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March 1, 2003

Day 8-10?

Ghelt's Journal

Dear Grun,

I’m writing you by the side of a lake, with a waterfall nearby spilling into it, and another at the other end, spilling out. Mountains all around, stars overhead, beautiful really, yet I’d enjoy it all much more if I were seeing it through the windows of a nice tavern, and warm beds waiting upstairs!

Yet again I’m wondering why the elf ever tried to say I was party leader. Hope she’ll take the job back. After everything that’s happened the past couple of days, I’d say the only reason we’re a party is due to the fact that we’re the only sentient beings in the vicinity..

We started off the new day with Trap quizzing a kobold about the area, which somehow resulted in the party travelling with the freed kobold slaves and their last load of iron ore back to their mountain home. Korin sat on top of the ore, chattering at the nearest kobolds and giving them names, unconcerned by the fact that none of them responded in a language he could understand.

Fafnir really did not like travelling with kobolds. I don’t know why, but he was offended by it. (Hey, I don’t especially like the things, but, well, they’re just kobolds. Really, not that significant!) When the creatures began to get nervous and the only one who spoke common described something that sounded like a red dragon who hunted in the area, he decided to play a trick like only a gnome spellcaster can: creating the image of a red dragon just to see them scatter! He did well, too - the mule took off up the path, Korin was hiding under the cart and I was trying to drag everyone under cover before Drusilia could convince me differently (seeing Fafnir rolling on the ground laughing helped, too). Disgusted, I walked back up the path to find the mule, along with Korin who seemed to think I made better cover than the ore cart. He fits into my backpack, too, but that startled the poor mule even more..

Finally, everyone regrouped, and Drusilia convinced them that she and the gnome had somehow driven off the dragon. We arrived by nightfall at the kobolds’ lair - a network of caverns and mines. I didn’t much like the idea of sleeping over with three hundred of the things, but we ended up with a cave corner to ourselves for the night. Korin made himself friends with everybody, even eating meals with them, and traded his axe Modge for a shield, while we also found out that Nizek, the kobold who could speak common, was the prince of the place, and his father wanted to meet us.

We were led to the kobold king, and Nizek interpreted his thanks to us, which Drusilia accepted (Trap wanted to have his own conversation with the king; I was finally reduced to holding my hand over his mouth. Drusilia was being the spokesperson, but he kept interrupting!). The king offered us a beautiful dwarven war helm with some interesting etchings, and I’m wearing it now. Korin wanted my old one so I gave it to him - though I don’t know how much use it will be! The king also offered to let us use a shortcut through his mines to speed us on our journey, so we followed Nizek into the mountain.

We found ourselves by a beautiful - and loud - underground river with kobolds demonstrating how they would put us in barrels and dump us in the water, destination unknown. This was more temptation than the halflings could bear. While the rest of the party hesitated, trying to talk it over, Trap jumped right into a barrel, and next thing we knew, splash! Off he went! Korin immediately followed, leaving us with little choice but to follow.

Or so I thought.

Fafnir was of a much different opinion. While Drusilia talked with the kobolds (and was reduced to asking her god for an opinion instead), Fafnir announced his intention of either taking the overland route (which would take much longer) or abandoning the halflings to the fruits of their folly entirely, and going home! I was surprised, Grun; for all that Trap and Korin can be strange or silly, they’re members of the group, and can’t help their natures. Frankly, Fafnir’s much less tolerant than I had realized - first tormenting the kobolds, then this about halflings? *sigh*

Since there was no barrel big enough for all of the mule, I tied two to him, and pushed him into the river, hoping for the best. I then tried to catch Fafnir by surprise so I could get him into a barrel, since he was standing there utterly refusing to consider the thought. Drusilia helped me finally stuff him into one, but as soon as the lid was on - boom! The thing blew apart. He’s learned to cast lightning bolts. And he can run really fast when he wants to.

I managed to get help from the horde of kobolds in the caverns, and we trapped him in a room, and made him visible (again) with dust, and just as I got my hands on him, he shot off another lightning bolt, this time killing several of our hosts. I tied him up while being swatted by angry kobolds with sticks. Can’t blame them for being angry! At that point I was, too! We took him back to the river’s edge and I put him in a barrel and off he went (lucky for him, the kobolds wanted him to go sans barrel at that point). Finally, I got into a barrel and hoped for the best. They said the trip would take a day and a half, and there were people at the other end to fish out the barrels that come through.

After a very long and wearing trip, I flew over something - turned out to be a 60-foot waterfall. Someone grabbed ahold of the barrel and pulled me to shore. I knocked open my barrel in time to see Drusilia kick hers to pieces, and discovered a very tired Korin had been the first to get out, had built a fire, and then pulled us all out of the drink, one by one. Poor guy! He fell asleep next to the fire and I wrapped him up in my spare cloak for the night.

The mule, apparently, had been killed by the trip. Korin muttered something about his head falling off, and pushing his body back into the current after getting the gear. I feel badly about that. I did the best I could think of at the time but in retrospect - I think we’re lucky only the mule was killed! Fafnir, of course, is so disgusted at this point that he built his own fire and made his own camp and I think he has his little weasel creature standing watch on the rest of us while he sleeps! I think he’s madder about the mule than being stuffed in a barrel, even, which leaves me rather at a loss as to how to apologize..

With love,

P.S. - we didn’t even make it through my watch before an owlbear discovered our little camp by the woods. We had a brief battle which it lost, luckily, and Fafnir made the final shot, so at least we still fight together well. Korin and Trap have decided to try roasting bits since they’re awake, but I’m going to sleep now so I can be ready in the morning to split up the mule’s former load and figure out where we are on the map to the Heart of Nerull. We didn’t end up anywhere near civilization; I don’t know who picks up the kobolds’ barrels but we didn’t get to them!

Posted by Kate at 14:31 | Ghelt’s Journal

March 2, 2003

...And One Day, at a Kobold Camp...

Korin's Journal

...Of barrels and stew...

If you ever visit a Kobold village, bring salt. They are very polite people and fun to talk to, but their food leaves a little to be desired. The stew was best of all.

