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September 1, 2003

An Eye for an Eye

Drusilia's Journal

Waterday, Flocktime 19, 592 CY, continued

Apparently Pockets was wounded by a poisoned crossbow bolt and then fell over on his stash of alchemist’s fire, for Aramil was carrying his singed body, not waiting for any healing from Ghelt or me (they take great delight in stabbing each other with Pelor’s sword anyway). I guess Aramil was either pretending to scout since Pockets couldn’t, or simply making sure Pockets stayed at the head of the party like he’d planned (though he’d intended to be conscious, of course!), but he scouted them right into a huge shimmering gelatinous cube. Aramil of course stopped moving at this point while the rest of us hacked at the ooze (though Ghelt, Pelor bless her, looked like she was having second thoughts about that particular rescue so soon after they’d been trying to kill her dog).

We pondered what to do with the two paralyzed bodies we pulled out of the remains of the cube, but they soon were mobile again, making the decision on what to do with them moot. None of the rest of us really want them “watching” our backs now!

Valon noticed some strange marks on one of the tunnel walls in Undercommon— he said was some sort of drow warning marker— we left that passage alone!

We finally stopped to rest and renew our spells. Fafnir cast some sort of protective dome for us to pass the time in peacefully. While most of us prayed, studied or slept, Pockets sat across from the puppy using a Mage Hand to spin a dagger in front of him. Watch found a rock and made it do the same thing. Mage Hand was one of the spells she ate from Aramil’s book— perhaps she studied it first, or found some more efficient way to cast the spell! After we had rested for at least eight hours, I cast a “Heroes’ Feast” for the party (including Watch). It was a silent meal, as conversation is very strained when one member of the group is trying her hardest not to kill the part so obviously plotting against her. I cast some endurance spells to help us survive the heat of the caverns and we packed up and moved on towards the salamander city. Our plan was to walk in with our weapons sheathed and ask to see their leader.

When we arrived back at the ledge overlooking the city, sure enough, there was a set of stairs leading down into the city. In the distance, we could see salamanders using a forge, with the smiths walking right in and through the molten metals. The center of the city also had a large temple (which Fafnir was worried would be where the temple we sought would appear). As we entered the city in single file between pools of lava, two large fire elementals rose up out of the pools— obviously sentinels protecting the city’s inhabitants. We passed between them one at a time, until we got to Aramil, who was still holding his compound longbow, in spite of all of our urging to appear non-threatening. The sentinels gave him a chance to put it away, at which point he just shrugged and said, “What?” so they answered him— one touched the bow and it immediately fell to ash at Aramil’s feet. He was then allowed to enter with the rest of us.

We were quickly greeted by a group of smaller salamanders, who asked us to disarm and follow them. They took us to a large, ornate stone building with brass doors which opened into a large chamber. A larger, fiery salamander sat upon a throne and bade us speak. I had to use a Comprehend Languages spell to talk to the smaller salamanders (who only spoke Ignan); thankfully this one spoke common so I did not have to interpret. Valon was our spokesperson much of the time, and Fafnir and I chimed in when we thought it helpful. When asked why we had traveled to his realm, we opted to tell the truth about the Temple of the Void and what I called an artifact of “negative energy” that needed destroyed, playing to the fact that such creatures would likely have no dealings with undead and their ilk. The king said that the portal to the temple we wished to reach must be what opens in the “Arch” and that he would help us reach that, provided we could help them with something. (Oddly, Aramil tried to offer Ghelt’s services in the salamander forge— she told him to just stop talking— it was ludicrous to ask a dwarf to stand inside a forge full of molten metal and “instruct” salamanders in their trade, after all, and was not likely what the king had in mind.) He asked us if we had any dealings with the grey dwarves, and I told him that our current relations with the duergar were quite “strained” at this time. Luckily, they are equally repugnant to the salamanders. The king wished the duergar to leave his people alone, but since they had allied “Xorn of the Many Eyes,” an orb with “rays of death,” they had been a problem for his city, attacking and raiding without provocation. He needed us to dispatch the beholder.

Pockets wanted the salamanders to provide us with better weapons, but most of us realized that if they had better weapons, they would be using them to fight their enemies themselves. He did provide us with a map of the local underdark. We said we’d make an attempt to rid them of the beholder and would bring back one of the eyes as proof.

The map showed our destination to be the one of the few passages that we hadn’t tried. It took us a few hours to walk back, which again was a large space of mostly-strained silence punctuated with “I wasn’t being threatening!” by Aramil every few minutes, to be answered by a party member with a statement about respecting simple requests. At least he hasn’t blamed the puppy this time. We noticed that the roper we had killed the day before had disappeared....

