Theona's Journal
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Theona’s Bio

Theona, image (c) Kristin Johnson

Theona Galanodel is a moon elf of 131 years, who has spent most of her life in Silverymoon.

Theona does not consider herself a thief, but more of an equalizing force. To her mind, it’s not stealing if you are taking items from someone or something undeserving and giving the object to the people to which it belongs. Theona keeps her ears open for news of elven artifacts in particular, and will often join up with a group of like-minded individuals heading into local ruins if there is any mention of such items. Her sense of justice makes sense, in a way, as her own family at one time possessed a magical sword that had been passed through many generations (and elven generations— quite a long time indeed!) and lost or stolen somewhere between the fall of Ascalhorn (Hellgate Keep) and her ancestors’ arrival in Silverymoon; she has hopes of one day finding and claiming it, as it will only show its full potential when in the hands of one of her family, of which she is the last. Her biggest concern at the moment is the large amount of “retired” Zhents moving into the area.

She enjoys living in Silverymoon in spite of her lack of magical or musical aptitude, and so many interesting things have been happening in the past few years that she stops actively searching for her ancestral blade for years at a time. Hopefully though, she’ll have many more years to continue her search.






Character sheet: Theona Galanodel [Moon Elf Rogue]

Posted by Kristin on January 2, 2004, 17:50

Stabbed in the Back

Kythorn 2, 1373, Greycastle Mine

Every now and then, especially when I am short on funds or leads on objects needing rescued, I get the urge to broaden my horizons outside of Silverymoon. Yesterday was such a day, so I headed over to the Bright Blade Brandished to see if there were any jobs for a quick bit of cash within a day’s walk of the city. I saw that human Antonio that often buys everyone drinks, and the halfling Tassar, who always seems to be around when someone is buying a round. Deitricha from Tymora’s temple was there, which I found curious, and Areon— the grim-looking wood elf that gives me the impression that he’s waiting for a fight to break out.

It just so happened that we had all come to the tavern with similar ideas— a quick job that involved getting away from the city for a few days and would pay well. We quickly decided we could work together, and headed to Lord Evendor Greycastle’s home to seal the deal.

A minor human noble, Greycastle had recently inherited a copper mine in the foothills of the Nether Mountains southeast of Silverymoon. The mines, apparently, are infested with kobolds or other similar critters. For 100 gold a piece (and anything not nailed down in the mines), we agreed to rid the place of any squatters so it could be reopened. Sounded easy enough, so we singed on the dotted line and were off.

It was a nice walk, weather-wise, though a bit chillier than in the city. The halfling managed to keep up with the taller members of the party, though he complained about our “tallness” the entire way. I noticed he eats more than the four of us “tall” people combined, and he must have grown up in a port town because he swears like a sailor. He is definitely not shy about sharing intimate details with anyone willing to listen (or can’t avoid listening).

We got to the mine right as it was growing dark out, so we figured setting up a camp outside would be better than stumbling around inside. Tassar wanted to have a campfire to cook his food on, while Areon feared it would be a beacon to whatever was occupying the mines. I suggested that Antonio just use a cantrip to heat the halfling’s meal. Antonio looked surprised at the idea— I guess he must have fire issues— but agreed to do it. The night passed uneventfully.

We are slowly learning to work together. This requires figuring out who is best at doing what. For example, I felt it natural to let Areon range ahead when we were out in the open, scouting, but when we hit the inside of the mines, I wanted to go through first to look for traps. Tassar insisted that he walk with me in case of an attack, leaving our sorcerer Antonio and cleric Deitricha in the middle. The trick is sticking to a “marching order”— as soon as there is room to spread out, we seem to do that. The first large area we came to was filled with very realistic-looking “statues” of what looked like a band of adventurers, though only one was intact with a head— the look on the face was one of pure horror.

They are too heavy to carry and I doubt that they would fetch anything in the open market.

We had the option of moving on straight ahead, or to the left or right in relation to the entrance to the mines. The majority of footprints went straight ahead, so naturally, we avoided that way and turned right, where footprints only lead away in one direction. Tassar wanted to go left, insisting that there were “elven artifacts” in that direction (he must actually listen to me when he’s drunk, since I am interested in unearthing such treasures and had mentioned it in the Bright Blade yesterday), but Deitricha suggested he was just toying with me.

So we went right, towards a large cavern festooned with webs. As Tassar and Antonio (why was he in front of me?) stood in the entrance and argued about how best to clear the area, Antonio was attacked and apparently bitten by one of the three large spiders hanging in the webs. I managed to drop one with a crossbow bolt before they could react, and we finished off the other two while Antonio crawled weakly over to be healed by our cleric, an arrow sticking from his backside.

I found two cocoons and sliced them open— two desiccated reptilian humanoids slid out— kobolds. No swag whatsoever.

I managed to stay in front of the party long enough to find and disable a tripwire. Following the wire, I came to a thunderstone— that certainly would have alerted anything in the mines to our presence! I carefully removed it and handed it to Antonio.

I lead the party over to a ladder (this place has a lot of ladders) and climbed up to peer over the top— only to be hit by a sling stone. I picked off one kobold standing on a ledge above me while my companions clambered up the ladder— they managed to finish off two more before the last routed. Darn kobolds only had their slings and stones— nothing valuable. In fact, this place doesn’t seem to have anything worth taking.

We tried to chase the kobold, but he was too fast. Unfortunately, Tassar was running ahead of me and fell into a pit. Lucky it was only a pit trap! The fact that the kobold didn’t set the trap off makes me think our halfling is carrying a lot more in his pack than I would have though him capable of carrying. Probably all food.

Once Tassar was out we followed the fleeing kobold into a long, narrow tunnel. More kobolds were pelting us with rocks from a ledge higher up, I took out one, and then slowly inched into the room to allow my friends in to help fight. I felt a sudden pain in my back, and all went dark....

Posted by Kristin on January 6, 2004, 18:59

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Kythorn 5, 1373, Silverymoon

I became conscious several hours later, very sore, but obviously alive. I was surprised at how my wounds were bandaged, until I looked over and saw that Deitricha was also wounded and tended to in a similar fashion. Apparently, Tassar and Areon had pulled us (including Antonio) to safety after fighting through the swarm of kobolds, and attempted to dress our wounds. It is a comfort to know how dependable they are— I’ve never adventured with a group that worked together so well. Upon first impression, Areon appears reserved, while Tassar comes off as downright rude. I now see that it is more like determination in Areon, and in Tassar, a misguided attempt to be social (I like him anyway).

We were now up on the ledge where the snipers had been standing. Deitricha was unconscious— no doubt as a result of the ambush I failed to see. I was a bit too dizzy to stand up, but I crawled over to the edge of the outcropping we were resting on, resolved to keep watch. Areon and Tassar were in need of rest, and Antonio kept getting knocked out. We fended off one surprise attack; I sunk an arrow into one kobold while a stone flew over my head and hit my tall human companion— poor Antonio is just not good at laying low!

Another half day passed before Deitricha finally roused— thankfully she could heal her self up well enough at that point, with some to spare for us. Apparently my halfling friend felt we had rested long enough, as he insisted on moving on— though he offered to do the scouting ahead personally. As he started to clank up the nearest passage, I reminded him that halflings can’t see in the dark as well as elves, but Deitricha offered him her everburning torch and off he went. I should have insisted on going ahead first— he walked right into another ambush. I quickly caught up with him and managed to shoot a few kobolds with my crossbow. As we dealt with them, I heard the sound of fighting behind us— Areon was taking care of those and Deitricha was tending to Antonio, who should have remained resting. Still, we got through it and the end result was less kobolds for the next attack. We climbed back up on the ledge and decided to try and get some proper rest. Tassar wanted his trail rations heated up again— I offered to help this time and he handed them to me. That is trust.

They weren’t half bad— I’m getting used to eating halfling rations, I guess!

After resting for what we guessed was about 24 hours, we decided we’d better get on with our task before the kobolds came looking for us again. In spite of my paranoia, as soon as I heard the yipping of kobolds off down a narrow passage, I moved forward to take point, and hit a tripwire. Tassar and I both tried to catch the thunderstone that inevitably fell from the sprung trap, but neither of us managed to catch it before it hit. Boom! I assume that the yipping stopped, though of course I had been deafened by the sound of the thunderstone, so I couldn’t verify it. Any chance of surprise gone, Tassar moved ahead of me and rushed down the passage. We all quickly followed.

The battle was bloody but brief. We found ourselves in a small room with sling bullets hailing down on us from a ledge, while other kobolds engaged Tassar in melee. One kobold stood back and began to cast spells, while our own Antonio (also standing back) took him out with a well-timed fire spell. Areon found himself in combat with a chainmailed, axe-toting and rather large kobold. Somehow Deitricha got to Areon just as he would have gone down from a swing of the big kobold’s axe, but she went down instead, just as she delivered a life-saving spell to the wood elf. A concerted effort by those still standing finished off the armored kobold, causing the few remaining kobolds to flee, and Tassar and I ran to Deitricha— luckily she was still alive and we managed to get her patched up. With the exception of Areon, we all still had ringing ears from the thunderstone when we rounded the next corner, hoping that we had just survived the final battle.

We found ourselves in a cavern filled with kobolds— but they were all females and their young— not a weapon among them. While I realize they often grow up to be nasty creatures, I have met one or two nice ones over the years, so was more than happy to leave them go so long as the promised to never come back to these mines. Better still, they gave us a nice pile of loot! I did a quick estimate of the coin, but we decided we’d better get Deitricha home sooner rather than later, so we fashioned a litter out of one of the mine’s many ladders and carted her, and the loot, back to Silverymoon. Thankfully, the trip back was uneventful. We got Deitricha to her own temple where they promised to patch her up, and then the rest of us went to the Bright Blade Brandished for a few rounds of house ale. We divided up our loot: 300gp in coin, two very nice weapons (one a great sword which Areon wanted, and the other, some gnomish weapon worth selling), a beautifully-engraved gold ring of Chultan design with a green spinel (I would love to keep it, but it is worth more than all the other loot combined), and a silver necklace with an alexandrite— I have heard that alexandrite is considered lucky in local lore, so I’ve tucked that into Deitricha’s share of the spoils. Other than selling off what we can’t use and splitting the remainder of the coin, we still have the 500gp to retrieve from Lord Greycastle. The night is young— I’ll go “convert” our loot into coin and, divvy it up, and then take Deitricha her share. That is, after I get done listening to my new friends share the tale of our heroics at the bar— it gets better with each telling!

Posted by Kristin on January 16, 2004, 22:39

A Short Adventure

Kythorn 7, 1373, Silverymoon

I stumbled home after our celebration, to rest— I noticed that Tassar lives close by, in that house Lady Brenin occupies. I wonder if he knows about the… well, I suppose it doesn’t matter, it was a long time ago and no one ever was caught. Still, the town guard keeps an eye on things, so he’s undoubtedly safe. Of course, who’s protecting town guards?

Anyway, the night passed uneventfully and I left my small home in the old oak tree to head back to the Bright Blade Brandished, where we had all decided to meet before collecting our pay. Antonio was already there (he’s a human— don’t they need sleep?) and had ordered a huge breakfast for us all. I haven’t bought a meal since hooking up with this group! But, if it makes them happy to feed me, who am I to argue? We finished breakfast and headed off to visit Lord Greycastle.

He seemed pleased at our quick success clearing out his mines and paid us straight away. I mentioned the strange humanoid statues that we’d found in the mines, and explained that we didn’t ever come across any clues as to how they got there. I could see my friends had no idea why I was telling him all of this, until I offered our services to periodically go back through and clean out any new threats that may arise— for a fee, of course. After all, we know the mines now better than anyone, Greycastle included. I am pretty sure he will keep that in mind, but for now, the only work he had available was as caravan guards to Everlund. He had a merchant caravan leaving Silverymoon in two days’ time, and needed resourceful people such as ourselves. Already finding us trustworthy, he offered us each 100 gp right away, and 100 more to be provided when we return from Everlund. We readily accepted, and took our coin. Antonio disappeared into the nearest marketplace after we agreed to let him handle provisions for our trip. The rest of us headed back to the tavern. Areon and I sat down where we had a good view of the other patrons, while Deitricha and Tassar sat at another table, closer to where a steady supply of alcohol could be acquired. I wasn’t surprised to see Tassar drinking so early in the day, but I was astonished to see Deitricha throwing back drinks with equal enthusiasm.

Areon was quiet, studying the other people in the bar, no doubt looking for clues to whatever it is he searches for. I kept my ears open, hoping to hear something interesting, and get caught up on the local rumors. Two piqued my curiosity:

1: A ruined tower two days’ ride west in Upper Rauvin Vale is haunted. Ghostly lights have been seen, and moans have been heard at night. Travelers on the road won’t camp near it.

2: People are disappearing around the dock area here at night— so far it’s been the types that have “business” in the dock areas that go missing. The last one was two night’s ago, two blocks from this very tavern.

I heard both of these bits of conversation in the early afternoon, and though I realized that we couldn’t drop our caravan guarding job to check out the ruined tower (as exciting as it sounds!), we were free for the evening and could provide a few extra pairs of eyes for the town guard patrolling the dock areas. At least, that’s what I thought. Areon was more than willing to check it out, but we had to wait until Antonio came back from making purchases for our trip, so I made my way over to Tassar and Deitricha to let them know what I’d overheard.

I was surprised to discover that drunkenness is transmissible, or at least, somehow, Tassar had managed to get Deitricha drunk very quickly. Really drunk. I’m not sure how she was staying conscious. At any rate, I suggested that we plan to go to the docks later in the evening, and they both looked at me like I’d turned into a rock wyrm. Just then I saw Antonio stride past, obviously excited about something, and went to catch him before he wandered off to do more shopping. Apparently, Deitricha and Tassar left the tavern while I was talking to our sorcerer friend. I was a bit perplexed that they weren’t excited about the prospect of fighting off whatever it was that was causing citizens to disappear, but Antonio and Areon were up to the task, so we let Antonio finish up his shopping so we could head over at dusk. I was a little confused as to why a human and a halfling would even be doing what I suspected Deitricha and Tassar were doing, but Antonio pointed out that they are adults. I just hope when they sober up they are still willing to work together!

Later, Areon, Antonio and I walked down to the docks to check things out. I had already bumped into a town guard earlier and let him know we’d be helping them keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Our diligence was rewarded when I saw a shadowy humanoid form, carrying another person, duck into an a sewer entrance. Areon blew his signal whistle as we gave chase, and Antonio, knowing his most potent spells would not work within the mythal that protects Silverymoon, handed me his lantern and stayed above to wait for the town guard while Areon and I continued down into the sewers.

Areon is not used to tracking below ground, but we caught a blur of motion and followed it. I marked the sewer walls with chalk so that Antonio and the guards could catch up with us. I sensed something behind us and turned, crossbow ready, as the claws of a ghoul raked my side. I hit it with a crossbow bolt that embedded in the undead creature right up to the fletching, and Areon finished it off with one blow. I was lucky that elves aren’t susceptible to a ghoul’s attack, and luckier still that Areon had purchased a wand to provide curing—I needed it! Within moments, Antonio appeared with guards. Three continued to search for the victim with us and the other went back to their station after we gave them a description of what we were following.

Areon had no more luck tracking the figure we had been following before the ghoul attacked, but I noticed a few drops of blood near the wall further along, which we followed. Something else seemed wrong to me after we’d gone a few yards. I studied my surroundings then, and saw that we were standing beside what looked like the outline of a concealed door. After checking it for traps, I found the hidden catch and released it— we walked down a set of steps and found ourselves in a room filled with wooden crates and barrels. Sadly, we had no time to look through them. Another door was visible on the other side of the room and, seeing it was not trapped, we kicked it open and I was nearly hit with an arrow— I sent a retaliatory shot in the direction the attack came from and skewered a human thug. I must learn to watch my own back, as I suddenly felt a blade slice into me right about where the kobold spear had earlier in the week. This time I managed to stay up and fighting. My friends and the guards made it into the room, and though two guards fell during the ensuing battle, my assailant was killed. A third thug in the room was hiding behind a set of bunk beds (this was apparently makeshift barracks of a sort)— he went out another door and ran off while we grabbed the wounded guards and headed back to the street above. As much as we wanted to give chase, we felt undermanned— we’re not stupid!

We were fortunate that none of the guards were dead, and that there were healers available at the guards’ headquarters. We offered to go back out with more guards, but by the time we could, the hidden storage room had been cleared. I’ve found out since that it was a slaver ring, and though we didn’t get back the person we saw being carted into the sewers, we’ve at least ended their operations in this port. We called it a night.

This morning, we met again at the tavern for another generous meal paid for by Antonio. Everyone managed to be there, though it wasn’t too hard to tell that Tassar and Deitricha had spent the evening doing more than drinking. Antonio gave a rundown of his purchases for everyone, which included some horses, a wagon, barrels— we may need caravan guards of our own! We also related our adventures of the night before for Tassar and Deitricha, though they were rather quiet concerning their own activities. Deitricha eventually excused herself to go get some rest, and, almost as an afterthought, mentioned “at home.” We all wandered out then, agreeing that we could use the extra rest, rather than revelry, before embarking on tomorrow morning’s journey to Everlund.

Posted by Kristin on January 21, 2004, 23:33

Nether Region

Kythorn 9, 1373, Nether Mountains

I hate just sitting around, doing nothing. At least if I’m sitting in Silverymoon, I can listen to the constant murmurings of the townsfolk as they discuss the minutiae of their lives— much of the time here I just get to listen to the wind howl, and occasionally, one of my companions howl.

Yesterday was exciting enough— our group met (Antonio with two horses and a huge wagon filled with our stuff) and Tassar riding a dog. I had heard rumor that the temperature had been steadily dropping outside of Silverymoon, so I used my earnings to purchase winter clothing for us all, tents, and extra rations for our trek. Areon of course, had spent his money on a wand of healing, and Deitricha, well, she brought a note. But she didn’t share it with us— she gave it to Tassar! I’ll have to remember to read that later.

We met up with the Caravan Captain, Morn Drake, next, and discovered that in addition to two caravan wagons, there were four humans (counting Drake)— two drivers and two crossbowmen. They also had nine horses in addition to Antonio’s, four to pull their wagons, and 5 for us to ride! Of course, Tassar was on Otto already, and Antonio needed to drive our wagon, which left three for us to ride and two horses to change out as needed. Areon took point, which was fine with me since we were leaving the city limits, Deitricha kept an eye on the river to our right while I watched the mountains to our left. It was quite foggy, and of course, cold. Two hours out we passed some Silver Knights returning to the city; they had no news of any hazards ahead of us.

We made good time and were about halfway to Everlund when the snow began to fall heavily, and the winds became gale force. We attempted to form a camp a little ways off the road, but there just wasn’t enough shelter to keep a fire going, and the temperature was dropping now that the sky had darkened. We had seen lots of little holes dotting the sides of the Nether Mountains. We quickly found a cave that just had two caverns in it; Tassar called Antonio and I up to check it out, and, other than finding some frozen blood near the crushed skeleton of an ogre, it seemed like it would work. We put the horses in the “side” cave and the three wagons around the edge of the main cave, with a new fire in the center. We split up watches; I took the second watch with Deitricha in the middle of the night.

Though I had read her and Tassar’s little diaries (I always keep tabs on N’Tel’Quess companions, lest they get subverted by Zhents or otherwise fall under an evil enchantment, as I hear happens fairly easily and often), but I didn’t really have a clear enough picture of why they had been drinking so heavily of their own volition. I can understand why humans fall for Tel’Quessir so often, but I am genuinely confused about a human and a halfling (and vice versa). Deitricha must have been too sober to discuss it though, as she didn’t offer me much information, despite my repeated attempts at friendly cross-questioning. Suddenly, I heard a decidedly odd noise from the direction of the horses— the sound of rock scraping on rock. By the time I leapt to my feet, and started to run over to them, the first panicky whinny erupted, followed by the screams of at least one of the horses. Areon managed to get there and kill the orc coming through a concealed door before I did, but I managed to shoot the one following it! I noticed as I did so the lifeless glaze of its eyes— the only thing worse than orcs are undead orcs! Fortunately, Deitricha was able to turn them, and as they shambled back the way they’d come, Antonio hurled one of his “cocktails” at them and they lit up like torches.

Areon, Tassar and Antonio followed the zombies, while Deitricha went back to the main cavern— two of the horses had fled the orcs and were injured— as Drake’s men brought them back out of the storm, she was able to heal them. I resigned myself to rechecking the entire cave for another secret door— I usually can easily see the crude doors made by N’Tel’Quess and feel terrible that I missed that one.

Our male party members returned shortly, indicating that they had found several live orcs, each with one eye socket scarred over, in the tunnels beyond the secret door. I had considered blocking the secret entrance, as Deitricha wished, but the thought that there were more orcs, one-eyed orcs, no less, was too much— I had to go and see if we could clear them out.

We found two tunnels— one ended abruptly with a cave-in, and the other (now strewn with charred zombies) led to a larger chamber. The chamber held four blazing sconces, a tapestry depicting the one-eyed orc deity Gruumsh on the far wall, and— twenty undead orcs. They turned, as one, to attack us. We fought with everything we had— bolts and flame, sword, and divine wrath, but there were too many for us. Areon went down, and then Tassar. Deitricha urged us to fall back, so I grabbed Areon and she, Tassar. As we dragged them down the hall, Antonio hit the pursuing zombies with a fiery spell. As Deitricha was busy fussing over Tassar, I remembered that Areon has that healing wand on him, I found it quickly and attempted to use it on him. It must have worked, as his wounds seemed to stop bleeding, but he was still unconscious. I figured it would be quicker to use something I was more sure of and dumped my only healing potion down his throat. That worked!

We managed to get ourselves back to our relatively safe cavern and I used my copper coins to wedge the stone door closed. Areon and I sat and watched it while the N’Tel’Quess got some sleep. I could see he was as impatient as I to be away from this place. To make matters more unbearable, we could hear the steady thumping of a zombie on the other side of the door—clumsily attempting to gain entry.

Morning brought more bad news— the blizzard was still raging and Captain Drake wasn’t willing to risk continuing on to Everlund until the storm broke, especially with 18” of new snow since we’d taken shelter in the cave. So, with protests from Deitricha, we gathered at the concealed door and removed the coins. A single zombie lurched out. Areon and I had been standing back to get clear shots at whatever emerged. Unfortunately, somehow Antonio had jumped right in front of the opening to light the zombie, and in his enthusiasm lit himself and Tassar, who of course was then unable to effectively hit the zombie. Deitricha’s attempt to turn it must have failed as well. Areon and I struck true, but as I said, Antonio suddenly appeared in front of us. Antonio’s arrow hit him square in the back, and my bolt split the arrow neatly down the middle. Antonio dropped. Ironically, the zombie then did fall, having finally caught fire from Antonio’s little concoction.

Deitricha revived Antonio, and we went charging back down to the room where Gruumsh’s worshippers (or thralls) had been. They were gone! I appraised the tapestry, and finding it wasn’t all that well made, allowed Antonio the satisfaction of setting it to blaze. I then examined a spot below it that looked like a bowl was meant to be placed under the tapestry beside rectangular, blood-stained grooves in the floor, but before we could figure out what, Tassar remarked that he heard guttural voices of what was likely live orcs down another passage, and with that, we all had to run to keep up with Areon as he started out towards the sound....

