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August 24, 2003

Fafnir's Journal Entry 33 - I think somebody's been hittin' the bottle

Fafnir's Journal

After returning to town, everyone seemed to want to go their separate ways. I spent a few hours patching the floor of my house, but after that I thought we should get moving to the south. After all, while we knew that the portal we were seeking would not appear for another 10 or 12 days, all we really knew about it’s location was that it was “to the south of the highest peak in the Hellfurnaces.” That covers a whole lot of ground, and 10 days isn’t a whole lot of time to search half of a continent!

While I was pondering how to teleport our entire party such a long distance, Valon came to the rescue. He had purchased a silver egg that contained a powerful teleport spell... Powerful enough to transport us all to the Hellfurnaces instantly. As soon as we all gathered around him, he activated the single-use egg, and we were there! (For some reason Drusilia and Ghelt were confused by this... I thought the whole party knew where we were going!? But, as I would notice later, this was only the beginning of their strange behavior.)

No sooner had we arrived near the top of a volcano in the Hellfurnaces, than we noticed that a huge red dragon was coming right for us! This didn’t seem like the time to engage in a hopeless fight, so we ran! Luckily we had noticed a small cave inside the crater of the volcano. With a little ingenuity involving a rope, a piton, and Feather Fall, we were soon safe inside the cave... and not a moment too soon. As we were running down the passage way, a burst of flame followed us. Only Drusilia was hurt, as she was more concerned with casting protective spells on the rest of us than saving her own skin. I guess that is typical behavior for a cleric though.

Rather than going back to get killed by the dragon, we decided to explore the natural passageways we now found ourselves in. We soon found ourselves in a large cavern with several pools of lava. There were two passages leaving the cavern in opposite directions. While Ghelt and Drusilia were trying to determine which way was south, Pockets and I decided to just pick a passageway, and check it out. Aramil decided to come along. Just as we were preparing to go, Ghelt decided that the other way was south, and that is the way we should be going. Pockets and I explained that we wanted to check out the other passageway to be sure there were no nasty surprises that would follow behind us as we proceeded to the south. This is where the problem came in.

Ghelt, Drusilia, and Valon decided that the were under no circumstances going to help us in checking out the northern passageway... they would just wait in the main chamber and “maybe” would come help us if they heard our screams... IF they thought we were dying horribly. Hmmph! (That really didn’t seem like “normal” behavior for them, but as I mentioned earlier... they were acting strange.)

In any case, Pockets, Aramil, and I scouted to the north. A short way down the passage we came upon a strange creature... It was a living puddle of magma! (Actually, I guess it was probably an Ooze of some sort but “Magma Puddle” just seems like a better name.) While Pockets tried several different techniques of fighting it (water, arrows, and whatever else came to mind.), I let loose with a few Magic Missiles which seemed to be slowing it down. Aramil had a different plan.

Just after Pockets had dumped some water on the thing, and it was making a retreat, Aramil sprang into action! Grabbing one of his magical arrows that we had found in our travels, he proceeded to cast Magic Missile(!!) into the arrow, and fired at the fleeing creature! Now this has several problems. For one thing, why would you take the chance of missing with an arrow, when Magic Missile would have automatically hit?! Secondly, as the creature was on the retreat, it didn’t seem to make sense to waste a limited resource (the magic arrow), when the spell alone would have sufficed! Oh well, I guess it’s just “his way,” and it did finish off the creature.

After our little adventure, we continued on for about another quarter mile, where we found a split in the passageway. The left-hand tunnel traveled down into the depths of the earth, while the right-hand passage traveled upward. We followed the right-hand tunnel out into a valley.

As we were enjoying the fresh air, Pockets pointed out a cave opening on the other side of the valley. There was steam coming from the opening, and it looked suspiciously like it might be the dragon’s lair! Deciding that we weren’t quite ready to fight the dragon yet, and since there didn’t seem to be any lurking dangers that would be following us to the south, we decided to head back to the rest of the party. I did notice that Aramil had a strange glint in his eye every time we mentioned the dragon, though. I hope he isn’t planning anything foolish.

