Drusilia's Journal
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Drusilia’s Bio

Character images copyright 1999-2002 Claudio Pozas. Used with permission.

Drusilia Silverwood is an average elf. Well, average height, anyway, with the typical golden blond hair and violet eyes of her race. Gray elves of Greyhawk are usually not found living in common towns, but an incident shortly after her 122nd birthday sent her life in a quite different direction.

During Drusilia’s childhood, she often overheard her elders speaking of the other races that inhabited the Flaness, and how most could not be trusted. But, she desperately wanted to see and meet dwarves (especially dwarves!), gnome, halflings, and even humans. She had met high elves and was intrigued by the ease with which they apparently interacted with these other races. So, when she finally turned 122 (just the right age to set off on her own), she left her home in the forests of Bramblewood to make her own destiny.

She was almost disappointed with the ease with which she slipped past the few petty bandits hiding in Bramblewood Forest, eventually arriving at the southern tree line. Rather than fearing the view of the open sky though, Drusilia was thrilled to feel the full force of the sun shining on her for the first time ever, unshielded by canopy of intertwined boughs of her ancient forest home. So enraptured she was, that she continued to walk south throughout the day and well after dusk, finally coming to the fringes of “civilization” in the March of Bissel, but not yet ready to step into any of the villages she passed.

She walked until the stars and both moons were visible, and though she was aware of the human settlements she passed, she was intrigued by a shuffling sound just off the road, in a fenced off area dotted with small statuary and stones with inscriptions on them. Curious, she stepped over the low fence to see what the purpose of the small yard was. Just as she bent down to inspect what looked to be a newly carved stone marker, two cold hands thrust through the dirt at her feet to grab her ankles, attempting either to pull her into the earth, or to use her as purchase to climb out. Horrified, she left out a terrified cry, and then again as another set of hands lifted her from behind. Happily for Drusilia, the second pair of hands was stronger than the first, and belonged to a human Paladin of Pelor, whose task it seemed, was to make sure the dead buried in this plot stayed put. Her first contact with humanity had a huge impact on her. After spending the rest of the night in Nightwatch’s Temple to Pelor, the clerics there gave her a wooden sun amulet to protect her on her journey and a small prayer book, for she was not yet ready to settle down.

Drusilia eventually arrived in Smallville, and finding that there were a few dwarves, halflings and gnomes, as well as other elves, already living as friends and neighbors in the mostly-human village, elected to find a home there herself. She has spent twelve years there, praying daily to Pelor for the same strength to help the villagers there as she found in the Nightwatch. She often is called to help heal villagers who are injured, as well as the occasional adventurers that pass through on the way back from some wondrous, yet hazardous undertaking. Soon, she plans to attempt some adventuring of her own, perhaps with some of the other non-humans living in her own village.

Character sheet: Drusilia Silverwood [Elven Cleric of Pelor]

Posted by Kristin on November 2, 2002, 20:46

Evening at the Everston Estate

Freeday, Planting 7, 592 CY

Where to begin? I think Trap slipped something in my drink over at the Rat’s Egg Tavern last night, as I am sure I wouldn’t normally agree to such a daring quest. After a long week of patching up “adventurers” on their way back through Smallville from Parts Unknown, I needed a bit of cheer and revelry with the townsfolk that frequent the Rat’s Egg. It was a wee bit crowded, but I saw some friendly faces and plunked myself down with Ghelt, the blacksmith’s daughter and Fafnir (of Chicken Powered Butter Churn fame). Perhaps it was something Fafnir put in my drink, now that I think about it. But I digress. There was some talk about the old Everston Estate on the outskirts of town, as is often the case with townsfolk trying to engage the adventurers passing through with the local lore, only this time, a group of these adventurers had been to the place. Upon seeing ghostly lights and hearing the sounds of a woman crying, they decided adventuring was not for them and returned to Smallville’s only tavern to apparently test their mettle at drinking.

Fafnir said something about this being a “perfect opportunity” for an adventure of our own, and Ghelt mentioned she’d be willing to provide some muscle should the need arise. I suddenly, and very badly, wanted to make sure that the ghostly lights were not, in fact, ghosts. Even Trap, who had stopped tending bar at some point and was sitting at our table, was already scheming with Fafnir about how to best tackle the old mansion.

And tackle it we did. By the time we arrived at the estate, it was well past noon, and storm clouds had formed overhead. The large front door stuck a bit, so we ended up removing it by applying way too much force to it. The door, apparently, was in no better shape than the first big room we came to. The inside of the mansion was festooned with webs, rotting furniture, rotting tapestries on the walls, dangerously crumbling balconies around the great room, and rotting floorboards and ceilings throughout. The kitchen was in a similar state, and while nothing looked actually “looted” before we arrived, there wasn’t anything usable left either.

We found some spiraling stairs to the next floor, where there were more spider webs. It appears that our first major decision would be whether or not to walk through the room or avoid it in favor of another. During the ensuing, but brief, verbal debate that followed, two extremely large spiders decided that yes, at least some of the humanoids should enter the room. One bit Fafnir while we were pulling weapons to defend ourselves, but the quick-thinking gnome cast a spell, causing the spiders to fall asleep before either could make another attack. We quickly dispatched the spiders and I healed Fafnir’s wound. We looked around the upstairs of the mansion for a bit before deciding, after having a look at the really rotten roof, that we’d be safer trying to look below the mansion.

We followed some very small footprints until we came to a door leading down below the mansion. We encountered some goblins, equipped with javelins, who attempted to stab Ghelt and Trap. There were four, which were a bit tougher to dispatch than the spiders. One got away, but after a headlong chase down some corridors, we dispatched that one too. We managed to acquire 16 silver pieces for our efforts. We then found ourselves in a room containing the base of a damaged statue (there was not enough debris to identify the statue, though it had humanoid feet), and a table that looked like it was set up for lab experiments. It was obviously long out of use. Trap, living up to his name, managed to find a door leading to a room with a summoning circle on the floor, and two horrible, melted-looking creatures that immediately attacked us. Ghelt was able to do minor damage to one with her axe, but my arrows bounced right off the creature closest to me. I suggested we vacate the area, and was happy to discover that the creatures either wouldn’t or couldn’t leave the room that we found them in.

Fafnir was suggesting that we stop for the day, as he had no spells left after those skirmishes. I had healed everyone myself and would have been happy to rest as well. However, Ghelt and Trap saw some interesting looking doors, five all in a row, and simply could not rest until we had seen their contents. Flinging open the first four doors provided us with some very small cells, one of which contained a three-armed skeleton. While I don’t know what it was, I could tell at least that it was dead, and not undead. Trap, once again living up to his name, yanked the fifth and final door open, and emerging from the final cell doorway in a cloud of gas with a stupefied look on his face, suggesting that he too was ready to call it a day. After the gas cleared, I noticed a trap door carefully set among the stones of the floor. But, we are tired and out of spells, so that will have to await investigation until tomorrow.

Posted by Kristin on November 20, 2002, 14:21

Combing the Catacombs

Starday, Planting 8, 592 CY

Luckily, our night passed uneventfully. There was some bumping around outside of the room we holed up in— apparently the melted-looking creatures wandering around. After a quick breakfast of trail rations, we opened the trap door we’d rested beside, and with Ghelt leading, climbed down a full 100 feet to catacombs that stretched out as far as we could see. The halls were filled with niches holding remains of the Everstons. Trap was able to make out the nameplate on one: Marcus Everston 348-402 CY. The last date we found was still 161 years old, and we lost count of the sepulchers after about 100. Halls full of burial vaults branched off from the main one and we just wandered through them until we came to a pair of staircases, both leading down. There were footprints going back and forth between the two in the thick dust, and, noticing a horrible stench emanating from the one on our left, we chose to check it out first. As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, we were hit full force by the smell of death and decay. Dozens of burial vaults lined the walls, each having been smashed open. Two undead humanoid creatures turned at the far end of this area started shambling towards us. I turned them so that they would not attack our party, and while Ghelt started to hack at one with her axe, Fafnir lit arrows for Trap to shoot at the other. Though Ghelt clearly had the upper hand, she was suddenly attacked by small, zombified rats, so I took greater effort to invoke Pelor’s blessings. The zombies were destroyed. We were fortunate not to encounter any more undead in this area of the crypts. We did come to a door, sealed with Pelor’s fiery sun emblem, and though Trap really wanted to see what lay within, the rest of us were concerned that the seal had been placed there to keep some great evil away. Breaking the seal may have caused unknown damage, so unless we learn more about it, we will leave it be.

We eventually went back to the level above and took the other staircase. This one had a bronze door with the symbol of Nerull, god of death set upon it. Trap was sure the door was trapped. And he was right! He made several attempts to disarm the trap, resulting in a spiked pit trap opening in front of the door each time he opened it. One time he even fell in, but was fortunate enough to land between the spikes. He found the body of a duergar in the pit, and after looting the long dead corpse, found some gold, a sling with bullets, and best of all, a mithral axe (which Ghelt is putting to good use!). Knowing now where the pit was, the rest of us were able to jump across using Ghelt’s rope to prevent more mishaps.

We now found ourselves in a large room containing a sacrificial altar and a statue of Nerull. After I checked for magic, I found a line of runes partway through the room, no doubt some form of protection or alarm. Armed with this knowledge, we stepped across the line, weapons ready, only to have eight armed skeletons appear and attack us from doorways surrounding the altar. I had to turn them twice, as they seemed to find strength from being so close to the hateful statue. Though I couldn’t attack the skeletons and maintain Pelor’s holy force against them at the same time, my comrades were up to the task and dispatched seven quickly, allowing me to finish off the last one.

We quickly searched the area of the altar and the doors, and found that two of the doors lead to hallways. Taking the left hallway first, we encountered five cell doors similar to the ones where we spent the past night. One contained a zombie that badly wounded Ghelt, and another held a four-armed skeleton. Further on, we found a torture chamber, and a bedroom beyond that. The bedroom appeared to have been unused for many years— layers of dust coated everything. As the others were examining the desk and bed, I noticed a door cleverly concealed in one wall. It was hard for me to point it out to Trap, but once I did, he was able to open it. What awaited us was a horrible sight. In a little closet-sized space, we found an altar unlit candles on it. Before it knelt a figure in a tattered black robe. My entire party reacted as one as the grey-skinned ghoul turned to face us—Fafnir zapped it with a spell, I called upon Pelor, and Ghelt hit it with her mithral axe. And Trap, ever resourceful, threw his lantern at it. The dry husk of a creature simply blazed up and was destroyed as quickly as we found it.

This left us with the foul creature’s altar to destroy. We removed the gold candlesticks, and I picked up the little altar to simply smash it. As I did so, we discovered a locked box under it. Trap was able to open the box. We found 100s of coins, gems and a femur bone with necromantic runes etched into it (which we will need to destroy properly). Fafnir then found the key to the already unlocked box on the remains of the ghoul. We have yet to destroy the statue and sacrificial altar in the main room of this complex, but are already in need of rest, so it will have to wait until tomorrow. Ghelt has spoken of taking up the clerical arts herself, and I’m sure we’ll need that for the rest of these catacombs.

Posted by Kristin on December 4, 2002, 14:08

The Heart of Nerull?

Sunday, Planting 9, 592 CY

The rest we so desperately needed was delayed. Ghelt realized that in order to turn undead, she would need a holy symbol to Moradin, but didn’t have one with her. So, she went back to the ghoul’s “bedroom” and hacked apart a bedpost, with the idea that she would make a disk from it to draw Moradin’s hammer and anvil upon. I’m not sure if the noise from that attracted the undead, or if they were just wandering about mindlessly, but we were soon visited by several zombies, some human and some obviously duergar. My three companions jumped into combat, but I knew they were all quite tired, so I attempted to turn the zombies. The undead shambled back the way they had come, and I followed a discreet distance behind, planning to turn them again if they renewed their attack. I found them in a room down a hall with quite a few reinforcements, so I turned them and yelled for Ghelt to come help cut them down. Most of them fled and we fought those that remained. As we finished them off, Fafnir and Trap called for us— I ran back down the hall to find them being harassed by another ghoul similar to the one Trap had burnt to a crisp earlier. This time though, he was without a lantern. Ghelt and I dispatched that ghoul with our blades as well. Discovering that the ghoul had come from a side door in the hallway we’d followed the zombies through, we did a quick search of a room filled with moldering cots and neglected footlockers. As we turned to leave, I spotted a leather-bound book sticking out from under an old mattress. I grabbed it and we headed out to the main chamber again.

Not wanting the undead to come back before we rested, we took Nerull’s obsidian altar and shoved it up against the door. We had to push the altar down several steps, which caused it to break. Ghelt and I felt quite queasy immediately. In fact, neither of us has felt quite right since moving the altar, though our companions feel fine— I fear that we’ve picked up some sort of unholy curse. Destroying the altar was the proper thing to do however, and we will have this curse lifted when we can get to a good temple.

I used the rest of the night while the others rested to read what I could of the faded ink on the leather book’s pages. I’ve been able to make out the contents of several passages, apparently written by an acolyte. The journal mentions growing dissatisfaction with the high priest of Nerull, who was working with a duergar named Durll in an obsessive search for the Heart of Nerull. (I neglected to mention in my last entry, but we found a map in the first ghoul’s room, and I suspect now that creature may have been the high priest spoken of in the diary). Perhaps the map we found is a clue to the whereabouts of the Heart? The journal also mentioned that it was likely Durll was working for someone else too. The diary goes on to mentioned that assaults on this temple by duergar had forced them to collapse the catacombs to lower levels. Apparently, these catacombs go much, much deeper! The last entries I could make out were dated 25 years ago, and mentioned an illness spreading through the temple, possibly a curse, for which magical healing had no effect. The victims became desiccated husks. While I don’t believe that Ghelt or I picked up that curse, it would explain the decided lack of live members in this temple to Nerull.

Posted by Kristin on December 9, 2002, 18:41

A Walking Pincushion

Moonday, Planting 10, 592 CY

We decided our rest was over when a zombie that had been clawing at the door behind the altar finally smashed its way through to us. Thankfully, we were well rested (though hungry!) and were able to dispatch it without mishap. We followed the hallway from which the zombie had emerged and found some doors leading to small rooms. One room, outside of which Trap set off some sort of poisoned dart mechanism which shot him in the back, we found some sacks of moldy grain. Further down the hall we came to an old dining area and kitchen. I used my divine gifts to create water and purify the grain we’d found. My friends built a fire in the kitchen and we sat down to a meal consisting 100% of oatmeal, but after three days of stretching out our meager trail rations, it was a feast.

We knew the other zombies we’d chased away yesterday were still in the vicinity, and we found them in a small cavern after descending yet another staircase. I was able to destroy four, but I fear the curse Ghelt and I have fallen to is impeding our abilities in melee— I feel so clumsy when I wield my sword! Still, we finished off the last of the undead under the Everston Estate.

After our battle with the few remaining undead, we surveyed the area we’d fought in. There was a lake, probably fed by a tributary of the Realstream, that covered most the cavern. On the shore was a sturdy raft and two poles. I found a rope in the sand and, assuming it was attached to the raft, pulled it. Instead, it was attached to a small box. Trap was able to open it and we found three bloodstones, some gold and two vials within. Fafnir’s keen sense of smell and knowledge of alchemy helped him determine that the vials contained healing potions. Those will come in handy!

We poled the raft across the underground lake, eventually finding another shore to jump out on. Trap, ever cautious, stepped on a pressure plate we arrived on shore and was nearly impaled on a spear. We walked a distance, in what must have once been more branches of an underground stream, until we noticed something slinking along the ceiling above us. A giant centipede! Luckily we fight well as a group and were able to kill it. Two more dead centipedes later, we found ourselves at a fork in the tunnels. We chose the one that went up, and walked a good mile or so before coming out in a forest. Realizing the closest forest to Smallville would be Dim Forest, we decided it wouldn’t hurt to backtrack to the other tunnel. This turned out to be a bad idea. The tunnel went downward, eventually coming out in a room filled with stalactites hanging down from the dark ceiling and sides of the cavern. Luckily, the centipedes we’d encountered earlier had us warily looking upward— and it appeared that the ceiling was moving! Just as we decided we’d best go back to the tunnels again, a huge cone-shaped object fell from the ceiling and buried itself in Trap’s shoulder. The four of us ran as fast as we could out of the cavern as more objects fell from above. Once we were in the relative safety of the tunnels, we helped Trap get the thing out of his shoulder. It was a slug-like creature with a hard conical shell and pseudopods for feet— a Piercer, which spends its whole existence hanging from a cave ceiling listening for prey to drop on. Trap was delighted. He’s named it “Spike” and tucked it under his arm to take home as a pet.

Not wishing to go all the way back through the catacombs under the Estate, we elected to attempt our trip home through the Dim Forest. It was quiet enough, with only the sounds of Trap trying to feed worms to Spike reaching our ears. But then, just a mile or two short of our destination, we heard moaning in the underbrush off of our path. Weapons drawn, we came to a small clearing where a human lay bleeding from a horrible wound in his side. While I rushed over to heal him with Fafnir, Ghelt and Trap quickly checked the surrounding area for signs of ambush.

The human I healed is called Gildean, and is a cleric of Heironeous. He and his own party had been attacked by humanoid spider things. Although I was able to stabilize him, he has been poisoned, which is beyond my or Ghelt’s ability to treat. He was left for dead apparently, but his comrades, which included a half-elf sorceress, human fighter and elven paladin, were carried away— probably to be eaten. Although we wanted to take him back to the safety of the town, Gildean feels that his friends may still be alive and in need of rescue. So, leaving him with one of what we hope is a healing potion, and my silver dagger (for he is too weak to lift anything else right now), we will attempt to bring his party back to him, or at least avenge them.

Posted by Kristin on December 19, 2002, 17:46

A Double-Edged Stick

Moonday, Planting 10, 592 CY, continued

We quickly followed the “drag marks” that were left by Gildean’s attackers as they hauled off his friends. Apparently, the woods were full of spiders and hapless adventurers, because we quickly came upon a gray elf attempting to beat a huge spider with a stick. By the time we got to him, he was under the spider, but thankfully Ghelt was able to hack down the spider and we rolled it off its intended victim. The elf with the big stick goes by the name of Valon and hails from Dreadwood. He is a bard, and believes that his big stick is in fact a magical longsword. Fafnir was able to determine that the stick had magical properties, and Valon demonstrated its keen edge by cleaving the dead spider in half. But, it really looks like he’s just waving a big stick around. Nevertheless, he seems a decent sort and provided us with an additional weapon for taking on the spiders we were searching for.

While Fafnir and I argued with Valon about the nature of his stick/sword, Ghelt and Trap had continued on a bit ahead of us. We heard the sounds of struggle and arrived in a clearing in time to see them grappling with two huge spiders and four of those goblin-spider monstrosities. I still can barely hit anything thanks to this curse from Nerull’s Shrine, but Valon began to sing, which bolstered us all enough to dispatch the evil creatures. It is good that he was with us, as I’m sure that Ghelt and Trap would have been carried off to meet the same fate as the party we searched for. As it was, Trap’s already lost his Piercer “pet”— apparently, he used Spike as a missile weapon during his skirmish. To make matters worse, I was bitten and poisoned, so am now barely able to keep up with my comrades.

Following the drag marks further, we came to a fissure in a rock face that was obviously the lair of the creatures we sought. Ghelt and the others had no trouble climbing down the rope she had along, but I’ve felt so weak and klutzy that I was sure I’d plummet right past the rope. Valon allowed me to hang on to him so I could descend in relative safety. We arrived safely at the bottom and walked down a narrow tunnel for a bit, eventually coming to an area that had four passages leading away from it. The cavernous ceilings above us were festooned with spider webs, and soon three of the hairy vermin were descending on us. We have been using fire to clear out the webs as we find them, but are going more cautiously now— it wouldn’t do to burn the victims we are looking for. Though everyone helps to defeat these creatures, it’s Ghelt’s axe that does the job best— I can see that some of our comrades will be asking her for tips on combat practices in the near future.

No sooner had we rid ourselves of the spiders than we were being attacked from the side corridors by a half-dozen goblin-spiders. Seeing that I was too weak to fight them off, Valon leaped in front of me and took a blow so bad I thought he was dead. But, he continued the bardic melody that he had begun in the last battle, so I ducked back in the corridor and dragged him to relative safety. I was able to heal him enough that he could sit up, and I nocked arrows for him in my shortbow so he could finish off the creatures I had dragged him away from. Ghelt and Trap must have killed the ones in the opposing corridor, for they came out a moment later. Both the corridors we fought in led to dead ends.

Fafnir was ready to see what lie in the final unchecked corridor, so we cautiously approached. A bit of movement caught our collective attention— in an alcove above us, we saw a hideous creature with a spider’s body and humanoid arms— and a glimmer of intelligence in its evil eyes. We attacked in earnest, though I eventually handed my bow and arrows to Valon— I was still too weak (and cursed) to shoot effectively. He, Ghelt and Trap pummeled the creature with arrows as it cast spells at us. Fafnir noticed another small passage and edged towards it, getting a magic missile in the back for his troubles. I followed him in time to see him discover a small chamber with three cocoons in it. The battle finished behind us with our party the victors. Valon used his stick/sword to slice open the cocoons— Gildean’s party was alive, though weak. Closer examination of the chamber lead to an even smaller alcove with the rescued party’s equipment in it, and a small iron box. While Trap hit himself with a poison needled twice while opening the box, I noticed that the belongings of the half-elven sorceress Kendra had two potions in it labeled “Remove Curse.” Thankfully, she weakly gestured that Ghelt and I could have them— what a relief! While Trap shared the contents of the box with Fafnir (contents being some silver and gold coins, a small vial, a scrollcase containing two spell scrolls, an 18” ash stick, an amethyst and a folded up cloak), Ghelt sternly pointed out that we needed to get back and find Gildean himself before he needed rescued again.

Posted by Kristin on December 23, 2002, 15:14

Angulus Ridet

Godsday, Planting 11, 592 CY

It took us a while to figure out how to get Gildean’s weakened party out of the crevasse, but with rope and a lot of effort on Ghelt’s part, we hauled them out. Using Valon’s tent as a makeshift sledge, we pulled them along the forest trail, picked up Gildean (who thankfully, hadn’t met with more disaster while we extricated his friends), and returned to Smallville. We took Gildean’s party to the Rat’s Egg Tavern (where the tavern keeper informed Trap that his services were no longer required), and dispatched a human lad, young Hastings, to go ask the local druids to help speed the healing of our rescues. Ghelt’s father was obviously very proud of seeing her handmade symbol of Moradin she wore, but she is now wearing a beautifully crafted holy symbol that once belonged to her mother.

Thinking all was well, I’d no sooner decided to go home to get some rest, when I was approached by Widow McGillis, a kindly old woman who lives on the outskirts of town. She was certain that her attic was haunted by evil spirits and asked me to please come to her home and cast the evil out. I immediately agreed, and asked Ghelt (as I am no longer the only cleric in Smallville!) if she’d like to accompany me. My other comrades, still full of eagerness from our adventures of the past few days, decided to come along as well. In fact, I don’t believe we could have kept Trap away if we’d begged....

