In the Shadow of the Tyrant

Benyamin's Journal (Entry 1)

Tonight was a strange night. There I was, alone in the barracks, writin’ up a formal letter to his grace Markus Hofmeister. The brass wanted to come inspect the garrison here in Horstmar, heaven knows why. There ain’t nothing here but me and a bunch of rusty bedframes. Well, I needn’t ’ave worried, since that very night a veritable menagerie of privates came with orders to my unit.

The first one was some sort of fairy. I’ve heard of their type before, insist they used to be human, but I ain’t convinced. She seemed plenty energetic though, and had a sheaf of orders signed by Boris Siegward himself, so I couldn’t exactly turn her away. I’ll ‘ave to do something about that whole “Lieutenant” notion she’s got though.

Second up was a talking bird. Handsome bastard, if a bit odd. Black feathers all up his arms. I took one look at the fellow and knew he’d be trouble. Got a cocky air to him, a lot like most birds I’ve seen, actually. He had orders here too, though Maiden knows why they chose to send him here.

Then there was the tree. Strangest of the lot, it was. Curved all like a woman, but said its name was Gilbert Barkwin, and had orders with that name and everything. Don’t really know what to make of it, but I hafta wonder what the honorable Gilbert Hardwin would say if he knew. The tree was the most level-headed of the lot, oddly enough, so that’s all right I guess.

The last recruit was an Elf. Nothin’ special about her, just an Elf with a nifty sword. Glad to see they didn’t send me nothing but freaks. She says ‘er name is Rirosorchalwen, or somethin’, and the orders say “Rinfanfannal”, but I ain’t gonna make a stink about it. She seems a decent sort, but may not have much between the ears, if you know what I mean.

Well I sent all those misfits off, gave them leave until tomorrow and showed them where the barracks were, then went back to my letter. At least they all had uniforms and weapons, don’t have to worry about that. Have to wonder where the fairy got clothes that small, though.

Finished my letter just a little while back and went into the barracks to get some sleep. Walked in to find that blasted fairy hovering over my bed, with all my “special books” just laid out all over it. That Riwen lass was just standin’ by, too, though she looked more concerned than amused, I’ll give ’er that.

I darn demoted that fairy, made ‘er a Sergeant, rather than Lieutenant, even though she wasn’t a Lt in the first place, and I don’t really ’ave that authority. Anyway, I sent her off and cleaned up the books, then sat on my bed and watched the rest of the misfits till they went to sleep. That feathered fellow, Masozi I think it is, looks shifty as ’ell.

Got a letter from that nice Halfling woman over at the dairy. She says something’s been stealin’ her cheese. I’ll send the new blood over to check it out today. Doubt it’s anythin’ important, but not like they have anything better to do.

To: Major Albrecht
Incident Report: Regarding the Cheese

Reports were received of cheese disappearing from the local dairy in a most suspicious manner. The Horstmar garrison was dispatched to investigate the issue, comprised of Private Masozi, Private Barkwin, Private Riwen, Sergeant Köhler, and Private Obsidian.

Upon searching the dairy, the unit discovered a large hole in the wall, approximately half the height of a grown man, with another hole inside leading to the sewers. Further investigation revealed a group of four goblins, gathered around a tiny chair in which a rat had been restrained. The goblins were engaged in interrogating said rat about the location of “the cheese”. Three goblins was summarily dispatched, and the rat secured for further questioning. One goblin escaped, and the unit followed in hot pursuit.

After navigating a maze of traps, in which Private Obsidian was grievously injured by a clever array involving a tightened vine and spikes on the ceiling, the unit arrived at a den located deep in the sewers. Within the den was another troop of three goblins, and a large humanoid confirmed by Private Barkwin to be a Mongrelman. It was at this point that they chose to interrogate the rat. Sergeant Köhler displayed impressive aptitude in communicating with animals, but was unable to extract any useful information.

