The Priman Campaigns


A true account of our expeditions to Prima, and the adventures and travails encountered there.

Tuesday, June 10

Be it known to the reader that I am Ahmed Justinius, soldier of Xanthia and loyal servant of Ilaweh. Given that I am surrounded, for the most part, by savages, cowards, and fools, it falls to me to put quill to parchment and record our progress as we explore the continent of Prima.

We are three, so far, a Laurean archer who calls himself ‘Gildeneye’, and an eastern barbarian who has, of yet, not spoken more than ten words to us. Gildeneye is fairly certain the fellow calls himself “Shung”, but who knows, given his close mouthed stance? We will need to find a means of breaking the ice with this one, or there will be trouble down the line. Gildeneye thinks we should play a joke on him, to get his attention, and I am all for it. It is likely he will, at least, curse us for our efforts, which would be more communication that we have had with him in the last month. I say we push him over the side in a storm, and see if he will yell for help, or drown in silence.

So far, the trip is uneventful, though I have never seen so much water, and I find it unsettling. Still, I have managed not to find myself leaning over the rails and wasting valuable food, so I am better off than many! Gildeneye seems to hardly notice the swaying, and as for Shung, if that is actually his name, who knows? He’s been locked in his quarters the entire trip.

Ilaweh is great

Tuesday, July 15

A month and some weeks at sea has steadied my legs and belly, but I grow impatient to reach our destination. I have spent the time so far designing fortifications for every conceivable beachhead upon which we might find ourselves, but even that has played out. The bottom line is that I need men on shore chopping trees and building pallisades, not standing about with their thumbs up their asses and their heads hanging over the rails. Ah, I was not born a patient man, so Ilaweh forces me to learn it this way, I suppose.

Shung is still locked in his cabin, and Gildeneye spends far too much time with the horses. I’ve done a bit of gambling with the crew and come off damned well, only to lose my winnings to Gildeneye on one of the rare occasions he chose to be among men instead of beasts. Damn him, I swear he can throw a seven any time he wants. Lesson number one about elves: don’t play dice with them. I will have to teach him tonk to get back some of my own.

Ilaweh is great

Wednesday, September 3

Landfall, at last! And so much work to do. After some scouting, Shung, Gildeneye, and myself have chosen a small pininsula for our initial base camp. It is easily defensable, and will require only a few days work to make secure. Our coastal scouts report a small fishing village just up the cost, and we have sent boats in that direction to establish trade; it is vital that we find local sources of food, before our reserves are consumed. I have the entire camp chopping trees, save for Shung and Gildeneye.

Shung, it seems, simply distains honest work, and it is obvious that there is no point in arguing with him. He stands about and looks quite impressive, though, and I suppose he might actually kill some poor bastard, should the opportunity arise. Considering our locale, I suspect we’ll all have the opportunity to draw steel before long.

Gildeneye spends most of the night scouting the area, and sleeps through the day, or does whatever he does instead of sleep, at any rate. At least he doesn’t complain about the axes keeping him awake.

Ilaweh is great

Thursday, September 4

Last night, we encountered our first hostiles, and none too soon! It is not a good thing for a servant of Ilaweh and soldier of Xanthia to grow soft from peace, when there are ample villains about, begging to be crushed.

These particular fools, some dozen or so of them, came slipping in under cover of darkness, but they did not count on Eagle Eye (My new name for Gildeneye). He saw them coming from afar, and by the time they were within bowshot, we had a line of archers behind the pallisades to rain death on them. Shung and I rode out to meet them in real battle, and engaged a few in melee. One, I struck as if my hand were guided by Ilaweh himself, and clove him completely in two! I was quite proud of it. Between that, and the fact that Shung, in his armor, actually looks quite like a demon, they broke quickly. We let them go. There were far too many stumps about that the horses might stumble over in the darkness and break a leg.

Shung, Gildeneye, and I had each slain two, and the men at arms had taken another four. We also had two wounded enemies. As for us, we received not a scratch. Ilaweh was kind to us indeed, tonight. I take it that this means we are doing something worthwile.

Ilaweh is great

Friday, September 5

Fairly quickly, it became obvious that our prisoners were savages who spoke no civilized tongue. Gildeneye was certain he could track them, so, after some consideration, we decided to release them and track them back to their lair. It wasn’t without hitch, but Gildeneye is indeed resourceful at hunting man and beast, and sometime around midnight, we found ourselves outside their camp.

Now, at this point, a soldier should consider the direction of approach, the strength of the enemy, and myriad other issues. As Gildeneye crept about the edges of the camp, I appraised it: a ramshackle bunch of twig huts, tents, and lean-to’s. There were perhaps thirty people, all dirty, and dressed in ragged clothes. Not a one was armed with anything better than stones. And then, after a few moments watching, I saw a man dressed in most peculiar armor stride purposefully into the camp, draw a katana, and _roar_ at the inhabitants. Not any particular words, mind you, just “Raahhhrr!” or something to that effect.

