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April 9, 2005

Game Face

Sprocket's Journal

Nightal 2, 1373 DR, Ruins containing Tome of Azuth

Maiyr turned back to Nosila and dumped a healing potion down her throat. Before much more could be resolved about “who was evil and for what reason,” a strange, ghostly form appeared— Roscoe! It seems the afterlife is not keeping him quiet; he didn’t stop prattling on for quite some time, going on about all his new abilities as a ghost. We finally took a look at where we were. Apparently we are on some island in the Lake of Steam (or an equally stinky body of water). There is a crater full of trees in the middle of our island, and we are in the middle of that. The trees are, in turn, surrounded by lake. The tunnel we are in at the moment has an easy-to-navigate exit on one end, and a sheer drop on the other. We decided to use the former for any possible excursions. In the distance, we heard the roar of a large cat followed by a cut-off scream, so we knew we weren’t entirely alone.

Roscoe, bored for the moment with us mere mortals who needed to rest, decided to “fly” around the island to see what all was out there. He found big spiders, a goblin totem or statue, and a large green dragon. Then he came back to see us, and showed us his “scary face.” I nearly passed out from the sight. Maiyr and Nosila felt too weak to move and carry weapons after that bit of entertainment, so we decided to stay put till everyone felt they could travel again. That “rest” turned out to take about ten days.

The first day or so, Roscoe tried to help us by possessing wild game and forcing the creatures to come back to be cooked. He also apparently bugged a manticore for a while, and found a goblin village. He attempted to bring back a goblin for us to interrogate, but bumped into a large green troll on the way to our camp; we ended up fighting that and nearly losing Nosila while the goblin broke free and ran home. After that, Roscoe was gone for nearly ten days himself— having apparently found something that could kill a ghost, at least temporarily. I didn’t stray too far while my larger companions recovered; but looked for portals away from this place as often as I could. I didn’t find any in the immediate vicinity of our camp.

Just as we decided we were healthy enough to venture out, perhaps to make a boat to leave the island, Roscoe reappeared. He pointed out a dead half-orc with black-fletched arrows protruding from it a ways from our camp; something he’d meant to tell us a week ago but forgot. We found a few coins on the corpse, plus some rope, torches, and a map of the general area. There were keep ruins labeled with the symbol of Azuth and the location of a secret door— and a warning of beholders. Sounded interesting to us! We headed in the direction indicated on the map.

Eventually, we found a very life-like statue of a wizard holding his staff out in front of him. I could not detect any magic from the statue. We also found poo. Widget says it’s beholder poo, but I’m not sure if he is really able to tell or not. We also discovered the ruins and some stairs leading down, and went to investigate.

We found ourselves in a room littered with splintered wooden crates and bones, including one skull with four holes bored in it (perhaps from a mind flayer?). There was an open well in the room, and Maiyr and I both had the thought simultaneously to cover it up in case of beholders— to them, a well would be a hallway between levels.

We continued on quickly, knowing that our search was for a particular well-concealed door. Maiyr found one, and was able to open it, just narrowly escaping from a pit trap that opened up underneath him. Nosila and I were able to jump across to him, and we continued on till we found a room with a door at one end— that had suits of armor standing on either side of the door. Roscoe floated down and checked them out and asked us to dispatch them as he looked through the closed door. He saw a room containing a “ball of eyes,” statues in alcoves, a door at the opposite end and a hole in the ceiling. We “killed” the inanimate suits of armor for him as the door splintered from a ray attack from the lesser beholder in the room. Roscoe said he’d lead the creature out of that room so we could attack it as it passed between us. Then he went into the room, where he was apparently “killed” again. I leaned into the room and shot a magic missile at what turned out to be a gauth (a smaller six-eye-stalked type of beholder), while my remaining friends attempted to hack it apart— it floated up through the ceiling from us though. We waited underneath the opening, but it never reappeared, so we continued on through the only other door in the room.