Upon arriving at Widow McGillis’ home, we could hear the unmistakable sounds of skittering and banging in the attic. Before I could formulate a plan however, I had to get Trap down off the ladder to her attic door so I could take a look. I pushed open the attic trap door and in the dim light could make out the vague forms of winged multi-legged vermin—stirges! I asked Trap to take the old woman outside while the rest of us cleared out the creatures. A few would drop through the attic door at a time, and we took great pains to not be injured nor damage any of the woman’s meager furnishings. Suddenly though, from near the entrance, an arrow flew through the room, lodging in the back end of Fafnir. Trap had returned to the inside of the 20’ by 20’ home, with the idea that shooting the flying creatures we engaged in melee would be helpful. Fafnir was not amused! I did request several times that Trap wait outside with Widow McGillis, but he wouldn’t be convinced. Ironically, other than the injury inflicted by a party member, the only other injuries were to Trap, who was attacked by several stirges on the same shoulder that had been hit by the piercer earlier. Pelor forgive us, but having the stirges sticking out of Trap did make them easier to kill. Once we had completed the task, I asked Fafnir to go up to the attic and plug whatever hole there was that allowed the vermin in to begin with. We cleaned up the stirge bodies and allowed the old woman back into her home, now “evil” free.

Apparently, one final task had to be accomplished before resting: divvying up the “loot.” Trap saved us the time it would have taken to identify the ash stick we found— the now rainbow-colored halfling is pretty sure it’s a wand of Colorspray. He couldn’t figure out what the grey cloak we found does. It is magical, but only fits elves (and presumably, humans). I took some of my share of the money found and bought a composite shortbow. If we are going on another adventure, I want to be better prepared for combat!


Posted by Kristin on January 1, 2003, 19:48

A Fascicle of Fafnirs

Freeday, Planting 21, 592 CY

We have had 10 fairly restful days. Ghelt spent some time instructing Trap on some of the finer points of combat (but not necessarily getting him to know when to enter combatů), Fafnir’s house had smoke and the sounds of nervous chickens wafting from it (but he apparently produced some handy potions during his stay) and Valon has been wowing the locals with his bardic lore and songs. I’ve handled what few clerical duties were needed of me— mostly helping the locals with bumps and bruises, and answering one somewhat urgent sounding request for an “exorcism” which, once I found out the request led me to Fafnir’s house, I realized wasn’t necessary. We’ve met a few times at the Rat’s Egg Tavern to look over our cryptic map, and have a good idea at least of which direction to head in.

The morning of the 20th arrived and we were ready to depart. As we discussed how much our supplies would weigh, we realized a pack animal of some sort was needed. We acquired a mule (or “The Mule” as Fafnir calls it) and enough food for a several-week journey. Our map looks to be taking us 100 miles, mostly through the Barrier Peaks.

The journey to the foothills near the peaks was uneventful, and as the sun was near to setting we came to a small farmhouse and barn. Thinking to ask to use the barn to pass the night in, we walked to the front door of the farmhouse to get the owner’s permission. The door was ajar, and we could see the furniture in disarray inside, as well as patches of sticky redness on the floors. A quick search of the house and barn turned up no one alive. Not knowing much of the local flora and fauna prompted us to vote on looking for the owner immediately or when the sun rose. We ended up spending the night under a tree about 100 yards from the barn.

The night went quietly, and soon after dawn we had a quick meal of rations and then found a very obvious trail through the trampled plant-life heading in a westerly direction. We had Trap scout ahead of us, all the while keeping a lookout for what made the trail. The footprints were of two sizes: really, really big and slightly smaller than our own. Clearly something (or someone) had been dragged along the trail, and the creatures who left the prints were either too confident or too stupid to cover them.

After a long hike, we eventually came to a cave entrance. Sneaking in, we walked single-file, quietly, until -thud!- Trap tripped over a tripwire, sending something clanging in the distant tunnels. We quickly hauled ourselves back out into the sunlight, and waited. After what seemed like an eternity we were rewarded with the appearance of a goblin archer, which we quickly dispatched. We entered the cave again, more carefully this time, and made it to a large intersection in the tunnels, where we met up with half a dozen goblins and an ogre! Valon attempted to tumble past the ogre so Ghelt and the rest of us could get into the open area to fight, and was knocked down. Lying there, clearly stunned, he started to sing a rousing battle song. I blessed the party as Ghelt waded into combat, and was eventually able to get a shot in at the ogre with my bow. As luck would have it, the ogre had the help of a goblin cleric and began to get up again. So Fafnir finished off the goblin cleric with a nice fiery spell, and then fried the ogre. Things seemed to be getting better, when we noticed that Valon had ceased his song. By now, he was being dragged back through the ranks of goblins. How would I get to him in time? Luckily, Ghelt’s tutoring of Trap paid off well, and he was able to pick off most of the goblins so I could pass and get to Valon before he disappeared down a tunnel. Since I had my new bow out rather than my sword, I had to act fast, so I kicked the goblin dragging him. I kicked him hard. I kicked him in such a fashion that he (for it was now apparently that he was a he) doubled over, squeaked, and passed out. Some quick healing to Valon brought our fighting ability back up to full, and off we chased after Ghelt and Fafnir, while Trap picked off the remaining goblins.

As we came around the corner things got confusing. In addition to a large group of goblins, there was an equal number of Fafnirs, all standing around looking identical. I tried to heal a few more of my comrades while they took out the remaining goblins, and poor Valon shot an arrow through the combat, attempting to hit a goblin. He hit a Fafnir. And of all the Fafnirs in the room, he managed to hit the real one. In the same spot the poor gnome had been hit by Trap just 10 days ago. Luckily, Fafnir doesn’t seem to hold grudges.

After the dust settled and all the goblins were dead, we explored the rest of the (rather stinky) chambers of the cave. One had a pit full of very dead and decayed things (in which I fear the farmer we’d looked for the night before had ended up), a filthy bedchamber, and a small storage room filled with somewhat cleaner “treasure.” As Trap opened the door to this room of treasure, a hail of needles shot out of a trap at him. Not to be dissuaded, he ignored them and looked around in the room. We found an iron box. Trap attempted to open it, but his lock pick broke in the lock. I used a minor spell to mend his pick and he tried again, but the lock was jammed. I attempted to shatter the lock, but with no success. So, he pried the hinges off the back of the box. Success! However, he hadn’t accounted for the poison gas trap on the box, and since the rest of us always run when he “disarms” a trap, he got the full dose of the poison. As usual, the halfling cheerfully shook of the nausea and riffled through the box, finding various gold and gems, and (oops!) a shattered vial.

We are gathering up The Mule and some odds and ends and continuing on our quest. I can’t help but feel someone is watching us... though with all the commotion we cause, that would hardly be surprising.

Posted by Kristin on January 8, 2003, 10:58

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Moonday, Planting 24, 592 CY

We were being followed! Soon after we came out of the cave entrance we encountered Four Feather, an elven ranger that lives on the outskirts of Smallville. This was fortuitous, as we can use a competent tracker and especially one that knows us (though until now, she’s pretty much kept to herself or the company of Smallville’s druids). She seemed to have a need to know which one of us was the party leader— well, it really depends on the situation! I quickly nominated Ghelt for this particular quest, as it is quite appropriate for a dwarf to be leading the party through the Barrier Peaks. It seemed to puzzle Four Feather that we all get along so well, but I feel that our diversity is an asset most of the time!

And speaking of diversity, Ghelt is teaching me the dwarven language. I have learned however, the most untimely way of distracting a dwarf is for a slender elven cleric to yell “By Pelor’s Beard!” as she charges into combat. As soon as we came to a place to rest the first night out past the goblin cave, we spent much of the predawn fighting off giant spiders. Once, when Trap was looking to pick up a thrown dagger from our latest arachnid encounter, I heard a shriek from the woods— and dove towards the sound, hoping to take out the spider before poor Trap was poisoned for the umpteenth time. My “war cry” got Trap out of my way in time, but apparently startled Ghelt so that I ended up crashing into her instead of the spider (which by the way, didn’t seem to have any “kickable” areas on it). Thankfully she doesn’t take my exuberance personally.

The next day was uneventful, and we eventually found ourselves making camp again. Ghelt and I attempted to take turns washing up in the stream running near the camp, when we saw a little bear cub visiting the edge of the water. Not wanting to attract the bear’s mother, we hastily got back to camp. Moments later, we heard a larger bear growl and soon Four Feather was sprinting for all she was worth in front of the irritated ursus. I didn’t see it, but suspect she was poking it for some reason. We also found giant prints (as in from a giant!) that we elected not to follow.

Early yesterday we had to make a decision when our trail forked— west towards Ghelt’s clan’s home or north, which would likely get us to the Heart of Nerull more quickly. So north it was! The night was mostly uneventful as well, but this time we could hear wolves in the distance.

Today we find ourselves staring at a bestial totem pole, with the symbol of Gruumsh carved in it. The wooded valley below us contains a lake and smoke wafts up cooking fires between huts of what appears to be an orc encampment. I fear our path takes us very close to chaos.

Posted by Kristin on January 15, 2003, 00:46

Tetrapteracide (Feather Fall)

Moonday, Planting 24, 592 CY, continued

There is quite a dearth of elves in the party since my last entry. Our plan to cross the valley of orcs was simple enough— Four Feather and Trap scouted ahead quietly, finding the best path past the orc encampment so as not to arouse their ire. We would have been able to pass through without their notice, but for one alarming revelation— it was not merely an encampment, but a group of about 20 to 30 orcs running an iron mine. Worse still, they were not laboring in the mines, but managing the enslaved humanoids (elves, gnomes, humans, halflings and kobolds) who were. This atrocity could not be allowed to continue. And so, we made plans to kill the slavers and release their prisoners.

There were a lot of problems with our strategy, I’ll admit. First, we waited until nightfall, even though orcs have better night vision than we (or the rescuees) do. In fact, they would have had more difficulty seeing us in direct sunlight, and since they had cleared away nearly all the trees in the vicinity of their camp, we would have had plenty of light. But, the wait proved to be important for the slaves— we had assumed the huts were for the orcs, when in fact their “shift change” showed us that the slaves lived in them— the orcs had taken residence in the cliff face over the mines. This precluded the use of fire spells or lit arrows during our inevitable battle. Our other problem was a watchtower built to command a wide view of the valley, making sneaking into the camp impossible during the daylight hours. Thankfully the orc in the tower wasn’t overly observant, allowing us ample time to study the camp from the tree line. When the time came to fight, Four Feather had an arrow ready to eliminate the watchtower orc (and she did— we later found him with an arrow going through one ear and out the other), while Trap planned to go from hut to hut releasing as many prisoners as he could. Ghelt and the rest of us snuck out of the woods right past the watchtower after I cast a quick blessing on those close enough to benefit.

The battle was bloody, and over very quickly. Ghelt waded right into the fray in that admirable dwarf-like fashion, while the elven assemblage attempted to take down foes with arrows. I was able to even hit the orc leader standing well back from his forces (most of which were trying to hit Ghelt with javelins), though I’m sorry to say my arrow didn’t take him out of battle immediately. Fafnir seemed to be everywhere at once (thanks to his mirror image spell), and turned quite a few orcs into mounds of char with a flaming sphere. Valon went down in battle pretty quickly after a particularly nasty hit (he needs some armor!), but in his inimitable style, sang a rousing battle song while laying crumpled near my feet. Trap had a lot of success as well, even though he was on the other side of the camp— he picked off about a half dozen orcs one at a time as they tried to match his pace between the slave huts. There were some scary moments too— at one point I really needed to get to Ghelt and Four Feather to provide healing, but was afraid to leave Valon where he’d surely be trampled in the fight (not to mention I was shooting as many rampaging orcs as I could from where I stood). In fact, at one point I thought Ghelt was lost to us, but she shrugged it off and kept fighting. Fafnir wended his way over to Four Feather and dumped his only healing potion down her throat, but she was still too weak to stand. She managed one final attack on her own slayer though, with a sword thrust up through his armor from where she lay. I can only wonder if she’d just played dead if that orc would have left her alone, but we’ll never know now.

When we were down to one remaining orc, he routed and turned to flee into the mines. Trap, with some bizarre form of halfling bloodthirstiness, tore off after him and finished him off somewhere in the maze of mines. And apparently Trap was having a lucky day— he found a huge iron chest full of coins and a gem, and claims that he successfully disarmed the trap that was on the lock.

After healing those of party that I could, I found a key ring on one of the dead orc leaders. The keys helped Trap get into his (disarmed!) box of treasure and enabled us to take the shackles and manacles off of the slaves. Only one of the slaves can leave camp with us though. The rest are wearing iron collars that somehow prevent their departure. We were told that the only one that can remove the collars is the “Witchlord” who keeps a stronghold up the path towards were we are headed. The one would-be slave, a halfling going by Korin Greenmeadow, had just been recently captured and not yet fitted with a proper collar— he is more than eager to accompany us on our travels. If we are able to get the key to remove these collars from the slaves we will certainly come back for them. At least for now, they aren’t under the direct influence of their orcish overlords.

The sad task of putting Four Feather to rest weighs heavily on us all. I was touched to see that Ghelt gave her a dwarven blessing to speed her on her way. Valon has offered to carry Four Feather’s body back to Smallville on the chance that her uncle returns for her, though it may just be simpler to bury her where she fell, and carry word back with us when, and if, we return home.


Posted by Kristin on January 20, 2003, 12:59

Overkill

Godsday, Planting 25, 592 CY

Korin has a pry bar. More on that in a bit.

We left the orc camp early in the day and proceeded in the direction the slaves had indicated would take us to the Witch Lord’s Tower. The slaves often hauled the iron ore that they mined to the tower, so the path over the rocky ground was easy enough to follow. As if to let us know we weren’t lost, we saw many more orcish totems evilly grinning at us on our trek. Though I’m not much of a cartographer, I’m now sketching out the places we’ve been in case we find ourselves fighting back through them.

After several hours of walking in a northerly direction, we came to a tower with approximately 50 orc huts and a longhouse around it. While we were forming a plan to get past all the huts quietly, Korin reminded us that he had a pry bar and quickly dashed off. Trap must feel responsible for the other halfling in some way; with an apologetic shrug, he was off right after him. While Fafnir and I moved The Mule to a safe distance and secured him, Ghelt attempted to keep the two halflings in sight as they darted between the orc huts. They checked three and, finding them empty, determined them all to be abandoned. They then went right up to the front door of the tower. Of course, it wouldn’t open. Not with lock picks (as there apparently was no lock on the outside) and not with Korin’s pry bar. As Ghelt kept a watchful eye out, trying to keep all the huts and the halflings in sight, Fafnir and I walked closer so that he could detect for magic while I attempted to detect evil. Neither of us got very far with that, for just as we started, we heard a loud crash— the halflings were using the pry bar as a grappling hook, but not being able to toss it as high up the tower as needed, it had come sailing back down. Trap’s head somewhat muffled the sound of the pry bar as it landed, but either the muffled thunk! or the subsequent squeal from the stunned halfling caused several door flaps to stir. Orcs began to shamble out of some of the huts around us, but there was obviously something very wrong with the orcs. Their lifeless eyes and overly pale flesh indicated that they were undead. At first, there were only a dozen or so and I was able to keep them turned back, but soon more and more lumbered out of their hovels— too many for me and my comrades to fight off. Of course, Trap and Korin were not getting anywhere with their makeshift grappling hook, but luckily Fafnir had a Potion of Spider Climb with him and he was able to take a rope up the side of the tower and secure it, allowing us to climb to relative safety while the zombie orcs clawed ineffectually at the outer walls.

After getting our bearings on top of the tower, we were able to climb inside through a trapdoor and found ourselves in a maze of small rooms. One room was obviously a bed chamber that looked as though it hadn’t been used for years. As Trap ran from door to door on the top floor flinging open what doors would open and inspecting those that didn’t, Korin ran down the first set of steps he found, with Ghelt hot on his heels. I heard sounds of commotion almost immediately, and Fafnir and I ran down behind them while Trap continued his search of the top floor. More undead orcs had apparently been left inside the tower, and with the last of my divine energy for the day, I turned the few that were in the room beyond the stairs so that my comrades could finish them off.

Having two halflings around is twice the excitement, I guess! I only hope we can survive it.

Posted by Kristin on February 12, 2003, 21:35

Face Off

Earthday, Planting 27, 592 CY

While we were fighting the undead downstairs, Trap had actually found something quite valuable— the Journal of the Witch Lord. Reading that provided us with valuable clues about our adversary, who, oddly enough, was also working with the same duergar Durll that the last crazy undead we’d encountered were mixed up with. And apparently, we had arrived just days after the Witch Lord had decided to become a Lich Lord, to help him in his quest for the Heart of Nerull.

As those of us upstairs (Fafnir, Trap, Ghelt and I) discussed this, we heard Korin, still downstairs, screaming “I didn’t touch it!” We all ran back downstairs, in time to see him being clawed at by an elven wight. I had no more divine power for the day, so we had to fight the undead with our weapons. By the time we dispatched the creature, Korin looked to be near death himself— he was so weak, and looked somewhat desiccated. We gave him what healing we could, and opted to wall ourselves into an upstairs room for a full 24 hours in the hopes that we could pull him through this crisis. Apparently, the wight took him by surprise while he was not-so-quietly destroying wooden furniture to make a fire (for warmth). Worse still, this was one of the three elves he had traveled to this region with.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that Korin survived longer than an elven warrior did. I think it has unhinged his mind though.

After a full day’s rest, we began to somewhat-more-methodically search the rest of the tower, starting with the rest of the top floor. The first room-sized closet was full of old clothes and finery long past wearability. There was another closet across from the clothes closet. Unfortunately, we weren’t all standing far enough back from Trap when he mis-disarmed its trapped lock. A bolt of energy surged out of it, passing through Trap and hitting Ghelt and I before hitting a metal ladder behind us. Painful though this was, a closer inspection of what looked like refuse in the closet yielding a wondrous find: a finely wrought short sword with the symbol of Pelor etched into its blade. Now, I realize logic would dictate that a follower of Pelor carry the blade, but Trap fell in love with it instantly. If Pelor gains another follower, even in this most unorthodox method, then it is worth it to me that Trap wields it. We also managed to find some enchanted arrows and a dagger, all of which were quickly snapped up by the other party members. Going down to the next level we found more miscellaneous “loot” as Fafnir calls it— including some gold and a dagger with a serpentine hilt. It’s not magical, but Fafnir assured Korin it was “special” since he was so taken with it.

At least, we made it to the cellar of the tower. After passing a well (which Korin was very interested in), We opened a door and were bathed in a blue light. Trap walked into the room, an arcane lab, and was confronted with two more undead— one was definitely an elf like the one we’d encountered upstairs, and one looked wrong (even more wrong than undead already do)— he had to keep “straightening” his very loose face, which kept flapping about his skull as he moved. Of course, I didn’t know any of this until Trap pulled out his new sword and engaged them in combat. I quickly followed him in (as did everyone except Korin, who after peeking into the room and recognizing the two in there, went back out to play in the water), and with Pelor’s divine blessing was able to turn the one undead elf into a pile of harmless dust. I wanted to attack the source of the blue light— a crystal suspended in the middle of the room (which Fafnir and I obviously both thought was the phylactery of the Witch Lord). Luckily, Fafnir cast a magic missile at it and it exploded. I was worried at first, because the Witch Lord roared “Freedom!” as soon as the crystal was shattered, but it did him no good. I was able to turn the pathetic creature with Pelor’s wrath, and Trap, Ghelt and Fafnir then slew it outright. In addition to this clearly disturbed, now dead, lich and the pile of former elf wight, we found lots of notes scattered about the lab in the same handwriting as the journal we’d read earlier. We found several rings, a potion of Detect Thoughts, an ash wand and some charred, but still serviceable bracers (one of the few types of armor an arcane magic user can wear). They all radiated magic, but since we had no way to magically identify the items, we are using trial and error. One ring was clearly to help an arcane magic user store additional spells— Fafnir is definitely keeping that one! The wand shoots acid arrows. One ring, forged of iron, seems to offer protection magic— I suggested that Korin wear it as he seems somewhat accident prone. Fafnir decided the one of the other rings had something to do with jumping. We all went to the top of the tower to confirm his suspicions. Thankfully, Ghelt was able to catch Fafnir on his 38’ decent and he came screaming back down from his test jump. We notice while we were up on top of the tower that all the undead orcs were now simply dead orcs.

Returning one last time to the downstairs, where a few rooms where left unexplored, we found a lot of unpleasant things. One room contained a horrible surprise that sent Trap screaming through the cellar— some metal tables and sharp instruments, and what I suspect to be the remains of a skinned elf— probably the third from the party Korin had traveled with (and the source of the loose skin that the lich was wearing). Another room contained an altar with unknown but demonic-looking markings on it— and a silver scepter topped by a star ruby. This is what would free the slaves! Ghelt took care of the remains of Korin’s previous party, Trap went and retrieved The Mule (thankfully still waiting for us, though thirsty) and we hiked back to the mines. The scepter, thankfully, worked by touching it to each of the slaves’ collars.

Since most of these slaves were captured in or around these mountains, I’m hoping there is someone among them that could provide us with a guide or a better set of instructions to where we are headed— I now suspect time is of the essence.

Posted by Kristin on February 17, 2003, 17:51

Like Beating a Dead Mule

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 on February 24, 2003, 12:35

In the Hall of the Mountain King

Starday, Flocktime 3, 592 CY, continued

Well, today was terrible. Obviously, the halflings’ brains were scrambled in the ride down the river somehow, because they had both been suicidally stupid since then, and in fact, this brain damage resulted in Trap’s untimely demise.

Just after I completed my previous journal entry this morning, Trap and Korin wandered over to the waterfall we didn’t go over last night. They spotted a hill giant and six hobgoblins below the next set of falls, pulling the remains of our barrels (and The Mule) out of their nets. Not that the halflings were telling the rest of us this, mind you! If Korin hadn’t decided he needed to ride down in a barrel to greet them, we may not have found out about them at all. As it was, he came back to camp to clamber back into one of our barrels, while Trap just wandered back and forth between the falls and the camp, itching to cause trouble. Paranoid now, I walked over and saw (and reported to Ghelt and Fafnir) the party below us. I used a spell to comprehend languages so I could figure out if these were the “traders” the kobolds had mentioned to us. (Incidentally, I also read what the kobolds had scrawled on Fafnir’s barrel, now that I could read it: NOT FRAGILE.) I ducked down due to an untimely halfling exclamation and the sounds of pounding somewhere behind me, but Trap didn’t duck, so when the party below heard the noise and saw Trap, they started drawing weapons. By the time I could get back to the camp a few feet away, Korin was sealed in a barrel about to go over the falls (thanks to Trap, who pushed the barrel to the water), and the enemy was climbing a short path up to our camp.

Fafnir must have used nearly every spell in his arsenal to fight off the hill giant. I am pleased to say that we were able to defeat it and all but one of the hobgoblins, who ran off scared when it saw the giant fall to us. Trap, not fully understanding how the Short Sword of Pelor worked, was chagrined to find that it heals non-undead that it’s used to attack. He and Ghelt fought the same hobgoblin for a bit, he healing it with a stab from his sacred sword, and Ghelt dealing it a blow with her Mithril axe. Eventually the axe won out and it too fell. Trap, wanting to test the healing power of his sword, stabbed himself before I could stop him, and Ghelt, thinking the sword was now cursed (and this is truly odd, but I think the halflings have clouded her judgment somewhat), grabbed the sword from Trap and threw it into the lake!

Trap jumped in (fully armored) after it, and I, after removing my armor and tying myself to a rope held by Fafnir, dove in after both him and the sword. There was a lot of current to deal with and I had to cast a light on my own hand to see in the turbulent water. I was just about to call it a loss when I saw something shiny below me. It was the sword! I swam to it and grabbed it just as Fafnir started to pull me up. When I emerged, I was thankful to hear that Ghelt had pulled the waterlogged Trap from the lake before he could go over the falls, and had then gone to get the other halfling out of his leaking barrel before he too nearly drowned.