Posted by Kristin on January 27, 2004, 19:42

Two Eyes are Better Than One

Kythorn 11, 1373, Everlund

...and found ourselves face-to-face with four one-eyed orcs standing around a fire in the middle of a cavernous room. Before we’d even assessed the situation, Tassar ran headlong towards them, only to fall into a pit trap. He was obviously unhurt, as we would occasionally see an arrow fly out into the flank of a passing orc.

There were a lot of orcs, some undead, some just binocularly challenged. I took out several with my crossbow, and saw my companions making use of their various fighting skills. Deitricha spent her time between dusting the skeletal orcs and reviving Antonio, and one time had to quickly search for Areon’s wand to revive him. One orcish adept said, apparently (as Deitricha was the only one that could understand the guttural language), “This is how you cast a spell!” — an insult meant for Antonio, who had collapsed while attempting to cast one fiery spell. Of course, the orc’s spell had no effect on us, so it was an odd threat. I replied for Antonio with, “This is how you use a crossbow!” and sunk a bolt into the surprised (and now dead) orc’s brow.

The last orc standing bolted out of the cavern, and by the looks of it, out of the Nether Mountains entirely. We hauled our halfling out of the pit, and searched the bodies in the area— I of course grabbed the crossbow off the orc that had obviously not known the quality of the weapon he carried— it’s at least as nice as the one I’d just purchased in Silverymoon. I did a quick look around for more traps (I guess Tassar managed to find the only one), and we followed one of two paths out of the cavern. Finding it lead to the outside of the mountain, and led to dozens of orc tracks, we realized we could not fight an entire mountain full of orcs. We could see way markers (skulls on pikes) indicating whatever it is that orcs feel they need to mark to show who is in charge of an area. Areon was obviously disappointed, but we can come back to finish them off at some other time. Tassar scurried ahead of us to the other tunnel leading out of the cavern— it split into a Y— he took the left and I the right. He found nothing but foul smelling pelts in a small room, while I found— Dante! Dante D’mato, who was quite possibly the friendliest person I’ve ever met next to Antonio, was standing alone at the end of a corridor, behind a set of bars— a crude but effective prison cell. The only reason he wasn’t immediately shot was his eyes— there were two of them. For all Dante’s politeness and obvious happiness at seeing me, he was quite definitely an orc. While my curious friends caught up to me, I gave him a quick quiz, and discovered he was a bard from Waterdeep who had met with mishap that resulted in his human appearance being altered to its current orcish state.

Now, maybe it was the contrast of the friendly, cultured voice with the hideous visage, but I was immediately intrigued, even fascinated, by this creature. A few more questions convinced me that, looks aside, he at least didn’t have the temperament or inclinations of an orc, and before Areon could say anything, I found the keys and released Dante from the cell— Tassar pointed out we could “kill him later” if he turned out to be a follower of Gruumsh.

Dante assured us he was not, but did give us some information on his captors (who apparently didn’t find him orcish enough either)— this particular band of orcs is led by Grom, a necromancer said to be blessed by Gruumsh himself, who has a stronghold in the Nether Mountains. As we walked along, he told us of his time with these orcs (most of which was against his will), We found some barrels of wine and some water stained silks— not much in the way of treasure, but no one in our group would dream of leaving a drop of alcohol behind, so we lugged those back to the caravan with our new companion. Dante showed his gratitude by healing Areon and Antonio of their remaining injuries from our earlier battle. Our caravan group didn’t seem to be disturbed Dante’s presence, though we did agree not to give him a weapon till we knew his intentions better. He took it all in stride. Within seconds of arriving back with the caravan, we heard drums in the distance, no doubt an orcish call to arms or a ritual we’d prefer not to witness. So, we left in the 30” of snow (thankfully the wagons’ wheels were tall enough to allow the horses to pull them), Dante in the last wagon with Antonio and the rest of us ranging a short distance away.

We continued on at a rather slow pace due to the sheer amount of snow, and eventually had to stop when two of our horses gave up trying to pull the wagons. There were no sheltered areas to be found, so we opted to keep the river at our backs, hoping anything that chose to attack us would do so from the landward side. We just finished setting up camp when the howls of wolves, which we’d been hearing off in the distance, evolved into actual wolves, keen on tearing us apart. One of the crossbowmen had his throat ripped out by one. Dante was able to peg one with my borrowed crossbow, while shouting an inspiring tale over the howls, and he managed to survive being hit himself— not by a wolf, but by an arrow from Tassar! Assured it was an accident, he never the less gave Tassar a wider berth after that. He moved just in time too, since some stray fire spell of Antonio’s passed through, hitting only Tassar.

There was nothing to be done for the lost caravan crossbowman. We did skin the wolves and use the meat— not the best eating, but there was plenty.

It took us two more days to reach Everlund, but thankfully things were easier with no more attacks. We agreed to meet up with Drake again in five days— we are hoping that the snow will have melted off by then.

We were able to sell off our haul (old orc weapons, the wine and the skins) for about 350 gp. We’ll have to buy Dante a rapier and some travel gear, as he had none when we found him and he’s interested in traveling with us. I was relieved to see that he actually knew people in town who were able to verify he really was a human transformed into an orc.

We are staying in an inn called the Stone Griffin, which has a large petrified griffin in its center. We let Antonio do the haggling for our rooms— I was surprised to see that he put Tassar in with Deitricha, and Dante in with me! I know Antonio is young and apparently not wise in the way of certain things, but he’s just asking for trouble by pairing people up in that fashion. I was also surprised to see that he and Areon each got a single room, though Tassar and Deitricha have been giggling about remedying that. Here’s hoping whatever remedy they’ve chosen doesn’t result in the inn being burned to the ground.

Posted by Kristin on February 2, 2004, 15:36

Balancing Act

Kythorn 18, 1373, Silverymoon

This room arrangement worked out better than I thought, since there was a window available that led to Areon’s room. Now, I guess I’d better explain my suspicions.

One thing I have not told my companions (other than Areon, being neither human or currently involved with a human), is that I saw a Harper symbol scrawled in the corner of Dante’s cell when we found him. This is the most exciting thing I’d seen in about ten years of watching the town guard watching the Harper agent watching the town guard (I suspect they are both Harpers that don’t know each other is a Harper— a tale for another time). I’ve always been fascinated with the Harpers, mainly because they work against the evil Zhents. The more Zhents move into the area, the more Harpers arrive to keep an eye on things....

As it turned out, I was right about Dante, and he really had been polymorphed into an orc by a wizard— and had the means to turn himself back before reaching Everlund until Grom took his belongings and locked him up. That also explained why Rand Tallwood, the “shopkeeper” that we’d gone to talk to and re-outfit Dante, had given him such good quality armor and rapier when he only paid for basic goods— that was, in fact, his contact in Everlund. Thanks to our bizarre room renting, I managed to get Dante aside to get that much info (or rather, I told him that much and agreed to keep quiet to all other than Areon, who, of any of my friends, would notice if I was behaving oddly), if I could help. He is obviously a good judge of character, as he agreed.

My “job” was not that interesting, but I did accomplish it! Each night I had to sneak out of the Stone Griffin unseen, and I had to slide past Tassar and Deitricha’s window to get there (thankfully they were always doing something that prevented them from noticing a female elf back lighted by the moon climbing past) to Areon’s quarters, and climb in, then go out the window on the other wall of his corner room. I really surprised him the first night, but he was so relieved by my explanation of my behavior that I regained his confidence. Areon and I would then slip out of town and walk for nearly an hour, to get to a specific tree. And wait. For two hours! If we didn’t see anything unusual, we’d just head back and sneak back into the inn again, our friends none the wiser. I thought this would allow Dante to get the extra rest humans seem to require (the poor guy had barely slept while in Grom’s captivity), but he always looked even more haggard when I came back in— the two occupants in the rooms on either side of him would keep him awake! So, each morning when I got back into the room I’d bang on the wall if things were too noisy. This seems to please my friends immensely.

The last night in Everlund, Areon and I finally completed our Harper “assignment.” When we went to the tree, we found a small scroll of paper stuck in the crotch of the tree. I confess I did look at the note, but it was in some code I could not completely make out. As promised, Areon and I took the note back to the Tallwood’s shop and slipped it under the door. I was sorry the person leaving the note had not wanted to show himself, but hopefully someone will put in a good word for us if Areon or I ever want to join the Harpers on a more official basis.

The next day we departed for Silverymoon, with Dante and the caravan. We decided to go straight through, considering that any campsite would likely receive attention from orcish attackers. We surrounded the caravan in the same fashion as we had on the way to Everlund, Areon at the head, Deitricha watching the river, I watching the mountains, Tassar galloping ahead on Otto and then waiting until the last wagon caught up, which was driven by Dante and in which Antonio was preparing for any situation that needed firepower— literally.

About halfway home, in the darkness, Areon came upon a burning wagon right in the middle of the road. He and Tassar went on ahead to investigate, and when we heard commotion, Deitricha and I followed to find two burning wagons and four human zombies (not yet burning), which were attacking our comrades. Tassar had fallen off of Otto, but luckily Deitricha had seen and was so incensed that she turned the zombies, who shuffled away from her as quickly as they could.

The rest of our caravan was coming forward as the zombies shuffled back into view. We peppered them with arrows and fire, and Deitricha fell off of her horse in the fracas, I sped off to catch the horse, and did so, but by then I was away from the fire of the burning wagons. I noticed movement a ways up the mountain— humanoids about one hundred yards up the sloping surface on a ledge. I grabbed the reigns of the frightened horse and returned to the party. The zombies were dispatched and they were moving a charred (and stripped clean, apparently) wagon off the path so we could squeeze by with our caravan. As I began to tell them of the movement ahead, we heard a call to arms in the form of a horn blast.

We moved off as quickly as we could, though at one point a dozen orc warriors led by an orc in chainmail riding a dire wolf was close enough that we could see the evil glint in their eyes. Tassar took a potshot at the leader and actually managed to lodge an arrow in his chain. Of course, he also shouted his name so that Grom (for that is who we think it was) would know who to seek revenge on.

We kept up what amounted to a forced march until we saw the Moonbridge leading to our city.

I had got to thinking of Dante as a Harper rather than an orc, so I felt almost guilty as we walked through the streets of Silverymoon, where all eyes turned a disapproving stare on him. Antonio disappeared (we figured he was already shopping again!) and soon returned with beautiful silver mugs each engraved with our first name. It will be doubly handy if I meet up with a lycanthrope in a bar.

Dante spent the night in my tree home with me— my house is much too small for more than one person, especially when one is a hulking orc. I peeked out now and again, since I don’t need sleep, and I swore I saw Areon keeping watch on my place. For some reason, that makes me feel more secure, even though Silverymoon is the safest place I can think of. He hates being cooped up indoors — even when the house is a tree, so I don’t invite him up. I think he spends most nights “hunting” though I don’t know just what all he hunts for.

The morning came and we all met at the Bright Blade Brandished for breakfast, where Antonio seemed intent on making plans to go to that abandoned tower I’d heard rumors about. We eventually left to go over to the Greycastle estate to collect our pay. Unfortunately Lord Greycastle was not available, but his butler was expecting us and provided us with our earnings. I was surprised that Antonio already had an idea for spending our money— he knew someone at a local magic college that could polymorph Dante back into a human. I was immediately confused by conflicting emotions. First, if Dante was human again, he could go back to doing whatever exciting things Harpers do without my assistance any longer, and well, he’d be human, the N’Tel’Quess that most often follow the Zhentarim ideals. Even more confusing to me, the two humans in my party were the ones that were pushing to make his appearance human again! I knew my reasons were selfish though, and kept my concerns to myself, even paying a third of the cost of the spell.

He was changed instantly back to his human form, and though attractive for a human, just not what I had expected. For one thing, his vanity level increased 200%— the clothes we had provided weren’t right for his image. Luckily Deitricha was willing to take him shopping. I needed a drink!

I must have had too much to drink, because, when I became conscious again, I found myself lying on a bearskin rug in front of my own hearth in my home, with Areon characteristically pacing the perimeter of the room. I must have really worried him, as his expression unexpectedly softened briefly when he saw I was coming around. He only said, “We had a mishap with our N’Tel’Quess companions.”

Posted by Kristin on February 17, 2004, 17:23

Theona’s Home

Copyright 2004 by Hugh and Kristin Johnson

Theona’s Home in Silverymoon.

Posted by Kristin on February 17, 2004, 17:34

Inflame

Kythorn 21, 1373, Silverymoon

Having friends is hard work— I had been a loner for years and never really minded that lifestyle. Areon was not kidding about the trouble either— all of our little circle of companions were having problems, which in turn were causing each other problems. Let me explain as I go, as my thoughts are in turmoil.

I quickly grabbed my backpack and followed Areon out of my house, leaving Dante to sleep off his drink. I didn’t even stop to wonder why he was unconscious in my side room, trusting Areon’s belief that time was of the essence. Areon took me towards our favorite tavern, and then stopped and cursed like he’d lost something. He hurriedly explained to me that we were looking for Tassar, who had been ambushed in the alley by a group of town guards. By the time Areon had climbed down from his view of the incident high up in the trees, the guards were gone, as was our short friend. Areon is normally an excellent tracker in the wilderness, but hasn’t learned all the nuances of following quarry within the city limits. Luckily I had sobered up enough to help— I spotted some drops of blood and drag marks leading from the alley behind the Bright Blade and we picked our way carefully, following the sporadic crimson trail. It was a long trail to follow, and we had to work together at a few points, because, though I could see that someone had been bleeding and dragged through the alleys, I wasn’t always clear which way they had turned. As much as he dislikes cities, Areon is learning to look for these differences when tracking, and between the two of us, we muddled through. When I asked him why we didn’t stop for Deitricha or Antonio, he indicated that they were the last two people that should be with us when we caught up with Tassar— Antonio’s father and Deitricha’s older brother, both members of the town guard in good standing, were apparently the ones that had beaten him and left him for dead!

It was nearly dawn by the time we found him. We had walked more than half the length of the city, backtracking multiple times, to eventually find him in a deserted building in the dock area well past the Moonbridge. We found Tassar strung up by his feet in an otherwise empty room, though a full bucket of water was on the floor below his hanging form. Tassar had bruises and congealing blood on nearly every bit of exposed skin, and his face was puffy and swollen. Areon was just tall enough to reach the knot on the rope to get him down, and I splashed some water on the halfling to revive him a bit. He didn’t seem altogether coherent and I was afraid he’d pass out again, so I used my remaining healing potion on him. Tassar just wasn’t coming around and I had suggested to Areon we take him to the Temple of Silver Stars (I’ve actually found work through them before and knew the Moonmistress would help Tassar, even with my limited gold). I started off with the halfling right away and Areon agreed to follow us at a distance to make sure we weren’t being followed.

Tassar needed a bit more healing than I realized; apparently, small folk have as many bones to break as us “tall” folk. Two clerics cleaned him up nicely for the 22 gold I offered, though of course Areon and eventually Tassar donated some to the temple afterwards. I must be sure to thank Selûne for the pleasant nature of her priests.

Tassar was hungry, of course, and it was time for breakfast, so we went back to the Bright Blade and found that Antonio was already there, and Deitricha had also just arrived. Antonio was clearly upset and begged us to get ready to leave town immediately. Deitricha just had a look of general unease, though we hadn’t yet told her of the night’s events. I had to go back and find Dante (who was not, apparently, eating with us) to see if he was going along to check out the ruined tower, or moving on with his Harper business, so we agreed to meet at my house midmorning. When I got home, Dante had departed without so much as leaving a note, though I didn’t think to look for any hidden symbols; it appears he was in even more of a hurry than Antonio, so we grabbed some supplies and departed. Antonio brought the horses and Otto around, but did not want to spend the time getting the wagon ready.

We were already well on our way out of town when we all finally got to discuss the events of the night before. I think that perhaps Tassar wanted to spare Antonio and Deitricha from some of the details, so he was a little vague with some of the story. Antonio admitted to having a falling out with his father, and Deitricha seemed to be aware that her brother was not comfortable with her relationship with a halfling, but no one was really making the connection. When we made camp later in the evening, I took watch with Deitricha, and managed to give her the rest of the story. I feel bad now— I thought I was doing her a favor, but now she is struggling with what appears to be divided loyalties. She believes her brother is a good person— we can only wonder what Tassar could have done to make her brother behave so horribly.

Being away from home seemed to have the desired effect for all of my companions: Areon is always happier when we are away from the city, Tassar looked a lot less paranoid, and even Antonio and Deitricha seemed to lighten up a bit. We were all maybe too relaxed— we almost tripped over a dead cow in the middle of the trail we followed. We hadn’t passed any farms, and there were no visible tracks to show how the cow had arrived and been slain and the cow was devoid of blood. It was injured prior to its death; that much was obvious, it just didn’t have any blood on it, nor was there any where it lay. Antonio insisted it was a vampire, but as none of us has ever seen a vampire (and Tassar doubts their existence altogether), we began to look around us for any obvious signs of blood sucking creatures of the night.

It was late morning, and the sun was shining. No vampires appeared that we noticed.

Another few miles down the road we did come to a farm, and I wanted to stop and let the people know of the mutilated cow. My friends were in a hurry, I think, but when Tassar thought he smelled freshly baked pie, he began running towards the farmhouse with Deitricha in tow.

The two men we found out working in a nearby field thanked us for finding “Nellie,” and said there had been a rash of killings on the neighboring McNam and Narl farms too, over the last three nights, with cattle found in similar conditions. Antonio asked if we could camp on the farm, and as I pointed out it was still only mid-morning, the friendly farmer mentioned that the hamlet of White Haven, just up the road, had a nice Inn that we’d probably prefer anyway. We thanked him and, seeing our other companions emerging from the farmhouse, headed back to the road leading west.

We soon arrived in the quaint little farming community and stopped at the Frosty Mug for a bit of lunch. Afterwards, my friends started fanning out one or two at a time, looking for places to shop for supplies, while I grilled an older human named Marl about the tower up the road. He took such a round about way to spit out the information that I was sure we’d all expire from old age long before he finished. Topping off his beverage of choice kept him interested in the conversation, but he remained painful to talk to. After several hours, I managed to get this much information:

The “old” tower is 100 years old. The wizard Kantrell disappeared 70 years ago when the tower blew up.
Rumor is that the tower was built over a gate leading right into one of the Hells.
Strange lights are seen around the ruined tower at night.
A band of fortune seekers went up a month ago and never came back. Group consisted of an elf, dwarf, gnome and something not-quite-right.

I presume that Marl is still telling the tale to anyone that is willing to listen, but, seeing that my friends were ready to forge ahead, I thanked him and hurried off.

We soon were heading west again, anticipating our imminent arrival at the tower. A seemingly random encounter brought our travel to an abrupt halt. We were traveling close to the River Rauvin and noticed some rather large footprints in the dirt headed towards the water. Curious, we walked a distance until we saw a huge troll, its back to us, facing the river. Now, none of us had ever killed a troll, but we knew they were bad news, and Antonio was fairly sure that fire was the answer (isn’t it always?). Areon and I let loose with arrow and bolt, while Tassar ran up to the beast and began to hack at it. Antonio used a magic missile while Deitricha, realizing the troll was regenerating from the damage, ran forward to throw oil on it (getting hit by an arrow from Areon in the process) and pulling the staggered Tassar away from what would surely have been a killing blow from the troll. Running to stand close to Antonio, I shouted to him to light my next bolt so we could safely ignite the oil from a distance. He started to agree, but then, inexplicably, ran forward and lit the troll with a spell that required him to touch the giant creature. Flames shot up from where he touched it, catching the beast on fire, which, in turn, enraged it. We couldn’t move fast enough— the troll’s claws ripped Antonio apart, killing him instantly. The monster succumbed to the flames moments later, never to rise again.

We were all in shock, but agreed that, even though he was fighting with his family, returning Antonio’s body home was the right thing to do. We turned around and headed right back to Silverymoon. We didn’t talk much on the way home, but at some point we realized that Deitricha, human cleric that she is, would be the best spokesperson for giving the sad news to his family, as there was no way we could begin to pay to have him raised, if it was even possible. I went with her, while our male companions waited for us nearby; if Antonio’s father had seen Tassar, somehow he would have been blamed for the tragic death. Deitricha smoothed over the incident; she described the incident to Antonio’s mother well enough, but she glossed over why we had left town in such a hurry to begin with. I just handed the grieving parent Antonio’s silver engraved mug (she didn’t ask for anything else he’d been carrying), and admittedly, I muttered a few things about why he’d left home the day before. Deitricha was mortified, though I doubt Antonio’s mother was even listening.

I am certain my companions will want to leave town again and head for that tower, but some of the thrill of the hunt has gone out of me. Realistically, we need to find an arcane magic wielder we can work with, and hopefully, get along with, to even make the attempt. Having a group of companions that I can trust and enjoying being with is a rare combination for me. I wish I had the calm determination Areon always seems to have— even with the tragedy that has befallen us, I felt safer having him close by.

Posted by Kristin on February 24, 2004, 21:39

A Vulnerable Spot

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 on March 3, 2004, 18:38

Regrettable Vault

Kythorn 24, 1373, Ruined Tower

It is hard to search with certain people— sometimes one must just give up and let them find the traps themselves, and pray no one dies because of it!

After the stirge incident, I went down a small set of stairs to find a room filled with old bones and rusty metal. Half expecting to have them all rise to fight us, I was calling for Deitricha to have divine assistance standing by when Tassar just wandered in. The bones remained inanimate, as they should. We continued on, oh, about two feet, to come to a door. Finding no traps, we passed through into a bizarre scene— a long room, or a wide hallway, if you prefer, and eight statues of a mage in various contortions, as if casting a spell. William didn’t recognize the gestures, but we found some great stuff to plunder, though it would have been nicer had the items not been on two desiccated corpses: one, an elf in half plate, the other, a robed figure impaled to the wall by a bastard sword. What was left of their facial expressions showed confusion— perhaps one had turned on the other, or maybe the mage statues had cast a spell on them— it was clear that the only weapons in the room belonged to them and had been instrumental in their mutual demise. Good quality stuff though— in addition to the nice bastard sword, we found a well-crafted large steel shield, longbow and arrows. I was still admiring the stuff when I heard a pitiful “woof” sound. Running out of the room with my companions, I discovered that Tassar had found yet another pit trap; this time it was 20’ deep and filled with spikes. He was okay, but his poor riding dog Otto did not survive the fall, or at least, not the landing. To make matters worse, the trap doors swung shut again, preventing us from simply hauling Tassar up with a rope. While I was running back to the last room to grab a broken staff the previous party had used to beat each other to death, I heard another thud in the corridor with the pit— Deitricha had attempted to disarm it, I’m guessing, with her entire body, as she was now lying beside Tassar.

It wasn’t a total loss (except for poor Otto): they found a dead human rogue in the pit who had likely looted her former companions in the previous room— they obtained several carefully labeled potions, thieves’ tools, a rapier, shortbow and arrows, all of very good quality, and a bit of gold too. I was able to brace the trap doors open to allow them to be hauled out by rope.

Now, I don’t know where my brain was after finding all those neat trinkets, but I was itching to continue on and find more loot, so I tied a rope around my own waist to jump the 10’ across the pit, knowing Areon would hold on and keep me safe. I planned to let everyone else use the rope between us if they were uncomfortable jumping. I must remember to not do that when there is no room for a running jump, as I missed. The rope caught me though and Areon hauled me back up. I was reevaluating this, when Tassar (short of stature, heavy of armor, and now toting the large shield) jumped— and fell back into the pit. Well, now I couldn’t close the trap doors, as he was in the pit, so I jumped across (successfully) and hauled him out by a rope.

