Today was more eventful than I ever thought it could be. Imagine, I was nervous simply about dealing with Belak! Today was the Summer Solstice. A good thing too, as we needed every drop of that daylight, and even then it was not enough. If this keeps on like it is going, I will soon run out of pages. As I write this passage in my journal, we, Dask, Magda, Fox and I, along with a gnome cleric named Urky Timbers, are resting in an underground castle that sits in a ravine in the Kryptgarden forest, and we are surrounded by goblins. But I get ahead of myself. The morning was very tense, with everyone waiting for Belak to come. We did hear a lot of grumbling from the elders that leads me to believe that there is something more going on with Belak than is commonly told to us younger ones.
Belak waited until late in the afternoon to even show up, which definitely put the council on edge. Magda and I went out to meet him; apparently he will not come closer than the edge of the village. Fox came as well, I think he was mostly curious. Immediately Magda and I both inquired after the apple, and thankfully Belak had one for sale. Unfortunately, he put the price at one hundred fifty gold pieces when we only had one hundred from the council! We tried talking him down, explaining to him that people in the village were sick, and we had been given all that the village could afford, but Belak would not budge from his price. Finally, I simply gave in and contributed fifty of my own gold to help with the purchase of the apple. The village needs it, and I am sure I will be paid back eventually by the council. Magda took the apple, and I continued to look over what Belak had in his cart. I spent another couple gold just on some various herbs that would be harder for me to get on my own. Interestingly, Belak also had a white apple in his cart. We asked about it, but he said we did not want that one. It was sickly looking, and we did not press him about the matter. Belak told us he needed to leave; that he would be heading to Oakhurst, and wanted to leave to get there before too long. I tried casting detect magic on the apple, and also while Belak was in range, but did not find anything. I am curious about the properties of this apple, and the strange white one he had. Fox sensed Magda’s and my suspiciousness, and ended up trailing Belak a ways down the road to Oakhurst.
While he was away, we took the red apple back to the council, where First Council Homer spoke about how to divide the apple. The consensus was reached that despite not knowing how the apple works, we will try splitting it six ways to give a piece to each of those who are ill. We will also attempt to save seed to plant our own tree. With Belak’s prices going so much higher, we must attempt to break this hold he has on us. The six diseased were brought in, given the piece of apple, and almost immediately they looked better. Not completely well, but certainly much better than they had. It was just at this moment when I heard shrieking coming from outside. We rushed out to find four children, among them Fox’s sister Daisy, all collapsed with strange boils on their hands and mouths. Finding Belak’s strange white apple with them, half-eaten, meant we needed to chase down Belak and see if he could do anything for them. The decision was made to send myself, Magda, Fox and Dask. Magda and I had just finished dealing with Belak, and Fox and Dask could hopefully protect us if the worst happened while we were out. The council also told us to be wary, as Belak was exiled from Armbard’s Pass long ago, and so had particular reason to wish us ill. We all scrambled to fetch our gear and meet back as soon as possible. I rode Gloam, my horse, of course, since I would not be able to keep up otherwise, but the rest simply walked. Fox lead us, trying to make sure Belak did go to Oakhurst after all.
We arrived in Oakhurst after dark, and Fox had not seen any sign of Belak for some time. When we inquired with Oakhurst’s council, we found out that Belak actually had not been to Oakhurst in some time. They sent a group of four into Kryptgarden Forest to try to find him. Sharwin, a wizard like me, Sir Braeford, an outside Paladin, Caracus, a Ranger, and Talgen, a fighter. The mayor of Oakhurst described to us where the path into Kryptgarden Forest left the road we had arrived on, so we immediately backtracked, found the trail, and plunged into the wood.
We lit some torches with the dark of the forest pressing in on us, and followed the trail to a sudden drop. No sooner had we peered into the ravine than these odd bush-like ambulatory creatures approached us and attacked. Thankfully, I did not need to take much action, as everyone else took care of the situation handily. Magda was impressive with her ability to command the plant creatures. With the bush creatures gone, we saw that after a short drop into the ravine, a switch-back stair led further down. I had to dismount and leave Gloam at the top of the ravine; I left her a feed-bag, and she should be fine. As long as we are not overlong in our finding of Belak. Fox lowered a rope, and Magda went down to the small platform first. Unfortunately, she disturbed some large rats. I could only watch as she fought them off, somewhat unsuccessfully, but Dask half-climbed, half-lept down, crushing rats in the process. And down the stair we went.
The path from the steps led to the entrance door of a semi-submerged castle. Strange that something like this could be so close to Armbard’s Pass this whole time, and yet I am certain none of the villagers know it is here. I was able to read the name of a dragon, “Ashardalon,” inscribed in Draconic on the wall. We entered cautiously, seeing no other place for Belak’s trail to lead. Fox is proving invaluable, as we hardly go a step in this place without his searching for hidden dangers left behind, waiting for unwary explorers. It feels as though we can hardly go a few steps without finding a fight as well. Almost immediately we had to fight off three undead skeletons. Likely this place is the source of the rumor of the dead walking in Kryptgarden. We also fought a water creature, and only defeated it by cutting off the source of water from which it was drawing strength. Plenty of rats, Magda is not very happy about that. She keeps dropping that old scythe of River’s and nearly losing it as well. I do not understand why she thought she needed it, but it is becoming a nuisance. We passed by an impressive stone door with a keyhole in the shape of a dragon’s maw. No telling what is behind that, but in any event we are unable to open it.
We thought we started to make progress after coming on the sleeping form of a kobold named Meepo. He is terrified of us, and continuously talks about the dragon, “Kalkrix” that he and his community have lost. It seems to be some sort of pet or mascot by the way he talks. He was the dragon-keeper, but is now not getting on well with the rest of his clan after the dragon was stolen by some goblins. Evidently the kobolds and goblins fight amongst themselves quite often. He knows nothing of Belak, but he will guide us to the leader of his group, Yusdrayl, who may know more.
Yusdrayl is impressive, as far as a kobold can be impressive, which is not very far. She does seem to command a goodly number of kobolds in the area, however, and may be of some help in getting us to Belak. Belak is supposedly with the goblins, and we have agreed to aid the kobolds in getting their dragon back, in exchange for having Meepo guide us, and them not trying to harm Belak when we bring him out with us. I do not like the idea of allying ourselves with a pack of kobolds, but right now the children are the most important thing, and finding Belak quickly could mean life over death for them.
Meepo leads us on a merry chase down to the goblin section of these buried ruins. I found a few draconic references, and after reading the word for fire, “Narinya”, at a fountain, I was able to fill a spare waterskin with what I think is a potion of fire breath. Unfortunately, it gave me quite the wrong idea, and in a different room, the next word I read was death. That released a noxious cloud of vapors. Fortunately none of us was hurt. We did find the decomposing body of the ranger from Oakhurst, Caracus, in the den of a huge rat. We took his signet ring, unable to easily move his whole body, and will return it to Oakhurst. After many skirmishes with goblins, we freed an imprisoned gnome named Urky Timbers. He says he just had the misfortune of being caught by some goblin bandits, and has only managed to keep himself alive through his healing spells. He thinks Belak is somewhere below, with more goblins. And so we have decided to fortify ourselves and rest here long enough for us all to regain some strength. We will not be able to find Belak if we are too weak to make it past the goblins infesting this place. I have already spent far too much time writing tonight, and not enough time resting.