Pockets scouted a wee bit ahead, and found an 8’ tunnel that bisected the one we traveled, but went vertically. Pockets easily cleared this vertical shaft, and they helped me across with aid of a rope (I’ve never been good at jumping). Fafnir said, “It’s too bad you don’t have a 10’ ladder,” to Pockets, who then remembered that he did in fact have one in his bag. He put the ladder across the shaft, thinking the rest could “climb” across it. Aramil, as graceful as ever, began to weave and stagger across the rungs like a drunken circus performer, falling and landing in such a way with the ladder between his legs as to make all the males in the party gasp at once. He pulled himself up and tottered across the remaining few feet, never once attempting to use his hands. He’ll have to heal that area of his anatomy on his own!

The rest of us, Watch included, made it across without incident.

While we were wondering if beholders had a use for these shafts, we discovered that they were used for travel. A green beholder floated through, making a few attacks on Aramil on the way past. It took us a while to figure out how to cope with the flyby attacks it was making, but we eventually killed it— either Ghelt’s chopping into it, Fafnir’s magic missiles or my searing light did it in. Valon contributed song, while Pockets was trying to catch it with a fishhook. I’m not sure what Aramil was doing, but at least he didn’t fall in after the eye tyrant’s corpse.

Now, unfortunately, we feel like we are being watched. I suspect Xarn knows we are here.

Posted by Kristin at 22:18 | Drusilia’s Journal

September 3, 2003

Map of Hellfurnaces Underdark

Adventures, DM's Notes & Maps

Copyright 2003 by Hugh and Kristin Johnson

View of the Hellfurnaces Underdark, courtesy of Drusilia Silverwood.

I'm going to die down here.

Aramil's Journal

Well, we ran for a while and I ran straight into this clear liquid thing that paralyzed me. If it wasn’t taking up the entire hallway I’m sure they would have left Pockets and me here to die. But being as it took up the entire passage, and they didn’t want to face the illithids, Ghelt killed the living slime thing. After some time I could move again, and the poison seemed to wear off of Pockets because he regained consciousness. We walked for a while and eventually Valon found a territory marker. He said it was marking a drow city. We left. We walked back to the cavern we first found and spent the night there. Fafnir cast this hut spell and we had some secure shelter. I the morning I memorized the spells I could, and Drusilia cast something she calls a Heroes’ Feast. Being as we all had to cooperate for the spell to work it was a quiet meal, but that gave me some time to hear my own thoughts.

Ghelt is an excellent fighter, and seems to also be a cleric of some level. She’s a good person, and loyal to her friends.

Fafnir is one of the better spell casters I’ve seen, and definitely knows his potions.

Drusilia is a fine cleric, always trying to win followers, and keeping faith at all times.

Valon seems to know more then he lets on, and is more useful and brave than he realizes.

Pockets is very focused, knows what he wants and goes for it letting nothing stand in his way.

Looking at this group I’m actually shocked that we have been at each others throats the past few days. Thinking back it all started when Pockets first bought that dog. Then sitting here watching that dog, mimicking Pockets with mage hand, a spell she ate from my book, I come to realize that dog is truly evil. That dog will be the death of us all and Pockets and I are the only ones to see it.

Well, the meal comes to an end and I keep my thought to myself because we really don’t need any more fighting. We travel towards the salamander city. There appears to be a narrow trail leading into the city, and at the bottom are 2 fire elemental guards. I smile feeling the heat of the flames, but they burn my bow. I was just carrying it and if they wanted me to put it away they could have said so. Oh well. After we enter the city these creatures point spears at us and speak in a language I don’t understand. Someone translated and told us they wanted us to remove our weapons, so I lay my rapier down and hold my hands where they can see them. We are then led to a large hall with a throne and a very large snake like creature sitting there. It has the torso arms and head of a humanoid of some type and the tail of a snake, but no legs. He asked what we were doing and we told them. Not everything of course, but enough. He told us of a beholder and said we could go on our way if we killed it. We basically said ok, and off we went. They were nice enough to give us our weapons back and a map of where we need to go.

We followed the map exactly and came to a large hole in the ground that extended upward also. We crossed with some minor complications. Once across, we were attacked by a large ball with several eye stalks. I guess this is what a beholder looks like. We eventually killed it, but now I feel like I’m being watched again and I don’t like that. I guess this Xarn knows we’re here.

Sigh... here we go, I only hope we make it out alive.

Posted by Fred at 19:16 | Aramil’s Journal

September 6, 2003

Fafnir's Journal Entry 35 - Splat! Cinder! Ouch!

Fafnir's Journal

When running through the underdark, it’s best to use a light. I think that is a lesson we will remember. As we were fleeing from the mind flayers, Aramil (carrying Pockets) ran straight into a gelatinous cube! Splat!

We were surprised to find it there, since we had seen no sign of it on our previous trip through these tunnels... I guess that is why all the floors were so smooth. Despite its attempt to eat our two troublesome party members, we were soon able to slay the cube. A few minutes later, they both were able to move again, and we continued back toward the city of the Salamanders.