A few winding corridors later, Maiyr found another secret door, apparently the one on the map, as we found the symbol of Azuth carved on the floor right before reaching it. Opening the door, we saw a blue glow, then the source of the glow— a pedestal, surrounded by runes, with an open book perched on top. The pedestal was flanked by two 3’-high columns, each with a crystal containing a swirling red mist crowning it. The room also contained chests of treasure, armor and fine weapons. As we got closer to the warding circle (for that is what I was able to identify it as), the light from the runes would get brighter.

Suddenly, the swirling mists cracked their crystals and were released! I realized, as a spell was literally wiped from my memory, that these were nishruu, creatures from another plane that feed on magic. Apparently the other treasure in the room was magical in nature, for as one stayed with us, the other immediately went to feed from themů.

Posted by Kristin at 16:56 | Sprocket’s Journal

April 13, 2005

What Ghosts Do and Don't

Nosila's Journal

As I stood in the stone passage, wondering what to do (and if there is any possible explanation of Mayir’s actions that could excuse them), a ghostly Roscoe stepped out of a wall next to the party. I gave Sprocket a startled look, wondering why she thought this would help - but she was looking as surprised as myself! The ghost actually seemed aware of us, this time, and it spoke to us, which is more than her other creations have done before. We quickly figured out that it really was the ghost from the lava lake, somehow released from its captivity (by the breaking of the geas?), and it had taken some time to track us down. Roscoe has no idea what’s been going on since his death, but happily flew - flew! - off down the passage when Mayir suggested he check the place out for us.

My brain hurts.

Between Roscoe’s reports and our own observations, we eventually decided we were on an island in a sulfurous body of water - probably the Lake of Steam. The island is a crater, filled inside with forests; the other end of the tunnel opens on a cliff face, dropping straight down to the water. The inside opening is easier to navigate, but our first look out of it showed moonlight, and the sounds of a hunting cat and its prey. We decided to stay inside the cave entrance for a time; I wanted to start building a boat or a raft the next morning, but Roscoe came back from another flight around the island. First, he told us about everything he’d seen; giant spiders, goblin totem poles, and a big green dragon. We need to be very careful, here! Next, he showed off some of the things he can do now he’s dead (besides go invisible and fly). He suddenly took on the hideous appearance of his death from the exploding altar and lava lake!

This caused actual harm to Mayir and Sprocket. Now we had to wait several more days to heal up.

After making many promises to never do that without warning again, Roscoe flew off to let us rest. Over the next few days, I guarded Sprocket on several journeys into the nearby forest to search for portals, which she says will be a faster way out of here than a boat. Roscoe found out that he can possess living creatures, and helped out by causing birds and such to come to the cave to provide us with food. This was a good thing, as we had only a few days’ rations between us. Roscoe also tried to posess a goblin for us to ask questions of... and somehow brought back a troll with it! Despite my shouts to run to the cave, the goblin ran back into the woods when Roscoe released it; the troll charged at us instead of following it, too.

Roscoe found out that his “scary face” has no effect on trolls. Nor can he possess them.

Thankfully, the troll was fooled by Sprocket’s images of flames (I even felt heat!), and we all did damage with torches and other weapons. At one point, the troll stunned me and was carrying me off, when Mayir tripped it up. How can he be evil when he does such selfless things sometimes? After some more fighting (I was in a rage by that point), the troll was weakened to the point that Roscoe was able to kill it - I’m not sure how, but he touched it and it fell. Mayir quickly burned the thing, and gave me a healing drink! We only got an hour’s rest before Roscoe flew into the cave to tell us that one, magic missiles can hurt him, and two, a bunch of goblins were headed our way. We stationed ourselves at the cave’s entrance and waited for the worst.

After an hour or so, Roscoe wandered off to check on things and didn’t return. I guess he got bored with us?