Before I could correct the issue with the open pit trap, we were attacked— the room we were on the edge of had six statues and two had wandered off their pedestals to smoosh us— two dread guards vs. Tassar the pincushion and I, still not recovered from the stirge attack. I would have probably died right there and then, but Areon pulled on the rope and hauled me back across the pit while Tassar fought the constructs, using his newfound shield to keep their own attacks less effective. By the time I got the trap doors shut and secured so we could run across as a group, Tassar was down and the walking statues were returning to their posts.

I quickly shut the trap and we dashed across. Deitricha ran up to stand over Tassar as the constructs reanimated and continued their assault. Both statues began to attack her, even with the rest of us in the room shooting them. Seeing she wasn’t going to last long, I yelled to Areon to pull out his wand. I am not sure where his mind was (judging by the nice grouping of arrows on the far side of the room, it was not on the current battle!), but after a few seconds my request filtered in and, with a look of recognition, he retrieved the wand of healing, alternately healing Tassar or Deitricha, or fighting the dread guard in front of him.

William was having trouble of his own. Apparently that nice spell he used on the stirge wasn’t an option, as he began tossing magical acid toward the fray. Unfortunately, the only thing he hit was Tassar. He went down. He got healed and back up, and then, I am ashamed to say, I hit him— a bolt aimed at his opponent hit him as he stood up. He went back down. Not wishing to endanger my friends further, I tumbled past Deitricha to stab the construct in the back. Had it been flesh and blood, this would have killed it outright. I hit it one more time and it went down, never to rise. I was about to run over and help Areon, noticing Deitricha was on the floor beside Tassar again and that William was apparently tapped out of magic, but Areon dropped his foe at that very moment too. He then helped patch up Deitricha and Tassar (who I apologized to profusely, though I honestly think Tassar somehow blamed William for my bolt)— I of course had to see what made those constructs work— but their armor was empty. In fact, their armor was now utterly useless, but they each had a rather nice shield.

We decided to just rest in this room, seeing as we were the only things left moving from what we’d seen so far. There was a rather largish well-like hole in the floor, but none of us felt up to investigating it. We ate a bit and took turns keeping watch. At one point I heard Tassar and William having it out— in the future, we’ll have to add “drink Tassar under the table” to our list of requirements after the “follow me” test so that new adventuring companions are truly compatible! Deitricha was obviously tired and not as talkative as I would have liked. Areon was, well, I’m not sure. He’d come over and sit by me for a minute, say something strange like “Nice night.” or “That pit was really big!” and then retreat to a corner for an hour or more.

After a length of time that we decided constituted a full night’s rest, we had a bit of breakfast and then went over to look at the hole in the far end of the room. It was about 12’ in diameter, with the words “Vault of Sorrow” written in Common over it. Now, from my small experience in these matters, taverns, inns, even mercenary units are given names in Common—places that hold great magics or ancient artifacts generally have a name in a more cryptic language— even Thorass would have given it an air of mystery. There was one interesting feature though— we couldn’t see the bottom, thanks to an inky darkness that our torchlight could not penetrate. We tried dipping a rope in and then pulling it out, half expecting it to be charred or cold or something, but it looked just as it had going in. We took a hunk of metal from the dread guard rubble pile and tied that on the rope— and then, we had to tie another rope onto that— finally hearing a clunk about 60’ down. The armor came out looking the same as it had on the way down. Seeing as we haven’t found any secret passages elsewhere, this must be the gate to one of the Hells, though honestly, I was expecting the glowing lights and ghostly moans promised by the local lore. Maybe we should take a closer look at the statues and locations of the corpses we’ve passed for more clues to where this pit leads....

Posted by Kristin on March 10, 2004, 18:03

Looks Like Hell

Kythorn 26, 1373, Somewhere in the Nine Hells

My comrades, either listening to my suggestions about the statues needing looked over again, or just unsure how to proceed, decided not to hop into the Vault of Sorrow. Instead, Deitricha, Areon and I went to check out the mage statue hall again, while Tassar and William went out of the ruins for some air. Neither attempted to beat the other, which surprised me, as I am certain I heard William mumbling in his sleep about “teaching that halfling a lesson.” While they were aboveground we examined the statues a bit more carefully. I can only assume that whatever spell the statues may have cast (for I am convinced the frozen hand gestures mean something), had been spent on the victims in the hall— perhaps some sort of enchantment that may have caused the human mage to attack a Tel-Quessir. I found the outline of a secret door, 5’ high, opposite the impaled mage, and upon opening it, we heard a lot of bellowing from a very loud, gruff voice. Curious, and slightly alarmed, we crept down the revealed 25’ corridor and found a shaft with a dwarf lying at the bottom. Apparently Tassar and William were done breathing outdoor air already, as they appeared and quickly climbed down the shaft. They began to chat with an obviously distressed dwarf who was trapped under a pile of debris. I quickly climbed down and pulled Tassar off the pile to help the dwarf, who introduced himself as Rosorc, up while Areon and Deitricha were climbing down, and then gave the parched dwarf some ale (which must have been the exact right thing to do, as I’ve apparently made a friend for life). He had been with traveling companions, but had been separated in some rather involved chase, somehow winding up in the ruins.

We looked around the area we were in: a small hall with two more mage statues and stairs leading down to yet another pair of mage statues flanking a pair of doors. Before I could stop him, Tassar moved between those statues and began to tug the doors open. I managed to leap out of the way as the statues shot electricity at the halfling. He looked dazed for a split second and appeared to shake it off. Rosorc helped look over the statues, somehow managing to break a finger off of one, but they appeared to no longer be dangerous. This led me to believe we’re either the first to make it this far, or any caretaker these catacombs had have been on vacation the last several weeks.

Tassar, now that the doors were open, started down another hall (about 40’ by 10’) towards another pair of doors, and Deitricha tried to catch up with him; all the while I was hollering at him for being careless with the statues. He stepped on a hidden plate in the floor and an iron gate dropped down out of the ceiling 5’ from the doors at each end. Two secret panels opened in the side walls and two dread guards, followed by twelve skeletons, appeared. I began a frantic search for a switch to pull up the gates, hampered by the attempts of the party to fight through the bars (which was necessary, really, but slowed things down for me). In fact, once or twice William pushed me out of the way so he could cast a spell, and Areon gave him a stern warning not to touch me. Deitricha dusted the skeletons six at a time— all that fit in the hallway simultaneously— while we beat on the dread guards with arrows and spells. Rosorc and William managed to burn one or two skeletons during this phase, as it was hard to fight the dread guards through the bars with all the skeletons milling about. Deitricha went down, but fortunately, Areon took out the dread guard fighting her. Tassar went down too, and his guard didn’t! Both were unconscious when I found a lever hidden behind one of the lightning trap statues— which thankfully pulled the gates back up. Rosorc finished off the last construct as Areon and I healed up our two wounded friends. William, oddly, didn’t help until I yelled at him— he figured they could lay there and bleed while he investigated the empty secret compartments that housed the creatures, even while Rosorc fought the last monster and the Tel-Quessir tried to stabilize their fallen comrades. Amazingly, our new dwarf companion seems to have melded with our fighting style faster than our new mage-like person.

Now that we had cleared the hallway, one more set of double doors stood in front of us. I suggested one or two people go back to the other end of the hallway (I asked William first, since he’d seen me find the lever, but he was not really interested in doing that) in case I managed to spring the trap again. The doors were clean though, so I opened them and we went in— dwarf first, then the rest. We found ourselves in a large, scorched and disheveled laboratory with a stone slab in the center, upon which was a dissected (well, likely vivisected, judging by the look on the face) gnome. I began to search the room for a secret door (this place is filled with secret levers, traps, doors, dwarves), once again wondering if this was a real dead end. Just as I found the outline of a door on one wall, the gnome on the slab turned to William and said, “Leave.” He bolted, as fast as he could, out of the chamber and towards the rope we’d used to reach Rosorc. Just as Deitricha rushed after William, I got hit as something invisible brushed me, and I felt a brief numbness that I was able to shake off. Then, those still in the room saw/felt something about halfling-sized flapping about. It was nearly impossible to hit, appearing to heal itself up half the time when we did succeed in stabbing it, and its barbed tail, if it touched one of us, made us feel sluggish and uncoordinated. We spent a long time attempting to hit it, while Deitricha was apparently “subduing” William to bring him back. By the time she did, of course, he was unconscious. Meanwhile, I staggered out into the hall when and told I “look like hell.” Tassar attempted to lasso the creature, now recognized as an imp, which was still zipping about the lab, but lassoed Areon instead. At that exact moment, the imp grazed Areon, and Deitricha hit him with a shuriken. Thankfully Rosorc snagged the imp with a chain he’d been hauling around, and it fell to the floor. Areon cut it in two, and Tassar removed its tail.

I finished searching the room and found a secret panel. Disarming it, I found two potions labeled Lesser Restoration (and quickly drank one), and a box of 50 platinum pieces. At Deitricha’s behest, we sat and rested for two days, getting to know Rosorc much better. The dwarf fancies himself a bit of a bard (just a bard with absolutely no sense of rhyme that can’t carry a tune), and can happily discuss the quality of any tavern’s ale from here to the coast.

After our rest period (during which Areon cast many meaningful looks at me— I think he wants to tell me something but didn’t want to share with the N-Tel-Quess), we finally opened the secret door off the lab and found a bizarre 15’ circle in the middle of the floor of a 25’ square room. It was ringed by runes, and obviously magical. While I studied the runes (William claimed to have little knowledge of arcane magic— note to self: next time we seek out a mage, make sure the mage can cast simple spells), Rosorc and Tassar bashed the lock off of a treasure chest in the corner of the room (200 gold pieces, 550 silver pieces, four labeled potions, two scroll cases, a spellbook, and an ash stick). Like the runes on the circle, the scrolls in the cases are written with symbols I’m not familiar with, but I flipped through the book and actually recognized the words “Ray of Frost,” though not much more. While I lamented the damage to the chest’s lock, Tassar threw a few coppers onto the circle. They disappeared. William indicated that it was a portal that likely goes two ways, and that my suggestion to drop a rope onto it would merely cut the rope in half. Before I could argue this logic, Tassar jumped in. Deitricha, who would jump down the gullet of a black dragon if Tassar were in there, followed. As did William. Then Rosorc. Finally, I turned to Areon and asked him if he’d, “follow me into Hell?” He nodded assent. I reached out and he gripped my hand firmly in his, and we stepped onto the circle together.



Blood red skies hover over mountains of blood red rock in the distance in one direction, a green fortress contrasts against the crimson sky in another. Distant bands of creatures appear to have bat-like wings and barbed tails. As I suspected, we are in Hell.

Posted by Kristin on March 15, 2004, 15:20

A Devilish Dilemma

Kythorn 27, 1373, The City of Doors

I guess we looked dangerous, because the first creature we came face to face with dropped down prostrate on the ground, trembling and squeaking, “no hurt!” Now, I didn’t trust the little fellow, a dark-skinned spiky devil complete with warfork, but it wasn’t hard to get him talking, and most of what he said was accurate enough to form a plan of action. Hixtali indicated he was one of the many guards of Lord Bel’s castle (that would be the large green building filling up one horizon) and was more than willing to get us away from where we were standing. He wanted us to go through the nearest portal; though after hearing it led to something called the “Front Line of the Blood Wars,” we indicated we’d prefer something a bit more like home. Hixtali squeaked that he would take us to see a bad sorceress called Hexla, who lived in a cave in the mountains. Seeing as we were heading there anyway, we convinced him to act as our guide.

The landscape was depressing enough already, but we soon came to the edge of a river, which our guide insisted we had to cross. River of Blood was an apt name— the vivid red waterway smelled of blood, and in fact the “waterline” appeared as if it was clotting where it touched the dryer ground. Hixtali waded right in, with the crimson liquid lapping about his face as he forded what was apparently one of the narrower portions of the river. The rest of us resigned ourselves to getting drenched in the stuff, though Tassar ended up riding on Dietricha’s shoulders, as he would have been completely submerged. The distance across was still at least 200 yards. Before we got to the other side, Deitricha cried out when something brushed her leg— and then latched on. We quickly got out on the far bank to find that two 3’ long bloodworms were attached to Deitricha’s legs. We got them off but she looked like they’d already done some damage. Thankfully her clerical abilities still seem to function, as she had to do some healing before she was ready to walk again.

We quickly proceeded to the foothills where the red mountain met the red plains, and Hixtali pointed to a cave entrance a short ways up. Refusing to go up with us, the little devil assured us that he’d be waiting right there when we came out. Rosorc rewarded the fiend with a bit of meat he’d had in his backpack. I suspect Hixtali departed long before he’d swallowed the last morsel.

We climbed the path up to the entrance and soon found ourselves in a cave strewn with bones and skulls (definitely demonic in nature)— and a small wooden hut. Now, I don’t really know why my comrades would trust anyone that lived in a wooden hut in a cave on a plane where no trees were visible, but William, at least, was delighted by the prospect of meeting a magic user, and ran right up to the door of the dwelling. An eye peeked out. And that was it— just an eye, no body. The eye must have been satisfied by what it saw, for soon a half-elf appeared at the door as well.

Tassar somehow bribed her to give him some ale, and was soon completely intoxicated by some suspicious-looking red brew (I noticed at this point that he also had acquired Hixtali’s warfork— and he thinks I’m a thief!). More disturbing, upon talking to William, Hexla decided she could help us get back to our home, but only William had the “spell components” she needed— silver eyes. Now, I’ve never had the heart to tell William, but those silver things he has stuck in his face do not look like eyes to me— I was rather sure he’d be better off handing them over and getting a proper pair with pupils and all, but there was no convincing him of that. He offered her some of his platinum hair instead, which was simply astounding seeing as she didn’t ask for it. She was quick to shear it off of him though. I assured William that, unlike the eyes, the hair wouldn’t grow back. Our last mage burned off his hair and it never grew back. My friends tell me that is ridiculous, that hair grows back, but I know for a fact that there are a lot of bald humans in Silverymoon that I’ve been neighbors with for years and years— their hair turns platinum just like William’s, and then it falls right off, never to grow back. Nearly all of them have eyes though.

At any rate, Hexla told us we had to follow the River of Blood south until we came to the Pillar of Skulls— apparently there is a means to find a portal home there. While we mulled that idea over, I remembered that we’d found some as-of-yet-unidentified magic scrolls right beside the portal that got us into this mess. I didn’t trust that Hexla would tell us what they contained, so I asked to buy two potions of “Read Magic” from her (though I had to borrow from Rosorc to pay for them). After seeing how she’d interacted with Tassar and William, I bade her drink one before I could assume the other would be safe enough for me to swallow. The good news is that the potion worked, but unfortunately, the spells revealed by this magical enhancement were of no immediate use to us. Deitricha has been looking at me disapprovingly, and Areon seems to be keeping to himself even more so than usual, though I’ve caught him watching Rosorc a few times. Every time I catch Rosorc’s eye, he starts beaming and stroking his beard.

We departed the cave and headed south on a three-hour trek to the pillar. On the way we saw a squad of about twenty blue-skinned Baatezu (what the devils collectively call themselves), looking somewhat like tall dwarves, heading towards us, actively searching for trouble. We all scattered and hid behind some of the numerous boulders, and were doing a fairly good job of not being seen, until I noticed I could see Rosorc, or rather, a lot of the spikes on his armor and helm, sticking out from behind a big rock. There was no time to find him a better spot, so I tossed him a potion labeled “invisibility”—- that did the trick! The Baatezu were so loud in their plate armor as they clanked past us that I doubt they would have heard us had we been yelling at them.

The rest of the hike to the pillar went without incident. Before long we saw a line stretching up into the sky and out of view. As we neared, we could hear the cacophony of a multitude of voices, and realized that it was a column of heads stretching off into the— well, I would have said Heavens, but I suspect they stop quite short of that. A few dozen pairs of eyes locked on our party, and dozens of voices began to demand various things. Finally, an ogre head silenced those around him, and began an attempt at communication with us. It offered to give us instructions home in exchange for one of us! A fat head nearby demanded a fiend for providing the same information. An elf head suggested a means of departure from the plain, requesting only that we remove the large head from the pillar so the elf head could get a bit of peace. The ogre head was yanked out and tossed into the River of Blood (and continued its rant from there), though we are assured that it will take its place in the pillar again in due time.

The elf head, which once belonged to a merchant from some far off land called “Verbobonc” (“Always read the fine print!” he lamented), said that there was a portal to the south in a horseshoe rock. It required a special key— a brick from the road of Avernus. This would be a long red road we neglected to notice back by the fortress of Lord Bel. We’d either have to ford the river again, or go over a bridge to the south that was heavily guarded. While the elf head graciously gave detailed instructions, the fat head kept interrupting with suggestions to go west and find a circle on the ground. Even in Hell, the only really good advice came from an elf!

We headed off south first, to see just how “guarded” the bridge was. A very large fiend guarded the bone bridge, with quite a few minions keeping watch with him. We headed back on a three-hour trek to the narrowest part of the River of Blood. As we crossed, I felt something brush my legs and then heard a yelp from William. We got out of the river to find a bloodworm attached to him. It was immediately yanked off, but I skewered it with my rapier— one less critter to deal with when we cross back with our brick!

We headed towards the fortress and the “Blood Rift,” or rather, we skirted the fortress to the road. It was, indeed, made of red brick, though there was an entire army of fiends amassed on it. They weren’t paying any attention to us, but we kept our distance until they left several hours later. Occasionally, gouts of flame would burst from the ground near us.

Before I could offer to sneak out and get a brick, Tassar was off like a shot. I had a sudden mental image of him finding the only pit trap in the entire road and falling in, but he managed to grab a brick and started running back towards us.

Suddenly, about fifty winged fiends launched themselves from the top of the fortress, heading right for us! It took some convincing to get Tassar, who had thrown the brick to Rosorc, to keep running— he looked as though he would turn and fight the entire horde himself, and I think Rosorc would have fought at his side! Luckily for us, it didn’t come to that. First, a random ball of flame erupted from the ground, scattering fiend bodies everywhere as they fell from the blast. The remaining fiends, who were apparently answering the battle cry of another group of fiends heading towards the fortress, clashed overhead we ran like, um, Hell.

We raced across the river one last time, and, of all things, managed to nearly run into that squad of blue-skinned devils we’d avoided earlier. We took off as fast as we could, though with our shorter stature and overabundance of equipment, we probably looked like we were leisurely strolling along the path south. Luckily, the heavily armed Baatezu couldn’t catch up, so the slow chase began. We breezed past the pillar and thought we were home free, so to speak, when we passed the bone bridge— and all of its occupants. Things were looking grim, but then we spotted the horseshoe shaped rock just ahead. Sprinting for all we were worth, we got to the portal, only to find a fiend standing there blocking our way. The good thing was, that it caused the devils behind us to give up their pursuit.

The fiend, to be honest, looked like a darker version of William, being about the same height, though he still had his spiky hair. He said he would allow us passage on the condition we take a black orb he was holding with us— in fact he indicated we would not likely survive the trip through without it. As we agreed (there were not a lot of other options at this point) I called out, “Where does this portal lead?” to which he replied:

“The City of Doors.”


We found ourselves standing on a cobblestone street in a haze-shrouded ghetto, with lights high overhead. The orb was now useless, crumbled to dust. Looking up and down the street, we could see that it curved upward in both directions— way up. All manner of strange beings walked passed us— centaur-like creatures (though their bodies looked more goat-like), tall jaundiced-looking humanoids with sharp features, things with wings, and things with horns, mixing with others that likely were humans.

I could use a drink.

Posted by Kristin on March 30, 2004, 17:55

Roses from Rosorc

Kythorn 29, 1373, The City of Doors

The trouble with endeavoring to look sure of yourself in an extraordinary situation is that you may be sending the wrong signals to your friends as well.

First, we really needed to find an inn— we were just exhausted from our entire visit to Avernus. Our first attempt to find a place to rest brought us to a flophouse— no food, no bath! Determined not to look too lost, we were never the less attracting seedy individuals— a shifty-looking gnome offered to show us the way to an inn— we need only follow him into a dark alley first. We decided to stick to this main “road” we were on. We also passed a very ominous arachnid-shaped building, all of us in agreement that it likely was not an inn.

We soon came to a signpost that we had to decide whether to read or attack— it was an actual zombie with scraps of paper nailed to it! My friends, other than Rosorc, decided to keep their distance, but I wanted to read the notices in case we could find a bill for an inn. There were personal notes and job postings— one for someone who was good at “finding things” to apply for work at the “Brainless Dretch,” and another seeking magic items with an address of “31 Darkbane Alley.” I figured there must be more to this zombie than being a board for bills, so I asked directions to a good inn. The zombie groaned and pointed straight up at the rooftops above us. That’s right, they were directly above us! Poor Deitricha was already getting sick from staring at the skyline from this odd angle; we suggested she look down, but not before we all saw something that looked like a cross between and ooze and a mephit fly past carrying a scrollcase.

I got my last flask of ale out and passed it around, and tossed the remainder to a voice from an alley asking for what was left. Feeling a bit more fortified, we hardly reacted to the large red scaly creature that exited a door onto the street beside us and just kept walking.

The area we were passing through eventually became even hazier and the sounds of a foundry drifted to us— we were obviously in the factory ward now. Needing fresher air, we continued on.

Things finally started to look cleaner after we’d walked for an hour or more. The area seemed safer too— guards in red spiked armor watched us, alert for trouble, as we passed by. We came to a door with a sign above it: “The Alabaster Mermaid”— an inn at last! Better still, it had rooms, food, and baths available. Areon generously offered to pay for our accommodations and bought three rooms and access to the bath area. There were three baths, labeled for male, female, and “other.” Tassar and Deitricha headed into the one marked for females, and Rosorc was already walking towards “males” so I took the chance the “other” would be empty and headed in. I’m not sure how they were piping the warm water through the baths, but it was one of the nicest experiences— and I needed a bath badly! My clothes were still sticky from the River of Blood, so I scrubbed them as well.

Feeling better, but hungry, I headed back to the common room of the inn. We couldn’t make heads or tails out of their menu, so we just ordered one of everything. Some of it was a bit scary-looking, but there was plenty of ale to wash it down, thankfully!

Things were a bit more awkward when it was time to grab rooms. Areon had only purchased three, and of course Tassar and Deitricha ran in one immediately. William and Rosorc took the next, so Areon and I got the last. I’m not entirely sure Areon is aware of the soul bond we have formed— he knows things have changed between us, but it was so gradual that I’m not sure myself when I became conscious of it. It is there and that is enough for now.

Of course, since elves don’t sleep, we just mediated as normal, and then I suggested we find a marketplace to sell our extra loot at— we could collect the money and take our friends back to the market when they awoke. I know Areon likes to be outdoors as much as possible, and even though there is not much “nature” to be found in this haze-shrouded city, I figured he’d like it better than sitting in an inn. We got directions to the Great Bazaar and headed off. I would say that the sun was coming up, but honestly, it was more like a lightening of the haze.

I was able to get my clothing magically cleaned, which saved me the expense of buying new, and we got 2000gp for all the extra stuff we’d been hauling around. Areon has been looking for an animal companion for some time, so it was ironic that he was able to buy an animal that is surely native to our world— a tressym, or flying cat, that he calls Nianque, with fur and feathers that are a good color match to my own hair. We were both pleased to be able to let the poor thing stretch its wings outside of a cage. Several hours had passed by this time, so we hurried back to the inn to find our friends finishing up breakfast. After handing out the remaining shares of coin, we took them back to the market ward so they could shop for themselves.