After discussing what the best course of action for entering the city would be (Pockets calls this “arguing”), I decided to let Valon lead the way into the city. After all, he is a bard, and is usually quite good at diplomacy. One thing we definitely decided was that we didn’t want to appear as a threat — All weapons should be kept sheathed. Aramil disagreed with this, insisting on carrying his bow out and ready to fire. No amount of reasoning would get him to carry it on his back or in his bag of holding, so we continued on, hoping for the best. (He insisted that a ready bow was NOT a threat, and while the rest of the party realizes that a bow in Aramil’s hand isn’t all that dangerous, we can’t expect this city of Salamanders to know that!!!)

As we followed the path into the city, two large fire elementals appeared in front of us. Valon, Ghelt, Pockets, and Drusilia walked past them without incident. As Aramil approached, the two elementals blocked his path. It wasn’t clear to me at first what was going on, but as Aramil said “What!?”, one of the elementals reached out and touched his bow. The bow immediately burst into flame, leaving just a pile of cinders. I guess it was threatening to them after all. Once the weapon was gone, they allowed us to pass.

We weren’t there long before we were escorted to the king. Luckily the king spoke common, or Drusilia would have had to translate for all of us. As it was, Valon, Drusilia, and I spoke to the king, with Ghelt joining the conversation when she had useful information to add. We gave him some brief details of what we were doing (searching for the temple of the void to destroy an evil artifact), and asked for safe passage through his city. (Aramil chimed in several times as well, but we tried to ignore his comments about taking over the forges and making him a new bow.)

The king thought about our story for a short while, and agreed to give us safe passage only if we would help him with a problem that was plaguing his city. It seems that the neighboring duergar have allied themselves with a clan of beholders led by a large beholder named ‘Xarn’. With the beholders help, the duergar have been raiding the salamander city with impunity. The king believes that if we can kill Xarn, the rest of the beholders will break their alliance with the duergar, and his city will be safe once more. As we need passage through this city, we agreed to the king’s offer. This will also provide the benefit of weakening the duergar, who have been causing us trouble since we began our quest.

Bidding the king farewell, I followed the party back in the direction we had just come from. (It turns out that the beholders live in a tunnel that branches off from the cavern where we fought the roper.)

Not long after we entered the tunnel which the salamanders had described to us, we found a vertical eight foot wide shaft that intersected the passageway. After Pockets and I had jumped across, we pondered the best way to get everyone else across safely. I jokingly mentioned that I should have brought a ten-foot ladder with me. Imagine my surprise when Pockets replied “hold on a sec,” and pulled a 10-foot ladder out of his bag of holding! Sometimes he amazes me. With the help of the ladder, we were able to cross without much incident. I say “without ‘much’ incident” because poor Aramil did have a rather painful experience. Deciding to walk across the ladder instead of crawling, he lost his balance halfway across. Luckily, he caught himself before falling into the hole. Unfortunately for him, the method he used to “catch” himself was to have one leg straddling either side of one of the ladders’ rungs. Ouch!! - It brought tears to my eyes just seeing the pain on his face... or maybe it was from laughing so hard.

In any case, we had just finished getting everyone across safely when we were able to confirm that we were in the correct tunnel — we were attacked by a beholder! (I guess we had forgotten that we were supposed to be sneaking into their lair, and had gotten quite loud. Oops.)

The beholder was using the tactic of flying up and down the vertical shaft, hardly staying long enough for us to even attack it. After the first couple passes we were able to get our tactics in order. Our strategy was thus:

  • Ghelt stood by the shaft, cutting into the creature each time it passed. This put her at greatest risk, but allowed her to deal large amounts of damage to the creature.

  • Drusilia and I hit the beholder with whatever spells we could manage, when it would close its large anti-magic eye.

  • Aramil stabbed at it with his sword, while drawing some of the attacks from the rest of us.

  • Valon sang.

  • Pockets continued to us his own brand of unusual tactics... this didn’t help much in this battle, but it is certainly entertaining to watch!)

  • Speaking of Watch, she hid in the back.
  • Now, having defeated our first beholder, we continue onward in search of Xarn.

    As we travel down these passages, I have this strange feeling that we are being watched. It is a feeling I have had before... in the city of the dead. Maybe those guys really did run into Arkon in these tunnels yesterday?!? I hope not.

    ~=Fafnir Flamebrewer=~

    Posted by Dave at 10:01 | Fafnir’s Journal

    Duergar, duergar everywhere..

    Ghelt's Journal

    Dearest Grun,

    I wonder how you’re doing? I pray the duergar haven’t caused you too much trouble, or any parts of the undead army arrived. At least I had a chance to warn you, but the re-emergence of the lich lord makes me fear for your safety.

