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Duergar, duergar everywhere..

Ghelt’s Journal

Dearest Grun,

I wonder how you’re doing? I pray the duergar haven’t caused you too much trouble, or any parts of the undead army arrived. At least I had a chance to warn you, but the re-emergence of the lich lord makes me fear for your safety.

Speaking of safety, we went running up the tunnel away from the chasm of magma and mind-flayers, and ran smack into a gelatinous cube! Rather, Aramil did, and he was carrying “Pockets”. I was still mad, but sliced them out of it, and we sat down to wait for both of them to start moving again. Once the paralysis wore off, Drusilia tried to talk to them about their still-mysterious history and motives, but “Pockets” just picked a fight so he could stalk off and Drusilia gave up.

We headed back up the tunnel and took a quick look down one we hadn’t checked, only to encounter strange writing that Valon interpreted to be a warning - it was a drow kingdom boundary! We turned back. After exploring all our options, the city of the salamanders looked like the best of a bad lot. Tired, we travelled back to the first cavern we’d dropped into, and Fafnir cast a strange-looking shelter for us to rest in.

Moradin be thanked, we had a quiet rest! In the morning, I woke up sick again - same bug as what hit me back in Smallville at Father’s. Drusilia fixed me right up (and I fixed myself up, too!), and then told me she’d planned a magical breakfast that would cure all diseases, and make us especially strong and blessed for the day. We needed it!

“Pockets”, by the way, woke up and decided to play with our minds by levitating a dagger in front of himself and eyeing Watch.. who confounded us all by copying him - levitating a stone, and staring right back! She’s quite an unusual dog, that’s for sure! I just wish he wasn’t so threatened by her (guilty conscience, I suppose). We have accepted plenty of strange things until they proved dangerous, including “Pockets” and Aramil. *sigh* As you can guess, that problem still isn’t resolved. Not much point in going over it yet again for you.

Finally, we finished the meal, and made our way to the city of the salamanders (no lich appeared this time, thank Moradin, and much to Fafnir’s amusement). There was a small ramp down the side of the cavern, and we could see a temple in the center of the cirty that Valon was sure was the place to go. Since he had the egg that brought us here, I hope he’s being guided by a benevolent power!

We reached the floor of the cavern and began to walk toward the city. Suddenly, two giant fire creatures appeared! Valon made sure he put all weapons away, told them he was peaceful, and walked right through. We followed, doing the same, excpet for Aramil who kept his bow out and ready, but paid for it - one of the creatures reached down and touched it, reducing his beautiful longbow to ashes!

We didn’t make it far into the city before we were surrounded by lizards, carrying spears and hissing at us in a strange language. Drusilia cast a spell that allowed her to understand them, and told us to put down our weapons. We reluctantly complied, and they picked up our gear and prodded us toward the center of town. We ended up in front of a large building, with huge brass doors opening into a throne room and a big salamander on the throne.

The King (I think) spoke common, and asked us why we were there. We told him we were looking for the Temple of the Void which we’d heard would appear near there soon, and that the dragon had driven us into his kingdom. When asked why we were looking for it, we admitted we had an item of evil and chaos we wanted disposed of (a risk, but one I think we had to take. Drusilia and Valon were guessing that even if the salamanders are evil, they’re lawful, so the Heart wouldn’t be of much interest to them). The king told us we must be searching for “the arch”, and then said the duergar had been trying to get there, too. Duergar, yech. The king decided to help us - for a price! The duergar have been attacking here, too, but these are being directed by a black beholder - one powerful enough to have other beholders at its command. He told us that if we killed it and brought him an eyestalk, the salamanders would help us get to the Temple when it arrives. He even told us where to find the beholder, and we agreed to go for it.

Retrieving our weapons (poor Aramil still lamenting his bow in this land of stone and fire, and refusing to give Drusilia his arrows in case he gets a new one somewhere), we set out, discussing the abilities of beholders and letting “Pockets” search ahead. We were heading down the passage to the beholders’ lair when he came back and said there was a funny tunnel running straight up and down through the one we were in. We reached it and crossed it, mostly by jumping. Drusilia nearly fell, upon which Fafnir joked that we really needed a ladder, and “Pockets” brightened up and yanked one out of his bag of holding. Sheesh, how much stuff does he have in there? Apparently even he doesn’t remember! At least it wasn’t another tree.

Aramil fell off the ladder. At least we had ropes, too, but I guess we’d finally made enough noise - as soon as the rest of us had crossed, Watch began barking loudly over the edge of the gap, and sure enough, a green beholder flew up and faced us! Yech, again! Aramil took a wild swing, it slammed a bunch of rays into the party, and flew straight up! I got a light slash in and it was gone. I was prepared to keep going, presuming the thing had gone to warn the others, and wanting to get to the lair as fast as possible - but no, the creature quickly came back for more. This time it shot rays at us while flying downward, hitting me but giving “Pockets” a chance to sling a stringful of hooks around one eyestalk. He also shot arrows down the hole as we assembled at the edge, waiting for the next run. This time, we were ready - Aramil finally landed another sword blow, and as soon as it closed its largest eye Fafnir and Drusilia let fly with magic attacks before it could shoot rays at us again. That was enough to kill it!

As it fell, we all got the horrilble feeling of being watched by unseen eyes. For the third time, yech! I’ll be glad to finish this mission, Grun. Is it me, or does there seem to be a coordinated effort to use the duergar to attack their betters? This is the third or fourth time I’ve heard this plaint, and it makes me wonder. I don’t know if that’s too big a mystery for us, but we have other problems to settle first, anyway.

With love,

Posted by Kate on September 6, 2003, 12:36 | Ghelt’s Journal