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February 24, 2003

Long Day, Fun Ride

Trap's Journal

Well, we found a shortcut. Some of the kobolds we rescued told us they could show us a faster way, so we escorted them to their home. After a rest, the king gave us a helm, and took us to a river under ground. They told us to get in the barrels, and I did. After an eternity, and a free fall, Korin helped me out. I was exhausted, so I went to sleep. We had a strange creature attack us at night, but it didn’t last long. Fafnir was extremely angry about something.

Posted by Fred at 00:36 | Trap’s Journal

Like Beating a Dead Mule

Drusilia's Journal

Starday, Flocktime 3, 592 CY

How many kobolds does it take to put a gnome in a barrel? None, it turns out, if you have a determined dwarf working on it. Let me back up a bit though.

We were able to convince a common-speaking kobold named Nizek to allow us to walk with the freed kobold slaves, 20 in number, back to their home cave a ways past the Witch Lord’s tower. They took their last cart of mined ore with them (they had mined it, after all!) and Korin happily perched in the kobold-pulled cart, animatedly talking to them the whole trip. Nizek was the only one that could really communicate with us, but Korin didn’t seem to mind.

I discovered just how much gnomes dislike kobolds on this trip. We had walked a good ways past the tower when the kobolds all started to yip and act scared, excitedly pointing to the sky and talking about Red Death. I was able to determine from Nizek and what few words of kobold I could make out from the others, that this Red Death was a red dragon that terrorized these parts, and had killed many kobolds. As they were giving me a description of how big Red Death was, the sky above us was suddenly filled with the flapping wings of a huge red reptile. As the kobolds, The Mule (and Ghelt and Korin, after The Mule) scattered, I noticed that Fafnir had a odd look of triumph and concentration on his face, and that the “Red Death” above us didn’t make any noise whatsoever. A gnomish illusion, nothing more! It took me a few moments after the image of the dragon winked away to convince the kobolds that it was safe to come out, and luckily The Mule was caught and brought back to us unharmed.

Before nightfall, we arrived at some cave entrances. It became obvious that we had arrived at the kobolds’ home when some poured out of the openings, excitedly yipping that Prince Nizek and the slaves were returned home. We were the honored guests of the kobolds that evening, being offered nice (by kobold standards) caves of our own to rest up in, and clean water and food. In the morning, Nizek came by and told us that his father the King wanted to meet with us. Nizek was the translator for us again, and when the King thanked us for rescuing his son and the others I did my best to sound gracious. I was handed a beautifully engraved silver helm as a gift, which I quickly handed to Ghelt— she and I were the only ones who could wear it, and a quick look at the helm’s engraving showed it was decorated with dwarven soldiers on horses in front of a keep. I don’t know if the helm has any significance other than its obviously exquisite craftsmanship, but it clearly deserves to be worn by a dwarf.

In addition to the helm, we were offered a shortcut to our destination, one that would cut nearly a week off of our travels. After departing from the King, Nizek and a few others led us to a part of their caves where we could hear a thundering rumble. We were taken down to the shore of an underground river lined with empty barrels. One of the kobolds took a lid off a barrel, jumped in, back out, and then pointed that we were to climb in them. As we tried to figure out what to do, Korin and Trap were plunked in barrels, the lids were shut, and they were dropped into the river, whisked away before we could do anything about it. Unthinkingly, we tied The Mule between two barrels, believing we could allow him to keep his head above water for what we assumed was a brief journey.

Fafnir wouldn’t get in a barrel. Ghelt did her best to stuff him in one, and I even attempted to help her at one point. We got him safely tucked in one (we thought) and with a sudden explosion, there he sat among the fragments of his barrel on the shore, one less lightning spell in his inventory. As I was trying to assure him that this was safe or the kobolds wouldn’t ride in them for transport, Nizek mentioned that kobolds don’t ride in them, they just use them to ship things to traders that live at the other end of a waterfall. This was upsetting news, of course, since half of our party had already started out. Fafnir was rightfully worried about The Mule now, too, as it turned out the trip was a full 24-hour ride, all but the last few feet of it underground. However, the walk around the mountains to the same destination would be a full seven days though the territory of “Red Death” which was also unacceptable. I decided then that I’d better cast an Augury to see if the trip was better done in the barrels. Not having cast this spell before, I didn’t have the necessary tokens for the divination, but thankfully Nizek was able to quickly provide me with the tools needed. As I worked on this, apparently, Ghelt was determined to get the rest of us in the river to catch up with our companions, and Fafnir was equally determined to take a different route. After what I’m told was a knockdown drag-out fight that somehow caused the deaths of several kobolds standing too close to a lightning spell, Fafnir was brought back hogtied and placed in a barrel. Prince Nizek told me at that point that the gnome had worn out his welcome and he was going into the river barrel or no, so we opted for barrels for him and the rest of us. I whispered to Fafnir that his weasel familiar would be able to chew through his ropes during the trip down the river. At least my augury had indicated that this was the path we must take.

The river ride was long and deafening, and made it impossible to sleep or pray or anything! At long last I felt a clunk as the barrel briefly bumped off of something, and then a soaring feeling followed by a splash. Not quite knowing what to do, I was grateful to hear Korin’s voice outside the wooden container, assuring me that we could have a long conversation on the way to shore. Korin did all the talking— I was busy letting my ears and other senses adjust to the lack of rushing water.

Realizing none of my companions could see what I was up to, I used what Fafnir would call an “Elf-Fu” kick to open my barrel. I was relieved to see all my humanoid comrades had made it to shore. Sadly The Mule had not survived the trip, and Korin was absolutely exhausted from pulling each one of us to shore. Fafnir was still quite miffed and made his own campfire several feet away from ours.

We set up shifts to sleep/meditate for the night, and were interrupted soon after settling down by the sounds of an angry creature, half owl, half bear, attacking. We all pitched in and dispatched the “owlbear” and after healing everyone up, I settled back down in my bedroll. I could hear Korin checking the insides of the monster for “treasure.” Thankfully, he either gutted the thing quietly, or there were simply no other creatures about, for the rest of the night passed uneventfully. I will attempt to update our map so that we can compare it to our map to the Heart of Nerull and start out again, hopefully much closer to our goal.

Posted by Kristin at 12:35 | Drusilia’s Journal