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January 1, 2005

What Could Go Wrong?

Roscoe's Journal

I remember standing inside the area where the barrier would be, and I remember the sun coming up. The next thing I know I’m in complete darkness. I hear the familiar voices of my companions around me, and someone creates a small light. I light my lantern and see we are in the crypt of what appears to be an elven tomb. From what my companions mutter around me I get the impression that we took care of the barrier problem and “restored” a timeline.

I decide not to dwell on it as we leave the crypt and find ourselves in a small clearing near some old ruins. I climb a tree and off in the distance I see the village. It seems a little cold to me, and we all get the impression several months have past since we entered the demiplane. We rested there for the night and walked towards the town in the morning.

We come upon a road several miles north of the village and as we get close I mention about looking around without being seen before we enter. It’s mentioned to me that we have a ring of invisibility on us and I readily take it. After some trial and error, we get it to work. I go invisible only to reappear moments later. Well, that won’t work, but I can sneak around. Bryrgar had some issue with that, but we convinced him otherwise. I was unseen the whole time. I saw many strange things of which I told everyone everything upon returning to the group.

It was decided we would use the back entrance to the evil temple. I scouted ahead a little, but was ambushed by some strange creatures. It was a good fight, and the ring came in real handy. Afterwards we decided to just hurry up and get to where we were going, and being as it was getting very dark Bryrgar took the lead. We reached the crypt and wad to fight off 2 shadowy things. I wanted to cover our tracks but there was no time for that.

We followed the hall down to the door that leads to the evil altar room, and I went invisible again to check it out. I saw 2 priests worshiping at the altar and I figured it would be easy to dispose of them. I know I could have gotten the others, but we had the element of surprise and I didn’t want to make our presence known just yet. Being as they were at the altar I figured the trap wouldn’t go off. I was wrong. As I got close to the priests, 4 skeletons appeared out of nowhere again. My companions must have heard the battle and came running in to help. It was over rather quickly and we headed down the secret stairs to the lich’s crypt. We fought bravely doing everything we could, but it didn’t take long for the massive number of undead, and the lich’s spells to overpower us. We came to in a cell chained to a wall. Now a geas is on us, and we have to go destroy another evil for this evil. What could go wrong next?

Posted by Fred at 20:18 | Roscoe’s Journal

January 23, 2005

Up a Tree

Sprocket's Journal

Uktar 17, 1373 DR, outside Thornhold

Someone decided binding Bryrgar as we were released from our shackles would guarantee his cooperation on the lich’s quest. He was the only one that didn’t seem to be compelled to do Nedrezzar’s bidding. I believe that the lich would have put him to work as a zombie though— the ones releasing us from our bonds looked familiar. I am sorry to say I recognized the half-drow child and his brother as they shuffled passed, and then I heard an anguished moan from Nosila as she learned that her husband had, in fact, come back to Pommeville— and was now part of the undead army himself. We tried to reassure her that it wasn’t really him anymore, just negative energy using his physical form, but well, I don’t really know anything about necromancy so for all I know Charzth is in there trying to break free, even though looked pretty vacant. Bryrgar says no one is in there though, and he’d know better. Nosila plans to destroy that zombie when we are back from our quest either way.

Roscoe managed to talk the lich into giving back our gear (including the stuff we liberated from his own tomb) and he even identified the stuff— I’ve been wearing bracers with an armor spell cast into them.

Roscoe, Widget, and I led a sobbing human and an irate dwarf out of the temple and towards Thornhold, the town down the river that we were to fulfill our quest in. I stopped in what was left of the marketplace to get some bullets for my pistol. The journey would be two days on foot or one day by river, so Roscoe insisted we take a boat— which meant we also had to get the dwarf into the boat. As we settled Bryrgar into the dinghy, he was saying some rather unkind things about what he planned to do to Roscoe when he was loose again. Widget hopped down from my backpack and squeezed behind the bound dwarf— so it was pretty obvious the dwarf would be loose before long. I now also know who has been feeding Widget between meals; Widget has always been a good judge of character, regardless of species.