While shopping, we also found information on portals, or rather, where to find information on them, so we could more easily return home. As nice as this City of Doors (called Sigil by the natives) is, even I am longing to see some greenery and real sunshine.

What happened next is all a blur— I think I have made a grave error with my newest friend. A young human lad ran up to me, hailing me as Lady Theona, and presented me with some red roses and a beautiful mithril chain. Attached was a thank you note “from a friend.” Wondering how Areon had managed to orchestrate this when he hadn’t left my sight hardly at all, I stood there confused until Rosorc, seeing my bewilderment, took the chain and wove it into my hair with a rose. I absentmindedly thanked him as Areon led us back to the Clerk’s Ward to get the information we needed for the portal home.

We eventually arrived at a huge marble building called the Hall of Records and met with a creature that looked like a cross between a goat and a human (I’ve since discovered that they are called bauriar). He instructed us to go elsewhere, and with our new instructions, we eventually made our way to the Office of Portal Registry. Rosorc thoughtfully held the doors for me all the way through— dwarves are much more polite than I had ever realized!

We met with a short human called Marxel who insisted that we fill out a huge stack of forms before he could give us information on the portal we needed. Areon got to work filling them out while I attempted to bribe the clerk. Areon and my friends finished filling out the forms before I was able to successfully bribe Marxel, but not, I’m afraid, before the office had closed for the day. Marxel took the forms and bade us come back in the morning.

I was still pondering the gift I’d received in the Market Ward when we arrived back at the Alabaster Mermaid. I was surprised to see the dining area completely transformed— a table for two with candles, red roses and several ales and wines was set. Rosorc led me to one seat and— Areon went up the steps to our room and closed the door.

I noticed, at this point, that Rosorc had something woven through his beard— a mithril chain that matched the one in my hair!

Already seated, I grabbed the nearest flagon and took a big gulp of a very strong alcoholic beverage. I needed it! I am ashamed to say that I panicked when I realized that I was the object of Rosorc’s affection, and as the meal was served and a privacy screen set in place, I had to excuse myself from the table and bolted out the door of the inn.

Between the drink I had consumed and my mounting anxiety I had lost any rational thought I’d had. Knowing Areon would help me from an awkward situation, I grabbed a handful of pebbles from the alley and threw them at (what I hoped) was our window. He lifted the sash, but I could see by the hurt look on his face that he thought I had returned the dwarf’s affection by accepting the gift. He did not throw me a rope to climb up the vine-choked wall of the inn, and I did not want to yell up to explain the misunderstanding, so I attempted to scale the wall myself— and was blinded by pain. I apparently went back into the inn, sat back down with Rosorc, and drank myself unconscious, but I don’t remember it.

I became conscious hours later, on a bed in a room that I did not recognize, but alone. Right then, a tray was delivered to the room, with breakfast, more roses, and a note saying “With thanks for a divine evening— Ro.” What had I done? I now noticed that I was absolutely covered in little puncture wounds on my hands and arms (all that I could see at the moment), though it was obvious that most had been tended to. With a feeling of uncertainty that I’m not used to, I snuck down to the baths to clean the wounds and clear my head.

I sat there for an hour before one of my companions came looking for me. Deitricha, without Tassar, came into the room where my bath was. Determined to hide my shame, I let myself sink to the bottom of the basin, hoping she’d think I’d left, but she spotted me and hauled me out. There was no way I could hide the wounds from her, so I unburdened myself with what I assumed I had done the night before. She laughed when I told her that I’d stuck myself on Rosorc’s spiked armor during a romance I could not remember, and assured me that I’d cut myself to ribbons trying to climb to my bedchamber up a wall covered in razorvine. Relieved that I hadn’t broken my promise to Areon, but sad that I had likely ruined my friendship with Rosorc, I put the mithril chain around my neck instead— a reminder of a good comrade if nothing else. Deitricha assured me that I had told Rosorc that, “elves and dwarves don’t mix,” though he may have believed me to be referring to the two types of spirits I’d drunk together the prior night before sliding unconscious under our table.

I was unable to make eye contact with any of our friends (though Tassar winked at me, I swear!), as we went back to the Office of the Portal Registry. Another clerk called Gelvik attended us, but thankfully had looked over our paperwork and found a portal to our home. There was only one active portal they could find, and it only opened once every 32 days. Today was the day, so we didn’t have time to spare. We needed a black rose to activate it, and, unfortunately, it was in the catacombs below the Hive district— near where we’d arrived. The portal was accessible because apparently the stewards of the city had moved a wall, thereby allowing traffic to it. Rosorc was able to obtain a black rose quickly enough, and with a lightboy named Bob to guide us, we rushed off to the Hive.

Bob stopped short of a hole in a wall near where three white-haired, blue humanoids floated, hammering away and making repairs to the structure. The boy pointed to the stairs down, indicating we were on our own from this point on. We made our way quickly, not yet having to choose a fork, for the path was fairly direct, when suddenly we saw four shapes shambling towards us. Zombies— this time without ads! Rosorc ran forward to hack two to pieces, while I shot one and Tassar slew another— had the passage been wider, my other comrades would have been able to better fight them as well. Strangely, I find comfort in fighting undead— it is the one thing I’ve done so far today that I am sure is right for my friends.

Posted by Kristin on April 10, 2004, 02:10

Shiver Down the Spine

Kythorn 30, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold

It seemed there was no end the undead attacking us. We walked a few paces, into an area filled with stone crypts, and were attacked again. I’ve discovered that, in spite of our great aim, Areon and I don’t do too much damage to the shambling corpses we shoot— Deitricha seems to be able to use her divine power to disintegrate them, and Rosorc and Tassar are quite fond of walking right up to undead and hacking them in half. Of course, that only works if they are corporeal. William is fairly sensible for a mage, and doesn’t run right up and poke at them, using ranged spells instead.

Even though there was only one black rose amongst us, and we were constrained for time, our group immediately split up when we discovered that some of the empty tombs contained coin. Tassar ran off one way, Rosorc ran off another way, Deitricha and William stayed in the larger chamber where we’d just fought. Moments later, I could hear what sounded like looting coming from the direction Tassar had gone— he’d apparently found a rather nifty-looking dagger and some coin. Areon walked about 20’ away from where that skirmish had been and called me over, apparently to check out some open sarcophagi in a side chamber. I walked in and began to dig around without saying anything, finding a few coins, when I realized Areon was just standing there looking at me like he had something to say. In fact, he got as far as, “Theona, I need to tell you…” when we heard a shriek from (or because of) the halfling, as Tassar engaged some manner of creature in a far section of the catacombs. With a promise to talk later, Areon ran to Tassar’s aid. I was about to follow him when I heard a cry from Rosorc— without thinking, I ran headlong into the dark— Areon was holding the torch! I am lucky that I carry a moon mote with me, and used that for enough light to get to the dwarf, who was now fighting for his life against two shadowy things. William arrived just a few seconds after I did, with a better light source, in time for us to see Rosorc’s weapon pass right through a shadow, and then the shadow pass right through Rosorc’s armor, weakening him. I shouted for Deitricha as loudly as I could.

Right at that moment, I had the most horrible, sickening feeling pass through me and I knew Areon was in trouble. Just as Deitricha arrived, I shouted “undead” and turned to run off towards where I sensed Areon was. As I did so, Rosorc grabbed my arm and handed me a scroll— I stuffed it into my pack, planning to look at it later, and ran faster than I ever have.

I found Tassar and Areon in the doorway of a room that contained what looked like several bat-winged, severed heads, each with a long tongue, flying back and forth just out of reach. Areon seemed to be frozen in place with his eyes wide open, with Tassar beating the creatures away from him. Luckily Tassar outguessed the grisly creatures’ moves and hacked them down before they could do more damage to Areon. I quickly told Tassar of the situation further into the catacombs, and that I’d keep Areon safe until he snapped out of the paralyzing affects of the flying creatures. Oddly, Tassar winked at me as he sped off.

Well, Areon and I were alone again, but he wasn’t moving. While I was trying to decide whether to drag him somewhere slightly safer (if there was such a place here!), I heard Tassar yelling at some more undead creatures that he’d disturbed. I could look down the hall far enough to see that zombies where shuffling towards him from a few directions. I tried to prevent one from getting behind him with a well-placed bolt, but only succeeded in redirecting its attention to me. I walked backwards, continuing to shoot bolts into the undead thing, always keeping my own body between Areon and the zombie. After five or six bolts, it was beginning to succumb to the damage, but by then I had backed right into Areon’s chest. Luckily, his immobility had just worn off, and he was able to reach past me and finish it off with his sword. As the corpse landed at our feet, Deitricha ran up behind it, and we learned that Rosorc had found the portal using the black rose (and, apparently, our comrades had finished off the remaining undead). My only regret now was that no one wanted to stay and finish checking the now-empty sepulchers for valuables that zombies don’t need. Areon must have sensed my hesitation, as he grabbed my hand and pulled me through the shimmering portal with him.


We found ourselves standing in a long, dusty, stone corridor about 30’ wide. Areon (still holding my hand, I noticed) and I wanted to try the double doors that were within a few feet of where the portal had dropped us, in case they led outside, but Tassar was already running in the opposite direction. We studied the walls, which were carved with a mountain motif, until curiosity got the better of us and we followed the halfling.

The dwarven stonework, which is what we determined we were looking at, must be several millennia old— at least 3000 years. With Deitricha’s knowledge of history and Rosorc’s of, well, dwarves, we determined that we were in a hold of the Delzoun dwarves that had been lost to history, and that we were somewhere in the Spine of the World. We weren’t terribly far from where we’d hoped the portal would lead to, though our arrival in this place was somewhat surprising— the few footprints in the dust led me to believe that we’d taken a portal that wasn’t all that popular.

Somehow, the stately halls of the long-departed dwarven clan are more oppressive to me than natural tunnels are, but at least we don’t have to walk single file here. We wandered past what looked like a garden of rocks, with ten chambers leading off from it, each one with a bit of story depicting a dwarven hero, or a dwarven god, such as Berronar Truesilver. I think Rosorc finished looking through a few more of them for the stories contained therein, but I gave up and found a spot to sit until my comrades where done exploring. We’d found a second set of double doors, but decided to wait until after we’d all rested to explore further. Areon had determined the few faint prints we’d noticed were from orcish war boots, but thankfully, we hadn’t seen any orcs.

I had offered to take third watch during our rest period, after Tassar and Rosorc had each taken one. I sat down to relieve Rosorc, and suddenly remembered I still hadn’t looked over that scroll he gave me. I waited until he was settled in and read it:

My Dearest Lady Theona,

Your every whim holds me bound in rapture. I am struck beyond return. From your dimples, to your wry upturned smile, your beautiful long flowing hair, your wit and intellect that seems to have no bounds, I am mesmerized and transfixed. Truly I don’t now what I can do. My waking moments are consumed with seeing you happy and just being there in your life.

My inner being cries for me to share the beauty and joy gifted to me by the mountains. To hold your hand, to stroke your cheek, to sing the sweet joys of life, to grow old in your arms. The well of this dwarf’s heart runs deep indeed. Strong and pure, undaunted and open, for all to see.

I have prayed long and hard to Clangeddin as to what I should do. He has sent me signs that the mountains do not lie. My heart is bound to you. It may not be probable that your feelings will ever change, but it is written in the great halls that I must and will be there, if or when they do.

Caring and loving from a distance, I will not hide my feelings. Nor shall I push too hard. I shall be there; your rock of security in life’s darkest storms.

My Lady, I ask you this one boon. I bid you always wear your chain as I shall always wear mine. Bound in destiny under the mountains, somewhere is written our love truly belongs.

Always Yours,

Rosorc

Oh. I am quite confused. I know very little of the dwarven ways, but I assumed when I put the chain around my neck, it meant no more or less than when I would use the silver mug given to me by Antonio, or food given to me by Tassar. I suppose each race is different, but then, that is one of the main points I had originally tried to make!

I just sat for a while, trying to absorb what I read. Either I was doing a very bad job of keeping watch, or Areon is very good at moving quietly— I nearly jumped as I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Areon sat down beside me, and, whispering in Sylvan, said, “I did not mean to be as callous as I was last night. You are one of the best friends I have ever had and I would gladly trudge through the Hells with you again. I did not see anyway that I would be able to deal with Rosorc better than you. You are the one who always is dealing with people. I just assumed that you would be able to deal with him just as everyone else. I am sorry that I brushed you off the way I did.”

I could tell that he was struggling with several other thoughts that he seemed unable to express, but I was actually relieved that he was as confused about the whole thing as I was. I still need and value his advice though, so I decided to show him the note Rosorc had given me, knowing he’d keep it to himself, and, if possible, help me deal with it without hurting the dwarf’s feelings.

He was quiet about that for a while, and then, finally suggested that I simply not wear the chain, for fear that it would lead Rosorc to think I returned his affection in any measure. As pretty as it is, I am inclined to agree with him. I wrapped the chain around the handle of the monogrammed silver tankard I carry, as a reminder of two of my favorite “drinking buddies” and placed them in my backpack.

Almost on queue, I heard a rumbling and Tassar stood up from his bedroll— the rumbling being his stomach reminding him it had been several hours since he’d eaten. It is a good thing his stomach is so reliable; since we can’t see the sun come up we have no other way of knowing what time it is!

After a bit of breakfast, we gathered up our gear and pushed through the nearest set of double doors. Tassar and Rosorc hurried on ahead, leaving me to see if they sprung a trap, apparently. We entered a great hall, 50’ wide, with 30’ high vaulted ceilings, surrounded by balconies still hanging with ancient tapestries— war banners, according to Rosorc. They appeared to be family crests of long-dead houses. Rosorc told us that this hall is much larger than the great hall of Citadel Adbar, but even in this grand space, I could still feel the weight of the mountain bearing down on us. Areon pointed out that the orc tracks in this area looked more recent.

There were even more doors leading out of the grand hall. The first few rooms we checked either stood empty or contained dilapidated furniture, but the fifth one we opened revealed a passage with a light at the far end. Tassar, with Rosorc right behind, ran ahead of us and burst in to the room at the end of the hall— a room filled with orcs.

Posted by Kristin on April 14, 2004, 16:54

Killing Time

Kythorn 30, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold of Barannsar

We charged into a dining hall. Thankfully, this surprised all of the orcs, who, for a few seconds at least, were unarmed with anything other than eating utensils. I sank a bolt into one before he even had a chance to pull a weapon, and I was pleased to see my comrades having similar successes. In fact, if not for one orc with a horn, we would have likely finished them all off in under a minute. That orc was my next target. He didn’t go down, but the alarm he was sounding went up an octave when my bolt hit him.

I was quickly targeted by several orcish archers, and two of them hit. I managed to stay up while Deitricha went between all of us providing healing as needed. At one point, she needed to heal both Areon and Rosorc, so I threw my healing potion to Ro as I feared Areon would not last long enough to drink it.

Though we were making a good swath through the orcs, the horn blower had managed to summon a one-eyed orc cleric and two ogres, the latter were quickly dispatched by Tassar and William, whose spells seem to have the accuracy of a well-crafted bow. Areon helped me finish off the archers, but the horn blower and the cleric ran from us when the ogres fell.

This time, I insisted we “loot” the fallen creatures, and managed to pick up a good amount of coin. I wandered off to check out a passage to our right while Tassar followed the path of the routed orcs, which just happened to be the kitchen. I found some odd scratches in the floor, with a rather largish splotch of dried blood staining the stone floor around them. I called Areon to come look, but Rosorc had followed me and walked right up to the— well— trap, before I could stop him. A big spike shot out of the ceiling and rammed into the stone, skewering Rosorc. Areon appeared and announced that it was “dwarf blood.” Thankfully Ro’s pride was more damaged than his person. We figured out what was causing the scratches on the floor, of course.

William and Deitricha caught up to us, while Tassar volunteered to stay in the kitchen. We walked a few more feet down the passage, only to come to a bolted wooden door. Rosorc was able to read the symbol scratched on the door: Drow. We agreed as one that we didn’t need to open that particular door today.

We walked across the dining area to hear Tassar defending a pot of stew— more orcs! There were only five this time, and Rosorc took out two while Areon chased down the rest. We all ran after him, to come to yet another large hall filled with a dozen foes— including that cleric and a fresh ogre.

There were columns along each wall which made good vantage points to shoot arrows (or spells) from, though Rosorc decided to take the fight over to the orcs at the far end of the room. As he charged, we saw the cleric pull a lever and the floor fell out from under the startled dwarf. He landed in a pit with several inches of oil in it. Two orcs stepped up and lit a torch to throw in— thankfully Rosorc caught the torch before it touched the oil in the pit, but, since he was now soaked in oil, he lit up like an Azer anyway. Deitricha threw a rope to him while the rest of us continued to fight the orcs. The ogre, it appeared, was not very bright— after tossing a spear our way, he started lobbing the orcs surrounding him at us. A few went into the pit, never to rise, but one sailed across the room and knocked William out. I thought it had squashed him, but Deitricha was able to revive him after helping Rosorc out of the trap. Tassar slipped into the pit (I think he fell, but it’s not always easy to tell since he shouts a triumphant battle cry regardless of the situation) and then killed the ogre by throwing his green war fork up out of the pit. He’s getting to be a pretty good pitfighter.

Once again the cleric ran away from us, this time through a pair of double doors at his end of the hall. We were able to close the oil pit, but no amount of trying would get those doors open. In a fit of desperation, I took out that mystery wand we found and aimed it at the door. A beam of green light came out, but didn’t apparently harm the doors, which I’m sure were barred on the opposite side. William and Deitricha conferred and determined the wand cast a Ray of Enfeeblement. Here’s hoping I can get it to work again the next time we actually need it!

After collecting some loose coins off of the fallen bodies, we made our way back to the kitchen and I used some coppers to penny the door shut from our side. I imagine the one-eyed cleric has a multitude of doors available if he is determined to find us, but he seems a coward. At this point, we noticed Tassar was moving much more quickly than the rest of us, and so we hurried out the grand hall to find him flinging doors open. He found an unusual room when he opened the second door on the right in the hall— the one with a mountain and sun motif carved into it. The inside was an obvious sanctuary, with four green torches lighting the corners, two alcoves, each with a 15’ tall statue of a dwarf wearing platemail; one had an axe, the other bore a warhammer. In the center of the room an altar stood, with a bright mithril axe resting on it. The charred remains of orcs surrounded the altar.

Those of us that weren’t dwarves filed back out into the hallway, lest we end up like the black smudges surrounding the axe. Closing the door, we waited, hoping Ro would know what to do. He must have been worthy of the fine weapon, as he reappeared moments later hefting the well-crafted axe. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but he looks— different, somehow. I went back in and grabbed the four torches—they are the everburning variety, and since the axe was leaving the shrine, it seemed that we’d have better use of the light.

Tassar was unable to restrain himself for long, and wandered off into a hallway he’d found behind another door. He came running back out a minute letter, breathless and asking for ale. While I fished him out a flask from my bag, he tried, only somewhat successfully, to describe a halfling-sized creature that had dropped long arms down from a hole in the ceiling, attempting to strangle him. Rosorc went back in to look with him, but the creature did not make another appearance.

I believe we’d only broken camp a few hours before, but between the charred dwarf, strangled halfling and two spellcasters with little if any magic left, we agreed to rest again, back at our original camp site. Deitricha had done a good job of keeping Areon and I patched up, so I believe we’ll take two watches so our friends can get the extra rest they need.

Posted by Kristin on April 29, 2004, 17:12

Oppressive Wait

Flamerule 1, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold of Barannsar

We ended up letting our N-Tel-Quess companions rest a full 24 hours, as they looked like they really needed it. Even Tassar only got up from resting long enough to eat (about six times by my count). Since Areon was up, I decided not to do much riffling through our friends’ packs. I am surprised by my reaction to being underground in this dwarven fortress— natural caves have never bothered me, and even mines and sewers don’t feel as oppressive as the weighty architecture of these mortal-made catacombs. If it weren’t for Areon, I would claw my way out of this subterranean vault just to see the sun and open sky.

Finally, our comrades were up and about, and we decided to explore a passage near the dwarven shrine. These halls are loaded with traps, but thankfully, at least some have been sprung prior to our arrival. This corridor had a gaping hole in the ceiling at one end, and we found a large stone cylinder resting against the wall 80’ further along, with what looked like bone fragments and bits of rusty armor flattened around it. As we stood and admired the handiwork, I saw some movement in the distance. Two large beetle-shaped creatures with outstretched antennae were scuttling towards us— rust monsters! Those of us with bows began to shoot them, and I managed to kill one with a well-placed bolt, yelling, “One!” for Tassar’s benefit. They were quick though and I could see that William’s chain shirt and steel shield were already falling in a rusty pile at his feet. That was enough to send Rosorc retreating behind the rest of us, but thankfully William finished off the second creature before it had a chance to sample the dwarf’s selection of metal gear.

We began to head the direction the rust monsters had appeared from, and after walking a few feet, I noticed the outline of a door hidden in the wall. I was still checking it over when Areon pushed the panel open and headed through. He appears calm, though I suspect he must hate being under all this stonework as much as I do. I quickly followed him down the narrow secret passage to a rather nondescript room with one other exit. Suddenly, the floor began to move. I confess; I lost all composure as the floor coalesced into a creature of stone and began to attack us. Within seconds, the large earth elemental knocked Tassar down. My bolts merely bounced off of it, and Areon’s bowstring snapped as he tried to load his bow and keep me out of the creature’s reach at the same time. As Deitricha pulled the unconscious form of Tassar out of harm’s way, Rosorc ran forward to attack while William shot damaging spells at it with amazing accuracy. I know I just continued to scream, horrified at the lack of effect our weapons had on the hulking monstrosity. Areon must have sensed just how badly off I was; he grabbed me with one arm and deposited me in the relative safety of the hallway, where Deitricha was restoring Tassar to health. He then pulled out his greatsword and ran towards the massive elemental. I was sure he would die; I could feel the blind panic dumping adrenaline into my blood, along with an unshakable feeling of dread.

Watching another one of William’s spells hit the creature and actually knock some pebbles loose from it, I remembered the wand I was carrying. I had no idea if it would work, but it was the only thing I could think to try. I aimed the wand and used the same hand motions I’d used to activate the wand the day before. A sickly green light shot out from it, briefly outlining the creature, which somehow, incredibly, looked weaker. Tassar’s warfork didn’t touch it, though he was not close enough for an accurate throw. Areon however, buried his sword into the creature, and it was obvious that it caused it severe damage. I was fearful that it would retaliate against Areon, but it instead lashed out at Rosorc, hitting him so hard that I thought him mortally wounded as he crumbled into a heap and lay still. I hit the beast with another ray from the wand— it was now disintegrating before our eyes. With one more mighty swing, Areon brought the creature down in a hail of rock and debris— it did not rise again.

I finally stopped screaming at this point. A bit embarrassed by my outburst, I decided to carefully examine the walls of the room for anything out of the ordinary while Deitricha tended to everyone else’s wounds. I got as far as the unexplored doorway when I found a pressure plate right over its threshold. Marking it with chalk, I intended to continue searching beyond the room when my friends were ready to travel on again. I should have known better, as soon I heard the distinct sound of a trap door opening and “Weeee!” from a halfling voice in the hall beyond the plate.