“I never saw a Red Dragon.” I list this with the stupidest things ever to come from my mouth. Soon as these words came out of my mouth, one appeared. Even Ghelt began running (I thought she was scared of nothing). Well thankfully it went away. Ghelt asked me to help her find the mule that ran off.

Tumble...turn....spin. Oh sure it sounds fun. And it was, for about an hour.

They even taught me some of their language. First word that they wanted to teach me was ‘food.’

I haven’t had a chance to tell her yet, but those two are insane.

Oh, they have a shortcut for us. Those Kobolds sure are nice. They even traded me for a nice shield. So, Trap just got in and went. Well, he is not going to have all the fun, me next. In the barrel I went. I hear Trap giggling in the distance.

First it was the stew, then some dry rations. You know that they tasted better going in. Finally the drop. Now, I have fallen before in my life I tell ya, but wow. It must have lasted for two whole minutes. It was worth the whole day of spinning and puking. (Never eat stew before getting in a barrel.)

Landings stink. I suggest if you ever fall a long way, don’t land.

I DIDN’T SAY IT!! Before I said the dragon thing, but I didn’t say a word about never seeing an Owlbear before. While Ghelt attacked it from the front, I attacked from the back. Another bad decision. I want to start this all over.

Did I tell you I have a crowbar?

Jacob says ‘Yak’ means food. Did you know how hard it is to tell one Kobold from another?

Posted by Jim at 10:40 | Korin’s Journal

March 4, 2003

In the Hall of the Mountain King

Drusilia's Journal

Starday, Flocktime 3, 592 CY, continued

Well, today was terrible. Obviously, the halflings’ brains were scrambled in the ride down the river somehow, because they had both been suicidally stupid since then, and in fact, this brain damage resulted in Trap’s untimely demise.

Just after I completed my previous journal entry this morning, Trap and Korin wandered over to the waterfall we didn’t go over last night. They spotted a hill giant and six hobgoblins below the next set of falls, pulling the remains of our barrels (and The Mule) out of their nets. Not that the halflings were telling the rest of us this, mind you! If Korin hadn’t decided he needed to ride down in a barrel to greet them, we may not have found out about them at all. As it was, he came back to camp to clamber back into one of our barrels, while Trap just wandered back and forth between the falls and the camp, itching to cause trouble. Paranoid now, I walked over and saw (and reported to Ghelt and Fafnir) the party below us. I used a spell to comprehend languages so I could figure out if these were the “traders” the kobolds had mentioned to us. (Incidentally, I also read what the kobolds had scrawled on Fafnir’s barrel, now that I could read it: NOT FRAGILE.) I ducked down due to an untimely halfling exclamation and the sounds of pounding somewhere behind me, but Trap didn’t duck, so when the party below heard the noise and saw Trap, they started drawing weapons. By the time I could get back to the camp a few feet away, Korin was sealed in a barrel about to go over the falls (thanks to Trap, who pushed the barrel to the water), and the enemy was climbing a short path up to our camp.

Fafnir must have used nearly every spell in his arsenal to fight off the hill giant. I am pleased to say that we were able to defeat it and all but one of the hobgoblins, who ran off scared when it saw the giant fall to us. Trap, not fully understanding how the Short Sword of Pelor worked, was chagrined to find that it heals non-undead that it’s used to attack. He and Ghelt fought the same hobgoblin for a bit, he healing it with a stab from his sacred sword, and Ghelt dealing it a blow with her Mithril axe. Eventually the axe won out and it too fell. Trap, wanting to test the healing power of his sword, stabbed himself before I could stop him, and Ghelt, thinking the sword was now cursed (and this is truly odd, but I think the halflings have clouded her judgment somewhat), grabbed the sword from Trap and threw it into the lake!

Trap jumped in (fully armored) after it, and I, after removing my armor and tying myself to a rope held by Fafnir, dove in after both him and the sword. There was a lot of current to deal with and I had to cast a light on my own hand to see in the turbulent water. I was just about to call it a loss when I saw something shiny below me. It was the sword! I swam to it and grabbed it just as Fafnir started to pull me up. When I emerged, I was thankful to hear that Ghelt had pulled the waterlogged Trap from the lake before he could go over the falls, and had then gone to get the other halfling out of his leaking barrel before he too nearly drowned.

Once Trap regained consciousness, I told him and Ghelt as much as I could about how the sword was imbued with positive energy— great for fighting undead (which was what the sword was intended for, after all), but not too effective for living enemies. I’m not sure I convinced Ghelt, but if she takes time to detect evil on the sword, she’ll be more comfortable with it. Korin, who often mimics what Ghelt does, will most likely try to dispose of it again though. I tried to distract him by having him look for “loot” on the hill giant. He found some gems and potions, and was happily wandering around our camp with boar tusks in his mouth moments later.

Trap and Korin headed down to see what was in the barrels below the second falls while Ghelt, Fafnir and I finished cleaning up our camp to head out. We then went down and found them wearing each other’s armor, “wigs” they pulled out of some barrels and were chewing on some sort of meat they found. The wigs were quite definitely scalps, so I shudder to guess what they were eating. I didn’t get to mention this though, as we were soon attacked by another hill giant with hobgoblins in tow. Ghelt had us climb as quickly as we could across the rope net while she cut it free from the enemies’ side of the river. Fafnir tried to slow them down by casting an illusion of a bank of clouds between them and us, but they didn’t stay fooled long. We got across the river (which turned out to only be 4’ deep— no problem for a giant!) and were heading to the tree line (and escape), when Trap and Korin decided they wanted to switch back to their normal armor. Not having time, obviously, I grabbed them both by the necks of their attire and headed as quickly as I could up towards the trees. Suddenly, my load was much lighter as they both squirmed free of their gear. I think Ghelt got them motivated to move somehow and we were soon tearing through the trees, all... three.. of us. Where were the halflings?

We turned back just in time to see Korin and Trap duck out from behind a tree. Korin was swatted down by the hill giant, while poor Trap was completely squished by it.

Now, I consider myself a practical elf, but I realized that this was going to be a choice between saving myself or saving Korin, so I started back, knowing that running onward with Ghelt and Fafnir (also paused but ready for a decision either way) would be smarter. Suddenly, Pelor be praised, a huge rock came hurdling out of the trees to the west of us, smacking the hill giant. And then another, and another. The hill giant, looking peeved and maybe a bit frightened, departed quickly. I was able to get to the nearly-dead Korin in just the nick of time, healing him. There was nothing I could do for Trap, save collect his undamaged gear while Ghelt, even more practical then I, attended to the body.