As we floated downstream, I decided to try out the wand I’d found in Arania, but I’ve yet to figure out what it does. We noticed that the farms we were now passing looked much healthier than those nearest Pommeville, and many had at least begun their harvest. Nosila was quite distracted, so I didn’t bother attempting conversation. Roscoe was rowing the boat for all he was worth, as if he could row away from the angry dwarf.

I had to assume that Bryrgar was now loose from his bonds but biding his time, as Widget wandered out from behind him and climbed back in my pack. He seemed pleased and was grinding his little teeth. Uh-oh.

Suddenly, the dwarf made his move, but not being completely reckless while over a body of water, was unable to grab the halfling as he leaped over the side and began to swim to shore. Nosila was still coming to grips with her sudden unwed status, so I grabbed an oar and pulled the boat to the riverbank. We were just outside of Thornhold, but the sun was setting, so this was as good a place to camp as any. Roscoe had made his way along the bank and settled into a tree before Bryrgar reached him, so he was safe— for the time being. I cast an alarm spell around the camp, and let everyone else figure out who was keeping watch on what shift as I fell asleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night, the alarm rang out, and we all scrambled to get up. For a few seconds we didn’t see anything, and then this huge insect-like creature burrowed up through the ground in the middle of our camp! It bit into Nosila and began to pull her back underground. Bryrgar leaped in after her, though whether he was planning to heal her or beat up the ankheg wasn’t clear. I grabbed my pack (and Widget) and jumped into the gaping hole in the ground after them while Roscoe climbed down from the tree.

It was a lot darker down there! I had to cast an illusion of light to see by— after which I took a shot at the big bug-like monster. No luck! I tried the wand a few times, as well as various weapons, and just couldn’t hit the thing (I know I was aiming in the right direction though, as I managed to hit Bryrgar with a sling bullet). Roscoe was now down beside me, but the ankheg was dragging our companions backwards almost faster than we could move forwards. We had to do a full run to catch up, during which time I wondered briefly what could possibly scare off such a creature. Nosila had almost managed to get away once and Bryrgar cast some spell that seemed to irritate the thing; we were hosed down with acid for their efforts, before Nosila was grabbed again.

Finally the rage Chultean barbarians are best known for kicked in, which may have helped her break free (it was so hard to see what all was going on, even now that we were closer to the melee). That was the exact moment I figured out what would scare the thing off, and I cast a rather realistic-looking purple worm, complete with ominous sounds. I yelled to my friends that I was pulling a purple worm out of my backpack, hoping they wouldn’t waste their efforts attacking it. Bryrgar and Roscoe didn’t make the connection, and thankfully, neither did the ankheg, which took off quite quickly. As promised, I’d made part of the illusory creature look less than plausible, but they didn’t see the little banner on its tail until the entire image had passed. They scrambled back to the hole as I maintained the worm illusion a few seconds longer, and then hoisted me up. Bryrgar patched us up as best as he was able. Thankfully Widget hadn’t been splashed by acid.

We took a cue from Roscoe and decided to finish our rest in the tree— with the boat.

Posted by Kristin at 23:55 | Sprocket’s Journal

January 28, 2005

Confounded Halflings

Bryrgar's Journal

Things are a bit foggy, something is definitely wrong and I don’t know what. There is this pounding in the back of my head and a ringing in my ears. I feel that I am alive, and awake, yet I don’t have the energy to open my eyes. Slowly the aches and pains are registering. Oh yes, I was in a battle, but ... we lost.

Pushing through the cobwebs in my head I begin to do as I was taught as a pup; I began taking a physical inventory. Heart, lungs, eyes, ears, fingers and toes was the saying. The heart was easy; the pounding in my chest is still strong. I did my best to take a deep breath, only to have it cut short choking on the blood draining down the back of my throat. I think my nose has been broken. Can’t seem to breathe through it either. Those were the big two.

Eyes, drawing my all of my strength I manage to get them open a bit. I see shapes moving around, all is fuzzy though. Definitely broke my nose. No matter— the dizziness should end and my vision return. Ears, oh they seem to be working the best. I can hear that durn fool halfling. There is something moving also, but I can’t tell as to what. Fingers and toes, well that is odd. I can feel the pain in them but crap! I am chained to a wall.