Running over to check, we saw that Tassar had found a false doorway a few feet past the trap I’d marked, and, pulling the doorknob had (obviously) sprung the trap, revealing a 10’ long opening in the floor, complete with a chute. Deitricha was now panicking, as we could hear him very far below us, arguing with someone. The trap door swung shut. I found the mechanism to open the trap and forced it to stay open, then Areon and I tied a rope around my waist, since I was the lightest, while Deitricha began to lower 50’ of rope into the opening. Before I could climb down however, Rosorc jumped in, apparently intent on saving the halfling himself. After reaching the end of the rope, he called up for more— luckily 100’ was enough to reach Tassar.

When Tassar was pulled up, he showed off a nice adamantine sword and dagger, then promptly collapsed. We found out soon enough that he’d been the brief guest of three drow intent on poisoning him via crossbow bolts. Somehow the lone halfling, after landing in jail cell far below, had managed to kill one drow and pull his equipment over to the cell all while we were looking for a way to retrieve him. One of the bolts had obviously done its damage, but thankfully he was back with us before the poison took effect. Deitricha couldn’t rouse him, so she just picked him up so she could monitor his health while we continued on.

There was one more doorway in this little trapped hall— I examined it and found no traps. After opening it cautiously, Rosorc strode past me and began to travel the edges of the room— it appeared to be an old armory, with three arrow slits at the far end. Following Rosorc in, we inspected several racks of old rusty equipment propped around the room. We found a shield, throwing axe, and 6 well-made crossbow bolts still in useable condition, and I found another secret door— this led to the area behind the three arrow slits, clearly a point of defense for the dwarves. There was a secret door on the opposite wall as well, leading back into the armory. Off of all this was another small passage, leading to yet another hidden door, this time to an old barracks festooned with webs. Rosorc was walking ahead of me, clearly more comfortable in these catacombs than Tel-Quessir could ever be, and began to attempt burning them away with a torch. I saw movement in the webs and shouted a warning, but not before three large spiders dropped out and began to attack Rosorc. He was bitten several times before Areon and William had each dropped one of the monstrosities, and in the skirmish I accidentally hit Rosorc in the back with a bolt intended for the spider that was attacking him.

Deitricha has patched him up as well as she was able, though he is clearly weakened from the venom, so we are resting again in this hateful subterranean chamber— with Areon and I again keeping watch. I am sorely tempted to go searching for a way outside again, but as long as Areon stays down here, I will stay by his side.

Posted by Kristin on May 11, 2004, 14:26

Beholden

Flamerule 2, 1373, Ancient Dwarven Stronghold of Barannsar

Oh, this place will be the death of us! In spite of our copious rest periods, I have barely meditated in the past few days. The reveries I’ve managed have been filled with horrible images of Tel-Quessir being slaughtered by red-skinned fiends and trapped under a crumbling fortress of stone. Each of these trances have intensified the growing feeling that I need to get out under an open sky, or better still, a canopy of interwoven tree branches….

I’ve spent the rest of our “downtime” watching my companions, especially Areon’s tressym. The flying cat is obviously very intelligent— I observed Nianque watching Areon working with fletching and she had a slightly worried look on her face, until she must have realized he was using green and amber, not blue, feathers. The poor thing must want to be outside where she has more room to fly, and she must have communicated this to Areon because during a recent mediation I heard him mumble something about returning the silver cat to the woods.

My comrades were finally ready to move ahead after another 24 hours in the abandoned barracks. I managed to find a few coins on some desiccated husks of orcs, but nothing else of interest or value. I was again reassured by my N-Tel-Quess companions that there would be lots of “loot” the further into these halls we ventured. I was humoring them at first, but Rosorc said the same thing, which troubles me. Surely he knows that anything we find in these catacombs must be returned to the dwarven descendants? I personally have no problem with that— I may not follow all the laws of this land to the letter, but I do feel strongly that items of birthright should always be returned to the peoples that have lost them, and would hope that all of my companions feel the same way.

When at long last we opened the door on the far side of the room to continue our wanderings, the group fractured into several smaller parties— Rosorc went left, Tassar, Deitricha, and, after a slight pause, William, went right and I begged Areon to go search for an exit to this place with me. I could see he was seriously considering it, though the startled cries of our friends (though to be fair, Tassar’s were more like shouts of challenge) cut short any consideration of that. I ran towards Tassar’s voice while Areon turned to see what Rosorc, who was making considerable noise of his own as he tried to catch up to us, had found.

I discovered that Tassar had gone down a bend in the corridor and opened a door— finding four gnolls, a Red Wizard of Thay, and his assistant in what appeared to be a library for stone tablets. The assistant, I noticed, was making rubbings of certain stones. The wizard and gnolls, however, looked quite put upon by our arrival and were keen on making us pay for it. I quickly shot a bolt at the wizard, hitting him (and annoying him more), then ducked out to call to Areon, in time to see Rosorc rounding the corner and a beam of red light hitting the wall right above them both. Thankfully Rosorc new exactly what was following him and pulled Areon back from the corner as several drow crossbow bolts and a small beholder came flying up behind him. I was running towards them when the hall became completely black. Remembering that the drow employ darkness spells when they attack, I ran back towards the other group to fight in the library, and thankfully, Rosorc and Areon followed suit.

I looked up just in time to see that the wizard had summoned a Hell Hound, and then I hit the wizard with another bolt. He obviously remembered me and retaliated with an acid arrow spell, which continued to burn me for several seconds afterwards. My friends yelled to me to push the door shut before the beholder and drow came in. As I did so, one drow did make it in, but ironically, became the only casualty of one of the beholder’s ray attacks. After I pushed the door shut, I realized that, to my horror, William was not in the room with us. I managed to kill a gnoll that was harassing our cleric with a well-placed bolt, and saw the wizard and his assistant disappear. I also felt the door behind me give and the drow start to push their way in. Thankfully Areon was by me and was able to force the stone door closed again.

Suddenly, we realized that we’d killed everything in the room. Deitricha and I did a quick walk around looking for another way out. We found none, but the hall beyond the only door was now quiet, so we ventured a peek out.

Seeing the way clear (and no sign of William at all), I argued that we should try to find a way out, as it was likely that anyone showing the celestial qualities William has would have been killed by the drow immediately. There was one door left in the hallway though, and we listened at it, hoping against hope that somehow William had crawled inside to wait for us. We heard nothing, so Rosorc carefully opened the door a bit— enough to see that the beholder was waiting on the other side! We tried to pull the door shut and attack the beholder at the same time— that didn’t really work out too well though we got a few hits on it. The beholder shot a few of us with rays— Rosorc and Tassar fell asleep, of all things, but Deitricha was right there to kick them awake. Areon killed the thing outright, thankfully, so we opened the door all the way.

Rosorc ran in to check the room over and was attacked by the drow, who had been hiding invisibly around the perimeter of the chamber. Areon was going to follow him, but had been hit by some spell that knocked the wind out of him— he staggered a bit as Tassar charged into the room and Rosorc fell to another drow spell. Thankfully Areon was able to pick off drow with his bow from outside the room. Just when I thought all was lost for those inside (and I’ve been thinking that a lot), the remaining drow disappeared. We scrambled into the chamber and Areon shut the door, leaning on it and looking exhausted. Deitricha patched up our fighters, who keep falling asleep, no doubt from drow poison. We even found William in the room, still alive— the drow must have been keeping him for use as a slave or a sacrifice. I, without thinking or hesitating, threw myself into Areon’s arms. I’m sure he was at least as surprised as I was.

Posted by Kristin on May 19, 2004, 17:24

Look on the Bright Side

Flamerule 3, 1373, Spine of the World

For the first time since we encountered the earth elemental, I had the strength to assert myself. I said that I was going to go read the tablets the Red Wizard was studying, and then I was going to go back to the place the portal from Sigil had dropped us, and open the double doors to what I was sure would be fresh air and sunshine. I believe that Rosorc was the only one truly against leaving, though of course Tassar argued with me for the sake of arguing, then ran ahead of us all to the library and began to study the dwarven writings.

We ended up sitting for several hours, during which time we were, thankfully, not interrupted. The first tablet we looked at was the one the Thayan was making a rubbing of. It depicted a map from a dragon’s eye view of the North as it looked 3200 years ago. The only thing that looked really strange about the map was the Anauroch desert— it was depicted with lush greenery and trees. Also, burial tombs of the Arch Mages were indicated on the map. We of course made a rubbing of the map. Other tablets detailed precise locations of tombs— we noticed that the Red Wizard had been apparently researching on in particular called “Trellzoun.”

Deitricha, who surprised me with her scholarly knowledge of this history of this region, gave us a rough timeline of important events relating to our findings:

-3900 DR: Delzoun was established
-3859 DR: Several fishing villages allied to form Netheril, soon after learning magic from the Elves
-3533 DR: Adventurers discovered the Nether Scrolls and began to use magic more powerful than that of the elves; at least one scroll was stolen and lost
-3419 DR: Netheril and the dwarves of Delzoun established a trade route
-2954 DR: First floating city ose above Netheril
-339 DR: Netheril fell, while the Anauroch desert expanded
-100 DR: Delzoun Kingdom fell

I listened avidly to her descriptions— perhaps she can tell me more about the fall of Ascalhorn. Most of my friends were listening too, though when she was done and I looked around, I saw that Tassar had wandered over to the dead beholder and removed the eyestalks, which he was alternately waving over his head and trying to fashion some sort of belt. At least he hadn’t strayed too far. Still, when Tassar gets restless, it’s best to pack up and move on.

We headed to the spot where we had first arrived in Barannsar, and I checked the doors for any sort of trap. We carefully opened them, and I was fully expecting to feel the warmth of the sun on my face. Instead, we found a 30’ by 30’ room, with many little holes in the ceiling. Hoping it was just the foyer to the real outside doors, I was about to proceed carefully when Tassar slipped past me and strolled across the room to the other set of doors. I wondered aloud about the holes in the ceiling, for I feared a trap, but Rosorc believes that the dwarves used them to pour boiling oil on trespassers. Makes sense!

Tassar opened the latest pair of doors before I could check them, but when I saw sunlight pouring through into the antechamber I didn’t care— I just ran outside. Reveling in the light of day, I realized there were no trees— we were on a 15’-wide rocky ledge, though there was a road leading off to the right into what we believe to be the Moonwood. We are guessing that we’re at least 150 miles from Silverymoon, and without horses, but at least we are out under the open sky again! Areon quickly decided to range ahead of the rest of us, and though that was an excellent idea as he is so much quieter than half of our party, I had a momentary twinge of panic. A little bit of teasing from Tassar reminded me that I was needed more with the rest of the party at the moment, and I have to agree. I reminded myself that I would know if Areon had trouble within a moment of him knowing it himself. I think a lot of my inner turmoil this past week centers around this whole extra set of emotions; despite his calm demeanor, Areon seems to be in constant struggle with his feelings.

He had only been gone for a few minutes when he reappeared in front of us with the news of an orcish war party heading towards the doors of Barannsar. I was glad that we’d left when we had, lest we get stuck fighting them inside the stronghold and attracting more denizens from the Underdark. The party coming towards us numbered twenty, and we were in no shape for a protracted battle, so we agreed to hide behind the rocks and rubble lining the 20’ wide path down from the mountains and let the orcs pass. Areon and I hid quite easily, as did Deitricha and Tassar, but unfortunately, again, the spikes on Rosorc’s armor were quite obvious from my vantage point on the opposite side of the road, and this time I had no potion of invisibility to toss to him, nor could I signal him to hide further back from the road! William too, was making enough commotion from behind his boulder that a blind and deaf orc could have found him easily.

And they did. The orcs, suspicious, turned to investigate the disturbance on the far side of the road. Rosorc jumped out to attack them and William let fly a magic missile of some sort. I elected to use the drow bolts I’d picked up, both for the fact that they had been dipped in some sort of toxin that caused sleep, and because anyone that came upon an orc corpse with drow fletching sticking from it would rightfully assume that drow were close by.

In addition to the eighteen orcs, there were two dire boars in the war band. One was attempting to tear Tassar apart, but I got out the wand of enfeeblement and started wearing the creature’s strength down. By the time Tassar went unconscious, the boar was quite weak itself. I could no longer see what was happening on the other side of the road, but I could hear Rosorc bellowing something dwarven at his assailants. Suddenly, Deitricha flew upward out of a group of surprised orcs towards Tassar, so Areon and I tried to finish off the orcs while she rescued the halfling. I alternated between the poisoned arrows and the wand, feeling a brief moment of panic when Areon fell, but thankfully he remained conscious long enough to heal himself. By this time I was too busy being amazed at Deitricha’s new trick. In fact, Areon had to remind me to finish killing the dire boar that had fallen asleep at my feet.

Unfortunately, when we gathered ourselves together, we discovered that William had fallen in battle. I never really got to know him, but I feel bad that he died so soon after joining up with us. Magic-rich area though this is, I think the average mage is just too fragile to travel with this party.

Before leaving the battle scene, I did still have the presence of mind to loot the bodies. These orcs were hauling over 8500 silver pieces amongst them, plus the normal stuff you’d expect to find on orcs. There also was a pretty silver ring with a very ornate motif of a mermaid on it. I have so far resisted putting it on, nor will I suggest anyone else do so until we are in better shape, on the off chance it has some unfavorable magic qualities. We also stacked the orcs in the middle of the road and left some more drow weapons and armor strewn about— hopefully that will warn anyone else from going into Barannsar before we contact the dwarves about it.

We are in a sorry state, so we’ll have to find a safe place to rest. At least I finally feel like we are “home” now that we are outside of that horrible place.

Posted by Kristin on May 25, 2004, 14:13

Mixed Feelings

Flamerule 4, 1373, Spine of the World

We didn’t travel too far before finding a spot to rest. Areon found us a ravine with a bit of overhang providing some cover; we all clambered in, decided how we would keep watches, and made camp with the intent of resting at least long enough for Deitricha to regain her healing spells.

I had assumed that Areon was the quiet type that would just gradually ease into the bond that had formed between us, but he surprised me with a gift of a beaded armband made of amber and green feathers, and a few more matching feathers to tie in my hair. I could see that he’d taken the time to craft the courting gifts himself in the time-honored fashion. This sort of pledge is traditionally made on Midsummer’s Eve; it was touching that he didn’t feel the need to wait!

With a quick look, as if for my permission, Areon gently placed the feathers in my hair and the band on my upper arm, I could see, finally, that he’d come to a decision about something that was troubling him. I think I was just as surprised by the story he shared with me as I was by his gifts.

Areon told me that he’d left the Coldwood in an effort to help the Uthgardt tribe his family has befriended. His mission is to find a stolen silver tiger; it is inscribed with the lineage of their tribe and is an important artifact to the Red Tiger barbarians. He got as far as Silverymoon before the trail went cold— remembering how we worked together to find Tassar, I understand that woodland tracking and city tracking are entirely different skills. Finding and returning such important objects is a very worthy cause, one that I am more than willing to help with. Wondering why he hadn’t shared this with me before, I realized I’d never told him of my quest either. Making sure that none of our friends were awake, I whispered to him what I knew of the ancestral blade lost from my family 500 years ago, and then had to admit I wasn’t actually sure it was a bladed weapon at all, but I do know that I will recognize the glyph on it— a moon with a feather superimposed over it. I also explained the reason I didn’t know more about it— I am the last in my family, having lost both of my parents when I was quite young (just shy of 50), and for some reason, even when in reverie, I cannot form a clear picture of them or the weapon. Or much from my childhood, for that matter.

I was surprised to notice that our shift at keeping watch had already passed. Tassar was up and forlornly counting out what rations he had left. Deitricha had rested just enough to provide us all with some healing; exhausted, she sat back down by our small campfire. Rosorc looked like he had not slept well— perhaps sleeping under the open sky is as painful to him as sleeping under tons of worked rock was to me. When Areon announced he would go forage for us, I decided I’d rather do something other than sit in the camp and slipped off with him.

We walked in a comfortable silence for a several hours until Areon felt we had gathered enough for a few meals, and then turned back towards where our companions waited. Suddenly he stopped stock-still and motioned for me to do so as well. We heard several guttural voices nearby, but luckily, we had not been heard. We slipped by the voices and hurried back to our camp.

Though I wasn’t clear on how he managed, Tassar wormed that bit of information out of us, and was off like a shot to see what else was camped out here, much to Deitricha’s dismay. Areon sent Nianque after Tassar, on the chance that we needed to find him in a hurry. After a few hours, Deitricha was absolutely agonizing over how long Tassar had been gone, and even though Nianque hadn’t come back to get Areon, he agreed to go back out and check on him. Rosorc wanted to accompany him, but I feared the dwarf would make much too much noise regardless of his good intentions— I begged him to stay with Deitricha while we went back out to find the halfling. I didn’t wait for an answer.

We walked through a terrain of rocks and a few sparse trees to a small ledge where the halfling crouched looking down on a camp. The small cook fire below revealed the forms of three ogres, no doubt the creatures whose voices we’d heard earlier. No amount of convincing could get Tassar to leave his perch, and he was quite upset that we didn’t agree to take out the ogres. We probably could have done so easily. My worry, and Areon’s too for that matter, is that the ogres wouldn’t be the only things out here, and a lot of noise could bring a us a lot more trouble. The halfling refused to return though, so we had the task of explaining that to Deitricha when we returned to our camp. I’m not sure, but I think Rosorc gave Areon a reproachful look. In fact, I have been sensing a growing unease between the two of them, and I don’t think there is much, if anything, that I can do about it.

At dawn, Tassar did finally return to camp, still disgruntled that he never had a chance to slay the three ogres. It was probably a small consolation to him that he hadn’t missed any exciting battles in our own camp.

We broke camp, and as before, Areon scouted ahead of the party. Things finally started to feel normal when I got into a rousing argument with Tassar about several words in the Elvish tongue that are apparently considered rude in mixed company (mixed company being Tel-Quessir and, um, anyone else). I finally realized that, while joking about it, he seemed genuinely upset that I use them, so I conceded his point by tossing him a flask of ale. I will have to make sure to tell Areon that Ke’revanthas-Quessir would be a more appropriate term, at least for our companions.

I guess our voices were carrying enough, as Areon was waiting for us on the trail ahead. We still weren’t to the Moonwood, but the small groves of trees were becoming more frequent. Rosorc had been looking more and more upset, and decided to take it out on the first really healthy trees we saw, using his waraxe. I was horrified, and worse, Areon, who grew up in woodlands, looked like he was going to take action. Before I could say anything though, a huge wolf darted out from another copse of trees and lunged at Rosorc. I could sense Areon’s hesitation, but I pulled my crossbow and shot the wolf. A second later, I was broadsided by another wolf and knocked down; Areon came to my aid and slew this wolf before it could attack me again, while our comrades dispatched the first. The tension now was palpable, and I think Deitricha was going to step in and say something, when we all turned as one— something else was rustling through the sparse trees beside us....

Posted by Kristin on June 4, 2004, 21:18

Dark Door

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

Brainteaser

Flamerule 6, 1373, a cell

Beowulf looked into the pot. We were all relieved to hear that whatever it was the ettins were cooking, the bones in the stew were not humanoid.

Areon and I went back to investigate the storeroom. I stood there a moment, wondering if anything else in these caves could morph itself into a normally inanimate object such as a barrel, or grain sack. Areon is way too good at reading me (so much for 50+ years of practicing hiding my emotions!) and started to open barrels by himself. That got me moving. We eventually had taken inventory: two barrels of wine, two of water, several sacks of grain and dried meat, 6 large javelins, 3 large nets, a chain shirt (too big for a halfling), a rather nice set of nunchaku, a bone scroll case, and, best of all, nearly 1500 gold pieces. Areon was able to stow the weapons on himself. I was trying to calculate how to best carry 30 pounds of coin, when our very clever druid companion simply dropped the entire bag into his haversack. It apparently holds a lot more than it should! We’ll have to pour some of our other loot in there too, if he doesn’t mind.

We all decided to bed down in the storage area, and tried to get Deitricha to purify the wine. She resisted for now— I wasn’t going to insist she drink any of it! Areon and I took separate shifts again, so I got to ask both of our human companions lots of personal questions, none of which were answered entirely to my satisfaction. I am fairly sure Beowulf is not a Zhent, at least. I also think that Deitricha is developing feelings for Rosorc, though of course I would be amazed if anything came of it. Then again, Rosorc treats her the way I would expect a dwarf to treat a prospective mate— as an equal. Even when he was “wooing” me, he was much more open and happy around Deitricha. Perhaps Tassar noticed that too.

When I wasn’t grilling the humans, I decided to do some reading. I popped open the scroll case and looked over the contents. The parchment inside contained two spells: one for summoning monsters, and one for animating a rope. I’m not sure I’d trust myself to use these in an emergency, but I’ll hold on to them as none of my comrades use arcane magic.

Eventually all felt rested up enough, and Deitricha was able to heal some more of the wounds from the previous night. We headed to the room where the black creature had waited— the doorway beyond showed a 5’ passage stretching into the darkness. In a rare moment of solidarity, everyone suggested that I lead so that we could look for traps. I didn’t find any by the time we arrived in a crudely worked room with some tunnels leading off of it. I snuck ahead a wee bit until I heard guttural voices in the distance, then crept back to the group to tell of my findings. I was going to creep forward a bit more to see what all was there, but Beowulf reminded us that he could cover more area quickly and quietly as a bat. He transformed and flew off through each tunnel in turn, then came back to report a rather large group of humanoids (no halflings) and dire rats in one direction, and a minotaur in the other. The minotaur’s direction also had a closed door beyond it, so we decided to try and slip past it. I was surprised, but pleased that we were going to leave the humanoids alone so that we could cover more ground quickly, but of course, we still had to get past the large creature down the next hallway. I snuck past the minotaur’s room first, followed by Areon, and so on to Rosorc (being the least quiet in all his armor). Areon and I got past well enough, but the minotaur must have smelled us or had amazing hearing, because he charged up his side tunnel at us, brandishing a very large axe. The creature was so large that I could no longer see my companions on the opposite side of its bulk. Areon pushed me back a few feet and took a mighty swing, and then another, with his greatsword as I prepared to aim my crossbow. I heard Rosorc’s war cry as he apparently was chopping into it from the other side. Areon stabbed forward with all of his might, and.... the monster dropped dead. We didn’t have time to stare in awe though, as we heard the sounds of battle beyond the fresh corpse. Areon scrambled up over the beast, and I followed, with Beowulf clambering up behind as we waded into a room full of goblins and dire rats. We made quick work of them and followed a short tunnel, eventually finding ourselves behind the group Rosorc and Deitricha were fighting. We met up moments later as Rosorc was wiping gnoll blood off of his axe.

I am sorry to say that, even though my friends politely waited while I checked through the equipment of our slain adversaries (one of which was a gnome, which seemed out of place), there was nothing of value on any of them. We made sure there was nothing in any of the other little cracks and crevices in the little caves surrounding us, then went to the doorway beyond the minotaur carcass. I picked the lock and the closed door swung open. There were two bugbears waiting on the other side. I slipped into the room behind Areon and pulled out a poisoned bolt to take one out, but pricked my own finger instead! Thankfully the poison didn’t affect me right then, but it might have been a blessing if it had, for moments later, a humanoid with a tentacled maw entered the room— a mind flayer! It cast some sort of hold over all of us but Beowulf and his wolf, who bravely attempted to attack it— moments later, they too were paralyzed by the illithid’s power.


I am not sure if I succumbed to the drow poison or the mind flayer did something to us to knock us all unconscious. I came to in a cell, with none of my weapons or belongings (though I was relieved to find the gifts from Areon weren’t removed). I can sense that he’s nearby, and I believe I’ve heard some whispering from our friends on the other side of this wall....

