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January 8, 2003

A Fascicle of Fafnirs

Drusilia's Journal

Freeday, Planting 21, 592 CY

We have had 10 fairly restful days. Ghelt spent some time instructing Trap on some of the finer points of combat (but not necessarily getting him to know when to enter combatů), Fafnir’s house had smoke and the sounds of nervous chickens wafting from it (but he apparently produced some handy potions during his stay) and Valon has been wowing the locals with his bardic lore and songs. I’ve handled what few clerical duties were needed of me— mostly helping the locals with bumps and bruises, and answering one somewhat urgent sounding request for an “exorcism” which, once I found out the request led me to Fafnir’s house, I realized wasn’t necessary. We’ve met a few times at the Rat’s Egg Tavern to look over our cryptic map, and have a good idea at least of which direction to head in.

The morning of the 20th arrived and we were ready to depart. As we discussed how much our supplies would weigh, we realized a pack animal of some sort was needed. We acquired a mule (or “The Mule” as Fafnir calls it) and enough food for a several-week journey. Our map looks to be taking us 100 miles, mostly through the Barrier Peaks.

The journey to the foothills near the peaks was uneventful, and as the sun was near to setting we came to a small farmhouse and barn. Thinking to ask to use the barn to pass the night in, we walked to the front door of the farmhouse to get the owner’s permission. The door was ajar, and we could see the furniture in disarray inside, as well as patches of sticky redness on the floors. A quick search of the house and barn turned up no one alive. Not knowing much of the local flora and fauna prompted us to vote on looking for the owner immediately or when the sun rose. We ended up spending the night under a tree about 100 yards from the barn.

The night went quietly, and soon after dawn we had a quick meal of rations and then found a very obvious trail through the trampled plant-life heading in a westerly direction. We had Trap scout ahead of us, all the while keeping a lookout for what made the trail. The footprints were of two sizes: really, really big and slightly smaller than our own. Clearly something (or someone) had been dragged along the trail, and the creatures who left the prints were either too confident or too stupid to cover them.

After a long hike, we eventually came to a cave entrance. Sneaking in, we walked single-file, quietly, until -thud!- Trap tripped over a tripwire, sending something clanging in the distant tunnels. We quickly hauled ourselves back out into the sunlight, and waited. After what seemed like an eternity we were rewarded with the appearance of a goblin archer, which we quickly dispatched. We entered the cave again, more carefully this time, and made it to a large intersection in the tunnels, where we met up with half a dozen goblins and an ogre! Valon attempted to tumble past the ogre so Ghelt and the rest of us could get into the open area to fight, and was knocked down. Lying there, clearly stunned, he started to sing a rousing battle song. I blessed the party as Ghelt waded into combat, and was eventually able to get a shot in at the ogre with my bow. As luck would have it, the ogre had the help of a goblin cleric and began to get up again. So Fafnir finished off the goblin cleric with a nice fiery spell, and then fried the ogre. Things seemed to be getting better, when we noticed that Valon had ceased his song. By now, he was being dragged back through the ranks of goblins. How would I get to him in time? Luckily, Ghelt’s tutoring of Trap paid off well, and he was able to pick off most of the goblins so I could pass and get to Valon before he disappeared down a tunnel. Since I had my new bow out rather than my sword, I had to act fast, so I kicked the goblin dragging him. I kicked him hard. I kicked him in such a fashion that he (for it was now apparently that he was a he) doubled over, squeaked, and passed out. Some quick healing to Valon brought our fighting ability back up to full, and off we chased after Ghelt and Fafnir, while Trap picked off the remaining goblins.

As we came around the corner things got confusing. In addition to a large group of goblins, there was an equal number of Fafnirs, all standing around looking identical. I tried to heal a few more of my comrades while they took out the remaining goblins, and poor Valon shot an arrow through the combat, attempting to hit a goblin. He hit a Fafnir. And of all the Fafnirs in the room, he managed to hit the real one. In the same spot the poor gnome had been hit by Trap just 10 days ago. Luckily, Fafnir doesn’t seem to hold grudges.

