Dear Travel Journal,
What an eventful afternoon! As you may recall from last time, Tam, Garchik, Fyreson, and I were looking for Signe after our plans went a-gley back at the Mayor’s house. After a brief attempt to track her, we decided that she must have worked her way back to the campsite, so we decided to do the same. I must add for the sake of truthfulness that our consensus was not reached without acrimony! By no means! Fyreson was very upset at Garchik for doing whatever it was that she had done and Garchik was not pleased at Fyreson’s tone. Tam was mildly sardonic about what had happened. And I remain hopeful that I have turned that stableboy’s heart toward Myn! We argued (or proselytized) back and forth as we walked in order to save time. After a few hours, we hadn’t found Signe or the camp. Garchik knew of a smallish hill in the vicinity from which we could gain a more commanding view of the surrounding area. Having no better ideas, we ascended the hill only to find a grisly spectacle! Two skulls were mounted on poles at the end of a cobblestone path which led from the crown of the hill to a suspicious looking hole in the hillside.
p. Tam and I ascertained that the remains were about six months old, and Garchik insisted that her people had left them as a message to whatever dopplegangers were nearby. I disagreed as the skulls were clearly human, and showed no signs of changing shape. After we determined that we were in no immediate danger, we set about trying to locate either Signe, or the camp, or in a Myn-blessed scenario, both. I can tell you that the Get of Syn must have meddled with the weather, because a pernicious fog blocked our view on all sides of the hill. One of us, it may have been Tam, I was praying for guidance when it happened, noticed a small fire in a village.
“A fire! We must save those poor people,” I exclaimed public-spiritedly.
“Um, no, Dmitri. No. It’s a campfire in the ruins of a village, not a fire ruining a village,” said Tam observantly.
“Oh. Well, then we must…investigate it because we have no other leads!”
“That’s what I’ve been saying, the camp’s that way, Signe’s that way, why haven’t we gone down the other side of the hill already,” asked an annoyed Garchik.
“Hrm.” Fyreson grunted. “The last time we let you do something, we failed in our mission.”
“Not quite,” I added brightly, “the loose coinage, cutlery, and candelabras we took from the Mayor should just about cover Raven-on-the-Moor’s back taxes. Also, our 125 gp fee that you promised us.”
“I thought you were doing this for free,” growled Fyreson stingily.
“I was, but Myn came to me in a vision and told me that I needed a masterwork sword in order to serve her properly. Also possibly a manservant. And a cave. I’m not sure about the cave, but it’s something about evildoers being cowardly and superstitious. I’m either supposed to take back the night as ‘Catman’, or I’m supposed to build a huge estate for unwanted felines!”
Fyreson stared at me for a moment and then passed his hand over his face. “Let’s go,” he said wearily, “let’s just go.”
And on we went. In order to get to the other side of the hill, we had to go into that suspicious tunnel, which was full of water, and (I am told) leeches. Both of them were gross. On the other side of the tunnel we encountered a group of goblins (perhaps some southern kin of the ‘Snow Demon’ tribe encountered by Zyf’s Talons in “Snow-Demons of the Icy Wastes!”. We exchanged a few desultory and ineffective blows (no doubt guided by Myn’s paw, as these goblins were initially peaceful) before starting a parley. Sadly, only Garchik spoke there no doubt primitive language, which caused a bit of a stir when I heard what sounded like Signe, of all people, calling my name. And not just my name, O best of Travel Journals, but also the name of Myn!
Delighted by the thought that I had finally gotten through to someone (and not a bit chuffed by the chance to help a friend in need) I communicated the urgent necessity of my departure in the simplest common I could muster: “Ung! You tellum Big Chief Goblin, me want be him friend. But, must go save elf-girl from danger! Also everyone should convert to worship Sky-Cat-Woman. She heap big mojo!” And not waiting for Garchik to translate, off I sped back to the hill!
Now TJ, I know that I’ve put some doozies in your pages before, but this takes the cake. When I got to Signe, you could have knocked me over with a leaf of catnip, because Garchik was with her, short as life! “Huh?!” was all I managed to say before we cut our palms in the usual humoring of Garchik’s quaint local customs. When it was clear that we were all who we appeared to be, I quickly deduced that a doppleganger had actually taken Garchik’s place in order to lead us into a trap. No one was more stunned than I that her paranoia had proven accurate, but back we went as though chased by a dozen angry broom-wielding grandmas.
On the way Signe and Garchik gasped out the story of their day. As it turns out, they had nearly been slaughtered by the Reasonably Sized Snake of Ravens-on-the-Moor and then menaced by the fearsome Leeches of the Spooky Tunnel. I silently resolved never to let them go adventuring without one of the men with them. Ha! Women, what “yucky” monsters will they be scared of next?
When we found our friends they had cunningly foiled the doppleganger’s trap by luring nearly all of the goblins within easy striking range. “What a great idea,” I thought as I charged into the battle calling on Myn to protect me, “but why is Fyreson glowing red like that? No matter. I have to swing this sword now!” And swing I did, Travel Journal! I swung mightily and effectively! Hack! And down went a goblin! Slash! And down, down upon the ground went another! I might have gone on like that for another minute or two (or however long it would have taken me to clear the area) but I heard chanting behind me and then felt a horrible pain throughout my body. I spun to face this new threat and saw a hideous creature that could only have been the doppleganger standing behind me. Well, you can be sure that I was not going to suffer its protean hands on me! I brought my blade around in a mighty blow (from the hips, as I’ve been taught) and caught that thing in its center mass. I opened a great rent in its chest analog and some sort of foul ichor came spewing out. Myn must have been fighting on our side today, because she clearly blessed Fyreson with some sort of healing ability, without which I would have fallen to the doppleganger’s next spell. But, secure in the favor of my goddess, I did not fall! And after it wounded me for a second time, I cut a huge wound in its side, opening a hole large enough for one of Garchik’s arrows to still its barely-beating heart. When they saw their leader slain, the pitiful remainder of the goblin horde fled as fast as their warty feet could carry them! A good day, Travel Journal! A good day!