Ghelt's Journal
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Ghelt’s Bio

Character images copyright 1999-2002 Claudio Pozas. Used with permission.
Dear Cousin Grun:

Thanks for your letter last month; it’s always good to hear about events happening in the homelands. Glad to hear the clan broke through to a new vein of iron ore, and congratulations on your own discovery of a new (so what if it’s small?) diamond mine!

From your description of the event, it sounds like you put our battle training to good use when goblins tried to overrun Midrock. I wish I’d been there to help protect the village, too! (Even if they were “just goblins.”) I do enjoy living and working with Father, but to think our family’s home was threatened makes me angry even now. Father walked about pulling his beard, he was so upset —­ and then burst out laughing that the goblins would even try. Remember the orc hunt, to prove we’d learned to use our waraxes properly?

It has been a long while since we’ve visited Midrock. The shop has been busy, but mostly with travellers needing repairs, not often new armor or weapons. On the other hand, I’m sure Father will want to make a trip to see the quality of the new ore! Travelling with him is always interesting; I don’t think any of the adventurers coming through this village have better stories to tell. He’s slowly getting used to the idea that I want to do some adventuring, myself —­ as if hearing his history would satisfy my own desire to do battle with the evil creatures of this world. I think he was hoping I’d follow the call to serve Moradin alone, and work with weapons and armor without wanting to use them myself, but even he has to admit that a warrior-priest is much more respected, than a priest alone. Aren’t fathers funny? Ours teach us all the ways of the dwarven warrior creed­ — and then worry when we follow it!

As for myself, I don’t think I’d make a good priestess unless I do some travelling, some battle, gain a stronger understanding of who I am and what I stand for. Hope that makes sense. And I still think I have an easier task before me than you —­ but only you would be surprised at receiving no less than three marriage proposals in a month! You’re young, beautiful, talented, and your family line goes back to the founding of the clan. Just make sure you’re happy, along with Uncle — after all, he doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life with the lucky dwarf! (P.S. ­— Mother sends her love, and reminds you that you don’t have to pick any of the suitors if you’re not ready!).

Brother has helping a lot more at the forge, lately­ he shows a real talent for the work. So, I don’t feel like I’m leaving Father in the lurch, to look about me, do some travelling, perhaps even an adventure or two! I may not be as regular a correspondent; I hope you understand.

I’m leaving this afternoon to check out the old “haunted” house outside of town, for that matter. A very mixed group of us decided to see what’s really out there since the former inhabitants disappeared some time ago.

Personally, I doubt there’s much to be found but swamp gas and creaky floorboards, but I’d feel terrible if they got into trouble and I could have helped. There’s an elf healer who’s done me a good turn now and then, and a gnome “inventor” —­ you can just see the cloud of disaster following him!
Both are enthusiastic about going adventuring — perhaps too enthusiastic!
Also, a halfling with some skills that I wouldn’t call entirely honest, but he does mean well (his nickname is Trap —­ at least he’s more inclined to make them, or only disarm them when asked, but still...!).

All right, I’ll end this note. Send my love to everyone, and may Moradin guide your path.

Ghelt Futhark

Character sheet: Ghelt Futhark [Dwarven Fighter]

Posted by Kate on November 9, 2002, 21:18

Day #1

Dearest Grun,

It occurred to me to try and keep you up-do-date piecemeal; I’m currently several flights of stairs below the old Everston Manor. Apparently there’s more here than swamp gas and creaky floorboards (although I must admit, there’s already less here than before we arrived!).

The place was left in a hurry - no signs of packing up, which was the first surprise, to me! The second came while examining the upstairs, in the form of two very large spiders. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the gnome Fafnir could - and did - put them to sleep with some sort of spell, which made them much easier to dispatch.

The downstairs was much more interesting.

Starting with a javelin to the chest (yes, I’m learning some things the hard way!), we found ourselves in a battle with several goblins in the cellar! I’m afraid we’re not a cohesive fighting force at all, yet, but we did put them down.

Poor Drusilia’s got her work cut out for herself, healing this party, I fear.

Of course, we had to chase the last goblin down more steps, which led to new discoveries. The goblin disposed of, we explored several tunnels and rooms below the manor house. I wonder just what this family was up to? These subcellars are the same age as the rest of the place! Quite a mystery..

One room even had some large, misshapen, lumpy creatures lumbering around in it. We tried to put them down, but no luck! They were very strong and dense; I could barely dent one with my axe. I fear we were forced to retreat from such an unnatural onslaught. Luckily, they didn’t leave the room they were in, so we could walk by them down the hall.

At the end, we found what looked to be cells. One even had a three-armed skeleton in it; I really am starting to suspect this family wasn’t into anything good or decent. The halfling Trap was living up to his name until he got bored with checking doors - and wouldn’t you know, the last door he opened “trapped” him? Whatever was in the cloud of gas, he got a full dose, and is now obsessed with discovering how to make a trap just like that for himself. I hope he didn’t learn all his skills in such a way...

So, this is where we’ve stopped for the evening: sleeping in and around the last cell, which has a trap door in its floor which we mean to explore on the morrow. I’m writing this while on my night watch.

Wish us luck!
Moradin Bless -

Posted by Kate on November 24, 2002, 19:51

Day #2

Dearest Grun,

Well, we had a short but eventful round of adventuring, today! It’s still early afternoon, if that, but we’re all so worn down that we’re actually resting the day out in a former temple to an evil god. I hope it’s now former..

After descending through the trapdoor and a very long ladder, we found more of the family crypt. I’m still trying to figure out how they got the bodies down this far - and why? We found another door, and a landing with two sets of stairs, both heading down. Even I am getting a little tired of always descending; although the house was on a hill, we have quite a trip back up if we find no other exit!

The stairway to the left had a terrible stench, so of course we followed it. We found a ransacked, fouled family crypt with undead humans and rats attacking us. It was ugly - although Drusilia raised her arms and caused the undead to flee, we agreed that they must all be put to rest. Everything had been desecrated there, except for a large door with Drusilia’s holy symbol on it. Trap aside, we agreed to leave that alone. The hall at the end was collapsed by someone - we left well enough alone there, too.

The stairwell to the right had no crypts at all, but a large bronze door, decorated with the skull and knife of a death god. This we had no compunctions about opening, except that Trap noticed an odd-looking latch and decided we should leave while he figured out the trap. He figured it out by opening the door and setting it off - thank the gods he has good reflexes, as a stake-filled pit trap opened beneath him!

Trap was able to close the trapdoor (finally, I threw him across the pit so he could grab the door handle and be pulled to close it), and then convinced us that he had figured out how to disarm the trap so we could cross in safety. I actually stood at the door so he could stand on my shoulders and work on the trigger at the top! Of course, being practical, I tied myself to the door handle while he worked, which really bothered him for some reason when he was done disarming the trap. “I stand by my work!” he announced, folding his arms and glaring at me while standing next to me on the trapdoor. “Open the door!” .. he was all but stamping on it when I told him I had plenty of extra rope to tie him with, too. Finally, I opened the door, some broken pieces of arrow dropped down, and the halfling fell to the bottom of the pit.

I’m afraid I laughed, Grun, I couldn’t help it, once I saw he’d missed the stakes, but after all the storm and fury, there he was, stuck with a mummified Duergar in a pit!

I stepped into the other room, untied myself, and lowered the rope to pull him up. He actually spent time searching the body (ugh!), and came up with a few pouches and weapons. I was laughing and chiding him as he dusted himself off.. and then he handed me a mithril waraxe.


Pardon me, I was just admiring it for a moment again.


I was so shocked, I even let him take the rope and close the door again to try the trap one more time. Apparently, he got Drusilia to stand at the door, because the next time it swung open, the elf was hanging from the handle. Trap jumped across the pit, to see the other side of the door, I think; Fafnir wisely followed and the door was shut, as Trap was ready to try to fix the trap one more time! I think he’ll be dreaming about that one for a while.

Of course, he almost immediately set off the next one - impatiently, he stepped across a line of warding runes that only Drusilia could see. This caused many skeletons to appear and try to kill us. We managed to reduce them to dust, except for poor Trap’s, who just couldn’t do much (read: any) damage to his chosen one with a halfling-sized backpack as a “club.” We dispatched it for him, but not before he’d smacked a large obsidian statue with the mithril axe I handed him, and scared himself half to death. Everything in here is evil - statue, altar, runes.

Fafnir started exploring, and found a torture chamber, and more cells. I got to kill a zombie and a four-armed skeleton, but I was starting to feel I’d had enough for one day. We were all getting fairly injured after all the battling. Of course, the next room we found had the ghoul in it. I really thought that was it, Grun, we were in no shape to even try, and we had no choice!

Together, we hacked and burnt it down. What a moment! Drusilia and Fafnir made sure to destroy (and ransack) the ghoul’s altar and search its rooms, and found both treasure and a map that I think we must follow. It leads near the Barrier Peaks - we may have to visit!

So, now, we have started quite a treasure hoard, and have a bone wand that must be destroyed, and we’re recuperating in the former temple. I think we can say former, since the ghoul is gone. Maybe we’ve actually destroyed the evil in this place!

Saying that, Grun, I felt such a sense of purpose and grace, as I can hardly describe..

I think perhaps Moradin has smiled upon me! Your cousin is now a cleric of her people. I’m awed, Grun, and must end this long letter for now.

Yours in prayer,

Posted by Kate on December 8, 2002, 11:51

Day #2.5


well, Grun, I guess I can just add to the bottom of this note.

We didn’t get a chance to sleep or rest much, after all.

I decided to make myself a holy symbol - pounding a coin flatter and trying to etch it didn’t work, but chopping up a bedpost from the ghoul’s room went better. It turned into another group effort (I’m having that lesson emphasized a lot lately!), with Fafnir’s carpentry, Trap’s inks, and Drusilia holding the post steady so I could chop a neat piece off.

The noise must have attracted attention, however - the door we planned to search through tomorrow opened, and several undead duergar entered! I immediately tried to turn them, but it didn’t work. Need more practice, expect I’ll get plenty! Meanwhile, chopping them up while Drusilia turned them worked quite well.