As my energy is returning I do my best to conserve it; I need to think. Finally the lich lifts my head up and informs me that he knows I am awake. I look around and find the entire party is chained to a wall. At least they are alive.

The lich goes on and tells us he has a job for us; I then go on to tell him where he can go. But for some odd reason the rest of the group is agreeing with him. I put it in simple terms that I will not go performing tasks for no lich. That is when the frigg’n halfling and human begin discussing how they can tie me up and take me with them. I was in rage then, oh if I wasn’t chained to this wall I would teach them a thing or two about tying up dwarves.

Oh Great Silverbeard, now they are all in on it. Next thing I know I am tied and partially gagged, and to make matters worse the durn lich is laughing about it. He has put some spell on them to perform a task, and they figured out that once on the way, I won’t let them go alone. While doing my best to describe the pot of oil I am going to boil the halfling in, the three of them take me to town, then a boat! Oh Clangeddin, no dwarf deserves this!

The halfling, in an attempt to keep me from killing him, had mentioned that if we travel by boat, we can get farther quicker, and they can let me loose sooner. This will not be saving him from no woopin’ though. Soon we were off and I was off to letting loose my feelings about this entire situation. That is when my littlest friend came to my aid, Widget. The little feller snuck behind me and began chewing the ropes that had me bound. In mere moments he had me loose, although I held the ropes together with my hands. Widget went back to his backpack/home. I may be angry, but I am not stupid, I will wait till we are closer to shore, less water that way you know.

Finally the party reached a spot where they thought they could go ashore, and durned me for acting a little too quick. But, I let the ropes loose and went for Roscoe. It took longer to get loose and to him then I had thought and he jumped in the water to get away. I turned to Nosila for help getting the ship to shore and she jumped out as well. Come to think of it, I was a bit over the top with the threats while I was tied up. No, they deserved every threat, tying a dwarf up and putting him on a boat were things unspoken, things that you just don’t do.

At least Sprocket was clear headed, or just listening to Widget, but she guided us to shore— where I immediately went to chasing the wet Roscoe with my axe. Now I wasn’t going to kill him, just a few well placed brain-dusters. He went up a tree and stayed, well I couldn’t hit him, but this will have to do, so I sat at the bottom of the tree and began sharpening my axe.

I took the first watch once night fell— we shall need to keep a sharp eye out for we are very close to the town where demon thing is supposed to be. During second watch everyone was awoken by a spell of alarm that Sprocket had set. I was up and looking, Sprocket was up and looking, Nosila was up and on watch and looking, and Roscoe was up up, and looking. None of us saw anything.

Then it struck. From below Nosila’s feet came the mandibles of a ankheg, grabbing Nosila and heading back into its hole. These monsters my people know well, and unless we act quick we shall never see our friend again.

As the last of Nosila disappeared into the hole I ran and dove, luck was with us on this night as my dive landed me right on her side. Quickly I wrapped my left arm around her and tried to keep hold— these ankhegs can go quick. Then I alternated attacks on the beast and casting healing on her. After a good bit of fighting I decided to maybe slow the beast down a little so the others could catch up. With a smile on my face I summoned some help. Behind the ankheg a celestial badger answered my call. Oh, I wish my father was here to see the look on that beast’s face when the badger bit into its back end.

The battle raged on for what I began to think was too long, then suddenly a great purple worm appeared behind us. As was to our luck Nosila had just broken free of the ankheg when the worm attacked. I told Nosila to get to the side and I would try to hold it off, she was in fact looking very worse-for-wear. I got one or two swings in before leaping to the side to avoid its bite. For some reason this beast seemed more interested in chasing the ankheg than the easy meal of Nosila and I; it just passed us by.

As the last of the worm passed I saw something strange, it had a banner on its rear. Damned her, while she may have chased off the ankheg, Sprocket’s illusion almost made my heart stop. I was too tired and sore to do much about it. I gave her a few what-fors and accepted going back up to our camp.

