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Dark Door

Theona’s Journal

Flamerule 5, 1373, North of the Moonwood

The trees parted and a human male stepped out. He held his hands up in a gesture of peace, and once we saw the symbol of Mielikki, it was evident that he was a protector of the forest. As the human took in the scene around us, I thought for one horrible moment that the damaged tree or the dead wolves were his, but he indicated that his own wolf companion was alive and well— he called a black wolf out of the trees, which sauntered out and sat down at the druid’s feet. Beowulf, as the human calls himself, came and joined us at our camp, and after telling him some of our tale, he agreed to travel with us since he knows the area well. For someone that doesn’t spend a lot of time with people, he seemed quite at ease with us.

After our late meal, we set up our watches for the night— thankfully we were able to break it into three shifts with the addition of the druid. Areon suggested that we take separate watches, as we’d both rest better knowing the other was acting as sentinel. Of course, it wouldn’t do to just stare at him for four hours, so I decided to pick up where I’d left off with Deitricha on my attempts to understand inter-species relationships. Coincidentally, I noticed that Rosorc isn’t watching my every move anymore with that intensity that made me so uneasy. I am relieved— I’ve been stressed from trying to appear apathetic, as it only seemed to make my friends think I was being purposefully cold to all of them.

The night passed uneventfully, and in fact, I assumed that the fresh air was helping to ease everyone’s tension— my friends all looked like they’d slept better than usual— when we discovered that Tassar had snuck away during his own watch— leaving a note by the fire that said, “Just remembered my rent is due… I’ll catch up.

I realized I was quite sad that he left that way, and not just because he took my favorite ale flask with him. In all my adult life, I’ve never spent this much time with any group of people (an entire month!), Tel-quessir, or other. I made an awkward attempt to console Deitricha by assuring her that it wasn’t anything she did— I elaborated telling her what I’d read in his personal journal led me to believe that he didn’t feel worthy of her rather than the other way around. I don’t know if I made her feel better or not, but I think she enjoyed chewing me out for snooping. I made sure not to mention I’d liberated about half of his rations as well.

We attempted to sketch out the general roads of the area as much as we could remember in the dirt by our campfire, while Areon looked for the errant halfling’s tracks. It appeared that he’d traveled east; we decided this would be a good direction for us to go even if we don’t manage to catch up with Tassar. The trail leads, eventually, towards Citadel Felbarr (where Rosorc can report our discovery of the ancient dwarven stronghold) and Silverymoon, plus the River Redrun and various small settlements might provide us with some sort of transportation. It also eventually leads to Areon’s home in the Coldwood, but I don’t believe he’ll be returning there until we find the stolen silver tiger.

We gave the druid’s wolf Shadow something to find Tassar’s scent, and with Areon tracking and Shadow confirming the trail, we made reasonable time.

Several hours into our journey, we came across a new set of tracks: giant. Unfortunately, Tassar’s tracks ran straight into them, and judging by the multitude of marks in the dirt, they had scuffled, resulting in only one set of tracks— the giant’s. Deitricha looked horrified, but I pointed out that Tassar had fought off all those drow just a few days before— surely one giant wouldn’t be his doom. The tracks headed east anyway, so we could follow them and hopefully find Tassar safe and sound.

It wasn’t hard at all to follow the giant footprints, which eventually lead us to a cave entrance. We decided that only one of us should sneak in and see what lived there (and hopefully see Tassar). Of course, we all had a good reason for why we each should be the one to go in, but eventually Deitricha handed Areon a potion for darkvision— I can move as silently as he can, but I’d be no match for a large, angry creature.

He came out again a few (long) minutes later, with news of a two-headed giant stirring a pot over a fire. There were two tunnels beyond the ettin, but there was no way he could sneak past. I feared we’d have to give up, when our new druid companion came to our rescue— he transformed himself into a bat, hoping to “blend” in with the cave décor, and flapped off through the entrance. He was back a few moments later, having confirmed the first ettin, a storage room without inhabitants, and a second ettin in another room that also had a closed door leading off further into the rock. Seeing as we were pretty healthy at the moment, we agreed to have Rosorc “wander” in shouting for Tassar (and again, we hoped somehow we’d get a reply from him). This had the desired effect of making the ettin charge after him and out of the cave, where we planned to ambush the giant.

The ettin came out swinging a morningstar, and managed to hit Rosorc, who purposefully held the giant off so we could finish it with ranged attacks. Areon managed to kill the already wounded giant with a well-placed arrow and it went down— unfortunately before Deitricha could run up to heal Rosorc, the second ettin was upon him. Beowulf definitely saved the day here, using some unusual magic to make his healing spells work at a distance.

It was a good thing too— as our attacks on the second ettin were pitiful. I broke my bowstring first off. Areon hit Rosorc with an arrow, and Deitricha hit me with a sling stone. I grabbed a dagger off of Areon’s belt and threw it— and watched it sail off into the dark, no where near my target. Beowulf admitted afterwards that one of the heal spells meant for Rosorc hit the ettin instead. With that much bad luck in one combat, I wasn’t really offended when everyone yelled “no!” when they saw me pull out my wand, so I opted to send a moon mote in front of the ettin’s four eyes, hoping to at least irritate it. Perhaps it was too stupid to notice it, as the illusion seemed to have no effect on the creature. Frustrated, I ran towards the melee with my rapier drawn, knowing I’d probably get knocked out by the ettin if not worse. Luckily Rosorc was able to kill it while it was dividing its attacks between the two of us.

Deitricha quickly healed Rosorc and then ran past us into the cave, while the rest of us checked the remaining rooms. Areon and I went to the storage room, intent on checking the barrels and casks for signs of Tassar, while Rosorc intended to piton the door in the empty room. When we heard his war cry to Clangeddin, we dropped what we were doing and raced to the other room. Beowulf and Deitricha did the same. The four of us came to a halt as we saw the door was grappling with the dwarf with two long black ropey appendages. Rosorc pulled free as Areon charged the creature’s flailing psuedopods, which immediately adhered to him. Without thinking, I leaped into the fray to grab Areon around the waist to yank him off the thing—luckily he’s strong enough that he was able to pull free, dragging me back to a safer distance as Beowulf got yanked in. Almost as if rehearsed, Rosorc threw oil on the monster, while I lit an arrow— which Areon shot, lighting the creature on fire. Rosorc managed to “grease” the druid so that he broke free rather than catching on fire, at which point we ran to the next room. The creature slid off the doorway, revealing a tunnel or room beyond, and began to slither forward! Areon attempted one more shot at the thing, but his bowstring broke. Our bad luck was back— I tried to slow the creature down with my wand, and ended up shooting myself in the foot. Luckily the creature was still on fire; I managed to hit the creature with a ray from the wand and Rosorc shot it— which was finally enough to kill it.

I think we’ll just sit here at the cookfire for a few minutes (not looking in the pot!) while Areon mends our bowstrings and Deitricha mends us; but sooner or later, we’ll have to at least take a look at what was lies beyond the creature that mimicked a locked door.

Posted by Kristin on June 16, 2004, 20:22 | Theona’s Journal