Our saviors turned out to be a pair of stone giants, who said simply, “It’s not safe in these parts.” Ghelt seemed genuinely relieved to see this particular type of giants after our run-in with those of the “hill” variety, and they offered to take us back to their mountain home for healing and recuperating. They are even giving Trap a proper burial— I’m sure he would be amazed to know he was interred in these halls with people five times his stature. Korin must need more healing too— he seems to think he’s Trap now— perhaps he is still wearing some of his gear.

Posted by Kristin at 13:15 | Drusilia’s Journal

March 5, 2003

Jonathan's Bio

Jonathan's Journal XPCs

I grew up in the small farming village of Grandville, and wanted to make a name for myself, so I took what little I had and the first job that came along. I was doing well too, made enough to custom make all my own armor and equipment. I also took some time to learn how to make them. I created a symbol (picture of a sword point down in the earth with the sun rising behind it) for myself and had it put on all my stuff.

Then one day I was approached for a job. Simple enough— guard a caravan. About 2 days into the travel, we were attacked. There were 8 of us I watched most of the others die. I ran into the woods; there were too many attackers. After awhile of running, I realized no one was persuing, and I was lost, I wandered for weeks. I actually lost track of time.

Eventually I ran into some hill giants. I fought as long as I could, and the last thing I remember about that fight was a large gray figure coming towards me.

When I woke up I was in a cave surrounded by stone giants. They told me in Common that this area was unsafe, and I shouldn’t be here. I told them I got lost and wanted to go on my way. They told me to rest for a couple of days, and something about I had not been drinking enough water, and so here I sit, resting and rehydrating!

Cause of death: a big hug from a shoggti (demonic outsider).

Posted by Fred at 19:50 | Jonathan’s Journal | XPCs

March 14, 2003

Fafnir's Journal Entry 14 - Live Stupid, Die Stupid

Fafnir's Journal

Once more, the direction of our travels has been decided by Halflings. This time it resulted in one of them dying.

Soon after waking, Trap and Korin started exploring. Looking down over a nearby waterfall they saw a group of hobgoblins and a Hill Giant. To most people this would seem like a bad thing, but to the Half-wits, this spelled F-U-N.

Korin’s response was to try to jump in a barrel and “ride the waterfall.” Not wanting to see this happen, Ghelt and I attempted to keep him in camp by sealing him in the barrel. Meanwhile, Trap decided that he would get the F-U-N to come to us, and began trying to attract their attention. After succeeding at this, he came back to camp and pushed the barrel (containing Korin) into the water. (I have no idea why he did this, other than maybe that Korin was requesting it.)

We were about to do something about getting Korin out of the lake, when we were attacked by the Hobgoblins and their Hill Giant friend!

It was a long fight, and we only barely survived. I ended up using almost all of my offensive spells, and all of our fighters were in pretty bad shape (except for Korin, who was happily riding the falls in a barrel!).

I was relieved to still be alive, but apparently the stress had been too much for Ghelt. Immediately following the battle, she took the Holy Sword of Pelor that Trap had been wielding, and threw it into the lake!!!

Trap and Drusilia both jumped in the lake to get it, while Ghelt then took off downstream, presumably to find Korin. Drusilia managed to find the sword, but Trap, having not removed his armor before jumping in, was swept downstream and over the waterfall. Luckily, he landed in a net, and all was well. (By ‘well,’ I mean he wasn’t dead yet — we did find him and Korin cannibalizing some fellow halfings and wearing their scalps, but I don’t want to remember that any more than I have to.)

Holy Relic recovered, we followed after Ghelt. This is when the other Hill Giant attacked! We all began to run. After all, we barely killed the previous one, and had no chance in the nine hells of killing another! Apparently Trap and Korin disagreed, as after a minute, they stopped, turned around, and hid behind trees! Not sure what to make of this, the rest of us stopped and hid as well, a bit further on. (I don’t know about the others, but I was hoping the Hill Giant would not see us, and would pass by... No such luck.)

No sooner had the giant come within 100 paces, then Trap and Korin both leaped out from behind their trees and attacked the Giant! Well, the Giant would have none of it, and soon Trap was dead, and Korin mortally wounded. Not seeing a choice, I was preparing to save my own life by fleeing, when we were rescued by some passing Stone Giants. Apparently they are much friendlier than the Hill variety. This did allow Drusilia to heal Korin, but as I said before, it was too late for Trap. Ahh, well, Live Stupid, Die Stupid, I guess.

The rest of us travelled off to the Stone Giant’s town, where we are now resting. The party’s intelligence level seems to have risen a bit, now that we only have one halfing, but only a little — It seems Korin now believes that he is both Korin AND Trap, and is doing quite well at being even more scatterbrained than they were before. I am not sure what this says about my theory of halfling intellect. Ahh, well, Live Stupid, Die Stupid I suspect.

~=Fafnir Flamebrewer=~
Flocktime 3, 592 CY

Posted by Dave at 16:30 | Fafnir’s Journal

March 15, 2003

Day 11

Ghelt's Journal

Dearest Grun,

I’m finally writing you from a safe haven - the home of a group of stone giants. We’re relieved and comfortable for a moment, but also sad. One of our original party members has passed on - after going through so much together, I’ll miss Trap’s fun and silliness very much.

At the same time, it’s hard not to be angry at him! After all we’ve been through, I wish he had learned to be more careful in dangerous situations. I guess he had gotten used to being rescued at the last moment, and we’d gotten used to being able to save him!

The morning started off quietly, with most of us getting up and packed, saying morning prayers, eating breakfast.. and the halflings getting bored, as with their usual frenetic energy they’d done everything doubletime. They heard voices over the next waterfall and went to look while we talked over our route compared to the map, and came back with reports of orange-skinned creatures, nets over the river, and a giant - garbled enough that Drusilia went for a look while Korin hopped back into a barrel and tried to rock himself back into the water for another trip. Fafnir nailed the lid on for him, but I held the barrel so he didn’t go anywhere (many complaints from the barrel but at least we knew where he was).