Once back on the surface we decided to stay off of the ground. There was mention of climbing the trees and of getting back in the boat. I decided to combine the two— we hauled the boat onto land and tied it up like a fine hammock. We all climbed in and slept for the night, except for Sprocket who stayed up on watch, after telling us gnomes invented hammocks and boats.

Posted by Jim at 21:42 | Bryrgar’s Journal

January 30, 2005

Awfulness

Nosila's Journal

Let’s see... what do I remember? I’ve had such a horrible shock, everything’s gone wrong!

I remember we got out of the strange otherworldly kingdom, and found ourselves back near the lich-infested village, but several months later than expected. I was wondering what my husband was up to?

We walked into town, noticing that the fields were quiet, and most had crops rotting on the stalk. When we got to the village, we went to the shrine first, only to find it had been dismantled. We then saw that something was being built or rebuilt on the ruined tower hill above the lich’s lair. Well, it had several months to reform, so we shouldn’t be surprised!

Of course, we wondered and feared what had happened in the village itself. We’d been trying the winged creature’s ring of invisibility with no luck, but now, Roscoe set himself to find out the magic words in earnest. I found out that this can be quite painful for the user - boom! But Sprocket figured it out for him, and he ran off to the village. He went invisible for a little while.. then re-appeared!

Bryrgar was all for running down and telling him, but Sprocket and I talked him into waiting, hoping Roscoe would use his quick wits and the ring to return safely. Soon, he did - with tales of zombies, enslaved humans, and gnolls running the show. I felt terrible, even though we couldn’t have helped it; we were trapped on another plane while this went on!

Using one of Sprocket’s spells to be less noticeable, we headed through town ourselves. Unfortunately, Roscoe’s luck ran out and he appeared in front of a bunch of gnolls. Even though he disappeared quickly, the fight was on! We had a short but brutal battle with the guard unit, but managed to finish them all off before attracting notice.

We knew we had to get to the lich’s lair quickly, now! We could run for the building site, or hope that the tunnel from the graveyard was still there. Realizing the tower was swarming with life and unlife, we headed for the tomb. Of course, it got dark before we got there, and not all of the graves were empty! Bryrgar used his holy symbol to turn those zombies away, and opened the crypt.

I learned a few new dwarven curse words when the shadows themselves attacked us inside! Bryrgar was able to turn the things away again, and we all stepped inside, lit a torch, and headed through the secret door and down the tunnel. We reached the end that we remembered came out behind a statue in the upper altar room, and Roscoe peeped out through a crack. He suddenly went invisible...

We heard an attack and ran out to find that the halfling had tried to attack two priests praying at the altar, but the magically appearing skeletons had protected them! Everyone in the room piled into the fight, using everything at hand. Magical spider bites are nasty. My mace was much nicer, but I couldn’t seem to hit anything with it! Finally, we cleared a way to the altar, and descended the secret stairs.

We ran down to the lich’s lair, and were confronted by a crowd of zombies, skeletons, and the lich itself. We began to fight, but the lich cast a spell, and I was frozen in place! It was terrible to watch my companions fighting around me, each falling captive to the same spell, one at a time! Soon, everything went dark.

We woke in darkness, one each to a cell. The lich came and offered us a truce of sorts - it wants to use us as cannon fodder! There is a demon setting up a realm nearby, and the lich doesn’t want competition. It tried to persuade us to kill the demon instead, as the greater evil, but when it saw we wouldn’t agree, it cast yet another spell.

I found myself suddenly willing to give this new mission a shot, and apparently, very bad things will happen to me if I do not!

I wasn’t alone in this sudden conversion, but Bryrgar resisted violently. We talked over how to convince him to help his friends, which was rather an odd conversation - not only were we still chained in our cells, but the lich itself was giving suggestions! Finally, I decided against knocking him out, and asked for rope so we could tie him up and carry him away.

The lich sent a zombie for rope. The zombie was Charzth.

Well, what would anyone do under such circumstances? I went pretty well mad for a bit. I don’t remember much of the next few minutes, except that I swear that I will return to put my husband’s body to rest. And then I will kill that lich, I don’t care how! This is my vow!

I still shudder to think of it. Unclean, awful!