When we returned to the chamber where we had left the rest of the party, they were gone! I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t screaming for their assistance! After a little while they returned from the southern passage, where they apparently decided to go scouting as well. We excitedly told them of our finds: the magma puddle and the dragon’s lair, and they told us what they had “found”.

“Oh, we ran into Arkon the lich,” Drusilia said, “and then we found a city of Salamanders.”

OK, What kind of a rube do they take me for? While I have no doubt about the “city of salamanders,” I can’t believe they would try to tell us they ran into the lich! Why on Oerth would Arkon be wandering around in the depths of Hellfurnaces? And furthermore, they expected us to believe that after a “friendly chat,” he just walked off and let them go!

I am starting to suspect I understand what is going on now... Why Ghelt and Drusilia were so confused when we left town, why they were being argumentative about scouting north, and now this strange story... I think they must of spent the few hours in town this morning boozing it up! I am not sure how they convinced Valon to go along with their story, but I think he might just being doing it for a joke. That’s OK, I’ve played a few jokes myself... I’ll have to think up a good one to play on them when the time is right. Hehehe. :) A lich. Who would believe that?

So, once we wait for Ghelt and Drusilia to ‘sober up,’ we will have to decide what to do next. I am not sure going through a city of Salamanders is a good idea, but our other options don’t feel right either... A passage to the north, or a dragon’s lair. Maybe once we can all talk about it further, we will come up with a solution.

~=Fafnir Flamebrewer=~

Posted by Dave at 11:40 | Fafnir’s Journal

And We Go

Pockets' Journal

After a bit of our typical arguments, we used a magical egg of Valon’s to travel to the next site of the Hellfurnaces. At least that’s what they said we are doing. I still remember that he information came from the witch. Upon arriving we noticed we were not alone. There was a dragon looking to make us his midday snack. Someone noticed a cave opening and the party decided to go to it. This sounded bad to me, but hey, it was a direction to go.

Into the darkness we went, desperately trying to reach beyond the breath of the dragon. On we went into the cave, we traveled a while, beginning to wonder if there was any way out, or would we have to return to the dragon.

Eventually we found a way to drop to another cavern. Once down, we differed on what way to go, so we split into two groups and explored. Fafnir, Aramil and I traveled one way to make sure that nothing would be sneaking up on us from behind, and the others decided to go to the place we are here to seek, despite the fact that there is two weeks until it arrives.

We three traveled a bit and found another large cavern. Upon attempting to cross it, we found a puddle of lava started to follow us. We backed up and defended ourselves. After a short, and strange battle, we slew the creature. Then we traveled on again, looking for any signs of trouble, and any more of the traveling lava. After reaching a split in the path, we scouted both. One led to nowhere, the other to the surface and the dragon’s lair.

We returned to our comrades to tell them of the lair and the lava creature. Apparently they were too scared to scout without us, and made up a story to cover it up. A little too outrageous though. They say the lich from the city of the dead came and talked to them, took the Heart of Nerull, and gave it back. Then this lich, who wanted us dead before, simply left them.

The only irony of the story, is they said the lich warned them about the “angel,” saying not to trust it. I think they are just finally realizing what I said about it was true, and made up this story to explain why they agree with me.

Posted by Jim at 12:01 | Pockets’ Journal

Another Day, Another Tale...

Valon's Journal

Today started out well enough. The morning was beautiful, the sun was shining, and nothing was currently eating the party. When we got back to town after leaving the Dim Forest it was apparent that the carnival was packing up and preparing to leave town. There are those who are convinced that the creature that lurked beneath the quiet little town of Smallville is linked to the carnival. It is possible that the creature was just another minion of Durll, the same as the drider Kalanaar. I suppose only time will tell. Pockets suggested that word should be sent to the next town on the carnival’s itinerary.