Ten days later, we were finally healed up, and to our surprise, the ghost returned! He didn’t say much about where he’d been this time, but we were all glad to be off exploring the island. (I do wonder what happened to the others; did the lich ever return? Do they know what happened to us? Is my husband still a zombie?). We headed toward the goblin village, hoping to find a sentry to quiz, when Roscoe mentioned seeing the dead body of a half-orc in the woods. Curious, we searched that first. Sprocket quickly found a scroll with a map of the island, with some interesting markings around some ruins, and despite warnings of beholders, we decided to check them out.

Elves do not like stepping in beholder dung. Neither would I!

Luckily, we saw no beholders in the flesh, though we did find a stone petrified mage, poor fellow! The ruins were overgrown, but we did find a staircase belowground that was clear. Sprocket put a “light” spell on my helmet, and we explored the halls and rooms, finding little but bones and a well which the others covered over. One of the skulls had four holes in it, which is apparently a very bad thing to find, but I didn’t ask - either we’ll meet the culprit or we won’t! Following Sprocket’s map, Mayir stared hard at the walls until he discovered a “secret” door. He opened it and narrowly missed falling into a pit trap! I tossed Sprocket across and jumped over the hole, while Roscoe flew ahead down the new passage to explore for us.

Ghosts apparently can’t tell when suits of armor are just suits of armor. We made quite a clatter killing them for him!

As we finished smashing the armor, Roscoe floated through the closed door - and quickly came back out to tell us that there was a hall with statues and a beholder on the other side! He went back in to lure the thing into our room, but before I could pull the door open, it burst into flames! We readied ourselves for a fight, but the beholder never came into our room. Instead, the door burned through and we could see flashes of light fron its ray attacks. Roscoe hollered for help, then disappeared. Mayir ran into the room, I followed, and Sprocket cast magic missiles at the thing from the doorway. Unfortunately, the beholder was able to stun Sprocket and me; fortunately, Mayir was able to chase it off.

Roscoe seems to have taken off, again. He can’t be bored, I didn’t see any stone statues of him, what did that thing do?

We explored more doors and passages, eventually finding a triangle on the floor of one. Mayir did his find-the-secret-door trick again, and this time there wasn’t a pit trap. Instead, there was a chamber with a book on a pedestal, protected by runes glowing blue, and two columns topped by spheres with red mist inside. There were chests and other stuff all around the edges of the room, too, but we didn’t get a close look; when Mayir walked in, the spheres broke open and the mists attacked us with many sharp-toothed mouths! Mayir tried to get inside the circle of runes but was prevented by a magical brick wall, and then Sprocket figured out that the mists were somehow eating magic - especially the magic in our gear. We ran outside and shut the door.

I wonder what to do next?

Posted by Kate at 00:29 | Nosila’s Journal

April 21, 2005

Sewn Up

Sprocket's Journal

Nightal 4, 1373 DR, Pommeville

We very quickly decided to shut the door on the magic-eating nishruu, but still wanted to get the book out of the ring of runes. Maiyr was unable to reach the book; a wall-like force prevented him when he got close. Nosila decided to try going in alone, after we removed any items that were magical from her. She was in the room for a few seconds when the creatures decided to attack her anyway. Maiyr surmised that there must be something in the area to help us reach the book safely, so we decided to search the place room by room. We lucked out on the first room. Moldy sacks of grain, casks of wine turned to vinegar and a huge barrel of salt were inside. I immediately got an image of fried potatoes in my mind from Widget; luckily, my comrades decided one of these ingredients would likely help us get pass the nishruu. I thought perhaps they wouldn’t be able to cross the salt if we put it in a line around us. Nosila went back down the hall and attracted the nishruu’s attention while Maiyr and I got handfuls of salt. Salt very definitely made the creatures shrink back, but Widget and I must radiate a lot of magic, as I was promptly attacked! Those bites hurt! Maiyr quickly dipped his blades in the vinegar and then salt, using what stuck to the blades to kill one of the crimson creatures. Nosila stuffed me into the barrel of salt, no doubt thinking I’d be safer. The pain of the salt on my open bite wounds made me pass out for a few moments. I came to just in time to see Nosila kill the other nishruu by flinging a shield full of salt on it. After I cast a quick cantrip to remove the remaining salt and vinegar from our clothes and skin, we headed back to the room with the book.