It was then that I noticed Shung was not, in fact, standing a few yards behind me.

With the element of surprise squandered, it seemed only reasonable to follow him in and back him up if the situation turned ugly. They were primitives without steel, it was true, but thirty men are dangerous simply because they are thirty, steel or no. Gildeneye, being wiser than either of us, kept out of sight in the trees.

Shung went about the camp like a wild man himself, slashing tents, kicking down huts, and generally wrecking the place, and these thirty wild men simply cowered in terror. I was most impressed. While Shung did the work, I sampled some of what was cooking over one of their fires, rambled through their meagre belongings, and otherwise made myself look intimidating and overwhlemingly powerful. Their cooking was bad, but hardly the worst I had had on campaign.

The only resistance we encountered from them was one fellow reaching for a knife while Shung’s back was turned. Gildeneye put an arrow through that one’s hand before his blade was above his waist. The rest saw the wisdom of keeping their hands in sight from then on.

After throughly demolishing their camp, Shung roared at them again, and threw rocks at them until they fled. It was all I could do the keep from bursting out in laughter.

That’s one way to handle your enemies, I suppose.

Ilaweh is great

Saturday, September 6

Having dealt handily with the wild men (as the local fishermen call them), Shung, Gildeneye and I have begun to consider where we will make our permanent camp. We are still building pallisades for our beachhead, as a temporary measure, but we would like to find something on higher ground for the long term.

After some consideration, we have decided out best bet is what appears, from our pitiful map, to be a watch tower, one perhaps a half days march from our camp. It should serve as a fine base of operations, should it still stand. We asked the leader of the fisherman if the tower existed, but either he doesn’t understand us, or doesn’t want to tell us. All we can get out of him is that there are ‘bad people’ there.

Well and good. If they trouble us, they will have little chance to regret it.

Ilaweh is Great

Friday, September 12

Ah, today, Ilaweh heaped glory upon our shoulders as a mother heaps food onto her son’s plate! We spotted the tower from some distance away, perched atop a steep, rocky hill of perhaps one hundred feet. We arrived at the bottom of the slope to discover a small marking stone, worn almost smoothe from the ages, but there was just enough left of the engraving to make it out. It bore the mark of General Xanthius! What an incredible find! And to think we had almost passed it by!

We started up the winding road that led to the tower proper through a series of switchbacks, and shortly, we passed several grim totems lining our path, heads of various creatures mounted on spikes, including a few men. All were reasonably fresh. Surely, we decided, this was the work of the wildmen, which meant we would need to do more than frighten them this time.

We continued our ascent, reaching an altitude of perhaps fifty feet, halfway up, when Gildeneye hissed a warning and pointed. Just above our heads, we could see a gate, and hear voices. If the fools had been alert, they would have seen us coming, but like all civilians, they were slothful, and we managed to duck back out of their sight before being noticed.

The obvious military solution would have been to set upon them by surprise and slaughter them before they knew what was going on, but, obviously, we couldn’t be certain that they were villains. I decided to risk approaching them, and Shung agreed. We moved up the trail, leaving Gildeneye hidden in the distance, and rounded the switchback, our hands raised to show our peaceful intent.

Several men wearing black, hooded robes leapt to their feet the instant we appeared. They shouted, and one rang an alarm, as several others launched arrows in our direction. Shung and I ran to the edge of the trail and leap the few feet to the safety of the lower path.

I felt that it was reasonable to consider them hostiles, at this point.

We had just remounted our horses when three robed villains rounded the switchback themselves. Shung and I looked at one another and spurred our horses to charge. It was pointless. By the time we had covered the distance, Gildeneye had dropped them all. Of course, there were more, by now, firing from the ledge above. I spurred my mount to a gallop, leapt the low overhang, and landed right in the middle of them, Shung right behind me. We made short work of them.

When it was done, we examined them, and I was appalled to see they wore silver pendants shaped into the symbol of Elgar, cursed be his name! As we continued our search, we found three of them still alive. As much as it disgusted me, I did the honorable thing, and gave them opportunity to renounce their vile god and be spared. None took me up on the offer. I can only assume Elgar congratulated them for their courage shortly thereafter.

Shung, upon hearing that these were not merely blackguards, but vile worshippers of evil, immediately wanted to burn them, but we had no fire big enough, and at any rate, they hardly merited a pyre. We pushed the corpses over the steep side of the cliff and left them for the carrion eaters.