Their other options being exhausted, Private Masozi charged into the den and killed all three goblins with a burst of negative energy (note: further investigation into this point), then beat the Mongrelman into unconsciousness with the help of the others. Based upon evidence recovered at the scene, the Mongrelman has been confirmed as the culprit behind the recent cheese disappearances, and has been disposed of.

Very Respectfully,
Captain Benyamin El-Mofty
Commander of Horstmar Garrison, Horstmar

That whole cheese thing turned out to be a lot more troublesome than I expected, but the recruits handled it well enough. More important is this map they got from one of the goblins. It’s crude, and looks like it’s drawn in crayon, but this ‘ere "Shield Lady’s House" matches up with the legends of Freya’s Tomb I’ve heard around here. It definitely could use some further investigating. Not like we have anything better to do.

That bird worries me too. Seems like they found a lot of treasure, and he’s got it all, but he isn’t letting on. I’ll worry about that later, doesn’t seem like it’s worth a fight.

For now though, I’ve got to get the recruits ready. Markus Hofmeister himself is coming for an inspection tomorrow, and I’ll be damned if I let this lot make me look bad in front of the brass.

The inspection went about as well as could be expected, with new recruits like this. Hofmeister was totally unflapped by the motley, not like we could tell anyway, with that helmet of his. The bird was causing trouble again, and Riwen’s uniform looked terrible, but Köhler presented ‘erself well, and her uniform looked fantastic. I made her a Lieutenant again after that, hope I don’t regret it.

Should I be worried that the only one who came close to matching Köhler’s military bearing was Private Obsidian? I mean, he’s a fox…

Gave the recruits the rest of the day off. We’ll go check out the tomb tomorrow.

To: Major Albrecht
Incident Report: Ale Disaster Averted

Today there was a large collection of ale barrels near the center of Horstmar, waiting for delivery to the capitol. Privates Masozi, Barkwin, and Riwen were all off duty, and speaking with the guard, when a goblin burst from the wall of a nearby warehouse and ran toward the barrels of alcohol, carrying a lit bomb over its head.

Private Barkwin killed the goblin with an arrow through its eye, but the bomb fell from its hand and continued toward the barrels. Fortunately, Lieutenant Köhler was passing by, riding Private Obsidian, and defused the bomb with a magic spell. The recruits were given a barrel of ale as thanks.

Very Respectfully,
Captain Benyamin El-Mofty
Commander of Horstmar Garrison, Horstmar

To: Major Albrecht
Incident Report: Private Barkwin assaulted by Lumberjacks

Private Barkwin was using her off-duty time to further explore Horstmar when, in the industrial district, she was assaulted by the wanted criminals, Jack and Beck, the Lumberjack Twins. Though put off by their axes, and comments about her “lumber”, Barkwin fought them off with the help of Private Masozi, who was in the area at the time.

Final reports indicate two Lumberjack thugs dead, Beck escaped, and Jack’s condition unknown, presumed dead.

Very Respectfully,
Captain Benyamin El-Mofty
Commander of Horstmar Garrison, Horstmar

To: Major Albrecht
Incident Report: Catburglar Apprehended

The catburglar responsible for a chain of thefts across Horstmar was apprehended today by Private Riwen, when she discovered him attempting to steal from the barracks. Though noted for his feline grace, the burglar fell from the roof of the garrison directly in front of Riwen. A short chase ensued, until the burglar once again fell off a different roof, and was apprehended by the Private.

After a short discussion that verified his identity and guilt, the burglar was handed over to the city guard.

Very Respectfully,
Captain Benyamin El-Mofty
Commander of Horstmar Garrison, Horstmar

Our trip to the tomb was interrupted tonight by a bunch of zombies who ‘ad the nerve to attack our campsite in the middle of the night. Fortunately Barkwin was on watch, I hear she doesn’t sleep, and she got the rest of us up in time to fight back.