While restocking supplies for the next leg of our epic quest I sought out the advice of the old woman Zorlla, seeress of the carnival. She was quite helpful and even provided a means to expedite our journey to the Hellfurnaces mountain range in the form of a silver egg. Her only instructions were to crack the egg and its mystical energy would sweep us to the place where we were most needed to be upon the winds of the ether. After rejoining the group an eerily strange fog bank rolled into and through Smallville, disappearing as quickly as it appeared, taking the carnival along with it without leaving a trace that they were ever even here.

During one of the party’s typical spirited discussions in which nothing was being resolved I strangely found myself compelled to crack the silver egg. In a brief moment we found ourselves standing on the brink of a volcano overlooking the hot and desolate mountainous landscape of the Hellfurnaces, the plumes of dark smoke rising from a least a dozen massive volcanoes. The lip that we were standing on looked down into the open maw of an active volcano and the churning pool of magma could be seen far below. The only ways away from the volcanic crater was by means of either a rocky path leading down the outside of the mountain that quickly turned out of sight, or by entering the crater directly. A small cave entrance could be seen in the side of the crater approximately thirty feet down from the edge that we were standing on. Of all the places that we needed to be the most! It didn’t take long to decide which way to go, what with the huge red dragon that seemed to be descending upon us at a rather nasty pace. I looked to Fafnir to try and determine if perhaps he was playing one of his little tricks on the party once again. The look on the gnome’s face was enough to convince me that the dragon was a real enough threat. Pockets quickly drove a piton, from his apparently never ending stock, into the rock. With a rope securely tied in place the screaming, suicidal mass of undercooked flesh that was the party leapt into the volcano. With the aid of feather fall, a little skill, and a wagon full of luck we escaped into the opening of the rock face below. We fled down a narrow passage before the dragon could reach us. The heat within this place is oppressive and it’s hard to breathe.

It didn’t take us long to find our way down a vertical shaft that appears to be a lava flow tube. Hopefully the volcano won’t decide to occupy these tunnels at the same time as us. It was at this point that the party found itself in a cavern with two exits in either direction and pools of hot magma scattered about. In typical party solidarity we chose to split up. With Drusilia, Ghelt and myself going the correct direction and the stubborn, possibly insane members going the other we moved off.

I’m not sure what really happened after that moment. I vaguely recall that somewhere down the passage that we were following we encountered something that my mind refuses to even contemplate... something dark, ancient and evil ... something familiar... something calling to me.

Posted by Hugh at 12:25 | Valon’s Journal

It's never easy, is it!

Ghelt's Journal

Dearest Grun,

We’ve returned to our usual style of adventuring, I fear - scatterbrained and split-up, yet, hopefully, meant to turn out well in the end!

We began, again, by walking back to town. At least our party was complete! The dog ran about happily, and Aramil and “Pockets” entertained themselves with imagining its death as we walked. When we got home, the carnival was in the middle of packing up. Most of us went for last-minute supplies. Fafnir decided to repair his flooring, and Aramil went with him to study. Guess Aramil hasn’t been around much carpentry work..

Drusilia was lucky - she found someone to repair her holy symbol! I found the fortuneteller and asked about the white creature’s fate. Unfortunately, we didn’t kill it, but at least it’s not coming back here. Then I asked her about where to get toys for the dog.. which earned me a strange look, but she pointed down the row. I picked up a book about dog training, and some toys and treats. And a leash!

Finally, we all met in the middle of town to discuss how to get to the mountains. I suggested Midrock for a teleport, and we were working out whether to travel with horses or a wagon, when Valon showed us an egg. A silver egg, which he said would magically take us to Hellfurnaces! I ran to say goodbye to Father and my brother, while Drusilia went to tell the families of the creature’s victims’ fates. By the time we all gathered, Aramil had gotten ahold of some ale as a peace-offering, which I accepted. We have to get along and I know it! The dog was enjoying my efforts to leash it, so I eventually put the leash away and called her over just as Valon broke the egg..

