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March 3, 2004

A Vulnerable Spot

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 23, 1373, Ruined Tower

I had rushed out of town before our last trek to the tower, so I decided to check my home one more time for any notes Dante may have left for me. I didn’t find him or any signs he’d been back, but left a note of my own explaining where we’d gone on the off chance that he’d been by looking for me. I would suspect that he was in a hurry to get back to Waterdeep by any means necessary, to get some “proper” clothing. As I was leaving my house, I saw, staring up at my door, a rather odd looking fellow. He looked kind of like a human— likely a halfbreed— and fairly harmless. I descended from the tree my home is in and he immediately gave me his sympathy for Antonio’s death, mentioning he had been an acquaintance. I thought it rather odd that he’d be calling on me instead of the Ysthine family, until he offered his “services.”

Well, I’ve been offered “services” of all manner before and was about to politely decline, when I realized he (who now introduced himself as “William”) meant as Antonio’s replacement on our excursion (my, word travels fast!), declaring he was a mercenary and handy with a few spells. After explaining that the current pay rate was absolutely nothing and him not leaving directly, I figured I’d test him to see if he really was a mage. So, I told him to stand still and I walked about ten yards ahead of him. I turned around, and he was still there. So, I said, “I’m going to stand where you can’t see me,” and ducked behind a tree. After a few minutes, I showed myself again, and was amazed to find that his curiosity hadn’t caused him to look for me! He would have found himself face-down in the dirt if he had. Satisfied for the moment that he wouldn’t be the type that would run into melee and get himself killed outright, I agreed he should come to the inn with me to see my companions.

William followed me in to meet Areon and Deitricha, and, I found that Tassar (er, Otto, as he’s calling himself today) had wandered off to be alone. Deitricha and William went to fetch our horses while Areon and I took the challenge of finding a halfling in a city of 37,000. It took us several minutes.

Areon and I found Tassar paying his rent, of all things, and mumbling about seeking out “Mr. Bucket.” Assuring him Mr. Bucket wouldn’t be going anywhere, he agreed to get Otto (the real Otto) and saddle up for the trip. As nice as the walk was the first time, it was now overcast, so we decided to ride our two packhorses, with William riding his own horse. I casually asked Deitricha what she weighed to compare it to Areon (knowing I weighed the least of all) and suggested that I ride with the lightest so as not to overburden the horses. I’m not sure Areon approved of the arrangement at first, as he seemed to tense up quite a bit when I hopped on the horse behind him, but eventually he relaxed enough. Now that I’m thinking about it, it was likely just the fact that we were in town that caused him stress, as he usually seeks me out rather than the N-Tel-Quess whenever he needs help. He relaxed considerably after a short while, and I found the ride quite comfortable, in spite of sharing a packsaddle.

It rained most of the way to White Haven, and when we arrived, Deitricha felt so miserable she just checked in to a room— alone. Tassar didn’t seem too worried, so she probably just needed some time to rest. I didn’t feel like being alone, so I stayed in the Frosty Mug’s common room for the night with the rest of my companions.

The morning arrived damp and not overly warm. Seeing as the tower was only a short distance from the town, I suggested we board the horses in town until our return. If there are other creatures like that troll out there, our horses wouldn’t stand a chance if they were tethered outside the tower.

The walk was nice enough, until we got about 100 yards from the tower and heard a wolf howl, at which point William stated how much he really hates wolves. I recommended we hurry, when Williams suggested the wolves would be gathering— sure enough, one was watching us from the base of the tower and it disappeared as we approached— only to come back with a dozen of its pack mates! Areon and I dashed to the base of the tower, planning to keep our backs to it, but our companions were not as quick and ended up fighting out in the open. We shot as many of the wolves as we could, but one by one, our companions fell— even Tassar’s dog seemed to be having difficulty. Tassar and Deitricha were still fighting from a prone position, but William was being dragged away by one wolf— perhaps intent on taking William back to its lair for a meal. Areon left the relative safety of the tower to shoot that wolf and stabilize the failing spellcaster, and soon the remaining wolves thought better of the situation and disappeared as quickly as they’d arrived. I think I was the only one that hadn’t been at least nipped at— it seems the wolves wouldn’t risk going past the doorway of the tower.

As Deitricha healed those who needed it, Tassar was already making wolf stew. I did find myself warning William away from a stairwell in the middle of the ruins— he of course has no idea that Antonio had a bad habit of running up to dangerous things— I just can’t fathom why people that rely on magic more than armor and a dependable weapon think they can wander around like that and not get hurt.

We finished up our meal and looked over the ruins— the tower (what was left of it) had a 40’ diameter, and crumbled walls and stairs ranging from 5’ to 10’ tall. Of more interest was the stairwell going down. I asked everyone to let me check it for any traps, and proceeded slowly down the rain-slicked steps. I was not the first one to the bottom though— one by one, Tassar, Otto, and William slid past me. Obviously the stairs were not trapped. Looking for traps in the many small rooms didn’t work either, as, while I looked at one carefully, I could hear my companions wandering through another, putting torch to webs. There were several small rooms, apparently randomly placed, each festooned with cobwebs. I borrowed a torch from Tassar and looked into the doorway of one chamber, only to have something fall from the ceiling and attach itself to my neck!

I yelled for help as more things fell from the ceiling. Deitricha, I think, got to me first, though I am not sure who got the bug-like creature off my back. I was surprised to see one on Deitricha, only to be zapped off by a spell from William. I was so stunned to see a mage use a spell that worked that I quickly found myself battling my own bat-winged bug— a stirge— again. This one managed to get its proboscis through my skin. Areon pulled it off of me quickly, but I feel quite weak now, and Deitricha doesn’t look much better. At least now we know what we are fighting— I think these creatures are the “vampires” that are harassing the local farms. Could this be the reason the wolves steer clear of the tower?

Posted by Kristin at 18:38 | Theona’s Journal