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A Sticky Situation

Drusilia’s Journal

Moonday, Flocktime 17, 592 CY

We decided to head back to the carnival’s makeshift marketplace, where we were able to find nearly everything we’d ever wanted (and some things we didn’t even know we needed until the carnies produced them!). Valon and I both got nicer Mithril armor, I picked up a “Ring of Sustenance” which the carny assured me would allow me to go on less food and rest (I could have used that in Arun-tosa!), plus a quiver that seems to hold anything that fits through the top, but stays weightless. I can even manage to get my mace into it! Several others among my friends got items that seem to be bigger on the inside than the outside. Pockets got a strange-looking dog, or maybe the dog got Pockets. It seems to prefer being perched on his backpack rather than walking on the ground.

We were all able to catch a few hours of rest overnight— thankfully we didn’t hear the creature, or hear of the creature making an appearance, during that time. Valon is still staying in my house— he’s found a new way to be “charming,” even for a gray elven bard. More on that in a bit.

Shortly after sunrise, most of us (with the exception of Aramil, who was still pretty tired from two full days of identifying items) gravitated towards Ghelt’s house, only to find her digging a hole in her front yard. She was attempting to dig down to the tunnels under Smallville— a great idea, but a tedious way to go about it for a cleric of Moradin! I cannot seem to convince her to use her divine gifts— and considering Moradin’s clerics can have amazing abilities that involve literally moving the earth, digging seemed a bit, well, wrong. I am ashamed to admit I got into my first real argument with a dwarf, ever. In fact, we probably would have continued to argue, had there not been a shriek from Fafnir’s house. The fact that it carried so far, and with a not-so-quiet carnival in town, is a testament to Aramil’s lung capacity. We all dropped what we were doing and rushed back, to find the wooden floor planks of Fafnir’s place pushed up around dirt that looked untouched to us, but to Ghelt indicated that the same creature had captured him! His toad Jacob was still there, looking as worried as a toad can, so I used Speak with Animals to confirm that two great white arms with claws had reached through the floor and grabbed his master, and was moving with him through tunnels under Smallville. Aramil was still alive! Jacob hopped up on Pockets’ shoulder after I worked up a system for allowing the toad to indicate direction for us once my spell wore off, and we ran to the only tunnels we knew of— the Everston Estate.

The Estate hadn’t been disturbed since we’d last been there, though it smelled of rot and death. When we went down the stairs we’d used in our first trip through, we found why— dead goblins we had left behind on our earlier excursion. We followed our path from before, through a trapdoor in a cell, down into the catacombs, and through the temple to Nerull. I admit, I half expected the Heart that Valon is carrying to do something there, but if it did, Valon gave no sign. We continued on until we got to the underground lake, at which point we realized we had left the raft on the opposite shore in our first expedition.

Ghelt, being strongest of us all, was elected to retrieve the raft, despite the fact that dwarves generally hate being in/on/over water. Fafnir cast a Spider Climb spell on her and off she went across the ceiling. Other than disrupting a swarm of bats, she did quite well and was soon rowing back across the lake for the rest of us.

Thanks to the dearly departed Trap, we knew where all the traps in this area were located and easily avoided them. We followed our previous path all the way to the piercer cave, which we decided to cross, hoping to find ourselves under Smallville and therefore, able to rescue Aramil. However, we seemed to be too far below the creature’s tunnels, judging by Aramil’s toad, who kept his eyes more or less glued to the cavern ceilings.

After managing to cross the piercer cavern safely, we came to a choice of passages left and right, and took the right for about half a mile (which, I think, went completely under Smallville and beyond). We came to a 70’ deep gorge with a narrow ledge around it, and several cave openings were visible. Thinking this might be a good place for a creature such as the one we were seeking to lurk, Pockets and then Valon went down to look at the caves. Before they got too far, Pockets saw a “tar monster” coming at him. Hoping this was the creature, I quickly cast Daylight on my holy symbol, knowing the light would weaken the beast. The light lit up the entire gorge, and made it clear that this was a different sort of creature— it lacked claws, for one thing. Pockets and Valon attacked it a few times from where they stood, Valon bisecting it with his stick several times, while the rest of us tried ranged attacks. Suddenly, one blob struck out at Valon and his clothes (and new Mithril chain) dissolved instantly. I must say I was momentarily surprised by that! Not to mention, I swear he had a very familiar looking tattoo....

After a moment (in which I dearly hope my friends didn’t notice my lapse) I did manage to refocus my attention on the black pudding and yelled for Valon to back up. While my comrades continued to use ranged attacks I sent a Flame Strike down on the area. I’ve never used that spell before, and was somewhat surprised at the result. It’s a good thing that Valon moved, or he would have lost more than his clothing!

Pockets quickly fished out a spare cloak for Valon, and we more or less headed back towards the Everston Estate. It was obvious we were too far down and too far past Smallville by the way Jacob concentrated his gaze on the ceilings. The daylight spell continued to light our way, and when we got back to the lake, we saw a very small opening in the ceiling right above it. Fafnir managed to get us all up into what must have once been a stream that fed the lake. We crawled through it for a while until we came to a cave in, which probably was all that was keeping us from being washed back to the lake. Feeling defeated, we inched our way back to the opening and back down into the raft to make our way home.

Something kept bumping into the raft as we crossed the lake. Pockets rigged up some fishing equipment and found a 6’ long albino fish was pestering us. The fish looked decayed, and perhaps, undead, but I couldn’t get it in sight long enough to cast turn undead, so I had to settle for using my holy symbol to cast Holy Smite on the thing. If it was a product of undead tampering, it will, hopefully, cease to be a problem.

At any rate, we have to keep looking for Aramil. It could be that Ghelt’s idea is sound, but we must find a quicker way of removing dirt or the creature will simply have time to move its lair. Perhaps I can convince her to use her divine power to try to soften an area of dirt in a basement where the creature has attacked so that we can dig more quickly.

Posted by Kristin on July 30, 2003, 13:01 | Drusilia’s Journal