    Speaking of safety, we went running up the tunnel away from the chasm of magma and mind-flayers, and ran smack into a gelatinous cube! Rather, Aramil did, and he was carrying “Pockets”. I was still mad, but sliced them out of it, and we sat down to wait for both of them to start moving again. Once the paralysis wore off, Drusilia tried to talk to them about their still-mysterious history and motives, but “Pockets” just picked a fight so he could stalk off and Drusilia gave up.

    We headed back up the tunnel and took a quick look down one we hadn’t checked, only to encounter strange writing that Valon interpreted to be a warning - it was a drow kingdom boundary! We turned back. After exploring all our options, the city of the salamanders looked like the best of a bad lot. Tired, we travelled back to the first cavern we’d dropped into, and Fafnir cast a strange-looking shelter for us to rest in.

    Moradin be thanked, we had a quiet rest! In the morning, I woke up sick again - same bug as what hit me back in Smallville at Father’s. Drusilia fixed me right up (and I fixed myself up, too!), and then told me she’d planned a magical breakfast that would cure all diseases, and make us especially strong and blessed for the day. We needed it!

    “Pockets”, by the way, woke up and decided to play with our minds by levitating a dagger in front of himself and eyeing Watch.. who confounded us all by copying him - levitating a stone, and staring right back! She’s quite an unusual dog, that’s for sure! I just wish he wasn’t so threatened by her (guilty conscience, I suppose). We have accepted plenty of strange things until they proved dangerous, including “Pockets” and Aramil. *sigh* As you can guess, that problem still isn’t resolved. Not much point in going over it yet again for you.

    Finally, we finished the meal, and made our way to the city of the salamanders (no lich appeared this time, thank Moradin, and much to Fafnir’s amusement). There was a small ramp down the side of the cavern, and we could see a temple in the center of the cirty that Valon was sure was the place to go. Since he had the egg that brought us here, I hope he’s being guided by a benevolent power!

    We reached the floor of the cavern and began to walk toward the city. Suddenly, two giant fire creatures appeared! Valon made sure he put all weapons away, told them he was peaceful, and walked right through. We followed, doing the same, excpet for Aramil who kept his bow out and ready, but paid for it - one of the creatures reached down and touched it, reducing his beautiful longbow to ashes!

    We didn’t make it far into the city before we were surrounded by lizards, carrying spears and hissing at us in a strange language. Drusilia cast a spell that allowed her to understand them, and told us to put down our weapons. We reluctantly complied, and they picked up our gear and prodded us toward the center of town. We ended up in front of a large building, with huge brass doors opening into a throne room and a big salamander on the throne.

    The King (I think) spoke common, and asked us why we were there. We told him we were looking for the Temple of the Void which we’d heard would appear near there soon, and that the dragon had driven us into his kingdom. When asked why we were looking for it, we admitted we had an item of evil and chaos we wanted disposed of (a risk, but one I think we had to take. Drusilia and Valon were guessing that even if the salamanders are evil, they’re lawful, so the Heart wouldn’t be of much interest to them). The king told us we must be searching for “the arch”, and then said the duergar had been trying to get there, too. Duergar, yech. The king decided to help us - for a price! The duergar have been attacking here, too, but these are being directed by a black beholder - one powerful enough to have other beholders at its command. He told us that if we killed it and brought him an eyestalk, the salamanders would help us get to the Temple when it arrives. He even told us where to find the beholder, and we agreed to go for it.

    Retrieving our weapons (poor Aramil still lamenting his bow in this land of stone and fire, and refusing to give Drusilia his arrows in case he gets a new one somewhere), we set out, discussing the abilities of beholders and letting “Pockets” search ahead. We were heading down the passage to the beholders’ lair when he came back and said there was a funny tunnel running straight up and down through the one we were in. We reached it and crossed it, mostly by jumping. Drusilia nearly fell, upon which Fafnir joked that we really needed a ladder, and “Pockets” brightened up and yanked one out of his bag of holding. Sheesh, how much stuff does he have in there? Apparently even he doesn’t remember! At least it wasn’t another tree.

    Aramil fell off the ladder. At least we had ropes, too, but I guess we’d finally made enough noise - as soon as the rest of us had crossed, Watch began barking loudly over the edge of the gap, and sure enough, a green beholder flew up and faced us! Yech, again! Aramil took a wild swing, it slammed a bunch of rays into the party, and flew straight up! I got a light slash in and it was gone. I was prepared to keep going, presuming the thing had gone to warn the others, and wanting to get to the lair as fast as possible - but no, the creature quickly came back for more. This time it shot rays at us while flying downward, hitting me but giving “Pockets” a chance to sling a stringful of hooks around one eyestalk. He also shot arrows down the hole as we assembled at the edge, waiting for the next run. This time, we were ready - Aramil finally landed another sword blow, and as soon as it closed its largest eye Fafnir and Drusilia let fly with magic attacks before it could shoot rays at us again. That was enough to kill it!