Next thing I knew, Trap was back and telling me Drusilia would like me to look at the creatures. By the time I got there, the hill giant and hobgoblins were coming right for us! As we ran back to camp, we saw Korin’s barrel floating by thanks to Trap (I hollered that we could use his help and was answered with “Wheeeee!”). The rest of us regrouped the best we could in a hail of javelins, and I went for the giant. Yes, I was too sure of myself. I learned my folly fast - the best I can say for myself is that it wasn’t hurting anyone else for a moment. Fafnir shot off a well-placed lightning bolt (those are nice when used appropriately!), Drusilia and Trap fired arrows into the melee, and I fought as well as I could. At one point Drusilia even ran up and stabbed the giant in the back with her sword! As the giant finally fell and Fafnir killed another hobgoblin, one broke away and started running for the hills. I was too weak to chase him, so regretfully I healed myself a little and turned to help Trap with his last attackers.

Trap was having trouble with his new sword, which surprised me. As I slew one of his attackers, I saw him slash the other, and instead of doing the damage it had before - it healed the creature! I dispatched it and turned to Trap, shocked, wondering if he’d noticed that the sword had NOT been helping him, and in fact had likely nearly gotten him killed. He had noticed, and to show off the healing powers, slashed his own hand very badly. It did NOT heal up. This convinced me - whatever the sword’s properties, it must be cursed to turn on Trap like that. I took it from him and threw it into the lake!

The next thing I knew, the halfling leapt into the water after his prize, in full armor. The undertow immmediately pulled him toward the other waterfall, while I stood there amazed at the lengths the sword had driven him to. As if to drive home the point, Drusilia grabbed rope, tied it around herself, and also jumped in! I didn’t know if she was trying to save Trap or the sword, since it’s marked with her god’s symbol, but seeing him go over the falls decided my action: I ran down the path, hoping he’d be caught in the net and still alive to be healed.

In the net near the falls were a lifeless-looking halfling and a barrel. I used the net to pull myself out to Trap, and gave him the best heal that I could pray for! Then I pulled him to shore, healed him some more, and held him upside down to drain the water from his lungs. Poor guy was alive but unconscious, and I heard Korin tapping and hollering as his barrel began to settle lower in the water. Apparently Fafnir’s carpentry skills were a match for him. I pulled myself out again and dragged the barrel to shore. At this point I was a little stressed - we could have used his help in that fight, and there was a hobgoblin loose that probably was going for friends. I set the barrel upright, yelled “Duck!,” and hewed the top off like I was taking down a tree for firewood! Then I had to scruff Korin out - he was a little unnerved by the whole experience and swore he’d never deal with barrel-riding again. I picked up Trap, and we walked back to the remains of the camp.

Turns out the bloody elf nearly killed herself getting that sword back. It certainly does gain a hold over some people’s minds! She told me about how the sword is supposed to heal, as that hurts undead even more, and that’s what it was made for, not hobgoblins. I asked about Trap’s hand and she looked a little uncomfortable and said maybe it was because he wasn’t attacking, exactly. I’m not entirely sure, but will let it go; it’s Drusilia’s god, and Trap promised not to use it on anything but undead from now on! Korin’s also watching to make sure the sword isn’t having some strange effect on them, overall.

While this was going on, Korin searched the hill giant’s body and called us over to collect some stuff. He then ran off with the revived Trap to check out the net again (each now with a tusk from the hill giant’s collection), while Drusilia, Fafnir and I decided that crossing the river was probably the direction we needed to take to follow the map. We met the halflings returning on the path, now wearing each others’ stuff, and scalps, and eating unidentifiable dried jerky. While trying not to imagine how they ended up in each others’ gear, I pointed out that the scalp-wearing and jerky were bad things. I don’t think they understood.

Unfortunately, as we headed for the river, we caught sight of a new hill giant and more hobgoblins at the top of the cliff, shouting and throwing rocks and javelins. More trouble! I told the party to start across the net, and stood on the near shore, propared the cut the end loose and swing across to the other shore before the enemy arrived. Fafnir leaped across the river with his ring (utterly confounding the giant and allies for a moment), and did his best to continue distracting them while the rest of us used the net. As the hobgoblins came running down the trail, and the halflings began arguing about getting their own armor back on (they had figured out quick how hard it was to get used to new equipment under such circumstances), and Fafnir shot off another lightning bolt, I cut the rope and swung across to the other side. We ran into the woods, dragging the protesting halflings along (they were actually half out of their armor at this point!).

The river was deep enough to stop the hobgoblins, but not the giant. And, for all our efforts to keep moving, the halflings decided to stop running and draw arrows from their bundles of armor and gear, and take a stand behind some trees. The rest of us stopped, too, unable to go back but unwilling to just leave them to their fate.. Half-dressed, Trap actually stepped out and shot the giant as it neared him. It went right for him, and though I shot it too to try to distract it, it slammed into him with a tree-sized club and smashed him utterly into the ground. At least it was quick. Poor, deluded Trap!

Korin went berserk. He came up behind the giant and tried to attack and was smashed in his turn. As we fired off more arrows, a rock came flying in from another direction entirely. The giant decided to leave! And Drusilia, in a moment of heroism, ran down to Korin, regardless of what else was in the woods. Amazing. And it saved his life - she brought him back from the very brnk. I came up behind her with my crossbow at the ready, since it seemed pointless to keep running away.

To my very great relief, two stone giants came through the trees to speak to us. They even offered us help and shelter. I wrapped Trap’s remains up in his cloak, and we went with the giants to their home - this great hall in the mountains. They let me bury Trap with their dead, and I have said my prayers over him. Bless him! I hope he’s in a good place. He seems to have lived as fully a halfling’s life as possible!

I’m a little worried about Korin, however - is he suffering survivor’s guilt, or grieving in his own way? He is wearing a lot of Trap’s stuff and announced that he learned a lot about traps from Trap, so he’ll take over that job from now on. I guess I’ll keep an eye on him and let it run its course for now, or maybe talk to Drusilia about it. We’ve been given room to heal and rest, for now, and will move on soon. Hopefully, we can get some advice from the giants here about where we are and which way to go.

