Book One: Ordered by Gods
CHAPTER THREE:

Riddles for Answers
Cuthberta Menteselunday, Mentedakarday & Mentemoraday

An Account by Inigo

The Road to the Murke Flats to the Caves of Göesse was short and uneventful. Inigo Tarrega spent the time trying to understand his new companions. Since joining the party, he had been making a number of observations. "They each seem to have such different goals. It is difficult to tell what keeps them together on the same path. I hope that when the time comes, they will fight as one and not flee in different dir---OOOOOF!"

It was precisely at that moment when Inigo first started to question the wisdom of taking up a career in adventuring. While picking out some high ground from which to survey the surrounding terrain, a savage troll exploded from the muck beneath him and gave him a blow which nearly broke him in half.

He scrabbled away and managed to waste a few arrows in it's general direction, but otherwise failed to leave any mark on it at all, except perhaps beneath its fingernails. Were it not for the bard's bracing chorus, he would likely have slipped away altogether and left his musings until after his recovery. Tiberio's courage was contagious and allowed Inigo to keep an arrow to his bow, even though he accomplished little more than smearing the haft with his own blood.

Inigo had never been injured so severely before, although the novelty of it failed to make it any more enjoyable. Fortunately, there were more competent warriors in the party. Frankie's mechanical servant, however, was not one of them. "Good grief," thought Inigo after the Troll had actually managed to rend the unfortunate creature in two. "That sure was one fragile machine."

Frankie, Inigo was not surprised to witness, was clearly inconsolable over the fate if her gadget. He weakly attempted to point her in the direction of some of the cogs and gaskets which the troll had sent flying, but found the effort of doing so seriously interfered with his ability to hold his guts in.

The monk Nimbus, on the other hand, seemed equally distraught over the death of the filthy, stinking monster which was rendered forever harmless with a sharp blow from the paladin's shining blade. The monk was a bit of a puzzle to Inigo. He could tell that they both shared the same concern for the cruelty and pain of the innocent, but he noted that they seemed to differ over on the matter of those he might consider innocent and those he would more likely classify as ravenous, muck dwelling monsters. "Peace?" thought Inigo. "The monk wants peace? That stinking beast has pieces of my kidney under his fingernails! If it were allowed to rise again it would have come for my liver too! I...I..." and with that Inigo gave up his fuming and decided to pass in and out of consciousness instead.

The rest of the day was rather a blur. From what he could piece together later, the exploration of the cave was long and tedious. The heightened nausea brought on by significant blood loss made the stench coming from a pile of rotting flesh in a dark corner particularly distressing. It seemed to have the opposite effect on Thalazzar however, who seemed to perk right up when he discovered there was a stack of unlooted corpses nearby.

After several hours, as the last inch of the cave was finally combed, Frakie found the "click" that led the party to the cave's secret--a hidden armoury with a crackling portal at the far end. Judging from the half-a-hobgoblin sprawled in front of it, the portal did not seem to be in proper working order. The search of the armoury was productive, however. Gems and weapons--as well as important documents--were to be found aplenty. Domaldi pressed a fine bow into Inigo's hands and Inigo nodded, although in his weakened state he could barely pull the string.

It seemed that this armoury was at one time in the not too distant past part of a supply network spanning the continent. That this node no longer seemed functional was probably connected in some way to the arrival of the trolls and the death of Domaldi's father. But how? For Inigo, the answer to that question would have to wait for another day when he was thinking properly and no longer felt a draft on his innards.

After gathering their finds, the party debated spending the night in the cave or in the swamp. Luckily, his companions took seriously his input to the discussion: "Hello? Bleeding? Town? Please?" And so they sealed the vault and proceeded to Göesse--which, by comparison, smelled considerably sweeter than the remnants of the gore still clinging to Thalazzar's boots. Inigo did not wait to find a room, but made at once for his bed from his previous nights in the town, litle aware of the dwarvish occupant already there. "By Moradin's bald spot" were the last grumpy words he heard before he lost consciousness for the next eight hours. The next morning, Inigo's senses cleared considerably with some healing from the paladin. The cleric Arek, he learned, had also spent a good part of the previous day on death's doorstep having left town briefly to investigate a nearby abandoned temple. "Troll caves? Magic portals? Hidden temples? These rustics of Göesse have no idea of the dangers less than half-a-day's travel in any direction. I hope they extract a good price for their fish."

While much of the tale told by Arek had little meaning to Inigo, he was interested to learn of the sad fate of his two "friends" from the Order. "Eaten by frogs--may my own bones fine a more dignified resting place".

Always the romantic, he had half-fancied to meet them again and renew their acquaintance. Perhaps they might even one day have grown to become adversaries to be challenged in a duel of honour. And with this he began a second time in as many days to question the adventuring life. He had a duty to fulfill in the north, and yet now there were plans to take an eastern road to a place called The Salt Water Barrows. "Very well," he thought. "These are my companions and I will travel the road they choose. Perhaps this will lead me closer to my goal; perhaps it will not. But whether here or on the Fields of Elysium, I will be reunited with my family!"

Next!
Frankie Gets Religion!

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