    As it fell, we all got the horrilble feeling of being watched by unseen eyes. For the third time, yech! I’ll be glad to finish this mission, Grun. Is it me, or does there seem to be a coordinated effort to use the duergar to attack their betters? This is the third or fourth time I’ve heard this plaint, and it makes me wonder. I don’t know if that’s too big a mystery for us, but we have other problems to settle first, anyway.

    With love,

    Posted by Kate at 12:36 | Ghelt’s Journal

    September 16, 2003

    Hailed as Heroes

    Aramil's Journal

    After we killed that one beholder, we traveled down the passage for a while, till we came to a shaft going up only. Pockets climbed and secured a rope at the top and after I checked it we started going up one by one. At the top was another passage. We followed it around a bend and came face to face with a black beholder, 2 illithids and an umber hulk. We all did the best we could and almost won when I felt my mind being ripped from me. When I came to we were all there and safe. Fafnir took all the eye stalks off the beholder and everyone except Ghelt and I went down another shaft in the room. They found all kinds of treasure, and brought it up. We went back to the city of the salamanders and they hailed us as heroes.

    We waited on the outside of town where I finished fixing my spell book. The day the portal opened the city was attacked. We couldn’t stay, I know this, but part of me feels like we should have.

    Anyway, the next thing I knew we were in a hall. Ghelt and I were the only ones awake. We looked around, and out the one window there was desert as far as I could see. At one end of the hall was a blank wall. At the other was a bronze door. Once everyone woke up we opened the door, and as soon as I walked into the room four statues came to life. I knew they were going to attack us, but someone said they might not. So I waited after one attacked me unprovoked, I let loose a lighting bolt at them. We all fought, and the statues went down, my only question is: now what do we do, and how?

    Posted by Fred at 22:48 | Aramil’s Journal

    September 17, 2003

    Blind Spot

    Drusilia's Journal

    Sunday, Wealsun 2, 592 CY

    As we seem to be able to do in the most dire situations, our group worked together like a well-oiled machine for the remainder of our excursion into the beholder’s lair. Part of this may have been because there were very few ways in and out, most of which were not easily accessible by humanoids. But no matter— we did accomplish our goal!

    Pockets again scouted ahead, and when he came to a dead end, he continued the only way left to us— 100’ straight up a vertical shaft. He secured a rope for us when he made it to the top and then disappeared before we’d all climbed the rope. Amazingly, none of us fell (I’m always sure I will!) and the strain between the party’s newer members and pre-existing ones seems to have eased somewhat.

    We walked a short distance, and found ourselves at the entrance to a small chamber, face to face with Xorn, who was flanked by two illithids and an umber hulk. Laying prone in front of them was the unconscious body of Pockets! I didn’t stop to think, I just ran the rest of the way into the lair, as far from the front of the beholder as I could, and let fly a flame strike, knowing that the antimagic field in front of the beholder’s central eye would protect the fallen elf from my spell.

    I could tell that the beholder, umber hulk and at least one of the illithids had been damaged by my spell. The eye tyrant shot three rays of some sort at me while the mind flayers attempted to inflict their will upon me— only the willpower provided by my faith in Pelor kept me from falling to either threat, and allowed me to cast searing light back at the creatures. I could hear Ghelt behind me hacking through the umber hulk, though I didn’t realize at the time that the rest of my comrades were still in the tunnel, prevented from entering Xorn’s lair by the beast’s immense bulk! Just as I did realize I was alone fighting the beholder and illithids, Fafnir came tumbling past the umber hulk and cast one spell at the beholder, which killed it instantly. At that moment, Ghelt made it past the corpse of the umber hulk and decapitated the crispier-looking illithid. The other plane-shifted away, obviously aware that it was no match for the dwarf! Only now could Valon and Aramil enter the room, and Aramil lamented that he could have done more had he a bow.

    Fafnir set to work hacking off the black beholder’s eyestalks, and we saw that there was a tunnel down from where the creature had hovered. Fafnir suggested that it was likely a treasure chamber, and proved to be correct! Pockets happened to be awake and aware by this point, and several of us climbed down into the treasure room, with Ghelt and Aramil guarding the entrance. We found thousands in coins and artwork, as well as a few potions, wands, a scroll, magic ring and oily (but magical) banded mail. Thank Pelor we had the sense to buy equipment that can hold tons of gear and treasure without weighing us down!

    We quickly returned to the salamander city and went through the same routine of presenting ourselves in an unthreatening manner. King S’sleksis’n (whose name I am not sure I’ve ever pronounced correctly, even with ten days’ practice) hailed us as heroes and allowed us access to the temple and city. We actually spent the next ten days within visual range of the temple, though we did attempt to rest and learn from these curious creatures while the opportunity allowed. The king told us that the portal only opens in their temple every one hundred years, so we are quite lucky that we were only two weeks early!

