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September 15, 2004

Must have gone the wrong way

Bryrgar's Journal

I walked west for several hours, my confusion about where I was only deepened. I was able to run into several farmers, mostly human, each one seemed to give me a different name for both this place and who was in charge. Strangely enough I don’t think any of them really cared.

Finally I reached a small town, hamlet really. Taking a look around, my throat dry, I decided to go to the nearest bar and get some thinking done. I took a good look around and noticed there was only one bar. One bar, this is uncivilized! Why the amount of different ales alone can not be held in one building. That is when I realized I was in one of the Nine Hells. I have heard of them, in detail from a handful of old warriors, although this does not look like any of their descriptions.

Well faced with continuing to walk or to go into this only bar, I did the only sane thing. Moments later while drinking back the first of a few, really weak, local ales I tried to strike up a conversation with the bartender. He told me the name of the town, but I decided not to remember, the next person will just have another name anyway. He did say that most of this area is simple farmers, and was asking if I was here to cause problems. I looked at my axe and promised him that the axe is not here for the farmers, and that I was a simple traveler just trying to find Dambrath.

The bartender laughed at me, and said you can’t get there from here. He went on to offer me some food and a room for a fair price, both of which I accepted. After finishing the meal at the bar, I decided to sit and do some thinking. I know where I want to go and what I want do, but now I realize that I may not be skilled enough to do it. My task may take far more time than I originally thought. How long must I let my friend sit in a cell, and how long will he be safe there?

I may have to find help, but I have not run into any dwarves here, and after discovering the true ruthlessness of some of my brethren, I feel I must begin to rethink my blind acceptance of the good will of dwarvenkind.

At least I do not have to go through my misery without entertainment, as I drink I become aware that other people have come into the bar. At first the halfling and gnome meant nothing to me, until the barbarians came in. A male and female barbarian of dark skin. Now, being no stranger to having fun or the antics of my smaller friends, I knew trouble would soon be at hand. Just then a female half-elf came into the bar, while not known for their humor, she was in uniform. I welcomed her to my hell and we drank together in silence.

Moments later the potato projectiles began. I watched the first volley with the town guard, we both turned back around to our beers. That is until the giant potato man appeared behind the barbarians. Now I have seen many gnomes and their illusions, but by Clangeddin’s beard I could not see any signs of this being an illusion. Before any sense of fear of this creature could set in, humor did. The two barbarians were trying to salt and eat the thing. Then the gnome got up from her table and went over to dismiss her illusion, in typical gnomish style. She said she was banishing the great potato, as if she was saving the two would-be victims of her gag. At least it was an illusion. Anyway, the two barbarians were now a bit upset, not for being fooled, but because their food was gone.

Then the halfling began clapping and ordered a plate of potatoes to be delivered to the barbarians. As the situation began to dull, I turned the half-elf and reconfirmed to her and me that I am in one of the Nine Hells. In return, she bought me a round and said, “Well, at least you don’t have to drink alone.” Hmm, maybe this is not one of the Nine Hells; they do have ale.

The evening passed with little interruption and I went up to my room to get some sleep. Now I have been away from the Citadel before, but never for long, so I am trying to remember all the stories from the adventurers I have met. I decided to sleep against the door. This was the first thing I did right, but in hindsight, I now know to keep my armor near by, if not on. During the night I was jarred awake by the noise of a door smacking my skull. I grabbed my axe and opened the door, nearly doubling over from the stench from the undead human trying to come through my doorway.

I would like to say it was my trained battle skills that made me launch my attack on the creature, but I am not so sure it could not have been from repulsion that I have never felt before. Now I have attended all the training the clerics offered on fighting undead, and I would like to say I even stayed awake through most of them. Divan Bouldershoulder, who taught me everything I know of undead, had the most monotone voice ever to exist in the Realms. My brother and I took it as a contest; whoever fell asleep first had to clean the house for a week. And mind you, the winner would always do his best to make plenty of messes.

Oh, back to the creature. So there I was in my nightshirt and axe, fighting this undead human who came to my door in the middle of the night, what a sight. I let out a shout to Clangeddin and began swinging my axe. It took a bit longer than I expected, but I did fell the creature. Before I succeeded though I heard other creatures in the hall, attacking the other guests. Also there was a ringing of thunder, great first bad ale and undead, and now it is going to rain on me. Maybe I dismissed this from being a hell too quickly.

