the hands of a paladin!" the halfling spat back.
"That can be arranged," I hissed in response, leveling my sword against his neck. Ultimately, I didn't have to kill him to get it back, but I did nearly cut his hand to the bone. When I retrieved the amulet, I felt the same sense of numbness wash over me. I decided to lash the amulet to the inside of my scale gauntlet, where it'd be more difficult to see or steal. We headed for the Sick Pony after that, and sent in Falric to try and negotiate with the barkeep for the location of this cleric.
Once inside, a drunk town guard picked a fight with Falric, which proved to be a mistake. She threw the guard onto a nearby table and began punching him repeatedly in the face, and when he managed to break free and swipe his sword at her, she deftly ducked under and punched him in the gut. He vomited and collapsed to the floor, at which point Falric noticed three more town guards, decidedly not drunk, looking irate at the door.
The three were knifed by insurgence members before they could so much as proclaim Falric under arrest. The other bar patrons didn't seem to think this unusual at all. The insurgents provided Falric with the location of their meeting. Then Falric returned outside to us and relayed the information. We deliberated over what to do next for a moment, and eventually I walked into the inn and convinced the barkeep to direct me to the cleric.
Once I talked my way inside the cleric's room, he was quickly able to heal me and, more importantly, tell me more about the amulet. Evidently there were some old kings in this land before the current regime, who were even more wicked than the military was now. They dabbled in necromancy in no small amount, clearly, and the amulet was a sign of obedience. It would slowly drive the wearer mad, but to throw it away now would rend my mind apart entirely. He said the voices would come to me soon, the voices of the dead king. He said that there is no way to lift the curse, but I am convinced this is not true. There must be a way to lift it, or failing that, to keep it at bay.
During my meeting with the cleric, Fenrir met with a shady character in the bar, who invited him to some kind of fight club on the outskirts of town. Fenrir agreed to meet him there later, though why is beyond me. His display against the skeletons was...Less than impressive? Regardless, we met with the insurgents later that evening. They told us that while they were very weak in most parts of the country, they were all but ready to seize control of this town. The only thing in their way was a sorcerer who dabbled in necromancy. They asked us to kill this sorcerer. Immediately I thought of the amulet, and what a necromancer might know about it. For the good of these people, and for the sake of lifting the curse, I've decided to kill this sorcerer, and end the reign of these tyrants if I can. I'm sure the crusades to the east will still be ongoing once I'm finished.