    Ironically, the arch provided us entrance to the Temple of the Void at the very moment we heard war drums begin in the salamander city— from the steps of the temple we could see mind flayers and duergar flooding into the city. Even from that distance, I could pick out one duergar on the ledge overlooking the city that was different— wearing adamantine armor and with a hellish light in his eyes, he barked orders at the others, while easily deflecting bolts shot at him with his axe. We didn’t have time to choose between fighting Durll in the city or destroying the Heart— I hope King S’sleksis’n and his people did not suffer grievous damage from the illithids and grey dwarves.

    As we started going through the portal one at a time, I looked back and saw a familiar, dreaded form standing on the steps to the temple with his back to us. I feared Ghelt would run back to confront the lich, but it appeared as though Arkon was helping keep the temple free of the infiltrators. We just didn’t have time to deal with him either.

    We apparently arrived unharmed (though some of us were knocked out) in the Temple of the Void. We awoke in a marble hall of about 30’ by 50’, with open arched windows letting in a breeze that came across sand dunes. We could even see the sun in the sky (I had somehow expected this temple to be surrounded by “nothingness”). A massive pair of closed bronze doors stood at one end of the room. Not knowing quite what to expect or do next, we opened the doors, which lead to a circular chamber with three more sets of bronze doors, a sunken floor, and four alcoves with stone statues of spear-carrying warriors in them. Aramil attempted to entire the room and the statues sprang to life. We beckoned him to come back quickly, hoping the statues would resume their non-moving state, but they attacked, so we had no recourse but to destroy them. We can see now that each alcove has a keyhole in it, but of course, we don’t have any keys!

    Posted by Kristin at 18:02 | Drusilia’s Journal

    September 20, 2003

    Fafnir's Journal Entry 36 - Danger Ahead

    Fafnir's Journal

    As we moved on after fighting the beholder, we soon came to a dead end, with only a vertical shaft leading upward. Using his climbing skills, Pockets carried a rope to up the shaft and fastened it at the top. We all followed him up the rope to find another passage. Pockets was nowhere to be seen.

    Assuming he had scouted ahead, we followed the passageway... but not for long. As we rounded the first bend, we came to a cavern. In the cavern floated a large black beholder that could only be Xarn! He was flanked by two Mind Flayers, and was also guarded by an Umber Hulk. Lying on the floor in front of the behoder was the unconscious form of Pockets.

    No sooner had we appeared than the Umber Hulk attacked. Because of our travelling order, this left Drusilia alone in the room with the beholder, while the rest of us were stuck in the corridor, which was blocked by the fighting of Ghelt and the Umber Hulk. Also, the beholder’s anti-magic eye prevented me from casting spells!

    Drusilia was able to get a few spells off that severely weakened the beholder, but things were still looking really bad... we just couldn’t get enough of our party into the room! Deciding that I had to do something, I used the tumbling skills that I have been practicing to tumble past Ghelt and the Umber Hulk. I guess my tumbling needs a little more practice, as the Umber Hulk managed to land a powerful hit on me as I passed. Painful as it was, I didn’t let it stop me from letting loose with a lightning bolt that finished off Xarn.

    After Xarn was defeated, it didn’t take Ghelt long to take care of the Umber Hulk. As for the mind flayers, we managed to kill one of them, but the other escaped by teleporting away.

    After making sure that Pockets was OK, I noticed that there was a passageway leading down from the current chamber. Thinking it might be a treasure chamber, I used spider climb to follow the passage downward. I was right! We found a good amount of treasure, which we gathered up before heading back to the city of the Salamanders.

    The next ten days were rather uneventful. When we returned to the salamander city, we were hailed as heroes. When we asked the King where we would need to go to find the portal to the temple of the Void, he explained that it would appear in the temple at the center of the city.. just as I had originally suspected! Since we did not have to travel further to find it, we were able to use the next ten days for some much needed rest and recovery.

    On the day the gate was to appear, things got bad. We were waiting at the temple, when the city was attacked by a force of duergar and mind flayers! Just as we were debating as to whether we should help defend the city, the gate started to materialize, leaving us no choice but to wait in the temple as the salamanders fought the invaders. Just as the portal finished materializing, it looked like we might be in trouble - a group of duergar had managed to break through and were approaching the temple! I nearly feinted with shock when the form of Arkon materialized on the steps of the temple and began defending it!!! I guess this means that he really has been following us, and it concerns me. After all, why does he now appear to be helping us?!?

    In any case, we did not have time to figure it out just then, as we needed to pass through the portal to the temple of the void. Passing through, I was envoloped in darkness.

    When I awoke, I found myself (and the rest of the party) in a entry chamber. Looking out of the windows, I saw nothing but endless sand dunes. This strange place must be the temple of the void. The only exit from the room was a pair of large double doors. Once the party was awake, Aramil proceeded to open them.

