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September 8, 2005


K'ehleyr's Journal

Someone had mentioned getting a drink at the tavern, so we were walking over a skybridge, the evening rain warm and steady. To our surprise, there was a body on the bridge ahead, still freshly bleeding! I checked for a pulse, but the elderly human was already dead. Gib checked the man’s possessions, while Jak whistled long and loud for the town guard. Gib was showing us the man’s ID - provost of the university, professor of some ancient studies - when I became aware of someone climbing over the railing beside us. Whomever it was carried a battleaxe and charged at us, ignoring Jak’s shouts to stop and identify itself.

Gib got out of the way while I pulled out my sword - imagine, battle in the middle of the city! - and Jin waited for its charge, while Jak tried to trip it with her whip. “It” turned out to be a warforged, which attacked without a word. Jin and Gib tried to help me fight, while Jak made as much noise as posible between singing and whistling (she got plenty of attention from the locals trying to sleep, as windows shot up all around!). I swung at the thing, connecting over and over again, and dropped it at my feet just as the town guards finally arrived on the scene. To my surprise, a tiny winged thing detached itself from the warforged’s chest and flew off into the night, too fast for any of us to catch!

Next thing, of course, the town guard levelled their crossbows at us and demanded that we drop our weapons and explain the mess. Jak talked fast, handing over her ID, and then the dwarf in charge demanded all of our papers. All I had were my travelling papers, which upset them. What have I needed ID for before? Either one knew who I was, or I told them. Apparently, that’s not enough around here. I kept my mouth shut, however, and Jak vouched for me. When some of the locals came forward to confirm her story, the guards relaxed and even gave us two gold pieces each in thanks for our assistance. Two gold pieces, apparently, are also what I need for one of these “ID”s. I’ll get one in the morning, rather than worry my companions again.

Leaving the situation in the Watch’s capable hands, we headed on to the bar. Before we reached it, however, a cloaked figure emerged from the darkness and approached us! Jak again asked for ID, and it showed her a ring, which apparently was good enough for her. The unknown person asked us to meet at the Broken Anvil tavern at dawn, to learn more about the murder we’d so nearly witnessed. Personally, I’d think it’s the Watch’s business, but it may lead to interesting things...

At the bar, it turned out that Gib had rifled the professor’s pockets quite thoroughly. He’d also taken everything off the warforged that he could, and went through it all at the bar. He used the money he’d found to pay for our food and drinks, at least! The rest? An apple, a quill, ink, and paper, and a strange little book with a mithril-threaded symbol on the cover and blank pages that had a funny feel to them. Jak said there was magic on the book, and Jin suggested taking it to his brother in the morning. His brother teaches spellcasting and may be able to help... which turned into a discussion about what changelings “do”. Jin morphed into a copy of me and got the evil eye from the bartender while I laughed - too bad he can’t fight like me in that form, too!

Gib crashed at Jin’s place, while Jak was kind enough to put me up at her family compound. I really hadn’t thought about how large this city would be, and I was very relieved to find that there was stabling for my horse, Huerga. In the morning, we all met at the Broken Anvil. We were greeted by a halfling, who asked us what we needed? - “Breakfast!” We answered, and she led us to a table where a person was already seated. “Your guests have arrived”, she said, and we found ourselves seated with a very noble-looking human woman. Over drinks, she explained that she and the professor had been looking for a family heirloom of House Cannith. The professor thought he’d found it’s location, but now he was dead.

She hoped we’d take up the job of finding it, although it would be much harder without the book the professor had been carrying... so, after much glaring and kicking under the table, we got Gib to give up the book! Sure enough, when her ring got near the book, they both began to glow, and writing appeared on the pages. The food arrived, and we ate breakfast while she scanned the pages (and Gib sulked at us all). Finally, she told us what she’d learned: the heirloom, an adamantium plate the size of your hand in the shape of a seven-pointed star, is fifty-seven levels below one of the city’s great towers, in an ancient foundry. We’ll get a thousand gold pieces and the goodwill of the House if we can find it! She handed us a hundred gold and a map to start with, but kept the book, much to Gib’s dismay.

Jin then asked about who owns anything else we might find while hunting around in the depths, and the Lady reassured us that all the family wants is the seven-pointed star. She did warn us that someone called the Lord of Blades also wants the heirloom, and probably sent the warforged we’d encountered. We thanked her for the warning and headed off to get supplies for our trip. Several days’ rations, weapons permits, and ID for me - they even painted an image of me on it! Finally, we followed the map into the depths of the city.

I was glad to be well-cloaked, I won’t deny it! Jak, too, wrapped herself up well. As we descended, the place got darker, drearier, and smellier. The people became more ragged, and garbage was everywhere. It took a moment for me to realize that some goblins were actually selling the stuff to others! The map led us to a cavernous room, and ended at something called “E213”. When we looked around, we saw nothing... so Gib, a goblin himself, worked his way through the crowd to ask a goblin garbage seller what or where E213 might be found. Unfortunately, Jin was not far behind...

