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August 20, 2003

Fog, Fire, Frustration

Drusilia's Journal

Godsday, Flocktime 18, 592 CY, continued

After we returned to town, I was able to use my share of the gold we found to get my holy symbol repaired by one of the carnival’s craftsmen. All the vendors in the carnival seem to be stocked with everything imaginable— the craftsman actually loaned me a holy symbol to carry while I waited the hour for the repair! While this was happening, I had the sad duty of going around and telling the loved ones of the fate of those that had gone missing. I gave the families what gold I had— one less thing for them to worry about during their time of grief and adjustment, though my companions said the amount I gave them will likely unbalance the local economy.

I retrieved my fixed holy symbol while the carnival was finishing up the last of its packing to move to the next city. I had just stepped away to see what all my friends had purchased when we noticed a fog was rolling into Smallville quickly. Within moments though, the fog was gone.

So was the carnival.

Apparently, Valon had purchased a magical silver egg from one of the carnies, who claimed it could take us anywhere on Oerth that we wished to go— for example, Hellfurnaces. And suddenly, we were on a high peak overlooking a volcano. Unfortunately, we weren’t all completely ready for the trip, and we had arrived twelve days earlier than the portal to the Temple of the Void was to open!

As we were getting our bearings, we noticed two things in rapid succession: a cave entrance about 30 feet below us, and a large red dragon bearing down on our location. I was not properly prepared for our departure from home, having thought I’d be attending to funerals and counseling for the next two weeks rather than combat, but Pelor’s sun domain allowed me to cast some protective spells against heat and fire. As my friends quickly prepared Feather Fall and secured a rope to insure that we all made it to the cave, I started to cast spells to protect against the elements. We made it into the cave and started down a long tunnel. Of course, I couldn’t run and cast simultaneously, so I was about 100 feet behind by the time I had cast the spell at everyone running past me. The dragon pushed its snout into the cave entrance and breathed fire. I was injured, but Pelor’s spells gave me much protection and I was able to heal myself once I caught up with my friends. However, I do not wish to encounter that dragon head on again!

The tunnel into the mountain lead to a vertical shaft with heat pouring out of it. We tied ropes together to climb down nearly 80 feet, except for Aramil, who decided to climb about halfway down and then plummet the remainder. I don’t really understand his ways, I’m afraid.

We found ourselves in a chamber with pools of molten lava pooling in various places, with tunnels going north and south. Remembering that the Temple would appear south of the highest peak of Hellfurnaces (which we had arrived on), Ghelt, Valon and I suggested we go left, while Pockets, Aramil, and Fafnir chose to explore north. They fought a magma ooze and found an exit pointing towards the red dragon’s lair (we think), while we went north and met....

Arkon. At least, that’s who it looked like! Valon was scared speechless and frozen in place, and while Ghelt and I tried to pull him away, we found a wall of force prevented our exit. Archon asked where Aramis was. This seemed odd to me, but knowing Aramis had safely departed to a celestial plane, giving Arkon this knowledge was no real problem. I was actually quite shocked to see him— apparently, Aramis never destroyed his phylactery. In fact, Archon thought we had something that belonged to him, though, other than a few magic items Ghelt had stripped from his body, we had nothing of his (and what we did have was on Fafnir and Aramil). Ghelt and I exchanged another glance— the Heart of Nerull was in a bag carried by Valon— surely that is what the lich came for? I could see Ghelt was ready to grab it if Valon made a move to hand it over, for he was definitely awestruck by the lich. However, Valon simply told Arkon that we had come to Hellfurnaces to destroy the Heart. Arkon surprised us again by saying “Go ahead— the Heart is useless to me now.” He went on to warn us that Aramis was not what he appeared, and that destroying the Heart might cause disastrous repercussions across the land. Then, as quickly as he had appeared, he disappeared, leaving us unharmed.

The whole encounter was so strange, that I wondered briefly if Fafnir had somehow cast an illusion to make it appear that Arkon was still a menace, but he quite definitely doesn’t believe we even saw the lich, and I can usually tell when Fafnir is up to something mischievous. This is, needless to say, quite troubling.

After making sure Valon was okay, the three of us continued on a ways, hoping to find something that would aid us in our quest. We found a salamander tribe— actually, judging by the size of it, I would say an entire city— far below a cliff at the end of the tunnel we had been following. I hope we do not have to pass through it to destroy the Heart! We quickly returned to the chamber where we’d last seen our other companions, and they did the same. I think it would be wise if we stuck together for now on, but of course, I don’t have any control over my headstrong comrades!

Posted by Kristin at 21:42 | Drusilia’s Journal