Thank Moradin for leading the stone giants our way!
With love,

Posted by Kate at 00:10 | Ghelt’s Journal

Quiet Trap, They Will Hear You

Korin's Journal

Ok, getting boring again. Barrel, humm...., maybe Ghelt isn’t really watching.

Hi Trap, I thought you were dead? Do all my friends come back after they die?

Damned that Gnome is nailing the barrel shut, he must be trying to kill me.

“Korin not in the barrel, just push it in, it will be fine.” They are easy to trick. I hear Trap, “Trap push me in.” Weeeeeee.

What do you mean you are attacking the giant, does he remember that we are small. That sword must be cursed as Ghelt said.

Barrels are fun, here comes the fall.

Uhho, Ghelt sounds pissed. Maybe I will just hide in here until she calms down. But the water is getting higher. “Korin is in the barrel, help Korin. Ghelt save Korin!”

Barrels are bad, I will never do that again.

Hey look Trap, let’s check out the barrels. Wigs, cool, let’s change outfits, and see if anyone notices. You be Korin and I will be Trap.

Good giant, bad giant? Ghelt saved my life again, think the elf hates Korin. Hi Trap.

NNNOOOO!!! He killed Trap, wish elf had healed us. Must stop giant before it gets to Ghelt.

Trap says after he was killed, he was waiting for me. That way we travel together. But someone was healing me while he was helping me up. Trap says that made us stuck together. All I know is I am glad to have him around. He says he is going to teach me to be a good theif just like him.

Ghelt crying a lot, I never thought Dwarves cried. Hum. I help Ghelt take care of Trap’s body, Trap said it will make her feel better. Trap has an idea ...

Posted by Jim at 12:27 | Korin’s Journal

March 17, 2003

Ring Leader

Drusilia's Journal

Earthday, Flocktime 6, 592 CY

In addition to being excellent hosts, the stone giants were able to point us closer to our destination, Arun-tosa (City of the Dead) as well as provide us with some dwarven history. It seems the dwarven clans of Barraktor destroyed the City and its necromancer king, though the evil they fought (or perhaps released) was so great it caused them abandon their own mines and thus broke the dwarven clan into smaller groups. The giants (which included a very personable one named Gunnae who did much of the talking with us) warned us that we were not the first to go back to Arun-tosa, and that those that ventured there were not seen again.

They also traded some much-needed arcane scrolls for some of the gems we found, and Korin traded them his well-crafted mail for a big silver ring— meant to be worn on the finger of a giant, it encircles Korin’s head. He is wearing all of Trap’s stuff and carrying his equipment (having dropped some of his own, apparently) and insists that Trap is talking to him. We’ve cast every spell we can think of to detect Trap’s spirit, and can only assume that Korin is utterly barmy.

Before setting off again on our quest, I was so grateful for the giants’ hospitality I offered to heal anyone that needed it. Gunnae assured me that their own healer served their needs well, but there was another visitor that perhaps I could help. He lead me (with Korin bouncing along between us) to a chamber with a huge stone bed. Using up a small portion of the bed was the most mangled-looking human I’d ever seen (well, that was still breathing, anyway!). Korin immediately wanted to wrap the man up like a mummy, so I asked Gunnae to please scruff the halfling while I attempted a miracle.

It took several of my strongest healing spells to get him to the point where he could sit up, and then stand up, but I must confess the healings didn’t make him look any prettier. Some of what I thought was damage was just how poor Jonathan looks. He asked to travel with us, feeling he’d imposed on the stone giants long enough, and we can use an extra fighter, seeing as Korin now considers himself our party’s rogue. Though not as charismatic as the human paladins and clerics of Pelor that I am used to seeing, he is a follower of Mayaheine, who honors Pelor, so I feel that at least I have a connection with Jonathan. And oddly, even though I brought him back from the brink of death, he seems to feel that I need his protection. We’ll see....

Korin is our “scout” now. After several attempts to keep him safely on a tether, Ghelt had to unhook him. We’d found a cave opening after walking for half the day, and he offered to investigate it for us. Seeing as it was 60 feet off the ground and halflings are decent climbers, this seemed like a fine idea. Korin scaled the vertical rock like it was a ladder, and quickly disappeared into the dark cave entrance. He was to drop a rope to us as soon as he was inside, but didn’t, and moments later a strange music was echoing down to us. Whether it was something that only effected males, or just bad luck for them, Fafnir and Jonathan immediately began to climb the rock face too— Fafnir with a spell that allowed him to walk right up the side, and Jonathan, climbing and scrabbling. Ghelt and I, by far the worst climbers of the lot, got worried when Fafnir didn’t drop down a rope either. Luckily, Jonathan didn’t do so well on his climb, and dropped back down to us. The fall knocked the wind out of him, and apparently the enchantment from the music. Now Ghelt and I were very worried. Jonathan climbed up again, this time remaining clear-headed enough to drop a rope down to us. It still required us to climb to the bottom of the length of rope and took another minute or so for us to get to the top.

I cast Light when we were up, and we followed the sound of the haunting music. Turning a corner we found ourselves in a large lair with two hideous female creatures—they had wings and bird legs and were peeling the flesh off of our comrades as they crooned their hideous song. A Searing Light interrupted the one snacking on Fafnir, causing it to grab a femur from a pile of bones and come after me. Jonathan was soon dazed again, but Ghelt was able to dispatch the other while I finished off the one I was facing with my sword. Thankfully, the enchantment wore off of our male counterparts with the deaths of the harpies. We patched them up and were planning on going back out to the main entrance to camp when I spotted a glint of metal under a pile of loose stone. Scooping away the debris I found a bag of gold and a few gems, and a very dirty longsword. Brushing the grime away, I discovered something wonderful—a finely crafted, razor-sharp sword of elven design. It is magical too, though I’ve yet to unlock all of its secrets. I have never possessed or even used a magical weapon before, and at the time, I didn’t realize I had pulled out my old longsword and replaced it with this beautiful weapon without even thinking to ask any of my comrades if they wanted it. Luckily, I’m the only one among them that fights with a longsword anyway. If we manage to meet up with Valon again, perhaps he will know more about it. Korin is now toting around my old one even though it’s a long as he is tall.