Once Trap regained consciousness, I told him and Ghelt as much as I could about how the sword was imbued with positive energy— great for fighting undead (which was what the sword was intended for, after all), but not too effective for living enemies. I’m not sure I convinced Ghelt, but if she takes time to detect evil on the sword, she’ll be more comfortable with it. Korin, who often mimics what Ghelt does, will most likely try to dispose of it again though. I tried to distract him by having him look for “loot” on the hill giant. He found some gems and potions, and was happily wandering around our camp with boar tusks in his mouth moments later.

Trap and Korin headed down to see what was in the barrels below the second falls while Ghelt, Fafnir and I finished cleaning up our camp to head out. We then went down and found them wearing each other’s armor, “wigs” they pulled out of some barrels and were chewing on some sort of meat they found. The wigs were quite definitely scalps, so I shudder to guess what they were eating. I didn’t get to mention this though, as we were soon attacked by another hill giant with hobgoblins in tow. Ghelt had us climb as quickly as we could across the rope net while she cut it free from the enemies’ side of the river. Fafnir tried to slow them down by casting an illusion of a bank of clouds between them and us, but they didn’t stay fooled long. We got across the river (which turned out to only be 4’ deep— no problem for a giant!) and were heading to the tree line (and escape), when Trap and Korin decided they wanted to switch back to their normal armor. Not having time, obviously, I grabbed them both by the necks of their attire and headed as quickly as I could up towards the trees. Suddenly, my load was much lighter as they both squirmed free of their gear. I think Ghelt got them motivated to move somehow and we were soon tearing through the trees, all... three.. of us. Where were the halflings?

We turned back just in time to see Korin and Trap duck out from behind a tree. Korin was swatted down by the hill giant, while poor Trap was completely squished by it.

Now, I consider myself a practical elf, but I realized that this was going to be a choice between saving myself or saving Korin, so I started back, knowing that running onward with Ghelt and Fafnir (also paused but ready for a decision either way) would be smarter. Suddenly, Pelor be praised, a huge rock came hurdling out of the trees to the west of us, smacking the hill giant. And then another, and another. The hill giant, looking peeved and maybe a bit frightened, departed quickly. I was able to get to the nearly-dead Korin in just the nick of time, healing him. There was nothing I could do for Trap, save collect his undamaged gear while Ghelt, even more practical then I, attended to the body.

Our saviors turned out to be a pair of stone giants, who said simply, “It’s not safe in these parts.” Ghelt seemed genuinely relieved to see this particular type of giants after our run-in with those of the “hill” variety, and they offered to take us back to their mountain home for healing and recuperating. They are even giving Trap a proper burial— I’m sure he would be amazed to know he was interred in these halls with people five times his stature. Korin must need more healing too— he seems to think he’s Trap now— perhaps he is still wearing some of his gear.

Posted by Kristin on March 4, 2003, 13:15

Ring Leader

Earthday, Flocktime 6, 592 CY

In addition to being excellent hosts, the stone giants were able to point us closer to our destination, Arun-tosa (City of the Dead) as well as provide us with some dwarven history. It seems the dwarven clans of Barraktor destroyed the City and its necromancer king, though the evil they fought (or perhaps released) was so great it caused them abandon their own mines and thus broke the dwarven clan into smaller groups. The giants (which included a very personable one named Gunnae who did much of the talking with us) warned us that we were not the first to go back to Arun-tosa, and that those that ventured there were not seen again.

They also traded some much-needed arcane scrolls for some of the gems we found, and Korin traded them his well-crafted mail for a big silver ring— meant to be worn on the finger of a giant, it encircles Korin’s head. He is wearing all of Trap’s stuff and carrying his equipment (having dropped some of his own, apparently) and insists that Trap is talking to him. We’ve cast every spell we can think of to detect Trap’s spirit, and can only assume that Korin is utterly barmy.

Before setting off again on our quest, I was so grateful for the giants’ hospitality I offered to heal anyone that needed it. Gunnae assured me that their own healer served their needs well, but there was another visitor that perhaps I could help. He lead me (with Korin bouncing along between us) to a chamber with a huge stone bed. Using up a small portion of the bed was the most mangled-looking human I’d ever seen (well, that was still breathing, anyway!). Korin immediately wanted to wrap the man up like a mummy, so I asked Gunnae to please scruff the halfling while I attempted a miracle.

It took several of my strongest healing spells to get him to the point where he could sit up, and then stand up, but I must confess the healings didn’t make him look any prettier. Some of what I thought was damage was just how poor Jonathan looks. He asked to travel with us, feeling he’d imposed on the stone giants long enough, and we can use an extra fighter, seeing as Korin now considers himself our party’s rogue. Though not as charismatic as the human paladins and clerics of Pelor that I am used to seeing, he is a follower of Mayaheine, who honors Pelor, so I feel that at least I have a connection with Jonathan. And oddly, even though I brought him back from the brink of death, he seems to feel that I need his protection. We’ll see....

Korin is our “scout” now. After several attempts to keep him safely on a tether, Ghelt had to unhook him. We’d found a cave opening after walking for half the day, and he offered to investigate it for us. Seeing as it was 60 feet off the ground and halflings are decent climbers, this seemed like a fine idea. Korin scaled the vertical rock like it was a ladder, and quickly disappeared into the dark cave entrance. He was to drop a rope to us as soon as he was inside, but didn’t, and moments later a strange music was echoing down to us. Whether it was something that only effected males, or just bad luck for them, Fafnir and Jonathan immediately began to climb the rock face too— Fafnir with a spell that allowed him to walk right up the side, and Jonathan, climbing and scrabbling. Ghelt and I, by far the worst climbers of the lot, got worried when Fafnir didn’t drop down a rope either. Luckily, Jonathan didn’t do so well on his climb, and dropped back down to us. The fall knocked the wind out of him, and apparently the enchantment from the music. Now Ghelt and I were very worried. Jonathan climbed up again, this time remaining clear-headed enough to drop a rope down to us. It still required us to climb to the bottom of the length of rope and took another minute or so for us to get to the top.

I cast Light when we were up, and we followed the sound of the haunting music. Turning a corner we found ourselves in a large lair with two hideous female creatures—they had wings and bird legs and were peeling the flesh off of our comrades as they crooned their hideous song. A Searing Light interrupted the one snacking on Fafnir, causing it to grab a femur from a pile of bones and come after me. Jonathan was soon dazed again, but Ghelt was able to dispatch the other while I finished off the one I was facing with my sword. Thankfully, the enchantment wore off of our male counterparts with the deaths of the harpies. We patched them up and were planning on going back out to the main entrance to camp when I spotted a glint of metal under a pile of loose stone. Scooping away the debris I found a bag of gold and a few gems, and a very dirty longsword. Brushing the grime away, I discovered something wonderful—a finely crafted, razor-sharp sword of elven design. It is magical too, though I’ve yet to unlock all of its secrets. I have never possessed or even used a magical weapon before, and at the time, I didn’t realize I had pulled out my old longsword and replaced it with this beautiful weapon without even thinking to ask any of my comrades if they wanted it. Luckily, I’m the only one among them that fights with a longsword anyway. If we manage to meet up with Valon again, perhaps he will know more about it. Korin is now toting around my old one even though it’s a long as he is tall.

After an otherwise restful and uneventful night, we managed to get back down on the ground and continue our trek. The mountainous terrain is getting harder to walk on and it is taking us longer than I originally had hoped. After a quiet day we were just about to make camp when we heard howling of wolves in the distance, followed by wolves howling from the opposite direction. Hoping they were merely animals, I used a spell to speak with them and asked them to pass by us. Unfortunately, they weren’t regular wolves, for they began to circle us, occasionally howling to each other as they went. When the first one came into view, it spoke to us in a growly voice— in Common! It was just about then that we realized we were fighting under the light of a full moon.

Each of us now had either magic, a magical weapon, or a silver weapon at our disposal, though none of us knew if these were werewolves or some other manner of intelligent lupine. While Fafnir, Ghelt, Jonathan and I fought bravely as they continued to leap out of the dark at us, Korin went sailing by us on the back of one, using his silver ring as a harness over its snout....

Eventually, we either wounded or killed them all, or scared them off. My new sword sliced through the evil creatures easily— it’s truly a remarkable weapon. We’ve all been bitten though, so I pray to Pelor that they weren’t lycanthropes. Thankfully the rest of the night passed quietly, allowing us to get an early start on our quest.

Posted by Kristin on March 17, 2003, 13:33

A Shadowy Shortcut

Starday, Flocktime 8, 592 CY

Even though we still don’t know if we were attacked by werewolves, I’ve cast Remove Disease on everyone. I’m not even sure that a cleric of my status would be able to rid us of such a disease, but there is no one else to do it. Other than Korin continuously “woofing” and chewing at Ghelt’s limbs, no one seems the worse for it.

We continued on throughout the day after the wolf attacks without incident, eventually coming to a trail and heading northward on it. As night fell, we came to a stone bridge and were considering it as a camp site when we heard the sounds of combat around the next bend in the path. Two tattered and diseased looking individuals (calling themselves dwarves) waylayed us, begging us to save their dwarven companions from a terrible ettin up ahead, and not letting us get closer to them due to “leprosy.” They did look diseased, and it sounded as though time was of the essence, so Jonathan, Ghelt, Fafnir and I went ahead to find the ettin while Korin stayed behind to entertain the two lepers.

There was a cave entrance right where the leprous individuals had indicated the ettin to be, so we went inside after I cast a light for Jonathan. The two-headed giant was nearly 13’ tall and the splotches of blood around the cave entrance didn’t seem to bode well for anyone else trapped inside. Jonathan and Ghelt engaged the creature immediately while Fafnir scrambled right up the cave wall for a better vantage point. Ghelt was nearly cut down by the creature in one attack, and Jonathan reeled back from it looking drained. I noticed that the taut skin on the ettin looked nearly mummified, and cast a spell meant to do damage to undead. It was fairly effective, as was the attack Fafnir made from the ceiling of the cave. Luckily, we were able to dispatch it without anymore damage to our party, though after treating Jonathan as best as I could I believe that the ettin was a wight— a terrible combination to be sure!

The next task at hand was to liberate his captives. Jonathan, looked on the Ettin for a keyring or something to help us rescue the dwarves we were here to rescue. He didn’t find any keys, but did find a sack of gold and a bronze disk that radiates magic. We’re not yet sure what that does. As we searched the cave, two filthy creatures with scaly grey skin clambered out of a crevasse at the back of the cave, offering us a substantial reward for allowing them to leave unharmed. I cast Detect Evil, wondering if they had been in cahoots with the ettin, as they certainly weren’t dwarves! Just as my spell showed them to be evil, Korin came racing into the cave yelling “They’re trying to kill me!” and shot two arrows right into one of the creatures. The other immediately attacked Ghelt, and knowing she was still quite injured from the fight with the ettin, I felt there was no recourse but to slay the two vile creatures and so fought back. We were able to dispatch them without further injury to ourselves.

Korin explained that the two “dwarves” we’d met near the bridge were grimlocks that had transformed into similar creatures as soon as he was alone with them. Ironically, even though he didn’t kill that pair, they chose to flee from his attacks. While the pair of grimlocks in the cave hadn’t attacked us first, it’s quite likely they would have done so had we not been strong enough to fight the ettin.

Fafnir was still on the ceiling, and he “crawled” into the chamber behind the grimlocks’ crevasse (which was strewn with humanoid bones), finding some more treasure for our trouble: an enchanted shortspear, and a small iron box. Korin and Ghelt were able to open the (thankfully untrapped) box, which revealed 8 bars of jade. The cave itself provided us with a good camping place for the night.

The next day’s journey was also fairly uneventful. We eventually came to a place where we had to choose a direction— right up to a stone fortress or continue left up the road we’d been following north. The fortress was clearly the ancestral home of the dwarves: Barraktor. Though we hadn’t originally planned to go there first, Ghelt was suspicious that whatever did haunt Barraktor would likely follow us to Arun-tosa, so it was best to “get it over with” and explore the fortress.

Getting through the stone doors was simple enough. I was worried that we didn’t all have enchanted weapons, which may be necessary against some undead. While discussing with Ghelt and Korin the best way for Korin to safely use the Sword of Pelor, Jonathan and Fafnir apparently went on ahead of us through the first corridor. We were alerted to this fact after a quiet twang reverberated through the hall followed by a hail of crossbow bolts— Jonathan had found a tripwire.

After a bit of first aid, we wandered through the once great Great Hall, still a magnificent sight with balconies on either side and huge double doors at each end. In fact, Barraktor has a lot of doors. After finding many, many doors in the next hallway, we opted to start at one end and go door to door.

The first room was disastrous. Filled with shadows that could melt through walls (and armor!), I was able to destroy three when turning undead, but one eluded me, and I had to settle for just scaring it off. Jonathan was so weak from one that touched him that we actually had to drag him back outside, and Korin and Ghelt were looking a bit weakened as well. I patched people up as best as I could, and Korin went back inside to destroy what we hoped was the last shadow— the Sword of Pelor seems to provide him with some inner strength, even if he’s not aware of it. Unfortunately, he encountered even more shadows and had to flee back to the relative safety of our camp.

It was a harrowing night— the shadows eventually braved the doors of Barraktor and surrounded our camp. Ghelt opted to use the spear we’d just found, and Korin was delighted to wield his sword again. We eventually destroyed the shadows that followed us and managed to pass the rest of the night unmolested. Now we must decided whether to rest another day, go back inside Barraktor, or continue on to Arun-tosa.

It worries me. If we are no match for the undead in the ancient Dwarven home, how will we stand against them in the City of the Dead?

Posted by Kristin on March 31, 2003, 15:23

Downtime

Sunday, Flocktime 9, 592 CY

It turns out we are a match for the undead here, when we work as a team. Korin seems to have found an inner strength, perhaps from the Sword of Pelor. In fact, if Pelor’s symbol wasn’t on the sword, I’d be seriously worried that it had somehow taken over Korin’s personality. But, he was a strong fighter before we found him in the orc slave mines, and he may have just needed some focus to come to terms with that.

We ventured back into Barraktor in the morning, and went to the uppermost level first. After a night with no fire, we looked at a lot of the old weapons and furnishings as potential kindling. The rooms didn’t contain the secrets to defeating the undead (as I think we all hoped, somehow), but we did defeat four more shadows. A daylight spell proved useful to keep them from slipping away from us, but it still took a group effort to destroy them. Sometimes my attempts to destroy undead only turn them temporarily, and I don’t wish them to sneak around behind us, so I’m limiting my use of turning unless there are more than we can handle. Ghelt is intrigued by the way I was imbuing Jonathan’s sword with divine magic and has used it on her own war axe.

We continued through a group of little 10’ by 10’ rooms, finding little of interest. At one point though, when Ghelt was in a room on the opposite side of a long hall of little rooms, I heard her call for help and I went pelting down the corridor, to find her battling for her life against a really nasty wraith. It left when the rest of us got to the room (which was good, since there was no room to fight!) but left her looking very unhealthy. After that, we decided that looking room by room in a place where the inhabitants could float through ceilings and walls was fruitless. Ghelt and Jonathan found a hidden stairwell going down, so down we went.

After descending for a very long time, we came to a door and emerged from the stairs in a much lower level of Barraktor. We were in a hall with several sets of alcoves on either side, and a door ahead of us. The frame around it said “Hall of Heroes” in dwarvish script (which I can read, thanks to Ghelt’s tutelage). We continued in. The hall was big. Really big! The hall had tiers of statues paying homage to dwarves of eons past. Ghelt was clearly awestruck— I just warned the others not to touch anything (I could already picture them “scavenging” for magical weapons and armor). We finally came to a set of double doors covered in artwork— artwork very similar to that on Ghelt’s magical helm. And sure enough, when our other attempts to open the door failed, Ghelt’s helm began to glow and the doors creaked open!

We continued on for a bit, when our normally agile halfling stumbled on something. Suddenly, the ceiling began to crumble and large pieces of rock fell. The footing was harrowing while trying to dodge the debris, resulting in Ghelt and Fafnir tripping as well. Thankfully Korin and Jonathan were able to scoop up Ghelt while I grabbed Fafnir, and we raced forward. When the avalanche stopped, the way behind us was blocked.

We walked on and down another set of stairs, and eventually came to a chasm with the remnants of a bridge jutting out into the center of it. On the opposite side of the chasm, a ghostly reenactment of a battle between dwarves, shadows, and some otherworldly bat-like things played over and over. I’m not sure what was causing it— and they certainly were not aware of us. The floor on either side of the chasm was littered with the bones and equipment of the dead fighters— we found two javelins of lightning and some crossbow bolts that were magical— and I detected magical treasure on the other side of the chasm as well.

But how to cross? The open distance was at least 40’— too far for any of us not using magical means. As we searched for a way across, I absentmindedly kicked some dirt out on the bridge—perhaps hoping that, like the battle raging silently across from us, its absence was also illusory. Sadly, the dirt just fell through the opening, and I continued my search for anything that might help us, when I heard... flapping, coming up from the depths of the chasm. I turned to warn the others just in time for us to be set upon by six vargouilles—nasty creatures from the infernal planes that look like (and in fact are) a head with batwings protruding from where the ears should be. The sight was too much for Jonathan and Ghelt, so Fafnir, Korin and I were left to battle them alone, while they froze in fear.

As if the fiendish flapping heads weren’t enough, I sensed something behind the frozen form of Jonathan, and turned in time to see that the wraith had followed us, and was in contact with the fighter. I was able to turn it with such divine power as to destroy it, but not until after it had drained quite a bit of health from Jonathan. Like he can afford it! Fortunately, we were able to kill five of the vargouilles quickly, though the remaining one had kissed Ghelt while she was frozen in fear. I sliced it in two in midair, but the damage was done. Ghelt spent several harrowing hours waiting to turn into one herself, but thankfully her already-drained constitution was able to fight off the effects of the deadly kiss.

While I prayed for more spells to help Ghelt and the others, Fafnir cast a spiderclimb spell on Korin and he crossed the chasm to see what magical items awaited us— hoping to help Ghelt, whom he seems to have sworn to protect. A closer look at the ghostly battle shows that the winged things flapping about were likely vargouilles fighting in conjunction with the undead. Thankfully no more appeared to fight us!

Korin came back to us toting dwarven half-plate (which magically shrank to fit the halfling) and magical boots (which also shrank to fit him), a magical dwarven urgrosh for Ghelt and a ring of protection, plus an enchanted heavy crossbow. Jonathan and Fafnir split the stuff we’d found on this side. My comrades always offer the treasure to the person that most needs it or is most qualified to use it, so it’s likely things will pass around the party again. I myself prefer light and quick equipment, and am not likely to find much of that in a dwarven stronghold, but perhaps our further journeys will introduce me to something embued with divine magic to fight the increasing number of undead.

Posted by Kristin on April 9, 2003, 17:25

Shadowboxing

Sunday, Flocktime 9, 592 CY, continued

I think this is still the 9th of Flocktime, though it is hard to tell. I miss the sun! Today was just one harrowing experience after another. The first thing we had to do was cross the chasm, and, thinking this to be a simple enough task, sent Korin scrambling across the chasm using a spider climb spell courtesy of Fafnir. Korin took ropes across so that each end could be secured and we could each climb across with a spare rope in case we got in trouble. For reasons we could not see, the ropes kept coming untied as soon as one of us was halfway across, and it seemed as if someone or something was purposely doing it! But, we never saw our invisible antagonist and continued on our way, slightly bumped and bruised, once the last of us made it across.

We walked a short distance, through traps that had already been long-ago sprung, and stumbled into over a dozen dwarven zombies. I took out most of them with a divine turning, and I hate to say that Jonathan used one of the priceless javelins of lightning to chip away at another. Thankfully the rest of the undead were dispatched quickly and easily.

We passed through many deserted rooms— one contained a beautiful mural and a dry fountain, another had wooden bunks (again, we looked upon them as so much potential firewood). Once again, Jonathan showed us just how a trap was meant to work by falling into it and counting the spikes from the inside. The rest of us were able to jump the 10’ pit except poor Ghelt. Dwarves are not aerodynamic. She was injured by two spikes but was able to clamber out, more flustered than hurt.

We spent the bulk of our time and energy in a rather large chamber with 6 columns and 6 doors and a lot of shadows. Jonathan and Korin were running ahead of us and were well into the room before the shadows made their presence known. Luckily Ghelt came in next and did an amazing turning of her own— destroying all 15 of the shadows at once! As we were congratulating her though, the room suddenly went dark as two more menacing shadows detached themselves from the ceiling. Even my daylight spell was only enough to cast a dim glow for us to see by. Hoping these shadowy forms would turn as easily as their lesser brethren, I cast a turn undead myself— and nothing happened. These shadows were not of the undead variety! Suddenly, Korin dropped the Sword of Pelor and ran screaming from the room (and luckily made it past the pit trap) as one of the demonic shadows flew right into Jonathan’s body. Not good! I left Fafnir at the doorway to cast magic missiles at the one shadowy form still on the ceiling while Ghelt tried to knock Jonathan out without killing him. The possessed Jonathan, of course, had no such inhibitions towards Ghelt and was hitting her pretty hard. Just as I got to Jonathan myself to help subdue him, I felt a sharp pain between my shoulder blades. Looking back, I saw that Fafnir was no longer fighting the shadowy demon (for the ceiling was now empty!) and was lobbing his returning dagger at me repeatedly! Not knowing what else to do to help Ghelt (Jonathan’s bastard sword was doing much more damage to her than the dagger would to me) I cast a blessing on my allies (which, at this point, was only Ghelt and myself!), and cast heat metal on Jon’s blade, hoping it would become too hot and he’d drop it. I then went to heal Ghelt until the heat took effect. Apparently whatever possessed Jon didn’t mind if he was in pain though, as he didn’t let go. Finally, I was getting desperate and knocked him out with searing light, which thankfully forced the shadow out of him. Ghelt and I slashed at the shadowy form a few times and must have weakened it, for it disappeared into the floor. I quickly went to heal the unconscious Jonathan while Ghelt went to subdue Fafnir, who was still lobbing his dagger at us. After Jonathan had enough energy to stand, I went to help Ghelt subdue our wizard. Korin, no longer fearful, shot back into the room and was soon in a heap with Fafnir. Unfortunately for Korin though, half of the attempts to subdue Fafnir landed on him, knocking him out too. Fafnir too finally succumbed, and the demonic shadow left him— and also drifted into the floor before we could finish it off.

All of this took less than an hour, I think, and we still have a long way to go. Korin now refuses to touch the Sword of Pelor, and I fear he will fall back into his incomprehensible ways. We aren’t even sure we are headed in the proper direction anymore, or how long our light will last.


Posted by Kristin on April 14, 2003, 18:36

The Sword in the Gnome

Moonday, Flocktime 10, 592 CY

Some of us, possibly all of us, have gone a bit peculiar.

After poking around in a few rooms and tunnels surrounding the room we’d fought the shadows in (and seeing one of the shadows disappear just as we caught up with it again), we came across a tunnel in which the darkness was somehow darker than “regular” darkness. For perhaps the only time since this particular band has traveled together, it was unanimously agreed that it would be foolish to enter it. There’s plenty of other things to threaten our lives with in this place while still having some visibility, at least.