Fafnir followed the fleeing undead, which prompted the rest of us to follow him. We went down a hall and around a corner, into a room full of undead! Drusilia turned most of them out another door, while I killed the rest, but the screams of Trap from behind us distracted us from the hunt.

We killed another ghoul, and searched the room it had come from; some sort of barracks which were falling to bits, but the elf found a journal from one of the priests of this awful place. We decided to go back to the main room and read it, while trying to rest yet again.

This time, we wanted to block the door! Drusilia, Trap, and I shoved the main altar over and immediately got queasy. We did get the door blocked, but I fear we’ve been cursed by this evil place. I didn’t think after all this time that the magic would still be strong enough, but both Drusilia and I are weakened. It must be the evil god’s hatred of our good gods - Trap is fine.

Determined to make the best of things, we sat down to decipher the book. It’s very damaged, but Drusilia made out that it was written by a duergar priest, who was helping the high priest but angry that his superior had become obsessed with finding an artifact called the “Heart of N’Rul” or something. Meanwhile, other duergar had started to attack the temple, and it’s these priests who collapsed that tunnel to protect themselves from the threat. What’s worrying is the end, which mentions a new disease or curse that was turning temple members into dessicated husks, which magic healing did not cure. I hope we’re OK...

So, we’re trying to rest again, before going on tomorrow. I’m a little worried, as we didn’t bring much food or water, and we have to decide whether to turn around here and return with better provisions (not to mention maybe getting uncursed??), or go on and hope for the best.

With love - again!

Posted by Kate on December 15, 2002, 16:08

Day #3

Dear Grun,

I’m writing this quickly while the party sorts itself out.. I’m a little impatient with them right now!

We did finally get some rest in the temple. Of course, as we were finishing our prayers and getting ready to go, some zombies came to the door again. They started bashing through the door and climbing over the altar in front of it.

Trap, who was on watch, promptly shot an arrow and hit the statue by mistake, again. Drusilia went charging into combat with her sword and started chopping limbs off - kudos to the elf! Trap shot another arrow into the melee and somehow hit the statue once more. He seems to have a thing for doing that.. we did kill all the zombies in that lot, however.

There was a short discussion about which way to go; I was for heading back before we were too weakened by the lack of food and water, but was overruled, and we headed off into the unknown yet again. This time, we checked the rooms off the hallway as we walked, finding more sleeping rooms and one locked door. Trap opened it and got hit by a dart. I tried to heal him - and it worked! I am very pleased to have gained this manifestation of our god’s favor - especially for Trap’s sake!

The new room had been a storeroom - we found empty barrels and moldy grain, which Drusilia was able to purify and make edible. She also made water to drink, so I felt better about continuing. Trap, who had wandered off, suddenly came in and said he’d found a kitchen, so we were able to make a sort of oatmeal to eat. The kitchen chimney was too narrow to climb and showed no light, and so wasn’t an option to get out by.

We headed through the next door and descended a flight of steps, which widened out to a big, natural cavern and lake. And zombies, as Fafnir pointed out seven for us. I hewed one down and was heading for the next when Drusilia suddenly reduced four of them to dust. I must learn how to do that! We were left with two zombies, and I hope it’s a measure of the party’s confidence in me that the other three took on one and left me the other. Trap is now using a sword instead of his pack, Fafnir peppered it with magic missiles, while both Drusilia and I struggled with our curses, missing and tripping up. Fafnir killed theirs with a thrown dagger, even so!

Once I’d killed the last zombie, we explored the beach. Drusilia noticed a rope, and Fafnir found and opened the bag attached to it. We found some treasure, and two vials of a bluish liquid that might be a healing potion of some sort. We also found a raft, which the others took for granted we we would use. I didn’t like that at all, especially when it turned out I had to stand on one side and help pole it across the lake and current. I may be able to swim, but what dwarf wants to be on water that’s deeper than she is tall? Some of the party wilfully refuse to understand..

After a quiet crossing, thank Moradin!, we decided to follow a path through a crevice in the rock wall. Trap immediately set one off and is lucky to be a halfling, the spear being aimed for the chest of a human-sized creature. At a split in the road, we went left, and were attacked by huge centipedes but otherwise not bothered, and after a long walk we found ourselves coming up into the light of day - right in the middle of the Dimwood, which made it a mixed blessing.

I think you might be proud of how we’re turning into a regular troop of adventurers, Grun - we decided to go back in and check out the other turning in the passageway, just in case we missed anything! This one sloped downward sharply enough that I tied a rope to Trap, who wasn’t happy but left it on. Wouldn’t do to lose the lead man to any sudden dropoffs. This path led to a large cavern, full of stalactites and stalagmites. As we crossed to check out some fissures in the wall, small rocklike things hit Trap and me - and started to chew on Trap! We abandoned the cave to the piercers (except Trap’s, which he decided to keep and try to tame for some reason), and returned to the surface.

Once there, we started to make the trek back to town along a deer path. We actually had walked under the whole town from the mansion to here! As we walked, we heard a moan from the underbrush - which revealed an injured human cleric crawling through the bushes! While Trap and I followed back along the trail he’d left, finding signs of a fight and several bodies being dragged away, the cleric told Drusilia that his party had been attacked by spidery “things.” He was most concerned about a sorceress named Hendra. After some talk, we left Gildean with a dagger and some food and a blue potion, and headed off after the kidnappers (he was just too weak to come with us).

As we headed along the trail, we came upon another stranger - an elf being attacked by a giant spider. These woods were full of unlucky travellers today! I killed the spider, and some of the party began to argue with the elf about whether the stick he was clutching was a sword. I don’t know why - time was short, so Trap and I continued following the trail. We followed it right into a trap, of course; this time both of us were attacked by a group of spiders and humanoid-spiders. Trap rolled free, but I got tangled up in webs and bitten. They started dragging me away while the rest of the party arrived and joined the battle. The new elf can wield that stick pretty well. And he can sing, quite inspiringly! He got me free from the webs in time to see Trap being dragged up a tree; while he managed to wriggle free, I shot the creature with my crossbow.

Trap gave in and drank the other blue vial, as he was pretty badly hurt and poisoned. It did heal him, thank the gods! His new pet, Spike, was dead, however, which upset him.. strange little guy. The party reassembled, including the new elf bard, Valon, and finally tracked the rest of the spiders to their lair, a hole in the ground. We climbed to the bottom and got into a massive fight with the spiders and things, finishing with a large, intelligent, magic-using spider. We did finish it off - in fact, Trap landed the final blow!

So, after all that, we found three cocooned, unconscious, poisoned people. They are woozy but alive. Unfortunately, we also found another treasure chest. Instead of getting these folks back to the surface, and getting back to their weakened comrade in the woods, Trap wanted to open and inventory everything in it! Now, while everyone discusses how to get these three very sick people out of here, I’m catching you up on events. Hoping all’s well in the homelands!

With love,

P.S. One good piece of news: the sorceress Kendra gave us two potions to remove our curses! Praise Moradin!

Posted by Kate on December 28, 2002, 22:51

While in Town

Dearest Grun,

I got home and sent my first note right off — and now I’m starting another letter-journal. Hard to believe the first one was only three days’ worth!

We managed to pull everyone out of the hole in the ground, eventually — Drusilia being last; she heard something move, but we were so sick and tired we went on.

Valon, luckily, had a tent we could put to use, as the three we’d rescued couldn’t even walk on their own. We dragged them through the woods, back to the poor lonely cleric, piled him onto the tent, and headed back to town. You can imagine what a stir we caused!

Everyone at the bar helped us put the four to bed upstairs, and I paid for them to be fed and sheltered for a couple of weeks. They are very eager to get on with their travels, but it will take a little while for the poison to wear off. I hadn’t noticed Trap was missing until we came back downstairs and discovered the innkeeper in the middle of firing him — by kicking him out the front door with some choice words! The impudent one immediately dusted himself off and came back in as a paying customer.. chuckle..

Of course, my father and brother were there too, so we sat down and I told them all about where we’d been and what we’d done. Father, of course, pointed out that he’d been a little worried — I felt bad, but we really hadn’t planned to be gone for so long! The axe wowed everyone, but the holy symbol I’d made got his attention, too. Seeing me heal Trap made him get up and ask me to come home for a minute..

Can you imagine my surprise, Grun, when he pulled out a beautiful silver holy symbol, gave it to me, and told me it used to be Mother’s? We both got a little teary! I’m glad he has decided to accept my calling so well, but it made me realize that things at home won’t ever be the same. He went off to the forge for a bit, so I changed clothes and went back to the tavern.

Drusilia asked me to come with her to an old lady’s house — apparently, something had been making noises in her home and she thought a cleric could clear the place of evil — or whatever it was! Somehow, all of us ended up in her little home, listening to something in the attic. Drusilia climbed up and looked while I tapped at the spots I’d heard noise.. and things started flying about!

Trap led the old lady outside for a moment (but he returned), and we went to war with a bunch of stirges. What a small ending to a great adventure! It was funny, though, to see us trying to dispatch a bunch of vermin without destroying the little old lady’s furniture. I was throwing rocks, Drusilia and Valon slashed carefully with their swords, and Trap shot an arrow into Fafnir — poor gnome! Trap got attacked by the creatures, which started sucking his blood. This made for a mess when we bashed the things, of course. Fafnir got to throw daggers at Trap (at least he was hitting the stirges and not Trap, but the thought was there!). Trap stabbed himself a few times, while the rest of us finally killed off the rest of the creatures.

Aftter Fafnir fixed the hole in the attic so no more could enter, and the rest of us cleaned up bodies and blood, and Drusilia loudly blessed the place for the widow’s benefit, we all went home to bed!

With much love;

Posted by Kate on January 8, 2003, 13:12

Day 1, New Adventure

Dear Grun,

Well, to continue our tale from Smallville..