Weakened badly from my battle I quickly reached or my holy symbol and with a quick heal to keep me on my feat, I turned my holy symbol on the undead. At this point there were at least two that I could see, and at least one more still in one of the rooms fighting its surprised occupant. Now, I am not really sure if I said the words properly, as they came out on their own, not really from my concentration, but one of the foul beasts did turn and begin to run.

The second one in the hall was being slain by the big male barbarian, who it appears does not sleep in a nightshirt at all. Deciding quickly to not let that one foul being escape I leaped into the hall and down the steps in my fiercest rage. Well it would have been my fiercest rage if not for the female barbarian. She had joined me in chase, and, well, umm, let’s just say she does not wear a nightshirt to bed either. Never the less there was a job to do. Down the steps and into the street we went after it, even being joined by the second barbarian. We caught the creature a good forty paces from the door (dwarf paces) and began cutting the thing down. As the creature fell, we all became aware that there were many more of these creatures attacking the town.

Just then that female guard from earlier appeared with a handful of others, they said they were going to make a stand at the temple. At about that time the halfling and gnome joined us also. The gnome had a strange staff in her hand, it seemed somewhat familiar, from an old story, but never mind, there was work to be done. With a quick glance at the eyes of the male barbarian, I told the half-elf that we would buy the villagers as much time to escape as we could.

We rushed up to a spot between buildings that we could hold for a while and began the battle. The halfling stood behind us and put his bow to work. Quickly we were swarmed by the undead. The two barbarians seemed to hold their side of the street fine, so I thought I would try to turn these foul creatures. Time and time again I tried. Finally I had to stop, drained by the effort and the beating I was taking from the creatures. I held my side of the street, but at a cost of nearly falling to them. I heard a call to begin retreating to the temple and slowly we began to back up. We fought the foul things all the way. The barbarians had tossed some oil on the undead and once near the temple they shouted this to the guards. Quickly a torch flew over our heads and flames engulfed them.

Once inside the temple, we were lucky enough to have some acolytes put some minor healing on us. The barbarians, unlike any I had ever met, began introducing themselves to each of us. I like them, although I can not place why. Perhaps it is their spirit, not once did they seem to panic or abandon the fight to save these people. People that like I, they probably did not know.

The halfling was just buzzing about, well, he is a halfling. But he too stood by us. Maybe I will do my best to assume him not a thief. But he is a halfling. The gnome while she did not fight with us seemed to be doing her best to help the guards. I guess as an illusion caster, undead were out of her area.

We did our best to rest until morning. The undead banged on the doors and walls all night trying to get in. In a quick discussion, more a meeting of looks than words, the barbarians and I agreed to go out at first light and fight some more. There were no other clerics to be found in this temple, although one paladin was present.

Just before dawn the pounding ended and the undead began to withdraw. We opened up the main door and took a look around. All of the undead seemed to be headed in one direction. One of the guards pointed out that it was the direction of the graveyard. Feeling this our best chance, the group of us from the bar headed out. All but me headed after some of the trailing undead, me, I had grown tired of walking around in my nighshirt and longed for the feel of my armor. I returned to the bar and quickly gathered my things and got ready. Soon I joined my new friends on a small rise at the edge of the cemetery.

In the cemetery were dozens of undead and a handful of captured villagers. Divan never mentioned this, not that I remember at least. There appeared to be a main creature leading them, it went to the first villager and put its hands on the person’s head. Seconds later the person screamed and fell dead. I had had enough of this; I began walking down to the undead. I did think the others would join me, and at first the male barbarian did. Charzth I think he called himself.

Thinking us all following the same keg, as my father always called it, I charged past the first undead to get closer to the surviving villagers. I had no doubt that my new friend would at least keep the other undead off my back while I plowed my way to the villagers. In a few moments I realized how wrong I was, for I found myself a good ten paces from the villagers and surrounded on all fronts by the undead. Charzth was nowhere to be found and the two little ones had backed up on the hill. I had no clue to where the female, Nosila, might be. At least I did catch sight of the paladin and a few of the town guards at the top of the hill.