Posted by Kristin on June 30, 2004, 15:08

Blue Ruin

Flamerule 7, 1373, an Illithid’s lair north of the Moonwood

A few minutes later we’d taken a head count and discovered we were all present, but in different cells (even poor Shadow had his own little prison). Rosorc was the only one that could see at first, but suddenly a light, accompanied by a familiar voice, appeared in the hallway between our cells. The mind flayer and its two bugbear companions appeared with a torch-toting halfling— Tassar! Before any of us could say anything, however, Tassar turned to the illithid and handed it a small pouch, saying, “The Order thanks you for your assistance.” They then all turned and left us again, taking the light source with them. I had been able to see that Areon and Nianque were in the cell opposite me, and I could see where Rosorc was too. I’d also had a quick glance at my own manacles and the lock on my cell door. I was without any good lock picks and I had to settle for one of the pins I use to hold back my hair. It took a few minutes for me to get out of one pair of shackles and my cell. Practicality asserted itself, and I went to open Ro’s cell first, since he could actually see in the total darkness enough to point me in the right direction for the cells I’d been unable to see from my vantage point.

I got him loose much more quickly. Instead of guiding me in the right direction, he tossed me over his should for the half dozen steps to Areon’s cell. I was thankful that he was not wearing the spiked armor, and that it was too dark for my companions to witness it! I went around and opened the doors and manacles of Areon, Beowulf and Shadow— Deitricha just appeared beside me without needing any help. We also found two cells that we not empty, though the occupants had obviously been there a long time. While my stronger comrades decided to carry their manacles and chains to use as impromptu weapons, practicality struck me again— I grabbed a femur from one of the long-dead prisoners.

We followed closely behind Rosorc down a narrow passage with one turn in it, till we came to a locked door. As I was attempting to pick the lock from our side, someone on the other side was unlocking it! The door flew open and we were faced with three hobgoblins. The only reason I could see them was that Deitricha (who was obviously still having a hard time over the last thing she’d been witness to) cast a bright light spell on her holy symbol and held it aloft. Rosorc immediately smashed his shackles over the head of the hobgoblin facing him, while Areon moved past me to slay the one I faced. Shadow flew past us all as the third took off running.

Areon and Rosorc quickly grabbed a few things off the guards, including a key ring that Areon tossed to me for safekeeping. We heard a yelp off in the distance, and then Beowulf was calling Shadow back to his side. The wolf looked pretty beat up, but trusted his companion enough to follow instructions even when wounded. As Beowulf healed Shadow, Areon and Rosorc slammed the door shut and I locked it; they then put all their weight against it. With Deitricha’s light, she and I found the lock on the door opposite and went in, hoping to find another means out (or at least our equipment!). Instead we found a room littered with skulls, all of which had four holes poked in them. There was also a tentacled, three-legged, ugly beast in the room— or so we thought for a moment, till we realized it wasn’t moving. But it certainly was a life-like rendering of something best left to nightmares! We couldn’t find any doors out, so we backtracked as far as the prison cells (now that we had adequate light)— no ways out there either. Our male counterparts were still holding the door shut, though it was beginning to splinter as our captors hit it with something heavy from the other side. Much as it scared me, I went behind the statue of the hideous beast and, clearing a mound of bones away, found a trapdoor in the floor. We quickly and quietly alerted our friends to our find, then all dashed into the bone room and locked that door. We could hear that our enemy had just broken through the previous door and were bashing down this one. One by one we quickly dropped down into a dark tunnel and closed the trapdoor behind us. Fortunately, no one followed.

We walked about a quarter of a mile, with the tunnel gradually sloping upward until we could see sunlight. We were free! Unfortunately, we had no gear to survive in the wild for long, and that’s where we found ourselves. The ettin cave entrance was only a few hundred yards off. Rosorc wanted to go back and see if our equipment was still there— he had spent three years of his life working just to pay for his armor and would regret leaving it behind without at least trying to retrieve it. Areon was adamant about moving on, suggesting that we be thankful we were still alive and replace the equipment when circumstances allowed. I wanted my crossbow back and all that coin we’d collected, but I wasn’t going back without Areon, so remained vacillating between the two options. Beowulf and Deitricha were not casting a vote either way. We needed to rest, and hadn’t been followed out, so I suggested we put off the decision until morning. Areon found us a good enough place to camp (though we had nothing to camp with and made no fire). Beowulf enhanced some berries that he and Areon collected and we at least had a bit of food before retiring.

The night was bitter cold, and this is the warmest month of the year! Everyone looked worse for wear by dawn, but I must have looked really, really bad, as Areon felt the need to cast a spell on me to protect me from the elements. I have to admit though, I felt much better afterwards. He also relented and agreed to go back to the cave— probably fearing I’d die of exposure if we didn’t. All those years of living in a weather-protected mythal have not prepared me for “roughing it” I’m afraid. I lamented that a flask of ale or two would have made me feel much better, and, while I’m sure that at least Deitricha and Rosorc would have agreed with me, Areon apparently believes that’s a vice I should cut back on. I was surprised, since we met in a tavern.

We worked out a very good plan though, hoping to stack the odds in our favor— after all who would be crazy enough to break back into their own prison eight hours after escaping? We walked quietly to the cave entrance, where Beowulf again turned into a bat and checked the entire level. He came back and gave us his “all clear” sign (squeak!) and then continued on to the next level down. He soon came back and again signaled the way was safe. We made our way down. The bodies from our previous skirmishes were still there, so we grabbed some armor from the gnolls and a few javelins and other weapons. Feeling a bit more prepared, we continued on to the room where the mind flayer had stunned us. It turns out the room was a lab of some sort. More importantly, I found a hidden door— I opened it, revealing a set of steps descending into darkness. Beowulf would have checked the way down, but we saw something lumbering up the steps, so he transformed back into a human to battle whatever it turned out to be.

Moments later, an ogre appeared in the doorway— and was immediately killed by blows from Areon and Rosorc. Another ogre followed. Having no armor on, I threw a javelin at it then slipped behind Beowulf, who was wearing some secondhand gnoll attire. That ogre was also dispatched quickly.

No other creatures came up the steps, so we snuck down into what served as a barracks for the various guards we’d fought— we could see the other side of the splintered door leading to the cells. There was one closed door here that we hadn’t come upon before. I listened at it and could hear some movement behind it, so we prepared for a fight. Opening the door revealed the two bugbears in a darkened, elaborately furnished room. As we fought them, the mind flayer made its appearance again— thankfully I was the only one stunned this time. My friends had no trouble killing the bugbears, but the mind flayer vanished the moment it was engaged in physical combat.

My paralysis from being stunned finally wore off, and we checked the room. I eventually found a concealed door— surely our equipment would be behind it! My friends crowded close to me as I checked for traps and picked the lock. We opened the door and with a flash…

…found ourselves in a dark, empty room, without Deitricha! Before we had much chance to consider our fate, our location abruptly shifted, and we found ourselves on the floor of the illithid’s room again, all of us covered in cuts as if from a fall through jagged glass. Deitricha was running to each of us in turn, providing healing and apologizing for the nature of our reappearance, as she had found us all imprisoned inside of an emerald on a pedestal in the mind flayer’s “safe,” which she smashed to free us. This safe was behind the door that I had just opened. The good news was that all of our equipment, plus some healing potions, an obviously magical staff, and well over 2000 gold pieces, was right where we’d hoped it would be.

There was sad news too. Areon’s tressym had been killed by our return trip; the poor little flying cat was cut to ribbons by the shards of our magical prison. The irony is that every one feels like they are responsible, though we have to remember, the “Order” is ultimately culpable for our current situation. Rosorc kindly offered to help get Areon a new one, not realizing, I don’t think, that his little feline companion was more of a friend than, well, admittedly, I don’t really understand the relationship either, but I think that it’s more like a wizard’s familiar than, say, a favorite piece of equipment. I can tell Areon is upset but not blaming anyone. Deitricha is blaming herself, when in fact, she probably saved the rest of us from being recaptured by the illithid.

Posted by Kristin on July 6, 2004, 18:05

Going South

Flamerule 16, 1373, outside of Beorunna’s Well

We walked for a while until we found a place suitable for a burial. I was awed at the various burial prayers my friends gave— even Shadow gave a mournful howl at one point during Rosorc’s impassioned prayer. I recited an ancient elven one I didn’t even realize I knew, blessing the animal’s departing soul. I do hope that it wasn’t a hunter’s prayer.

We traveled in relative comfort under a sunny, clear sky for the remainder of the day, heading ESE in the general direction of Beorunna’s Well. Areon found us a good spot to camp with a small fire, and then he and Beowulf foraged a bit while Rosorc rummaged through the packs to find the meat and other edibles (and wine— blessed by Deitricha!) we’d acquired at the Ettin’s lair. I felt a little off, but I assumed it was the protective spell Areon had placed on me the day before wearing off. I was wrong though— Areon limped to sit down at the campfire, looking quite ill and, rolling up his pant leg, we found that the dire rat bite he’d received during a skirmish yesterday was red and inflamed. Deitricha treated the symptoms, with a promise to cure the “filth fever” in the morning after she’d prayed to Tymora. I wanted him to rest after our meal, but he insisted on staying up and keeping first watch with Rosorc.

Areon gently shook me out of my meditation a few hours later, not for me to take watch, but to take cover! This horrible, reptilian creature had flapped low over our camp and Rosorc was able to see through the pitch-dark night that it was wheeling around to come back. Moments later, we were all up and could see the monstrous form coming towards us— it was at least 20’ long with a wingspan of at least twice that. Someone, I’m not sure who, yelled “Yrthak!” as the ground between us all erupted in a shower of rocks from the creature’s sonic attack. We all dove for cover in the boulder-strewn ground around our camp, except for Deitricha, who perhaps noticed that the creature was eyeless. Her stance paid off for me, as I was, apparently, the target of its attack. In the space of a few seconds, I was hiding (I thought) between three large rocks, then I was nearly killed outright by the creature as it passed over me with its talons outstretched, then completely healed by Deitricha. We managed to chase it off with a few projectiles, but it was hard to rest afterwards!

I tried to engage Deitricha in meaningful conversation during our watch, as I do want to get to know my comrades better, but she seems to think my questions are too “personal.” The rest of the night passed without further incident.

Deitricha rid Areon of the filth fever before we broke camp at sunrise. We headed out under increasingly cloudy skies; eventually a hard, cold rain began to fall— we quickly took shelter in a shallow cave. Thankfully it was an abandoned cave, because the weather was so bad that we were stranded there for three nights. I chose to ask Deitricha the “personal” questions in the Elven tongue on our shifts, hoping that would somehow she’d be more inclined to answer. Either she doesn’t understand Elven very well, or she understands it too well and was making some rather alarming suggestions. I’ll leave it at that for now.

The fourth morning of our trek from the Ettin’s cave dawned sunny and we were quick to get headed toward Beorunna’s Well again. Beowulf transformed into a bird to get an aerial view of what was ahead, hoping to give Areon a break from scouting, but of course Areon stayed about 100’ in front of the rest of us anyway. They saw three ogres joining an orc encampment about a quarter mile from where we were traveling. Areon told me about this quietly and in Sylvan. Perhaps that was the language he and the druid were using while scouting ahead— we certainly didn’t have to worry about a certain halfling overhearing this time.

After another uneventful night we walked until we reached the plains— by our guess Beorunna’s Well was still a three-day hike. In fact, we must have been doing quite well with the method used for scouting ahead, as we only encountered a single ogre the entire trek. Beowulf and Areon didn’t even alert us that they were in combat— it was the ogre’s javelin that had sailed well past them and landed in the path in front of Rosorc, Deitricha and I that clued us in. I got there in time to get one shot off before the ogre was dispatched. We got a nice purse of gold for our troubles.

Another two clear (both of encounters and rain clouds) days brought us to where we can see the little town of Beorunna’s Well. Barring any incidents, we should make it to the town by nightfall.

Posted by Kristin on July 28, 2004, 17:23

Feint

Flamerule 23, 1373, south of the Night Trees

We followed a caravan right into the little town of Beorunna’s Well. The sky had already darkened, so we headed straight for the closest inn— the Lion’s Den— which had four rooms available. Areon paid for our room (I’ve yet to pay for room or board since we left Silverymoon), and I am just assuming everyone else took a single room. Deitricha’s room was furthest from ours for a change, so I have no clear idea of what transpired there, if anything.

Once the sun was up, I figured our companions had probably slept long enough, so I went around and grabbed them all before we headed down for breakfast, so we could divvy up our loot. Beowulf cast a spell to see if we had any magical items— I was surprised to discover my lock picks had a magical aura— I guess I’ve not had need of them for some time and never discovered their hidden properties. I decided to find a mage that could tell me what the exact magical enhancement was, and wanted to get that mermaid ring identified too. We all headed off to the marketplace a while later, first to get some items identified, then resupply. Turned out my lock picks can cast a spell called “Knock” which will actually be very handy if I want to open something I can’t (or shouldn’t) touch. The mermaid ring, unsurprisingly, makes the wearer a better swimmer. I took one look at Rosorc, trading in his heavy spiked armor for what looked like heavier spiked armor, and just handed it to him. I felt a little bad that the waraxe he risked life and limb to gain in Barransar turned out to be a fake with an illusion cast on it. I traded in my beat up old leather armor for a nice mithral chain shirt, as did Deitricha and Areon. While Deitricha and Beowulf wandered off to purchase some wands (and Shadow was greeting some of the other wolves freely roaming through the barbarian town), I saw Rosorc striding purposefully over to a goldsmith. I was pretty sure he wasn’t buying a courting gift for anyone, but felt a lot better when I saw that he’d acquired a gold holy symbol to Clangeddin.

In the midst of all this, we managed to find a caravan going to Silverymoon that needed guards— 25 gold per day per person for a 15-day trek, and we get horses to ride. My only disappointment is that at that speed we won’t make it to Silverymoon by Midsummer’s Eve— holidays like that are perfect for picking up odd bits of information.

Areon and I continued to meander around the marketplace, getting equipment for the travel home. I got myself a magically enhanced cloak so that Areon doesn’t have to keep casting spells on me in camp to keep me from freezing to death. Of course, now it’s fairly warm out. Since we had plenty of time, I suggested we look around just on the off chance that the marketplace had a silver Uthgardt tiger. Imagine our surprise when we found one a short while later.

Of course, it wasn’t the one he was looking for, that would have been too easy! It was an obvious fake, but just as obvious to him, made to look exactly like the stolen one he’s searching for. We were able to talk the merchant down to 75 gold for it; Areon wasn’t going to bother getting it, but I was already thinking ahead— what if we find the one we are looking for and need to make a quick switch? We also found a smith’s mark on it, a half circle “C” with a diagonal line “\” though it.

I did not recognize the mark. We talked further to the merchant (who had no idea that this statue was a copy of a stolen item) who thought the smith that made it was from Silverymoon. I suggested to Areon that we let our companions in on the situation— or at least Deitricha, since she’s from Silverymoon. Unfortunately, she didn’t recognize the mark either. I feel like we made a bit of progress though!

After another night’s rest at the Lion’s Den, we met up with the caravan heading to Silverymoon. There were a total of 25 of us guarding and driving 12 wagons, and we were warned to watch out for the Sky Pony barbarians, who have been ambushing caravans midway between Silverymoon and Beorunna’s Well.

We headed out, with Areon, often accompanied by Shadow, and Beowulf (again in bird form) scouting ahead. Other than a few deer, we saw no other creatures of any sort. By the second day we were between the Night Trees. We did see some strange lights at the end of the forest while we camped, but they didn’t move and we didn’t get closer to see what they were. An owl glided through our camp during one of the early watches, but nothing else happened that night.

We continued on south of the Night Trees for a few more days without meeting a soul. It’s now our fifth day out, and the scouts just came back with news of at least six barbarians on the road ahead. It seems they know we are coming and are hiding in the trees beside the road. Areon and I are going to go check, by walking through the trees behind them, as we can move quietly enough without our ambushers hearing us, but I don’t have a good feeling about this….


Posted by Kristin on August 6, 2004, 18:24

Seeing Red

Flamerule 26, 1373, East of the Moonwood near Quaervarr

Well, no wonder they didn’t hear us— they’d already detoured far around us, so that by the time Areon and I had carefully picked our way through the wooded area beside the trail, the barbarians were seen from the caravan, heading north behind us— in the other direction.

We walked back to the caravan and soon were ready to call it a day. We made camp beside the road, and asked Beowulf to shift into a bird so he could fly back to see if the barbarians were following us. Sure enough, they were camped (without a fire) a quarter mile behind us.

It was a rather tense night, but our camp was never attacked, so Beowulf flew back again in the morning, only to find the barbarians were keeping their distance, but most definitely following us south. Deciding we needed to have someone follow them as they followed us, Areon hid in the brush beside the trail to wait for them to pass, while the rest of us set out as if all was normal.

A short while later, a rather large hawk with a piece of parchment tied to its leg appeared and attempted, rather ungracefully, to hover in front of me. I untied the note and the hawk, no longer needing to play the messenger, flew off without a sound.

I quickly read the note: Areon was following the barbarians and noticed a symbol they all wore, which he drew in the note for me to identify. He said he’d catch up to us by nightfall. I recognized the symbol of the Grey Wolf tribe— a group of Uthgardt afflicted with lycanthropy! I didn’t like the thought of him out there alone when twilight fell, but I also knew he’d already made up his mind. Thankfully, Beowulf was willing to fly back a note of warning about the nature of the barbarians, and he even took 20 silver-tipped arrows for Areon on the off chance he came into contact with the lycanthropes. Beowulf reappeared at my side soon afterwards, with the message that Areon would return at dusk, which he did.

Again, the night passed uneventfully. Beowulf headed out again to take in an aerial view of our proximity to the Grey Wolf tribesmen— they were still about the same distance behind us. Had we not been protecting a caravan, we may have gone back to introduce ourselves, as it was obvious to our druid that they were as aware of us as we were of them, but we didn’t risk the attempt.

Assuming barbarians were the worst of our trouble, it was quite unnerving to see the outline of a large red dragon swoop overhead, then turn around and land in our camp. The beast bellowed that he was “Marxithial the Mighty” and that we had encroached upon his land, which was, apparently, a large stretch of the only road between Beorunna’s Well and Silverymoon. He actually started to riffle through one of the wagons, looking for “tribute”— in the end, he decided 2000 gold pieces would do, and though I would have rather fought him, Lukan the caravan master handed him a ring, which the dragon decided was a fair offering. I had suggested that the barbarians following us were probably worth more than the ring, and Rosorc bellowed that information back to the dragon before it flew off. We hoped the barbarians would be able to make quick work of the dragon, but we were nervous to stay put, so we gathered up our gear and headed onward towards Silverymoon.

We were making pretty good time (at this rate, we’d get to Silverymoon in time for the Midsummer festivities) as the sun came up. Soon though, the form of Marxithial appeared above us, but this time, instead of landing, he breathed fire on our last wagon, and then swung around to hit the second wagon of the caravan. His sides were covered in gashes and wounds; he’d obviously taken interest in the barbarians and met his match. The enraged dragon was aiming for the third wagon now, when he noticed that Rosorc was near it and spat fire at him instead. We let the caravan continue on as fast as it could go while my friends and I peppered the dragon with bolts and arrows. At one point Marxithial decided to attack Areon; I am told I said a few unladylike things to get the dragon’s attention away from him. It was an arrow from Beowulf’s bow that finally drove the creature off, though I’m sure I at least hurt that red menace’s feelings.

In all we lost four horses, four men and two wagons.

Posted by Kristin on August 11, 2004, 21:24

A Midsummer Night’s Scheme

Midsummer’s Eve, Silverymoon

The rest of that day was unspectacular— other than a herd of Branta grazing off in the distance, we didn’t see much of anything, except rain. We finally did stop and camp, with thankfully no surprises during the night.

The following day was again uneventful. It gave Areon and I more time to ponder this silver tiger statue and the smith’s mark on it; we got the idea to quiz our caravan master, who, we had determined, was also the merchant for the goods carried between Beorunna’s Well and Silverymoon (and back again). Lukan did actually recognize the tiger— in fact, it had been on his last caravan trip to Beorunna’s Well to be sold there. He identified the mark as that of Prantos the artist, a good but new (therefore not well known) craftsman making his home in the newer area of Silverymoon. He was genuinely helpful and I suspect we got all the info he had on the item.

This night, too, was uneventful.

The camp woke up to another warm but rainy day. We were starting to pass farms and small settlements— surely we’d make it home in time for Midsummer! Still, our caravan was much too large to be accommodated on a farmstead, so we again camped by the roadside. Areon and Rosorc’s watch was quiet; as was the part of a watch I shared with Deitricha. I stayed up with Beowulf for the last watch, and after so many trouble-free watches I was starting to ponder why we were being paid so well when I heard an “oof!” in front me. Through the darkness I could see that a guard was already falling over and a shadowy form appeared to be tearing into him. I shouted “Ambush!” and shot a bolt at the marauding creature, then ran toward the campfire to make sure Areon was aware. Beowulf was already running over to help Rosorc get some fortification with spells as there was no way the dwarf could properly pull on his armor while the camp was being attacked.

Areon was on his feet with his bow nocked as a second creature appeared (and killed) another guard near us. We noticed the wild hair, dried leathery skin tight on the bones, and malevolent eyes. We both thought “ghouls!” at the same time, and I yelled “undead!” for Deitricha who effortlessly made a gesture at the closest visible monster— it took off in fear from her. We couldn’t find the first assailant, and Areon and I split up to try and catch the creatures, thinking them harmless to elves. As I got near the first downed guard Rosorc yelled to me that it would rise as undead— he was right! And worse, it was not in fact, a ghoul, but a wight! The dwarf jumped in between me and the now-risen guard (who did look quite awful with the gaping claw marks on his torso and the evil glint in his lifeless eyes). I aimed over Rosorc’s head and shot the thing in the chest. He finished the thing off, but not before it clawed him, visibly draining him. Areon appeared to have dispatched the remaining undead that hadn’t escaped. Many of our camp wanted to get up and move now, but Deitricha and I both convinced them that it was better, while it was still so dark, to have the defensible position and the firelight to see what was out there.

We were not attacked again for what was left of the night. When it was time to move, we did so quickly, and were able to see Silverymoon way off in the distance. We also crossed a multitude of footprints in the mud— giant and normal sized, heading west. Judging by the depth of prints, they were heavily armed. Beowulf agreed to fly off and see what was going on, with plans to meet us before we got to the city. He returned several hours later to tell us that he’d seen a gathering of two hill giants and at least 30 orcs in an encampment. Most bore shields emblazoned with a fang dripping blood. It sounds familiar, but I couldn’t recall where I’d seen that symbol before. At any rate, it was worth mentioning to the guards at the gates of Silverymoon, which we were just a few hours shy of reaching.

We arrived shortly before nightfall, and Lukas paid us 300 gold each and we departed from his service. The night was beautiful (of course, since we were inside the mythal now), and Deitricha took Rosorc (who she was still tending to from the wight attack) and Beowulf with her to Tymora’s temple. Areon and I went to my house.

I’d been gone for nearly four weeks, but everything was pretty much as I’d left it. Except one thing— a wand for curing wounds was left on my table, with a nice thank you note from Dante. I’d felt bad that we’d left town without seeing him after we had him restored to his human form, but the wand and message more than restored my faith in that one human.

Thankfully Areon doesn’t seem to mind spending the night “indoors” as much as I was afraid he would.