The crazy changeling didn’t give Gib a chance to do things quietly; he held up a gold piece - gold! - and demanded that the goblin tell him where to find E213 and he’d get the gold, but if he didn’t, he’d get a sword! Instantly, he was surrounded by the goblin’s friends, daggers drawn. Gib ran away without looking back, and Jak and I turned and walked away as fast as we dared as well. Jin kept right on chattering, even got a doorway pointed out as the place to find E213, threw his gold to the goblin and started walking. Jak and I kept going the other way, listening to the crowd in case someone mentioned anything useful. No one did, but Jin noticed that he’d lost the rest of us. Naturally, he tried to draw us into his suicidal grasp, calling our names out loud and running after us both! We acted like we didn’t know him but he would not take the hint - not even after I grabbed him by the throat and bounced him against a wall.

I suddenly understand why people don’t like or trust changelings. This Jin must want to die.

While Jin was blathering on about how we take life too seriously, Gib reappeared and distracted me from contemplating whether the Watch would care if I offed the changeling in these regions. Gib said he’d been watching the doorway and had arranged things so that we could safely descend, despite Jin. He also said there were two more changeling shifters who had entered the doorway before us, so we were prepared for trouble as we walked through the entry and stepped down a staircase.

The sound of falling water was deafeningly loud, but it did little to dispel the stench of the sewers. Gib waved at us to wait at the bottom while he snuck around the corner to check the place out. He soon returned and waved us on, then had us stop a second time. This time, he looked up and threw a dagger at a shape above us, which dropped down and attacked us with a rapier! I managed to work my way through the others and attack it, but it tumbled away and Gib and I followed it into another room. The first creature turned out to be a warforged, which Gib killed (another small winged thing detached from its chest and flew away), but the two shapeshifters we’d been warned of now approached and attacked.

I ended up fighting them both for a moment - when, suddenly, a valve opened in the room and water smashed into the shifters, knocking them down. Jin managed to kill one, I killed the other, and I sat down to catch my breath while Gib looted the bodies. I got a second dagger out of it, at least. We moved on, carefully checking the various passages and rooms for the mysterious E213. Finally, we saw a blue glow... and found a large door, with the same ancient symbol as the journal glowing on it! Gib looked it over, musing out loud that we should have the journal or the signet ring to match the symbol, then tried to open it. He set off some kind of trap!

Three acid orbs struck us, ouch! Then, Gib and Jin got into an argument about how to open the door. Gib tried again, while Jak and I backed around a corner. Sure enough, it went off again, this time injuring Jin enough to drop him to the floor, barely breathing. Jak tried to read the runes, but came to the same conclusion as Gib - we need to head back up to the Broken Anvil and ask for something with the symbol on it. We could use a little healing, as well. After all, I’m not about to kill Jin when he’s unable to defend himself properly...

Posted by Kate at 21:14 | K’ehleyr’s Journal


K'ehleyr's Journal

We climbed back to the market, hauling the semiconscious Jin. Gib fast-talked us through the crowd, and Jak cast something that cleaned us all off quickly - many thanks, Jak! We walked back to the Broken Anvil, keeping an eye out for a house of healing. We found one, and it was open! We paid for healings, discovered that Jin had “lost” his coin pouch (surprise!), and chipped in to pay for his healing as well. The hostess at the Broken Anvil was happy to sell us another meal, and helpfully found a messenger to take a note to the Lady at House Cannith while we ate. We then went to our various resting places.

The next morning, we met at the Anvil, and found a package with the journal and a note asking us to return it when we’re done. Some of the pages now stay visible, so Jak read them while we ate breakfast. Jin went off to “change” and returned as a half-elf named Enaliis or something. We descended to the same place as the previous day, finding the market gone and the room empty. The stairs were still smelly and loud, but no one attacked us this time! The bodies were gone, too... and the glowing blue door did not react to the presence of the book.

After some time and much talk, I offered to try actually touching the door with the book - and everyone else scattered! Thank the ancestors, when I touched the door with the book, the sigils matched up and the door swung open without incident. The others looked around the corner, and I looked inside the door.

There was a passage, about five feet across, and full of crawling bugs. It went straight up and down as far as the eye could see. I looked for a ladder - found the rotted remains of supports, but it was gone long ago. I found out that goblins have a taste for centipedes, as Gib picked through the bugs... then offered to go ahead and climb down our ropes as far as they reached. Off he went, despite Jak and Jin’s help, and I held the rope until he slowly climbed back to us. He said that the shaft went down even further than our ropes tied together, but the sides are rough enough to climb down slowly. So, I took his armor to lighten his load, and we all set off down the shaft.

Five hundred feet down, and the shaft began to angle. We balanced carefully, and continued. After what seemed like forever, the shaft leveled off and Gib was able to re-don his armor. Quietly, we set off down the tunnel, Gib leading well ahead of the glow from Jin’s lantern. After walking a while, we all heard an “oof”! We hurried up and found the tunnel ended in a dropoff, exiting into a large cavernous room full of ruined buildings and the sound of slithering and chittering. There was a six-foot drop to the floor, and no sign of Gib. Not for long. Suddenly, Gib came screaming out of the darkness!