At the top of the trail, we discovered a reasonably well maintained fortification built about the base of the tower. There were also more Elgies. These faught no better than the first, and soon joined their brethren at the bottom of the cliff. Overhead, at the very top of the tower, we could see movement, and we resolved to finish the job.

It was a fortuitous decision, one made by heroes. We mounted the stairs to the lookout post two at a time, and killed three more Elgies as we ascended. We arrived just in time. We emerged onto the tower roof to confront a single, aging Elgie and his would be victim. He held a dagger in his hand, poised to plunge it into the breast of a gagged and bound young maiden.

Gildeneye put an arrow between his eyes before I or Shung had a chance to move. But we were with him, in spirit.

Ilaweh is Great

Sunday, September 21

We have moved our retinue of men at arms, scientists, artisans, and laborers to the tower. It is a much more secure location, and furthermore, it has a roof. Morale has improved greatly among civilian and soldier alike.

Our newest charge, the girl the Elgies had intended to sacrifice, is up and about, but half crazed. It is impossible to get any sense from her. I have no idea if she started this way, or it is the result of the depredations of the Elgies, but the result is the same: we have no idea where to take her or if she even has family. We’ll give her a few days, and see if she has calmed enough to tell us her tale.

Shung, Gildeneye, and I have discovered that the tower is more than it seems. There is an entire level below ground, with storage, cisterns, prisons, escape routes, and even traps to set against pursuit. It needs work, but no more than a couple of weeks; all in all, it’s in remarkably good shape, considering the passage of time. Xanthius was a cunning general, indeed. He could have withstood a siege of years, here.

The view from the tower is quite impressive, though most of what we can see is a sea of trees. There is a large lake near the bottom of the hill, perhaps a mile long and a half mile across. It’s really more of a wide spot in the river than a true lake, only a few miles upstream from the mouth, where our ships are anchored. It’s a fine and lovely spot, one that seems occupied; we can make out a small village on its shores, and should investigate it soon, but it will have to wait. The scientists are pressuring us to begin the expedition in earnest, and locate the ruins of Haalsberg. We have maps, and know the general direction of the place, but with everything overgrown with trees, it’s difficult to say how long it will take us before we find anything of use.

We also decided, after thinking on it a bit, to salvage several suits of armor from the Elgies at the bottom of the cliff, and burn the corpses after all. We wouldn’t want the smell of rotting flesh hanging about the place.

Ilaweh is Great

Tuesday, September 23

We have found Haalsberg, what remains of it, at any rate. There is a small camp of orcs near the city, who have been plundering it for scrap. We had a minor encounter with them. Their leader, Grunch, challenged us and asked us why he should let us live. We explained that we were here only for the artifacts, which the orcs considered little more than trash. We could pay them gold, or trade them armor or weapons. Barring that, we could kill them all and take what we wanted for free.

Grunch considered this a moment, and accepted. At the moment, they are all busily searching through the ruins, trying to find interesting things to trade us for the slightly used sets of armor we took from the Elgies. They don’t seem to mind the blood at all.

We’ll see how they hold up. We could use some locals on our side.

Ilaweh is Great

Wednesday, September 24

Our new guest found her head earlier today, and managed to explain to us, in general terms, where she lived. In the end, she wasn’t sure enough of where she was to be certain, but we guessed that the river she spoke of would be the one that fed into the large lake near the base of the tower. Our maps showed no other rivers nearby, so we decided to gamble and try to bring her home.

It was not what I would call a pleasant trip. For one thing, the damned insects here are enough to drive a man to violence. For another, we ran into a patrol of elves who threatened to ventilate the lot of us for being in ‘their’ forest. You’d think if they were going to claim the damned place, they’d at least put up a sign or a wall. We tried to explain to them that we meant no harm, and were returning the girl to her home, from where she had been kidnapped. They were not interested in our reasons, and told us to turn back or die.

I was not my most charming. In fact, I think, as I walked past them, my exact words were something on the order of, “Then shoot me in the back, you cowardly dogs.” I half expected them to do just that, but I was mad enough that I was willing to risk getting killed. They probably would have if we hadn’t had Gildeneye with us. At any rate, they didn’t, which is by far the most important thing.

We got the girl back to her village, and the locals were shocked and pleased, but that was just the beginning. Seems she was hardly the first to go missing. Oh, yes, of course, we were heroes, and we were showered with praise, but not all that comes with the title is sweet. It’s a tough thing explaining to a pleading mother, “No, I’m sorry, she was the only one we found. Yes, we’re sure there was no one else.”

We ate their food, drank their wine, and shared a little of their misery and joy. I think that obliges us to avenge their blood.