Areon did have me up and ready to travel bright and early though! We went to the north wall of the city and soon found the house/shop of Prantos in an alley. The thin, wiry human came to the door after our knock and ushered us into a shambles of paints, half-done portraits and other art paraphernalia. At first, he wanted to deny that the silver tiger we had with us was anything other than a unique statue of his own design. When we told him that Areon had knowledge of the theft of the original from an Uthgardt tribe, and I quickly assured him that we didn’t believe him to be the thief, he visibly relaxed and admitted he’d been commissioned to make a dozen such statues, but that he no longer had the original (or any of the twelve forgeries) in his possession. He went on to be quite helpful, telling us that the last place the original had been seen was Alwin’s Auction House in the old part of the city. I gave him a moonstone for his troubles, telling him to leave a message at the Bright Blade Brandished for me if he heard more about it.

It was still early, so we headed to the auction house. Two burly humans flanked the doors; after greeting them, they took us to the office where we met a fat, balding human writing with quill and parchment. He shoved aside the work to enquire why we were there.

I told him we were interested in unique items, and that I was particularly fond of silver. He assured us that he would have silver items such as statues at the auction in five days’ time. I used what few bits of believable explanation I had as to why I wanted to make a purchase today— being Midsummer’s Eve, it wasn’t unlikely I’d need to purchase a wedding present. Of course, he had to ask who the lucky couple was to be, so I said the gift was for Areon (who of course, was standing right there, likely wondering how I’d survived in this town full of humans with such amazing bartering skills). The greedy little human’s eyes lit up when I said I’d be willing to pay extra to get an item before the festivities started. He opened a safe and pulled out the ugliest silver statue I’ve ever seen— a squid-headed idol, possibly significant to mind flayers. I told him it was lovely though and wanted to know more about it. He informed us that all sales are confidential— for both buyer and seller. I asked if he had anything with a feline motif? He pulled out the most horrific item— a gold tressym. Not that a gold tressym statue would not be beautiful, but this one looked like it had been a real flying cat, dipped in gold, poor thing. Thankfully it was out of my price range. As he was opening the safe again, Areon spotted two silver tigers inside! Asking to see them, Alwin pulled out the silver “bookends” and assured us they were unique— both of them. Sadly, these were also the work of Prantos, not the original. The man was obviously hiding something from us, but I felt we’d reached an impasse, so thanked him and said we may be back for the auction after all, but we going to go to the open market to shop now.

Of course, that’s not where we went— Areon soon had us perched high where the treetops met the rooftops of nearby buildings. I watched people preparing for the Midsummer festivities that I so looked forward to, while Areon kept watch on the auction house door. It was dark by the time the fat man and his two guards locked up and left. Still we sat. I finally told Areon that we needed to go to the Bright Blade Brandished to listen to drunk revelers— perhaps we’d learn more of the silver tiger that way! I’m not sure if he agreed with that idea, but I think he finally realized that I wanted to celebrate the holiday for at least a while and acquiesced.

Our friends had already started to celebrate, though I was sorry to hear that Beowulf was just sitting in the bar, not atop a unicorn steed for the evening. Deitricha’s goddess apparently requires her clerics to drink large amounts of dwarven ale, dance on the top of a table, and then pass out, so we got to see one ritual of the holiday at least. It could also be that she was drinking because of the news she’d received. Upon checking on Tassar’s landlady, the old woman had told Deitricha that the halfling had been to her house not four days earlier and left a note with her:

Deitricha— We have much to discuss and explain. Meet me at 29 Dark Alley Way. Come alone. Tassar xxoox

Our male companions were of the opinion that it was a bad move, and Deitricha was horribly torn on what to do; she was probably drinking a bit heavier than any ritual requirements for that reason.

That bit of festivities over with, and Areon obviously antsy from the crowd (and the belief he was missing something important while not sitting high above the auction house), I suggested I just fill a flask and we headed back.

It’s good that we did, actually. We could see that a light in Alwin’s storehouse was on. Soon a dark-cloaked humanoid figure, about 5’ tall, slipped in through the front door of the building. I caught a glimpse of her face, which was familiar— the scribe of the Red Wizard we encountered in Barannsar! Forty-five minutes later, we saw her leave with a small wrapped bundle. Areon and I briefly discussed having me sneak up behind her and knock her out, but we weren’t really armed and armored properly, so decided it was not a good option. After thirty minutes more, the fat man and his two guards left the building, locked with lights out.

I suggested to Areon we might as well tell our companions about the importance of the silver tiger, and he actually agreed with me. It’s after midnight, and knowing our friends need more rest than we do, we slid down from our vantage point to head back to my house, with plans to explain everything to our friends over breakfast.

I am, I guess, amused that Areon apparently has no notion of what the Midsummer festivities were all about. He didn’t blink once when I was telling the auctioneer about “wedding plans” and the time-sensitive nature of such things. Perhaps the Uthgardt he grew up around do not celebrate this holiday. Or perhaps they celebrate differently and I’m in for a surpri....

Posted by Kristin on August 16, 2004, 17:02

Discovery and Recovery

Eleasis 2, 1373 DR, Silverymoon

I had such a surprising evening that I must confess I was totally useless the next day— I just couldn’t keep my mind focused on anything! Areon and I did remember to go to the Bright Blade and explain about the silver tiger to our friends. When we arrived, Beowulf introduced us to Tyan, a human sorcerer newly arrived in Silverymoon looking for work, and his very, very rude rat familiar Glitch. I tried to ignore the gestures the rat was making and focus on the conversation, but between my lack of meditation and that rodent (what was he pointing at?), I just let the conversation drift where it would.

We eventually decided we had several options on how to proceed with the tiger, and of course, we were still trying to help Deitricha decide what to do about the note from Tassar. Rosorc, we believe, was off talking to some dwarves that could take the news of Barannsar to the local Citadels— too bad he didn’t get the news about the Red Wizard to add to it!

So, we had to choose:

Go to the Dark Alley and see what we could find of Tassar.
Go talk to the City Guard (in particular, Deitricha’s brother) to find out what they know of Tassar.
Go to auction house (in hindsight, this would have probably been useful if we’d done it when it was closed) and look for records relating to buying/sale of tiger.
Go to Library (Deitricha’s mother is a librarian) and research any relationships between any/all of the above (what do the Red Wizards, Barannsar and the auction house have in common with the silver tiger, if anything?), and possibly on Uthgardt mating rituals.

We went to the library.

The Vault of the Sages was in the shape of a horseshoe and had five floors. Thankfully, we didn’t have to go through them— the librarians bring books and scrolls to the visitors (for a fee). I wouldn’t think that a druid would have much use for books, but Beowulf seemed to be having a grand time with researching. I found nothing about the Uthgardt that I was trying to look for, though Tyan kindly informed me that much had been written about that subject and elves (like I needed help with that). I see his rat familiar wears a little cape— it just makes what Glitch is doing seem all the more rude.

Deitricha spent a lot of time off talking to her mother, and then was planning to go looking for her brother. Areon seemed lost in thought, and Beowulf just kept sharing more and more info on the Anauroch desert and some long-dead archwizard who had trapped extraplanar creatures in staffs and other artifacts. Now that did sound interesting, and could possibly be what the Red Wizard and his sidekick were looking for, but did not help with the silver tiger at all, and I’d given Areon my word that I’d help with that first and foremost. Someone (was it the rat?) suggested that we have the fake statue scried upon so that we could discover the whereabouts of the real one. That sounded fine to me, so much so, that I completely forgot about going back to the auction house after dark to do my own research.

Another night passed, just as surprising as the last, though I got in some meditation as well.

In the morning we went to the Lady’s College and talked to a mage called Toombs, who (for a fee) studied the silver tiger and informed us that the one we seek is in a caravan heading southwest of Silverymoon, already 200 miles from us. Now we have to decide whether to pay to be teleported there, go to the auction house to look for the bill of sale tonight, or travel by some other method and risk losing the trail entirely.

Posted by Kristin on January 5, 2005, 20:03

Latet Anguis in Herba

Eleasis 2, 1373 DR, the Evermoors

Areon and I went with Tyan and Beowulf to the Bright Blade Brandished to “regroup.” Deitricha arrived shortly and hadn’t managed to find her brother, nor had she gone looking in dark alleys, and Rosorc made an appearance as well, so we got everyone caught up with our discoveries that morning at the College. We agreed to grab some supplies and head back there to have the mage teleport us to the town the caravan was heading towards, planning to meet them from that direction rather than suddenly appearing by their wagons. Areon had made me enough bolts to last for quite some time, so all I needed to do was fill a few flasks with ale for the trip. I noticed Rosorc purchased what he called a “bag of snakes” but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.

Moments after meeting with Toombs again, he had safely delivered us all to Yartar, a small town (more of a small keep or trading post, really!) on the Evermoor Way. I was in favor of letting the caravan come to us while we waited in whatever passed as a tavern, but my comrades were impatient to get moving, so we started walking back east along the road. Beowulf decided to fly ahead to see how far away they were.

A large bird soon came swooping down in front of us on the road, turning back into our druid companion. He said the ten-wagon caravan was a few hours’ walk ahead of us, and was about to be attacked by ten trolls when he left (but not to worry, he’d swooped down and warned them). He couldn’t know that caravans were prepared for such encounters, as the Evermoor Way is constantly harassed by bands of marauding trolls, but I did wonder why he didn’t offer to help them!

We decided to force ourselves to pick up the pace (poor Rosorc was practically running in his heavy armor) and about an hour later we met three wagons barreling towards Yartar. Areon and I would have liked to stop them to see if they had any wounded to tend to, for it was quite obvious that they were all that was left of the attacked caravan. Rosorc offered to stop them, and then threw his “bag of snakes” into the first wagon. Turns out his bag of snakes, was in fact, a bag with snakes in it! The men from that wagon all jumped out and grabbed on to the next wagon as it raced past; the first wagon continued on without a driver.

We were left standing in the road, no silver tiger, and possibly wanted by the law for terrorizing a caravan. Or part of one, at least, for the remaining seven wagons never appeared. We continued to hurry east, soon seeing a plume of black smoke rising from the road. We found the remains of the other seven wagons, blood-spattered and clawed apart; nothing left alive anywhere. The bodies of two burnt trolls were all that was left to show us what had happened.

It seemed odd to me that the skirmish had gone so badly for the caravan. After all, Beowulf insisted that he gave them some extra early warning, and usually each wagon would be driven and protected by two people. And, although it appeared all of value had been stripped from the wagons, I found a secret cache of alchemist’s fire, longswords, crossbows and nearly 100 bolts. Areon put the alchemist’s fire vials in his pack and we followed a swath of prints leading into the Evermoors, hoping to find some survivors to help.

We did soon find two trolls! I was able to hit one with a bolt, but it immediately healed around the projectile. I fired again, and poor Shadow, jumping up to bite the throat of the same troll, got hit instead. Areon and Rosorc were making short work of that troll with just massive amounts of damage. I saw Tyan fall in front of the other troll, which he must have used a fire spell on, as it had char marks that were not regenerating. Beowulf and Deitricha were trying to keep Tyan safe from a killing blow while fighting the troll, so I grabbed the vials of alchemist’s fire from Areon’s pack and threw one. It landed perfectly on top of the troll’s head, breaking and spilling the fiery liquid over its skin. Enraged, the burning troll ran straight at me, but I was fortunate that it had been so badly burned that it just fell over dead before it reached me. We used that troll to light the other troll, which Rosorc and Areon had brought down.

We continued to follow that same path of destruction through the moor, until we came to a cave entrance….

Posted by Kristin on January 10, 2005, 15:38

Trolling

Eleasis 2, 1373 DR, the Evermoors

We headed into the cave following the “drag” marks— Areon led and I brought up the rear of our group, with the intention of alerting the group to anything following us. Besides, if Areon ran in to trouble, I’d know about it immediately.

We had only made our way partially down the main passageway, following the sounds of cracking bones and guttural voices, when three trolls emerged from a cavern ahead of us. Areon and Rosorc met them head-on, while Beowulf and Tyan used fiery spells to damage the creatures. I grabbed a rope from Beowulf’s pack (I always repack everyone’s gear, so I know where everything is if we need something!) and threw it at one troll’s feet, then cast a spell from a scroll that would animate the rope. It worked well enough, but the troll ripped through the rope entangling his legs like it was made of thin parchment. Discouraged by that, I used the wand I’ve been carting around to shoot some rays of “enfeeblement” at it. That worked quite nicely, and Tyan was able to finish off two of the three with a spell. Deitricha spent some divine energy to heal the dwarf— apparently, trolls really hate dwarves. Good to know.

We’d bunched up in a small alcove while fighting the three attacking from deeper in the caverns, so two were able to come around from a different tunnel to attack us from behind. Deitricha was looking rather beat up at this point— nearly as bad as Rosorc. I enfeebled one of those newer assailants while Areon filled another with arrows and I saw that someone had lobbed fire at it as well; it went fleeing from the skirmish. I took out the last one with a well-placed bolt, and then had to stab it until someone could light it on fire to prevent it from regenerating.

A few dozen feet further up the passage brought us to a room with several exits, and the carcasses of several horses and humans. They were fairly recent kills, so we had to assume they were from the caravan. Much as I hated to loot the dead, I had to be practical— searching for any clues or bills of sale to show were their goods were to be delivered, or who they were. The trolls had stripped the bodies of anything valuable though, and as a result, anything to identify these people.

We decided to keep searching, and turned to a darkened area to our left. Areon and Rosorc went in first, though it was too dark for them to see much of anything. Areon held out his torch and saw that there was the outline of a door, partially ajar, at the back of the cavern, and smelly sleeping pallets scattered about the floor. Before the rest of us could get much further into the area, four trolls leapt down from ledges further up the shadowy walls and attacked. One was the troll that had escaped our last confrontation, mostly regenerated. Another wielded a greatsword using one hand, and seemed unafraid of fire.

We continued this combat in pretty much the same way as the last one, though we were leading the trolls back into an area where we could fight them one at a time. This time though, one of the trolls hit Areon hard enough that he went down. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the feeling of doom I get when he’s that badly hurt! I screamed and barged my way through my friends to pull him to safety, though Beowulf was already stepping up to heal him. Moments after Areon fell, he was already standing up and shooting arrows back into the fray; I continued to try and drag him backwards while simultaneously attempting to activate the wand of healing that Dante had left us. By the time I’d managed to knock a few charges out of that into Areon, the battle was over— three trolls lay dead and smoldering, and the other had disappeared through the door at the back of the “sleeping” cave.

I hadn’t been wounded, but nearly all of my friends looked to be in bad shape, so we didn’t follow the escapee. We did take the greatsword from the troll that didn’t fear the fire, and Areon pulled a ring off the dead creature’s hand— likely ensorcelled to prevent fire damage. We then turned down the tunnel we hadn’t followed before, finding an amazing treasure hoard and two pits covered in grates in the floor. One pit contains a troll, and the other one appears to have two humans in it….

Posted by Kristin on January 18, 2005, 23:40

Back in the Battle Again

Eleasis 5, 1373 DR, near giants’ fortress

While Areon and our comrades helped the two humans out of one pit, I tried to talk to the troll in the other. In fact, we all tried to figure out its guttural language with no luck; thankfully a quick bit of healing (after a bit of screaming “It’s him!” directed at Beowulf by our rescuees) restored the wits of the two human caravan guards, one of which happened to speak enough “troll” to act as a translator.

Trolls, it seems, have a lot to say when given the opportunity to talk. Gral, as he called himself, was in a pit for “dereliction of duty.” In this case, “dereliction of duty” meant that Gral was opposed to the servitude of his tribe to some giants from further north, which were making the trolls raid caravans in search of a “shiny cat.” This “shiny cat” had apparently been found in the most recent caravan raid and was now on its way to the giants. Gral was more than willing to be our guide on the three day trip north in exchange for being let out of the pit. Unfortunately, the caravan guard that spoke troll was not willing to go along, even for a hefty sum of gold. We were torn between needing to continue after the silver tiger and knowing the two guards wouldn’t stand much of a chance attempting to slog to Yartar on their own. Rosorc stepped forward at this point, and offered to guard the guards on their trek out of the Evermoors. In a way I am sorry to see him leave us, but there has been almost constant tension between him and Areon, and that is not likely to change.

We all spent one last evening as a group. After determining that the exit in the troll sleeping quarters where we’d battled simply led outside, I looked at some of the stranger items that we’d collected but not yet identified. We’d found two scrolls, one of which no one else seems to be able to read— I’ll keep that. Tyan took the other scroll. We all agreed that Areon should keep the greatsword and ring found in our last battle— we think the ring provided the troll leader with some sort of immunity to fire, but have no idea what powers the greatsword has. We also obtained a crystal wand that no one could identify. I figured out quickly that it can shatter things— like the back wall of the cave we were resting in. Tyan can have it.

The night was blissfully quiet. And, thankfully, Deitricha’s deity provided her with spells that allow her brief communication with our troll guide, so after they worked out a way of signaling each other that they needed to talk, we were able to be on our way.

After traveling through swamp land for eight hours, Gral signaled to our cleric the need to speak with her. He smelled giants! Luckily we were able to hide before they reached us. There were three of them, all twice my height and with a slightly simian appearance. Turned out that Deitricha’s spell allowed her to understand giants too— she heard them complain that their leader Krank was following hobgoblin orders to collect certain items. And that some leader named Grom was an ass. Now, that part was interesting— could there be more than one Grom in these parts? If only we’d been able to finish him off in the Nether Mountains!

We decided to make camp without a fire. I took watch for the first half of the night, and Areon the second; though various times throughout the night someone else sat up watching Gral (who had no trouble sleeping). Once, Areon saw some lights in the distance, but they may have just been swamp gasses.

The next day we traveled another eight hours without seeing a soul. We had just made camp and I was taking the first watch again, with Beowulf staying awake to watch Gral. I heard a noise in the distance that sounded like a lot of creatures walking towards our camp; Beowulf obligingly turned into a bat to go take a look, while I roused our friends. The druid was back a few moments later to inform us that there was a band of at least 16 orcs just a few yards behind him! The unmistakable sound of “Charge!” in orcish confirmed it and we quickly made ready to meet the enemy.

Tyan took out a half dozen right away with a fiery spell. Two orcs attacked me; I was able to drop one and Areon finished off the other. I saw magic missiles coming from the darkness beyond our melee and began to shoot bolts in that direction— it was probably a shaman of some sort though I never got a good look at it. Soon, all the orcs lay dead at our feet— and we found that Gral had been torn to pieces by a dire boar at the same time. I asked everyone to gather up the limbs— thankfully, Gral was still alive and by placing the limbs close to the remains of his torso, his amazing healing abilities allowed him to reattach the limbs. Soon he was munching happily on the remains of the boar.

We decided we’d best move on a bit before camping again— a half-mile walk seemed like a safe enough distance should any other bands of orcs be following after the group we fought with.

We had another eight hours of travel across a bleak landscape before coming to the edge of a river. In the distance, we could see a crumbling fortress with a bridge connecting its two sides across the waterway. Gral indicated that we had arrived where the giants live.

Posted by Kristin on May 17, 2005, 00:50

The Weaker Sex

Eleasis 6, 1373 DR, near giants’ fortress

Well, the good news is, Areon and I are still alive. Unfortunately, Beowulf is not.

We made a fireless camp far enough away from the fortress that we could watch it with little chance of it watching back. Beowulf, as normal, insisted on doing a “fly by” of the giants’ stronghold and turned into a bat, fluttering off into the twilight. I took watch while my companions rested. No, I take that back; Glitch found out I had a few flasks of ale and decided to keep me company— there is something wrong with that little fellow. A few minutes after everyone else had settled in, I saw non-bat movement swooping towards the camp. Beowulf was lucky that I had seen him in bird-form before, and have excellent night vision, else he’d have had a bolt through him— I was already waking our friends for the imminent arrival of something non-bat. As it was, he had been run through by a javelin, which only proved that the fortress was occupied. He assured us he’d led his attackers in the opposite direction before returning to camp, so we didn’t have to relocate.

Morning arrived with no further excitement, and it looked like the day would be unexciting as well. Areon decided to go “foraging” so I quickly agreed to go with him. Turns out he really wanted to go foraging. So there we were, foraging, when we both heard a sort of flapping sound, and looking up, saw something large and white coming right for us. Areon ducked down and hid quickly. I hid under him.

After a few moments, I pulled out my flask, realizing I needed a drink badly, which is odd, as I usually only feel like that in uncomfortable social situations. Then I realized it was Areon that needed the drink, and handed the flask to him— he must be acquiring some of my habits, as I am pretty sure he doesn’t drink! Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be sober from here on out unless there is something worth drinking in that fortress.

We eventually foraged a bit more and returned to our human friends and troll companion Gral. Luckily, they hadn’t seen anything large fly overhead.

We tried to rest until dusk, as we planned to all try visiting the fortress as a group. What a horrible mistake! I swear none of our companions have ever been able to be consistently quiet; they may as well just yell, “We’re here!” when we “sneak” anywhere. I’ll have to remember to repack their bags so things don’t rattle, and maybe Areon or I can show them how to walk without making a clomping sound. Even Tyan’s rat familiar sounds like he’s banging on something half the time. But for now, at least one orange-skinned humanoid knew we were coming, though it ducked out of sight before we got close enough to stop it.

So, we clattered over to the fortress and saw that there was a way in just about 15’ up one crumbling side. Areon quickly pulled himself up, and I followed; soon everyone was up the wall, except Gral, who wisely waited on the ground. Just as I was telling everyone to stand back so I could check for traps, I discovered that I was already standing on one. I managed to trigger it as Areon jumped out of the way, and fell a few feet into the pit that appeared below me. I’d have been quite all right had there not been so many sharp spikes at the bottom— I landed so that my right leg was skewered by two of them. To make matters worse, instead of a rope being thrown to me, two vials of fiery liquid (and not the kind I could drink either) were tossed in and I was rather badly burned. Thankfully a rope was dropped down next. Beowulf assisted me in climbing up while I simultaneously dowsed the fire spreading through my clothes, and then provided me enough healing to get me standing again. I saw that the two hobgoblins that threw the fire on me were being dispatched by the others and shot one with my crossbow.

Then, somewhere further into the fortress, a horn was sounded and more hobgoblins arrived. Tyan had cast some sort of spell on Areon that had turned him giant-sized, and he was making quick work of the monsters. Unfortunately, the larger size meant more creatures were able to encircle and attack him. As even more hobgoblins and ogres appeared, Areon started to look overwhelmed.

I quickly disabled the pit trap and got it closed, and just in time, as Areon had to back over the area as the hall filled up. One of the ogres was a bit different than the others; the difference became more apparent when it cast a spell that froze the entire group. Not froze as in frozen in place, but as in very, very cold! Areon fell down and I was sure he was dead. I figured if he died I’d die anyway, so I used the wand that provides curing on him— it was enough to get him conscious again. I turned to see that Beowulf looked bad, dead even; Deitricha said he was beyond her help. The rest of us would not have survived another spell from that ogre mage, but luckily, it had been just as damaged and fled the area. But, we had to leave too, as a hill giant had stomped into view.

We grabbed Beowulf’s remains and hauled ourselves out— thankfully Shadow was still following the last command the druid gave, to “protect” Tyan, though I’m not sure how the wolf will react when it realizes Beowulf won’t be giving it further instructions.

I feel terrible that this poor human has passed— they are just so frail! At least, the males are—could be why Deitricha prefers males from other races.

