The Hangman's Body Count

Entry #3 - Enveloping Darkness

...Death is not to be feared, but respected...

A lot has transpired since I last written. Most of which many would rather forget… Forgive me.

Our newly formed ‘adventuring’ company had begun its first excursion: to Zhentil Keep and find our benefactor’s son. According to Mr. Yazeth Cobb, he was concerned with his last missive, which spoke of an artifact of Shar. Darkness is stirring about the bleak ruins, and he is worried that his son may be in trouble. Mr. Cobb was gracious enough to purchase passage to the Keep by way of ship.

During our trip, we had learned that the Bloody Scalps, a dangerous and ruthless band of pirates, had taken residence in this den of iniquity. Although I was worried of bringing undue attention to ourselves, the others remained in high spirits if a bit wary. Faeryl was his usual brusque self, commanding the captain and his crew… I found myself questioning if it was truly wise to form this company with a drow of all things.

We finally made land and left the docks quickly. This place is horrible in every sense of the word… cruel and bloodthirsty thugs roam the streets and constantly vie for what little is left of this ‘city’ of lawlessness. It is obvious only the strong survive in Zhentil. So, why do I dare set foot in this place?

Mr. Aydar and Mr. Winterborn led us to a tavern filled with many of the cutthroat vagabonds and criminals, in search of Mr. Cobb’s son. Alas, it was inevitable that the locals raised their weapons against us… we had stumbled into a hangout for the Bloody Scalps! The combat was fierce yet short, like a firework. It didn’t take long for these hardened warriors to strike them down. Surprisingly, we had found Mr. Cobb’s son Kerstol once the fight had finished. He may have been worried we would have attacked him as well: he was a member of these pirates, and proud to live the life of one.

Although most of us had our misgivings about working with a pirate, the threat of an evil artifact of Shar was more pressing than bringing Mr. Kerstol to justice. Worse yet, he spoke of other nefarious groups looking for the artifact as well. I doubt they plan to use the artifact for benevolent ends, and time is short as they have been searching the ruins for at least several days. Having to contend with followers of Cyric and Bane along with Shar… I had no idea our little excursion would be so dangerous!

Thankfully, our group is very fortunate. Narrowing our search to find the lost temple of Shar took its time, but we were cunning enough to use our competition’s efforts for our benefit. We barely avoided a confrontation between those of Shar and Bane and took a hidden entrance to enter the temple, thanks to Moro’s keen awareness. I don’t know what I would do without her…

As we delved into the shadows, Faeryl was struck by a trap that sprang from a statue: a fleeting shadow that sapped his life. It must have activated other defenses in this old temple, as it summoned monsters in the darkness to attack us! We struck them down as fast as we could, but not long after that the Banites finally caught up to us from behind. It is good that our group is formidable, but it was evident our strength was giving to fatigue. We had to hurry to find the artifact!

Heading deeper into the temple, we found ourselves in a twisting maze of shadow… a labyrinth of darkness. Izual muttered something in a strange, guttural language, and the maze responded in kind… and opened a passage to the center for the briefest of moments. We took a chance and ran towards it before the walls closed once more. It was almost as if the maze was alive… but not quite. There was a strange pattern in how the labyrinth ‘moved’ the path… it took patience and drive, but we forced our way to the center and found an altar dedicated to Shar, along with a box of onyx. The others were scared to approach… we were tired, weak and in need of rest. I weighed my options and… thought I could chance triggering a trap instead of my friends. Although I certainly gave a scare to the group, my courage was rewarded with a holy symbol of Shar and information… Faeryl and Izual read a strange prayer book found in the box and discovered the mysterious dark artifact we were searching for was most likely in the Tower of the Art. Disheartened by our search being lengthened once more, we trudged onward towards our goal.

Mr. Winterborn stopped us and told us the symbol of Shar was pulling him somewhere, as if guiding him. Curious, we followed its mysterious pull through darkness and lost passages, and found ourselves facing a monstrous shadow guardian. We were tricked! The group took to battle, trying to slay the beast before it killed us all. With teamwork and a little luck, we managed to defeat the monster, but as it died… it exploded in a burst of dark mist and shadows, grieviously wounding Mr. Aydar and… Faeryl…

I did all I could for them, but Faeryl’s spirit… it was gone. The others were heartbroken at the death of their friend. He may have been callous and violent and a drow… but he was still part of the Lost Light. Despite my frail frame and lack of courage for battle, I believe I took Faeryl’s death the easiest. They were on their knees, crying and begging their gods to explain why they had to take their friend. For me… I simply accepted it. I may be jaded by all of my loss in my life, but… the only thing I can do is preserve what light I can before it is lost to the darkness.

We paid our respects to Faeryl and we’ll continue to press onward, through a passage covered in a deadly cloud of shadow. It’s impassable for now, but thanks to the holy symbol of Shar, we can clear the path ahead in a few hours. We will make use of the time to rest and recover before facing more dangers ahead. Our mission is far from over…

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