We spent a few days in town, settling our account of the treasure we’d found and what some of the objects were for. We made a lot of cash outright! I would have been happy with just my axe but they insisted on dividing the rest up evenly. A good party! There is also a wand of colorspray — at least, poor Trap is currently several colors and Fafnir suspects he didn’t trigger the spell quite right. We can’t figure out what the cloak is for — it fits Valon and Drusilia nicely.. poor Father must think we’re a bit cracked, we kept trying to see if it would make them invisible or do anything special , which started in the kitchen and worked its way out to the warehouse. “Everyone close their eyes! Now, Valon, hide in a shadow somewhere! OK, everyone look for Valon!” ..

I spent some time working in the forge and catching up, and checking on the recovering party in the inn. Valon performed there every night — he’s pretty good! Fafnir learned some spells from the scrolls we’d picked up, which didn’t stop him from making some pictures for everyone to enjoy.. mostly of Trap setting off traps. He’s got it in for him right now. Everyone healed up nicely, and went shopping with their newfound loot! I think Father forgave us when several dropped by with orders for weapons..

I’ve started working with Trap, teaching him some fighting techniques. Either he’ll stop hitting party members by mistake, or kill one of us really well next time!

We decided to follow the map from the ghoul’s room. I have no idea what it leads us to, while others wonder if it has something to do with the Heart of Nerull artifact. Either way, it gives us an excuse to be out on the road — although we still have to destroy that necromancer’s wand, as well. We have a full plate!

Trap is certain that the trip will take only two weeks. It’s actually more like three, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him; he’s been catching so much flack lately! I’m carrying extra food for now and will mention it later..

Of course, we started the trip off by barge. Ugh. At least this time I sat in the middle and held the mule, and nothing happened! We then headed off toward the mountains and travelled all day. As night fell, we approached a farmstead at the base of the hills..

And it was far too quiet. There were big footprints in the yard and, as we approached, we could see the door had been bashed in. At this point the elf suddenly asked us what his stick looked like. I don’t know if he had a moment of lucidity or is slipping further into his own world, to distract us like that!. It didn’t matter, however — there was no one to be found, and no animals in the barn, but terrible bloodstains everywhere, and drag marks toward the mountains.

We realized that the people couldn’t be alive, and so rather than track in the dark, we camped further up the road for the night. The next morning, we followed the tracks into the mountains with Trap scouting ahead. He stopped at a hole in the rock and waved — when we got there it turned out he wanted us to wait. Oops — we need to work on hand signals! There were skulls on stakes outside the doorway, but no one around. We tied the mule outside, and headed into the passageway, but Trap tripped a wire and we heard alarms. We decided to retreat and wait for whatever was in there to come out.. which didn’t happen!

Suddenly, Trap was hit by an arrow — a goblin sniper was above us on the mountainside. Someone shot it — and we charged back down the tunnel! Valon was ahead of me, unfortunately, which meant that the ogre we ran into got a good shot at him first. Down went the elf, singing even as the ogre started dragging him away! Fafnir pegged it with some magic missiles, Drusilia killed it with a well-placed arrow, and we found more goblins at the end of the tunnel. One of them stabbed Valon to make him stop singing, poor guy! I killed one goblin even as another managed to get the ogre back on its feet. Fafnir started a flaming sphere, which he used to kill the goblin from a safer distance, while Drusilia and Trap shot arrows down the hall. We killed everyone but one goblin, which I chased through the room and down another hall. (Drusilia, by the way, proved a real berserker as she charged through battle and kicked a goblin so hard it passed out, just to get to Valon before he could be killed. Go, Drusilia!).

As the next hallway opened out to a room full of goblins, there were suddenly five Fafnirs around me — which was startling to me but quite a distraction for the goblin javelin-throwers! The Fafnirs stunned four of them right off with that new wand of colorspray. I took out the last two, even as Valon showed up and accidentally shot the real Fafnir with an arrow. Not again! His bow broke, too, so Fafnir accepted his apology to some extent.. Trap had been watching our rear during the battle, and arrived to search out a very smelly bedroom and a locked door. He got the door open, and was hit by needles from above. (It’s a point of pride for him that none of us have been injured by any traps, but I think he’s a little masochistic!). We found casks of wine and a locked box, which Trap tried to open. He got the lock all jammed up instead, so I suggested we just take the hinges off. That worked out OK, but it still had a trap — he opened it to a cloud of gas! We did get some more treasure out of it..

I went and got the mule, and we searched the rest of the place, found the bodies of those the goblins had killed, and made sure the place was cleared out. I dragged the bodies of the goblins out the front door so anyone passing would know it was cleaned out, and we prepared to move on.

Which reminds me, I ought to go back and say a prayer for those poor farmers. It’s all we can do for them, now.

Hope all’s well at home!

Posted by Kate on January 8, 2003, 13:21

Day 2-5

Dearest Grun,

Well, we were heading back down the mountain trail when Trap, scouting ahead, once again waved us up (We haven’t gotten around to discussing communication, he wanted us to stop again. Oops). He could see someone coming up the path - at least it turned out to be someone we knew!

It’s an elf named Four Feather - she’s a ranger from town, or as much as “from town” as you can call it when they all live in the woods nearby. She also likes to wear a mask - must ask Drusilia if that’s an elf thing. Drusilia, by the way, is now learning some dwarven while we travel. She does make an interesting elf..

I was afraid someting had happened at home, but it turned out that Four Feather’s uncle (who also hangs out in the local woods) has gone missing, and she’s trying to find him. She decided to travel with us for now. It’s as good an idea as any - I don’t think she really knows which way he would have wandered off to..

We continued into the mountains, taking a path I’ve traveled before to visit you. We camped under a rock outcropping, and the new elf decided to sleep in a tree across from us. Lucky she did, as she gave us advance warning of a giant spider attack that came just before sunup. May want to mention to Uncle that the area is infested, again..

Of course, the first one went for Valon! Four Feather hollered about two more spiders (she was doing more than that, they came over the edge with arrows sticking out of them), which went for Trap and the poor mule. We killed all of them, and Drusilia healed the mule while Trap went looking for the dagger he’d thrown into the darkness. He found the dagger and another spider..

We were getting ready to dispatch this one, too, when Drusilia charged right though me - or tried to. We went down in a heap! I still managed to kill the spider, however, and wandered back to camp to pray until sunup. We spent the day travelling, and camped well above the treeline but near a stream.

The stream had some nice pools, so I decided to take a quick bath. As I left camp, Fafnir was replaying and critiquing Drusilia’s combat techniques - well, at least she gets the element of surprise on her side! Four Feather had decided to go fishing upstrean from me, which was fine, but then a baby bear showed up.

Now, I respect bears, and I also understand that mama is usually not far away when you see baby, so I finished my bath quickly and got out of the stream since baby wanted to play in it. The elf, however, began to pitch pebbles at it, explaining that she didn’t want the bear to “fall in and drown”! I got the heck out of there, went back to camp and explained exactly why I now think Four Feather is nuts. MUST ask Drusilia about her!

At this point Four Feather ran into camp - no mama bear behind her, at least - and announced that she’d found giants’ footprints in the area. I knew there wasn’t much to do about it but keep careful watch and a small fire, so we were as quiet as possible that night and went on safely in the morning. The next day we spent travelling up the gorge, and camped to the howling of wolves, which also left us alone. We turned off of the path to visit you, and headed up to a pass in the mountains.

There was a border marker at the crest - almost a totem pole, with ugly faces carved into it. The elves recognized a very evil god of the orcs, and got terribly upset - almost as disgusted as we dwarves feel about orcs! We passed it, and looked down into a valley, with a village in it. I checked the map to be sure this was really our destination - we’re really taking a terrible chance to come in here - and as far as I can tell, it’s the right path.

I’m writing this before we move on - and praying for protection and luck. I hope this adventure is worth the risk!

With love -

Posted by Kate on January 18, 2003, 13:56

Day 5, continued...

Dearest Grun,

Well, today has been a sad day.

I forgot to tell you about a then-funny incident when Four Feather showed up. She asked who was the leader of the party, and Drusilia pointed at me. I thought it was a joke! Next thing I knew, people started taking it rather seriously, so I guessed I had better, too.

Which makes the rest of this a little harder to write.

We muzzled the mule with a feedbag to keep him quiet, and moved into the valley with Trap scouting ahead for trouble on the trail, and Four Feather sneaking down to the village to see what was going on there. Four Feather quickly returned with the news that the village was actually a mining encampment, led by orcs using slave labor!

We immediately abandoned our original plan to just sneak around the village, and concentrated on exactly how to liberate the poor miners (and kill the orcs!). We decided to sneak up to the edge of the woods and wait for darkness, and on my signal, Four Feather would shoot the guard in the watchtower, Trap would try to free the slaves from their chains, and the rest of us would charge into the fray with surprise on our side.

I also wanted to discuss ways to distract the orcs, sow some confusion (after all, there were only six of us!), but when I suggested using lighted arrows to set fire to the roofs of the houses in the village, Four Feather hollered something about “how would I like to be set on fire??” and stalked off into the woods. She didn’t return, and I was left to wonder how to signal her at dusk, presuming she was even in position!

We worked our way up to the edge of the woods by the village, which had been cleared for a good space that we’d have to run across. I wanted to see more, and tried to sneak up, but was loud enough to make the orc in the watchtower turn for a good look. Thank Moradin someone had put the elven cloak on me - I stayed still, and he didn’t see me. We did get the chance to observe that the orcs were living in the caves above the mine, and the slaves in the houses in the village. Made the firing plan a moot point!

Darkness fell, finally, and as they began to light torches, we walked up to the edge of the woods. Drusilia blessed us all, and Trap got ready to sprint for the houses. I stepped into the light, raised my arm, dropped it down and we all began to run, hoping Four Feather would understand. As we charged, I saw her break from the trees and head for the watchtower - our first mistake, as I had thought she was close enough to shoot the orc right away!

The orc, therefore, had a chance to sound the alarm. We ran through a hail of arrows and javelins, and finally, into hand-to-hand combat. Four Feather did shoot the watchtower orc, which got rid of one sniper. I saw Drusilia drop another with one arrow. I managed to kill my first orc when two together dropped me.