After an otherwise restful and uneventful night, we managed to get back down on the ground and continue our trek. The mountainous terrain is getting harder to walk on and it is taking us longer than I originally had hoped. After a quiet day we were just about to make camp when we heard howling of wolves in the distance, followed by wolves howling from the opposite direction. Hoping they were merely animals, I used a spell to speak with them and asked them to pass by us. Unfortunately, they weren’t regular wolves, for they began to circle us, occasionally howling to each other as they went. When the first one came into view, it spoke to us in a growly voice— in Common! It was just about then that we realized we were fighting under the light of a full moon.

Each of us now had either magic, a magical weapon, or a silver weapon at our disposal, though none of us knew if these were werewolves or some other manner of intelligent lupine. While Fafnir, Ghelt, Jonathan and I fought bravely as they continued to leap out of the dark at us, Korin went sailing by us on the back of one, using his silver ring as a harness over its snout....

Eventually, we either wounded or killed them all, or scared them off. My new sword sliced through the evil creatures easily— it’s truly a remarkable weapon. We’ve all been bitten though, so I pray to Pelor that they weren’t lycanthropes. Thankfully the rest of the night passed quietly, allowing us to get an early start on our quest.

Posted by Kristin at 13:33 | Drusilia’s Journal

March 20, 2003

New People

Jonathan's Journal

From what I can figure I didn’t wake up in the Abyss. That was my first impression after seeing a halfling hanging a few feet from me. Then I saw a Elf with the symbol of Pelor around her neck and realized I was alive. I offered to go with them, being as I was lost and everything. Not that I was in any hurry to go anywhere. We traveled for a day getting to know my new companions, and enjoying the scenery. We rounded a bend, and saw a cave about 60 feet up a cliff. Someone decided to check it out, and the next thing I knew, I was on my back. I eventually climbed up, and helped my friends get up. Those that were there anyway. I noticed then that some were missing. I walked in with Ghelt and Drusilia. It was a horrible sight. 2 harpies were skinning Korin and Fafnir, and eating the skin. Then I got this weird feeling, and when I came to the harpies were dead. We spent the night there, because it seemed to be the safest place possible. The next day, we left to continue our journey. We traveled for a while talking and stuff, and as night fell we started to hear howling from all around. At one point a voice growled, “Silly snacks” and shortly after we were attacked by wolves. Everyone fought, and some tried to ride one. We worked together, and survived the night. So now we’re leaving again. Let’s see what happens next.

Posted by Fred at 04:28 | Jonathan’s Journal

March 22, 2003

Days 12-14

Ghelt's Journal

Dear Grun,

I hope all is well at home. This letter-journal has grown much longer than my first!

We spent the night resting up, and next morning chatting with the stone giants about our map and quest, plus doing a little trading. Fafnir bought a new scroll, I got some new rope, and Korin got himself a large giant’s silver ring. He can barely drag it around, most of the time..

The map to the Heart of Nerull provided me with an interesting twist; according to the giants, it leads us to the City of the Dead, where war caused the Sundering of the Clans ages ago! Now I know where all the old dwarven stories come from. I guess we’ll learn more about the great evil that was released than I ever expected..

Before we left, the giants mentioned that there was someone who could use some healing, and we were glad to oblige! They led us to a large stone bed with a human lying on it. Korin clambered up and bandaged his legs, but I pried him off and handed him to Cunnae (a stone giant) to keep him out of trouble - the human needed a little more help than Korin could offer!

Drusilia healed him up while I inspected his armor. It was all right, though someone had hand-painted (indifferently) a symbol of a sword against a sunrise on it. Jonathan, when he woke, explained that he was lost and looking for adventure. He wasn’t very clear about how he ended up with the stone giants, but claimed he was able to hold his own in a fight. I guess we’ll find out - he’s joined our party.

Korin, continuing his obsession with Trap, decided to be the party scout. I gave him some pointers (don’t disappear for days, do come back and tell us if you see anything interesting, etc.), and he promptly ran off, forgetting to untie his rope tether, so his first trip ended with a yank! The poor guy curled up in a ball and hollered until I got to him and explained the problem. We untied his rope and he was off again! (Did I mention his giant ring? He had to give it to me for safekeeping just so he could move at any speed!).

We walked all day, through rocks and trees, reached the treeline (and caught Trap as he fell from a branch), and continued into the mountains. As late afternoon approached, we drew near a mountain with a cave mouth about sixty feet up one side. We discussed whether or not to check it out, or just quietly walk by, and Korin decided to climb up for a look. Off he went, with the rest of us waiting at the bottom (and hoping he didn’t wake anything up!).

He reached the top and waved, took out his bow and arrows.. dropped them and walked right in. Then we heard haunting music.. and Fafnir suddenly used one of his spells and ran right up the side of the mountain, too! I was surprised and worried and decided that I had to find out what was going on, but I just could not seem to get up that mountainside. Luckily, Jonathan was able to climb up and drop a rope, which helped Drusilia and me get to the top. I knocked myself up pretty well beforehand, though! Stupid mountain.

We found two harpies at the rear of the cave.. peeling strips of skin off Korin and Fafnir and eating it. Ugh! Drusilia blasted the one that was singing, but the other began to sing as well, and Jonathan went blank and began to walk toward them even as they grabbed bone clubs and attacked. I chucked a stone at Jonathan and hollered at him, to no avail. Luckily, Drusilia and I were able to kill the harpies ourselves, which woke the menfolk up, and then we healed the whole party! Drusilia found herself a new sword, and thinks it’s magical. Korin immediately adopted her old sword, though it’s taller than he is. He also found out that one of the harpies was barely alive the hard way - he took one last hit while preparing to disembowel her body. For some reason, he seems to think all creatures keep treasure in their guts.

We spent a quiet night at the mouth of the cave, climbed down in the morning and travelled on. I got some time to talk to Jonathan, who was pretty curious about our mixed group. Talking about Korin got me worried about him again - is he really talking to a ghost, or gone insane? I just cannot figure out how to find out.