The lich, naturally, ignored all of this, gave Sprocket directions to its foe, and sent us on our way. Somewhere along the line, we got all of our gear back, and someone had tied up Bryrgar and brought him to a shoreline by a river while Sprocket looked for a boat. I didn’t ask questions. I just wept, and glared at a tree so no one would talk to me. Roscoe earned himself a toss onto the angry tied-up dwarf for trying.

Finally, everyone else was ready to go. They talked me out of muttering and punching the tree, and got me into the boat. The dwarf was still tied up... I guess he doesn’t like boats. I watched Sprocket try to use a new wand, and then I watched the riverbanks as we drifted downstream for the rest of the day. There wasn’t much to see, just some farms, but it was better than letting people talk to me.

It was almost the end of the day when Roscoe began to turn the boat for shore. Bryrgar suddenly escaped from his bonds, and attacked the halfing! Or, at least he tried, as Roscoe leapt from the boat and swam ashore to escape the angry dwarf. Bryrgar demanded that Sprocket and I get him ashore, too, and I awoke to my own danger - after all, I was the one to think of tying him up! I followed Roscoe. Eventually, Sprocket and Bryrgar rowed ashore as well, but Roscoe had plenty of time to climb a tree for safety.

We settled in for the night as best we could; Sprocket set her alarm spell, and Bryrgar set up watch beneath Roscoe’s tree. I slept for first watch and hadn’t been awake long for second, when the alarm went off and the ground began to rumble! I was very startled when a big insect of some kind erupted from the ground below, and tried to eat me!

The first bite hurt me very badly. Bryrgar leapt forward, brave dwarf, and healed me right in its jaws! Everyone was fighting the thing, but I couldn’t break free of it, and next thing I knew, it had pulled me underground! Ubtao knows where it was taking me - or to what - but my friends did not desert me. Bryrgar was hanging onto its carapace with one hand and stabbing it repeatedly with the other, even as we descended.

I finally got free of it for a moment, but didn’t get a chance to make use of it, as the thing re-grabbed me right away. Bryrgar healed me again as the tunnel filled with dancing lights and we could see - Sprocket and Roscoe had followed, as well! Ubtao bless them all! After much fighting (and an awful moment when the thing dropped me in order to spit acid on us all), Sprocket created a giant purple worm which scared the creature off. Bryrgar healed everyone up, and we climbed out of the hole.

Roscoe has to share his tree for the rest of the night. Bryrgar made a hammock of sorts out of the boat. I don’t want to go for an underground ride again for a very long time!

At least Bryrgar and Roscoe aren’t fighting, and I’m trying not to think so much about my husband. I know that his soul has passed on and it’s only his body, but it’s only decent to wish to see him buried. And how will I ever go home, now?

Posted by Kate at 09:24 | Nosila’s Journal

January 31, 2005

Direct

Sprocket's Journal

Uktar 18, 1373 DR, Thornhold

Turns out we were a bit further from Thornhold than we thought, but by arguing about taking the boat to Thornhold as we walked, we managed to get there by midday. We saw several farms on the way, and stopped to ask about Thornhold at one. The farmers said that Lord Taricz was well-liked by the townsfolk, had been there for three seasons (I had to ask— in case the demon had already been vanquished on our way there!), and had, in fact, deposed the not-as-nice tyrant Lord Larus that had occupied the keep prior to Taricz’s arrival. Thornhold itself is pretty small— one tavern (owned and run by a gnome called Northrup), one forge, etc.

When we later arrived at Thornhold itself, Roscoe thought it would be good for him to sneak in and scope out the place, count demons wandering through the streets, and listen for rumors. We let him go, then found ourselves waiting for several hours, as he apparently went to every building in the little hamlet, tasted all that was to be offered at the Gilded Gelding (Northrup’s tavern— I would have warned him about gnomish cuisine if he’d asked!), and even rented a room for the night. He eventually did come back for us though, at which point we joined him in wandering around gathering information. After Roscoe returned to get us, I saw Bryrgar hand Widget a gold coin— apparently they were betting on the halfling’s success or survival.