Without a second thought I threw myself down at the edge of the tunnel, holding my hands down to grab Gib and swing him up to us. As he leaped for my hands, I could see a swarm of bugs following him in a wave by the glow of Jin’s lantern! Poor guy... he crawled right into my backpack while Jak and Jin made an oil bomb to prevent the bugs from swarming up into the tunnel after him. As they smashed it below us, he threw a finger at the bugs - I know THAT wasn’t in my pack! - screaming about Bad Things. Apparently, there were too many to eat.

Jak and Jin tried whipping and slinging at the bugs, but anything they killed was quickly replaced by more. Gib and I looked out into the cavern at the buildings and ceiling. Gib tried climbing along the wall, finding it rough enough to do so safely, and headed off toward a ruined wall while we watched. The swarm followed along beneath him but was unable to climb, thank the ancestors! Plus, by the time the fire burnt itself out, the swarm had dissipated. I don’t know what set it off, but we were able to drop down to the floor unmolested. Carefully, we picked our way around the rubble to Gib.

He was looking out over the cavern, and described seeing a less-ruined building, so we followed his lead. We were almost there when two giant rats came around a corner and advanced on us. The things had bony armor, and caustic saliva dripping from their jaws. One leapt at Jin, Jak whipped at it, Gib dropped his rope and a pot (which would have made me laugh any other time, I thought he was joking about dropping heavy things so as to fight more effectively!), and we attacked the second rat together. Next thing I knew, Jin was trying to hide from the rat attacking him - behind me! As he dropped to the floor, Jak kept up her attack, and when Gib and I killed ours I was able to turn and attack the second easily.

Unfortunately, Jak ended up on the floor, too, before I could kill the second rat. Gib and I found ourselves dragging Jak and Jin to the less-ruined building, hoping we could block ourselves in long enough for them to recover. The building’s outer walls were highly decorated, making it look like a temple. The ceiling was collapsed inside, but there was still some peaceful power within the walls. Gib blocked up the door a little against the bugs, we set Jak and Jin against a wall, and we took a quick look around. Gib found a font, with a little liquid left in the bottom. Hoping against hope, he scooped some into Jak’s mouth - and her wounds healed! She was soon awake, and we used the rest on Jin to get him back on his feet as well.

Jak was able to identify the place as the temple of the god of the foundry, which led us to hope we were in the right place to find the seven-pointed star. The temple itself was empty, so Jak set a detect magic spell on herself, and we began to search the rest of the buildings. We found two more tunnels out, and, finally, another building that was still whole - and its doors still closed! The symbol etched on the doors matched the book’s, but we couldn’t get it unlocked. Gib climbed onto the roof, however, and found another way in: a hole had been smashed in the roof, ages ago. He could see “bad puppies” roaming around inside, but it seemed our best bet, so we all climbed up after him.

We could see a big furnace and forge at one end of the room, and things on shelves all around the walls. Sure enough, there were two dog-shaped constructs roaming around, growling at Gib when he chucked rocks at them. We tried a few things to deal with the dogs - first, lowering Gib on a rope (quickly hauling him up when the dogs charged), then, usnig him as bait so Jin could lasso one when it went for Gib (which didn’t work, the dog bit through the rope and dropped to the floor again). The dogs learned fast, refusing to come close enough to be shot at or roped, but waiting out of range for us to hit the floor.

Finally, Gib stayed on the floor, holding out the book with its symbol while I lowered Jak. No luck - he was attacked as soon as he looked away from the dogs. Jak was there to help, and I lowered Jin as fast as I dared, then pulled the rope up and thought about how to get to my associates without falling on my head. Finally, I tied the rope to the handle of my scimitar, balanced it across the opening, and lowered myself into the thick of the fighting. This left me with just a dagger to fight with, but better than nothing! Jin was already out on the floor. Again. Jak killed a dog, but Gib went down, and I helped Jak kill the last dog. I was able to stop Jin’s bleeding, and we found different shapes popped out of the dogs’ heads that matched holes in the front of a vault in the foundry. We cleared stones off a third dog that had been crushed by the ancient ceiling fall, and opened the vault.

Two sacks, four gold ingots, four vials, a fragile roll of parchment, and - the seven-pointed star! I put the plate in my pack, while Jak discovered that the vials were healing potions, and we got Gib and Jin back on their feet. The bags held ancient silver and gold coins - probably worth even more than usual due to their age and rarity. The ingots are probably worth fifty gold each as well, and the parchment looks like a map. Jin searched the room, and found weapons and armor wrapped in oilskins and still useable. Some of the armor fit Gib, and I decided to keep a masterwork mace (in case my scimitar is left on a roof again) and a sunrod (for when folks with me can’t see in the dark). I climbed back up the rope, and pulled everyone and the loot up onto the roof.

We had just reached the floor again and were ready to head back to the surface and House Cannith when a crossbow bolt bounced off the wall above our heads. A voice shouted out, telling us to give up the heirloom and no blood would be shed. Methinks I smell a battle brewing...

Posted by Kate at 21:24 | K’ehleyr’s Journal