This is the autobiographical journal of Arvil Bren, a somewhat reluctant hero who has been placed on an unknown quest by powers that he barely knows exist. Follow his journey as it is updated daily, Monday through Friday, and enjoy! These are the most recent entries in Arvil Bren's third journal; Politics of the Redoran. His first journal can be found in its entirety here. His second journal, Trail of the Archmage can be found here.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Day Eighty-nine: Burial caverns

I camped last night on the beach. Sul-Matuul's directions to the burial caverns started from a cairn of stones on the shore, and it seemed like an auspicious place to start the day. It was also far enough from the Urshilaku camp to make it clear that I wasn't presuming success in becoming a clanfriend. Good thing.

I did not find the bone-biter bow. In fact I'm not sure I even found any burial chambers. Overall I was unprepared and ill equipped for the task. Fortunately there was no time limit set for completing this initiation.

Finding the cavern was easy enough. The north facing door is always shadowed by the rocky outcrop above it, but the directions were exact. I fended off some cliff racers and arrived in good spirits well before mid-day. My confidence did not last long.

The heavy wooden door swung shut of its own weight behind me, leaving me in a twilight world of glowing magica and dripping water seemingly far removed from the arid Ashlands above. The raw magica flowing in visible fountains; the basic stuff of the universe on display; no wonder the Urshilaku ancestors had chosen this place to bury their dead. Like all men in all times I'm sure they dreamed of channeling that power. Perhaps in death they have.

The entry passage sloped downwards gently, and was flanked by two short columns that flared into platforms just above my head. On each platform, seated with knees drawn up to their chests, an ancient mummy gazed down, unperturbed by my passing. My passage did not disturb them, but in passing them I clearly entered the realm of the Urshilaku dead. No sooner had I passed between them than I was beset by a skeletal warrior bearing a mighty silver sword.

With the massive haft clutched in both bony hands the skeleton unleashed a great chopping downstoke meant to cleave me in half. I dodged aside, leaving the great blade to glance off my shoulder and crash against the rocky floor. Even the glancing blow took me off my feet. Whatever ethereal muscle animated the skeletal frame held astonishing strength. I rolled against the cave wall to avoid another tremendous chop while unleashing the spear within my enchanted shortsword.

The warrior knew that the outcrops of the roughly hewn wall would catch or deflect the sword's downward chopping path, but the blade could follow a great glittering arc slicing sideways and down to where I lay trying desperately to gather myself. I swung my spear out against the cavern floor at a shallow angle, and the shaft guided the huge claymore upwards, to crash against the rock wall above me. A shower of gritty fragments rained down on me as I continued to my feet.

I am accustomed to the long reach of a spear giving me an advantage over swordsmen, but the giant claymore and supernatural speed of my articulated foe more than matched my advantage, and the ceaseless endurance of the undead kept blows hammering down on me in a torrent. I dodged. I deflected with my spear's sturdy shaft. I leapt backwards, begging my own ancestors to keep me from stumbling on the uneven floor. And I watched. Eventually I saw what I needed to see.

I sidestepped a great chop, then bounded back to land with all my weight on my arms, which brought my spear across the blade before it could rebound off the stone. Driving forward, the shaft slid up the blade to the hilt, gaining leverage with every inch it traveled further from where the point met the floor, eventually crashing the full length of the sword to the ground. The skeleton clung desperately, not wanting to be disarmed, and was dragged helplessly down to crash its bare skull into my armored shoulder. I got a knee onto the haft of the sword, pinning and crushing finger bones, and slammed the spear crossways into the monster's writhing spine. With a loud crunch bones parted, leaving the legs scrambling for purchase and the upper portion scrabbling for its sword. I pounded both parts to splinters.

As the heat of battle faded I recognized that I was far from unharmed and cast a healing spell. I had grown tired of carrying the weight of my steel shield, finding that I am better protected by improved nimbleness without it, but I missed the powerful healing enchantment I had placed on it. My healing spell is slightly more effective, but depletes my reserves of magica. Fine for the occasional battle in the wilderness, but clearly I will not be able to get far enough into the tombs to accomplish my task without every advantage.

I continued down the passage warily, and defeated two more skeletons before reaching a door protected by a wide moat of water. To levitate across would have taken all of my remaining magica. I was out of arrows. I gathered the three heavy silver claymores, opting to use the last of my magica to teleport home in defeat. At least I got out alive, unlike the two battered corpses in various states of decay that showed I was not the first adventurer bent on exploring the crypt.


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