Ilaweh is Great

Friday, September 26

Playing a hunch today, and having a little time to ourselves, Shung, Gildeneye and I decided to have a closer look at the village on the lake. On the trip there, we were accosted by another group of black robed thugs, five of them, in fact. Shung got a nasty cut on his shoulder, but otherwise it was a slaughter. We helped ourselves to their belongings, though Shung was too delicate to touch a corpse; he made Gildeneye and me loot them. (I will call him ‘Softhands’ from now on, I think.) We found more of those silver pendants; Gildeneye took them. He melted the last ones down and made silver arrowheads from them. Not sure what he imagines we will encounter that he needs silver arrows; I prefer steel, myself, but that’s an elf for you. We also got ourselves more trading material in the form of servicable weapons and armor. As I said, the orcs don’t mind the blood.

We moved on, at last coming to the village; as we had suspected, it, too, was full of black robed cultists. There were five buildings, maybe twenty civilians, and four combatants. One of the buildings looked to be a barracks, which gave us pause; we needed to know how many more. We agreed that Gildeneye would recon the camp and find out more before we struck. Shung didn’t want to wait, but I convinced him that a military venture was always more likely to be successful with proper intelligence. Gildeneye disappeared into the trees, and Shung and I waited.

We couldn’t see Gildeneye, and after a while, Shung became convinced that something had happened to him. Our disagreement was louder than it should have been, I suppose, because it was overheard by one of the guards. He gave a cry of warning. So much for surprise.

Shung and I leapt onto our horses and charged the shouting Elgie. As we did, we saw Gildeneye rush from the woods, gesticulating wildly toward the barracks. He held up ten fingers, then eight. That would be a problem.

Shung would have to handle the shouter on his own. I veered off toward the front barracks entrance and blocked it with my horse, as Gildeneye began raining arrows on the occupants through the windows. An Elgie rushed toward the door, unarmored, and I cut him down; the door was slammed closed again, and they quickly began tossed up beds and desks against the windows, anything they could find to block the arrows. That was was good; it meant they had no idea we were only three.

With the windows blocked, Gildeneye moved to cover the rear exit, but neither of us could hold for long. They would get themsleves armored in a few minutes, and shortly after that, their nerve would return, and we would be overwhelmed, heroes or not. We needed them to stay panicked, to make mistakes. I looked from the burning lantern at the door up to the thatched roof, and smiled at Ilaweh’s providence. I grabbed the lantern from its hook and tossed it onto the roof; in seconds, the thatch was ablaze. Judging from the shouts inside, I’d say they were panicked just fine.

I heard a cry from behind me, and turned to see Shung surrounded by the other three; he was hurt badly. Damn, this could have been planned better, I thought to myself as I rushed to his aid. He had already taken one down as I arrived; I took another one’s head as I passed. The last tried to flee, but neither Shung nor I was feeling merciful, and he joined his black hearted brethren in hell.

We got back to the door just in time. The flames had inspired them to take desperate measures; they rushed the doors at both ends, blinded by smoke and fear, and we cut them down. There would be no more kidnapping and murdering of girls by these bastards.

Battle has a way of focusing a man, making you forget all but the task at hand, of defeating your enemy and staying alive; your mind simply stops paying attention to things that have nothing to do with survival. When it is done, you stand elated at victory, a little dazed, drunk on adrenaline, chest heaving, blood pounding in your temples, in a world of silence. You hear, but you do not perceive, because the birds, the wind, they are not important, not part of the battle. After a moment, there is a ‘pop’, and you’re in the real world again, and that was how it was with me that day. ‘Pop’, and the rushing in of everything else.

The civilians were in panic, screaming women dragging screaming children away from the village and into the woods, the old and infirm hobbling away as quickly as they could, or simply begging for mercy as we rushed past them, barely aware of their existance. It was an ugly scene, all around. We had come here to punish villains. It had never occurred to us that the bastards would have wives and children, that, of course, they would fear and loathe us as villains ourselves. I was troubled by it, but I held on to my faith; I knew why I had come here.

Shung, however, was not finished. As Gildeneye and I stood in the middle of the chaos, both a little stunned, Shung strode past us with fire in hand, heart, and mind. He went quickly from one building to another, tossing torches on each of the roofs as Gildeneye and I stared agape. We shouted for him to stop, but he paid us no heed, and try as we might, there was not a chance in hell of us putting out those flames.

I watched in horror as more civilians fled from the now burning buildings, and I cursed Shung for his hateful act. He showed no expression as he said, in a flat voice, that this place was a cancer, and that it had to be burned out. As I watched the civilians fleeing into the woods in terror, black smoke rolling over everything, I felt dirty.

I felt like a villain. In truth, I fear that is just what I was, today. Ilaweh forgive us for our lack of mercy, for our lack of forethought. There must have been a better way than this.

Ilaweh is Great