We came next to a hallway that looked safe enough, and Korin immediately began to scout ahead. Lucky for him that Ghelt keeps him on some sort of leash and could quickly pull him back, as she spotted a dwarven “meat grinder” trap in ceiling, not yet sprung. Jonathan offered his shoulders for her to stand on to examine the trap, and she flipped a lever inside, apparently allowing us safe passage, for we each went pelting down the corridor as fast as we could, never springing the trap.

A set of double doors was available to us at the other end of the hall, and upon opening them, we found ourselves in a throne room littered with a half dozen skeletal remains of dwarves laying about, and one sitting on the throne. Of course, these immediately sprang up to fight us when we were all in the room. While Fafnir and Fingers examined some tapestries, I turned the first 6 skeletons to dust. Ghelt’s urgrosh was able to hack down the one remaining skeleton who only cowered from my turning. I admit, I was nearly overwhelmed by the powerful wrongness of that last skeleton, and was glad she had the strength to take it out. Most of the remains had nothing but rusty weapons, but this last one had a well-balanced dwarven waraxe that radiated magic. Ghelt didn’t want it, though Jonathan and Korin both needed a more potent weapon (and Korin doesn’t seem inclined to use the Sword of Pelor again). Jonathan took the magic weapon, while Ghelt offered her Mithril axe to the halfling.

I confess that I still was a bit shaken from the encounter with that last undead dwarf when Fafnir ran over to me to tell me that our three companions where knocked out and possibly dying in a trap in the next room! I ran to the doorway he indicated to see our friends laying in the middle of a small room with four statues, the air around them crackling with lightning. Jonathan, as usual, looked the worst off, and was closest to me, so I hauled his 300+ pounds of body and gear out of the room and used one of my remaining healing spells to revive him. I knew I wouldn’t be able to grab the other two on my own, so he agreed to run in, grab them simultaneously and toss them through the doorway to safety. And he was true to his word, though he was zapped by the statues again. Luckily he fell back towards me after throwing them into the room, so I hauled him back to the relative safety, healing them all just enough to stabilize them. I was able to get Ghelt conscious at least, and Korin eventually woke up. While trying to decide if I should use the Sword of Pelor on our comrades in the hope that it would do more healing then harm, I asked for a volunteer to scratch me with it so I could determine if it could be used that way. Fafnir grabbed the sword, and then threw it through the door of the room with the lightning trap!

At this point, I realized that one of us was a bit unstable. I’m pretty sure it’s Fafnir— though I’m sure his tossing of a holy relic into the next room was his way of “helping” me from becoming “cursed” by the sword. While he is a magic user by trade, he is suspicious of divine magic—and if he can’t understand it, it must be cursed. I must confess, if my faith wasn’t strong, I’d be concerned with the amount of mishaps that have occurred while the sword was in use, but those incidents are surely because we didn’t know how the sword was originally intended to be used.

In any event, I was a bit miffed by his actions and was worried that Pelor would no longer allow me to heal him. Ironically, Pelor had his own way of dealing with that. But I am getting ahead of myself!

As we took turns watching the room and the unconscious Jonathan while resting from our ordeals, some unusual sounds emanated from the room with the electricity trap. An ochre jelly was oozing through the trap room, unconcerned by the bombardment of lightning it was receiving. Thinking quickly, Ghelt ran and shut the door to the room, while I tried to haul Jonathan further away (which I was only able to do when Ghelt was back and doing most of the lifting!). The jelly oozed under the door, and Korin grabbed a piece of tapestry from the wall and lit it, hoping to burn the jelly, while Fafnir cast magic missiles at it. The jelly split in two and the first was quickly dispatched. I yelled to Fafnir to use his wand of acid—thankfully that took out the second jelly.

When we felt we had rested enough, I made Fafnir promise to get the sword he’d thrown into the next room, figuring with his flying spells he could get through the room quickly and without mishap. He did make it through the room, and then there was a yelp. We looked through the lightning room, and there stood Fafnir safely through the door at the other end, with the Sword of Pelor sticking out of his side. Luckily, the healing powers of the sword do work if the recipient of the healing is not the wielder—as Fafnir pulled the sword out his side healed up, and he looked a bit more healthy as well. I’m sure that he’s still of the belief that the sword is somehow playing with us.

Before I knew it, Jon jumped through the lightning room after him, followed by Korin. Of course, they were a bit singed upon their arrival on the other side. I jumped through after them—and somehow managed to dodge all the lightning bolts. I dreaded Ghelt having to go through—dwarfs are hearty, but not necessarily agile, but... nothing. Ghelt went through completely unharmed—apparently the trap was made to be “dwarf-friendly”—the only reason she’d been zapped before was from bolts likely meant for our other comrades.

Not wishing to go back through a field of lightning, we found ourselves at the top of very ancient and very dilapidated stairs winding down into the darkness. The steps were crumbling in many spots, and missing for gaps of 10’ in others. With Fafnir’s spells and Jonathan’s strength, we were able to get safely to the bottom with only a few mishaps. Once we heard the dreaded flapping of leathery wings—thankfully, they were only bats, but there were dozens of them disrupted and streaming past us as we descended. The other problem was more—puzzling. Korin keeps calling the dwarven waraxe we just found his “precious” and insists that Jonathan give it to him—and for a few tense moments, Korin was holding Jon at arrow point! And more puzzling, when Ghelt suggested that Jonathan trade with Korin to keep the peace, the normally easy-going Jonathan refused to give up the axe, saying he preferred to keep it. Neither is particularly interested in the Sword of Pelor—Jon has it in his pack now, and Korin is sulking over the axe.

They aren’t coming to blows thankfully, at least not yet! We managed to descend about 200’ to the bottom of a cave complex—we can hear water flowing in two passageways, but will be taking a third, quieter one that we are hoping leads north to Arun-tosa. I feel that Pelor has granted me more divine abilities today—I can cast a very useful spell now and used it to request aid from the one party member we left on the surface—I hope Valon can make haste returning to us! I need some rather specific components to return Ghelt and Jonathan to their former health, and would appreciate more light to keep the shadows at bay (or at least visible). I’m composing a short “Sending” to Valon now and if he replies I will include his answer when next I write.

Comrades below Barraktor, trying to reach Arun-tosa. Need diamond dust. Need ruby or everburning torch. Beware shadows. Circumvent Barraktor if possible. Meet us please! Drusilia.

Perhaps when he is back with us, he can allay our fears about some of the magical items we’ve picked up.


Posted by Kristin on April 22, 2003, 18:40

Remains and Responses

Godsday, Flocktime 11, 592 CY

Valon, in typical bard fashion, sent his reply to me in a rhyme:

Been fighting Dwarves of the deep.
Fortunate Elves need little sleep.
Unsure I can get all that dust.
Reply. Will do what I must.

Of course, I had to wait for 24 hours to pass to send him more information— it is a wonderful spell, but also a powerful one that I can only use once per day. And what a day it was!

I was finally able to convince Ghelt and Jonathan that the Sword of Pelor could be used to heal them (Korin simply would not be convinced, so I promised him I would use “regular” spells on him if the time came and he needed healing). I’m sure it would have looked alarming to anyone, seeing a cleric of a healing deity stabbing her comrades! Thankfully, it healed them up nicely, and we were able to move on. Korin, in a conspiratorial tone said, “The axe is going to kill him!” I can only assume he means Jonathan, though I’m not sure if he meant the axe Jonathan himself is carrying or the one Korin borrowed from Ghelt.

We walked a ways up the tunnel we’d chosen and came to two lines of holes equidistant apart and evenly spaced. Ghelt said they must have been where the tracks to the old dwarven mines were— but why were they pulled up? Our answer came scuttling along soon enough— a tentacled rust monster! As we attempted to fight it without using any metal weapons (metal being its favorite food), two more scurried up to us, one touching Korin’s magical half-plate with a tentacle. The armor fell off of him in a pile of rust— and was consumed by two of the creatures. Fafnir was able to kill one with a spell, but we only injured the other two, before deciding a hasty departure would be in our best interest. Korin yelled, “Stop doing that, we’re not running from rodents!” to no one in particular as we ran.

I’m sorry to confess that I got rather cross with Korin talking to his “invisible” friends instead of us. I honestly cannot tell if he is mad or just really, really in tune with a different plane. I suspect the former, but will try to keep an open mind.

We kept running, taking branches in the tunnels that looked like they were in the general direction we wanted to head and kept running from the rust monsters that scurried along behind us, until we came to an area where the metal tracks started up again. There were rust monsters in the area, but they had not yet eaten the metal, and in fact were all dead— torn apart recently by some unknown horror. We kept moving as fast as we could.

Soon we came to a 40’ rift in the middle of a cavern. Looking down over the rock face, Korin said he could make out swirling “red” below us, and it was all we could do to keep him from climbing in for a better look. In fact, as Jonathan was trying to pull him back from the edge, huge red centipedes came skittering up the sides, attacking them both.

Apparently, this would be one of the “rifts to ungodly planes” made by the sorcerers of Arun-tosa, according to dwarven legend.

Luckily, only five of these vermin came at us— we were able to defeat them with a combined attack using magic and steel. Korin was hurt though— luckily he trusted me enough to heal him— he usually holds out for Ghelt to do it. He responded to this momentous occasion by saying, “No, she helped me!” to no one I could see. Fafnir cast spider climb on Jonathan, who then helped us all across the rift. Well, actually, Korin just climbed across, as if hanging at odd angles from rock is a natural thing for him.

We followed the mine tracks for a bit more, and then heard a “slapping” sound behind us. Turning around, we saw big spheres of arms, legs and mouth rolling at us— abyssal maws! Fafnir cast a lightning spell at them and all four creatures just— died. I wish I would have had a bit more warning, since I was standing on the metal tracks at the time, but I was really only singed. Korin said, “Don’t be rude, she’s probably never seen one before.” I have no idea....

We turned back to the tracks we were following and saw— daylight! The cavern ahead of us had a pair of stone doors, broken outward (they had been bolted with a large stone bar across them), revealing a valley beyond. Now, I’m not sure I want to know what was big enough and strong enough to do that (and was perhaps responsible for the freshly killed rust monsters behind us), but I truly missed the light of the sun and was anxious to be in it again.

The sun was setting over a valley full of crumbling architecture— no doubt Arun-tosa. We thought it best to stay in the cave near the entrance for the night, not wanting to leave the fresh air, but not sure which place would be safer. Fortunately, the night passed without incident for a change.

Dawn gave us a better view of the City of the Dead. There were hundreds of little buildings littering the city, most of which were damaged beyond repair. Five larger and better-maintained buildings survived, with one 60’ to 80’ tall stone tower, appearing to be at least 40’ in diameter, standing in the center. We made plans to investigate a large building in the southeast quadrant of the city first, as it looked to be a temple. But where was Korin? I had missed it, but he had yelled something about “seeing dead people” and rushed down into the valley, and it was assumed that he was just talking about the “friends” the rest of us couldn’t see.

A few minutes later as we had just started down to the buildings ourselves, he came hurtling back towards us, three ghouls scrambling along behind him. Korin stopped to vomit once he got close enough to us. I honestly assumed that we could easily defeat the ghouls, and we did, but no thanks to me. I attempted to wield the Sword of Pelor, but just didn’t manage to land a blow. Luckily my comrades were in better form and took the ghouls out quickly, but not before poor Korin was paralyzed by a ghoul’s touch. He was wounded too, and I felt this was my fault since I hadn’t turned the undead.

Not wishing to upset the halfling further, I chose to cast a small healing spell on his wounds rather than use the sword. I must confess, though my faith is strong, I am uncomfortable using the sword to heal someone that cannot give me permission to do so. But, something horrible happened. Just as I completed my spell, Korin’s body began to decompose before my eyes! I looked and saw that Ghelt could see it too. I thought I must have really, really offended Pelor by not using the sword if my healing spells (for his domain is healing) could do this. To make matters worse, as I went to cradle Korin’s desiccated body, his head fell off and rolled away.

I was beside myself with guilt and, grisly though it was, in my shock I could only think to grab his head and try to put it back on his body. Fafnir suggested that Ghelt could help Korin through her own diety. I just wanted to take Korin out of this horrible valley and grabbed what I could of him, carting him back to the cave we’d camped in. As I was climbing the hill, I heard commotion behind me, and saw Ghelt backhanding Fafnir, who was giggling! Jonathan was walking towards Fafnir menacingly and hit him as well. I turned back and noticed two things next— Fafnir was shooting a lightning bolt at Ghelt and Jonathan, but it wasn’t a real bolt, and there was a halfling hanging from the head I had tucked under my arm! I continued towards the cave though, hugging the now alive (but still paralyzed) halfling to me, while my remaining comrades beat each other up.

Apparently, Fafnir thought it would be very funny if he cast an image of a dead Korin over the one I was healing, just at the moment I was casting. I will do my best to forgive him— he does enjoy casting illusions, and they have little effect on undead (which I suspect will be the bulk of the population here), so I think he is frustrated about that. Mostly though, I am just relieved that I didn’t kill Korin with a healing spell! I didn’t realize just how protective I am towards my comrades, but this also means that I must make sure they all are still on speaking terms with one another, so I will do my best to put this incident behind me.

One way to occupy my own mind for a few minutes was to compose a new Sending spell to Valon, since we made it to the City of the Dead well before we thought we would:

Forget dust; just bring you!
Arun-tosa map proved true.
Arrived via southern mine.
Checking big structures first a shrine.
Comrades’ brains already mush...
Please rush!

I got a very speedy reply:

Asked for advice.
Got nothing nice.
Dwarves say Arun-tosa is BAD.
Traveling to, purely mad.
The journey is hard.
But traveling there, this Elven bard.

Now that Korin can move again, perhaps we’ll head down to the building we originally planned to check out first.

Posted by Kristin on April 28, 2003, 20:40

Death Among the Undead

Waterday, Flocktime 12, 592 CY

While we seem to be getting better at working as a team, we lost a team member in the process.

As planned, we explored the temple in the southwestern quadrant of Arun-tosa, and as expected, the bronze doors were emblazoned with the skull and scythe symbol of Nerull. Walking in, we saw vaulted ceilings and a balcony, as well as an altar on a raised dais. A wispy humanoid form rose from the altar, and both Korin and I became fascinated by a hypnotic murmuring that came from the undead creature. Jonathan ran forward to attack the thing with his waraxe, while Fafnir stayed back to cast ranged spells, and Ghelt (thankfully) ran to me to snap me out of my trance. Unfortunately, the creature touched Jon before we could finish it off, which the Sword of Pelor did— my turning attempt didn’t seem to do much more than upset it. After Korin came out of his own trance, he told me that even though he was still upset by it, he’d like to carry the sword again, which pleases me greatly. We stabbed each other with it a few times, and he seemed delighted that it healed (as we knew it would!) and later after making some rather prolonged eye-contact with me, turned to Ghelt and told her, “Not blue— violet!”

In addition to an altar (which Jon knocked over in his fervor to hit the ghostly creature), we found two doors— one went to a small cloakroom with stairs leading to the balcony, and the other also led to the balcony, and to a lower level. Before we could stop him, Jon went down the steps, so we followed. The room below had a huge seal with Nerull’s symbol on the floor, and a set of doors with glowing runes beyond it, which looked as though a circular key was needed to pass through them. I’m now sure that the undead thing in the altar did something to Jon’s wisdom, for he immediately stomped right across the seal, which obviously drained some life out of him. Ghelt called for him to come back, which he did— right across the seal again, which drained him a bit more.

Before we could deal with the seal however, we heard Korin upstairs fighting something, and the something apparently had caught him on fire (and also melted the candle he was toting around). While Fafnir puzzled over the seal a moment longer, the rest of us dashed up the steps, just in time to be wreathed in flames by the attack of a winged skeleton. Jonathan was immediately knocked out. I cast Create Water on Ghelt (who fought the creature), Jonathan and myself while yelling to Korin to roll around to put the fire out on himself. We managed to kill one creature— the other took off. Thankfully we have the sword to heal us, for even with three clerics in the party (I see that Korin has decided to heed the wisdom of Yondalla), we would be out of healing spells very quickly in this place.

We decided to head to the barracks-like building in the southeast quadrant of the city, seeing that most, if not all, of the buildings between the temple and there were in ruins. As we walked, the evil surrounding us was almost palpable, and I cautiously suggested that we stand back to back (though Korin decided to face the wrong way so he could moon any would-be assailants). We were soon surrounded by 13 ghouls, which thankfully, are not a match for a cleric-filled party!

We quickly finished our trek to the barracks. It stands about 40’ tall, with much higher towers— Korin climbed the outside of one of the towers to gain entry while the rest of us investigated a door at the back. I was hoping we could gain entrance without alerting anything inside to our arrival, but the wisdom-damaged Jonathan began to hack at the wooden door with his waraxe. He soon broke through, and had his hand shaken by a wight. We slew that wight and three more following it, then followed Jonathan into the barracks.

We immediately found ourselves about to enter a chamber with five demonic creatures in it— four were pathetic blubbery things (dretches) that seemed unable to attack us effectively, and one mass of tentacles with a slug-like head that lashed out at us, immediately pulling Jonathan and Ghelt to it. Jonathan was crushed instantly. Ghelt was able to get herself free of its tentacled grasp while Fafnir and I hurled spells at it (and Korin came running down from the tower as quickly as he could). We were able to kill it— Fafnir used every spell in his arsenal and the last magical missile brought the creature down. We made short work of the dretches.

Ghelt seemed a little, well, stupid after the encounter— she didn’t seem to know who she was, how to speak, or who we were, or even what to do with her weapons and equipment! A restoration spell brought back her ability to speak, albeit monosyllabically. We had to rest for the night so I could cast enough to get her back to herself again. Thankfully, the night passed quietly.

Now, we have to decide how to put Jonathan to rest, not only because it’s the proper thing to do, but in the City of the Dead, improper death rites may result in him coming back to us as an undead creature— a fate he certainly does not deserve. Fafnir and Korin are already trying to figure out how to carry all the equipment our larger companion carried for us. He was only with us for one short week, but he will be missed.

Posted by Kristin on May 13, 2003, 18:44

Death From Above

Waterday, Flocktime 12, 592 CY, continued

More deaths, and in such a short time!

While Ghelt and I tended to Jonathan’s remains as best we could, Korin and Fafnir were apparently rummaging around in the rest of the barracks— through the kitchen, captain’s office and so on. They did find several magical arrows before Ghelt and I caught up with them. We then went into the basement of the barracks and found a long hallway lined with cell doors with little “windows” in them. Being the tallest of our remaining group, I ventured into the narrow corridor, planning on peeking in one of these windows. As soon as I stepped into the hallway however, all the doors opened and ten grotesquely misshapen figures emerged. I was able to turn a few to dust, but not all, and my comrades took to slicing into them with weapons. Upon “death” the creatures would explode in a noxious black vapor. Ghelt dragged me outside after one exploded so I could get some relatively fresh air, and then she went in again to explore further while I watched two distant objects approaching the ground from well above the city. I thought my ears picked up an “....aaaaaaaahhh...” sound, but couldn’t be sure. While I was determining what to do about the plummeting objects (which I now assumed were of a non-flighted nature, since they were doing nothing to remain aloft), Ghelt and the others found a magical greatsword in one of the cells below. By the time they came up from the basement, I had pretty much guessed that the falling creatures were humanoid, and finally decided, when they began to gently descend like feathers to the earth a few hundred yards beyond us, that they were Valon and a companion.

Fafnir quickly put an illusion of a “We are here!” sign above us in the sky so they would know where we were, and we hoped that they would get to us before the wandering bands of undead found them. Luckily they saw Fafnir’s sign and hurried to us.

Our greeting had to be brief, but we managed to learn that Valon’s companion was Markus, a human wizard that had traveled with him via teleport from the dwarves in Midrock, and that they had the diamond dust I needed to cure Ghelt (and Jonathan, who of course no longer needed it). Valon had to use his bardic ability to fascinate Korin to prevent a rather unwarranted attack against Markus (Markus had been “chasing” Valon). As we hastened toward the rather large tower in this quadrant of the city, we were attacked by wave after wave of the same plague zombies that attacked in the basement of the barracks.

When at last we arrived at the tower, Fafnir polymorphed himself into a bronze dragon to fly 40’ to the top, for the only door in bore arcane runes of warding on it, which none of us could read, but were obviously there to keep us out. Fafnir came back almost immediately— he had pulled a curtain back on an upper balcony of the tower and had seen something “lichy.”

Of course, we all looked up, to see a lich staring down at us! I tried to turn him, but of course that only amused him— he is obviously a creature of great power and age. Markus, sadly, cast a lightning bolt at the lich, which prompted it to hit us with a fireball— killing Markus instantly and putting the rest of us into a panic— except for Korin. Korin scrambled right up the side of the tower and threw a sack over the lich’s head, allowing the rest of us a few crucial seconds to get away. While we didn’t actually see Korin die, I have no doubt that the lich will not be returning him to us, and the brave but quirky little halfling will be missed.

Posted by Kristin on May 22, 2003, 21:05

Nondescript Crypt

Earthday, Flocktime 13, 592 CY

The remainder of our day was pretty much as harrowing as the earlier portion, but thankfully, no one died because of it. I was able to restore Ghelt’s health with the diamond dust Valon brought, leaving me with one “dose” for good measure. Wanting to save spells, we used Pelor’s sword to heal ourselves, and I cast a spell that made us invisible to undead— as much as we want to destroy them all, we have another job to do here and perhaps resolving that will help weaken the undead at the same time. As we did so, we heard a drumming beat start echoing across the city from the lich’s tower— all the mindless undead we had been passing invisibly started to lurch in that direction, leaving us relatively alone. While traveling to the next tower in the southwest quadrant of the city, Valon examined the Short Sword of Pelor— he recalled a bit of lore confirming that the sword is being used for its intended purpose— and was in fact made by a church of Pelor for a paladin to wield against undead. I was sure in my heart that this was the case, but verification will no doubt ease any lingering doubt among my comrades.

We actually arrived at the tower without mishap, and noticed that the 40’ tall structure had every single window bricked up. The plain wooden door leading into it was neither warded or trapped, so Ghelt cautiously opened the door and we went in.

The first floor of the tower contained three coffins and little else. Ghelt hauled them each out into the sunlight to open them, while I stood prepared to send any vampires we encountered to their final rest. Each coffin was empty. We went back into the tower and heard what sounded like clanking chains on the level above us, so Ghelt used her old short sword to chock the door open, and she and I started up the 20’ center staircase, with Ghelt holding her new great sword up ahead of her.

We were quite surprised by what we found. Tucked in among three more (empty) coffins, we found two barely clad humanoids— an elf and a half-human. They were chained to the wall, and, apparently, arguing about how or why they were there. Ghelt immediately set to chipping away at their chains, while I called to Fafnir and Valon for help.

I’ll confess, we’re suspicious of anyone alive in Arun-tosa, but they seem to be in a similar situation to us— they came in (though how is unclear) with a party of ten and are the only two remaining, and they seem to be looking for some object of great value for an employer. It is also unclear how they ended up in the tower, and they are either too fuzzy on the details themselves, or simply like to keep some things a mystery. The elf is a rogue that seems to go by the name of “Pockets” (even though I didn’t see any pockets on him when we found him) and the half-human goes by an elven name, Aramil, claiming his mother is elven and that he must immediately begin his studies, quickly looking around for his belongings. More on that one in a bit.

