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.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Day 116: Koal Cave

I could have completed the pilgrimage to Koal Cave satisfactorily by just leaving an offering at the shrine. The shrine is right inside the entrance; the shrine of valor. Perhaps that is why I couldn't just walk away from the cave. I had to enter the watery depths of the dreugh.

The entry cavern, where the shrine stands, was not intimidating. In only a few spots too deep to wade and with the stone overhead only occasionally dipping to the water there was no call for magic. A few slaughterfish were easily dispatched. The close confines of the cave helped contain their darting attacks, making them easier targets than their open water cousins. Beyond the entry cavern things went downhill; quite literally. The cavern plunged into the depths, becoming completely submerged.

The opportunity to practice my alteration magic seemed ideal. I cast my water breathing spell and plod onward. My heavy ebony boots gave me good purchase, allowing me to continue as if the grotto were just another Vvardenfell cave. The one thing I did not consider was that the confined space that had given me the advantage over the slaughterfish was taking on a new dimension. Standing firmly on the bottom in my heavy boots I was limited to two dimensions. The slaughterfish had three. So did the dreugh.

I wandered blithely along, picking pearls out of huge kallops that dotted the bottom stones. At a crossing of passages I cast my spell of buoyancy and floated up to take the turning to the right, again settling to the bottom as the spell wore off. The passage led into an open cavern, with tall strands of bright green sea plants swaying gently. Darting through the fronds a school of slaughterfish converged on me.

I was hampered by the water. The Akiviri style of the wakizashi calls for quick slashing movements, which were impossible to perform. Short jabbing movements, more appropriate for a shortsword or other piercing blade encountered less resistance, but the grip of the wakizashi made them awkward and inaccurate. Fortunately the slaughterfish does not have much resistance to magica, and even a glancing blow from the lifetaker blade would drain their life force and heal my injuries. I felt lucky to be in good shape as numerous dead slaughterfish rose slowly towards the stone roof. I gathered pearls and valuable equipment lost by previous adventurers. Some had probably been abandoned in desperate attempts to reach air. Bones attested to the frequent failures. A shortsword gleamed with enchantment from among the litter, and I claimed it gratefully.

Armed with the shortsword, whose enchantment froze the slaughterfish that it struck into grotesque ice sculptures, I continued my explorations. I began to wonder if there were actually dreugh in the cave, and if I could find them before my dwindling reserve of magica called for me to return to the surface. Maintaining the water breathing spell and the need for buoyancy to climb the vertical turnings of the cave were a slow but continuous drain.

I was close to turning back for fear of running out of magica when a huge dreugh erupted out of a thick tangle of weed. In a swirl of powerful tentacles it struck, crashing me into the stone wall of the cave. I jabbed frantically with the icy blade of the shortsword. The dreugh warlord was far more resistant than a slaughterfish, but with repeated strikes the enchantment took effect. The dreugh landed a crushing blow with its great claw and spun away with one tentacle frozen into immobility.

To say the dreugh was staggered would misrepresent it. The base of three tentacles gives the creature of the deep a fluid grace. With one of the three frozen that grace was gone, and the three dimensional environment gave room for lurching movements that could not be covered by what staggering brings to mind. I quickly pushed the cap from a healing potion, covering the neck with my thumb until I could bring the flask to my lips and suck the restorative contents into my mouth. By the time the waters had thawed the dreugh's injury my own were healing rapidly and the battle was rejoined.

With newfound respect for my icy blade the dreugh was far more cautious. It struck in wild rushes, accelerating to great speed and raking with its claws as it passed. My shield caught water like a sail in a strong wind, but by continuous slow efforts I kept it ready between us, and fended off the violent charges. I struck my own blows on the passing form as best I could. Eventually the powerful warlord settled to the bottom, overwhelmed by numerous wounds. Like Vivec in the legend I let the creature live. Leaving the cave I took great satisfaction in having added the extra flourish to the pilgrimage to the shrine of valor.


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