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Inside the Kaer

From the Journal of Sharak Langenbart, Weaponsmith:

?? Straasa 1508: It has been less than a day since I mast made an entry, I think, though I am not certain. I am scribbling down a few notes as the mob is banging on the doors and walls and Nels tries to find a way out. I may not have another chance and maybe if someone bothers to read this journal they will discover the truth for themselves.

A series of caverns was beyond the secret door in the temple of the mad passion. There were huge stashes of elemental earth there and we all took a bit. Well, except for Parth who took something like a backpack full. That seemed a bit excessive, but there you go. The thief decided to stay back with the other jail breakers while we went on ahead into the kaer.

We traveled some ways down the cavern before we all fell in a fair sized pit trap. Oops. The troll was fairly easily able to get us out but it took some rather clever knot work with our bedrolls (we had found all our equipment in the temple) and a lot of muscle strains to get the troll out. After that we were more careful but we did not find any more traps, just an immense series of tunnels. I marked the way and Parth tried to make a map, but the scale of the thing and the lack of landmarks made that difficult. We choose a more or less straight path and eventually ended up in a large cavern that was obviously part of the kaer. It was the size of a small town, at least the part we could see initially, and crowded with buildings, though we could make out a fair-sized lake off to one side and the characteristic light-quartz “sun” of the kaer high on the ceiling. We had made it inside!

Our reception in the kaer was underwhelming to say the least. We got a lot of strange looks because of our clothing and speech, but mainly people gave us dirty looks and avoided us. The streets were packed with people and piled high with houses and apartments. I can only imagine the damage a fire would cause in such a place. The buildings were largely stone, but in between them were built shanties on top of shanties until the place was a sea of wood separated by the narrowest of streets. We moved toward the center of the space, assuming the place was built around a similar design to most kaers with the public buildings in the center near the “sun”. Eventually we reached a clearing of sorts, with a large semicircular building on the other side. We were not stopped as we tried to enter and apparently there was some kind of meeting going on. It was difficult to make anything out over all the noise, but there was clearly a heated debate in progress. Nels saw an ork guard and attempted to speak with him, but was surprised when after a moment nothing but a stream of gibberish came out. Parth tried with a human guard with the same results. The guards were more annoyed than suspicious, which surprised me. That was before Parth’s skin started to rot off before their eyes. Then Nels and I were also affected and they drew their swords. We managed to stay ahead of them somehow and ran back the way we came, hoping to lose them in the crowds. The guards were gaining on us until a huge dragon came around the corner ahead of us. We were trapped. The guards scattered and we tried another direction. We figured the whole lot were illusions, but we didn’t stick around to find out any more than the guards did. Clearly, we were not dealing with amateurs.

Finally, we seemed to lose the creature, and the guards as well. The wasting faded away as well, as we suspected it would; it was good to seem whole again though, besides not drawing as much attention. We had run around the edge of the large cavern we were in and, after some further wandering, found ourselves in a section of the kaer with more dwarves than anything else. Previously there had been quite a few orks, humans, and even a few trolls. I attempted to question a few of the dwarves, since that seemed to be the closest dialect we had in common with these people. They all seemed to think I was quite mad and would not engage me, but at least they did not call in any guards. It was like asking people how to find the sky or if we could talk to the sun. On the other hand, whatever Illusion magic that affected us at what I would assume was some kind of town hall was not affecting us here.

After some discussion, we decided to split up. Laran and Parth decided to go south and see if they could get to the front gates. There was a guard station between us and the next section of the kaer though so we didn’t want to all get captured. Then Nels and I moved back toward the town hall to try again. Our theory was that there was probably only one Illusionist following us so at least one group might be able to find some information. We expected to find more strange illusions and lack of comprehension, but what we did find was a very angry mob of guards and city folks who recognized us as soon as we entered the square. We were forced to fight for our lives, though it seemed a hopeless task to fight against so many. I bloodied many a townsman and guard with my mace, and Nels with his magic. Finally, just as we thought we might be overcome by their numbers, we broke through to this house and were able to barricade ourselves in. We attempted to find some way through to the next street, with the hope that we could get ahead of the mob and find a safe place to hole up. After some searching, we determined there was not a back door and apparently our attempts to make one drew the attention of the guards. From the other side of the thin wall we heard a voice commanding us to surrender or be burned out. I didn’t think to suggest that was an exceptionally bad idea given the closely packed buildings, but I suspect I could not have convinced them at that point. We said we would surrender if the guardsmen would keep the mob away from us. I set myself to writing this, possibly my last entry, while Nels removes the barricades. We go now to surrender ourselves and hope this will perhaps work out for the best.

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