We continued up the tower after freeing the captives, and found more coffins. The top floor had a few other interesting things in addition to a ornate sarcophagus carved with a relief of knights on it— Fafnir found a vial of what may be a healing potion, some adventuring gear (apparently Aramil’s and Pockets’) and some books in Ancient Suloise— any true scholar would have be fascinated by the library had the setting been different. I’m sure Valon could have even translated some of it for us, had we the time to even glance through them.

But, a few unfortunate occurrences prevented this from ever coming to pass. These really bad things happened almost simultaneously. Apparently, Pockets had gone down to the base of the tower and un-chocked the door, cutting off the sunlight that had been streaming in and blocking it with as many caskets as he could, apparently planning on holing up here for the remainder of the day, and not knowing that the mindless undead weren’t the only things haunting Arun-tosa. The drums, which we soon grew accustomed to hearing, stopped. Aramil, evidently planning on none of us staying in the tower (or simply not planning anything), ever, had doused it with oil, preparing to set the tall stone structure on fire. The vampire residents of the tower, done with their meeting in the lich’s part of the city, came home.

Ghelt, Valon, Fafnir and I noticed these things in a completely different order, as needed. First, we had to kill the vampires. They had, unfortunately, touched Valon and Aramil upon arrival, weakening them considerably. Searing light finished off one, and the other turned to a gaseous form and sank through the floor, so turning him was the only way to destroy him. Ghelt and I had to follow this one to make sure he didn’t get away, which was when we discovered that the door was blocked. We wanted to get sunlight coming back in— and it was as I was explaining to Pockets that I could make us all invisible to undead, that I found out we had to leave immediately— Aramil was setting the tower on fire and not waiting until we were clear of it. Disgruntled as I am about the half-human’s actions (and all that ancient lore, burned!), it would have been wrong to leave him behind, so the six of us set off up the slope at the southern end of the city, back towards the cave entrance from Barraktor. The invisibility spell only got us so far before we were set upon by four wraiths— I used more searing light on two, but the others got away from us. Aramil and Valon must be undead magnets— for they were drained a bit by the wraiths too. After that, we actually went a wee bit further back into the cave, hoping the undead would lose interest in us for the night. Thankfully, they did. I was able to use the remainder of the diamond dust Valon brought me to restore him back to health at least, though there was nothing to be done for Aramil without the components needed for the casting.

After using invisibility to undead again, we descended back into the city and headed straight for the 100’ tall tower in the center. Pockets asked me to enchant some bolts for him with holy power, which I did. I am not sure how Aramil prepares for battle— he claims to be a wizard, but wears armor and carries a sword (and torches things), and tends to run headlong into battle rather than hanging back and casting supporting spells on the party’s fighters. I would have assumed him completely human did he not have slightly pointed ears.

Getting into the building proved easy enough, but what a horrible surprise awaited us! The entire floor of the of the room, which was somewhere between 40’ and 60’ across, was littered with bones— nearly waist-deep on a dwarf. At one end, a skeletal serpent with a humanoid head sat coiled, waiting to see who had opened the tower doors. Ghelt waded right in through the bones to attack it while I attempted (without result) to turn the creature. The ophidian horror sank back down into the bones after we thought it destroyed, but soon four more came up out of the bones. We successfully beat them down and made it to a staircase leading up— may Pelor protect us from what awaits!

Posted by Kristin on June 2, 2003, 15:16

Stare Master

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 on June 10, 2003, 11:56

Ratacombs

Earthday, Flocktime 13, 592 CY, continued again

We were only able to rest for a short while before Aramis urged us to be on our way. He told us to find someone named Urkel in the northern part of the city, in the catacombs. We planned on walking through the city to find him, since it was still light out, but as we were leaving the tower, we found a trapdoor under the accumulated bones of the first floor, and figuring Urkel was to be found in the catacombs, went down through a ladder found under the trapdoor. I should mention, we’ve been without a party leader for a long time, as Ghelt clearly does not want the position. I suggested that Valon take charge since he definitely has leadership qualities, and the party agreed. And then, for the most part, promptly ignored him. So much for “speak softly and carry a big stick”....

We found ourselves in a 10’ wide corridor of worked stone stained by water and the passage of time. The passageway would occasionally branch, but generally went north to south, so we started onward as close to “north” as it allowed. We occasionally found ourselves being stared at by rats, but did our best to ignore them. I’d lent the Sword of Pelor to Pockets, as it is difficult for him to use a crossbow effectively in these narrow passages.

We’d only gone a few hundred feet when we were ambushed by five wraiths. I feel considerably weakened from their attack, and most of my friends don’t look much better. I turned them as my comrades fought them, and then we dusted ourselves off and attempted to continue northward. We’d passed through two 20’ by 20’ rooms with sewer grates in them when we decided that above ground might be a better choice for our travels. An attack by four more wraiths and two wights confirmed this, and we went running as fast as we could back to the central tower’s access ladder. We encountered eight shadows on the way back, dispatching them as quickly as we could.

Aramis, of course, was still sitting in the tower in his weakened state, and was unable to restore any of the health we’d lost in the catacombs. He suggested that Urkel might be able to help us, and as Ghelt wandered off with the two newcomers (apparently getting a head start without our party leader?), Aramis told Valon, Fafnir and me that Urkel was a humanoid minion of Arkon who had slipped from his evil control. I hope that if I ever meet any other celestial beings that they are less cryptic. Aramis is obviously tired though, and admittedly, has never met this fellow “Urkel.” Not having anyone to talk to for hundreds of years has probably made the angel a bit peculiar too.

We caught back up with the rest of our party and started off across the city. I didn’t have a spell to make us invisible to undead again, but oddly, it wasn’t necessary as there were none about. We even checked a few of the ruined buildings on our way across the city— one was an old shop in which Fafnir found some loot under a floor tile— coins, rubies, moonstones and a magical silver earring engraved with the word “Cirsus.” Valon discovered that it provided the wearer with tiny lockpicks when the word was said. Pockets happily added it to his inventory.

A short while later, we came to another building, and I happened to notice that there was a symbol of a “sun” carved above the door. I was hoping this was a sign from Urkel, but we were unable to find him in the structure. There was a hole in the floor with a 60’ drop— it could be the entrance we seek, but we’re hesitant to drop into the catacombs if it isn’t. We’ll probably come back to it later though, if no more obvious (and less ominous) entrance can be found.

Reaching the northern side of the city at last, we came to a slightly more intact building with a sign on it showing a sword and something written in Ancient Suloise (which Pockets said must be “Armory” or something similar). Valon found a few magic crossbow bolts, and we were attacked by skeletal bats, one of which “kissed” Ghelt and paralyzed her. I turned them, and went to help Ghelt, but Aramil (who must be the party’s healer, in addition to being a fighter and mage) was rolling her around on the floor in an attempt to take her outside for some reason. Luckily, the paralysis wore off and she swatted him.

Leaving this probable weapon shop, we found that it was beginning to storm out— huge bolts of lightning were hitting around us— we really needed to find Urkel soon! We found a three-story “tavern” of sorts, and it looked like an obvious choice to get out of the storm. As soon as we went in though, we were confronted by three allips— undead who attempt to drain people of their wisdom by muttering madly. Most, if not all, of my comrades we instantly fascinated by them, I was lucky to have one more undead turning available to me, though I don’t think they’ll be gone for long. We’ll likely have to go back out into the storm to continue our search....

Posted by Kristin on June 18, 2003, 14:32

A Greater Holy Symbol

Freeday, Flocktime 14, 592 CY

What a sad and humbling experience I’ve had. We hurried back to the house with the sun over the door, and, using a feather fall spell, we all dropped simultaneously down the 60’ drop through the hole in the floor. As we floated down, we saw that there had been a staircase in that spot long ago, though not much of it remained. As we landed, we found a passage leading east and west, with that same sun symbol scratched into the floor of the eastern passage. I finally realized that the sun symbol, though not the stylized face in the sun normally used in Pelor’s temples, was in fact a crude representation of Pelor, so we headed east. We walked a bit further and saw torchlight emanating from a 30’ by 30’ chamber— containing a ghoul! For once, I am thankful I did not have any power left to turn undead, for I would have never gotten to know this poor creature’s story. The ghoul was, indeed, Urkel.

It was a rough encounter though. Urkel tried to tell us what we needed to know to finish our quest as he desperately wanted to help, but was at the same time agitated by all the “flesh” to nibble on in the room. We would have given the poor thing a bit, had we not been too worried it would have caused him to lose what control he had. He bid us rest, and we did, albeit warily, for about ten hours.

When we were all awake, he told us many things, some we already knew or suspected, and some we didn’t. He told us the history of Arun-tosa, and how, long ago, the mages of the city fought each other until only Arkon (now a lich) remained to build an army to finish the dwarves. He also mentioned that there is a portal to Hell in the southeast section of town, and gave us a map to lead us under the vampires’ tower.

At one point, he scuttled away and brought me back three scrolls to restore our party’s flagging constitution, and six vials of healing potion. Then he brought me some of the most precious artifacts of Pelor that I have ever seen, carefully wrapped in cloth for many years by the looks of them. The items he handed me were his own “Mace of Disruption” and a Greater Holy Symbol of Pelor that provides holy smiting against evil. Urkel had been one of those paladins that had come to fight Arkon that never was able to leave, but held on to that last vestige of his humanity through his faith in Pelor. And now that he had provided another follower of Pelor with his most valuable belongings, he was ready to rest. Had I any means to restore him to his former self, I would have gladly, but I could only end his existence as undead— I used the weapon he had just given me.

I am overwhelmed with grief at what I had to do, even though he now assuredly walks with Pelor. Pockets lent me a pouch to collect the dusty remains of the paladin, with which I placed my own wooden holy symbol. I was trying to determine who needed restored the most, for I only had the three scrolls, when a voice in my mind said “use my remains.” Opening the pouch, I discovered that Urkel’s dust had turned to diamond dust— exactly what I needed to restore the rest of the party. I did hope to take his remains back to a temple, but I know Valon will write a fitting ballad to the ghoul who didn’t lose his faith.

Remembering that Aramil didn’t have a decent weapon to fight with, I handed him the elven longsword I’d carried, and took up the mace instead. I am a cleric of Pelor first, and an elf second. Party restoration complete, we looked at the map and then headed off to the vampires’ tower.

We arrived and Fafnir, Valon and I got in one step ahead of the rest of the party. The stairwell had been completely burned away— obviously the handiwork of Aramil. Aramil walked in right after us though, and started walking around the perimeter of the floor, complaining that he was sure he had burnt it all down. After several passes around the room, Ghelt got fed up and smacked him. Thinking he had been hit by a door, he stopped, and soon realized he was still on the ground floor— apparently Fafnir was testing out his illusions again.

We found a trapdoor and Pockets assured us it wasn’t locked. Valon pulled it open and was nearly paralyzed by the gas a trap let off— Pockets hasn’t looked for traps— I guess we have to word things more carefully! Valon borrowed a torch and held it in the hole reveals by the open trapdoor — it didn’t even penetrate the darkness an inch, so I cast daylight on it— which lit up the hole enough to show a 10’ ladder followed by a 50’ drop. Valon began to carefully descend, when the ladder pulled away from the wall— apparently Kartharsis uses this trap often. Luckily Valon could cast feather fall to drop safely to the floor below.

Worried that there would be undead about, I planned to drop down next, but Aramil beat me to it. As he landed, Valon called up that there were big rats watching him from down a tunnel going north to south. A moment later he informed us that the rats had been replaced by two vampire spawn.

Thankfully Fafnir had a feather fall spell of his own ready, because the rest of us needed to get down quickly! It was an awkward descent though, with Pockets arriving upside down and me landing on Aramil. I was lucky to land with a free hand— I held up the Greater Holy Symbol and turned the two vampire spawn to dust.

We managed to walk a few feet when the dire rats came back— about 40 of them. The holy smite from my new holy symbol took out about half of them, and my friends dispatched the rest. During this encounter, we were attacked by two wraiths, and I’ve just noticed that Aramil is looking rather “drained” again.

And we’ve only been down here for a few minutes....

Posted by Kristin on June 24, 2003, 10:39

Descent

Freeday, Flocktime 14, 592 CY, continued

Other than never quite getting our “marching order” figured out properly, we work well as a team. We took a staircase down to another lower level of the catacombs, at which point we asked Pockets to check for traps so we could proceed with caution. I think things would have worked out with that method, but it appears that half of the “trap checking” involves having Aramil activate the traps physically so they can be studied in action. I don’t believe that was Pockets’ intent, but it is a trend to use Aramil as a “damage indicator” of sorts. Thankfully, no one was too seriously hurt by the dozen or so darts that flew out from the walls in this particular hallway when Aramil stepped on the trigger.

We came to a “T” with three doors to choose from. We guessed (rightly) that the middle door would be the way to Kartharsis’ resting place and went in, with Valon and Aramil (?) leading the way, the clerics in the middle and Fafnir and Pockets protecting our backs. Predictably, wraiths attacked from the front as soon as Valon and Aramil entered the chamber beyond the door. Ghelt and I got inside to deal with the wraiths, and suddenly vampire spawn were swarming the corridor behind the party. I saw Fafnir fly over us (presumably to get a better shot at the undead he was casting many magic missiles at) while Pockets did his best to keep the vampiric creatures from entering the chamber with the rest of the party. He would have succeeded too, if Kartharsis hadn’t suddenly appeared between Pockets and me.

Apparently, Kartharsis was still holding a grudge about the searing light I’d hit him with yesterday, as he ignored my comrades to come straight at me! He hit me several times with his bastard sword, and my mace simply bounced off his armor. I thought we were doomed right there, but amazingly, Pockets leaped through the doorway and tackled the vampire— I’m quite sure Kartharsis had not expected that! Fafnir and I were able to get enough spells cast at Kartharsis while the rest of the party finished off his minions and grappled with the vampire himself. He turned into a gas and disappeared into the walls, with most of his minions doing the same.

We had a moment to access the situation and look at the chamber we were in. It had vaulted ceilings, pillars and a huge throne at one end, with two doors leading off from either side behind it. While Fafnir went to examine the throne, Pockets chose one of the two doors to open, picking the iron one to our right over the wooden one. He was able to open the door easily enough and we saw a wooden chest inside. Before any of us could follow him though, a set of bars fell down, blocking us from going through the doorway. Worse, an earth elemental appeared in the room with him, intent on smashing him to a pulp. We hoped it would listen to Ghelt, as she has some command over earth creatures, but it was too intent on its task to pay her any mind. We resorted to shoving weapon points and spells into the small room until the creature was defeated.

Fafnir, at this point, found a little lever on the throne which reset the door trap, and we were able to then get Pockets and the treasure chest out. Upon opening the wooden box, we found it to be empty. In fact, we smashed it apart looking for anything of value, but if there was anything there, it eluded us. We settled for making a few wooden stakes from the remainder of the smashed chest, and headed toward the wooden door opposite.

We found ourselves in a good-sized ossuary with a huge sarcophagus in the middle of the room. The lid depicted a handsome man in armor holding a sword. Hurrying lest we lose our resolve, Ghelt pushed the lid off while Aramil threw acid on the body inside while I cast a searing light on it. It was, in fact, Kartharsis, so weakened by our earlier fight (according to Valon) that he was unable to move for the remainder of the day. Feeling braver, I simply hit him with my mace and he turned to dust. The sarcophagus now only contained a few items, which we took: magical plate armor, a shield, cloak, bastard sword, arrows and a bow, and most importantly, a 6” jade disk with the symbol of Nerull on it— the key to the Heart’s chamber!

We know that it’s important to get this next part of our task done as quickly as possible and while the sun is still up, but I felt we should destroy any of Kartharsis’ minions before we depart for the temple. Fortunately, they were all in a stupor too. We found their coffins beyond the doors we had passed by earlier, and simply destroyed them where they laid. Fafnir obtained a spellbook from one of the now-empty coffins, but other than that, we found nothing but dust.

My comrades and I are all greatly weakened, though Ghelt says she’s fine (and truth be told, she looks healthier than the rest of us). We had hoped to find Aramis on our way to the temple and so stopped in the central tower, but the angel has departed. We’ll rest here for just a few minutes before we go to unlock the chamber of the Heart of Nerull.

Posted by Kristin on July 8, 2003, 12:06

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Starday, Flocktime 15, 592 CY

I can scarcely believe it, but I’m writing this from the comfort of my own home! But I must finish describing how we got home:

After our brief rest in the central tower in Arun-tosa, I cast Invisibility to Undead on the party and we hurried over to the temple, and down to the area where Nerull’s seal was. I used Detect Magic to see that it was, indeed, still active. After Aramil suggested that the seal protected the area above it (so climbing over it would still activate any trap) Valon used Mage Hand to move the jade key over to the door on the opposite side of the room and inserted it into the lock. I saw the magical energy intensify until it was quite painful to gaze upon, and then it subdued and winked out. Ghelt and Valon both wanted to cross the seal first, thinking they had the least to lose, but I traversed it quickly before they could decide who would go— I felt sure that the seal had been deactivated. Luckily, it had been, and my comrades crossed as well.

We then came to a four-way branch in the passage. There was writing on the floor in the center, in that same language we could not read yesterday, but luckily, Valon finally realized he knew enough Ancient Suloise to read the inscription:

The bold shall be crushed
The righteous thwarted
The sinister flayed
The path best known is never as it seems

I must have paid more attention to prophetic and ancient writings than I’ve realized, for I did understand this particular puzzle. While my friends cautiously looked down each of the three corridors we hadn’t yet walked through, I recalled that “sinister” means “left” in many ancient texts (the left tunnel), and extrapolated that “righteous” would mean right (the right tunnel). “Bold” must have meant that the passage straight ahead would have some sort of crushing trap. Aramil and Valon confirmed the “left” passage would cause flaying, for the took a few cautious steps and felt a wind pick up in the tunnel, nicking them with little sharp objects. The only path that was “best known” to us was the one we’d actually passed through once. Ghelt and Fafnir both realized the answer to that last line simultaneously, returning to the seal and simply vanishing. The rest of the party quickly followed.

We suddenly found ourselves in a large room with an alter in the middle, littered with treasure, and surrounded by a moat of noxious green goo. At the far end, a fountain of blood was bubbling over a black object— we knew at once that this object was the Heart of Nerull. Before we could attempt to retrieve it, we were set upon by four mummies, all with the ability to cast very damaging spells! Ghelt and Valon began to attack them immediately, though Aramil, Pockets and Fafnir were frozen with fear, and I was able to finish them off but it took two attempts to turn undead to destroy them all. Within moments, things began to look dire—four vampire spawn and the lich Arkon arrived between us and the Heart, and a small, disturbingly familiar figure— it was Korin, but stitched together oddly and with four arms! Knowing I could not harm the lich, I nevertheless used Urkel’s Holy Symbol to smite the evil, which gave us a few seconds while the spawn were temporarily blinded. Pockets and I jumped over the moat in the middle of the room, hoping to find something in that pile of treasure to help us fight the lich— I threw a few objects to Fafnir as I didn’t have time to figure out what was what, and Pockets, well, began to fill his pockets. Valon took that moment to run the perimeter of the room, grabbing the Heart from its resting spot on the bloody fountain. I was sure the lich would kill him right there, but it was just what our celestial friend had been waiting for. As soon as the Heart was away from the Fountain, Aramis appeared wielding his silver sword, right behind Arkon. I also noticed that the Korin-thing was battling undead himself— or at least it appeared so— a ghostly form resembling Jonathan was fighting him. I didn’t cast another turn undead though— I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen with my dead comrades, but I was so stunned by all the things happening simultaneously I just didn’t move. Time seemed to stop for a few moments, but then resumed at its previous frantic pace. Finally, thank Pelor, Aramis struck the killing blow on Arkon and he went down. Ghelt took a swing at the lich as well, and then, assured he wasn’t getting up, began to search his body for his phylactery. I hope Aramis was able to find it, because at that point, we ran out of time.

The room began to quake from the death throes of the lich, and seemed to be intensifying now to the point were it was knocking us all off our feet. I fell backwards into the moat, twice! Pockets was quick to recognize that the green stuff eating through my clothes and armor was a dangerous slime, and used his daggers to scrape it from my skin and help me remove my damaged chainmail. Unfortunately the room shook violently again, and I was still not clear of the slime, which meant I had to remove a great deal more clothing and my boots to keep it from eating through my flesh. Even though the room was in total upheaval, I noticed that all the elven males in the party helped me with that last bit.... Fortunately, Aramis had less trouble traversing through the quaking room and removed the rest of the slime from me before it became a permanent condition.

Aramis also opened a portal and bade us all hurry (though mostly crawling) through, just as the ceiling began to fall down upon us. I know my friends and I were all sorry we could not collect the other invaluable items from the altar— many thousands of platinum pieces and other treasure were buried with Arkon.

And suddenly, we were standing together (me wearing Valon’s cloak and little else) with Aramis on the edge of a familiar forest. Turning around, we saw that Smallville was a short way off. Before Aramis departed, he restored us all to our full health. Even though he had done so much for us, I asked a boon of him, and he agreed to take the diamond remains of Urkel that I still carried to a proper resting place. He said there would be a place for him in Arborea, a plane where the righteous may pass the afterlife in peace.

We plan to rest here for a while before attempting to find the “Temple of the Void” to destroy the Heart of Nerull. I’m sure Ghelt would like to go to Midrock (well, those of us that are not dwarves would like to see her ancestral home!), and quite frankly, we need to go to a bigger city to use the “loot” we found on our trip, after Aramil identifies it all— the stuff Ghelt pulled off Arkon alone is a king’s ransom. There is a carnival in town too, and I’m wondering if Pockets will know any of the people in it. After a quick meal at the Rat’s Egg Tavern and a trip to Ghelt’s house, I told the other elves (and that included my friend with elven blood), that they were welcome to stay in my home rather than rent a room in the rather-full tavern. I see also that it is the vernal equinox— fitting for us since we have completed a major portion of our adventure and will soon be ready for more!

Posted by Kristin on July 15, 2003, 13:42

Predictions and Predations

Sunday, Flocktime 16, 592 CY

I’ve only rested once since we arrived home 48 hours ago. Knowing Aramil and Fafnir would be shut up in Fafnir’s house/lab for the next week or so, I tried to get back into the routine of this small town. Pockets decided to stay with Ghelt (he’s just the most un-elflike elf I’ve ever met!) and Valon stayed at my house— he’s actually pretty quiet for a bard. I started my morning in Pelor’s temple, accompanied by six of His flock, then headed over to the Rat’s Egg Tavern to catch up on the local gossip. There really was none. I thought I’d check in on Ghelt and Pockets at least, but couldn’t find them and went back home. Pockets was there waiting, remembering I’d promised to make him an item with continual flame on it if he had the ingredients needed. Of course, he had the rubies, but they weren’t in powdered form. I suggested we take them over to the forge Ghelt’s father runs, to see if he could smash them on his anvil. He was happy to do so, and now Pockets has a glowing ring— which he keeps on a chain tied in a bag. Ghelt’s father asked us to check on her, as she hadn’t yet risen and most of the morning was passed. It took us a while to convince her to open the door to let us in. I guess one of the undeads’ touches had more of an effect than we realized, as she looked quite unhealthy when she came to the door! Thankfully, a divine restoration spell got her back on her feet. This was good, as it turned out she didn’t get any more rest today either. Pockets decided he needed to see if he could outdrink a dwarf. We headed back to the Rat’s Egg to find out.

