Aramis Entry 21
[21 March, 103 CY continued]
We came to a chamber with a natural rift descending deep beneath the fortress, where we were beset by stirges. Bhavik and I both had our very blood drained by the beasts, but we overcame them without too much effort. I half-remember stories from my youth about stirges preying on goats on the neighbor’s ranch… again, it feels strange now, to have feared such creatures then.
The chamber’s northern door led nowhere – it was an elaborate fire trap which left us scorched, but with more damage to our pride than our persons. I don’t believe Azal was harmed at all; it must be her Infernal lineage.
We made our way back to the first level’s last unopened door, a massive, ironbound affair with a human skull spiked to it. Beyond it, we found the Great Ulfe himself, an old, scarred ogre with a pair of dire wolves for pets. He was a sad sight to my eyes, all wasted strength and tales of past glories, with no new ones to be told… but he was still strong, and wily, and not to be underestimated. Bhavik spoke for us; as Ulfe slew his mother, it was only fair.
The Great Ulfe said that the gray dwarves are found below Khundrukar, and that they are “the favored” now. Favored by whom, he did not say, although someone has “cast” Ulfe aside in favor of the duergar. He didn’t speak of the apple, either. However, he mentioned that Bhavik’s father, Sharakim, was once his trusted lieutenant, turned against him by Akuti, and now “exiled or dead.”
Battle was joined, inevitably. The Great Ulfe fought well, and he found some honor in his death. It hardly seemed to me to be a fitting end for one so legendary and feared, but it matters not. In the end, all things serve the Queen.
We returned to the rift and descended into the depths. We have faced more stirges, and shed more blood. I have no doubt we will shed more before this is done.
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