D&D 5E: The Road Not Taken

Valrak'shi Journal Entry 1

Waking after a restful night, Valrak’shi takes note of his surroundings. Situated on a rock shelf off of the cavern floor, away from the slippery clay surroundings, he feels this position as secure as any they’ll find in the Underdark.

Looking around he notices his companions, varied as they are. He wonders how the surface dwellers will fare as they delve into the deeper dark. He and his kind are conditioned to the constant feeling of weight above their head, but most surface dwellers eventually start to feel the weight of the rock above them…instead of feeling the comfort of the protective rocks, it feels a hindrance. It’s no difference than most of his kin that feel exposed in the (seemingly) never-ending expanse of night above, once the caverns are left behind. Valrak’shi ponders the drive within oneself, how different beings seem to be driven by different forces. Is it predetermined? Is there a bit of leeway, or do we have total control? When asked by Grandmaster Glorfinn which path he would take, Valrak’shi knew at once it was to the world above. Not to be rid of the depths of which he was accustomed, because it will always feel like home, but because it wasn’t home. The path of the Monk was not something he chose, it was chosen for him at birth, but it is one from which he has enjoyed and excelled. There are many unknowns in the Underdark, many things that he and his brothers have yet experienced, but the surface world seemed the most alien and because of it, the most interesting. Many roads are open before each one of us; we must follow what is true to ourselves.

Stretching out on the floor to wake his muscles up, he rolls into a plank position and works through a series of quiet and quick routines before sitting back into a meditative pose. Focusing his breathing he digs into his inner Ki and prepares for the trials of the day. He quickly recounts the path that brought them here; the descent from the tunnel above, the webbing they barely escaped from, the capture by the Drow party…oh how he remembers that vividly. He still has a burn mark on his chest from that lightning bolt that laid him low. He doesn’t admonish himself though, he knows from the teachings of Glorfinn that with enough practice he can attain a sense of awareness that will in the future allow him to evade such attacks, and he looks to such a day to surprise his enemies. He recounts briefly their quick but effective fight breaking free of their Drow captors in Velkynvelve, how he loved the look on the cruel priestess’ face when she realized most of her spells would not work in such a close quarters. He thinks on their hasty retreat into the Underdark and of their current companions. He is curious to see how this plays out…to see if any have ulterior motives. Being taught the ways of his race, he can’t help but distrust most and always expect someone to make a play that benefits them most in one way or another.

After a short time, Valrak’shi stands and makes his way silently around the camp. He thinks of his new boots and a rare smile touches his lips. His brothers would love to see these boots for sure. Not all battles are meant to be fought in the light of day, or face to face, sometimes one must use every advantage they can.

Approaching Shuushar Valrak’shi nods his greeting as he sits next to the Kuo-toa.

“Shuushar, it is known that there are those among your people that are quite skilled using their body as a weapon. I doubt our current pace would allow for a foray into that world, but once we are near, if you have access to any books on their methods and techniques, I would be grateful a chance to look on them, or borrow them with a promise to return them in the future. If not, I will strive to return one day to learn what I can of your teachings as well as those of your martial brothers.”

After a few moments of discussion with the Kuo-toa, Valrak’shi excuses himself and walks to the edge of the encampment, to look down upon the floor. The smell of clay is strong in the nose, mixed with a sulfuric scent, undoubtedly from the thermal activity far beneath them. This would explain the Fire Lichen seen growing near where they are camped. The sunken structures are interesting, Valrak’shi would love to know what caused such a disaster, and when for that matter. Easily keeping track in his mind the distance they’ve traveled, and knowing the general direction they’re headed, he knows they have many days of travel ahead of them. He rummages through his bag taking count of the various mushrooms and rations he has, knowing that to be ill prepared in the Underdark is to invite certain doom. He and Lutien step lightly off of their perch, making their way around the cavern hunting for edible mushrooms and what they hope to be potable water, knowing their current waterskins won’t last forever. They are fortunate to find nearly 30 lbs of mushrooms that will help keep the party alive for a couple of days should the food run scarce.

They make their way back up to the ledge where he can see his companions. Looking around, he notices Ian in conversation with Eldeth but can’t quite make out what they’re saying. That one he feels may be quite handy in the battles to come. Bringing the light of day to the Underdark, wielding divine energy like he does, could help sway the tide of battle. Not to mention his God-blessed sword…helpful indeed. He quickly looks over to where Galathalas is standing, off to the side by himself. Looking closer he sees Stool perched upon his shoulders, but the conversation Galathalas is having seems not to be directed at the Myconid, but to himself. He seems to be arguing about something but lovingly caressing the newfound wands, getting the feel for them, learning them perhaps. Valrak’shi isn’t sure what to make of him…he seems like a good person, not a cruel person, but he seems almost not in control of himself. He hopes that as he gains wisdom, along with it comes clarity of mind and a focused will to put those substantial powers to good use, without hurting himself or those around him. Just in case, Valrak’shi will stay light on his feet… Lastly his eyes follow Lutien as he makes his way back to his bedrole, he seems to be busily gathering up pieces of what appear to be deconstructed hand crossbow bolts and a portion of the structure around him, preparing to use the pieces to create his own special kind of arrow the Drow assumes. The best archer Valrak’shi has ever witnessed, he seems to be putting on a strong front, but the Drow can tell he is feeling the weight of the region more so than the others. He does well to hide it though; obviously aware of his surroundings he appears to be working hard to overcome those fears while focusing on his work and the task at hand. Valrak’shi nods, understanding. It is the way of things. One must always work from the inside out to progress along the path. Now, as to their progression…

Suddenly he notices the absence of two of their group. Topsy and Turvy aren’t within eyesight…Valrak’shi quickly asks around as to their whereabouts. Jimjar casually mentions he saw them heading out in the middle of the night, he assumed for mushroom hunting but didn’t inquire.

To his companions Valrak’shi gently speaks; “I know not the reason for Topsy and Turvy’s secretive departure, but our path seems to take us the same direction. When one and all are ready, let us be on from this place…we have a long and dark road ahead of us.”

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