We had not been there too long when Farmer Durpin’s wife Carla burst into the tavern, very much distressed. Her little red-headed son Timone had gone fishing some hours earlier and never returned. I confess I was almost thankful that there was someone for me to help, and, thinking this a small matter, quickly told her that we’d head down to the Realstream and take a look for him. Ghelt was eager to help as well— Pockets came along too.

We asked the locals in the haunts down by the river if they had seen a small boy— the proprietor of the Warrior’s Dingy had seen him earlier and pointed to where the child’s bucket and fishing pole lay on the edge of the water. It was obvious Timone had stood there for quite some time as his footprints were clean and deep enough that even those of us not trained in tracking could see them. Odder still, they didn’t appear to have moved in either direction— he hadn’t apparently walked from the spot. I feared that he’d gone into the water and not fared well; Ghelt suggested maybe something had swooped down and caught him. Pockets wanted his fishing pole— we let him go, hoping he might accidentally find the boy in his meanderings.

Thinking it would be good to have some townsfolk help find Timone on the chance he was safe and merely wandered off, I went into the Sweating Mermaid Tavern and told the barkeep that I was offering a reward of 10 gold pieces to whoever could return the boy safely to us. I am embarrassed to admit that after our travels, 10 gold pieces didn’t seem like a lot to me. It is, however, enough to make the average commoner rich. Before dusk, the entire town was calling Timone’s name and searching every inch of Smallville. Ghelt and I eventually met up with Valon, who of course was eager to help.

By dawn we had not found him. Not really wanting to bother Fafnir, but needing some supplies for a divination spell, I went over and asked him for some incense, and let him return to his studies. I hoped to catch him while he was out tending his chickens, but all was quiet.

Stopping in the temple, I cast the divination, hoping to find Timone. My results were simply “Look to the earth.” Now, Earth is one of the domains of Moradin (and therefore, Ghelt!) and I hoped that meant there was something she could do. Before we could decide what though, we heard a woman scream— the villagers still looking for Timone rushed with us to find Old Woman Pasten looking pale on her porch stoop, shouting that the basement wall had devoured her husband. We rushed into her house and down the cellar steps. Sure enough, there was a pool of blood, but no Pasten, and no obvious visible signs of disturbance in the basement. She assured us that two arms had pulled him right into the wall and devoured him. I have a sinking feeling we won’t be seeing him or young Timone, but we are dedicated to removing this threat from Smallville. We decided to talk to the local druids from the edge of town, who didn’t know much but were at least aware and willing to help look.

I figured we’d best go see if Fafnir or Aramil had any ideas, even though I didn’t want to disturb their studies. When we got there, we found out a few odd things. Fafnir’s chickens had been there right up until we returned home, at which point young Hastings had gone to him and reported them missing. The second odd thing was that it appeared that Aramil’s toad had been twinned— he now had two. We had to rule out a doppelganger though; the new toad was much too rude to be trying to blend in. I was fortunate that I could cast speak with animals, which I did, hoping the new toad could provide us with some insight on its sudden materialization. It was Pockets, and it appeared that an old woman at the carnival had turned him into a toad. Asking him why she had done so resulted in total silence (or the toad equivalent of blowing a raspberry). I attempted to cast Break Enchantment, but Pockets still remained a toad. Aramil, feeling that this situation was apparently none of his concern, decided to nap, while Fafnir agreed to head out with us for a bit, now that he was aware that more than his chickens had disappeared. We looked in his side yard— it was possible that the dirt had been disturbed, but then, it is a chicken yard. As we pondered this we saw all six of the town guards running towards the Rat’s Egg. Of course, we quickly followed.

Unfortunately, there had been a death in the basement— a serving girl had gone down and never returned. Upon going down into the cellar, we found that all that remained were her limbs and head, and a few of the worked stone pieces of the wall were knocked out, revealing otherwise smooth packed dirt behind it. While Ghelt examined the stone and earth, I attempted my first “Speak with Dead” spell ever. The poor girl didn’t see what hit her, and only knew that she’d been grabbed by the ankles and felt searing, burning pain.

The villagers are becoming afraid of walking on the ground or touching it now, and we must figure out what is doing this! While we worked on some different strategies (many of which involved getting “bait” from Farmer Marsten), we headed to the carnival to see if we could find the old woman who had turned Pockets into a toad. We quickly were pointed to Zorlla, a fortune teller. Not knowing just how much true sight she had, I offered her a potion of Detect Thoughts as payment, figuring she could use it in her “act.” We have attempted to promise that Pockets won’t be “borrowing” near the carnival again, and she has restored him to his former self. Just out of curiosity, or maybe desperation, Ghelt asked her to divine what was happening in the town so we could put an end to it. She looked into her crystal ball and said:

A creature seldom seen passes through earth as we do through air.
Beneath Smallville are tunnels throughout, with its lair in the center.
Its sole purpose is to feed.
Light is its enemy, and light prevents it from attacking.

Thinking this sounded like pretty well-divined advice, I thought to next ask her about the Temple of the Void:

Shrouded in mists... many entrances... not all open at the same time.
The next entrance will be to the south,
at the highest peak in the Hellfurnaces, in 14 days.

She also says the carnival will be in Hookhill during that time. I am sorry to say I asked for my own fortune next:

You will be the bringer of destruction to the world.
Darkness will spread from your wake.
Choose well when the time comes.

That, of course, was not at all what a Radiant Servant would want to hear, but hopefully, having heard this, I will make the right decisions.

Pockets had slipped out during that bit of fortune telling, and the rest of us returned to Fafnir’s to plan (and maybe rest). We arrived to find Aramil and Pockets passed out together, looking like they’d had the snot beat out of them. Fafnir’s weasel Fingers was standing watch over them and said they had performed some strange mating ritual. I’m certainly not going to use my healing power to revive them from that!

Posted by Kristin on July 22, 2003, 17:01

A Sticky Situation

Moonday, Flocktime 17, 592 CY

We decided to head back to the carnival’s makeshift marketplace, where we were able to find nearly everything we’d ever wanted (and some things we didn’t even know we needed until the carnies produced them!). Valon and I both got nicer Mithril armor, I picked up a “Ring of Sustenance” which the carny assured me would allow me to go on less food and rest (I could have used that in Arun-tosa!), plus a quiver that seems to hold anything that fits through the top, but stays weightless. I can even manage to get my mace into it! Several others among my friends got items that seem to be bigger on the inside than the outside. Pockets got a strange-looking dog, or maybe the dog got Pockets. It seems to prefer being perched on his backpack rather than walking on the ground.

We were all able to catch a few hours of rest overnight— thankfully we didn’t hear the creature, or hear of the creature making an appearance, during that time. Valon is still staying in my house— he’s found a new way to be “charming,” even for a gray elven bard. More on that in a bit.

Shortly after sunrise, most of us (with the exception of Aramil, who was still pretty tired from two full days of identifying items) gravitated towards Ghelt’s house, only to find her digging a hole in her front yard. She was attempting to dig down to the tunnels under Smallville— a great idea, but a tedious way to go about it for a cleric of Moradin! I cannot seem to convince her to use her divine gifts— and considering Moradin’s clerics can have amazing abilities that involve literally moving the earth, digging seemed a bit, well, wrong. I am ashamed to admit I got into my first real argument with a dwarf, ever. In fact, we probably would have continued to argue, had there not been a shriek from Fafnir’s house. The fact that it carried so far, and with a not-so-quiet carnival in town, is a testament to Aramil’s lung capacity. We all dropped what we were doing and rushed back, to find the wooden floor planks of Fafnir’s place pushed up around dirt that looked untouched to us, but to Ghelt indicated that the same creature had captured him! His toad Jacob was still there, looking as worried as a toad can, so I used Speak with Animals to confirm that two great white arms with claws had reached through the floor and grabbed his master, and was moving with him through tunnels under Smallville. Aramil was still alive! Jacob hopped up on Pockets’ shoulder after I worked up a system for allowing the toad to indicate direction for us once my spell wore off, and we ran to the only tunnels we knew of— the Everston Estate.

The Estate hadn’t been disturbed since we’d last been there, though it smelled of rot and death. When we went down the stairs we’d used in our first trip through, we found why— dead goblins we had left behind on our earlier excursion. We followed our path from before, through a trapdoor in a cell, down into the catacombs, and through the temple to Nerull. I admit, I half expected the Heart that Valon is carrying to do something there, but if it did, Valon gave no sign. We continued on until we got to the underground lake, at which point we realized we had left the raft on the opposite shore in our first expedition.

Ghelt, being strongest of us all, was elected to retrieve the raft, despite the fact that dwarves generally hate being in/on/over water. Fafnir cast a Spider Climb spell on her and off she went across the ceiling. Other than disrupting a swarm of bats, she did quite well and was soon rowing back across the lake for the rest of us.

Thanks to the dearly departed Trap, we knew where all the traps in this area were located and easily avoided them. We followed our previous path all the way to the piercer cave, which we decided to cross, hoping to find ourselves under Smallville and therefore, able to rescue Aramil. However, we seemed to be too far below the creature’s tunnels, judging by Aramil’s toad, who kept his eyes more or less glued to the cavern ceilings.

After managing to cross the piercer cavern safely, we came to a choice of passages left and right, and took the right for about half a mile (which, I think, went completely under Smallville and beyond). We came to a 70’ deep gorge with a narrow ledge around it, and several cave openings were visible. Thinking this might be a good place for a creature such as the one we were seeking to lurk, Pockets and then Valon went down to look at the caves. Before they got too far, Pockets saw a “tar monster” coming at him. Hoping this was the creature, I quickly cast Daylight on my holy symbol, knowing the light would weaken the beast. The light lit up the entire gorge, and made it clear that this was a different sort of creature— it lacked claws, for one thing. Pockets and Valon attacked it a few times from where they stood, Valon bisecting it with his stick several times, while the rest of us tried ranged attacks. Suddenly, one blob struck out at Valon and his clothes (and new Mithril chain) dissolved instantly. I must say I was momentarily surprised by that! Not to mention, I swear he had a very familiar looking tattoo....

After a moment (in which I dearly hope my friends didn’t notice my lapse) I did manage to refocus my attention on the black pudding and yelled for Valon to back up. While my comrades continued to use ranged attacks I sent a Flame Strike down on the area. I’ve never used that spell before, and was somewhat surprised at the result. It’s a good thing that Valon moved, or he would have lost more than his clothing!

Pockets quickly fished out a spare cloak for Valon, and we more or less headed back towards the Everston Estate. It was obvious we were too far down and too far past Smallville by the way Jacob concentrated his gaze on the ceilings. The daylight spell continued to light our way, and when we got back to the lake, we saw a very small opening in the ceiling right above it. Fafnir managed to get us all up into what must have once been a stream that fed the lake. We crawled through it for a while until we came to a cave in, which probably was all that was keeping us from being washed back to the lake. Feeling defeated, we inched our way back to the opening and back down into the raft to make our way home.

Something kept bumping into the raft as we crossed the lake. Pockets rigged up some fishing equipment and found a 6’ long albino fish was pestering us. The fish looked decayed, and perhaps, undead, but I couldn’t get it in sight long enough to cast turn undead, so I had to settle for using my holy symbol to cast Holy Smite on the thing. If it was a product of undead tampering, it will, hopefully, cease to be a problem.

At any rate, we have to keep looking for Aramil. It could be that Ghelt’s idea is sound, but we must find a quicker way of removing dirt or the creature will simply have time to move its lair. Perhaps I can convince her to use her divine power to try to soften an area of dirt in a basement where the creature has attacked so that we can dig more quickly.

Posted by Kristin on July 30, 2003, 13:01

Tangled Webs

Moonday, Flocktime 17, 592 CY, continued

We made our way back to town so that Valon could put pants on (my neighbors must wonder a bit why gray elves keep wandering into town wearing nothing but capes) and buy new armor. I went to talk to Ghelt’s father, hoping he would know of some especially deep cellars in town that we could use to find an entrance to the tunnels. He was amused, I am sure, that I went to ask a dwarf about such things, but I hoped that others in town counted on the Futhark family when it came to underground architecture. However, he knew of none, and I was worried that we’d soon be digging in his yard, when Pockets came over and told as that Aramil’s homing toad was looking back towards the Everston Estate.

I think Ghelt realized that elves weren’t much for digging at this point, and having three out of five of us being relatively useless in such an endeavor, agreed we could follow the toad again. This time, Jacob was either paying better attention, or we were, because it was much easier to follow his directions. He lead us to a caved in area below the Estate that, according to the journal we’d found, was a tunnel collapsed in Patchwall 567 CY to keep out the duergar invaders. Ghelt immediately set to methodically removing the impasse. We brought some wooden furniture from nearby rooms, thinking Ghelt might need some beams to shore up her work area, and then got out of her way. Fafnir and I remembered that there was a seal with Pelor’s symbol on it a short distance away, and we went to look at that, hoping it might afford us access into the tunnels where Aramil was.

The doors with Pelor’s symbol on it seems so foreboding. Pockets suggested that I use my holy symbol on it, and thinking that perhaps it could work as a key like the jade key did for Nerull’s seal, I tried it. I realized my error as soon as I touched the symbols together— zap! I was very fortunate that my own symbol protected me, though I’m sorry to say it looks a bit worse for wear now. Hopefully I can find someone up in the Marketplace that can repair it.

We made our way back to Ghelt to find she’d made good progress. In fact, she’d made such good progress that she fell right through a hole she’d cleared. Of course, we followed her.

We found ourselves in a 30’ by 50’ by 20’ crypt festooned with webs. Cocoons in many sizes lined the walls. Jacob seemed to think Aramil was in this chamber, but before we could look, we were attacked by three large monstrous spiders. We dispatched them and I cast daylight—and we saw the creature with the white arms as it screeched and fled down a narrow tunnel opposite the way we came in. Pockets went to free Aramil from a cocoon that Jacob was agitated about, while the rest of us ran after the creature. I think we would have caught it too, only we heard Pockets shout for help. Thinking we missed a spider, Ghelt and Fafnir turned back while Valon and I continued after the pale creature.

Moments later, Valon and I heard Ghelt and Fafnir having difficulties and we broke off the chase to help our friends. We came back to the narrow tunnel we’d just passed through to see Ghelt and Fafnir unable to proceed through it— it was now filled completely with web. Valon and I started to hack through it, but it took a very long time (all I had was a mace, as Aramil had borrowed my sword). We got entangled a few times before making our way out. I am fortunate that Pelor provides his servants with a powerful daylight spell, as apparently the chamber had been cast into darkness. For a moment, I saw the hideous outline of a creature part dark elf and part spider, then it went invisible. As my comrades attempted to fight the invisible drider, it allowed me to get bearings on it— a Flame Strike got through its defenses and it died, turning visible once again.

We were finally able to pass through the remaining webs to find Pockets unconscious on the floor; thankfully Ghelt was already healing him and he was soon continuing his efforts to free Aramil. I was sorry to see that the other villagers were here, but were already dried husks. We found a clue as to why the drider “Kalanaar” was here at least— a note from the evil Durll telling him to obtain the Heart and take it to Hochoch. We took that, along with his payment in gems and a magical greatsword. Hopefully the drider is alone, though we still must go find that other creature and dispatch it before it grabs more villagers.

Posted by Kristin on August 7, 2003, 13:25

Pick-A-Path to Adventure

Godsday, Flocktime 18, 592 CY

Pockets’ dog Watch didn’t seem keen on looking for the white creature, but Fingers was willing to give it a shot. We all carefully followed Fafnir’s weasel familiar through various passageways, eventually coming to some severely narrow tunnels that were only about 30” tall by 30” wide. We had to crawl on our hands and knees after him, navigating passages that crisscrossed, until Fingers finally stopped and looked confused. His confusion was warranted— a few seconds after his pause the dreaded white arms reached through a wall and grabbed Pockets, who had been lagging behind, pulling him right into the surface of the wall. We found another tunnel to crawl through and gave chase. After what seemed like hours we came to a 15’ round chamber (slightly taller— Fafnir could nearly stand up in it) with several paths leading off of it, and the weasel again picked a path and charged off. I know we kept this routine up for about two hours, as that was how long my Daylight spell lasted. I had to use another Light spell, and we found ourselves in a 25’ area (thankfully 5’ high) littered with bones of creatures large and small. Several passages led out of the chamber, and we found Pockets leaned up in a corner, paralyzed.

Before I could get to Pockets to neutralize his paralysis, the white arms again reached out of a wall and grabbed at Fafnir— he tumbled away but was raked by the creatures nails. Aramil managed to occupy the creature briefly, as he kept standing in its way (and ours!). While he did that, apparently, Pockets’ dog riffled through Pockets’ pockets, found Aramil’s spellbook, and ran off with it. As Aramil was about to gave chase, we heard a “yip” in the distance, and then silence. Aramil kept swearing he was going to kill the dog if it wasn’t dead already while I removed the paralysis from Fafnir and Pockets.

Suddenly, a hole opened at Valon’s feet and he was nearly attacked by the creature. My Searing Light spell hit it, while Pockets dumped a Bag of Tricks into the hole, releasing a bat and a weasel. I don’t know what effect, if any, that had on the creature, but Fafnir looked distinctly uncomfortable about the weasel.

The creature moved through the earth faster than we moved on solid ground— the arms reached out again, right near Pockets, who yanked some thunderstones out of a pocket and banged them together. I think he was hoping the creature had some sort of tremorsense to disrupt, but he only managed to deafen himself and Fafnir. Pockets was waiting for those arms the next time they came through the wall, and grabbed the creature! Aramil grabbed Pockets as he started to disappear into the wall of one of the tunnels, while I waited with bow and arrow one tunnel over, hoping to catch the creature as it went through. At least my second arrow hit it.

While I attempted to reassure Fafnir (using Fingers as a translator) that I could remove his deafness in the morning after praying for spells, I could hear Ghelt explaining quite heatedly to Aramil that he should stop jumping in front of us during battles— he has no armor, no spells and a borrowed sword! He was yelling right back, and took a swipe at Ghelt— he’s lucky he missed. Valon had heard enough apparently, and cast a spell to silence everyone briefly. Order was restored for a moment, and then the creature reached down through the ceiling of the chamber and grabbed Pockets again! Ghelt used her divine ability to soften the earth in the ceiling, moving the depth of the entire room up about 10’, and bringing a started pair of bodies back into range with a good deal of dirt. I finally got a good look at the creature— an 8’ tall albino humanoid with glowing red eyes, vicious claws, and needlelike teeth. We attacked it with everything we had, and while I don’t know if we mortally wounded the creature, it did not ever return, so I think we at least convinced it to move on!

We weren’t sure though, and waited for it to come back. Suddenly, something erupted right at my feet, and I nearly struck it. I quickly noticed it was Pockets’ dog, and pulled my mace away at the last possible moment— hitting Aramil instead (he was obviously not taking Ghelt’s lecture to heart!). The dog returned (most of) Aramil’s spellbook, and after getting Ghelt’s attention, scrambled back down the tunnel she’d dug her way up through. Ghelt followed her a short distance through a tunnel below us, and found the dog biting at something leathery in the wall. The creature? No. But it was a sack with 800 gold pieces in it. I think Ghelt is using part of her share to buy Watch away from Pockets.

Watch then lead us down a tunnel that took us right out to the riverbank by our town. We saw the creature’s tracks leading into the woods and followed them for a long time, and eventually came to another tunnel entrance. Hoping we’d catch up with the creature if it was still mobile, we crawled through another cramped tunnel for the rest of the night. We eventually came to a dead end. Fafnir turned himself into a dire weasel and dug straight upward— we were able to get out and walk the four miles back to town, after spending enough time to pray for spells to remove the deafness plaguing Fafnir and Pockets, of course. Here’s hoping when we get back to town we find that the creature has truly left, though I don’t look forward to telling those that had missing family members what their fate was.


Posted by Kristin on August 13, 2003, 16:07

Fog, Fire, Frustration

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 on August 20, 2003, 21:42

Dumb and Dumber

Waterday, Flocktime 19 592 CY, continued again

I am really starting to wonder if Pockets and Aramil are who they claimed to be; we’ve never even been able to get the name of a town they hail from. They certainly think differently than the rest of us! As we decided to head north down an unexplored tunnel (with Pockets so far ahead of us that we really couldn’t tell where he was “scouting”), Aramil, for no apparent reason, grabbed his rapier and stabbed the poor puppy that was frolicking around at our feet. Ghelt was so angry that she, in turn, stabbed Aramil with her greatsword (and she has a lot more power to put behind it). She may well have finished him off with another swing, but we all noticed that Watch had completely healed of her wound in just a few seconds. The dog gave Aramil a long stare before going back to doing her puppy things. Ghelt even went to the trouble of healing Aramil, though anyone that would blame an innocent little animal for his own carelessness....

We continued to follow Pockets’ south and sometimes west— though one time Aramil decided to flip a coin to determine which way to go rather than follow our plan (he eventually wandered back to us). I wonder if he makes all of his decisions with a coin toss. We abandoned a western passage that was filled with shrieking purple fungi and toadstools. South seemed quieter, so we continued that way, past lava flows and caverns. Quite unexpectedly, Pockets was entangled in five sticky strands that shot out of a stalagmite! We all immediately set to trying to untangle him, though the creature was quite strong and resisted magic. At one point, Pockets got a hand free and threw one of those blasted sticky balls of tripvine at the monster. Its only effect was to stick Ghelt and Valon fast to the back of the monster. One of my searing light spells managed to get through, and even Watch wounded it with a vicious bite (whether she was defending Pockets or Ghelt is difficult to say). Pockets then pulled a feather token out of his bag that turned into a tree. The tree hit the cavern ceiling, dislodging some boulders, which smashed the “roper,” killing it. When it died, its mouth opened and an 8” jade idol of an octopoidal-headed creature fell out. I suspect it symbolizes a deity of the illithids, though I am not sure if it is Ilsensine or Maanzecorian. I hope we don’t have the opportunity to find out!

We continued on south for a few hours more until we saw a glow ahead. We soon came to a large magma-filled gorge with a rickety rope bridge stretching 50’ to the other ledge. Pockets was able to cross easily, then Aramil, taking no cautions whatsoever, started to lurch across it. After falling and dangling from the ropes twice, he decided to come back the 15’ he’d gained to where the rest of us stood. Pelor forgive me, but I almost thought it would be a blessing for Aramil to fall in, as he is likely to get himself killed soon anyway. I’m sure Fafnir would object to a death in which magic items could not be safely retrieved however.

We had a brief skirmish with some very thin and dirty duergar who used poisoned weapons, after which Fafnir cast Fly on Ghelt and she took each of us over the magma in that fashion. We caught up with Pockets on a ledge overlooking an illithid city— the squid-headed creatures floated between their structures, thankfully unaware of our arrival. We decided that another way south, without a city to fight through, would be best, when little Watch, with a gleam in her eyes, bolted down the side of the cliff overlooking the city. We thought she was gone for good and with a whispered, “Watch, come back!” I was sure Ghelt was going to have to bid our little friend goodbye. The rest of us, other than Ghelt and Pockets, suggested leaving now and perhaps Watch would find us again, and began to head back to the tunnels. Suddenly though, Watch was clambering back up to the ledge, with a few mind flayers chasing her, still apparently unaware that we were in their domain. We could have left then, knowing Watch could take care of herself, when, Ghelt tells us, Pockets shot two crossbow bolts into the dog! Thankfully for Watch, she has the ability to heal instantly, but the bolts gave the illlithids our position! Horns sounded as we made our way back to the gorge as quickly as we could; at one point, Ghelt used a little divine magic to block the passage leading to the illithid city, but we continued to run. Fafnir turned himself into a bronze dragon when we reached the lava-filled gorge, and was taking me across first, when more duergar appeared with crossbows and poisoned bolts. Thankfully, Fafnir was able to kill them with a very powerful spell. We are continuing back the way we came until we can find a good resting spot. I had planned a “Heroes’ Feast” that would provide my comrades with extra protection against poison, as well as healing and blessing. Unfortunately, the spell takes an hour, and I don’t think my friends can sit together that long. I am not looking forward to Ghelt’s confrontation with Aramil and Pockets about their attempts to harm that poor puppy, but they deserve what they get!