    As we entered the next room, we saw that it was a cirular chamber with four sets of doors. between each set of doors was a large stone statue of a warrior. No sooner had we entered than the warrior statues attacked us! We were able to defeat them without too much trouble, and once they had been crumbled, we examined the room further. In each of the alcoves where the statues had been, we found a keyhole. I wonder what the locks are protecting? I think we will need to find out.

    So here we are. On a strange plane, with no real idea of what we need to be doing. One thing is certain - we need to tread carefully. If Arkon is helping us, it is to his own benefit, and we will need to be careful not to play into his plans... particularly with the impulsiveness that some members of our party have shown in the past. I am not looking forward to this next part of our quest.

    ~=Fafnir Flamebrewer=~

    Posted by Dave at 11:29 | Fafnir’s Journal

    September 26, 2003

    Into the Void

    Ghelt's Journal

    Dearest Grun,

    Well, we’ve succeeded in reaching the Temple of the Void.. now I wonder what will happen next!

    After finishing off the first beholder, we followed the tunnel right to its end. The passage did have an offshoot - straight up! Luckily, there were rough scratches on the sides, which were enough for “Pockets” to climb up by. He took our ropes, tied them together, and dropped them down for us to climb. Aramil gave the end a tug or two, and I decided to trust it - climbing up without trouble, thank Moradin.

    The rope was tied off to a piton, and no sign of “Pockets”. There was a turn in the new passage, so I listened and waited while the others climbed up. We walked around the corner together and found “Pockets” - yet again, he was unconscious on the floor in a roomful of trouble! Two mind flayers and an umber hulk flanked the black beholder we’d come to destroy. We had no choice but to attack directly and hope for the best.

    Luckily, Drusilia and Fafnir figured out where the anti-magic eye of the beholder did not work, and they were able to magically attack the room along with our physical attacks. Fafnir killed the beholder! I took down the umberhulk - but the mind flayers were left. Suddenly, Drusilia and I were the only ones still standing! I was able to kill one, much to my surprise, and the last fled before Drusilia’s holy wrath.

    We healed the party. Thank heavens, everyone got their minds back.. as far as we can tell. Fafnir insisted that the hole the beholder was hovering over was worth checking out, so Aramil and I stood guard at the top while the others climbed in. They returned with lots of treasure and magical items. They even gave me a ring of swimming, which I thought was funny, and thoughtful! I may not like water, but at least I have less to worry about when we’re on it.

    The salamanders hailed us as heroes, and gave us a place to stay until the Gate opened. We settled in to rest and recuperate for ten days. Aramil got his spellbook back into some kind of shape, which pleased him, and I spent the time working with Watch. We tried to learn more about the salamanders’ temple and beliefs, but I think ended up more confused than anything.

    Watch, by the way, doesn’t respond to the spell to speak with animals. Odd, but the important thing is that she seems to be following directions a little better. I hope it helps!

    Finally, the big day arrived. Unfortunately, trouble developed fast - warning drums began to pound, and the duergar began to attack! I think we saw this Durll character directing the troops. We hated to do it, but knowing we had to get the Heart out of the realms, we headed into the temple. As the arch began to burst into flame, the lich lord appeared - at the top of the steps, “defending” us from the attacking duergar! I was halfway to sinking my urgrosh into its back before Aramil grabbed me, and Drusilia shouted that there was no point in killing its body when we still didn’t have its phylactery. Reluctantly, I followed the others into the Gate.

    It was a shock of a journey! Plane-travelling made everyone pass out except Aramil, Watch, and me. I’m not sure what to make of that.. but once everyone woke up, we looked around. We were in a great hall, with windows looking out over a desert. There were bronze doors at the end, and no one else around.

    The doors opened on a round room, with alcoves, more doors, and statues that came to life and attacked us! We shouted that we were there in peace, but they speared Aramil, so we destroyed them all.

    Now we’re going to try entering the room again. I hope we get some ideas about what to do, soon!

    Walk with Moradin,

    Posted by Kate at 20:22 | Ghelt’s Journal

    September 30, 2003

    Void Where Prohibited

    Drusilia's Journal

    Sunday, Wealsun 2, 592 CY, continued

    You will be the bringer of destruction to the world.
    Darkness will spread from your wake.
    Choose well when the time comes.

    It’s strange how divinations never make sense until after you’ve failed to prevent one from coming to pass.

    We had no trouble finding the keys needed for the 4 alcoves. It was really too easy, in fact. The first, a silver key, was found among the debris of the destroyed statues. The key, and all four locks, radiated abjuration magic. Fafnir decided to try the key in the lock closest to him—it went in easily (but did not come out!) and we briefly felt an ominous rumbling from the center of the chamber.