Drusilia healed me enough to wake me up, and I healed myself some more as I staggered to my feet to meet a charge of orcs! Three big ones had appeared from the caves, apparently the leaders, and Drusilia was shooting arrows at them as Fafnir, Valon (singing), Four Feather, and I were fighting up close. There was still nothing from the slave cabins, but I saw orcs hunting over in the village and had to assume that Trap had been discovered. Fafnir used his wand of colorspray, causing several orcs to fall stunned, and I managed to charge up and kill the one looming over him before he got smashed.

At this point things got very bad. I saw Four Feather go down, even as I took some serious blows. Valon was badly hurt, yet lying on the ground singing to raise our spirits, and I heard a scream from Trap, which let me know he was alive, at least, but I couldn’t know for how long. Fafnir and I were hacking away and Drusilia was reduced to shooting the orcs right on top of her as she tried to protect Valon. The last orc I fought managed to drop me, again.

So much for the carefully argued out plan and surprise attack. Oh, Grun, some leader I make, to get everyone into such trouble!

Drusilia healed me again, and I woke to a much quieter scene. There was one big orc left, running for the mine entrance, with a manic halfling behind him. I decided to follow, worried about Trap, though I needn’t have been! I caught up with them in the mine, as the orc turned and snarled something quite rude at the halfling, who promptly shot him to death! We asked the slaves if there were any more orcs, but they said that all had run outside at the sound of the alarm. I checked the quarters above quickly, while Trap told me how he’d been attacked in the village, and fought back with just his bow and arrow, killing every one of his attackers as they chased him around the buildings. I’m really impressed - he must have a lot of natural talent to do that with the little training I’d managed to give him so far.

Trap went off with some keys to free the rest of the slaves, and I went to see how everyone else had fared during the battle. Everyone was back on their feet. Except.. for Four Feather. She was too far gone for even Drusilia to save. I feel just terrible. I didn’t get a chance to find out why she was so upset, I didn’t get a chance to tell her she was right not to fire the houses, and I didn’t try hard enough to contact her before the battle, to settle where she was and how to signal. I just let it slide and hoped for the best, and got her killed, not to mention the close calls that the rest of us had.

I prayed over her body, and Valon decided to take her back to town for proper burial. I can’t blame him - he’s been too close to death himself several times, with this party!

The slaves told us that they were mining iron ore for a witch-lord over the mountain. They can’t leave the valley, due to magical iron collars he made to keep them there. We need to save these people and whomever else this “lord” is exploiting. Our map will have to wait.

Unexpectedly, one of the slaves is able to go with us - and is eager for it! He’s a halfling - apparently has some of Trap’s talents, as he’d been able to either keep the collar from activating properly, or fiddled with it enough to break it, I don’t know which. He’s pretty angry about being stuck as slave labor, however, and I hope he can somewhat replace our double loss of Valon and Four Feather.

So, we’re resting here for the night, and going on in the morning, I for one am sadder and wiser - I hope! May Moradin forgive and assist me!

With love,

Posted by Kate on January 23, 2003, 13:15

Day 6

Dearest Grun,

Well, we had a quiet night at the former slaves’ camp. They gave us all the information they had; namely, the way to the witch lord’s home. They used to drag loads of iron ore there, so the road was easy to follow (more large, ugly totem poles helped, too).

We found a village of about 50 huts, with a watchtower in the middle. As we discussed possible ways to attack, Korin, the new halfling, began to walk right on in. Obviously, he wouldn’t understand how our lack of proper planning ended in disaster at the mine, but it was still a very frustrating moment — because Trap went after him, and Trap ought to know!

I followed them, within distance of a crossbow shot, but I didn’t try to catch up. I was afraid of what I’d say or do if I did. I didn’t ask Drusilia or Fafnir to follow; no need for them to get killed, too.

The halflings checked all of three huts on the way to the watchtower’s door. The huts seemed to be empty, and the halflings were more interested in getting the door open (more of a challenge than the leather flaps to the huts’ entrances, I guess), as they started prying at it with a crowbar rather than check the other huts. I stayed back, trying to watch everything at once, and saw that Drusilia and Fafnir were working on checking the other huts instead, thank Moradin.

Meanwhile, after no luck prying, and no sign of a lock to pick, the halflings wanted me to come and work on the door. I refused — waiting for the all clear on the rest of the huts. Korin started hollering instead — like I couldn’t understand their waving! Frustrated, I admit I did sight in on him with my crossbow.. for heavens’ sake, why wasn’t he more worried that there was no sign of life here, to be making so much noise?

Trap tied a rope to the bar and began flinging it upwards at the windows of the tower. This made a fair amount of noise.. as did the hollering and laughter when he managed to bash himself in the head. I guess that was enough noise for the place. The flap of the hut next to me was swept aside as a large, undead orc came shuffling into the light. Ugh! And many more appeared at the same time. So much for getting to check on the huts..

I shot off a bolt and managed to miss, then pulled out Mother’s holy symbol. I called on Moradin to no avail, and pulled out my axe. That, of course, always works well! Drusilia turned many orcs away, as I fought off several more. Fafnir and Trap were shooting them from the steps of the tower, and suddenly Korin was fighting at my side. He isn’t bad.. I just wish he were more sensible of danger before!

Fafnir, unexpectedly, grabbed the rope, swallowed something, and began to climb right up the wall! I knew he’d been working on some potions, and got my first look at how useful they could be. Meanwhile, the undead orcs continued to arrive — there were too many to fight, so I was really hoping Fafnir found a safe place in the tower! There were so many, in fact, that I was inspired to try to turn them away again — and this time, it worked! It gave us enough space to make a run for the tower steps; a good thing, as I had to drag poor Korin - he’d taken one too many hits.

As I reached the bottom of the stairs I was forced to turn and fight again. Trap came down and dragged Korin up the stairs, and Drusilia began to climb the rope (so Fafnir was successful, and upstairs was better off than here!). I turned the zombies away one more time, and gained just enough time to start climbing the rope with Trap close behind. The zombies thumped against the door below, but had no more success at getting in than our halflings before..

The roof was empty except for some broken down equipment, and a trap door in the middle. Trap opened this and entered, while Korin decided to get back at the zombies by lighting the old balista on fire and pushing it onto the undead below. I really didn’t get it, so I climbed down the ladder and left him to his own devices for the time being.

We found some old unused rooms and bedrooms, which Trap just had to search. I took a quick look around and decided to check out the staircase. It didn’t make sense to me, to search bedrooms when the witch lord could be anywhere in the place, waiting for us! Korin appeared from nowhere and came with me. Again, I can’t figure out if he’s more of a benefit or a drawback! Maybe he doesn’t know yet, either.

We walked into a stench that proved to be a roomful of undead orcs, again. Of course we attacked, and the sounds of our fighting brought Drusilia and Fafnir to help, which made it easy to pick them off. We are back to the upstairs, resting a moment, and hopefully on our way to finish off the evil in this place.

If we can keep everyone (ie. the halflings) on the same page, that is..

With love;

Posted by Kate on February 16, 2003, 15:57

Day 6 continued, Day 7

Dearest Grun,

Well, it’s been an eventful couple of days!

We finished resting for a moment, and returned to searching the upstairs. Witch-lord or no, Trap wasn’t going to be happy until he found something. He finally discovered a spellbook-looking tome, and we headed downstairs while he worked out how to open it. We found Korin had stayed down in the formerly orc-infested room, lit a fire, and was cooking rations over it. At least he was using the fireplace, but he was also using the furniture for fuel. Ah, well..

There was a large boom from upstairs and a singed smell — we ran up to find Trap, miraculously unhurt, with the book open before him. I can’t say as much for the state of the rest of the room but at least he’s learning to duck better! Apparently the book was more of a journal — yet another person is/was looking for the Heart of Nerull. It also sounds like we’re only a few days behind them..

As we talked abut the contents of the book, we were accompanied by the sounds of crashing from downstairs, as Korin broke up more furniture. I was about to head down to tell him to stop making so much noise — again! — when there came a sudden shout of “I didn’t touch it!”.. then silence.. and then Trap and Fafnir heard the sounds of a fight. We ran down yet again — getting plenty of exercise, eh? — to see Korin being attacked by an undead elf. This thing was apparently more powerful than the previous orcs, as it hit Korin twice and weakened him terribly. We killed it, but he looked so pale and awful I actually picked him up for a closer look to be sure he wasn’t turning undead himself!

He was OK, but we decided to barricade ourselves in a room for a day to give him a chance to recover. I haven’t the heart to chew him out, even; he’s paid dearly for his mistake this time!

The next day, Korin seemed better, although Drusilia says it will take time for him to really recover fully. We went on downstairs, although Korin surprised me by actually offering me the other end of a rope that he’d tied to himself. An unusual way of trying to stay out of trouble, but I didn’t object; at least I’ll know he’s within 50 feet of me! Trap looked miffed — but I remember he was offended when I tied him to a line, before — and Fafnir is now convinced we’re a tripping hazard. I’ve had to retie the line a couple of times after it was “accidentally” cut.

On a nice side note — Trap checked the last couple of rooms quickly, finding old clothes and such, but one door he checked shot a lightning bolt through the room (and several of us. And the metal ladder to the roof.).. yet the room itself was full of garbage. Drusilia healed Trap up, and he searched that room like a halfling possessed, and wouldn’t you know — he came up with a very nice little sword? It may be holy, it has a symbol of Pelor on it, and Drusilia’s promised to tell him all about her god later. In the meantime, he adopted it for his very own.

The next floor down had one dead ogre (with one odd-looking dagger, Trap gave it to Korin) and a very rotten-smelling kitchen, so we went on to the ground floor and finally reached the other side of the main door to the place! We discussed going to get Mule, who must be pretty thirsty by now, but decided to finish checking the tower before dealing with the remainder of the undead orcs shuffling outside.

The cellar had several closed doors and a well in the middle of the floor. Korin liked the well a lot (I was glad we still had the rope line!).. and then Trap began to open doors. He opened one to a glowing blue light, and walked right in! As we hesitated outside, we heard him holler something like, “Death, you foul thing!” and off he charged. We ran into a large laboratory full of odd things, especially a spinning, glowing blue crystal in the middle of the room! Trap was attacking two undead elves with his new sword (which did an amazing amount of damage. He’s got a very nice new toy!), and Drusilia turned one to dust even as the other let off a spell that hit Trap pretty hard.