Posted by Kristin on August 26, 2003, 14:29

An Eye for an Eye

Waterday, Flocktime 19, 592 CY, continued

Apparently Pockets was wounded by a poisoned crossbow bolt and then fell over on his stash of alchemist’s fire, for Aramil was carrying his singed body, not waiting for any healing from Ghelt or me (they take great delight in stabbing each other with Pelor’s sword anyway). I guess Aramil was either pretending to scout since Pockets couldn’t, or simply making sure Pockets stayed at the head of the party like he’d planned (though he’d intended to be conscious, of course!), but he scouted them right into a huge shimmering gelatinous cube. Aramil of course stopped moving at this point while the rest of us hacked at the ooze (though Ghelt, Pelor bless her, looked like she was having second thoughts about that particular rescue so soon after they’d been trying to kill her dog).

We pondered what to do with the two paralyzed bodies we pulled out of the remains of the cube, but they soon were mobile again, making the decision on what to do with them moot. None of the rest of us really want them “watching” our backs now!

Valon noticed some strange marks on one of the tunnel walls in Undercommon— he said was some sort of drow warning marker— we left that passage alone!

We finally stopped to rest and renew our spells. Fafnir cast some sort of protective dome for us to pass the time in peacefully. While most of us prayed, studied or slept, Pockets sat across from the puppy using a Mage Hand to spin a dagger in front of him. Watch found a rock and made it do the same thing. Mage Hand was one of the spells she ate from Aramil’s book— perhaps she studied it first, or found some more efficient way to cast the spell! After we had rested for at least eight hours, I cast a “Heroes’ Feast” for the party (including Watch). It was a silent meal, as conversation is very strained when one member of the group is trying her hardest not to kill the part so obviously plotting against her. I cast some endurance spells to help us survive the heat of the caverns and we packed up and moved on towards the salamander city. Our plan was to walk in with our weapons sheathed and ask to see their leader.

When we arrived back at the ledge overlooking the city, sure enough, there was a set of stairs leading down into the city. In the distance, we could see salamanders using a forge, with the smiths walking right in and through the molten metals. The center of the city also had a large temple (which Fafnir was worried would be where the temple we sought would appear). As we entered the city in single file between pools of lava, two large fire elementals rose up out of the pools— obviously sentinels protecting the city’s inhabitants. We passed between them one at a time, until we got to Aramil, who was still holding his compound longbow, in spite of all of our urging to appear non-threatening. The sentinels gave him a chance to put it away, at which point he just shrugged and said, “What?” so they answered him— one touched the bow and it immediately fell to ash at Aramil’s feet. He was then allowed to enter with the rest of us.

We were quickly greeted by a group of smaller salamanders, who asked us to disarm and follow them. They took us to a large, ornate stone building with brass doors which opened into a large chamber. A larger, fiery salamander sat upon a throne and bade us speak. I had to use a Comprehend Languages spell to talk to the smaller salamanders (who only spoke Ignan); thankfully this one spoke common so I did not have to interpret. Valon was our spokesperson much of the time, and Fafnir and I chimed in when we thought it helpful. When asked why we had traveled to his realm, we opted to tell the truth about the Temple of the Void and what I called an artifact of “negative energy” that needed destroyed, playing to the fact that such creatures would likely have no dealings with undead and their ilk. The king said that the portal to the temple we wished to reach must be what opens in the “Arch” and that he would help us reach that, provided we could help them with something. (Oddly, Aramil tried to offer Ghelt’s services in the salamander forge— she told him to just stop talking— it was ludicrous to ask a dwarf to stand inside a forge full of molten metal and “instruct” salamanders in their trade, after all, and was not likely what the king had in mind.) He asked us if we had any dealings with the grey dwarves, and I told him that our current relations with the duergar were quite “strained” at this time. Luckily, they are equally repugnant to the salamanders. The king wished the duergar to leave his people alone, but since they had allied “Xorn of the Many Eyes,” an orb with “rays of death,” they had been a problem for his city, attacking and raiding without provocation. He needed us to dispatch the beholder.

Pockets wanted the salamanders to provide us with better weapons, but most of us realized that if they had better weapons, they would be using them to fight their enemies themselves. He did provide us with a map of the local underdark. We said we’d make an attempt to rid them of the beholder and would bring back one of the eyes as proof.

The map showed our destination to be the one of the few passages that we hadn’t tried. It took us a few hours to walk back, which again was a large space of mostly-strained silence punctuated with “I wasn’t being threatening!” by Aramil every few minutes, to be answered by a party member with a statement about respecting simple requests. At least he hasn’t blamed the puppy this time. We noticed that the roper we had killed the day before had disappeared....

Pockets scouted a wee bit ahead, and found an 8’ tunnel that bisected the one we traveled, but went vertically. Pockets easily cleared this vertical shaft, and they helped me across with aid of a rope (I’ve never been good at jumping). Fafnir said, “It’s too bad you don’t have a 10’ ladder,” to Pockets, who then remembered that he did in fact have one in his bag. He put the ladder across the shaft, thinking the rest could “climb” across it. Aramil, as graceful as ever, began to weave and stagger across the rungs like a drunken circus performer, falling and landing in such a way with the ladder between his legs as to make all the males in the party gasp at once. He pulled himself up and tottered across the remaining few feet, never once attempting to use his hands. He’ll have to heal that area of his anatomy on his own!

The rest of us, Watch included, made it across without incident.

While we were wondering if beholders had a use for these shafts, we discovered that they were used for travel. A green beholder floated through, making a few attacks on Aramil on the way past. It took us a while to figure out how to cope with the flyby attacks it was making, but we eventually killed it— either Ghelt’s chopping into it, Fafnir’s magic missiles or my searing light did it in. Valon contributed song, while Pockets was trying to catch it with a fishhook. I’m not sure what Aramil was doing, but at least he didn’t fall in after the eye tyrant’s corpse.

Now, unfortunately, we feel like we are being watched. I suspect Xarn knows we are here.


Posted by Kristin on September 1, 2003, 22:18

Blind Spot

Sunday, Wealsun 2, 592 CY

As we seem to be able to do in the most dire situations, our group worked together like a well-oiled machine for the remainder of our excursion into the beholder’s lair. Part of this may have been because there were very few ways in and out, most of which were not easily accessible by humanoids. But no matter— we did accomplish our goal!

Pockets again scouted ahead, and when he came to a dead end, he continued the only way left to us— 100’ straight up a vertical shaft. He secured a rope for us when he made it to the top and then disappeared before we’d all climbed the rope. Amazingly, none of us fell (I’m always sure I will!) and the strain between the party’s newer members and pre-existing ones seems to have eased somewhat.

We walked a short distance, and found ourselves at the entrance to a small chamber, face to face with Xorn, who was flanked by two illithids and an umber hulk. Laying prone in front of them was the unconscious body of Pockets! I didn’t stop to think, I just ran the rest of the way into the lair, as far from the front of the beholder as I could, and let fly a flame strike, knowing that the antimagic field in front of the beholder’s central eye would protect the fallen elf from my spell.

I could tell that the beholder, umber hulk and at least one of the illithids had been damaged by my spell. The eye tyrant shot three rays of some sort at me while the mind flayers attempted to inflict their will upon me— only the willpower provided by my faith in Pelor kept me from falling to either threat, and allowed me to cast searing light back at the creatures. I could hear Ghelt behind me hacking through the umber hulk, though I didn’t realize at the time that the rest of my comrades were still in the tunnel, prevented from entering Xorn’s lair by the beast’s immense bulk! Just as I did realize I was alone fighting the beholder and illithids, Fafnir came tumbling past the umber hulk and cast one spell at the beholder, which killed it instantly. At that moment, Ghelt made it past the corpse of the umber hulk and decapitated the crispier-looking illithid. The other plane-shifted away, obviously aware that it was no match for the dwarf! Only now could Valon and Aramil enter the room, and Aramil lamented that he could have done more had he a bow.

Fafnir set to work hacking off the black beholder’s eyestalks, and we saw that there was a tunnel down from where the creature had hovered. Fafnir suggested that it was likely a treasure chamber, and proved to be correct! Pockets happened to be awake and aware by this point, and several of us climbed down into the treasure room, with Ghelt and Aramil guarding the entrance. We found thousands in coins and artwork, as well as a few potions, wands, a scroll, magic ring and oily (but magical) banded mail. Thank Pelor we had the sense to buy equipment that can hold tons of gear and treasure without weighing us down!

We quickly returned to the salamander city and went through the same routine of presenting ourselves in an unthreatening manner. King S’sleksis’n (whose name I am not sure I’ve ever pronounced correctly, even with ten days’ practice) hailed us as heroes and allowed us access to the temple and city. We actually spent the next ten days within visual range of the temple, though we did attempt to rest and learn from these curious creatures while the opportunity allowed. The king told us that the portal only opens in their temple every one hundred years, so we are quite lucky that we were only two weeks early!

Ironically, the arch provided us entrance to the Temple of the Void at the very moment we heard war drums begin in the salamander city— from the steps of the temple we could see mind flayers and duergar flooding into the city. Even from that distance, I could pick out one duergar on the ledge overlooking the city that was different— wearing adamantine armor and with a hellish light in his eyes, he barked orders at the others, while easily deflecting bolts shot at him with his axe. We didn’t have time to choose between fighting Durll in the city or destroying the Heart— I hope King S’sleksis’n and his people did not suffer grievous damage from the illithids and grey dwarves.

As we started going through the portal one at a time, I looked back and saw a familiar, dreaded form standing on the steps to the temple with his back to us. I feared Ghelt would run back to confront the lich, but it appeared as though Arkon was helping keep the temple free of the infiltrators. We just didn’t have time to deal with him either.

We apparently arrived unharmed (though some of us were knocked out) in the Temple of the Void. We awoke in a marble hall of about 30’ by 50’, with open arched windows letting in a breeze that came across sand dunes. We could even see the sun in the sky (I had somehow expected this temple to be surrounded by “nothingness”). A massive pair of closed bronze doors stood at one end of the room. Not knowing quite what to expect or do next, we opened the doors, which lead to a circular chamber with three more sets of bronze doors, a sunken floor, and four alcoves with stone statues of spear-carrying warriors in them. Aramil attempted to entire the room and the statues sprang to life. We beckoned him to come back quickly, hoping the statues would resume their non-moving state, but they attacked, so we had no recourse but to destroy them. We can see now that each alcove has a keyhole in it, but of course, we don’t have any keys!

Posted by Kristin on September 17, 2003, 18:02

Void Where Prohibited

Sunday, Wealsun 2, 592 CY, continued

You will be the bringer of destruction to the world.
Darkness will spread from your wake.
Choose well when the time comes.

It’s strange how divinations never make sense until after you’ve failed to prevent one from coming to pass.

We had no trouble finding the keys needed for the 4 alcoves. It was really too easy, in fact. The first, a silver key, was found among the debris of the destroyed statues. The key, and all four locks, radiated abjuration magic. Fafnir decided to try the key in the lock closest to him—it went in easily (but did not come out!) and we briefly felt an ominous rumbling from the center of the chamber.

Having absolutely no preference to the door we tried next, we chose the one to the left of the one we’d come from and walked in. The inside of the chamber looked exactly like the one we’d arrived in, save that there was jungle outside the windows. In the center of the room was a man, kneeling, with a flesh golem standing behind him. Aramil said “Hello!” and the man looked up at us with a cold gaze. He in turn stated, “I am the Guardian of What Was. If you seek to enter the Void, you must first defeat me.”

After looking around at our group, I suggested we step back into the center chamber, and shut the doors behind us as we left.

Not quite sure what to make of the man, we decided to just try another door, hoping to get a less cryptic introduction. We went directly across to another set of doors and opened them. Inside stood a man, dressed similarly to the first and with a stone golem companion. We could see a humid swamp outside the otherwise similar chamber. He stated that he was the “Guardian of What Will Be.” We decided we’d get back to him too.

The remaining doors led to a chamber that looked out over a frozen wasteland. The only difference in this room was that the human (with clay golem companion) was a female— the Guardian of What Is. I decided that we were just walking around too much without answers and so I asked her quite a few questions! I asked how we were to reach the Void— we had a choice of defeating each Guardian in single combat, or in a group, in which case the golems would fight as well. Some things she didn’t answer any less cryptically than Aramil or Pockets would, like “where did you come from?” and some answers were downright disturbing— such as when I asked who we represented, since we came from the desert room— we are the “Guardians of Choice.” She also answered that we could leave the Temple in “one of five ways”— through any of the rooms or through the Void. None of the humans appeared to be evil, or good, and all seemed to have the mannerisms of monks.

We decided, eventually, that Ghelt would act as our champion and fight a monk one-on-one—and we figured the one in the room with the flesh golem would be easiest— at least, that golem looked easiest to fight if it became group melee.

As much as it upset Ghelt, I have to give Pockets credit for watching her back— as soon as she fell to the monk, and before I could get in to drag her away to heal her (fearing that if I healed her in the room, the golem would consider me as joining a group melee), he sunk an arrow into the monk. Thankfully the monk considered the battle with Ghelt over and moved to fight Pockets. Moments later I saw that Pockets had sailed out the window into the jungle, but Aramil saw that Pockets looked confused and figured that the windows weren’t visible out there— luckily throwing a rope to Pockets helped him find his way back! I tossed Aramil my longsword as he looked ready to engage the monk. He was out of the fight a few seconds later. I wanted to go in next, but Fafnir stepped in and finished the monk off with some magic missiles. I am sure this won’t effect his ego in any way.

We got every one patched back up, and Pockets had to go find some of the parts of the Guardian of What Was out in the jungle to retrieve the copper key we needed. Ghelt did her best to arrange the remains in a respectful manner, and while doing so I could hear that the key had been inserted in one of the alcoves— that same rumbling sound occurred again.

Ghelt hit her stride and easily took out the female monk. As she rearranged the body in a similar fashion to the last, the electrum key we found was used in another alcove, with another ominous rumbling sound.

Ghelt had a bit more trouble with the Guardian of What Will Be. I dragged her, and then Pockets, out for healing while Aramil finished him off. We retrieved the platinum key, arranged the body of the last fallen guardian, and took the key out to the hall. Things went a bit out of control after this— I’m not sure I saw all that went on. Someone inserted the final key and the floor in the center of the round chamber began to crack and crumble, then fall away. Inky black tendrils (which I thought were some sort of gas, but turned out to be a creature!), came up from the cracks, winding around the columns and making them disappear. One of us shouted to Valon to throw the Heart of Nerull into it, but he refused, saying it belonged to him! I used what may be called “Elf-Fu” to tackle him, only to be thrown off in an instant. Somehow Fafnir and Watch got separated from us on the other side of the Void (which had expanded to fill the center chamber), and the rest of my friends were attempting to grapple with Valon. Now realizing that that Void was alive, I cast a Bolt of Glory at it, but it continued to fill the chamber of the frozen wastes that we had followed Valon into. Aramil managed to get the Heart while Ghelt and Pockets held Valon down, but had been injured so badly that he couldn’t throw the Heart far enough to reach the Void. I had to leap between tendrils, and throw the Heart into it myself (losing my mithril chain to the awful blackness as it brushed past me). I threw the Rod of Undeath in as well, knowing of no better way to destroy it.

Suddenly, the Void pushed past us all and out a window (or rather, out a wall, as the window and wall surrounding it disappeared at the Void’s touch) and sped off across the wastes. Fafnir and Watch made it to us safely, and Valon, no longer touching the Heart, came back to his senses (I wonder how long he was without them!). Fafnir told us that the pit the “Void” had left in the center of the Temple was filled with runes— which of course we know were likely there to keep it from escaping. We also have a feeling that the landscapes we see outside each window is a real part of Oerth, and we’ve left a darkness enter our world. I only hope that we still are the Guardians of Choice, and that we are given the opportunity to track it down and either destroy or at least vanquish it again.

Posted by Kristin on September 30, 2003, 20:35

Bagged

Godsday, Wealsun 4, 592 CY

We stayed in the Temple of the Void for the better part of a day, so we could rest, look at the runes in the Void’s empty “cell,” and so I could study the sky to figure out where (or when!) we were. The stars looked familiar from all the rooms— except the room we first arrived in with the desert landscape. The sun never moved from its spot overhead. I wonder if it is the nature of the location that desert is in, or if time is somehow frozen for that landscape? Needless to say, we didn’t step into it to find out!

We chose to leave through the same landscape, the frozen wastes, as the Void had, though we realized we needed to do some research on how to defeat the creature and decided the libraries of Greyhawk might prove to be our best chance. Fafnir offered to teleport us all, or rather, 600 pounds of us. After counting up all of our equipment and ourselves, we were about 100 pounds too heavy! I offered to get into a bag of holding for the nearly-instantaneous trip we planned, but I weigh too little to make the difference. I suggested that Aramil’s weight would be just right, but he hollered at Ghelt and Pockets when they moved to help him into a bag and started to run off across the wastes. Valon offered to travel in a bag, and his weight is similar to Aramil’s, so that’s the plan we went with. Pockets described the City of Greyhawk well enough for Fafnir to picture it. Within a few seconds, we were all standing in the town square of a thriving metropolis. Valon, Fafnir and I decided to change the party’s “loot” into currency to buy new armor to replace our “Voided” equipment, while Pockets and Aramil insisted on taking Ghelt to a tavern they were fond of. Watch went with them.

We saved half back for our drinking companions, though I bartered for new mithril chain for Ghelt and myself. Fafnir suggested that I get “Slippers of Spider Climbing” since I have a bit of a fear of climbing in caves (truth be told, while I was never as fond as some elves are of climbing trees, I was able to manage that). I got those and had planned on buying some more enchanted items, but Fafnir kept teasing me that I must “tithe” a certain amount at the local Temple of Pelor, so I decided to take the rest of my funds there. We gave Pockets, Aramil and Ghelt their portions of our “loot” to spend in the Marketplace. Fafnir was off to some Wizards’ Guild and Valon accompanied me to the Temple where I planned to stay for the evening; we plan to meet at a nearby library later to start our research.

I went to leave some gold in the poor box in the Temple (called the Solarium here!) and discovered that jade illithid idol we’d found was now stashed in my belongings. Valon wouldn’t admit to putting it there, so I’m thinking perhaps Fafnir wanted me to donate that on behalf of our group. Pelor certainly has provided us with a lot of divine help and healing, so I happily dropped the idol into the offering. I used what I had left to purchase a “Phylactery of Faithfulness,” which is supposed to give me a “warning” if we attempt to do something Pelor would consider harmful.

I was surprised to find that Valon left the Solarium at some time during the night— perhaps he wanted to go perform at one of the local taverns. I had hoped that some time in such a beautiful holy place would give him some peace of mind— I think he is being hard on himself for what happened in the Temple of the Void, though none of it was really his fault! I want to talk to the Chief Cleric here about what we’ve done and encountered so far and to see if I may look through the temple records and historical libraries. I am also told by some of the clerics here that the church of Pelor sometimes employs “Sacred Exorcists” to banish evil otherworldly beings and undead— I think I will ask more about this, as it may be something we will soon need.

Posted by Kristin on October 6, 2003, 14:30

Of the Essence

Godsday, Wealsun 4, 592 CY, continued

While several of my alchohol-enriched friends recuperated at the Silver Dragon Inn, Fafnir was studying in the Great Library a few blocks from Pelor’s temple. I wandered over to the Inn after morning prayer, after which we caught up with Fafnir at the library (though Aramil, characteristically, shut himself in his room for the day to “study”). Fafnir presented us with a very charred journal describing some other world’s brush with the Void. Ghelt read it to us aloud, and actually started to giggle partway through— I think the stress must be actually getting to our normally stalwart dwarf, or else she and Pockets had already had a round of intoxicating beverages during breakfast. Fafnir noticed too. When I suggested that we go to the Wizards’ Guildhall for assistance, he suggested several times that Ghelt and Pockets wait for us in a tavern.

The four of us made our way across town to the hall, Pockets occasionally disappearing into a shadow only to pop up right beside us, and we asked to see their specialist on Planar Magics. A young boy led us to the dimly lit chamber of Master Vistal, a red-robed, hunched old man with white eyes. Pockets again disappeared somewhere amongst the walls filled with skulls and alchemical items (presumably Ghelt was keeping an eye on him the few times he was visible), while Fafnir talked to Vistal about his findings and I filled in the detail on what horrors we’d encountered on our journey. Vistal answered in that dry, raspy voice I’d hoped never to hear again— Arkon had possessed the man’s body!

The lich went on to answer our questions, though I suspect he twisted his tale to best suit his own needs. He told us that the one way we can stop the Void is with the essence of Aramis— the Void now holds the Heart of Nerull and Aramis is the “anti-magic” (to use a phrase from Fafnir’s library find) to that of the Heart. He went on to tell us that he worked for the “Celestial Council” which, among other things, answers to the gods themselves, and it was his duty to keep Aramis bound to the Heart to keep him weak, lest Aramis annihilate the world in an effort to cleanse it of all evil. He told us that he does not work with Durll, who is an entity of chaos and entropy, and would much rather see the Heart destroyed than to fall to the deurgar.

While it is plausible that the celestial creature’s positive essence can cancel out the Heart’s negative one, it is utterly illogical to me why the gods would torture an angel in such a fashion. I do not doubt Pelor or my faith, but I now feel the need to commune with my god for the parts that the lich has perhaps twisted or neglected to mention, so we now how best to proceed. Aramis saved our lives when the temple where the Heart was kept was destroyed— a creature that wanted to annihilate us all would not have bothered— letting us live, the only ones who knew of his escape from the Heart, would serve him no purpose.

Before we could argue further with Arkon, he departed the body of Vistal, who crumpled where he sat. I ran over and provided him with some healing, though I think the elderly mage was only stunned. We had to explain our tale to him again, included the part involving Arkon. He was able to us that we needed an iron flask to capture an unwilling celestial to use against the Void. Of course, we don’t have the kind of money needed to purchase such an item. He asked us to go to the waiting room while he consulted another expert. We were soon called back in to talk to Allisha the Seeress, who informed us that we could obtain an iron flask beneath the ruins of Redcastle in Bone March.

We of course, forgot to ask her if the flask already contained something more horrible than the Void creature, lest we let that out upon Oerth too!

I would like to talk to more experts and do some more research before sentencing a celestial creature we’ve just rescued to total annihilation, but time is of the essence. The only thing now holding me back from communing with Pelor directly is some disturbing news I received upon returning to the Solarium to talk to a high-ranking cleric named Cornelius. He apparently had recently attempted to commune with Pelor himself, and somehow his mind touched something... else. As a result, he’s not quite himself, and no one, in a temple to the god of Healing, seems to know how to help him! I would of course ask this of Pelor when communing with him myself, though now I fear that whatever has disturbed Cornelius will affect me as well, and I definitely need my wits about me if I am to help destroy the Void. I think I may contact another celestial creature instead, in the hopes that they can tell me what parts of Archon’s tale are true, as well as what touched Cornelius when he reached out to Pelor.

