» Forgotten Realms Calendar / Campaign Timeline     » Amassed Loot     » Monster Roster     » Current Party Stats    

April 3, 2004

Out of the frying pan?

Deitricha's Journal

Travel across the plain was hot and dry. Rosorc tried taking off his armor in order to travel lighter, but between the random gouts of flame and the noise of dragging it behind him, he soon decided to just wear it and be hot. We all learned a little about helping him into it! I was glad we had, however, as we finally ran out of luck (we thought); rounding a boulder in time to come face-to-face with a little spiky figure and no time to hide!

Tassar immediately introduced himself, at which the figure dropped flat to the ground! We all came over to see it, although I was watching the sky in case something else was coming over to see us. The thing was already trying to back away, even as Tassar “bartered” for its weapon, a war fork. It spoke an odd language until William spoke to it in Common; luckily, Hixtali spoke a little. The poor thing was immmediately overwhelmed by questions from us all.

Slowly, it became clear that the castle belonged to Lord Bel, and this area was known to have a portal in it - therefore, Hixtali was the guard. I wonder why the Lord sent out such a guard? Once we told it we weren’t trying to invade, and in fact wanted OUT, it relaxed slightly. It seemed to like Theona best, which was a riot, as she was making some pretty outrageous statements that weren’t quite lies and yet.. and yet! By the time she finished both threatening and pretending to be friends, Hixtali described someone called Hexla who hurt the locals, by which we hoped and prayed it meant a good person who could help us out.

The only other option, apparently, was to go back to the Lord’s citadel and use a portal there, or go to the front lines of some Hellish battle, or to some rift into a worse place! Instead, Hixtali led us across the plains, to a river of blood. The ford was “only” about three feet deep, which was over both Hixtali’s and Tassar’s heads. Hixtali waded right in, but Tassar asked nicely for a ride. I was glad to help; none of us liked the idea of walking through the awful stuff! I headed across with Tassar on my shoulder, and it didn’t take long for some thing to latch onto my leg! I started running for the far shore, even as it drained my strength away. Before I reached the bank, another one did the same.

I made it to the far side, thank Tymora, and my friends quickly got two disgusting worms off me. Tassar killed one while the other made it back to the blood. I agreed with him that I looked like hell - I felt like it! Luckily, I was able to heal myself of the worst of the damage, and we continued on. Poor William was really bothered by Hixtali’s method of cleaning itself - it licked off the river’s blood as he walked. The rest of us simply suffered.

A couple of hours later, we reached the foothills of the mountains. Soon, we wound up at the bottom of a slope, the mouth of a cave above. Hixtali flat-out refused to climb up with us and Theona’s bribes had no effect. William and Tassar started climbing, Rosorc tossed a hunk of meat to Hixtali, and Theona tried to talk it into waiting for us. I think it promised just to get us moving; as soon as the last of us reached the cave we turned to see a black dot racing away. We had little time to worry about that, however, as William decided to holler into the cave an announce our presence!

The rest of us held our weapons at the ready, peering into a cave strewn with bones and skulls, and also a small wooden hut. Willliam was already knocking on the door. A female voice shouted at him, “Who’s there?”, so Tassar introduced himself, but she hadn’t heard of him. We told the voice that we were looking for directions out of Hell, and got yelled at some more. At least she was asking if we had anything to offer for her services, and not trying to add us to her collection of dead things outside. The door cracked open slightly when we promised we were not demons, and we caught sight of an eye. The voice asked for a bat skull, which we were unable to provide, but apparently we didn’t look too dangerous, as the door finally opened all the way and a female half-elf came out.

Tassar, naturally, asked right away if she had any ale! She gave him a sweet smile and poured a red liquid into his mug, which he sipped at and found quite strong! She chuckled and agreed with him that “blood ale” is very strong, indeed. Hexla, too, ended up here by accident, and with her cabin! Tassar by now was having conversations with the skulls in the cave instead of us, and singing. Hexla had been in Hell for a while, but thought it too dangerous a place to explore for a way out. I pointed out that the locals were terrified of her, but Tassar gave her a distraction by asking if he could keep one of the horned skulls (the “cute” one) for his helmet.

Hexla said she could send us home, but she needed one of William’s silver eyes to use in the spell. And, she wanted his other eye so that she could send herself home, too! Apparently, she isn’t from the same realm as we are, but I was surprised to find William desperate enough to get out, that he was really thinking about it! I mean, we didn’t even have proof that her spell would work, and he would be blinded! Meanwhile, Tassar staggered into the hut and passed out on her cot. I turned back to see Hexla cutting William’s hair off, and telling him about the Pillar of Skulls to the south in return. She said the Pillar would ask for something, too, but we prayed it wouldn’t be William’s eyes! He then picked up Tassar, who puked on him. I really began to feel sorry for William at this point!