Zombies are just zombies, poor gits left over from the old days of Karzak, and we took ‘em out pretty easily. Some mighty fine fighting from the new recruits, I’ll give them that, though Riwen almost got taken out when three of the bastards got ‘er surrounded. Fortunately Köhler used some sort of mumbo-jumbo and blew one of them to dust, givin’ the Elf a way out. Masozi healed her wounds too, can’t say I expected that from ’im.

We found the tomb today, almost missed it, buried under a bunch of bushes and whatnot. Of course we took a look inside, and found it branches as soon as you get down there. Bein’ an experienced military man myself, I suggested the recruits go one way, and I go the other. We’d meet up in the middle later.

So they went on their merry way, and I headed off to the right. Soon as I stepped into the next hall a whole bunch of helmets started flyin’ all over the place. Put me off my lunch it did. One of the little buggers got itself over my head, and had me stumbling around and knocking into walls and just ‘avin a horrible time. Took me a while but I managed to bust up those things, they weren’t very tough after I got me bearings.

‘Course the next room wasn’t any better. Big ol’ black things, like flying squids with bat wings and way too many teeth, came swooping down and tried to eat my head. I’d had enough of that after the helmet, and this ‘ere sword ain’t just for show. I managed to kill two of the bastards, and the others all flew away, shrieking up a storm.

There were some traps after that, but nothing I ain’t seen before. The real challenge was that giant suit of armor that tried to kill me when I got through. Bloody stubborn thing it was, I ‘ad to knock off its arms and legs, got a few flesh wounds myself, before it’d stop moving. The creepy blood on the walls and terrible smell didn’t help either.

After all that I met up with the recruits again. They looked almost as bad as I did, and there was this nasty slime stuff all over the place. Masozi in particular looked miserable, but he had some new armor on and a fancier spear, so I figure it all worked out.

Anyway, seems like Freya’s shield is gone, and I’m betting whatever did it is the same thing that killed all those goblins and put blood all over the walls. Whatever it is, it couldn’ta gotten that far, not with the blood being this fresh. We’ll see if we can track it down tomorrow.

To: Major Albrecht
Incident Report: Freya’s Tomb Discovered and Explored

The Horstmar garrison, under my guidance, has discovered Freya’s lost tomb north of the town. We conducted a thorough exploration of the premises, with the recruits, consisting of Private Masozi, Private Riwen, Private Obsidian, Lieutenant Köhler, and Private Barkwin, forming one unit, and myself forming the other. We split paths at the first intersection.

For both units, the first room consisted of several suits of armor with helmets animated by some sort of magic. The helms were fragile and easily dispatched, though Private Barkwin had a single incident of one helm covering her head while two others bludgeoned her from the sides.

Also infesting the tomb were several nocturnal scavengers, identified by Lieutenant Köhler as being Darkmantles. A single darkmantle almost devoured Köhler, and the others dealt some minor damage to the rest of the unit, but they were all slain before they could retreat to the ceiling, and the Lieutenant emerged mostly unscathed.

Upon finding the resting place of the holy Maiden, the recruit’s unit was assaulted by a pack of feral, decomposing goblin zombies, covered in purple pustules. These abominations were identified by Private Masozi as Festrogs, and were likely created when the goblins were killed by some powerful source of dark energy, then left for the darkmantles to scavenge upon.

The unit killed each zombie with some effort, discovering that, upon being defeated, they explode into a mass of foul-smelling slime. Private Masozi and Private Obsidian both made contact with the slime, and will be watched for any further developments.

Further evidence of something evil having desecrated the tomb can be found in the bloodstains across the walls. These form disturbing patterns, such as demonic faces, and phrases such as “Help me mommy” and “Make it stop” scrawled in a child’s handwriting. Freya’s body and shield were also discovered as missing, with more blood inside the casket, and a vial of clear, salty liquid, suspected to be tears.

It is expected that, due to the freshness of the blood on the walls, we will still be able to catch the culprit and recover Freya’s shield. Updates will be sent at regular intervals.

Very Respectfully,
Captain Benyamin El-Mofty
Commander of Horstmar Garrison, Horstmar


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