Royal Ledger, Entry 4

The battle was over, and the sun was just coming over the horizon. Our royal fellowship sighted its only plausible ally, Viktor. I turned to issue an order, but our mutinous Commander pulled out his rifle and took aim at the man. He fired once; a shot through the leg. His gun jammed, and we were left to stare in awe as Viktor’s men helped him into the caravan, and snapped the horses into motion. Our only ally was now against us.

There was a moment of silence, of realizations, and then I turned slowly to my only appointed knight. I politely and levelly explained to him the gravity of his mistake, and then I decked him one across the cheekbone. Tracker couldn’t seem to contain himself either. He drew the rapier, and cut a large scar into the Lieutenant’s side. With him now on the ground, I decided I would take the liberty of demoting him. No longer would he be known as Sir Lieutenant/Commander, now he was a lowly Corporal Lieutenant/Commander.

I turned to Tracker, who was trying to speak to Running River. We needed food, and the cannon fire had scared off all the wild animals in this area of the forest. The elf knew one place where we could get food.

We left his hands bound and followed him for a half hour, until we came to a mountainside. There was a tunnel in the side, and from within we saw an eerie green glow. Running River looked uneasy, but he was able to peel himself away and lead us on around the side of the mountain. There, we saw a log cabin with a bearded old man sitting on the front porch. He eyed us coolly and took a drag on his pipe as we approached.

I took the lead, and introduced myself as The Glorious Monarch. He seemed to accept this with indifference, which is more than I can say for most of this valley’s inhabitants. I told him that we were having trouble procuring food, due to the lack of livestock. He said that he hadn’t seen the military recently, he had only seen a convoy of caravans pass by his house. One of the men had a wounded leg.

It was then that the Corporal introduced himself with the loading of his rifle. The man on the porch waited until he had introduced both of his personalities, and then asked if we were insane.

We did away with introductions, and tied Running River up to the man’s stable. He invited us in for stew, and we ate ravenously. We then retired to the sitting room, and had a chat. The man’s name was Macbeth, and he was a descendant from a long line of kings that had fallen out of power. He also had a favor to ask us, if we would oblige.

I said yes, of course. A good King doesn’t let the courtesy of her people go unnoticed. It turns out that the cave we passed by on the way in was home to a few creatures that were stealing Macbeth’s livestock. We were to go into the cave and investigate.

We walked to the entrance of the cave, and boldly entered. The first chamber was a wide, expansive room with glowing green rocks on the ceiling. The only feature that we saw was a pressure play in the middle of the room. Tracker said it was too obvious to be a trap, but I told her that that was just what the architect wanted us to think.

We sent Running River to step on the pressure plate while we stayed within the entrance. Nothing seemed to happen at first, and nothing continued to happen, so I decided to proceed. Apparently pressing the pressure plate activated the strange rocks on the ceiling, which were apparently highly magnetic. My armor and weapons dragged me up to the ceiling, where I struggled to remain on my feet. I was just getting my bearings when Running River stepped off the pressure plate, and I fell to the floor with a clatter. We tied him to a stalagmite before venturing further into the cave.

The next chamber was a more expansive one, but it was dimly lit. I used my tomahawk to chip off a bit of the luminescent rock, and tied it to the head of the weapon. We didn’t even get three feet in before the door slammed shut behind us, and several glowing eyes emerged from the darkness. They told us that we were trespassing, but they would be peaceful if we were.

Corporal called bullshit on that remark, and we made the move to attack. I jumped over a pit and engaged their leader, while Tracker and the Corporal stayed on the first platform to fight. It wasn’t a perfect tactical situation what with all the hooded creatures above us throwing daggers, but we managed to pull through. Corona darted through the enemy forces, dancing with her rapier, the Lieutenant used his magic to do something magical or something abstract like that, and I cleaved the head off the ring leader.

Apparently killing them causes them to explode in a shower of blinding gray sludge. Pleasant. I jumped forward to aid the Corporal, but it looked like he had things well in hand, bellowing loud enough to send three of the little creatures sprawling.

Tracker and I climbed up to the top level and hunted down the last of the little pig-faced things. There was another of those pressure plates, which it stepped on, and sent my flying up to the ceiling. Now I was angry. I charged at him, and stripped out of my armor, falling and landing on him, ready to punch the living daylights out of him.