Before we left, Theona traded another skin of ale with Rosorc for an amber gem, which she traded with Hexla for two potions (the inside of the hut was full of potion-making equipment), and then asked Hexla to drink one to show it was safe. She then drank the second, and pulled out a couple of spell scrolls to read. We finally understood that she hoped the scrolls from the chest next to the portal would have some clue to return us there, but after perusing the scrolls, shook her head sadly. We said goodbye to Hexla and headed for the Pillar of Skulls.

We didn’t get far before we saw a formation of creatures coming our way. We scattered into a field of boulders, trying to hide from the big blue-skinned dwarf-like beings. Some were better at it than others, and Areon was a big help! Rosorc, unfortunately, found his spiked armor a real disadvantage until Theona tossed him a vial and told him to drink. He disappeared just before the war band passed us by! As soon as they were out of sight we headed south again, walking for three hours and more before a tall pillar came into sight. We stepped off the path, briefly discussing what to say to whatever we found, and Tassar finally woke up from his drunken stupor.

Tassar’s headache was exacerbated by the Pillar; it turned out to be a column of heads, all talking, and shouting, and arguing with each other and then with us! Each head claimed it knew the way out, and each one wanted a boon - one wanted a party member, another a fiend, etc. It was very loud and confusing! I wondered how we’d tell any one’s story from another; they were all in Hell, why tell the truth? Finally, Theona found an elf that she thought might be worth listening to, and Rosorc and Tassar busied themselves attacking an ogre’s head nearby that the elf happened to especially hate. I thought it was useless, but they soon chopped it out and pitched it into the river of blood (swearing at us the whole way), and the elf told Theona about a portal further south.

Although another head swore the way to go was west, we decided to follow Theona’s hunch and learned about a horseshoe-shaped formation, and that we needed a brick from the highway leading from the Lord Bel’s citadel to the Blood Rift in order to open it. None of us looked forward to wading the river again, but the elf explained that the one bridge was heavily guarded. I guess Hixtali didn’t do too badly by us after all! Tassar, meanwhile, decided to head south to check out the bridge first, just in case, and we followed. The bridge of bones was there, all right - and guarded by a varied multitude! We turned around without a word, followed by an irate halfling.

We made it to the ford without trouble, at least. I picked up Tassar again, and we all ran across! Theona shouted, but it was William who got drained this time. He came out of the blood with a worm on him, yanked it off, and held it up only to be bitten again. As soon as he dropped it Theona dealt with it. I quickly healed him up, glad that we made it with so little trouble. We then headed toward the castle, swinging around to where the road was, and finding, to our dismay, that the road was choked with a massive army! We tried to settle down and wait them out, getting singed in the process when a fireball exploded nearby, but finally hid near the road and waited for the army to march. It took hours - we even got some naps!

Finally, quiet seemed to descend. Tassar bolted for the road, picked a brick out of it, and raced back to us. As he did so, a flight of winged beasts swept out of the fortress and headed our way! Rosorc somehow ended up with the brick as the fiends came screaming out of the sky. Tassar, naturally, wanted to stop and fight. I feared it was pointless, but at that moment one of the fireballs hit the center of the formation, knocking many to the ground. We knew we couldn’t outrun them, so we tried to ready ourselves for battle with the remainder (and Tassar wanted me behind him again), when another flight of creatures flew overhead and attacked the first group! Praying they were sufficiently distracted, we bolted for the river. Our third crossing was quiet - but as soon as we reached the shore, shouts told us that the detachment of blue-skinned creatures had finally caught sight of their prey.

Tassar wanted to fight, the others to run. I told him that it was probably a moot point, we’d be fighting eventually, and he agreed to run with us until then. He and Rosorc were pretty slow, I fear - but so were the things chasing us! We managed to keep ahead of them, barely. We made it past the Pillar (what an exciting day for those poor souls!), and gave the bridge a wide berth. It wasn’t enough, we soon found out - the whole guard was soon on our trail. We didn’t have time to worry - the horseshoe shaped formation came into view, and a big guardian in front of it! It shouted at us to hold and a wall of flames burst ahead of us.. but our pursuers turned back!

We didn’t have time to think what that meant, as the thing told us we could pass through the portal to the “City of Doors” if we brought a black orb along. It also said we’d die if we didn’t take it, and Tassar grabbed the orb with one hand, me with the other, and we all dashed into the portal! Rosorc pulled out the brick, William gave the guardian a funny look, and next thing, we found ourselves on a cobblestone street. The orb crumbled to dust.

The street curved faintly upward in both directions, and the houses looked a little rundown. There was a haze overhead, and lights twinkling faintly through it. They didn’t look like any stars I’ve ever seen! The street itself was full of the strangest creatures I’ve ever seen before - although we must be quite a sight ourselves; dusty, hot, and covered with three layers of blood. I’m glad we’re out of Hell, but what is this City of Doors, and how will we get home?

I hope our money is good, here. Rosorc is practically weeping with joy as he heads down the street to find an inn and ale. A bath would be nice, too...

Posted by Kate at 21:09 | Deitricha’s Journal