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August 31, 2003

Making Friends in All the Wrong Places

Valon's Journal

Well here we are again running for our lives. With mind flayers behind us and duergar ahead of us it looks like we have attracted all kinds of attention down here in the underdark.

It all started out innocent enough with the group wanting to explore some of the other passages with the hope of finding a way around the city of fire creatures that we saw to the south. Of course things couldn’t be easy. Aramil tried to kill the climbdog that we picked up from the carnival. The dog’s wounds healed almost instantly, curious. Ghelt in a rage sliced into Aramil so hard we thought that this could possibly be the end of him. But she seemed to reign in her anger and Aramil lives on to continue his foolish ways. So we went north and took the left passage since we already new that the right led to the outside. I was more than tempted to head towards the fresh air, open sky and the dangers that awaited rather than head deeper into the earth. But deeper we went with Pockets insisting on scouting farther ahead of the group. The passage that we followed seemed to have seen extensive travel. We travelled for what seemed like an eternity before we came to a cavern with three choices of egress. We followed the passage that seemed to have the most travel, which lead us to a cavern overgrown with large violet mushrooms. When we tried to cross the cavern the mushrooms let out the most ear piercing shrieks that lasted for a least fifteen seconds. Obviously this was some type of early warning system for whatever lay ahead. With what can only be described as a moment of divine revelation, the group’s collective intelligence seemed to actually go up and we turned back the way we came.

We retraced our steps back to the cavern and decided to try another path. This one lead to another similar cavern. Unfortunately this one was inhabited by a very large and apparently hungry stalagmite which fired out sticky strands and began reeling in party members. After a fierce battle we overcame this newest obstacle. In its stony maw we found a jade figure of a humanoid with a squid-like head. We quickly continued our journey down another passageway.

This one lead us to a great chasm. Looking into the chasm we could see the river of molten rock sluggishly flowing below us and an opening in the rock face across from us. The only discernable way across was by means of a not too safe looking rope bridge. Pockets moved with a fluid grace across the bridge to the other side while Aramil did the epileptic dance of a puppet with half its strings cut on the bridge, nearly falling over the side several times to a most uncomfortable demise, before making his way back to our side. Wisely, no one else decided to make the attempt to cross as we watched Pockets disappear through the other opening and waited for the screaming to commence.

The party decided that sitting in this narrow passage overlooking the fiery gorge would be a good place to rest as Fafnir wanted to prepare a few spells. It didn’t take long for trouble to find us though as the party was hit by a volley of crossbow bolts from the direction we had travelled. We saw a group of thin, scraggly, grey-skinned duergar reloading their crossbows in the passageway. As Drusilia fired an arrow of detonation down the passage Aramil decided that firing an arrow through the party in a tight confined space would also be a good idea. After the deafening roar of the fireball filled the passageway where the duergar were they wisely pulled back, carrying off their wounded.

It was decided that being on this side of the bridge was a bad idea and through the use of a fly spell Fafnir cast on Ghelt, we were each carried across the churning chasm of toasty death to the other side. Why we didn’t do this sooner so that the party could stay together I doubt I’ll ever know. It was down this other passage that we found Pockets on a ledge overlooking a vast underground stone city. In amongst the buildings we could see humanoids with squid-like heads floating between the buildings. In another brilliant spark of intellectual mayhem the dog ran down into the city at Pocket’s urging and soon came back being followed by two mind flayers. Pockets in his infinite wisdom decided to fire two crossbow bolts at the dog thus revealing our location to the mind flayers.

Thus we are now running. Fortunately Ghelt was able to collapse the tunnel behind us hopefully delaying pursuit. When we reached the chasm we were once again met with a hail of crossbow bolts from the far side. Fafnir easily took care of the problem and in the form of a bronze dragon flew us over to the other side. His usefulness to this party is exemplary. So now we run surely continuing to make friends wherever we go.

Posted by Hugh at 11:04 | Valon’s Journal

Pondering My Options

Ghelt's Journal

Dear Grun,

Well, my cousin, I’m pretty discouraged. We’re learning the peril of accepting party members just because they’re there. At the time it seemed like strength in numbers, when we met “Pockets” and Aramil in the City of the Dead, but now I really regret it. They’re bringing out the worst in me and I hate it, even if it is justified!

Reunited under the volcano, we discussed which passage was best to try: one led to the red dragon, another to the city of the salamanders, and a third was heading deeper into the earth but seemed safest by comparison! “Pockets” took off first, the rest of us followed in a group, and the trouble began.

Watch was running about, sniffing and doing puppy things, when she happened to pass by Aramil. He instantly whipped out his rapier and stabbed her through the heart with it! No warning, no justification except that he’d been planning to do so for some time, and if I didn’t like it, to keep her away from him! Yes, I should have known it was coming from their previous behavior, yet I’d hoped they were coming to their senses regarding a puppy.

I laid into him without a second thought. Two hard whacks with the greatsword did a lot of damage (more than I’d expected, the sword has some magical power of cold, too), before I stepped back, half-horrified but still totally enraged that he’d do such an evil thing. Totally unrepentant, Aramil yelled at me to keep the dog away from him even as I yelled at him about hurting innocent animals. The others distracted us, then - Watch was not only alive, she was perfectly fine! I called her over and checked her out, and they were right - not a scratch on her! Yet I know she was hit, and Aramil was obviously frustrated that she’s not dead. The others are a little worried about what she is, but I’m just relieved that she’s able to defend herself from these two in any way.