The book was still there, untouched by the nishruu. In spite of how Maiyr had been blocked by the circle of runes, I figured I must try to get to the book anyway, so I took a deep breath and stepped over the runes— and picked up the book! As I held the leather and brass bound book, a fire spell was suddenly implanted in my brain, and I realized I was holding Azuth’s Book of Infinite Spells. A few troubling thoughts passed through my mind. Did the lich set us up so that we’d find this? Was he unable to pass the ring of runes himself? Why couldn’t Maiyr pass through to reach the book?

For now, we were too beat up to do more than barricade ourselves the room and rest. We looked through the other treasure in the room too. We found two potions to provide healing, two vials of oil that can transform stone to flesh, and coins totaling nearly 800 gold pieces. Maiyr found chainmail and a scimitar that is cool to the touch; Nosila found some good leather armor, a very sharp longsword and a spear— all are magical, but I didn’t have spells prepared to identify them.

We rested for what must have been close to a day, until we felt we had the stamina to haul ourselves out of the ruins and look for a way across the big lake. As we emerged from the ruin’s stairwell, a familiar form was waiting for us— Nedrezzar! He was accompanied by four zombies, one of which was Nosila’s long-dead husband. Nosila threw her spear at the lich. While he attempted to pull it from his chest, I cast the fireball that Azuth’s tome had planted in my brain. The four zombies were instantly obliterated (may Nosila forgive me for destroying her husband before she could), and Nedrezzar looked none too happy with the attack.

Maiyr, meanwhile, had managed to get behind the lich, and he and Nosila kept at the undead cleric while I cast some sonic and missile spells at him. I kept close to the temple stairs, so I could duck in and out for cover— that lich wanted me dead!

When I was out of spells that wouldn’t harm my comrades, I tried firing my pistol— if it did damage to the lich, it certainly didn’t show. As much as I hated to cast spells that would harm my friends, I felt I had little choice—the lich would kill them if I didn’t. So, I lobbed two more fireballs at it, making sure to spread the damage between Maiyr and Nosila with the brunt of it on Nedrezzar. Thankfully, the second one dropped the lich, and my friends survived with a few burns. They were so relieved I don’t believe either even minded too much.

We searched the lich’s body for anything valuable, and anything that might hint on where its phylactery was. We found several undoubtedly magical items— a ring, a breastplate, a short spear and a heavy pick— and of course a holy symbol of Tiamat. And then, amazingly, we noticed a row of stitches along the side of the corpse’s torso. Slicing it open revealed a small ornate box with a copper band. Who would have guessed Nedrezzar’s phylactery was inside Nedrezzar himself?

Now, I had hope that perhaps Nedrezzar had a portal between here and Pommeville. Though we’d only just broken camp a few minutes earlier, we were now so tired and, well, burnt, we decided to rest up for a while again. Maiyr spent some of the time trying to figure out how to destroy the phylactery.

By the next morning we were feeling well enough to travel, so we decided to make another attempt to find a way off the island. As we were leaving the ruins though, we stopped to look at the very realistic statue of the wizard. Something that had been stuffed in the back of my mind for weeks finally surfaced. There had been a wizard called Malvis from Pommeville, absent when we first arrived, and absent still when we were last there. We hadn’t thought anything of it; after all, wizards do travel. My companions must have come to similar conclusions, and we all decided quickly that this “statue” would be a good candidate for that Oil of Stone to Flesh that we’d found.

