I have minutes to write as we recover from the bloodbath that just occurred. Thinking about what I wrote hours ago, I’m even more concerned about what is happening to me. Our plan worked pretty well, but what will be its consequences to me. We had Alvalore return to the keep with a story of how his band was attacked by manticores and Yotho magicked himself to look like one of the dead monks. They also took another monk’s body as evidence of the attack. Alvalore and Yotho got past the minotaur guard and let us in the back door. Alvarore then met with Qarbo in hopes of luring him into an ambush saying the Yotho as the monk had collapsed from injuries, but instead he sent a few monks. We dispatched them, but the battle carried into the next room. I had put on the mask and robes we took from Braxis, so when more monks came in I commanded them to come into the kitchen since they thought I was Qarbo – is this more lies or acceptable for a Paladin. One of the monks had a dog with him, but when we started fighting, the dog stood still and didn’t start attacking. After we finished off the monks, we were shocked when the dog transformed into a gnome! His name is Namfoodle, but he asked to be called Greenthumb. He is a druid who was in search of his friend Barleytooth, a rabbit. After we made introductions, we agreed to help him find Barleytooth and he to help out.
We spent some time debating what to do next, and here I made a difficult decision. There was a room with five monks all sleeping, which Alvalore confirmed by sliding in. Knowing that they would not surrender (or were highly unlikely to since not one had surrendered yet), I decided to enter and kill them in their sleep, may Aeylan forgive me. Dragoslav Drake actually pulled me aside and offered to do the deed himself, for which I am grateful, but a leader must be able to follow through with ugly decisions and not pass them on to others. Is this a continuance of the slippery slope I’m heading down. As we delve deeper and deeper into this cult of Ogremach and to find out if any paladins remain, I feel I’m falling further away from what I should be. Is this all worth it if we can find out the truth of what happened? Does the end justify the means, or is this a test by Aeylan that I’m failing. Maybe the problem is that I’m not the right person for the job. As a paladin I’m trained to lead men, to act with chivalry and honor, to defend castles and besiege them, to work as part of an army. As a member of the gauntlet we are taught to work as a team and depend on each other. Yet here I am alone in many ways, with no other members of the order, with a random band of other adventurers fighting a zealous cult that sacrifices people to a forgotten god, and fight with such fervor that they won’t surrender, even when offered quarter. So I make these decisions in a vacuum, knowing that my survival is important to solve this mystery and that I am responsible for the lives of those who fate has joined with me. As I walked down the hallway to do this heinous deed, I knew that by doing this my companions had a better chance of survival and that my mission had a better chance to succeed…but it was still wrong. Our new comrade Greenthumb seemed to sum up everything quite well as I heard him say as I walked into the room, “So we are just going to hang around and wait while he goes into that room to murder those guys?”
After murdering the monks (or was it before – the last five minutes has been a blur), we ran into some duerger who were coming up from the mines. I had one of them come with me (still dressed in Braxis robes thinking I was Qarbo) and we subdued him as the others went to their quarters. Not sure how we engaged Qarbo, but we ended up battling in the hall outside his room. It was Qarbo, his two bodyguards, the duergar, and the minotaur front entrance guard all in combat. It was actually one of our most organized and effective battles. Our new members showed their worth immediately with Alvalore being extremely adept at close quarters fighting, and Greenthumb casting two useful spells – the first clogged the hallway with vines preventing the enemy from gathering together and the second froze Qarbo so that I could finish him off. Yotho lobbed spells here and there effectively and Drake effectively supported the attack with well timed strikes at vulnerable enemies. Krug again magically appeared at the other end of the hallway, to personally engage the minotaur and showed another new magical skill as he made a number of images of himself, so they enemy didn’t know which the real one was. After defeating Qarbo, his Black Earth guards and the minotaur, I demanded the surrender of the duergar, who, thank Aeylan, acquiesced. We got some useful information from them and sent them on their way from the keep with no weapons.
I decided to put on the heavy armor of Qarbo’s guards, which might again help us manueveur through this difficult task. We’ve gone through the weapons and equipment of the dead, patched ourselves up, and now need to focus on the task ahead…defeating Helen Rae, the head of the monks and further exploring the keep, both up and down, in hopes of finding out how the paladins were defeated. May Aeylan guide my sword and my soul.