D&D 5E: The Road Not Taken

Valrak'shi Journal Entry 4

I jot these notes down quickly but my mind is elsewhere. I’ve seen things recently that cannot be unseen. I don’t feel I can yet go into great detail, I am still processing the trauma, but I wanted to make a quick note as a marker so that I can explain to you, my brothers, once we are again all together.

Ploop lead us out near the altars, rallied his people and hers alike with the speech that we would be sacrifices for the Deep Father, all the while his people were interweaving among those they planned to slay. They positioned us upon a grate that, if shifted, would drop us to what undoubtedly would have been our deaths below. I am a competent swimmer, but knowing now what I know lurked in those waters….there would have been no escape.

The false sacrifice went off as planned with Ploop’s daughter Blop falling for the trickery as easy as one might trick a dim-witted kobold. Her faith and lust for her deity allowed her guard to fail, which made it almost too easy for Ploop to deliver the crushing blow from his scepter. Fighting immediately broke out between those following Ploop and those following Blop, but it was a losing battle for Blop as she and her followers were severely outnumbered. Little did we know at the time…it was a losing battle for all.
There were a handful of Kuo-toa left around us, those that lead us out towards the altar, but we dispatched them without much trouble. During this battle, we heard sounds from the water’s edge…looking out we notice a giant creature apparently under the water, thrashing about and killing any and all Kuo-toa that happened to be in it. It seemed not to care whether they were followers of the Deep Father or Sea Mother. We quickly disengage from the battle and make our way back to the hut we were in initially, hoping to re-group and determine our next course of action.

After this, it gets…well…I can hardly even write it.

As I dip the tip into the ink a second time, I find myself shaking and have to calm myself with deep breathing. After we returned to the hut, I went to look out of the door to determine the status of the fight, but I saw something horrible rising from the depths. I have no fear of death, only a fear of a life not fully lived. But, looking upon this beast, this demon…I could think of hardly anything but retreat. Retreat from the fight. Retreat from the Underdark. Retreat from my own mind…something about it tore into my very being and shocked me as I’ve never been struck before…and the result was, well I’m not even embarrassed to say, simply looking upon the beast forced my brain to shut down. I don’t remember anything more at that time, but woke a while later in the outer tunnels away from the Kuo-toa settlement. I know from my companions that they basically grabbed as much loot as they could from the hut, grabbed Shuushar and ran for their lives from the beast that was coming from the water, apparently destroying everything in sight. I was lucky that Derendil was there and could easily carry me. I do not like being helpless, relying on others so, but I understand that in life we all need a hand at times, and in the future I will return him the favor.

We traveled for quite a while until we found a beach area and a few boats we could use to traverse the Darklake. Shuushar is confident he knows where he is going and how best to get to Gracklstugh from here. He seems a bit different…I believe even his passive nature has been shaken into a slightly different way of thinking. Enlightenment doesn’t always come from avoiding trauma; sometimes it’s the cleansing of pain that teaches us truly.

We camped for the night and all are feeling better, with the exception of course to the minor but ever-present nagging in the bag of my mind…those faces of that beast, cresting the water. It will take many hours of meditation to even have a chance of overcoming those memories.

Off we sail, Shuushar tells us it should take about 20 days to reach the Duergar city. I will write more later as I expect there to be plenty of downtime while on the boat.

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