In an instant, the wizard returned to his more lively state. After introductions were made (and we learned that he was, indeed, Malvis), we tried to get him up to speed on what all had happened in Pommeville. Luckily, he knew of a portal from this island that would take us back right near his tower on the edge of town, but first he wanted to retrieve Azuth’s Tome from the ruins. He’d been trying to retrieve it nearly six months earlier, when an encounter with a beholder left him frozen till we found him.

From what I’d remembered told to me by the townsfolk, this Malvis was an asset to Pommeville and having him home sooner rather than later would be a good thing, so I told him Azuth’s Tome was in my possession, but that I’d be more than happy to trade him for another lesser, but useful magic item after we disposed of the phylactery. Malvis suggested that tossing it in the lava created where the silver rod rested would be a suitable end for this last piece of Nedrezzar.

Now, however, it was time to return to Pommeville. Malvis took us to the portal straight away and we stepped through, arriving just where he said we would. The town looked deserted. It made sense that the zombies had all fallen with the destruction of the lich, but where were the gnolls and few remaining humanoid slaves?

We entered the tower with Malvis; either he is a terribly messy person, or someone else had been through looking for something— the place was a shambles.

Posted by Kristin at 20:19 | Sprocket’s Journal

April 24, 2005

A widow for real

Nosila's Journal

Remembering that the first time I ran into the room, the clouds had not attacked me, we tried an experiment. I took off all my magical stuff, and stepped inside again. The clouds immediately detached themselves from the objects at the other end of the room, floated up, and - began to chew on me with many tiny teeth. So much for that idea! Slightly sickened, I stepped back outside, closed the door, and listened to more discussion. Finally, we headed further down the hall, hoping that somewhere else in the maze of rooms we could find a way to defeat the creatures.

When we found another door and could not get it to open, my hopes rose. Mayir eventually went after it with his swords, so imagine my disappointment to find only an old storage room for the effort! He was pleased with all the new firewood to fight the creatures with, at least, and began to open the other bags and barrels to find what they contained. Moldy grain, wine long turned to vinegar, and... salt? Barrels of it! After some talk, we thought, why not? And I walked off to the secret doorway with a handful of salt while the others finished checking the storeroom.

The clouds headed my way as soon as I opened the door, but - thank Ubtao! The first one recoiled from the thrown salt! Before I could shut the door and tell the others of my find, however, the cloud that hadn’t recoiled managed to get into the hallway with me. It kept right on biting, too. My only option was to run down the hall, shouting for more salt, while it attacked! I led it right to the storeroom, where we quickly found out that thrown handfuls only slowed it down temporarily, and that Sprocket was still its favorite target. We were all trying to get covered with vinegar, then salt, then attack, all the while being bitten.

Sprocket, poor gnome, was covered with so many bites that she passed out when I grabbed her and rolled her in an open salt barrel to get the thing away from her! Mayir, on the other hand, had the brilliant idea to dip his swords in the vinegar, and then the salt, and attack the cloud that way. It didn’t last long after that. We woke Sprocket, covered ourselves and our weapons with salt, and filled Mayir’s shield with the stuff, then headed back down the hall to the secret room. I’d like to say that we had a long and heroic battle, but the shield’s worth of salt I threw at the other cloud dispersed it immediately. Thank Ubtao!

Sprocket cast a spell that cleaned all the salt off us, and Mayir opened the chests that the clouds had been eating at. He found much gold and silver, plus stone vials and weapons, and we got a good look at the suits of armor. Even with their magic eaten away, they were of great quality, so I happily switched armor and tried out the longsword. I also picked up a spear, just in case the beholder reappeared. Sprocket walked over to the circle of runes, and - stepped right inside! She returned with the book, saying it was a very powerful book of spells. We were all pleased.

Finally, we headed back outside, returning to our discussion of how to get off the island. We were talking about the stone spellcaster in the clearing when we realized that we were not alone! The lich, after all this time, and four zombies, one of whom was my husband, Charzth. My poor husband! We realized we’d been used to get the spellbook for the lich, who seemed to think we’d be easy pickings. I think we surprised it! My first response was to throw the spear, and I hit! Before the lich could respond, Sprocket cast a fireball - a real fireball! - and this destroyed all four of the zombies. My husband rests in peace, and I owe the gnome a debt of gratitude. I told her so, too.