It turns out there is a 60’ wide keep on the hill, Taricz is betrothed to a human woman from Waterdeep that goes by the name Deidre, that they are often off on various quests, and he’s a follower of Torm. That last bit bothered me a bit, because I don’t think many evil demons are followers of Torm, the god of paladins, duty and loyalty. Hmmm. We then had to wonder if maybe Deirdre is the evil demon? We also found out that there is a limit on how many ankhegs may be hunted. Seems to me that even one digging around is one too many!

We looked around for other signs of demon occupancy. Or at least, we looked around and didn’t see any demons. We did visit a small shrine to Torm, Chauntea, Illmater and Tymora (nothing evil there!) and Marius the Leatherworker. We also visited Helden the half-elf healer, who had some nice scrolls for sale. I bought one to help me identify magic stuff, and another called Colorspray. My comrades seemed to be undecided as to how to proceed, so Bryrgar decided to go talk to Lord Taricz alone, since he was not cursed with the desire to kill Taricz on sight. I chose to go off to our rented room in the tavern and study the Colorspray spell. Widget took turns visiting the tavern and my friends, and coming back to our room to see how I was doing with the spell. I’m told that Roscoe got very drunk and started spouting theories about ankhegs and chickens taking over the world. I guess Widget walked over to him and swatted him on the side of the face, then stomped back up to our room before he had to discipline anyone else. That must have ended Roscoe’s drinking, as soon he and Nosila both came to the room to rest. Bryrgar chose to stay in the common room.

I found out in the morning that Bryrgar had talked to Taricz, and thought him to be an honorable man. Bryrgar even signed on to help Taricz fight evil in the Border Kingdoms! As much as I’d like to do that too, I’m stuck with this curse, and unless someone comes along and removes it, I have to keep attempting to eliminate the demon in charge here. Seeing Nosila carrying Roscoe around by his ankle like a small child (as much as he hates it) gave me an idea though.

I told my friends that Widget and I were going to go and confront Lord Taricz directly. Sensing trouble to be had, Roscoe immediately offered to go along. I tried to take the silver rod along too to see if I could use it against whatever demon was there, but Bryrgar wouldn’t let me.

As silly as it looked, I made an effort to hop and skip like a halfling as we went up to the keep. Talking as sweetly as I could to the guard on duty, I asked to see Taricz and we were admitted to meet with him. I figured if I accused him directly of being a demon and he isn’t, I would besmirch his honor and things would go badly. If I didn’t act though, I feared the curse would kick in and kill me. So, though I may have laid it on a bit thick, I talked to him the same way I’ve seen Roscoe do with “big people.” I let him think I have the mental capacity of a flumph while I studied his answers to my bizarre queries.

Taricz, three times my height, is an impressive figure. I asked him where his wings and horns were hidden. That put him off guard right away! I managed to squeeze as much truth into the nearly one-sided conversation as I could— that the silver rod would have helped me find the real demon in charge, would he marry a demon if he himself wasn’t one, and that the lich in the next town over would be very cross with us if we couldn’t fulfill our Quest to destroy the evil that controls this hamlet. I half-expected the curse the lich put on us to somehow zap us into unconsciousness just for attempting to work around the geas, but we managed to get through the interview with nothing worse than a bruised ego. He agreed to go in search of Nosila and Bryrgar right away, while we sat in his “waiting room.” (Which, Roscoe tells me, looks just like a jail cell.)

It wasn’t long before a guard came and brought us back to the reception area, and this time Bryrgar and Nosila (who kept her eyes averted from Lord Taricz at all times— I suspect she feared the geas would compel her to kill him if she met his gaze!). Bryrgar was gathering all the people in the keep together to cast a spell to detect evil. Nothing. Everyone in the keep was loyal to their Lord, and good-hearted. He has to keep looking for evil throughout the town, so they are going to gather the townsfolk together to do so. Roscoe and I had the option of going back to the “waiting room” or the tavern. I have a feeling he’s not ever spent much time with the smaller races.

We still have a dilemma though— we didn’t outright slay an innocent and good man, but we are still under the curse to eliminate the demon in charge of Thornhold.

Posted by Kristin at 15:49 | Sprocket’s Journal