We set up for the night in a patch of rocky ground, but didn’t get settled in before the howling of wolves got too close for comfort. Drusilia tried to speak to them and got laughed at - in Common! - for her efforts. This was not encouraging! We got up on a pile of rocks for a little bit of advantage, and got ready for trouble. Korin “hid” out in the dark with his silver ring, giggling.

The “wolves” circled us, taunting, while Fafnir made lights to spot them with, and images of cowardly wolves to taunt in return. I tried to shoot at them, Drusilia blasted at any coming within range, and Korin continued to wait out in the rocks.. and finally the wolves came in for an attack. Drusilia’s new sword does plenty of damage (I hope it doesn’t turn ot to be cursed!), and Jonathan can fight just fine. One of the wolves bit Fafnir, and I heard a scream from Korin. I hit the wolf attacking Fafnir pretty hard, and Drusilia dropped it, even as another came out of the dark and bit Jonathan. Yet another hit Drusilia, so I took a good shot at it.

Korin somehow managed to get the giant’s ring into the mouth of his wolf attacker and used it as a bit, riding the wolf through the night. I could only hope it didn’t take him too far from us! Even as we fought off some wolves, others arrived. We’d start to hurt one, it would run away, and another would take its place. Luckily, we seemed to be giving them more of a fight than they expected, for they all suddenly ran off into the night. I saw Korin get thrown, and ran to bring him up onto the rocks with us. We healed ourselves and readied for an attack that never came, spending the night listening to howling in the distance. We split watches and got a little sleep, at least.

In the morning, Jonathan discovered one of the downed wolves was still alive by being bitten when he kicked it. *sigh* I guess he didn’t learn from Korin’s experience in the harpy cave. At the moment, we’re packing up and getting ready to go. I am hoping we can get out of these unnatural wolves’ territory before nightfall!

Walk with Moradin,

Posted by Kate at 23:29 | Ghelt’s Journal

March 23, 2003

Fafnir's Journal Entry 15 - New Companion, Travels Continue, Ouch!

Fafnir's Journal

We have moved on from the stone giant’s home, and we have gained a new companion as well.

After doing some trading with the stone giants (through which I was able to obtain a scroll with a new spell - feather fall), the stone giants were kind enough to look at our map, and give us more directions that should lead us to the Heart of Nerull. We were then ready to leave.

Before going, Drusilia thought to check with them to see if they might need some of her healing powers. Although the giants themselves were fine, they did mention that they had found a human who could use some help, as he was very badly beaten.

The giants led us into a room where we saw the most mangled human ever! It was with some dismay that we realized (after the healing), that his appearance wasn’t entirely caused by his wounds! Feeling sorry for the chap, we asked him about his colorfully decorated armor. (I thought maybe his children had painted it for him...)

Jonathan (as we learned was his name), explained that he was a fighter, and that he followed the god Mayaheine, whose symbol he had painted on his shield. Grateful for the healing that we had given him, and lacking any other plans, he offered to accompany our group, and give us protection. He seemed to be eager to help, and we agreed to let him join our party.

Our travels continued uneventfully for a while, with the only odd thing being Korin. He thinks he is still talking to Trap, and has decided that he can perform all of the same rogue-like skills... to this end he has offered to be our ‘scout’. I have encouraged this, as we don’t have a rogue right now, and I figure that Korin will do as good as any.... either he will learn the needed skills to stay alive, or he will at least have fun dying trying.

Near the end of our first day’s travel, we came upon a cave in a cliff face. When Korin climbed up to examine it, there came a beautiful singing from the cave. Wanting to hear it better, I immediately spider climbed up the wall and followed Korin in.

This bit is rather disturbing, as I have no memory of it - Apparently the rest of our party chased after us and found Korin and I having our skin eaten(!) by harpies. Luckily they were able to kill the harpies before we were entirely consumed!

I can’t believe that I was so easily affected by their music. Maybe if Valon were here, he could have helped. I remember him speaking to me once of songs and countersongs, but I think you need some kind of special training to do that. We spent the night near the edge of the cave, so that we would have some shelter. (though this did take some persuading from Ghelt, who isn’t acting quite as crazy today as she has the past few - apparently some of the information the giants gave us has her quite shaken.)

The next day’s travel was quite uneventful, until we set up camp for the night. That night we were attacked by a large group of huge talking wolves! The wolves taunted us, and skulked amongst the boulders, until we were able to goad them into attacking. (we wanted to get it over with, so we could rest the remainder of the night!).

Ghelt, Jonathan, Drusilia, and I all gathered on an outcropping of rock, while Korin went out amongst some boulders, to do whatever it is that he does. We were able to kill several of the wolves, and chase the others away, but not before most (or all) of us were bitten at least once!

I am not sure what Korin was thinking, but rather than using his sword for the battle, he decided that he would use a large ring he had purchased from the giants. Now, when I say large, I mean the ring is large enough for Korin to wear as a headband! He did manage to loop the ring around one of their heads, and was riding the wolf for about 3 seconds before it threw him off, and fiercely started biting him. I am not sure why he did these things in the middle of battle, rather than helping us fight, but I guess that is just ‘his way’. Maybe he is tired of only talking to Trap, and wants to join him in the afterlife? Only Korin knows.

In any case, once the wolves ran off, we were able to rest throughout the night. Drusilia did display some concern that they might have been Werewolves, and that we could all be at risk for lycanthropy! Hopefully, her prayers will give her the knowledge to determine if that is the case, and if so, to heal us! If not, we may have even more troubles.

For now, we are breaking camp and moving on.

~=Fafnir Flamebrewer=~
Flocktime 6, 592CY

P.S. I am hoping we find a safe place to rest for a day or two, so that I can copy my new spell into my spellbook, but the chances of that are looking pretty slim. ~ FF

Posted by Dave at 11:25 | Fafnir’s Journal

..Kitty ...Ring... Hum...

Korin's Journal

“Oh, hi again.” Trap is more fun now, didn’t think that possible.

Gunnie is holding me up so I can be the leader. I feel so proud.

Cool, I get to go climb into cave...

Jon is ugly, Trap likes him though, I will try to protect him from Dru.

Fafnir says that I am a werewolf now, neat.

Jon, him can carry a lot, not trust him with prybar yet.

Trap wonders why Ghelt not talk to him no more.

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty!