Instantly, we were standing atop an active volcano! Of course, this was the point at which someone pointed out that we had ten or twelve days to wait for the Temple entrance to appear.. I guess we were thinking there’ d be.. something.. here, instead of bare mountains. Typical of our party! I noticed a cave below us inside the volcano’s cone, and a path winding down the outside. But sharp-eyed elves saw a red dragon flying towards us! We debated briefly and decided to go for the cave - if we could get beyond his fire, we hoped he couldn’t get inside.

“Pockets” set up pitons and a rope at top speed, and Fafnir readied us for a feather-fall. Drusilia was thinking of all the things she could do to protect us from fire - she even remembered that the dryder’s greatsword caused ice damage, which would come in handy if I had to go toe-to-toe with the beast. We jumped, fell gently, and tumbled into the hole! Drusilia was casting spells of protection on anyone who she could reach, which slowed her down as we ran, and the poor elf was caught by the fire that the dragon blasted down the tunnel.

The rest kept running but I waited and helped her put out the flames, and then we walked down the tunnel, waiting to hear screams from the rest. Kind of sad, Grun, that we just expect them to get in trouble, and wait so we can get them out? Luckily, this time they were OK, and looking down a shaft into the heart of the mountain. Although we could hear the dragon settling on the ridge above, I warned the others that this wasn’t a safe place to stay. Lava tunnels aren’t good hiding places in active volcanoes! We had no choice but to climb down this shaft, however, so I was glad when “Pockets” and Aramil climbed down for a look, and Aramil came back to tell us they could see two tunnels to choose from. Fafnir tied some ropes together and I let Aramil down - I thought in a controlled manner, but Fafnir’s knot left something to be desired. Aramil took the fast route, again. After some argument, we tied another rope and a piton, and everyone finally made it down safe.

I figured out which way was south and pointed down the appropriate tunnel. So, half the party decided to check out the other way! I don’t care if we have ten days to play around in, that’s silly! Valon, Drusilia, and I decided to wait for the screams, again. I offered Watch a treat, and she came and ate it - good Watch! I need to keep reading that book. About this time I heard “Pockets” echoing up the tunnel - “It’s cute! Can we take one home?” Still, no screams, so we decided to take a quick look up the southern route.

What a shock we got, Grun! The lich lord showed up! Whatever its phylactery was obviously didn’t get destroyed! It asked us about Aramis, and the Heart of Nerul. Valon froze, so I grabbed him and started backing down the tunnel while Drusilia tried to answer the lich without getting us all killed.. but I came up against an invisible wall. The thing then threatened my life if no one would talk. Of course, I didn’t want anyone to do so - but Valon spoke! Whatever spell the lich cast, it made Valon tell him everything - even to having the Heart! I set myself to grab the Heart - I was going to smash it with the butt of the greatsword, figuring that it would be better to kill our small group than let that evil back into the world in the lich’s hands.

Then, things got weird. It was like the lich knew what I was preparing to do, and decided to mess with my head! It told us that destroying the Heart will destroy the world. It said Aramis the angel is not what he seems, has other plots, and was imprisoned for a reason. Then it announced that we’d broken any useful bonds with the Heart, anyway, so it didn’t really want it anymore. And off it went! I know it is trying to manipulate us, but I can’t figure out what for.. I still think the Heart needs destroyed, though. Of course an evil lich is going to spread all the chaos it can!

We settled ourselves, brushed poor Valon off, and headed up the passage again (wondering if the others would believe a word we said). The tunnel led downwards to a cavern, and a city full of lizard-humanoids, and the whole place looked to be on fire! We backed up slowly, and went to find the others. They were all right, and full of stories of finding an exit - right across from the dragon’s lair! Naturally, they don’t believe that we saw the lich. I’m glad to rest for a moment. I hoped that writing this down would give me a better idea of what to do!

Praying for guidance,

Posted by Kate at 12:29 | Ghelt’s Journal