Things were not going well for me, I was badly wounded and there were only two villagers left. When I saw the main creature take the life from one of the last two I decided that I had to push through to save the last, no matter my loss. With every ounce of my being I broke through the enemies surrounding me, charged through two more undead and attacked the main creature. It shall die here or I do not deserve the name Stonefist.

I landed a good shot on the creature gaining its attention. Just then out of no where Nosila appeared behind it and cleaved into it with amazing strength. Then everything went bright green for a minute. When I could see again I was standing a few feet from Nosila and the one villager we had saved. All of the undead had collapsed to their former states. I stood there for a few minutes, woozy from the loss of blood and still confused by the bright green light.

We were joined by the rest of the group from the bar and the guards. They explained that when the main creature was slain, a bright green light came out of it (knew that part) and then it rose up and flew off in the direction of some ruins. I offered my services in returning the bodies to their proper resting spots, and I spent the rest of the day helping re-bury the dead villagers.

Something tells me that when I stop for the night and return to the bar, the others will be waiting there. And I would bet a small fortune that the two barbarians have not had enough of this story, nor have I. I have a mission of my own to complete, but I can not sway my feelings of saving a friend over the need of these villagers. Whatever happened here was from those ruins, and unless we do something, it will be back.

Posted by Jim at 12:08 | Bryrgar’s Journal

Worst Midsummer’s Festival Ever!

Sprocket's Journal

Midsummer 1373 DR, Pommeville

In no time at all I was able to establish that I was in Pommeville, a hamlet with several hundred people, mostly farmlands, and near the River Scelptar. And, as I had assumed, not too far from the odiferous Lake of Steam. Poor Widget got one whiff and with a squeak burrowed down as far as he could in my backpack. Odd, he usually doesn’t mind bad smells.

Now that I think on it, I’ve never been anywhere where gnomes were not somewhere nearby, so I started to look for some. Perhaps the smell of the Lake is too much for them— the owners of the Green Griffin Inn, Jelanna and Roland Grimstead, tell me the closest gnome family is the Begleys, a half-day’s walk west of here, and the closest wizard, in a tower just outside of town, when he’s around at all. I was inclined to set off immediately towards one or the other, but the smell isn’t nearly as strong in the Inn, and Widget and I could use a meal anyway. As I sat eating, I noticed other patrons filtering in and out— some clearly were new to town, such as the glum-looking dwarf at the bar and the wide-eyed halfling that was simply not blending in, and some were clearly new to civilization in general. The “new to civilization in general” would be the pair of huge dark-skinned human barbarians that were not at all familiar with how eating utensils were used. The male of the pair (well, I’m assuming it was the male— he looked guilty) missed his mouth completely with a slab of potato that somehow managed to hit me. Just in case he did it on purpose, I had to respond in kind, and a moment later a 6’ tall potato man, with arms, legs and an attitude, was tapping the male on the shoulder. While it wasn’t meant to scare the humans, I would have been less surprised if they’d at least been wary of the mutant tuber, but instead, they attempted to carve it up with their hunting knives and eat it. I dismissed the spurious spud with a grand gesture— that seemed to illicit a response, at least— the halfling in the corner was clapping and ordering a round of potatoes as the barbarians made sounds of disappointment about the big one that got away. Making the new plate of potatoes wail, “help, don’t eat me!” only made the female giggle. Makes me wonder what kind of vegetables are available where they come from.

I saw that a half-elf dressed in town guard garb was sitting with the glum dwarf at the bar— I gave up on any chance of excitement presenting itself any time soon and headed up to my rented room.

The accommodations where human-sized, but comfortable enough. Widget and I settled in and got a few hours of sleep, when I heard what could only be a dwarven battle cry, and smelled, well, it made the Lake of Steam smell pleasant by comparison. Widget was already burrowing to the bottom of my pack by the time I got to the door to open it.

Phew! Seems the glum dwarf from the bar had attracted a zombie! He was grappling with an undead human in the doorway across from me, and another rotting creature was gaining entrance to the room next to his. I shot a magic missile at it, but it didn’t damage it enough— it clawed its way through the door.

Two very naked barbarians flew into the fray, dispatching at least one zombie as another, then another, appeared in the small hallway. Apparently the halfling was also a guest in Green Griffin, as I could hear him yelling something to the male barbarian. I attempted to shoot the undead thing in that doorway with my flintlock pistol, but I’ve yet to master aiming the darn thing. It made a wonderful noise though. Widget surfaced from my backpack briefly to spit a spare bullet into my hand and I attempted to reload and try again.

