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Remains and Responses

Drusilia’s Journal

Godsday, Flocktime 11, 592 CY

Valon, in typical bard fashion, sent his reply to me in a rhyme:

Been fighting Dwarves of the deep.
Fortunate Elves need little sleep.
Unsure I can get all that dust.
Reply. Will do what I must.

Of course, I had to wait for 24 hours to pass to send him more information— it is a wonderful spell, but also a powerful one that I can only use once per day. And what a day it was!

I was finally able to convince Ghelt and Jonathan that the Sword of Pelor could be used to heal them (Korin simply would not be convinced, so I promised him I would use “regular” spells on him if the time came and he needed healing). I’m sure it would have looked alarming to anyone, seeing a cleric of a healing deity stabbing her comrades! Thankfully, it healed them up nicely, and we were able to move on. Korin, in a conspiratorial tone said, “The axe is going to kill him!” I can only assume he means Jonathan, though I’m not sure if he meant the axe Jonathan himself is carrying or the one Korin borrowed from Ghelt.

We walked a ways up the tunnel we’d chosen and came to two lines of holes equidistant apart and evenly spaced. Ghelt said they must have been where the tracks to the old dwarven mines were— but why were they pulled up? Our answer came scuttling along soon enough— a tentacled rust monster! As we attempted to fight it without using any metal weapons (metal being its favorite food), two more scurried up to us, one touching Korin’s magical half-plate with a tentacle. The armor fell off of him in a pile of rust— and was consumed by two of the creatures. Fafnir was able to kill one with a spell, but we only injured the other two, before deciding a hasty departure would be in our best interest. Korin yelled, “Stop doing that, we’re not running from rodents!” to no one in particular as we ran.

I’m sorry to confess that I got rather cross with Korin talking to his “invisible” friends instead of us. I honestly cannot tell if he is mad or just really, really in tune with a different plane. I suspect the former, but will try to keep an open mind.

We kept running, taking branches in the tunnels that looked like they were in the general direction we wanted to head and kept running from the rust monsters that scurried along behind us, until we came to an area where the metal tracks started up again. There were rust monsters in the area, but they had not yet eaten the metal, and in fact were all dead— torn apart recently by some unknown horror. We kept moving as fast as we could.

Soon we came to a 40’ rift in the middle of a cavern. Looking down over the rock face, Korin said he could make out swirling “red” below us, and it was all we could do to keep him from climbing in for a better look. In fact, as Jonathan was trying to pull him back from the edge, huge red centipedes came skittering up the sides, attacking them both.

Apparently, this would be one of the “rifts to ungodly planes” made by the sorcerers of Arun-tosa, according to dwarven legend.

Luckily, only five of these vermin came at us— we were able to defeat them with a combined attack using magic and steel. Korin was hurt though— luckily he trusted me enough to heal him— he usually holds out for Ghelt to do it. He responded to this momentous occasion by saying, “No, she helped me!” to no one I could see. Fafnir cast spider climb on Jonathan, who then helped us all across the rift. Well, actually, Korin just climbed across, as if hanging at odd angles from rock is a natural thing for him.

We followed the mine tracks for a bit more, and then heard a “slapping” sound behind us. Turning around, we saw big spheres of arms, legs and mouth rolling at us— abyssal maws! Fafnir cast a lightning spell at them and all four creatures just— died. I wish I would have had a bit more warning, since I was standing on the metal tracks at the time, but I was really only singed. Korin said, “Don’t be rude, she’s probably never seen one before.” I have no idea....

We turned back to the tracks we were following and saw— daylight! The cavern ahead of us had a pair of stone doors, broken outward (they had been bolted with a large stone bar across them), revealing a valley beyond. Now, I’m not sure I want to know what was big enough and strong enough to do that (and was perhaps responsible for the freshly killed rust monsters behind us), but I truly missed the light of the sun and was anxious to be in it again.

The sun was setting over a valley full of crumbling architecture— no doubt Arun-tosa. We thought it best to stay in the cave near the entrance for the night, not wanting to leave the fresh air, but not sure which place would be safer. Fortunately, the night passed without incident for a change.

Dawn gave us a better view of the City of the Dead. There were hundreds of little buildings littering the city, most of which were damaged beyond repair. Five larger and better-maintained buildings survived, with one 60’ to 80’ tall stone tower, appearing to be at least 40’ in diameter, standing in the center. We made plans to investigate a large building in the southeast quadrant of the city first, as it looked to be a temple. But where was Korin? I had missed it, but he had yelled something about “seeing dead people” and rushed down into the valley, and it was assumed that he was just talking about the “friends” the rest of us couldn’t see.

A few minutes later as we had just started down to the buildings ourselves, he came hurtling back towards us, three ghouls scrambling along behind him. Korin stopped to vomit once he got close enough to us. I honestly assumed that we could easily defeat the ghouls, and we did, but no thanks to me. I attempted to wield the Sword of Pelor, but just didn’t manage to land a blow. Luckily my comrades were in better form and took the ghouls out quickly, but not before poor Korin was paralyzed by a ghoul’s touch. He was wounded too, and I felt this was my fault since I hadn’t turned the undead.

Not wishing to upset the halfling further, I chose to cast a small healing spell on his wounds rather than use the sword. I must confess, though my faith is strong, I am uncomfortable using the sword to heal someone that cannot give me permission to do so. But, something horrible happened. Just as I completed my spell, Korin’s body began to decompose before my eyes! I looked and saw that Ghelt could see it too. I thought I must have really, really offended Pelor by not using the sword if my healing spells (for his domain is healing) could do this. To make matters worse, as I went to cradle Korin’s desiccated body, his head fell off and rolled away.

I was beside myself with guilt and, grisly though it was, in my shock I could only think to grab his head and try to put it back on his body. Fafnir suggested that Ghelt could help Korin through her own diety. I just wanted to take Korin out of this horrible valley and grabbed what I could of him, carting him back to the cave we’d camped in. As I was climbing the hill, I heard commotion behind me, and saw Ghelt backhanding Fafnir, who was giggling! Jonathan was walking towards Fafnir menacingly and hit him as well. I turned back and noticed two things next— Fafnir was shooting a lightning bolt at Ghelt and Jonathan, but it wasn’t a real bolt, and there was a halfling hanging from the head I had tucked under my arm! I continued towards the cave though, hugging the now alive (but still paralyzed) halfling to me, while my remaining comrades beat each other up.

Apparently, Fafnir thought it would be very funny if he cast an image of a dead Korin over the one I was healing, just at the moment I was casting. I will do my best to forgive him— he does enjoy casting illusions, and they have little effect on undead (which I suspect will be the bulk of the population here), so I think he is frustrated about that. Mostly though, I am just relieved that I didn’t kill Korin with a healing spell! I didn’t realize just how protective I am towards my comrades, but this also means that I must make sure they all are still on speaking terms with one another, so I will do my best to put this incident behind me.

One way to occupy my own mind for a few minutes was to compose a new Sending spell to Valon, since we made it to the City of the Dead well before we thought we would:

Forget dust; just bring you!
Arun-tosa map proved true.
Arrived via southern mine.
Checking big structures first a shrine.
Comrades’ brains already mush...
Please rush!

I got a very speedy reply:

Asked for advice.
Got nothing nice.
Dwarves say Arun-tosa is BAD.
Traveling to, purely mad.
The journey is hard.
But traveling there, this Elven bard.

Now that Korin can move again, perhaps we’ll head down to the building we originally planned to check out first.

Posted by Kristin on April 28, 2003, 20:40 | Drusilia’s Journal