    Having absolutely no preference to the door we tried next, we chose the one to the left of the one we’d come from and walked in. The inside of the chamber looked exactly like the one we’d arrived in, save that there was jungle outside the windows. In the center of the room was a man, kneeling, with a flesh golem standing behind him. Aramil said “Hello!” and the man looked up at us with a cold gaze. He in turn stated, “I am the Guardian of What Was. If you seek to enter the Void, you must first defeat me.”

    After looking around at our group, I suggested we step back into the center chamber, and shut the doors behind us as we left.

    Not quite sure what to make of the man, we decided to just try another door, hoping to get a less cryptic introduction. We went directly across to another set of doors and opened them. Inside stood a man, dressed similarly to the first and with a stone golem companion. We could see a humid swamp outside the otherwise similar chamber. He stated that he was the “Guardian of What Will Be.” We decided we’d get back to him too.

    The remaining doors led to a chamber that looked out over a frozen wasteland. The only difference in this room was that the human (with clay golem companion) was a female— the Guardian of What Is. I decided that we were just walking around too much without answers and so I asked her quite a few questions! I asked how we were to reach the Void— we had a choice of defeating each Guardian in single combat, or in a group, in which case the golems would fight as well. Some things she didn’t answer any less cryptically than Aramil or Pockets would, like “where did you come from?” and some answers were downright disturbing— such as when I asked who we represented, since we came from the desert room— we are the “Guardians of Choice.” She also answered that we could leave the Temple in “one of five ways”— through any of the rooms or through the Void. None of the humans appeared to be evil, or good, and all seemed to have the mannerisms of monks.

    We decided, eventually, that Ghelt would act as our champion and fight a monk one-on-one—and we figured the one in the room with the flesh golem would be easiest— at least, that golem looked easiest to fight if it became group melee.

    As much as it upset Ghelt, I have to give Pockets credit for watching her back— as soon as she fell to the monk, and before I could get in to drag her away to heal her (fearing that if I healed her in the room, the golem would consider me as joining a group melee), he sunk an arrow into the monk. Thankfully the monk considered the battle with Ghelt over and moved to fight Pockets. Moments later I saw that Pockets had sailed out the window into the jungle, but Aramil saw that Pockets looked confused and figured that the windows weren’t visible out there— luckily throwing a rope to Pockets helped him find his way back! I tossed Aramil my longsword as he looked ready to engage the monk. He was out of the fight a few seconds later. I wanted to go in next, but Fafnir stepped in and finished the monk off with some magic missiles. I am sure this won’t effect his ego in any way.

    We got every one patched back up, and Pockets had to go find some of the parts of the Guardian of What Was out in the jungle to retrieve the copper key we needed. Ghelt did her best to arrange the remains in a respectful manner, and while doing so I could hear that the key had been inserted in one of the alcoves— that same rumbling sound occurred again.

    Ghelt hit her stride and easily took out the female monk. As she rearranged the body in a similar fashion to the last, the electrum key we found was used in another alcove, with another ominous rumbling sound.

    Ghelt had a bit more trouble with the Guardian of What Will Be. I dragged her, and then Pockets, out for healing while Aramil finished him off. We retrieved the platinum key, arranged the body of the last fallen guardian, and took the key out to the hall. Things went a bit out of control after this— I’m not sure I saw all that went on. Someone inserted the final key and the floor in the center of the round chamber began to crack and crumble, then fall away. Inky black tendrils (which I thought were some sort of gas, but turned out to be a creature!), came up from the cracks, winding around the columns and making them disappear. One of us shouted to Valon to throw the Heart of Nerull into it, but he refused, saying it belonged to him! I used what may be called “Elf-Fu” to tackle him, only to be thrown off in an instant. Somehow Fafnir and Watch got separated from us on the other side of the Void (which had expanded to fill the center chamber), and the rest of my friends were attempting to grapple with Valon. Now realizing that that Void was alive, I cast a Bolt of Glory at it, but it continued to fill the chamber of the frozen wastes that we had followed Valon into. Aramil managed to get the Heart while Ghelt and Pockets held Valon down, but had been injured so badly that he couldn’t throw the Heart far enough to reach the Void. I had to leap between tendrils, and throw the Heart into it myself (losing my mithril chain to the awful blackness as it brushed past me). I threw the Rod of Undeath in as well, knowing of no better way to destroy it.

    Suddenly, the Void pushed past us all and out a window (or rather, out a wall, as the window and wall surrounding it disappeared at the Void’s touch) and sped off across the wastes. Fafnir and Watch made it to us safely, and Valon, no longer touching the Heart, came back to his senses (I wonder how long he was without them!). Fafnir told us that the pit the “Void” had left in the center of the Temple was filled with runes— which of course we know were likely there to keep it from escaping. We also have a feeling that the landscapes we see outside each window is a real part of Oerth, and we’ve left a darkness enter our world. I only hope that we still are the Guardians of Choice, and that we are given the opportunity to track it down and either destroy or at least vanquish it again.

    Posted by Kristin at 20:35 | Drusilia’s Journal