CHAPTER 5: The Storm Brewing

Once again our time was occupied with the doings of the Clan. Wolf and the Baron Agonar would return to consider the implications of the Cube found earlier, but first, they agreed to a task for the Clan, under the auspices of Raadinov. His report follows:

Clan Erathorn Internal Report

To: Althax Erathorn, Clan Leader
From: Raadinov, Clan Trade Master
Re: Subterranean Quarters
Date: December 26th, 993

Believing it to be desirable that the areas beneath our holdings be explored further, I hired 2 adventuring types, a Wolf of the Elemental School and Baron Agonar of Neustria to map some of the tunnels. They were instructed that they might keep minor items of treasure they found as payment. Otherwise, the cost to the Clan consisted of an oil lamp, 300' of rope and some torches. The rope was later recovered. The persons in question returned after some 7-8 hours, intent on terminating the engagement. They had first encountered the neanderthals that Your Highness found on his last visit there. These seem to have some special attachment to Hallock, Captain of the Guard, as they continually repeated his name upon seeing the intrepid two. Continuing beyond these territories, the group was set upon by hordes of "small ugly Gnomes" as they so ignorantly describe it. The fact is, they must have encountered vile Hobgoblins (who look nothing like Gnomes at all, of course). These were intent on eating the group, and ignored all counterattacks to continually throw the group into a large iron pot. One such Hobgoblin, a female partner to the leader, seemed to possess some primitive form of dweomercraft, and spoke Hiero-Aegyptian. Baron Agonar managed an escape with the promise of obtaining food, and continued beyond these territories. He followed an exceedingly long tunnel, repeatedly set upon by a plant firing 5- 10 long, arrow-like spikes into his shield whenever he approached. Finally, he found a chamber of inordinate size, and was immediately trapped by a large, dark Drake! This Drake never supplied a name, but agreed to trade a sword for the Barons armour (for some reason, the Baron had but chain mail, supplying some explanation about having lost his plate armour in foreign lands). After some verbal fencing, the Drake destroyed a large number of Hobgoblins that had been convinced to attempt an attack by Wolf, and then caused the Baron great harm with an evil spell of ugliness. It was only Wolf's appearance that enabled the Baron to escape. Now Wolf was trapped, and forced to leave all valuables behind. The Drake then fully intended to slaughter him, but according to the tale, just then a neanderthal blundered in, allowing Wolf to charge past the Drake, grab an ornamented helm and flee. The Drake then spent some time searching for the two, but they eluded him and returned.

In conclusion, we have a Drake some distance below us, but with an outlet in one of the inner mountains of the range. It has no opportunity to sneak into the castle, but is nevertheless too close for comfort. It is also clear that the Drake breathes a bolt of lightning, making any assault with metal armour futile. The Drake seems to have a great treasure, which is very useful for two reasons. Firstly, it enhances our treasury, enabling us to prepare our defenses better, and secondly, items of power may further enhance our capabilities. My recommendations is therefore that an elite team of 8-10 warriors and magickally empowered worthies stage an assault on the place with the intent of slaying the Drake, and obtaining its treasure. These should be fully protected with dweomers and equipment, and must be prepared for casualties, but conversely, not killing the Drake before our battle with House Morvissen is very unwise indeed, bearing in mind our foe's ability to bring evil to its side. My final recommendation must be that we wait with such an assault until the worthies Vivernicol and Hallock return from wherever they are, as their battle prowess is very much needed in any such endavour. A map of the subterranean regions explored so far is enclosed.

This information in hand, we discarded our armour in favour of heka protections. Knowing where the Drake was residing, we prepared an expedition, consisting of Althax, Hallock, James, Darius and myself. We descended to the appointed place and assaulted the drake viciously. The battle was fierce, Althax bombarding it with mighty magicks, Darius giving support, whilst the rest of us engaged in melee. This was to be a fateful day for James, for the Drake chose him to assault with all the fury of its breath and talons, and managed to slay him just as Althax delivered a devastating blast of magickal power, sending both the dead James and the drake plummeting out of the cave to the foot of the mountain below. Though we found great treasures, powerful swords and items of magick, it was a painful day. Long did I mourn my brother, and arranged to have his body returned to Albion, for burial in the family grounds. His death is a great loss to us all, but we shall continue, honouring his memory as we go along. Yet even as our Clan lost one member, we gained another, in the form of the Lady Nicholle de Tuchera, a mage of the Elemental School, who was quickly impressed by the Clan, and decided to join our cause. Indeed, her committment was such that she sold her lands and estates, and donated the full sum to Clan Erathorn.

