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June 10, 2003

Stare Master

Drusilia's Journal

Earthday, Flocktime 13, 592 CY, continued

I’ve observed our two new comrades and I think they are good-intentioned and reliable, even if we didn’t start out with the same goals. Pockets, I think, is a rogue that will outlive most rogues. He’s very good at opening doors, and makes sure to get behind a fighter or two before entering a room. Aramil switches between the fighting profession and attempting to cast spells (often in the same battle), but I think, from what Fafnir has said, that the armor he’s wearing prevents him from casting. Aramil appears not ready to give up on these two diverse vocations, however.

We arrived on level two and entered another round room with the staircase continuing to wend its way around the perimeter— this room was 40’ tall and the stairs looped around twice before the next level. We hardly had time to study the architecture, for the room contained two flesh golems that were bent on smashing us. They were completely unaffected by our spells. Thankfully, they were completely effected by Ghelt and the silver greatsword she was carrying.

We continued our ascent to the third level. This level had torches on the walls going up 80’ to a balcony which could be reached by continuing up the spiraling staircase. Three humanoids on the balcony saw our arrival and attempted to pelt us with bolts and stones, but gave up and disappeared— while two wraiths drifted through the stone walls and attacked. Thankfully Pelor’s might allowed me to destroy them quickly and we headed up the stairs as fast as we were able...

...right up to a very small trap door in the ceiling of the balcony. Fairly sure our quarry (a vampire and two of his spawn) was above us, and equally sure, after some creative use of spellcasting by Fafnir, who made the trapdoor “invisible,” that they held an emerald-skinned celestial being shackled in massive chains in the 30’ high room above us, Pockets climbed up the ladder leading to the door and somehow managed to pull back the bolt. As we were planning how to best stuff our party through the 2’ wide trapdoor opening, the ladder chose that very moment to pull out of the wall— with Pockets still on it! Ghelt was close enough to at least grab the ladder as it went sailing off the balcony, and Pockets was clever enough to hold on and climb up it as Ghelt held on.

While this was going on, I was at an angle where I could see the vampires quite well (they were attempting to come down and attack us)— enough that I was able to dust the two spawn, but not their master.

Knowing the vampire was quite strong, and was likely to have a plan of his own for the first of us up the ladder, we tried several different things to occupy him so we could get at least two people up. Fafnir sent an illusion of Ghelt up the ladder— no effect. Pockets started to throw things out of his many pockets up the ladder— a cat (I have no idea how he had that in a pocket, but up it went)— nothing. A bag full of marbles and alchemist’s fire— it went up, but unfortunately landed at the feet of the celestial creature we hoped to liberate. Finally, he climbed up, mirror held aloft in his hand, hoping to see the vampire. Of course, this was a good time for me to point out to the party that vampires don’t cast reflections. As Pockets continued to rummage through his various belongings, Ghelt borrowed the ring of jumping Fafnir has and leaped through the door, prepared to engage the vampire in combat, with me climbing up behind her as quickly as I was able. I got my head through the door just in time to get two very solid hits from Ghelt’s weapon— the vampire had mesmerized her and she was no longer in control of her actions! I felt the vampire attempt to steal my will as well, but he, thankfully, wasn’t up to the challenge. I fell back down through the trapdoor long enough to heal myself and try again. As I did so, Aramil leaped up and through the door, yelling back that he’d cause a diversion. He probably did for a second or two, but he was slain before any of us could react.

Pockets threw a ball of sticky twine up through the hole, attempted to confine Ghelt long enough for us to get up there. It is hard to throw something through a smalltrap door during a fight though, and it only succeeded in preventing us access for a few moments. Valon and I reached through the trapdoor and slashed at the vines to clear them away from the hole. I couldn’t see what happened next, but it was obvious at least that the vampire had walked over to Valon and physically attacked him— I could see them grappling above. I did the only thing I could think to do— I leaped back up through the hole and cast two searing lights right at the vampire. My comrades rallied and I was sure the vampire would soon be destroyed, but he chose that moment to turn into gaseous form and slip out of the tower. Thankfully Ghelt managed to shake away his influence at just that moment.

We at least were able to save the celestial creature— a general named Aramis who fought the fiends below Barraktor (and apparently, Arun-tosa) many years ago, captured and confined in the tower where his blood was used to feed the dark powers of the lich Arkon and the vampire Kartharsis— and the Heart of Nerull. As we looked for a way to remove his chains, he went on to tell us that Kartharsis held the key to the room where the Heart of Nerull was located. The Heart must be destroyed— the lich Arkon and his minions are unbeatable while they possess it. Further, the only way to destroy the Heart is to take it to the Temple of the Void, which constantly moves.

Aramis, we also discovered, had once carried a silver greatsword— the one thing he was certain could break through his chains, as long as it was wielded by one pure of heart. We now know, if we weren’t sure of it before, that Ghelt is such a person, for she was able to cleave through the enchanted chains and free the celestial. She of course returned his sword to him.

We offered to heal him as best we could, but as soon as the chains gave way, his wounds began to heal and the feathers of his beautiful wings brightened. In fact, as weak as he still is while the Heart survives, it was he who provided the party’s healing, helping Ghelt and Valon recover grievous damage from the undead we’d just fought, and he was even able to return Aramil and his toad back to life.

I had hoped that by now we would have found the Heart and destroyed it, but we now must set off to finish a battle many years past due. We must go into the catacombs below Arun-tosa and destroy Kartharsis, and find the key to the Heart’s chamber.

Posted by Kristin at 11:56 | Drusilia’s Journal


Aramil's Journal

Well, we started up the stairs, and found a door. Pockets did his thing and in we went. There were 2 creatures of sorts in there, someone called them constructs, and they seemed to be immune to magic period. So I ran up with the others and fought. After they died Pockets decided to tell me I’m a wizard not a fighter. It’s an old argument between us. I tried to tell him the 2 can mix, but he doesn’t agree. Anyway, there was another set of stairs going up and up we went. Same routine at the next door, and in we went. Ghelt went first and was shot at, I went and tried to cast a Fire sphere at one, but my armor made it difficult to move properly. If I move that one piece over to the side a little....

Well, anyway the others came in and the 3 things at the top vanished from sight, so we went up more stairs. There was a small balcony with a ladder leading to a trap door. The only burnable thing in this stone building are the doors, and no one would let me burn them. Well, after much debate, and talking, Pockets got the door unlocked and Ghelt went up, then came down and 2 creatures came after her. We dispatched them easily enough, and then more talk and more ideas and more debating. This was getting old quick. Ghelt went up again and then disappeared from view. Drusilia went up next and was hit by Ghelt. Not again, another fight between companions. More talk, more debates I can’t take it anymore. I tell them I’m going to distract the things up there and up I go. Then everything goes black.

I feel at piece, comfortable, my only thought is where’s Jacob?

Suddenly, I’m called. I wake up weak, hurt and notice Jacob is dead. Then this angelic looking guy heals Jacob, and heals me. He mentions something about destroying the Heart. Pockets and I need to talk about our employer.

Posted by Fred at 13:17 | Aramil’s Journal