To make a long story short, we killed them all, and took a breather before continuing onwards. We were now in a chamber with three exists. One of the exits seemed to lead into a small treasure room, which we looted for a reasonable sum of 500 gold, and a chest containing magical equipment.

Tracker picked up a night-black rapier, which seemed to carry greater power than the one he acquired from Viktor. For the Corporal, there was a magical wand that granted him the use of Magic Missile. And for me, a magic bastard sword that would serve as a great weapon for the road ahead. I have since decided to name the thing Athena.

We headed up towards the top of the mountain, and came into a large rotunda with magical crystals on the surrounding walls. Tracker tried to touch one, but the release of magical energy sent him sprawling. The Corporal, however, was able to touch the crystals and absorb their energy.

This noise alerted a nearby wizard to our presence. Apparently he had been a hermit living in the top of the mountain before the small pig-faced creatures took residence. We asked him for supplies and ritual components, as we would need them on the road ahead. He refused, and told us to leave. The Corporal pointed his wand at the wizard. By this time, he was literally glowing from the energy of the crystals.

The wizard told us we were insane; if we released that energy, the stability of the crystals would be compromised and we would all be blown sky high. I opened my coat and showed him the dynamite I had concealed within. We were certainly insane enough to take him with us if he wouldn’t give us supplies.

This threat worked, and the wizard began to retreat into his back room to fetch us some components. It would have been a peaceful exchange too, if the Corporal hadn’t taken out his pistol and shot the wizard. The bullet punctured his shoulder, and hit one of the crystals behind him. The Wizard started running for his life, and I ran after him, but I was too late. He had stepped into a teleportation circle in his office and vanished.

Meanwhile, the crystals were going into critical meltdown. They would explode at any second. I spied a window at the end of the room, and broke off a piece of a bookshelf, then launched myself through it. Tracker and the Corporal followed suit, and before we knew it, we were sliding down the collapsing mountain on planks of wood.

It was hard to keep balance, but we all managed not to get crushed by the tumbling rocks. We landed in Macbeth’s front yard just in time to turn and watch his cabin get demolished by the avalanche.

Macbeth emerged from his basement, furious, and started towards us. Tracker staggered into the woods to puke. I was equally furious at the Corporal. I ran towards him, and landed a hard punch on his right cheek. Unfortunately, he still hadn’t discharged the crystal’s energy, and I was sent flying backwards, straight to Macbeth’s feet. The Corporal got the short end of the stick though; his face was swollen up with a large, purple, glowing bruise.

Macbeth remained admirably calm. He told us that he would enlist our help to chop lumber and clear out the rubble, but after that we would be free to go. I charged once more at my sorry excuse for a knight, and missed due to double vision. Macbeth stood me up, and got between us. He asked what kind of a king would turn on her subjects like that. I vomited on his shoes.

I grudgingly agreed to help him, after making a serious offer to give him the corporal as a permanent slave laborer. When he left, I immediately landed another left hook on my combatant, and knocked him out. Then I set to work clearing the rubble.

The rest of the day went uneventfully. It was tough labor, but Macbeth was a fair subject who seemed to know the natural order of things. At the end of the day, we sat and ate atop a boulder, and I asked Macbeth if he could teach me how to use Athena. He told me that was a certainty.

Meanwhile, The Corporal was drinking anything alcoholic that Macbeth offered him, and using his bardic knowledge to draw up a new architectural plan. It was sophisticated, from what I hear.

The next morning I stumbled outside, and Tracker reminded me of one important thing. We hadn’t checked on Running River. He was still tied up in the first chamber of the mountain. There was a good chance he was still alive.

We arrived at the cave, and heard RR screaming from within. Tracker became Seeing Farther, and entered the cave to play a cruel joke on his father. Running River’s shouts of relief turned to cries of hatred when his son changed back into the elf.

I entered, and saw that he was tied up, and one of his legs had been crushed under the rubble. I decided to amputate it and move him out into the sunlight. We talked for a bit while he slowly bled out. When I was sure he was dead, I left to return to the cabin and conclude my work and my training.

—Her royal majesty, Astraea Allbright

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