Fafnir cast a flaming sphere at the remaining elf, as I charged by Trap (who was just standing a moment, ignoring the pain, yelling at the top of his lungs about the wonderful properties of his new sword), Drusilia set up for more holy magic, and Korin looked in the door, recognized some former friends of his, and walked back to the well for a bucket of water. Must be shock of some kind. The undead elf was pretty creepy — his face kept falling off — but he sent out a nasty black wave of magic that slammed us all pretty hard!

Fafnir let his fireball drift a moment while he smashed the crystal — which for some reason actually made the evil elf happy! I stepped around the sphere and let him have it for all I was worth, concerned that if he was pleased by the crystal’s destruction, we were all in real trouble! While it was distracted by me, Drusilia turned it well, and it cowered in a corner long enough for us all to finish it off. What a relief! For after finding some disturbing notes in the place, we found out the “elf” was a human, the witch-lord himself, whose magic had gone very wrong, and trapped him in the room and driven him mad. He was actually wearing the skin of one of Korin’s former elf friends! The magic users also found some new toys, but I wasn’t too interested in that, as I realized Korin was missing, yet again.

Up the steps I went, Trap helping me search, but we found no sign of him until the top floor when we heard him on the roof. We managed to make it up the twisted ladder, and found to our relief that all the undead orcs had collapsed outside! We could also see Mule wandering around, so Trap went to get him while Korin and I covered him with our bows drawn. I thought Fafnir and Drusilia were still downstairs playing with their new magic items, when the gnome suddenly leapt through the open trap door. And I mean leapt — to my surprise, he shot thirty or more feet into the air, and fell screaming down on top of me! I actually caught him in time, or that might have been his only trial of his new magic ring. I’d have swatted him more but I was laughing too hard.

Trap having returned with Mule, we went downstairs for one last search; although the place already felt cleansed of its evil, Korin had told me he wanted to see his friends buried decently. Trap tired a new door in the cellar and fled screaming away, which worried me that we’d missed something after all, so I carefully went into the room.. it was very sad. He’d found the remains of the elf who’d lost his skin to the witchlord’s madness. Carefully, I closed the door and went upstairs to get some blankets to wrap him in, along with the dust and other remains of Korin’s elf companions. When I returned, I found he’d wandered in. I held my breath, for fear he’d put two and two together, but thank Moradin! He didn’t get it. I wrapped the bodies up and told him I was going to bury them outside, so we went and did so, and said a prayer over them.

Korin wanted to check out a longhouse in the village while we were out there, so we walked over. (By the way, he’s found himself a battleaxe almost as big as he is, and named it Modge. I’m supposed to help him learn to wield it better!). We found a crudely-built forge, and old half-finished weaponry. It didn’t look to have been worked in years, which makes me wonder where all the mined ore was going. I fear we’ll find out, from the way things are going!

Finally, the party decided to return to the mine, hoping that one of the magic items they’d discovered would release the slaves from their collars. Fafnir now has on a pair of gauntlets that make him harder to hit — he tested them out by sparring with me, and I’m impressed! It’s a very useful thing for him, and more practical than his new ring (at least until he learns how to land!). They gave Korin an iron ring; I don’t know what it does but I hope it helps him stay out of trouble! Trap’s looking positively cautious and careful by comparison, at this point.

We were blessed by luck — a scepter with a ruby in it caused the collars to open and freed the slaves. I promptly snapped the collars shut and threw them in the lake, much to Fafnir’s disgust, but although we might have sold them or made good use of them I found them too evil to be used again, for any reason. Hope he understands.

And so, we’re resting in the village, and all will move on tomorrow. The slaves are already planning how to get home, and we are preparing the follow our map again to the Heart of Nerull!

I hope you’re praying for me, Grun — I don’t like these goings-on being so close to our home. I hope you never learn about these evils until after we succeed and you read these notes!

Walking with Moradin,

Posted by Kate on February 23, 2003, 13:34

Day 8-10?

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 on March 1, 2003, 14:31

Day 11

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 on March 15, 2003, 00:10

Days 12-14

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 on March 22, 2003, 23:29

Oh... Who Cares What Day It Is?

Dearest Grun,

This may be the last time I get to write to you, my cousin! While I knew I had quite a long letter to write in order to catch up on what’s been happening, I didn’t dream I’d be writing it while waiting to perhaps turn into a monster. I’d write out a proper will, but I expect that the party will divide up my belongings amongst themselves as soon as they’ve killed me. My mother’s holy symbol, I pray, will be taken home to Father, at least.

To start where I left off..

We got started without any more sight or sound of wolves, and no lasting effects from their bites except Korin’s new propensity to chew on my arm and growl threateningly. I’m pretty sure it was just a new idea working its way through his brain in its usual wayward manner, as Drusilia had cast a spell to remove any diseases on us all. We walked half a day, turning onto an old road that seemed to lead toward our destination. As the sun began to set, we came to a bridge, and despite Korin trying to pretend to be a troll under it (?!), we heard the sounds of fighting up ahead. We came around a turn to find two leprous dwarves whose party, they said, had been attacked by an ettin and taken away. We followed the trail to a cave entrance and got into quite a fight with the ettin, discovering it was also undead. It hit both me and Jonathan very hard, but Drusilia’s holy magic and Fafnir’s lightning bolt weakened it to the point that we could take it out. While Fafnir climbed onto the ceiling (an odd sight), I went searching for the other dwarves.

Instead of dwarves, I was accosted by two very ugly, grey things, one of which tried to bribe me with promises of gold if we would just let them leave in peace. As I tried to question them, Drusilia shouted not to trust them, and Korin came charging into the cave shouting about it being a trap (or Trap?), and fired off two arrows into the things. They immediately attacked me, and we had to kill them before finding out anything more. Korin then explained that the two dwarves we’d met on the road had turned into “scaly badness,” then made smoke and left, so he’d figured out the rest of the situation was a trap, too. Good for Korin — I’d only seen they were dwarves, and not questioned the rest. A lesson for me, about how to treat strangers in the wilds! Fafnir found a box and weapons in the back of the cave on a ledge, and Korin happily pushed them all over onto the floor, then fell himself while holding a javelin, although I managed to catch him (yikes!). We counted out the treasure and spent the rest of the night at the mouth of the cave.

The next morning we continued on toward the City of the Dead, carrying Korin’s various weapons while he scouted on ahead. We came to a Y in the road with his spear pointed toward the direction of an ancient fortress of dwarven make, up on a plateau. Drusilia thought we were very close to the City, along the other turning. I didn’t want to wonder what might come out of the fortress behind us if we went to the city first, so we followed Korin’s lead and headed up the road. Atfer pushing the doors open, setting off some crossbolt traps, and finding a beautiful but abandoned hall, we ended up in a battle with several terrible shadows, which drained Jon’s life to the point where he couldn’t even stand up in his own armor! They drained me, too, and we were all relieved to get out of there when Drusilia either destroyed or turned them away for a little while. As it was nearly night, we camped outside the fortress, hoping the things were not inclined to leave it. Korin decided to try out the sword of Pelor, since this is what Drusilia said it was meant to be used for, and headed back in alone. None of us were in a physical or mental state to stop him, but he soon returned, saying the sword worked quite well! I’m glad for him, but I hope it doesn’t inspire the madness it did in Trap and Drusilia. Would I be able to tell?

Of course, we were wrong about the shadows, which attacked during the night. Luckily, Korin’s sword and a magical spear someone handed me could destroy them, as could Drusilia’s and Fafnir’s magics. Finally, we did get some sleep!

Pardon me, Grun, I must tell you it’s helping me keep my mind off everything to write to you like this, just like everything’s going on as usual. I hate to think my adventuring could end like this! I always imagined either a hero’s death or living to a ripe old age, full of stories. Not being killed by my own party after turning into a .. thing. I’ve made it through the first few hours all right, but I have to wait nearly a day before I know I’m safe, or until Drusilia can pray for a spell to heal me first! The worry has made me totally unfit for company; I hope the others can forgive me for hollering at them and writing to you instead.

The next morning, we decided to return to the stronghold. I had seen the effects of a spell Drusilia was casting on Jon’s sword that made it harm the shadows badly, and learned how to do it to my axe, which I was looking forward to trying out. Korin wanted to find the armory, and Jon wanted to check out the upstairs, and I figured the upstairs would be over with quickly so we went that way first. Sure enough, there wasn’t much to be found but old and useless equipment, and we were attacked again by shadows, both in the mess hall and the barracks. Korin was weakened to the point that he took off his armor, saying it was too heavy, and I was hit hard, too. I feel less healthy than I am used to, and you know dwarves are known for their strong constitutions! Jonathan became convinced the proportions of the walls were off, so we began to search, and sure enough I found a secret door with stairs leading downwards. We all descended.

At the bottom, Grun, we found a wonderful thing! A dwarven Hall of Heroes like I haven’t seen before! There were hundreds of statues and names, and I wish I had the talent for storytelling, to give my companions some idea of the history that was represented there. As it were, they walked through it far too quickly, and were ready to try the set of doors at the other end long before I was done musing. As I approached the doors, to my surprise, the helmet from the kobolds began to glow, and the doors to open! This was a relief, as they, too, were covered with artwork, and I would rather the party hadn’t tried to force them. Unfortunately, as we walked the hallway, Korin set off a trap, and the ceiling fell in. We ran for the opposite end, and now we’re trapped underground with no way to go but forward.

Moving forward, we found another huge chamber, this one with a 40 foot chasm broken through the center and the bones of many dwarves fallen in battle. I said a prayer for them. A broken bridge had reached across the gap, and across the way we could see a ghostly re-enactment of these brave dwarves’ last battle against the shadows and some sort of flying creatures. As we talked over how to get across, Drusilia kicked a little dirt over the edge, and suddenly could hear flapping from below! We prepared for a fight.. and a dreadful thing happened. Flying, screaming, horrible heads with wings came out of the chasm, and I was frozen with fear. (So was Jon, but I didn’t know that until later.) The others attacked, but one of the things proceeded to chew on me until Drusilia hacked it in two!

