Garlek certainly didn’t look like a village that would withstand the assault of an ogre tribe. Even with my basic training in soldiery, I could easily spot how the palisade (never that sturdy) had been broken through and insufficiently patched up, leaving weak spots for future assaults. The defenders were, naturally, farmers and craftspeople by trade, and only fighters by necessity. Still, as Gilly and Dolg went with Espen to scout the ogres, and Syama and I talked strategy with the mayor and the local healer, I could tell that they would succeed with the right help. Why? Because they loved the village. Their commitment to it, and to each other, fills my heart in a way I don’t know if even my friends would fully understand. Their bond of duty and trust reminds me of that I once knew in my clan, but more powerful. Twice, once because they have so much less, and again because they honor it consistently. I spoke with Garn Redaxe, the mayor, at some length — his stories of his adventures and of others’, of people who have cherished this little village, invigorate me. If my grandfather were half the man that he is, I never would have been treated as I was. I pray that I may impress Garn in helping defend Garlek against the ogres, and know his approval and gratitude. Gilly would say this is the sort of thinking that gets you killed, but she’s wrong. There’s a time to think about safety, but there’s a time for standing up to defend the greater good. And I just know we can win.
Fortunately, Gilly only complained briefly about the odds after the scouting party returned. I’m not sure if it was Syama and Dolg’s arguments or the distraction of the scouts’ news, but in any case I’m glad of it. They hadn’t managed to figure an approximate count of the enemy, but they did spy something possibly as interesting: the ogres were searching for and harvesting a specific plant. Why was unclear, it was supposed no good as food or spice or poison. Gilly wondered if it was perhaps for a potion? Clever girl, she is. We brought it to Clwniver, the healer, who said it did have some interesting properties, related to necromancy. Strange. We thought about it some, and decided it unlikely that the ogres had a magic user working for them — Espen said he’d seen no sign of that all the time he’s been scouting. Syama suggested contacting the Blood of Vol temple when we returned to Iron Town, and Gilly volunteered to do so. It’s good to have someone who can talk comfortably with people like that — I don’t think I could, even if I was a talker.
We made a lot of tactical plans and traps, which if they work right right will keep the ogres at arms’ reach for long enough for us to fill them with bolts (and sharpened sticks, burning oil, and caltrops). Fortunately, they all depend on the reliable stupidity and bullheadedness of ogres, so I think we have a good chance. We’ve loaded the wagon with kids to evacuate to Iron Town. Well, the smaller kids at least. The bigger ones are staying to help load crossbows and the like. It makes me proud to see how these villagers devote themselves to the village-as-a-whole. Will write more from Iron Town, the chatter of little ones makes it impossible to concentrate.
We’re in Iron Town now, and the noncombatants safely ensconced, so we can do a bit of shopping. A hundredpound of caltrops, a hundredpound of oil… good thing we’ve a wagon, even I wouldn’t want to carry this stuff! We dropped by the Blood of Vol temple and learned something interesting but very disturbing. They’ve a chair made of bones in their anteroom! Okay, that wasn’t it really. It sounds like the ogres are attempting a ritual that can possibly bring a recently deceased person back to life. Of course, it only works if you do it exactly right, and being ogres, they’re likely to make some undead-ogre-kid monstrosity. Which could complicate the battle… We ended up adding holy water to the shopping list. Rather a lot of holy water, much more than I should hope we could use, but the priests seemed to be okay with them bringing back any they didn’t use, so I think it’s okay. I can’t tell people how to spend their money when I want to spend mine on a nice backpack. (Not enough money for it! I could have managed if I only brought one healing potion, but that would be dumb.) Gilly even managed to sweet-talk one adventurer into joining our mission.
Back in Garlek, the preparations are going nicely, and Gilly convinced a local to deliver a message to a giant scout, that they were wrong about the ritual and it wouldn’t bring the kid back to life but instead make her a horrible undead monstrosity. Let’s hope that means one or two fewer ogres wanting to follow the chief in. The big surprise was that Garn offered that Dolg or I wear the Helm of Garlek for the battle. It’s an amazing thing, a powerful force for the specific purpose of defending Garlek from ogres.
And… I’m conflicted. I know what it can do, not just from hearing stories, but also from wearing it to ‘ask’ it if it found us worthy. I felt its vast knowledge of ogre-fighting technique flood my mind, and I know what I could do as its wearer. A sling bullet true to the temple, a cleave through the bellies of two ogres momentarily distracted by some motion out of my range of vision. I’d still be at risk of getting clobbered by a greatclub, but with healing… It would improve our chances so much, and I would be the hero. I want it so much.
But… Dolg would as proficient with it, maybe a little less, maybe some more. And I know he yearns to be key to the fight. We haven’t fought together much, but I’ve seen his frustration on the occasions when his hands and feet strike less than true, and it falls to me to provide the less than subtle waraxe backup.
But would his mission of perfecting himself be helped by a sense of accomplishment brought on by equipment? Especially equipment that he won’t be keeping and continuing to use?
Am I just making up arguments to convince myself that it’s okay to take it myself?
Why is it wrong to want to be important to the group, especially if it means shouldering serious risks?
ARGH. This is just like that time when I failed the examination for the Corps. His eyes were sad, why? “Be wary of wanting the right things for the wrong reasons” he’d said, and NEVER explained it. Why they never explain… Infuriating!
I can’t think straight. I will pray to Abadar for guidance, and see if my dreams are any more revealing than this maze of thought.