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An Eye for an Eye

Drusilia’s Journal

Waterday, Flocktime 19, 592 CY, continued

Apparently Pockets was wounded by a poisoned crossbow bolt and then fell over on his stash of alchemist’s fire, for Aramil was carrying his singed body, not waiting for any healing from Ghelt or me (they take great delight in stabbing each other with Pelor’s sword anyway). I guess Aramil was either pretending to scout since Pockets couldn’t, or simply making sure Pockets stayed at the head of the party like he’d planned (though he’d intended to be conscious, of course!), but he scouted them right into a huge shimmering gelatinous cube. Aramil of course stopped moving at this point while the rest of us hacked at the ooze (though Ghelt, Pelor bless her, looked like she was having second thoughts about that particular rescue so soon after they’d been trying to kill her dog).

We pondered what to do with the two paralyzed bodies we pulled out of the remains of the cube, but they soon were mobile again, making the decision on what to do with them moot. None of the rest of us really want them “watching” our backs now!

Valon noticed some strange marks on one of the tunnel walls in Undercommon— he said was some sort of drow warning marker— we left that passage alone!

We finally stopped to rest and renew our spells. Fafnir cast some sort of protective dome for us to pass the time in peacefully. While most of us prayed, studied or slept, Pockets sat across from the puppy using a Mage Hand to spin a dagger in front of him. Watch found a rock and made it do the same thing. Mage Hand was one of the spells she ate from Aramil’s book— perhaps she studied it first, or found some more efficient way to cast the spell! After we had rested for at least eight hours, I cast a “Heroes’ Feast” for the party (including Watch). It was a silent meal, as conversation is very strained when one member of the group is trying her hardest not to kill the part so obviously plotting against her. I cast some endurance spells to help us survive the heat of the caverns and we packed up and moved on towards the salamander city. Our plan was to walk in with our weapons sheathed and ask to see their leader.

When we arrived back at the ledge overlooking the city, sure enough, there was a set of stairs leading down into the city. In the distance, we could see salamanders using a forge, with the smiths walking right in and through the molten metals. The center of the city also had a large temple (which Fafnir was worried would be where the temple we sought would appear). As we entered the city in single file between pools of lava, two large fire elementals rose up out of the pools— obviously sentinels protecting the city’s inhabitants. We passed between them one at a time, until we got to Aramil, who was still holding his compound longbow, in spite of all of our urging to appear non-threatening. The sentinels gave him a chance to put it away, at which point he just shrugged and said, “What?” so they answered him— one touched the bow and it immediately fell to ash at Aramil’s feet. He was then allowed to enter with the rest of us.

We were quickly greeted by a group of smaller salamanders, who asked us to disarm and follow them. They took us to a large, ornate stone building with brass doors which opened into a large chamber. A larger, fiery salamander sat upon a throne and bade us speak. I had to use a Comprehend Languages spell to talk to the smaller salamanders (who only spoke Ignan); thankfully this one spoke common so I did not have to interpret. Valon was our spokesperson much of the time, and Fafnir and I chimed in when we thought it helpful. When asked why we had traveled to his realm, we opted to tell the truth about the Temple of the Void and what I called an artifact of “negative energy” that needed destroyed, playing to the fact that such creatures would likely have no dealings with undead and their ilk. The king said that the portal to the temple we wished to reach must be what opens in the “Arch” and that he would help us reach that, provided we could help them with something. (Oddly, Aramil tried to offer Ghelt’s services in the salamander forge— she told him to just stop talking— it was ludicrous to ask a dwarf to stand inside a forge full of molten metal and “instruct” salamanders in their trade, after all, and was not likely what the king had in mind.) He asked us if we had any dealings with the grey dwarves, and I told him that our current relations with the duergar were quite “strained” at this time. Luckily, they are equally repugnant to the salamanders. The king wished the duergar to leave his people alone, but since they had allied “Xorn of the Many Eyes,” an orb with “rays of death,” they had been a problem for his city, attacking and raiding without provocation. He needed us to dispatch the beholder.

Pockets wanted the salamanders to provide us with better weapons, but most of us realized that if they had better weapons, they would be using them to fight their enemies themselves. He did provide us with a map of the local underdark. We said we’d make an attempt to rid them of the beholder and would bring back one of the eyes as proof.

The map showed our destination to be the one of the few passages that we hadn’t tried. It took us a few hours to walk back, which again was a large space of mostly-strained silence punctuated with “I wasn’t being threatening!” by Aramil every few minutes, to be answered by a party member with a statement about respecting simple requests. At least he hasn’t blamed the puppy this time. We noticed that the roper we had killed the day before had disappeared....

Pockets scouted a wee bit ahead, and found an 8’ tunnel that bisected the one we traveled, but went vertically. Pockets easily cleared this vertical shaft, and they helped me across with aid of a rope (I’ve never been good at jumping). Fafnir said, “It’s too bad you don’t have a 10’ ladder,” to Pockets, who then remembered that he did in fact have one in his bag. He put the ladder across the shaft, thinking the rest could “climb” across it. Aramil, as graceful as ever, began to weave and stagger across the rungs like a drunken circus performer, falling and landing in such a way with the ladder between his legs as to make all the males in the party gasp at once. He pulled himself up and tottered across the remaining few feet, never once attempting to use his hands. He’ll have to heal that area of his anatomy on his own!

The rest of us, Watch included, made it across without incident.

While we were wondering if beholders had a use for these shafts, we discovered that they were used for travel. A green beholder floated through, making a few attacks on Aramil on the way past. It took us a while to figure out how to cope with the flyby attacks it was making, but we eventually killed it— either Ghelt’s chopping into it, Fafnir’s magic missiles or my searing light did it in. Valon contributed song, while Pockets was trying to catch it with a fishhook. I’m not sure what Aramil was doing, but at least he didn’t fall in after the eye tyrant’s corpse.

Now, unfortunately, we feel like we are being watched. I suspect Xarn knows we are here.

Posted by Kristin on September 1, 2003, 22:18 | Drusilia’s Journal