I am scout now. Dru keeps giving me this long sword, me thinks that cursed sword is messing her head up.

Kitty gone, me bored now. Will Trap ever shut up?

Posted by Jim at 13:21 | Korin’s Journal

March 25, 2003

Sharing Experience with a Magic Item

~PC Creation & House Rules~

In order for the Sword of Illiven to “grow with” Valon, he shares his experience points with it— similar to the way a spellcaster would give a little of his/herself to make a magic item or scroll. This method of item improvement is explained in Dragon #289 pages 56-58 in an article called “Leveled Treasures” by Stephen Kenson. To make the Sword a +2 weapon, Valon would need to give it 1600 xp when he hit 5th level (or higher).

Posted by Hugh at 14:07 | ~PC Creation & House Rules~

March 31, 2003

A Shadowy Shortcut

Drusilia's Journal

Starday, Flocktime 8, 592 CY

Even though we still don’t know if we were attacked by werewolves, I’ve cast Remove Disease on everyone. I’m not even sure that a cleric of my status would be able to rid us of such a disease, but there is no one else to do it. Other than Korin continuously “woofing” and chewing at Ghelt’s limbs, no one seems the worse for it.

We continued on throughout the day after the wolf attacks without incident, eventually coming to a trail and heading northward on it. As night fell, we came to a stone bridge and were considering it as a camp site when we heard the sounds of combat around the next bend in the path. Two tattered and diseased looking individuals (calling themselves dwarves) waylayed us, begging us to save their dwarven companions from a terrible ettin up ahead, and not letting us get closer to them due to “leprosy.” They did look diseased, and it sounded as though time was of the essence, so Jonathan, Ghelt, Fafnir and I went ahead to find the ettin while Korin stayed behind to entertain the two lepers.

There was a cave entrance right where the leprous individuals had indicated the ettin to be, so we went inside after I cast a light for Jonathan. The two-headed giant was nearly 13’ tall and the splotches of blood around the cave entrance didn’t seem to bode well for anyone else trapped inside. Jonathan and Ghelt engaged the creature immediately while Fafnir scrambled right up the cave wall for a better vantage point. Ghelt was nearly cut down by the creature in one attack, and Jonathan reeled back from it looking drained. I noticed that the taut skin on the ettin looked nearly mummified, and cast a spell meant to do damage to undead. It was fairly effective, as was the attack Fafnir made from the ceiling of the cave. Luckily, we were able to dispatch it without anymore damage to our party, though after treating Jonathan as best as I could I believe that the ettin was a wight— a terrible combination to be sure!

The next task at hand was to liberate his captives. Jonathan, looked on the Ettin for a keyring or something to help us rescue the dwarves we were here to rescue. He didn’t find any keys, but did find a sack of gold and a bronze disk that radiates magic. We’re not yet sure what that does. As we searched the cave, two filthy creatures with scaly grey skin clambered out of a crevasse at the back of the cave, offering us a substantial reward for allowing them to leave unharmed. I cast Detect Evil, wondering if they had been in cahoots with the ettin, as they certainly weren’t dwarves! Just as my spell showed them to be evil, Korin came racing into the cave yelling “They’re trying to kill me!” and shot two arrows right into one of the creatures. The other immediately attacked Ghelt, and knowing she was still quite injured from the fight with the ettin, I felt there was no recourse but to slay the two vile creatures and so fought back. We were able to dispatch them without further injury to ourselves.

Korin explained that the two “dwarves” we’d met near the bridge were grimlocks that had transformed into similar creatures as soon as he was alone with them. Ironically, even though he didn’t kill that pair, they chose to flee from his attacks. While the pair of grimlocks in the cave hadn’t attacked us first, it’s quite likely they would have done so had we not been strong enough to fight the ettin.

Fafnir was still on the ceiling, and he “crawled” into the chamber behind the grimlocks’ crevasse (which was strewn with humanoid bones), finding some more treasure for our trouble: an enchanted shortspear, and a small iron box. Korin and Ghelt were able to open the (thankfully untrapped) box, which revealed 8 bars of jade. The cave itself provided us with a good camping place for the night.

The next day’s journey was also fairly uneventful. We eventually came to a place where we had to choose a direction— right up to a stone fortress or continue left up the road we’d been following north. The fortress was clearly the ancestral home of the dwarves: Barraktor. Though we hadn’t originally planned to go there first, Ghelt was suspicious that whatever did haunt Barraktor would likely follow us to Arun-tosa, so it was best to “get it over with” and explore the fortress.

Getting through the stone doors was simple enough. I was worried that we didn’t all have enchanted weapons, which may be necessary against some undead. While discussing with Ghelt and Korin the best way for Korin to safely use the Sword of Pelor, Jonathan and Fafnir apparently went on ahead of us through the first corridor. We were alerted to this fact after a quiet twang reverberated through the hall followed by a hail of crossbow bolts— Jonathan had found a tripwire.

After a bit of first aid, we wandered through the once great Great Hall, still a magnificent sight with balconies on either side and huge double doors at each end. In fact, Barraktor has a lot of doors. After finding many, many doors in the next hallway, we opted to start at one end and go door to door.

The first room was disastrous. Filled with shadows that could melt through walls (and armor!), I was able to destroy three when turning undead, but one eluded me, and I had to settle for just scaring it off. Jonathan was so weak from one that touched him that we actually had to drag him back outside, and Korin and Ghelt were looking a bit weakened as well. I patched people up as best as I could, and Korin went back inside to destroy what we hoped was the last shadow— the Sword of Pelor seems to provide him with some inner strength, even if he’s not aware of it. Unfortunately, he encountered even more shadows and had to flee back to the relative safety of our camp.

It was a harrowing night— the shadows eventually braved the doors of Barraktor and surrounded our camp. Ghelt opted to use the spear we’d just found, and Korin was delighted to wield his sword again. We eventually destroyed the shadows that followed us and managed to pass the rest of the night unmolested. Now we must decided whether to rest another day, go back inside Barraktor, or continue on to Arun-tosa.

It worries me. If we are no match for the undead in the ancient Dwarven home, how will we stand against them in the City of the Dead?

Posted by Kristin at 15:23 | Drusilia’s Journal