These events bring us to January in the AN 994, when we had become more accustomed to our new surroundings. A day in January Raadinov called us together, quite distraught. Apparently, a large convoy carrying obsidian of great value had been ambushed by criminals from the Starfire guild, and diverted onto a vessel belonging to the city-state of Ys. It was determined that a covert expedition to Ys with the purpose of determining the whereabouts of the ship, and to scout out our enemy would be appropriate. I was not included in this journey, being greatly busy attempting to organize forces for the Clan. This being so, the tale of what happened in the following days is left onto Elorn, most faithful companion of Althax:

The Journey to Ys and ensuing troubles

By Elorn, Fire Imp compatriot to Althax, and Connoissaire Extraordinaire

'Twas early in the morning when the Master Althax summoned me, his dark eyes a foreboding of his determination to succeed in the great work before him. We promptly disguised ourselves as peasantry, and chilled out in a wagon. Food was adequate. Then we smoothly rolled on, until camping out in a barn, Althax being too cheap to get us proper rooms. We got some rest, but being the incredibly on-the-ball guy that I am, I quickly noticed something a bit off. The wizard babe Nicholle was gone, and the smell indicated that the huge peasant guy who had been eyeing her earlier was responsible. I woke Hallock, and let him do the business. He caught up with the victim and killed him with a vicious kick to the back of the head, sending the plates of his scull searing into the guy's brain. We dumped the body off a cliff. The next day we moved on. We arrived in Ys, where the guy with the wagon set about selling some stuff. We lodged in an Inn, and went about getting the info. The boat with the stuff was on its way to York, so we beamed off and found the village in question. Here we smoothly slid in with the natives, some of them serving us some excellent poison. We fooled a stupid villager into telling us when the boat would come in, and prepared to wait. Hallock, however, the great oaf, had a big demon-guy after him, and this bad dude made him kill off a little brat of a human kid. Hallock was kinda distraught, and confused, 'cause his big sword was lighting up. Just for this, we were to be arrested, so the others were. Then I got them out, and we decided to let them think that we had to flee. We returned to Ys to get our horses back, but some stupid guards intervened, so Hallock and Althax killed them. Before leaving without the horses (Althax not having planned this), Althax summoned a big Sun Eagle and had it attack the headquarters of the Starfire Guild, sending them some blasts of heka and the like. Then, after having a big meal in Oxford, we got back to Neustria, where we checked out Hallock's sister. True enough, she was a bit down, having been tortured by the Demon. We brought her and stuff back to Clan Erathorn. Soon after, some ugly looking dudes from Ys came and made trouble with King Roland, saying that they wanted Althax or else. So the King told them to push off, and they got a bit upset. A couple of meals later, a declaration of war came from Neustria. We went to check on the King of Brettony, who agreed not to attack. A little later, however, he got whacked and his cousin was put in as main guy, so we were suddenly at war with Brettony anyway. Althax went to Albion and got them to send us some troops. Then all this activity started, with everybody training troops and stuff. The bad thing is that with all these soldiers, all the food gets eaten up, which is really inconsiderate, I mean why eat all the food just 'cause they're going to war, eh? EH? Well, anyway, Viv' says it's enough now.

(In the interests of not offending the reader I've edited some sections of Elorn's exposition which were thought somewhat graphical.)

Knowing now that we faced turbulent times, our preparations became even more important, and I continued in my task of training forces and organizing for defense. However, even as I was doing this, other sections of the clan were busy in other areas, as Lebron herein explains.

The Iberian operation under the auspices of Clan Erathorn

By Lebron, Scribe to Clan Erathorn

Word had reached me that House Morvissen, for reasons as yet undetermined, had contacted a tribe of Slugbellies, and allied these to a large tribe of orcs. These were found to have appeared in the Pyrenees, kidnapping a number of clerics belonging to the temple of Elbin nearby. Simultaneously, plague had broken out in the village adjacent to the temple. The importance of such a move is evident, Morvissen was attempting to gain a hold in a remote mountanous area, to simplify attacking their enemies (largely clan Erathorn) on Aerth. A countermeasure was needed. If a small group of capable individuals could restore the clerics, thought imprisoned rather than killed, the village might be saved, through an appeal by the high priest to his deity. I determined that the most available party would consist of Delmada, the Zulu Huntsman operating as the Clan Erathorn Huntsmaster, Vertigo, a landless Knight travelling to a nearby Shaolin temple to receive special training, and Father Stephen of Canterbury with Brother Mark of Wycombe (brother of Vivernicol). I introduced Delmada to Father Stephen and sent them into the mountains to meet Vertigo. Here they were assaulted by a group of heavily armoured orcs, and defeated these only with the help of the elements, as the orcs remaining after a long battle were hit by an avalanche and destroyed. Accompanied by several peasants going the same way, they finally arrived at the Monastery of the Franciscan order of Elbin at Maladetta. Soon the temple was localized, the predicament of the people seen, and a plan of assault formulated. However, though the Orcish and Slugbelly inhabitants were pressed, the group could not gain entrance. The situation ended with Delmada and Vertigo engaging in melee, with Delmada being forced to flee, and Father Stephen, tricked into parlaying with the occupiers, captured and chained. Mindful of the possibility of failure, I found it prudent to investigate the situation, and determined the position of Father Stephen. With a surgical strike, I was able to rescue the Father, but only blind luck was responsible for the timing of my investigation. Seeing that the group was inadequate for the task, I informed Viceroy Althax of the situation. He arrived, and though able to determine the position of the enemy, he estimated the strength of the enemy to be such that it was not worth the risk of attacking until we were stronger. The operation is therefore still incomplete. It is my assumption that by now the village has been destroyed and the monastery overrun, so that a full scale assault is the only means to dislodge the enemy. This will require the full resources of Erathorn, and will be undertaken at such a time as is determined proper by the Council of the Clan.

[Table of Contents] [Introduction] [Chapter 1] [Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5] [Chapter 6] [Chapter 7] [Conclusions] [e-mail the author]

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