The lich pulled the spear out of its body and threw it back, hitting me. I gave it one more try, but missed, and pulled out my new longsword. Mayir sliced into it with his swords, but it preferred to cast spells at Sprocket - she got all the grief, that day! I missed my swing even as a black, greasy, sickening darkness descended on us all. When it lifted, I saw Mayir getting in lots of shots behind the lich, while I attacked from the front. Sprocket cast magic missiles from a safer distance behind me, but when the lich paralyzed me, she was forced to cast two more fireballs on us all before it dropped. She apologized a lot, but I knew she had to do it!

I was still paralyzed, unfortunately, and Sprocket had no idea how to fix it. I feared I’d end up like the stone statue, only worse! Hoping that cremating it would give us more time to find the phylactery before the lich reformed... again... she and Mayir stripped the body. To our surprise, they found a stitched-up spot in its side! Quickly, they recovered a small box, bound with copper. Taking the box, and my paralyzed form, they headed back down the stairs to relative safety, and tried to figure out what to do. Mayir’s first thought was to burn the box, which he did in another room, and they checked out the stone vials while waiting for an explosion, or the fire to burn out.

The vials were for healing, and for changing stone to flesh. Of course - perhaps the spellcaster upstairs could help us? The next morning, they dragged me and the (still unopened) box back upstairs. They poured the vial’s contents over the statue, and met - the former wizard of Pommeville, whose disappearance months ago was due to his search for that dratted book of spells! They quickly filled him in, and he was happy to un-paralyze me, thank Ubtao! I recovered the spear, and scarfed some rations while they talked over what to do with the phylactery. Once I realized they’d be at it a while, I went and buried my husband’s ashes. The other zombies, too, but... I found myself wondering, what to do now? Nothing stops me from returning home, or do I travel the world more? Do I stay with these folk, or get away from them before Darvin’s vengeful ghost arrives?

Meanwhile, Sprocket had admitted to having the spellbook, in return for which, Melvin not only got us off the island (by portal, which pleased Sprocket immensely), but told us that the pool of magma Roscoe created with the bishop’s wand would hold the wand’s powers well enough to destroy the phylactery. I guess we’ll be off to Roscoe’s resting place (if you could call it that!), and I’ll worry about the future later.

Posted by Kate at 09:14 | Nosila’s Journal

All's Well that Ends....

Sprocket's Journal

Nightal 4, 1373 DR, Thornhold

Malvis was more interested in inventorying his tower than going with us to the magma lake to dispose of the lich’s phylactery, and to be honest, we didn’t really need the help. After walking around Pommeville for a few minutes, and determining that there wasn’t another living (or dead) soul about, Nosila found us a boat and we headed towards the lava outside of Thornhold.

We found Roscoe there; it was good to be able to tell him what we were about to do and say our good-byes. He promised to watch over us— I heard Widget give a sad squeak as Nosila tossed the copper-covered box into the lake and Roscoe faded away. I’ll miss him too.

Rather than heading back to Pommeville, we decided to go and check on the fate of Lord Taricz and company. Upon hearing of our arrival and defeat of Nedrezzar, he ordered a town-wide celebration in our honor. He also had Darvin’s horse; Nosila was happy to hear that the creature was okay.

I want to go home, even if just for a little while. The only thing that is preventing me now is Maiyr and Nosila. Poor Nosila finally realized that she is truly a widow and is hesitant to go back to Chult— she needs someone familiar around right now. Widget says that Maiyr needs us around to keep him out of trouble. Perhaps they would like to accompany Widget and me home and see all the technological wonders of Lantan. Assuming, of course, we don’t stop to investigate something interesting on the way!

Posted by Kristin at 20:50 | Sprocket’s Journal