I was sick in a corner for a while. Ugh. ugh, nasty thing!

And then Drusilia admitted the truth — that I’d probably been infected by its “kiss,” and would become one within a day! She can heal me, but it will take her nearly a day, too, to build up the magical power! And I’m already weakened by the fights with the shadows..

Jonathan grabbed me just before I jumped. I’m sorry, Grun, at that moment I lost all hope, and couldn’t think of a better thing to do than spare us all that horror.

The others realized that there was nothing to do but wait, and set about exploring the area for the rest of the day. Korin climbed across the chasm, using one of Fafnir’s potions, and set about collecting anything that the others said looked magical. He also kept up a running patter about what parts of my gear he wanted to have. I was not amused, but he didn’t get it, and wondered why I kept throwing rocks at him. They found some javelins, and I took one to wedge into a crack into the floor so I could impale myself if I had to. Korin found a suit of plate mail and they offered it to me, but I was in such a bad mood I yelled at them about it — why give me more protection if they have to kill me? So Korin is now wearing it (he did need it, after all, and it shrank to fit him). They insisted I take a nice dwarven urgrosh, which I accepted — I won’t be able to use it if I become a flying head with wings, anyway.

So, here I am, in the corner, writing to you, checking to see if my hair is falling out, and generally snarling at anyone else who comes near. I hope you, at least, will be able to see why I can’t see the point of giving me stuff when I’m waiting to grow wings! I’m also doing a lot of praying. May Moradin give me strength!

There, it’s taken me most of the night to catch up with you — I couldn’t have slept, anyway. And I’m still here and myself! I hope Drusilia is able to heal me, soon, and I can get back to my normal life, such as it is!

With much love and hope,

P.S. — Drusilia healed me this morning, and says I’ll be OK. Fafnir, even, gave me a ring of protection of some sort, which was nice of him, and I hope it keeps anything like this from ever happening again!

Posted by Kate on April 13, 2003, 15:53

Moving On...

Dearest Grun,

Well, we’re about to be on the move again. It’s been an eventful couple of hours, so I’ll catch you up while we’re catching our breath!

We worked our way across the chasm this morning, which would have been much more difficult if not for Fafnir and his potion of spiderclimb. We had a nice setup with a couple of ropes to walk on and to grip, but the top rope kept coming loose and nearly pitched a couple of members headlong into the deep (insert much arguing about rope-tying skills, here). Finally, as I watched, I discovered that some malevolent force was untying the top rope’s knot! Of course, no one else saw it, but Korin announced that a dwarf ghost was laughing a lot next to me. How that squares with the ghosts “being happy to see me” before, I don’t know! Still, between Fafnir bringing the rope back over a few times, and Jonathan using a third rope as a safety line, we did all make it across in the end.

Korin sounds a lot more stressed since he started using the sword. At first he was thrilled with it, but now he keeps hollering at us and accusing us of not listening to him. The problem is that he shouts his ideas very fast, and gets impatient when we try to ask him to repeat it. When I tried to explain this, he stomped off ahead of us. He also punctuates his demands for us to follow him with statements like, “I’m not giving you my sword back!” Sound worrisome to you, yet? Poor Drusilia, I really do respect her god, but that sword... hrmm.

Korin also told me he wished to be a dwarven paladin. I wonder if it has anything to do with all the dwarves’ souls he feels he’s liberating — does he think someone’s giving him guidance ala Trap?

We walked up the passageway, finding a (sprung) meat tenderizer trap, many undead dwarves and Jon’s tendency to use new magic items “just to see what happens,” in this case a javelin that turned into a lightning bolt. Startling, to be sure; lucky for him it missed me! The new urgrosh isn’t a bad weapon at all, although I do love my mithril waraxe best.

Jon later found a pit trap, which we all either had to jump over (or be thrown across, in Korin’s case). I jumped IN, argh. Not my best moment. On the other hand, when the next room we entered came alive with shadows, and I destroyed them all, that was a very good moment! Unfortunately, two more showed up, and possessed Fafnir and Jon, and caused Korin to drop his sword (!) and run screaming away. Drusilia and I were immediately attacked by the rest of our own party! I tried using the damned sword, Grun, thinking it might drive the shadow out of Jon, but it didn’t work. Hope it didn’t do anything odd to me. Eventually we figured out that if we knocked them out, the shadows would leave their bodies, and we managed to fight them off. Lucky for us that the shadows couldn’t make use of Fafnir’s spells while possessing him! Jon nearly killed me, as it was! Korin returned in the middle of the fight, trying to help hold Fafnir, but got in the way enough to get knocked out, himself. Now he’s refused to take the sword back. I think I’m relieved...

We found that this room has several doors, leading to rooms and passageways. I think I know which one leads towards the City of the Dead, and since we need to keep moving, we might as well pick a goal. I know we don’t have much firepower left at this point, but when these things can pass through walls there seems to be little point in barricading ourselves into a room and resting here.

Wish us luck, Grun!

Posted by Kate on April 20, 2003, 11:42

Back to “Normal”

Dearest Grun,

I’d have to actually say that, no pun intended, things have gone seriously downhill in our adventure. I’m really worried about Korin, and I have to wonder with what degree the rest of the party are now regarding each other with suspicion. Yet, we’re still alive, still moving, and maybe we’ll get out of here, yet!

We started off down the hallway I’d chosen, and almost immediately came to a wall of darkness. Even I could not see through it or into it. We glimpsed a shadow coming through a nearby wall, too, which made us decide to check out the other passageways before attempting this one.

The next hallway we tried was the one leading in the opposite direction. It sloped down, which made me think of the meat tenderizer... so I looked up. Thank Moradin that I did! And, thankfully, I had taken the precaution of tying Korin to a rope again before he roamed ahead. I hollered and he stopped, having NOT set off the trap that was right above my head!

Korin came back — carefully! — and I found a lever in the wall that I hoped would deactivate the trap. We were none of us too confident that this was so, so after Fafnir flew down the hall (literally), and Jon walked with great confidence, the rest of us ran down it as quickly as we could just in case it went off. Korin and I raced the last.

There was a T junction at the end of the hall, with passages in one direction and great double doors to the other. The doors were what we checked first, opening into a big throne room with tapestries and dwarven skeletons.. which came to life and attacked us. Korin, for some reason, decided to try to turn the things.. to no effect.

Drusilia turned them, except for the “king” skeleton, and we did kill it in the end. It had a magical axe, which Jonathan decided to take and try to learn to use. We looked around the room, discovering an archway into another room with four dwarven statures in the corners. Jon, Korin and I walked toward the arch at the other end, but made it halfway into the room and Wham!

I woke up back in the other room. Drusilia had bravely reached into the room and dragged Jon out, he being closest to the door. And Jon had actually volunteered to go back into the room, knowing he’d be hit by lightning bolts, to rescue Korin and myself before we bled to death. We were all very weakened by it, however, and decided to rest and sort ourselves out before going any further.

One of the things I did was let Korin borrow my mithril waraxe. He won’t touch the magic sword now, and had lost any other hand-to-hand combat weapons. It was hard to give up... but he needs something to fight with! Drusilia wanted to try out the healing properties of said sword, which unnerved Fafnir to the point that he actually flung it across the lightning bolt room to end the argument and get some rest. Fafnir’s gotten short-tempered, too...

Partway through the night, we were attacked by oozes from the lightning room. They came right under the door I had slammed shut, and we were reduced to dragging Jon away while Fafnir and Korin fought. One ooze nearly got Korin, but Drusilia rescued him. Finally, we dispatched the creatures, and got some rest.

Waking up the next morning, we got the chance to pray and heal our party. We attempted the lightning room with several theories, ranging from throwing tapestries over the statues to trying to pull one over with a rope. My rope is now shorter than before... Finally, everyone began simply racing across the room for dear life. Fafnir even got the sword stuck in him for a while (which he ignored for some time - made a strange picture)! Once Fafnir and Jon were across, they immediately headed down a hallway and attmpted the door at the other end. Korin went berserk — shouted about his “precious,” raced through the lightning bolts and tried to steal Jon’s new waraxe! I guess that’s his new weapon of choice...

I was the last to try the room.. and nothing happened when I walked in. When alone, the statues seem to leave me, the dwarf, at peace! If I’d only known!

The hallway opened onto a pit with a winding, crumbling staircase downward. We decided to descend, reached a gap in the stairs, which I tried to leap and failed. Just not much for jumping, eh, Grun? Luckily, I still had the other end of the rope tied around me, and Jon’s quick reflexes saved me from a bad fall. As Jon pulled me back up, though, we heard flapping in the distance. Oh, no...

So, we turned around to go back up, and found a crazed Korin at the top of the stairs waving a loaded crossbow at us all. He demanded Jon’s waraxe, again! This is really going too far. Instead of caving in, I got Jon to lower me (in a controlled fashion) to the next level of steps, while Fafnir passed out potions to help everyone else climb down safely. We left the halfling to think over his actions while we tried to get out of the way of whatever was flapping toward us, which luckily was just a huge flock of bats... no flying heads this time.

At the bottom of the pit is a huge cavern, and it seems we’re going to explore it. While Korin climbed down the wall, I talked to Jon about letting him take the axe for a while. It’s just Korin’s usual habits — he gets obsessed with a weapon (remember Modge?), then tires of it and goes on to another. Jon was not willing to let it go, though, which considering Korin’s recent behavior makes a lot of sense. At this point he’s keeping as far from Korin as he can. So, I tried to talk to Korin, and got nowhere. He keeps changing the subject rather than think seriously about the consequences of his actions! It really makes me sad, because he’s going to get in trouble and who’s going to bail him out when he’ll just be threatening us again later?

Well, we’re all ready to go again. Off to see where these caverns lead!

With love,

Posted by Kate on April 27, 2003, 07:44

Eyes Wide Open

Dearest Grun,

We’ve made it to the City of the Dead.

Quite an accomplishment in itself, but I wonder if you’ll ever get the chance to read this? We’re in danger and still not back to working as a group — in some ways, further than ever from it!