After the dust settled and all the goblins were dead, we explored the rest of the (rather stinky) chambers of the cave. One had a pit full of very dead and decayed things (in which I fear the farmer we’d looked for the night before had ended up), a filthy bedchamber, and a small storage room filled with somewhat cleaner “treasure.” As Trap opened the door to this room of treasure, a hail of needles shot out of a trap at him. Not to be dissuaded, he ignored them and looked around in the room. We found an iron box. Trap attempted to open it, but his lock pick broke in the lock. I used a minor spell to mend his pick and he tried again, but the lock was jammed. I attempted to shatter the lock, but with no success. So, he pried the hinges off the back of the box. Success! However, he hadn’t accounted for the poison gas trap on the box, and since the rest of us always run when he “disarms” a trap, he got the full dose of the poison. As usual, the halfling cheerfully shook of the nausea and riffled through the box, finding various gold and gems, and (oops!) a shattered vial.

We are gathering up The Mule and some odds and ends and continuing on our quest. I can’t help but feel someone is watching us... though with all the commotion we cause, that would hardly be surprising.

Posted by Kristin at 10:58 | Drusilia’s Journal

While in Town

Ghelt's Journal

Dearest Grun,

I got home and sent my first note right off — and now I’m starting another letter-journal. Hard to believe the first one was only three days’ worth!

We managed to pull everyone out of the hole in the ground, eventually — Drusilia being last; she heard something move, but we were so sick and tired we went on.

Valon, luckily, had a tent we could put to use, as the three we’d rescued couldn’t even walk on their own. We dragged them through the woods, back to the poor lonely cleric, piled him onto the tent, and headed back to town. You can imagine what a stir we caused!

Everyone at the bar helped us put the four to bed upstairs, and I paid for them to be fed and sheltered for a couple of weeks. They are very eager to get on with their travels, but it will take a little while for the poison to wear off. I hadn’t noticed Trap was missing until we came back downstairs and discovered the innkeeper in the middle of firing him — by kicking him out the front door with some choice words! The impudent one immediately dusted himself off and came back in as a paying customer.. chuckle..

Of course, my father and brother were there too, so we sat down and I told them all about where we’d been and what we’d done. Father, of course, pointed out that he’d been a little worried — I felt bad, but we really hadn’t planned to be gone for so long! The axe wowed everyone, but the holy symbol I’d made got his attention, too. Seeing me heal Trap made him get up and ask me to come home for a minute..

Can you imagine my surprise, Grun, when he pulled out a beautiful silver holy symbol, gave it to me, and told me it used to be Mother’s? We both got a little teary! I’m glad he has decided to accept my calling so well, but it made me realize that things at home won’t ever be the same. He went off to the forge for a bit, so I changed clothes and went back to the tavern.

Drusilia asked me to come with her to an old lady’s house — apparently, something had been making noises in her home and she thought a cleric could clear the place of evil — or whatever it was! Somehow, all of us ended up in her little home, listening to something in the attic. Drusilia climbed up and looked while I tapped at the spots I’d heard noise.. and things started flying about!

Trap led the old lady outside for a moment (but he returned), and we went to war with a bunch of stirges. What a small ending to a great adventure! It was funny, though, to see us trying to dispatch a bunch of vermin without destroying the little old lady’s furniture. I was throwing rocks, Drusilia and Valon slashed carefully with their swords, and Trap shot an arrow into Fafnir — poor gnome! Trap got attacked by the creatures, which started sucking his blood. This made for a mess when we bashed the things, of course. Fafnir got to throw daggers at Trap (at least he was hitting the stirges and not Trap, but the thought was there!). Trap stabbed himself a few times, while the rest of us finally killed off the rest of the creatures.

Aftter Fafnir fixed the hole in the attic so no more could enter, and the rest of us cleaned up bodies and blood, and Drusilia loudly blessed the place for the widow’s benefit, we all went home to bed!

With much love;

Posted by Kate at 13:12 | Ghelt’s Journal

Day 1, New Adventure

Ghelt's Journal

Dear Grun,

Well, to continue our tale from Smallville..

We spent a few days in town, settling our account of the treasure we’d found and what some of the objects were for. We made a lot of cash outright! I would have been happy with just my axe but they insisted on dividing the rest up evenly. A good party! There is also a wand of colorspray — at least, poor Trap is currently several colors and Fafnir suspects he didn’t trigger the spell quite right. We can’t figure out what the cloak is for — it fits Valon and Drusilia nicely.. poor Father must think we’re a bit cracked, we kept trying to see if it would make them invisible or do anything special , which started in the kitchen and worked its way out to the warehouse. “Everyone close their eyes! Now, Valon, hide in a shadow somewhere! OK, everyone look for Valon!” ..