Posted by Kristin on May 25, 2005, 18:29

More of Them

Eleasis 7, 1373 DR, near giants’ fortress

They are drawn to us like moths to a flame.

Our camp was rather solemn, for as soon as we safely made it back, Beowulf’s wolf expired, having followed his last instructions to the letter. During my watch, I accepted the onerous task of dividing up what the late druid had been carrying among my companions. I didn’t take anything myself, but it would be impractical to bury it with him. In the morning, I wondered aloud to Tyan why he managed to stay alive as long as he had, and then I remembered he’s been with us less than a week himself. That rat is always whispering stuff to him; survival tips, perhaps.

I turned to Deitricha for a moment and asked if she could commune with her goddess or something before we stormed the fortress again. When I turned back to the sorcerer, there were four more human males standing around him, apparently attracted to the Evermoors by some tales in a tavern in Yartar of the surviving human males from the caravan we’d been tracking. Oddly, they were there to offer their services to us and seemed to think we were rescuing the caravan. They had not passed Rosorc and the caravan survivors in the swamps however.

One seemed to be doing all of the talking— a fellow that called himself Ebin Starsliver who claimed at times to have elven parents. He does not seem to understand the elven language though, which is just as well, since I don’t trust him. He played dumb when I asked him about Zhents in the area, and everyone that has spent any time in the Silver Marches would know about Zhents. Beowulf lived alone in a forest and had even heard of them. Areon assures me that Ebin is just simple-minded— he doesn’t even seem to know where he comes from.

Between arguing with this new human and learning of Deitricha’s possibly-successful divination as to the location of the silver tiger: “beyond the path of water resting with the dead that seeks the living” (why on earth does it have to always sound so cryptic?), Areon had to point out that the three quieter humans (Anders, Marius and Geth) and Tyan had left the camp and were scaling the side of the fortress. Ooops.

We ran to catch up as they were reaching the top— which was actually only a few feet up to what had once been a second story. They’d found a stairwell leading down, but it was completely filled with boulders. We were able to pull away enough for Glitch to squeeze his tiny rodent body into the stairwell so he could look around for us.

The rat described a 30’ by 30’ room with two hill giants in it, clearly watching the stairwell— no doubt they had heard us moving the boulders. They did not see Glitch however. He noticed a door in the distance too, but Tyan called him back up as we had come up with another plan.

Tyan and Deitricha worked out a way of flying us all across the river, over the bridge— he could levitate us, and she had a spell that allows her to fly— so we were levitated by the sorcerer and then pulled by the flying cleric across the water. We arrived safely on the other “tower” and found a stairwell leading down, and also filled with boulders. We moved out enough for Glitch to squeeze through. He got down the stairs without incident, then under a door and, unfortunately, was teleported to a cell elsewhere! We know this because, thankfully, he was uninjured and still able to make contact with Tyan, who in turn started to blast chunks of the roof off to find a faster way into the fortress. I was about to suggest that I talk Glitch through picking the lock to his cell via his human when someone yelled that we were being attacked from the bridge. Firing arrows and bolts did little to slow the hill giants, hobgoblins, and the tentacled blue cats (which I could not hit— they must have been displacer beasts) that were heading our way. I was hit by something hard— by a boulder perhaps— and everything went black.

I came to while being jostled across the roof, apparently Areon had seen me fall and was planning to stash me somewhere safe. Deitricha was somehow managing to keep up with him and heal me; since I was being carried I took the opportunity to use the healing wand on Areon, who, truth be told, looked as bad as I felt. Of course, he put me down when he realized I was conscious.

Tyan was the only one left standing against the onslaught, which now included the ogre mage, and we simply could not leave him there, so we regrouped and ran back towards the fight. The fact that the human male was doing so well against such an opponent may have given me the will to fight harder. Though I rarely engage in melee combat of any sort, I tumbled past the horrid cat creature and stabbed it through the back with my rapier. It dropped on the spot. I turned and pulled out my crossbow, and was able to slay an already quite beaten hill giant. My comrades were having similar successes; even the ogre mage had been slain— or rather, was down for the count. I looted its body quick before dropping a flask of alchemist’s fire on it— the only way to be sure it would stay dead, as it had the ability to regenerate like a troll.

While my friends were chasing the last of the hill giants off the roof, I saw Ebin (who I assumed had died) stagger up from where he’d been laying, throwing back healing potions like they were dwarven ale. I was more surprised that he was alive than he was that his three companions were not— he didn’t seem to notice, in fact.

Posted by Kristin on June 9, 2005, 21:48

This Bites

Eleasis 8, 1373 DR, near giants’ fortress

We managed to loot the ogre mage’s body: large armor and great sword, a few potions and scrolls— no silver cat. Not that I thought it would be that simple. At any rate we needed to find Glitch, so we went down to the bridge level and found a door. I spent the next half hour picking locks and disarming traps, including locks on a row of cells from which one very relieved rat emerged unharmed to climb into our sorcerer’s backpack. We randomly explored a few other rooms: one contained several sarcophagi holding nothing but desiccated humanoid remains, another presented us with four very smelly dead goblins with puncture wounds on their necks. It was alarming to note that the puncture wounds were in pairs, with about 8” distance between the fangs.

It was at about this time that Tyan (perhaps with prodding from Glitch) mentioned that he’d seen a hydra through a hole he’d blasted through the roof in our earlier battle. Apparently, the hydra was guarding a single door in the far wall of its lair, but we could get into the room through an archway opposite that door if the hydra could be distracted or dispatched in some way. Fortunately, Tyan (or Glitch) had a plan; the sorcerer would go up on the roof and distract the hydra, and Glitch would stay below to coordinate the rest of us. Unfortunately, Ebin must consider himself to be quiet and sneaky; he lumbered into the archway with his shield in front of him and the hydra saw him, using at least four of its heads to bite the human male. Ebin jumped back, and argued with no one in particular that he was just “peeking” even though it went against our plan.

Our element of surprise was gone, so I tumbled past the archway, attempting to activate the wand that casts the “enfeeblement” spell at the creature. I was grazed by a set of teeth as I passed the opening. I jumped up and put my back to the wall, expecting another attack, but the darn thing went after Areon and my friends. At least it gave me more time to use the wand. By the time I was able to hit it, the creature was all the way into the hall, so I slipped past it into its den. Tyan was lowering himself into the room, no doubt with the intention of keeping a line of sight to cast spells at the departing beast.

I went to the closed door, quickly decided that it wouldn’t need to be trapped with that thing guarding it, and flung the door open. One look in convinced me to wait for my friends, who had vanquished the hydra but were now engaged in a struggle to get past the monstrous corpse in the hall.

A few minutes later found us all standing in that doorway, looking at the biggest sarcophagus any of us have ever seen— it must have been 20’ long! There was no way visible to conveniently open it, and we weren’t sure we wanted to. We somehow decided that sunlight was what we needed, and so all went back up to the roof to beat the crap out of it in a fashion similar to how Tyan had shed light on the hydra. That took a long time, but we finally had a hole right above the big stone box. We tried to crack open the sarcophagus in the same way we opened the roof, but by the time the sun was starting to set, we’d only managed to chip the lid a bit.

No one argued when it was suggested we leave the fortress and find a place to camp a good distance from the place.

Areon and I split the night watches as usual. I had just started mine when a blood-curdling howl of rage emanated from the fortress. Whatever was in the crypt (should I mention that we all have some vague and horrific vision of a giant-sized vampire?) was stirring, and not at all happy with our handiwork.

Posted by Kristin on June 21, 2005, 23:35

The Dead and the Quick

Eleasis 11, 1373 DR, Yartar

The night was uneventful, and at dawn we went back to the fortress, taking care to make sure there were no additional occupants before heading back to the enormous crypt. That turned out to be lucky, as we found some footlockers in one of the first rooms we’d fought in, one of which in turn yielded some rather nice gems and over a thousand gold pieces. And, lest I forget, an insignia with three red slashes on it. I’m told it’s “The Chill” who are a mercenary band of hobgoblins. Was, I guess, would be more accurate.

We checked a few more rooms and found nothing alive (or dead and moving), though Tyan found some magical arrows that Areon is now carrying, and we found a stockpile of barrels of cheap wine— Deitricha and I quickly filled some flasks (and found Glitch was suddenly shimmying up our arms to get his fill) and began to discuss how to best take the remainder with us. Then, almost as one, we decided it was time to go put an end to the large abomination on the far side of the fortress.

The hydra was still dead (though moved out of the corridor) and the holes were still in the roof. We decided that sunlight might be a good thing to defeat the vampire; however, Areon pointed to the overcast skies— sun was not going to be with us today, and likely not the next either. Deitricha couldn’t tell us much about vampires, but she had divined that the silver tiger was with the undead giant, so without further ado, we began to break a hole through the stone top of the sarcophagus. I really hoped we could just make a hole over its heart (Ebin suggests that is a vital spot when trying to defeat undead) and vanquish it without ever having to face it, but one spell from Tyan through that crevice enraged it so much that it threw back the lid— fracturing the lid into dozens of shards that hit my friends and me.

Ebin then said, “This is going to hurt!” and rushed headlong into the creature, while Deitricha attempted to turn it with divine power; and then damage it with some sort of holy light. Tyan tossed spells at it as well, while Areon and I attempted to do some (unfortunately minimal) damage with our bows. My wand that normally enfeebles our opponents did nothing to this creature! First it grabbed Ebin and snapped him in half, tossing the corpse aside, and then it reached out and killed Deitricha with a touch.

Tyan finished the foul creature off with a spell, and I made some desperate attempts to revive Deitricha to no avail. I had no idea how hard that would hit me. I didn’t even find any joy in looting the tomb, though I was somewhat relieved to see that, at long last, we had the silver tiger in our possession. While Areon looked it over, and Tyan checked over some scrolls and potions found in the sarcophagus, I took some small pleasure in removing the fangs from the hill giant vampire’s skull. I also placed a silver necklace we’d just found around Deitricha’s neck.

At least she looked peaceful— poor Ebin was on the verge of being in two pieces. I realized that whatever he had been, his sacrifice was definitely not what I consider Zhent-like behavior.

We also had collected a statue of a lion, some gems, and a very large sum of gold. It would be a three-day trip down the river on the raft that Areon was fashioning from wooden doors. We could easily carry all of the treasure we’d found in our bags of holding, and we realized we could carry our deceased companions in them as well, and maybe we’d have enough to get them raised. I had to ponder that one for a long while. Elves don’t tend to do that, but our companions are human and deserve as much life as they can get.

This makes me wonder about Tyan. He’s quite obviously human (and male), yet seems to be holding on to this mortal coil remarkably well for one so fragile. On the other hand, he’s only traveled with us for a week.

The journey down the river was without incident, though we got to throw some half-hearted insults at several ettins along the banks at one point. Yartar seems pretty much the same; I wonder if Rosorc and his caravan companions are still in town?

I suppose we could have taken Deitricha to her own temple in Silverymoon, since we have to head that way next, but I wanted to get this raising thing done before the unnaturalness of it made us back out. Fortune seemed to be with us though as a cleric of Lathander who was visiting was willing to help us. For an awkward moment I realized we did not have enough coin for both Deitricha and Ebin, but when I told how they died and that I had the vampire’s fangs as proof of our victory, the cleric accepted the teeth as payment for half of his services.

I hope Areon doesn’t mind too much, but after seeing friends come back after being dead for three days, I need a few stiff drinks. Maybe more than a few.

Posted by Kristin on July 13, 2005, 23:27

Fit to Be Tied

Eleasis 14, 1373 DR, departing Llorkh

Things started out well enough. We found that we could (for a hefty sum) be teleported from Yartar right to the Red Tiger tribe’s um, camp, and deliver the silver tiger that day. For as long as it’s been missing from the tribe, it probably was best that we got it there so quickly. The chief was so pleased he offered Areon a boon, and told us we were welcome in the camp. He also updated us on the local happenings; apparently, the People of the Black Blood in the Moonwood were up to something lycanthropic.

At this point, it finally dawned on me that Areon’s parents lived here, and I looked like I’d been spit out by that hydra, so I quietly asked where the bathhouse was. I got a few blank looks and someone pointed to a nearby stream. Deitricha decided a bath was a good idea, so off we went. The water was freezing even in the middle of summer, and I felt like we were being watched, but it got the job done. I asked Deitricha for any tips on meeting parents for the first time and she told me to try and stay sober. Oh.

The Elauwits live in a tree, similar to my house, but without a clear means of entering. This wasn’t a problem for Areon or me, obviously, and I was amazed that Tyan and Deitricha also were able to haul themselves up the tall tree, but Ebin, in his heavy plate, mostly lay on his back near the truck, wind knocked out of him. I was afraid we’d offend our hosts if we tossed him a rope (he would not remove the mail!), but Areon took pity and tossed him a rope to climb.

They must have been aware that we were coming, as they had a large breakfast prepared for us. To be honest, I think I should have probably had one or two flasks of ale before the visit, as I was nervous and don’t remember anything else about my time there, and I wasn’t paying attention at all to the conversations going on around me.

Someone in our circle of friends grabbed my hand and there was a lurch, and we were standing just outside of a very busy town, someplace much warmer than the Coldwood. Llorsk. I had heard of it— it’s crawling with Zhents! What on Toril did we do to deserve this? I also realized, ruefully, that we completely bypassed Ascalhorn, a place I have really been hoping to visit.

I tried diplomacy with the guard at the west gate; when asked what our business was, I tipped him a silver and asked to be pointed to the best tavern and best drink to order once there. Apparently this is something the guard was an expert on, and we were directed to the Dark Raven and told to order a round of a beverage called “Dragon’s Breath.” The tavern was dimly lit and rather quiet, but the ale was okay and seemed to clear my head somewhat. Ebin’s seemed consumed by the urge to buy “desert” gear; I seemed to recall that someone suggested we go to the Anauroch Desert.

Ebin and Tyan had way too much fun shopping in this evil-infested city; coming back to the tavern with four camels, two wagons, a lot of water and rations, a large tent and an assortment of hot-climate garb. As they were showing us their purchases, I noticed a ten-wagon caravan leaving through the west gate; their wagons emblazoned with the hateful yellow Z on a black oval background. It has been suggested to me that I not try to take out the entire caravan (as if that was something I was prone to do), and we are letting them have a rather good “head start” so that we don’t bump into them somewhere out in the desert. Maybe we won’t bump into any sand either.

Posted by Kristin on July 19, 2005, 16:28

Disenchanted

Eleasis 19, 1373 DR, east of Graypeak Mountains

Areon and I took the first wagon (he drove, I sat with my crossbow ready) and the humans took the second. A little ways out of the despicable town of Llorkh, we encountered an elderly traveler whose donkey and cart were stuck in a muddy ditch by the road. In spite of the fact that he was heading towards the Zhentish town, we stopped to help him and “Bessy” pull the wagon out of the ditch. Afterwards, the near-sighted “Trevor” offered to sell us any wares he had in his wagon; even though we’d just shopped for everything we needed in town, Ebin bought all the holy water the man had, and I bought all of his fishhooks and twine (somehow I didn’t imagine he encountered a lot of fishers where he was coming from). I just gave him what coin I had— I couldn’t imagine I’d need it in the desert anyway. Tyan thought it was odd that I’d do that, as the peddler would have to be rich to have the amount of exotic items he had in the wagon— I couldn’t honestly say what came over me. Trevor thanked us and wished us a good journey, and I swear he winked at us as he and his donkey headed off towards the town.

A while later, I noticed the twine I’d tucked in my robe pocket had become much heavier and began to spill out; upon inspection, I saw that it had turned into some sort of rubbery rope that smells, well, like a troll. The rope seems to be able to generate any extra length needed. The fishhooks had become 5 very fine (and obviously magical) bolts. Right as I was noticing that, I heard Ebin say that his vials of holy water had taken on the same hue as healing potions. I feel bad that we didn’t give Trevor more gold for these obviously wondrous items, but then, I suspect now that Tyan is right that the man didn’t really need our coin.

Our first night out was so completely uneventful, that during my watch, I showed Glitch how to tie knots. Now, I’m not sure why a rat would want to know how to do this, but he seemed pretty pleased with himself as he scurried off to find Tyan afterwards.

The next several days and nights also passed uneventfully as we traveled through the Graypeak Mountains, though we occasionally found ourselves using a camp that the Zhents ahead of us had used just the prior evening. We also once saw a red dragon in the distance, but it either didn’t see us, or didn’t care.

The fifth night we were attacked in our camp. It happened on Areon’s watch, and either he was completely surprised (which is unlikely) or did not feel that he was threatened, as I didn’t register that he was in trouble enough to come out of my reverie right away. When I did, it was to see him being pulled down by goblin-riding worgs; there were six of each and they were attacking my friends! From the entrance of my tent I shot at several that were attacking Tyan; all of my friends were prone by the time a goblin-wolf creature (which I now know is called a barghest) went after Ebin, so I moved to attack it. Most of my bolts passed right through it, including one of the ones Trevor had given me.

Soon we had dispatched the wargs and goblins who had not run away and were left with the wolf-thing. I pulled out my wand to enfeeble it, thinking perhaps that would work better than a bolt, when Ebin stepped in front of it and told us not to attack it, lest we incur his wrath. Well, Deitricha and Areon both ran forward to attack the creature and Tyan cast a damaging spell at it. Since Ebin was moving to intercept my friends, I cast the enfeeblement on him. He seemed to go into some sort of rage at that point, and, even though wounded by Tyan’s spell, elected to charge me. Bad move. I enfeebled him again, and he managed to trip over what I can only assume where boot laces that had been mysteriously knotted together. The barghest took this opportunity to vanish from the camp.

At that point, I was able to plant my own boot in the middle of Ebin’s back, and my rapier was pointed at the back of his neck; all the while, Ebin continued to make threats at me, until Tyan cast something called “Touch of Idiocy” on the human fighter, causing him to drool more and threaten less. Tyan said we had a few minutes to deal with Ebin before he got his strength back, so we tied him to a wagon wheel for the remainder of the night.

Thankfully, by dawn, he wasn’t making threats any longer and seemed more himself, so we opted to untie him before moving the wagons out. I am not sure I can trust him, though it was obvious he was under some sort of charm spell, which I know humans can easily fall prey to; it should not have made him bloodthirsty towards his real companions.

By evening, we had traveled out of the Graypeak Mountains and were headed for the plains….

Posted by Kristin on July 26, 2005, 17:16

Tremors

Eleasis 25, 1373 DR, edge of Anauroch Desert

I divide my time between wanting to protect the humans in our party, and wanting to flee with Areon from this quest. Drinking seems to help squelch most of these ambitions.

Our days are mostly uneventful. We passed a ten-wagon Zhentish caravan heading west; my friends seemed surprised I didn’t try to take on all forty of the drivers and guards (I admit, I did some quick math and decided it wasn’t worth the attempt). I take my cues from Areon’s reaction to such things.

Watches during our downtime are another matter entirely. He doesn’t seem to panic when we are assaulted, so I do not get the “sense” that there is anything amiss. Well, if my emotional response to an attack on my watch doesn’t wake him, my screams do. Two nights ago I felt a rumbling coming up through the ground, and had the entire camp alerted before the thing erupted from the ground. It was a bullette, a huge armored creature that appears to be mostly mouth. I could not hit it with bolts, but Tyan’s magic easily wounded it, while the bulette itself was attempting to eat Ebin. I used the wand of enfeeblement on it, which may have weakened it, but the armored beast then attacked Deitricha, so I spent the rest of the brief battle trying to keep myself between her and the creature, while also trying to push her back from its threat range. Darn thing bit me once too, but by then it was staggering. It quickly expired from its wounds, and, ew, someone suggested skinning it for its naturally-armored hide. I’m sure that will be smelling wonderful in a few days of desert heat.

I decided a stiff drink was in order at this point, but once again, I found a big blue rat butt and tail sticking out of my mug. If we survive this trip, I may have to purchase an “everfull thimble” for this creature. I am suspicious that Glitch does not sit watches with me for the stimulating conversation.

We’ve decided to try traveling at night so that we are not exerting the camels (and ourselves) during the hottest part of the day. This also means that we are all likely to be awake when attacks occur, such as the ghoul attack we just survived. Areon and I tried to keep our wagon between the undead creatures and our human companions, who would easily succumb to the paralyzing claws of the ghouls, but we needn’t have worried, as Deitricha summoned some divine power and turned the things into dust without so much as a by-your-leave. She then rolled out of the back of their wagon onto the dusty path, laughing uncontrollably. Areon and I did a quick search of the area from whence the ghouls shambled, but thankfully found no amassing undead army.

Of everything out here though, so far, our own human companions are the scariest things.

Posted by Kristin on August 12, 2005, 09:55

Just Deserts

Eleint 6, 1373 DR, heading north in the Anauroch Desert

We traveled north for a few uneventful nights, then during my daytime watch on the 28th, I heard some movement outside of camp, and as I was alerting my friends, we were attacked by four hell hounds. Glitch, who had been “helping” me, alerted Tyan while I woke Areon, and the infernal canines hit the edge of the camp as Deitricha and Ebin were woken. Ebin charged the creatures, killing two as he was in turn attacked by them; I dropped one and Areon killed the other.

After the battle, we saw that there was a half-lion/half-woman creature standing on a ledge a good 150’ away, but she took off before we could do anything.

The next day we were attacked again, but this time it was by a glowing ball of light, which, if memory serves me, was a creature called a nyth. Memory, unfortunately, did not recall a way of dispatching such a creature, which apparently wanted to harm us, as it continuously shot bolts of magic at us. Well, at Ebin, anyway. I tried sending moon motes after it which made Ebin think there were more creatures, and Tyan hit it with a blast of magical energy which split it into two creatures! We lobbed bolts and arrows at them until they disappeared, though we have no way of knowing if we injured them. But, we haven’t seen another since. Afterwards, Dietricha cast a spell which allowed her to fly around and make sure there was nothing else looking for us. We also moved our camp a few hundred feet for good measure.

We traveled a full seven days after that with absolutely nothing of interest happening at all, though Areon was pleased as it allowed him to finish the bow he’s been working on this entire trip. Earlier today, however, I caught some sounds of activity ahead of us, and since it was too dark to see what the source was, Areon and I left our wagon (and Tyan and Glitch left theirs) so we could walk ahead a ways to investigate.

I’m glad we did, as we would have driven our camels right off of a steep cliff! About 50’ below us, we could see a big camp, and hear the sounds of shovels and pickaxes. Upon closer inspection, we saw many humanoids in desert gear, several gnolls with whips and about twenty tents. It appeared that the humanoids, who we had to assume were slaves, had just unearthed some sort of buried structure. As we tried to determine how best to proceed, one of the humanoids collapsed where he had been digging, obviously exhausted; a gnoll picked up the body and tossed it into a ravine. I decided to run back and alert Ebin and Deitricha to the situation lest they bring the wagons closer, while Tyan and Areon worked out a way to hide Areon from sight so he could creep into the camp for a closer look and headcount. Areon was back up safely by the time I returned, with a guess that the gnolls numbered between four and twenty-eight (we’ll need to watch and see how many shifts they take) and he’d found what we assume is the leader’s tent, or at least, the only tent in the camp bearing arcane symbols around the door. He also could see that the workers were not chained or shackled in any way—it will make it difficult to rescue them if they are in some way charmed, or working off a debt or blackmail of some sort. For now though, we will have to plan a rescue with caution— we should certainly attempt to free these people if possible, but we are also many miles from home should one or more of us not survive the encounter.

Posted by Kristin on August 16, 2005, 12:36