Part 15: Artifacts of Ancient Power
Update 14: Artifacts of Ancient Power
After reviewing the focus map, I decided that the best course of action would be to start at the upper left point of the pentagram. That location was quite close and relatively familiar to me. I would follow the river out of the New Camp and travel into the forest near the Old Mine. From there, I would find my way.
I rolled the map and tucked it away. I would be needing it later but right now I had a good idea how I would proceed.
When I reached the Dam, I saw a familiar face. It was Lee. He was watching the workers in the fields below. As I drew nearer, I could see the pain on his face. It seemed quite obvious that something was bothering him. When I arrived, he turned to me and started to speak.
"There was a time when I led a very different life. I was one of the best generals of this country. I spent my whole life fighting for my country but the nobles didn't like me because the King listened to my advice and they knew I posed a threat to their dirty business." Lee paused a moment to gaze back down to the rice farmers. I looked at him in shock. I'd never once asked about his history and I got the impression that it wasn't something he tended to talk about. I briefly considered that he was drunk, but he did not sound nor smell it.
Lee continued, never giving me enough time to formulate a proper response "I hadn't counted on their insidiousness, they used the kings wife to get me, I was blamed for her pointless murder. King Rhobar had no other choice. The services I had rendered my country saved me from the gallows but they robbed me of my freedom. One day I'll be free again then I shall return and take my revenge - I shall have my revenge!"
When Lee had finished his speech he walked away without another word. I had no idea why he had chosen that moment to lay this on me, nor did I know just how important it would become. Perhaps the stress of the past few days had finally gotten to him.
I put Lee's outburst behind me and continued on my way. I followed the river out of the New Camp and rejoined the road. I took a moment to review my map to ensure that I was heading in the proper direction.
I ran northeast from the old camp to the forest. According to the map, I was to be looking for a pass leading north. I thought I saw it up ahead. I once again withdrew my map and studied nearby landmarks to reorient myself.
It was just north of me. I tucked the map away.
The map failed to make note of the pack of Snappers that resided in this pass. There was no way around them and I was outnumbered. Two saw me and slowly approached, ready to lunge at any moment. I readied my sword.
The battle was quick, but fierce. The two snappers each took a slice to the neck when they dove at me which ended them instantly. Two of their friends were close behind and did not die so quickly. They acted together, each attacking a flank, and put up a much better fight. In the end, I managed to dispatch them, but their claws and teeth had broken through armor and flesh. I downed a healing potion before continuing north.
What I saw as I ran up the hill I could barely believe. It was Diego! I was quite happy to see him. I'd not spoken to him since I made my decision to join the New Camp.
Diego turned as the sound of footsteps drew near. He looked shocked for a moment.
"Hey, I thought you were dead."
"Sometimes I thought so myself." The amount of danger I'd overcome in the past week was something I never thought I'd be capable of.
"A lot of things have happened since we last met. I hear you've contributed a great deal to the final invocation."
"Obviously you're quite well informed." News spread fast in the colony.
"Better than you think... Now you're looking for the focus?" It spread quite fast. I'd barely been gone three hours.
I nodded. Diego had good sources. "Yes. There must be one somewhere around here."
"I know where to find one. There's just one problem."
I sighed and removed a small pouch of ore. "I see. What do you want?"
"You've really learnt your lesson, but that's not what I meant."
"No? What's the problem then?"
"It's three tons of a problem. Let's go. You'll understand in a moment."
Diego led me to a clearing that was just ahead. I immediately saw what the problem was: a troll and a good deal of goblins. The goblins saw us and ran toward us, raising their clubs in the air. Diego took them out from afar with his bow while I engaged them in melee.
I moved closer to the lumbering beast but Diego stopped me.
"On the left side of this canyon lies the entrance to a cave that leads to the location of the focus."
"Alright. But first we have to get rid of that monster over there."
"Try to find a weak point or another possibility to defeat the troll. I'll attract his attention."
Diego ran into the clearing and fired arrows into the giant beast. The arrows did nothing but irritate the creature. It turned its attention toward him. I frantically searched the area for a way to help.
A note lay on the ground, still clutched in the skeletal hand of the one who wrote it. I picked it up and skimmed through it looking for something of use. I found it.
It turned out that the dead hunter had purchased a magic scroll in the city which he intended to use for hunting troll. It either did not work or he had no chance to use it. It seemed to be the latter. A scroll sat perfectly intact nearby. How lucky!
I picked it up and, without knowing exactly what spell I was about to unleash, I read from it. The troll become enveloped in a green light and, amazingly, began to shrink in size. This is rather poor sport, but damned if it didn't work!
The creature shrunk in size and, quite terrified at the growing world, ran away.
I felt a tinge of guilt when I thrust my sword through the creature and ended its life but I did what I needed to. I really wanted to leave this place.
Diego was exhausted and quite relieved. Any longer and he would have been killed.
"That was fantastic! You're really good. And now, go get the focus. I'll make sure that there won't be any other awkward surprises."
A winch was nearby which seemed to operate the gate on the cave. I struggled to turn it but it was stuck. Diego saw this and offered his assistance.
The winch turned with no trouble after that.
Unfortunately, Diego's assistance led to the arrival of an awkward surprise. More goblins.
There were only a handful and Diego easily killed them while I ventured into the cave for the focus.
I followed the cave up to the platform. Unfortunately, yet another surprise awaited me. Harpies! They shrieked and flew into the air, flying in a circle around me.
Unluckily for them I backed into the cave. This restricted their movement a good deal and allowed me to hit them much easier.
With the harpies in the cave dead, and the goblins outside dead I was now free to search the focus platform. It was there and intact! I took it and safely stored it in a pouch. One down, three to go.
Diego congratulated me and said that he needed to return to the Old Camp. I was one fourth of the way done! When I collected all of these damned focuses the Mages would finally be able to destroy the barrier and I would be free. I could barely contain my excitement.
When my adrenaline faded and I calmed down I unrolled my map and planned my next course of action. I wanted to be back in the New Camp by nightfall. I decided that the best course of action was to go east, then south, and then finally to the western point.
Update 14 supplements: Troll fight at the canyon Viddler | Original