I spent some time working in the forge and catching up, and checking on the recovering party in the inn. Valon performed there every night — he’s pretty good! Fafnir learned some spells from the scrolls we’d picked up, which didn’t stop him from making some pictures for everyone to enjoy.. mostly of Trap setting off traps. He’s got it in for him right now. Everyone healed up nicely, and went shopping with their newfound loot! I think Father forgave us when several dropped by with orders for weapons..

I’ve started working with Trap, teaching him some fighting techniques. Either he’ll stop hitting party members by mistake, or kill one of us really well next time!

We decided to follow the map from the ghoul’s room. I have no idea what it leads us to, while others wonder if it has something to do with the Heart of Nerull artifact. Either way, it gives us an excuse to be out on the road — although we still have to destroy that necromancer’s wand, as well. We have a full plate!

Trap is certain that the trip will take only two weeks. It’s actually more like three, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him; he’s been catching so much flack lately! I’m carrying extra food for now and will mention it later..

Of course, we started the trip off by barge. Ugh. At least this time I sat in the middle and held the mule, and nothing happened! We then headed off toward the mountains and travelled all day. As night fell, we approached a farmstead at the base of the hills..

And it was far too quiet. There were big footprints in the yard and, as we approached, we could see the door had been bashed in. At this point the elf suddenly asked us what his stick looked like. I don’t know if he had a moment of lucidity or is slipping further into his own world, to distract us like that!. It didn’t matter, however — there was no one to be found, and no animals in the barn, but terrible bloodstains everywhere, and drag marks toward the mountains.

We realized that the people couldn’t be alive, and so rather than track in the dark, we camped further up the road for the night. The next morning, we followed the tracks into the mountains with Trap scouting ahead. He stopped at a hole in the rock and waved — when we got there it turned out he wanted us to wait. Oops — we need to work on hand signals! There were skulls on stakes outside the doorway, but no one around. We tied the mule outside, and headed into the passageway, but Trap tripped a wire and we heard alarms. We decided to retreat and wait for whatever was in there to come out.. which didn’t happen!

Suddenly, Trap was hit by an arrow — a goblin sniper was above us on the mountainside. Someone shot it — and we charged back down the tunnel! Valon was ahead of me, unfortunately, which meant that the ogre we ran into got a good shot at him first. Down went the elf, singing even as the ogre started dragging him away! Fafnir pegged it with some magic missiles, Drusilia killed it with a well-placed arrow, and we found more goblins at the end of the tunnel. One of them stabbed Valon to make him stop singing, poor guy! I killed one goblin even as another managed to get the ogre back on its feet. Fafnir started a flaming sphere, which he used to kill the goblin from a safer distance, while Drusilia and Trap shot arrows down the hall. We killed everyone but one goblin, which I chased through the room and down another hall. (Drusilia, by the way, proved a real berserker as she charged through battle and kicked a goblin so hard it passed out, just to get to Valon before he could be killed. Go, Drusilia!).

As the next hallway opened out to a room full of goblins, there were suddenly five Fafnirs around me — which was startling to me but quite a distraction for the goblin javelin-throwers! The Fafnirs stunned four of them right off with that new wand of colorspray. I took out the last two, even as Valon showed up and accidentally shot the real Fafnir with an arrow. Not again! His bow broke, too, so Fafnir accepted his apology to some extent.. Trap had been watching our rear during the battle, and arrived to search out a very smelly bedroom and a locked door. He got the door open, and was hit by needles from above. (It’s a point of pride for him that none of us have been injured by any traps, but I think he’s a little masochistic!). We found casks of wine and a locked box, which Trap tried to open. He got the lock all jammed up instead, so I suggested we just take the hinges off. That worked out OK, but it still had a trap — he opened it to a cloud of gas! We did get some more treasure out of it..

I went and got the mule, and we searched the rest of the place, found the bodies of those the goblins had killed, and made sure the place was cleared out. I dragged the bodies of the goblins out the front door so anyone passing would know it was cleaned out, and we prepared to move on.

Which reminds me, I ought to go back and say a prayer for those poor farmers. It’s all we can do for them, now.

Hope all’s well at home!

Posted by Kate at 13:21 | Ghelt’s Journal

Map to the Heart of Nerull

Adventures, DM's Notes & Maps

Copyright 2003 by Hugh and Kristin Johnson

Judging by the layout of the map, the party is assuming the trip from Smallville (the town with the black dot beside it) to the “Heart” (at the “+”) to be 100 miles northwest. This takes us up past the Realstream and into the Barrier Peaks.