The morning began with some healing magic. Drusilia talked Jonathan into trying out the magic sword’s “healing” properties, and it actually worked — so well, in fact, that I gave it a try, too. We must have been quite a sight (judging by Fafnir’s muttering); two fighters being hacked at by an elven cleric, but it did heal us very well! Korin spent the time talking to his invisible friends in a corner, adamantly refusing to have anything to do with the sword.

Healed, we traveled down the cavern. Gradually, it formed into worked tunnels and cross-passages, and the floor became smooth — with regular holes in it. I decided they used to have tracks, although why the tracks were pulled up I couldn’t guess. Of course, a little further on we ran into a rust monster and the mystery was solved! Instead of helping defend the party, Korin continued talking to his friends — to the point of making vaguely threatening statements about us even as we tried to get his attention. I am NOT amused by this development.

In fact, Grun, I’m trying to talk to Korin as little as possible right now. I told him flat out that as long as he is going to talk more to people no one else can see than to his own flesh and blood party members, much less threatening said flesh and blood party members, I see no reason to try to talk to him. He blew me off, but maybe he knows where I stand. He’s got to choose, one of these days.

Jon threw his other javelin of lightning bolts at the creature to spare our metal armor and weapons, and chased it away. I knew that one rust monster guaranteed an infestation, and urged the party to keep moving instead of chasing just one down. As we hurried along, we heard more coming up behind and to the sides. We were forced to stop and defend ourselves once more, and lost Korin’s magical armor to the creatures. At least it slowed them down long enough for us to get away.

Finally we reached a large cavern and saw metal tracks reappearing in the middle — and several torn-apart rust monsters. I don’t know what killed them. It was quiet at the moment, with five exits to choose from. I picked the central tunnel, hoping to lead us outside. Instead, we found a huge chasm across the passage. It must be one of the unholy rifts torn open by our ancestors in the wars; it was filled with a red mist and smelled of sulfur. Korin, naturally, just had to climb down instead of leaving well enough alone. Jon, bless him, helped me go after the foolhardy halfling, and got his axe grabbed for his trouble! They wrestled for it at the edge, and as soon as Jon got it back he called to us that something was coming from below!

We killed the giant humanoid centipedes without too much trouble, for once, crossed the chasm (Fafnir’s potions to the rescue, again), and continued up the tunnel. The rift had one more surprise for us, however — two ugly spheres with hands and feet, from what I could see, were following us. Fafnir dispatched them both with a lightning bolt, although he gave poor Drusilia a good shock, too. She happened to be standing on the rails. Finally, after much walking, we reached a large set of doors smashed outwards, and saw a cavern beyond them, full of sunlight! Even I was pleased to see the light of day once more!

We found ourselves at the top of a cliff face, looking over a valley with a ruined city; presumably the City of the Dead. It was already sunset, so we spent a quiet night at the top of the path. In the morning, we decided to head for one of the less ruined structures, a tower in the center of the city. Korin went tearing off ahead of us, yelling about Trap being “back,” disappearing into the city.. and then yelling about dead people. Crying “wolf,” we presumed, until he came racing back at a speed I didn’t know halflings could attain, with shuffling creatures in pursuit. We attacked them while he puked.

We killed the things, but one had paralyzed Korin in the process. Drusilia set to healing him (ignoring Fafnir’s urging to use the sword on him, since he hates the sword).. and a horrible thing happened! Instead of healing, Korin turned into a rotting corpse before our eyes! Even Jon felt badly, I was anguished after all the cold shoulder I’d been trying to give him, and poor Drusilia — she didn’t know how her god could have turned against her so thoroughly.

I knelt to pray over Korin’s remains, and shockingly, he sprang back to life!

Unfortunately for Fafnir, I somehow realized it was one of his illusions. Remember the dragon “attacking” the kobolds? He has the worst timing for his little jokes! Exasperated, I backhanded him as he doubled over laughing, which confused Jon, and when I explained, Jon smacked him one, too! It wasn’t very nice, as we both don’t always know our own strength when we’re mad, and Fafnir retaliated by lightning bolting us both and flying away! Luckily, it was also an illusion, but still a shock, and I’m glad he got off the ground and out of reach; all we could do was holler at him until we calmed down.

We decided to take a break and get ourselves sorted out before heading any further into the city. Drusilia especially needed a breather, but she’s looking a little less pale at this point. I think Fafnir even realized he pushed her too far. Korin, too, seems to have settled down somewhat, so maybe this will get us all onto the same page. I only hope it’s enough to keep ourselves alive in this place!

Walking with Moradin,
With love,

Posted by Kate on May 11, 2003, 00:37

Missing Home Today...

Dearest Grun,

What an awful day. I don’t know how else to describe it. This morning I’ll try to put it in words.

Yesterday, we waited for Korin’s paralyzation to wear off so we could continue as a group. He’s now fixating on Drusilia; started right off asking her for “special” healing before we moved on. Fiinally, we headed for the tower, again.

His new fixation didn’t stop him from being obsessed with Jonathan (and the axe), and poor Jon had a hard time of it between being nervous about the total silence, and being protected by Korin. That is, when Korin wasn’t talking to invisible people, or to his goddess, or painting her symbol on MY axe with mud...!

When we reached the tower, we found a temple to Nerull, and we entered a large hall with throne and altar. The altar began to murmur, causing Drusilia and Korin to stop to listen to it, even as a shadow creature rose from the altar and attacked Jon in front of it! I shook Drusilia out of her trance and ran for the altar. I don’t know what she did to get its attention, but even as Jon and I got a few shots in, it flew over us and went for her across the room. We chased after, Fafnir hit it with his magic missiles, and Korin watched it all, bemused. Drusilia dispatched it with her sword, but not before it had weakened poor Jon with its magic.

Jon was angry about being hurt by the creature - he knocked over its altar in search of treasure, then smashed open one of the doors in the walls and explored the room by knocking about, leaving me to wonder what had happened to the rest of his common sense? We finished exploring the upstairs, then took a set of stairs to the basement. We found a room with a seal of Nerull on the floor, and a set of doors with glowing runes beyond it! Jon promptly walked across the seal to check out the doors, and we saw him practically wilt right in front of us! I called to him to come back against the wall, and not to touch the seal again, but he tripped. He looked so terrible at this point, I didn’t know what to do! Korin kept muttering and poking at Drusilia while she tried to help Jon, then wandered back up the stairs while I peered at the doors. Just as I noticed an indentation in the center, Fafnir stated that “it sounds like the halfling is on fire, again.” We went tearing up the stairs. How many times have I written that???

As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw Korin being attacked by a burning skeleton across the room, and another popped up before us and set most of the rest of the party on fire. Jon dropped, and I was hurting too until Drusilia doused us all with water from somewhere... the creature fled when Korin killed its partner. We then stabbed each other with that sword for a while (I can just picture you shaking your head at this, Grun), and Korin finally decided to keep the sword again. I hope it helps his state of mind without making him as snarly as last time! He immediately showed some improvement; when I described the dent in the door, he suggested that the key may be in one of the other buildings that are still whole. A good idea, and I’ll just ignore the fact that he also thinks the candle stubs from the temple may well be the key, too.

As we walked through the town, we heard movement, and caught sight of several things coming at us. We set ourselves back-to-back with Fafnir in the middle, although Korin decided to moon the creatures from his position, and waited for the ghoulish firgures to attack. Drusilia dusted half of them, while we attacked the rest. Jon was paralyzed, but as things started to look a little ugly, Drusilia dusted them all. On a side note, Korin was trying to turn the things, and seems to think he was the one to do it. Drusilia did the job from behind him, and motioned for me to be quiet about it! I think that halfling is trying to become a cleric, and Drusilia’s helping! I hope she knows what she’s doing. Trying to talk to him about it resulted in him weeping with frustration and me carrying him along.. but I guess it’s better for him to be talking to his goddess than some of the other things he seems to see.

We reached the barracks, and Korin insisted on climbing the outside while we went around to the back door. Jon got a little frustrated and chopped it to bits, then reached in to pull the bar to open the door.. and something clawed his hand. I didn’t think he could look much worse, but he did after that! He kicked the door in in a rage, and Fafnir lightning bolted most of the hallway full of undead. Jon dropped the last one and walked in.. right into a room full of writhing tentacles and undead minions. We attacked.. and of course they grabbed Jon first. I got grabbed by a tentacle even as the first squeezed Jon to death in a horrible manner! It was a terrible way to go, yet gave me the strength to free myself and crawl away. Poor Jonathan. We don’t even know who to send news of him to.. if we survive..

I reached a corner and braced myself for an attack.. four tentacles hit me.. and everything stopped making sense.

It’s really hard to describe. It was awful! I kind of recognized friends, and I remember Korin was really nice to me, but it was like I spent the night in a mental fog. Now I understand Drusilia’s “special healing” better, and am determined to keep a few on hand myself! If she hadn’t been able to restore my brains, I’d still be rocking in that damned corner trying to understand what was happening!

Apparently we spent the night in this room, waiting for me to be fixed up. This morning we have to figure out where to bury poor Jon, and then, I suppose, get back to our mission. This is getting so hard, Grun. I miss you and my family in the village a lot.

Walk with Moradin;
With love,

Posted by Kate on May 18, 2003, 12:37

Now What?

Dearest Grun,

I’m writing this under about the worst possible circumstances. Every time I think we can’t get much lower, and things should start looking up...

We said our prayers over Jon’s body, sorted out any of his things that might be useful to our survival, and checked out the rest of the barracks. Korin was back to yelling out Trap’s ideas... so I decided to switch tactics and started pinning and tickling him to distract him from his invisible people. He wasn’t quite sure how to take that... which was the idea!

We were attacked in the cellar by more undead, and killed them all, but there’s a new twist: these creatures are now exploding in puffs of black, noxious gas when they are destroyed. I’m trying to hold my breath as I fight, lately, as we have no idea what that’s about! Drusilia and I walked outside for a moment, waiting for the gas to clear, and she glanced up and saw two figures descending from the sky and landing across the city. She even thought one looked like Valon!

