This is Jyles Pain’s journal/notes from his recent excursion in the lands of Iuz in the Greyhawk setting.
I may swing back and add dialog but I’ve always sucked a bit at conversations in narrative text.
The Dyv is a fickle bitch and always invites disaster. Since the ravagers chained me to an oar all I’ve seen is piss water mixed with vomit as we labor to drag this decrepit vessel from one shadow port to another.
This night, however was different. Screams from above deck and rushed footsteps. The oar master whipped us from our half slumber and screamed “Full Speed”. That’s never good.
After exhausting the oarsmen we began to falter and take fire from another vessel. Soon, the sounds of a crushing hull and screams of death told us the fight and our ship was lost. Our best hope was that the victors would loot the ship and either release or recover the slaves. Neither happened. The filthy water began getting deeper with more rushing in as the portholes sunk below the waterline.
The three closest oarsmen were a fit lot and we managed to break our bonds and swim through the frigid water clearing the sinking slave ship. No sign of the other ship, no sign of land. We found a sizable bit of wood and clung to it for rest.
Not an ideal time to get to know the men you’re about to die with but what else was there to discuss.
Lucan, the Divinate of Pholtus is a Paladin of the Pale. His memories of being captured were a bit clouded between hoods and beatings but we took solace that perhaps the Lord of Light may provide for his follower and, through him, us.
Reath, a woodsman from the west lands was captured while hunting near the Vesve Forest. His skill with navigation kept him from the hardest labors on the ship but he harbors a burning hatred for the Orcs that took him and stole all of his gear.
Hinrick, a barbarian warrior-priest of Kord was nearly as strange a companion as Lucan since his tribe is from the far north east of the great war. However, with his strength and faith we managed to stay moving on the surface of the Dyv.
Minutes turned to hours, hours crept slowly by as the night became darker and the mists of the Dyv thickened. The frigid waters seemed to seep into our bones. Hope began to fade and we took turns dozing and paddling our little plank.
A light! Surely Lucan was hallucinating but sure enough, there it was. Faintly, through the thick mists, a tiny flickering pin of light. We began paddling in a focused effort to escape the inevitable watery death that awaited us if we didn’t reach shore.
— The Shore —
Soon we could hear the water lapping at the shore and the pinpoint of light grew into a full campfire. Warmth, food and sweet respite awaited. As we washed ashore and gathered our bearings Reath caught a glimpse of the stars and discovered that we were on the northern shore of the Dyv. Enemy territory. The guttural voices from the campsite above soon verified his assessment; Orcs. We were deep in the territory of Iuz with no equipment, no rations and no significant hope of survival.
None of us were willing to simply lay down and die. We’d made it to shore. With solid ground under our feet we would make Iuz’s forces pay for our corpses.
We needed equipment, the Orcs likely had plenty that could be liberated off their dead bodies. We slipped up a creek bed under a bridge, circled back around and eliminated the two orc guards quickly and quietly. Now, with two nearly worthless spears and two sets of reeking hide armor we decided to head east along the road.
Not long after laving the orcs behind we heard booted feet tromping toward us from the east. Slipping off the road we managed to evade a patrol of hobgoblins. Exhausted and hungry we weren’t as lucky with the next patrol. Ten hobgoblins appeared over a small hillock and spotted us in the light of the rising sun. They formed up and charged with their spears. The first three went down quickly but their tactics and our fatigue worked in their favor. Finally we eliminated the soldiers and their squad leader. Now we had more acceptable gear after scavenging their hide armor, shields and spears.
After moving along the road a bit longer we decided it was time to rest. A nearly destroyed sign indicated a sanctuary of Heironious to the north along an overgrown trail. It had to be better than sleeping right next to a heavily patrolled road. Maybe Reath could scare up some game on the way.
Topping a small rise we see a small burned out stronghold. Bodies litter the walls and everything that isn’t stone appears to have been damaged by fire. Upon stepping foot into the courtyard we were set upon by two lesser fiends, Dretches, that immediately engage Lucan. The ensuing battle was short but hard fought as we had spears and our fists to defeat the infernal creatures.
After binding Lucan’s wounds we quickly search the lower level of the compound. Reath discovers a hidden chamber with much better arms and armor. Two full sets of chain mail, two metal shields, a bundle of javelins and spears, a bastard sword, a two-handed sword and a battle axe. We decided that this small, hidden room would be the best place to hold up and rest.
— Day 2 —
The next day, while exploring the rest of the small hold we discovered beds, blankets and clothes on the second floor. Reath managed to snare a rabbit and squirrel for a decent stew. Best, first warm meal since making land fall.
Best I can tell the most direct path to safety is east across the border with the County of Urnst. My Company has a chapter house in Radagast City. The trick will be reaching the border and then slipping across without alerting the hordes of humanoids and fiends watching for targets of opportunity. I inform my new companions and we agree, for now, that it seems to be the only reasonable option.
We slept another night and headed out at first light.
— Day 4 —
Traveling parallel to the large road we observe more patrols of hobgoblins and even mounted human brigands. Near mid-day we spot another orc encampment similar to the one when we washed ashore. Being daylight most of them were asleep. We start with the bridge guards and quickly assault the camp. The fight is swift and short lived as we’re rested and better armed.
As we finished basking in the victory of defeating our enemies we spot a group of fiends moving toward us from the west. We form up on the bridge to narrow their field of attack and engage on our terms. Two fiends approach on foot while the third remains on his horse observing. Both fiends touch Lucan and he flees in terror. We close ranks and begin battle in earnest. As we dispatched the last of the duo their leader turns and retreats, no doubt to return with reinforcements. We turn to discover Lucan returning out of breath. He informs us that while under the effects of infernal terror he encountered a human patrol. Somehow he managed to convince them to go get reinforcements from the east.
At this point we’ve raised enough alarm to make life very short in Iuz. We use the cover of the running water and travel up stream for a mile or so to a dense copse of trees. We settle in for a very long night listening to inhuman howls and cries. Early in the evening we spot two human figures trying to sneak up to our cover, obviously seeking shelter themselves.
Turns out that they are scouts from the Felreev Forest looking for strong arms and willing combatants to aid in the full rebellion taking place in their home. They offer to lead us north advising that encounters are fewer since most of the focus is at the border regions. After a short deliberation, we all agree and the next day we all head north to become freedom fighters.