By the way, Grun, leashing that puppy right now would be a cruelty; this place is incredibly dangerous and she needs freedom of movement. Anyone with a modicum of sense would see that. Maybe I ought to leash those two so they see what fun it would be to be tangled up when something attacks? I plan to train her to heel as soon as we get some time, and if we both survive this.

I hit Aramil with the wand of curing, and he kept walking before I could finish the job. We walked down the new path, finally meeting up with “Pockets” who heard Aramil’s version of events, which were quite true but obviously - he doesn’t get why this was wrong. Neither does “Pockets”, so I didn’t bother to point it out. We travelled on until we reached a new cavern with a few magma pools, and three exits. We decided to follow the one that looked regularly used, and took us westward (the other two were more south, but we’ve learned the hard way that half the party wants to check out everywhere but where we need to go). The tunnel took us to a dark cavern full of giant toadstools, and I could see two more exits when I walked in for a look. As soon as the others entered, the toadstools erupted in noise! What a shrieking! Although we obviously had knocked on someone’s front door, the rest decided to get the heck out of there, return to the cavern before and turn south.

The southern passage led to yet another cavern - and an attack! One of the stalagmites was alive, and it grabbed “Pockets” and seemed intent on dragging him into its mouth. Drusilia’s bolts of light and Fafnir’s of lightning did little damage, so I went charging in with Valon to do some hand-to-hand combat. Of course, it bit at us, too. Then “Pockets” threw a tanglevine and missed - attaching us to the base of the creature! After that mistake, he compounded his error by throwing acid at it and missing.. ouch! Watch even got in on the action, giving the monster quite a bite. Good girl! “Pockets” now pulled out a charm of some sort, which turned into a huge tree trunk, growing up to the ceiling and smashing rocks down onto us, but this time he succeeded - the creature was crushed by the debris.

We took a moment to heal up, and restore “Pockets” and the dog’s strength. An idol of a creature Drusilia said was an ilithid dropped from the monster’s mouth, which she feared meant there were some around, but we regrouped and headed south once again. The trail led downwards, and it got very hot, and I was wondering how much longer we’d be able to stand the environment, when we reached an awesome sight - a chasm full of molten magma, with one rope bridge across! “Pockets” had no trouble navigating the ropes, but Aramil had so much trouble that he had to come back, and we decided to wait while “Pockets” searched ahead. I’d just fed Watch a snack, when crossbow bolts were shot down the tunnel behind us! Fafnir was hit and fell over unconscious - poison! While Aramil shot arrows through the party from the back (missed us all by a miracle), Drusilia pulled out an arrow and let fly - it hit with an explosion that sent the duergar scurrying back up the tunnel. She healed Fafnir and we began to look seriously at how to get across the bridge.

Finally, Fafnir cast fly on me. At least I wasn’t flying over water! If I fell in the magma it would be a quick death rather than one by drowning. It was all right, however, and I was able to fly everyone across in safety. We decided to see what had happened to “Pockets” and found him, looking over a ledge at a city - but not of salamanders, it was full of ilithid mind-flayers, and we were in no doubt that the duergar were no danger by comparison!

And here, Grun, is where the other half of my terrible dilemma formed. “Pockets” decided to whisper somthing to Watch and point down into the city - and, like a puppy wishing to please, off she ran! I was not able to call after her, not when it would bring the whole city down on our party! As the others ran back up the passage, I decided to wait and try to call her after they had a head start. “Pockets” waited, too, and as soon as he saw Watch trying to come back to us, he pulled out his crossbow and shot two bolts into my dog! I was shocked and ready to give him a shove over the edge, but he was gone already - his shots had let the ilithids know we were there, and where, and the whole city was swarming up the cavern after us. Watch, thank Moradin, was OK, although bolts were sticking out of her, and I was left to run up the passage and collapse the tunnel behind us to slow them down.

Of course, as we reached the bridge, the duergar were there waiting for us. They hit “Pockets” with a bolt and he collapsed. He also burst into flames, but I didn’t care. Fafnir had transformed into a dragon, and I was stuck shooting my crossbow and shouting for him to get me across the magma so I could lay into those evil dwarves! Luckily, Fafnir had one heck of a spell up his sleeve - he cast something that caused them all to die! He then flew us all across, and we’re off running again. I hope we can reach someplace of relative safety, here; getting lost in this maze of tunnels may be our only hope.

And what do I do about “Pockets” and Aramil? As Drusilia’s pointed out, we know nothing about their histories, but we trusted them. We know nothing about their motives, and they seemed to be on the same page with us as adventurers, but now I just give up. “Pockets”, especially, needs to leave or to die. I certainly can’t trust his word. He thinks it’s a vendetta against a dog? He nearly got us all killed or worse! Over a stupid petty ongoing tantrum about a puppy’s behavior! Whatever Watch did is nothing by comparison, yet he thinks she must be killed. He’s either evil or insane, and we can’t afford to put up with it in this situation.

Dearest Grun, I fear what I may have to do for the safety of the party. May Moradin forgive me, for I fear I won’t be able to forgive myself.

With love and trepidation,

Posted by Kate at 11:42 | Ghelt’s Journal