Posted by Kristin on October 31, 2003, 18:22

Chaos Theory

Godsday, Wealsun 4, 592 CY, continued

I have failed my comrades, and perhaps, indirectly, failed Pelor.

It took a while, but I have come to the realization that, while my friends respect Pelor and are willing to fight for a good cause, they do not necessarily share my fervent devotion to him; they do, after all, worship different deities, which colors how they see our world and relate to the creatures in it.

I had questions to ask about our anticipated journey to Redcastle, about Arkon’s story, the location of Valon, Aramis, Durll and the Void, and I feared communing with Pelor would not allow the full explanations of these questions that I wanted to share with my comrades. So instead, I asked them all to come to the temple with me while I requested the presence of a celestial being. I told them the being might request a service and that we could say “no,” though of course the being would then depart without answering our questions.

A tall, luminous guardinal with wings for arms, feathery hair and golden eyes appeared. The beautiful avoral (whose name I didn’t think to ask for) was quite willing to answer all of our questions for a price— he requested the Short Sword of Pelor, saying that it was urgently needed elsewhere. Ghelt and I, both of a similar belief structure, agreed immediately, Fafnir was very undecided, and Aramil and Pockets thought the sword more useful than any information a celestial creature would provide to us (Pockets also pointed out that since I wouldn’t let him sell it, that it must be too valuable to give away). The avoral was patient, and though he had to eventually leave without answering our questions, he did warn that the sword was not without limits, for it pulled its healing not from the Positive Material Plane (as I had assumed it must), but directly from Pelor himself. I mentally pictured my deity being weakened by Pockets’ and Aramil’s ministrations after one of their regular “spats” and shuddered.

Fafnir did finally decide we should give the avoral the sword, mere moments after the creature departed. Ghelt was extremely upset, as was I at the time, and Aramil and Pockets pointed out that I said we could say “no” (which, in essence, meant a group vote). Of course I had, never realizing that our moral views, while all basically good, could result in such a difference of opinions! I feel especially bad about that, because, while I promote Pelor’s causes over others, I rejoice that my comrades worship other good deities at all— it is these differences that have helped us get as far as we have.

Pockets, for all he’s willing to do for our party, does in fact worship Olidammara, the god of Trickery. I will therefore need to swallow my pride, and “trick” him into giving back the Short Sword of Pelor the next time it is asked of us. I may also have to point out that Nerull is considered a god of trickery as well, and the lich has had many lifetimes to perfect his craft. Nevertheless, I think this explains why Pockets is slow to develop trust— Ghelt and I must be constant sources of confusion for him!

While Ghelt and I were praying for a solution in Pelor’s temple, a bloodied paladin came stumbling in. I healed him quickly, and he told us a chilling story. The paladin, called Harconis, has been teleported from the Grand Duchy of Geoff, where they are having a plague of death coming down from the mountain. The plague infects the living, killing them, and healing magics have no effect. This all started about two days ago, while we were in the Temple of the Void. This of course, brings a few worries to mind: did throwing the Heart into the Void cause “Death” to somehow gain a better hold? Did the loss of the Temple’s Guardians unleash something? We knew there has been constant warfare raging in Geoff, for we long ago met up with a band of adventurers heading towards it through Dimwood. I am very fuzzy on the geography of the area, but I’ve just now remembered that Durll had agents in Hochoch, the temporary capitol of Geoff. I can only imagine how much worse the situation would be there had he been able to steal the Heart from us!

Soon after Harconis’ arrival, Pockets ran into the temple with a very savagely murdered human in his arms, hoping I, or someone there, could restore life to the body. Sadly, the only cleric of more skill than me is the mad Cornelius, and I was not prepared for the task, suggesting he try Heironeous’ Temple— being much bigger, there was a greater chance someone there could do the job. I could tell by his expression as he turned to leave that my lack of ability to do this for him was perceived as choosing not to help a “thief,” as it turned out that the dead man was a cleric of Olidammara.

While it’s flattering on some level that Pockets thinks I have the same abilities to resurrect someone as a divine creature does, I was not blessed with that ability at the time of his need— it is something I must pray for. I’ve only seen it done once and that was by Aramis. If he comes back tomorrow, I will try, though after what I’ve seen happen to Cornelius, I’m wondering if there isn’t something “intercepting” the prayers made here.

Ghelt eventually left either for the inn my friends were staying at, or Moradin’s temple. I was left alone with Cornelius, and I determined to try and figure out what his mental situation was by simply talking to him. This proved absolutely disastrous.

He started by telling me that “Rutsah” was “wisest of the wise” and could provide “clarity of sight”— I assume that this is the being that touched the mind of Cornelius instead of Pelor. I asked him, stupidly, if he knew how to call a celestial being to him, as I wondered if his divine magic had been effected as well. I did not ask him to call a creature, but I realized as I saw the mad glint in his eyes that it was exactly what he was going to do. Worse too, as the planar ally he called forth was not of Pelor, but some beast of a Chaotic bent.

I yelled for the temple guards and any clerics in the area to run and find my comrades as the amorphous mound in front of me began to ooze forward, ropey tendrils outstretched. Three guards came to assist me fighting it, in spite of my pleas for them to stay back. One guard was raked by a tendril and began to immediately melt into a formless, screaming blob of flesh. Cornelius stood behind it, cackling and capering the whole while. I finally killed the chaos beast, and yelled at the remaining guards to catch Cornelius, who was obviously too dangerous to leave unattended. While they pondered which of us to listen to, Cornelius ran out a back door and was gone. They did follow at that point. I turned to see that the fallen guard was now just a formless mass, and yelled again for a cleric to help— this time to see if they could restore him to his former self. A cleric named Tomas ran in to help, but as he did, we both realized that there was no help for the guard “Lenny,” as he was now a chaos beast himself. The creature tried to grapple with Tomas, leaving me sufficient time to dispatch it as well. Thankfully, Tomas did not turn into a spawn of the creature too!

The guards returned shortly to tell me that they’d lost Cornelius somewhere in the city. I then had to explain to the guards and Tomas that I was not in charge in the temple, and asked Tomas to take over Cornelius’ duties until things could be straightened out. He suggested that the actions of Cornelius pretty much made it clear that we needed a Sacred Exorcist, and Tomas thinks I am a candidate for that task— that is about the closet to a church blessing I’ll get on the subject right now! Moments later, Fafnir showed up, either on his own or from my frantic summons, I didn’t ask. He found me with the confused guards and clerics, looking at two big dark greasy blobs on the otherwise unmarred floor of the temple.

We went and found Aramil and Ghelt ourselves, and have yet to catch up with Pockets. No one has seen Valon. Too many terrible things are happening at once, and we need to figure out where Durll is, and if he is behind all of these horrible events.

Posted by Kristin on November 5, 2003, 16:51

Faulty Towers

Waterday, Wealsun 5, 592 CY

At Ghelt’s insistence, we stopped at the Silver Dragon Inn and had dinner. Even though I don’t really need to eat anymore, it’s a nice diversion and it gave us a moment to catch our collective breath. Better still, Pockets eventually found us. Ghelt leaned over and whispered a startling, yet very simple suggestion that took care of my problem of having to get the Sword of Pelor back to return to Pelor next time it is asked of us. I tried the new “Please may I have it?” approach. Pockets gave me a big grin and handed it right over.

I assured him that I would stick with him and make sure he didn’t regret not having “instant healing” on our travels. It is hard to “stick” to someone who can hide so easily and move so quietly! Of course, I am assuming the next celestial we contact will ask for it as well, or I am in an awkward position, for I really have no other way of “returning” the sword! (Until then, it will only be used as a last resort.)

I also offered to try to raise his cleric friend in the morning, but he said the fellow had already been buried, and that we had to leave Greyhawk right away. Apparently, Durll is the leader of the local Assassins’ Guild and had taken up a war with the local Thieves’ Guild (which I’m guessing Pockets is a member of) and very likely is here to thwart our activities. We agreed to go, with the planned destination of Redcastle (I can contact a celestial for assistance there when we are ready for it)— my only request was that we leave from Pelor’s temple instead of the Inn, as I felt I needed to let Tomas know I wouldn’t be available and that there were other chaotic influences in town besides Cornelius.

It was only a few hundred yards down the darkening streets to reach the temple. Pockets lingered behind us, obviously worried for our safety, when he suddenly yelled, “Run!” Of course, we don’t all react to “run!” the same way. Aramil and Fafnir were already further ahead and did run towards the temple. Ghelt and I looked back and saw a shadowy figure between us and Pockets, which then ducked down an alley. I went to cast a “light”— Ghelt shoved me towards the temple as well, but my light spell lit up the area. Unfortunately, only enough light to see Pockets— who went down by a poisoned crossbow bolt seconds later. Ghelt gave me a look that promised she’d take care of Pockets and another shove in the direction of the temple, so I went and waited at the door. I heard her tell Watch to “attack!” at which Watch darted into the alley with a yelp. Ghelt healed Pockets as well as she could quickly, and slung his nearly-unconscious body over her shoulder and headed towards us. By the time she reached us and lowered Pockets to the floor for me to heal (thank Pelor my light didn’t cause his death!), Watch was scampering up the steps of the temple, and there was not a single scratch on her! I finished restoring Pockets to health while Ghelt gave the happy puppy a tummy rub.

I got up to tell Tomas of our plans to leave as he strode into the main hall, with my apologies that I would have to leave while they were searching for Cornelius. He told me that Cornelius had already returned, but then admitted that Cornelius was now at large in the catacombs below the temple. I almost hesitated about going to Redcastle, but he assured me that they could handle that situation.

We immediately teleported to Redcastle, and Fafnir must have had very good directions, for we arrived right beside it. Ghelt, practical again, suggested that we find a place to rest for the night (for it was even darker here than it the City of Greyhawk). She and Fafnir decided the crumbling ruins of the gatehouse would be best, and he cast a spell giving us a rather comfortable furnished room to spend the night in. Thankfully, the night was uneventful.

We awoke and I provided a Heroes’ Feast, after which Fafnir dismissed the shelter. Pockets asked me to look for magic in the ruins of Redcastle’s foundation. As we stepped out of the gatehouse, we could see the ruins more clearly— there were skeletons hanging from the remaining ramparts (which Pockets will want to cut down for a proper burial, but we want to wait to do that so no one passing by notices a difference and comes investigating). Most of the eastern side of Redcastle looked completely ruined, while the northwest tower looked fairly intact and the southwest one was only partially ruined.

As Ghelt, Aramil and I were “sweeping” the courtyard and foundation of the ruined manor house for possible signs of an iron flask, Fafnir and Pockets decided to check the northwest tower. We turned back to look for them when we heard a scuffle and some mumbling from Fafnir about “phase chickens.” We found them being attacked by three spiders that were phasing in and out of the skirmish. Aramil and I shot arrows into one, and I saw Pockets skewer one with his rapier. Fafnir’s fireball took out the last one, and hit a few other things in the tower. Pockets then found eight cocoons in the tower, which turned out to be dead orcs, each with 8 silver pieces on them. Fafnir figured they must have been caught on “pay day.” I saw that Aramil had somehow ignited, apparently too distracted to notice it himself, and I cast “Create Water” to douse him.

Pockets saw some daylight at the top of the tower and decided to climb up the rickety stairs. Since we obviously didn’t know what would be up there, I elected (to his dismay, I think) to follow him up the wall using my new “Slippers of Spider Climbing.” They work! Unfortunately, Pockets must have hit a loose or rotting board and began to fall. I am not sure if he would have regained his own balance, but since my hands were free thanks to the slippers, I reached out to catch him. I did, but I wasn’t really strong enough to do more than fall with him. We repeated a similar stunt at each level until we landed with a thud at the bottom. While I feel that he was safer for having me with him, I think he feels that I’m impeding his progress somewhat. I did promise to look out for him though, so I will have to try and determine a way to do that while allowing him room to “work.”

While we were dusting ourselves off from our quick trip back down the tower, Fafnir was calling us all over to investigate what may be the way in to the cellars or dungeon below Redcastle. Hopefully there won’t be anything too difficult about finding this flask, but somehow, I doubt this will be the case!

Posted by Kristin on November 11, 2003, 19:54

The Persistence of Pockets

Waterday, Wealsun 5, 592 CY, continued

Ironically, the fact that Pockets gave me the Sword of Pelor to carry facilitated his survival today.

We went down the steps that Fafnir found into the first of several connected underground rooms. Pockets elected to sneak ahead without me, insisting that he didn’t need his own “personal cleric” to survive. Aramil must have been worried, as he had Pockets carry Jacob so he could send back “toad signals” if he needed us to find him quickly. A few short hallways later we caught up to him in a room filled with stone statues of orcs in various poses, a torch burning in each corner, with a table holding the remains of a very old meal. The fact that the orc statues looked so lifelike, coupled with the expressions on their carved faces, led us to believe that they had started out as real orcs and were somehow turned to stone. Pockets started around the room laying them down, in case they came back to life, he didn’t want them attacking us immediately.

The room also had two doors. While Ghelt and Fafnir studied one that had what must have been protective wards written on it, Pockets opened another door, with Aramil looking over his shoulder. Pockets promptly turned to stone, providing the necessary clue as to what had happened to the previous occupants. Aramil shouted to us— thankfully I didn’t catch the eye of the snake-bodied Medusa as she shot us with arrows, though I felt a chill when her gaze passed over me. A few well-placed hits with a ranged attack (including a fireball from Fafnir and a flame strike from me) and she fell over dead. Aramil was trying to figure out how to get his poor toad out of Pockets’ now-stone pocket, and Fafnir lamented the lost of the treasure in the room beyond the medusa’s corpse. He managed to salvage one large melted gob of gold and platinum coins, in addition to the weapons and one scroll found on the snaky corpse.

As for Pockets, well, I think Aramil was going to try and fit him into a bag of holding until we could find a way to turn him back to flesh and fix the damage he sustained from the fireball, but I realized we had an opportunity to give back the Sword of Pelor and save Pockets at the same time. With the unanimous agreement of the rest of the party (sans Pockets, who obviously couldn’t vote), I summoned the avoral Yasmin to us, presented him with the sword, and explained our situation. He picked up Pockets and disappeared, returning momentarily with a slightly-dazed Pockets, fixed as good as new. Yasmin then took the sword and departed.

Pockets seemed none the worse for wear; in fact, he didn’t seem to recall much, including how Yasmin had saved him. I wanted to discuss it with him in detail, but we still had a lot of searching to do.

We finished up on the first floor, finding another group of stone orcs in their bunk room (and 6 trunks full of really stinky clothing), a storage room filled with useless goods, and sadly, a stone elf in a dungeon cell. We really fretted over how to deal with that, but we are not really equipped to carry him or change him back to flesh.

We went down a staircase we’d found beyond a warded door in the medusa’s room, and found ourselves in a very large chamber guarded by two stone minotaurs. Pockets was checking the room for traps, but of course, his ability to hide in plain sight makes it impossible to follow him. Aramil gave up looking for him and decided to cross the cavernous room alone. He made it halfway across before we heard a “click” where he’d stepped. A gate came down, cutting Fafnir off from us, as he had not yet left the stairwell we’d walked down. Almost instantly, the stone minotaurs began to move forward to attack! One seemed very easy to hit (and as it turned out, this one actually wasn’t moving— it just had an illusion cast on it), but the other resisted all of our attacks. Magic had very little effect on it, and arrows and weapons bounced right off of it. Ghelt waded in to attack it with her frost sword, but it hit her so hard she actually fell. I dragged her to relative safety while Aramil tried hitting it with Ghelt’s dropped sword, with no better success. We tried to scramble to the stairs, as Fafnir had disintegrated the gate. Pockets saved the day by dropping several bags of marbles on the floor— we were able to get passed them, but the golem actually lost its footing and fell, leaving us enough time to get past, up the steps, and to close the warded door again. Everyone is quite bruised and battered— after healing the party, we’ll need to rest a while before trying that room again.

Posted by Kristin on November 27, 2003, 13:33

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Earthday, Wealsun 6, 592 CY

Shortly after we sat down to rest, a little clarity came to me and I realized I could transform the elf in the cell back to flesh. We went and did so. Unfortunately, though he transformed back, he was apparently dead. I cast “speak with dead” on him, more or less to find out who he was and how he’d come to be there. His name was Thereval, and he had been a high elf ranger from Greyhawk. His party had been killed fifteen miles south of Redcastle by orcs, who for some reason, dragged him back to the ruins. Already dying, the last thing he had seen was the surprised looks of horror on the faces of his captors as they met their fate, and of course, the gaze of the medusa. Asking him if he wished to be raised, he said that he did not— he was at peace.

Our night was uneventful and we tossed around ideas on how to pass the stone minotaur during our breakfast. We then tried several things: Pockets used marbles, and then a weasel from his bag of tricks to distract it (all flattened by the golem). We wanted to get it out from the stairs it was guarding so that Fafnir could disintegrate the floor under it. It refused to budge. In the end, Ghelt just kept hitting it with her sword (while I kept healing her wounds from the monster’s retaliatory punches) until it finally crumbled and fell. I found an iron key in its hand, which I gave to Pockets. He immediately chose the door across from the stairs. I suggested, since the Medusa did not seem to phase Aramil at all, that he be the one to look first. Aramil reported that he a saw another stairwell going down.

We followed the stairs down into a small hallway with three benches and two torches, and a door with no hinges. Fafnir plopped down on a bench while Pockets looked at the door. We heard a “click” from under Fafnir. Pockets saw mechanisms under each bench— before we could figure out if they were a trap, Fafnir had moved and sat on each of the other benches. They both “clicked,” and then the door clicked open as well.

We moved through the door and into a passage with an iron plate covering a good portion of the floor. Pockets deftly leapt over the plate— unfortunately, the trap was the stone on the opposite side. It tipped and dropped him below the plate and onto several spikes. Fafnir flew over and dropped Pockets’ “everburning rope” down to him to climb up. Pockets looked severely drained. I did what I could for him, promising to heal him completely as soon as I could.

Apparently the damage to Pockets was more than physical— his wits seem to have departed as well. We came to a door which he opened— the room contained a few columns, and a tentacled creature sticking out of a well in the center. Fafnir cast a spell at the creature, and Pockets spun around and shot an arrow at Fafnir! I was worried that Fafnir would retaliate, and Aramil and Ghelt realized that Pockets was not thinking clearly— they kept him occupied while we finished off the creature, at which point Pockets was in control of his faculties again. He climbed down the well and found a spear. I cast a detection spell on it— it radiated magic, as did the bow we’d taken off the medusa.

His confidence returned, Pockets led us into a small room through a door off this room. As we followed him through, he tested the door on the opposite side of the room— the door we had walked through was cut off by a divider that dropped behind us (with Fafnir still on the other side), and the room began to quickly fill with water. A huge water elemental appeared as well, and hit Ghelt so hard I saw her going under. In a panic, I yelled to Fafnir and he destroyed the new blockage. Rather than try to find Ghelt under the still rising water or risk the water elemental hitting her again, I used a word of recall to take us safely to the temple of Pelor in Greyhawk. We appeared soaked as gasping in the vestibule. I helped heal Ghelt, and asked for the clerics to restore Pockets’ wits. They hesitated, as Pockets is not a worshipper of Pelor, but he quickly donated 500 gold pieces, which the clerics greatly appreciated— they restored him on the spot. I must say, that’s not how we help people in Smallville, but I suppose in a bigger city it is expected that one would seek help from their own church. I asked for Tomas, but he was down in the catacombs. Fafnir wanted to get back to that water creature apparently, as we were suddenly teleported back to Redcastle, the gnome grumbling that we had to walk all the way back down to that chamber. We noticed that the floor was damp throughout that level.

Oddly, as we walked back in the water elemental’s room, Pockets did the very same thing to the door as he had the past time, and the water started to pour in again, along with the water elemental. This time, I cast a banishment spell on it, which thankfully worked— though I am not sure if it was the fear of Pelor’s sun symbol, or of the bar of soap I was brandishing, that allowed me to dismiss it. Here is hoping that tampering with the door won’t produce an endless supply of elementals, as I’m not equipped to deal with another, and swords and arrows don’t seem to do too much damage to a water creature....

Posted by Kristin on December 2, 2003, 18:27

Through the Looking Glass

Earthday, Wealsun 6, 592 CY, continued

Apparently, Pockets got caught in another trap and went down a water slide as I was banishing the water elemental. Fafnir cast a spell to see what was where Pockets was last seen— he saw a latch on the other side of a trapdoor with a wet chute. No Pockets. We got Watch to use mage hand to prop the trapdoor open; Aramil then used his rapier to prevent it from closing. Of course, he now has a much shorter rapier. I used a sending spell to see if Pockets was even still conscious, as it was taking us way too much time to get the trapdoor to stay open. His only reply was to drop down 500’ of rope. We didn’t have that much rope, so we took Fafnir’s lead and all hopped on the chute ourselves.

After a plunge downward for a space of several seconds, we came out in a cavern with 3’ of water in it. Fafnir (who must have been treading water) saw two sets of “holes” 18” apart going up the far wall. Pockets and I went over and checked the wall— the holes went up to the ceiling. We couldn’t see a door, but we pushed on the ceiling where the holes led and opened a trapdoor. We found a 15’ ladder resting in a corridor and lowered it down for our companions. Our collective guessing determined that we were about 385’ below where we had started out.

We walked down the corridor about 50’ and came to a large chamber containing four doors and a portcullis. And then, ouch! another door, right where I had been standing. I jumped into the chamber with Pockets, while the rest of the party was stuck on the other side of the trap. Fortunately, my friends were able to cast spells through the bars of the door, for a basilisk came out from behind the portcullis, intent, no doubt, on petrifying the lot of us. Fafnir summoned some dire bears (which had some decidedly unnaturalness about them— I think I saw tentacles). The bears fought the basilisk until it died, and then the bears just went back to wherever Fafnir summoned them from. Pockets set to work opening the various doors in the room. In turn, we fought off a fire elemental, an earth elemental, a water elemental and an air elemental. Investigating the area behind where the basilisk had appeared revealed two short corridors ending in steel mirrors. Each elemental’s door also provided us with a short corridor ending in three steel mirrors each— fourteen mirrors in all.

We tried various things to smash the mirrors— suddenly Fafnir stuck his head through one and reported seeing a silvery corridor beyond it. Pockets decided to walk through one of the mirrors beyond the fire elemental’s passageway. After letting Fafnir and Ghelt know what we were up to, Aramil and I followed Pockets, both of us worried that he was getting into trouble where we couldn’t see (and help) him.

We followed the trail of items Pockets had purposely dropped in the silvery hallway. We walked through an area that looked like a tomb, and another that looked like a finely decorated hallway with a desert landscape theme. I intended to go back a ways and find Fafnir and Ghelt, when suddenly I saw Pockets in front of me! I had just left him, so I turned to look behind me and I could see Pockets and Aramil down the hall. Suddenly the Pockets beside me took a shot at the pair behind me. As I attempted to grapple the Pockets impersonator, I felt the sting of Aramil’s arrow hit me from behind. I turned back to yell at him in time to see a second Aramil begin to attack him! Pockets II got away from me, so I used my favorite elf-fu maneuver on him and brought him down. As I was trying to subdue him without causing harm (after all, we needed to know what was going on!), my own doppelganger arrived and used a flame strike on us. Pockets II took the brunt of the spell and died. Dru II continued to attack, while the forms of Fafnir and Ghelt (the real ones?) arrived in the hallway....

Posted by Kristin on December 12, 2003, 16:30