I missed the second time too, but someone else managed to take out the foul creature.

The hall was clearing out as the would-be heroes ran down the steps and out into the street. I grabbed my pack and followed, reloading as I went. The innkeeper, Randal, exclaimed as one of the zombies lurched towards us, “That’s my uncle— he died months ago!” At least a dozen more zombies were meandering through the streets, attacking villagers. The dwarf and the naked barbarians were engaging them directly, while the sensible halfling was lobbing arrows at them from a respectable distance. Thankfully, the authorities appeared with a plan of action. Since a large portion of the town guard (5 people) were insisting we’d stand a better chance making a stand at the town’s only temple, I willingly followed them, assuming that the others would break off and make a stand with us. I noticed that, though the halfling was making some small progress towards the temple, the rest stubbornly stayed within arm’s length of the undead.

The Shrine to Ilmater was— small. There were no clerics, which meant, no one to ask to kindly turn the undead back. There was a paladin (or as he prefers to be called, a Holy Warrior of Suffering) guarding the main entrance, as well as the half-elf from the town guard (whose name is Amber). A few adepts made up the remainder of the clergy. None of them had ever dealt with undead. Ah, well. They were going to get a chance, I feared, as the undead where heading towards us.

Eventually the others from the Inn made their way to the temple, and the adepts did their best to patch them up while the zombies clawed at the door. The clawing went on for hours, during which the barbarians, dwarf and halfling made small talk. The barbarians (now dressed) are Nosila and Charzth, recently from Chult; the halfling, Roscoe, wandered in from the Shaar; and the dwarf, Bryrgar, is actually now the only cleric in the town, though he’s guided by Clangeddin, not Ilmater. He hails from Citadel Adbar, which is even further away than Lantan. Strange, I get the impression they all simply walked here— hardly a proper method of traveling long distances!

I also got to hear some interesting events from some of the townfolk while the other out-of-towners chatted amongst themselves. About a week ago, a band of adventurers, led by a cleric named Giles, passed through on their way to examine some ruins on the outskirts of town. Giles was on a pilgrimage, following the path of one of his order that had passed through many years before. Of course, none of the townsfolk relating this to me knew what order the cleric was from. I also learned that the hamlet, though run by a mayor (absent from the temple), is under the “leadership” of one Malvis the Enchanter, whose tower is on the opposite edge of town from the ruins. Malvis, as is customary with wizardly adventurers, has not been seen around for several weeks, though his tower is safe enough from vandals.

Eventually, the pounding of the thwarted undead ceased, and we opened the temple doors a crack, in time to see the shambling horde wandering towards the town cemetery. Not having had enough of a beating the night before, the other out-of-towners, who I now realize I’ve been lumped in with as part of a new “band of adventurers,” decided to take one more crack at them on their home turf. At least this time the town guard, and the paladin, chose to go that way as well, so I went along too. Without a proper night’s rest my spells are all but useless, but I figured I could talk to a groundhog at the cemetery if no obvious clues to the goings-on with the undead presented themselves.

There were clues aplenty though. The zombies, with several captive townsfolk in their clutches, where gathering around one with a distinctly evil glint in its eyes. Before we could do anything, this undead overseer grabbed the head of one villager and the poor person’s head just disintegrated. As he reached for the next, several of us attacked at once. I got my one and only hit with a bullet— right in the evil thing’s face. It looked irritated for a brief moment then repeated its cranium crumbling on the next hapless villager. I saw Roscoe standing (wisely) behind Nosila as Charzth and Bryrgar attacked zombies directly. I ran up to stand behind her as well so I could reload my pistol with total cover, but a moment later she was sprinting clear across the graveyard. Roscoe and I were backing up as quickly as we could, when Nosila must have hit her mark— a burst of green light erupted from the lead zombie as it fell. As the light darted away to the ruins on the northeast edge of the hamlet, the other zombies all fell where they stood.

As we “adventurers” headed back to the inn for breakfast, I racked my brain for a reason to not just continue on to the Begley farm. I couldn’t come up with a good one, though I still hope to find a way to contact my family and Cognoggin soon, so they know I’m taking the scenic route home!

Posted by Kristin at 23:53 | Sprocket’s Journal