We went back in to tell the others and found the gas had cleared from the cellar, so I walked to the last unopened door and smashed the hinges off (there’s been no one to pick locks for a while, now). We found a beautiful greatsword in an empty room, so I brought it up. Fafnir created an illusion of a sign pointing out our location for Valon to find us (so that does come in useful, sometimes!), and while we were waiting I noticed that Korin was happily playing with his precious - Jon’s axe - and the healing sword was nowhere to be found!

This resulted in me stomping back downstairs one more time to get the damned sword back to Drusilia.

Finally, we saw Valon and his friend running toward us, probably with some of the undead population not far behind. Korin mistook the new human for an attacker, somehow, and took off - fast! - leaving me to shout a warning! Valon managed to fascinate Korin by singing to him, and we eventually got sorted out. Drusilia got some diamond dust to do a major healing with, and I had to tickle Korin again to distract him from thinking that Valon wanted to take his axe.

We were attacked by more undead - still of the noxious black gas variety - and Markus, the human, turned out to be some type of magic user. Valon’s stick is as sharp as ever, and now has flowers on it (Korin tried to pick one and got cut). Finally, we all headed for the next building, fighting our way through whatever got in the way. Markus has a penchant for spells that shock things - more lightning bolts than Fafnir, who suddenly turned into a tiny dragon and flew along!

Finally we reached the next 40-foot tower and stood at the bottom, looking up at a balcony near the top. Fafnir flew up for a look - and came tearing back down with the news of a lich-like creature inside! Korin promptly began to climb the wall.. but before I could react to anything, Markus let loose with a lightning bolt straight up. Apparently the lich had come to the balcony and looked over, and panicked the newest member of the party.

Next thing I know, a fireball the likes of which I’ve never seen exploded in the middle of our group. It killed poor Markus outright, and sent the rest of us running for our lives, badly hurt! As we reached some ruins that blocked us from the lich’s line of sight, I heard a yelp. I turned to look and saw that Korin had climbed the building, popped a bag over the thing’s head, and prevented it from seeing us to kill us. But he got himself killed in the process. I saw him go limp in its grasp; I have no hope that he survived long after it took him inside the building.

By our ancestors, Grun, I never thought he’d go like that. It breaks my heart.

Now we have to decide how to go on - and what to do. This is so sad, and I’m so discouraged, but we have to do something! Wish us luck.

With love,

Posted by Kate on May 25, 2003, 12:03

More Trouble... New Folk

Dearest Grun,

Well, I think (hope) things are improving for us. Now I’m worrying about you! During one of our few chances to talk, Valon mentioned that our clan has been in trouble for a while, fighting off duergar attacks. May Moradin protect you, Grun! I wish I were there.

Valon, by the way, was utterly horrified at first when we began healing up by stabbing each other with the sword. Poor guy! After some thought, he remembered hearing a story about such a sword. Apparently a paladin of Pelor used it, long ago. Wonder how it ended up lying in a room for us to find?

We headed for the last tower before the central one, trying to ignore the drums pounding in the lord’s tower. Drusilia cast a spell on us all that made the undead ignore us, which was good, because a LOT of them passed us by. The drums were calling them. I have a bad feeling about that, but we’ll deal with that problem when it comes.

Poor Korin. I wish we could have done something to help him. It was a very quiet walk!

We got to the last tower only to find it had been sealed against sunlight - all the windows bricked up. And a wooden door! I opened the door very carefully.. and saw three coffins inside. Imagining vampires in every corner, I chocked the door open with my short sword and we carefully pulled each coffin out before opening the lids... nothing. On the other hand, I could hear clinking up some spiral stairs to the next floor. As I pulled out my greatsword, I thought I actually heard a cry for help! With Drusilia right behind, I headed upstairs.

We found two humanoid figures chained to the wall.. and three more coffins. The figures turned out to be very alive and half-dressed, an elf and a human that looks rather elflike. Drusilia calls him a half-human, and he contradicts her every time: “elf! half-ELF!.” Half-and-half, anyway. Fafnir picked the elf’s lock while I smashed the chains off the wall for the halfie, and then checked the last two floors.

The top floor looked like a scary place - big sarcophagus, old, rich furniture, and, within a few minutes, the rest of the party, searching the place. Fafnir found the new guys’ clothes and gear, causing the halfie to sit down in the middle of the room and start memorizing something from a book. The elf took off down the stairs. I noticed that things were gettnig very quiet outside...

And the vampires finally attacked. They came up through the stairwell, attacking Valon and the halfie and inspiring Fafnir to multiply - like there was much space to begin with! As the first vampire was dusted, the next turned to gas and fell through the floor. Drusilia finished it off as I headed down to see what had happened to those below, worried that there was no light coming from the door. The damned new elf had actually shut it. Not only shut it, but blocked it up! I cursed out loud while getting it open, which he found amusing. Amusing! The halfie then lit the place on fire!

Drusilia made us invisible to undead again, and we headed for the hills for the night. The new guys decided to come along. I hope the saying “safety in numbers” isn’t too much of a challenge for them.. I’m not happy at all. They spend more time whispering to each other than talking to us. It was only in the walk across the city that they finally admitted to something like names. I say something, because the half-human uses the elven name Aramil, and the elf calls himself “Pockets.” Hrmph. Aramil is also an armor-wearing fighterish-looking... mage. “Pockets” likes to hide behind him. Despite wanting to hide, he also thoughtlessly lit a torch when the familiars became agitated, spotlighting us against the mountainside in the dark! After more wraith fighting, we spent the night in the cave at the top of the path. (They are slowly getting used to the sword that heals.. not enough to try it yet, however).

Finally, morning came, and we headed back into town to try for the central tower. “Pockets” has some skill in opening doors, which is useful! The first chamber of the tower was waist-deep in bones of all kinds, and an evil creature constructed of bones to look like a snake attacked us. It even multiplied to attack more of us as we crossed the room! Valon is singing to inspire us again, by the way...

Finally, we reached the stairs. We’re taking a quick breather before our final search. At least we’ve made it this far!

With love,

p.s. - Aramil and “Pockets” must be mercenaries. They talk a lot about employers and money, and both Drusilia and I are watching them as much as we can to be sure they don’t make off with something they think is valuable, but in fact needs destroyed. I can’t justify leaving them alone to die here, so I guess we’ll just have to be careful!

Posted by Kate on June 8, 2003, 21:43


Dearest Grun,

For once I am writing in relative peace. We’re still in a great deal of danger but it’s hard to be as terrified when there’s an angel in the room with you.

We rested briefly, then started up the stairs from the room of bones. “Pockets” checked the doors at the top, and opened them.. to two large stitched-together “things.” Awful! I attacked immediately.. and got smashed hard. Then the rest of the party came in and evened the odds nicely.

The new members still refused to use the healing sword. “Pockets” spent the time removing the door from the hinges. He saved the hinges, too. He’s unlike any elf I’ve ever heard about before, that’s for sure!

We moved on to the next set of stairs, and “Pockets” once again got them open. This time, I looked in to see a very high-ceilinged room, and several figures on a balcony above. I warned the others, and moved into the room, dodging arrows and rocks as we went. The figures left the balcony as we entered, so we ran for the steps, yet again. Wraiths came through the walls - surprise, surprise - and Drusilia made them leave. We reached the balcony (multiple Fafnirs in tow), and found a trapdoor in the ceiling. Valon borrowed my greatsword and tapped at it but it didnt budge. Fafnir then cast something to make the door invisible - amazing! “Pockets” climbed the ladder and did something - I don’t know what - and the bars holding the door shut from above slid away.

(This was not before we nearly lost him; the ladder was trapped to swing loose over eighty feet of space! I managed to catch the ladder and the crazy elf redeemed his hinges oddity - by using the stolen ones to reattach the ladder to the wall. Guess I can’t judge him!).

I climbed the ladder, pushed the door open, and climbed into the next room. Briefly. I caught a glimpse of two creatures attacking me, a third standing back to watch, and something across the room that was chained to the floor. I let go of the ladder at that point, shocked beyond belief at what seemed to be a huge, winged, green-skinned, blackened-feathered being that was covered with cuts. I didn’t even realize at first that I’d been weakened in the attack. I was followed by the first two creatures, which Drusilia dusted. Bless her, she’s saved us so many times that way! I managed to tell the others what I’d seen above, and we argued for a while about how to get into the room above.

“Pockets” tried to look through the door with a mirror, until Drusilia pointed out the thing above was probably a vampire and wouldn’t show.. Fafnir sent up illusions, and “Pockets” pulled a cat out of a bag and sent it up the ladder. I said I wouldn’t judge him.. I just don’t know what to expect next! Finally, I borrowed Fafnir’s ring of jumping and leapt through the doorway, hoping to surprise and distract the creature so the others could come through safely. Unfortunately, the creature looked at me once and ..

When Drusilia came through the trapdoor, I tried to kill her. It was awful, Grun! She fell back down the ladder, and I thought I might well have succeeded. The others were trying to figure out what to do.. something flew through the door and shattered into flames, Valon tried to re-mesmerize me, and Aramel unexpectedly came through the door! I missed him, but the vampire struck him down. He was killed, instantly. Someone threw a handful of tangling vines through the door, which I dodged, and I was forced to stand and listen to more arguing from below.

After a great battle, the others managed to chase off the vampire without killing me, and freed me from the spell. What a relief! I don’t know how to apologize to them, Grun.. And then, we spoke to an angel.

He was sent ages ago to destroy the evil that had been let loose on the land, here, after the wars. But the evil Arkon, the creature in the tower who killed Korin, managed to capture him. He was trapped and being used to feed the creature’s magic with his own energy. We did find out that the Heart of Nerull is behind the doors in the first tower, and the key is on the vampire, Catharsis, that just escaped. Sorry, Korin, it’s not a candle, after all.

It turns out that the greatsword I’ve been using belongs to the angel, Aramis! He told us that it was the only thing that could break his chains and free him, if wielded by one pure of heart. Of course, everything I have ever done that wasn’t very nice came to mind, the most recent events especially! I prayed to Moradin, and broke the chains. What a blessed relief! The angel’s cuts began to heal almost immediately, and he went to Aramel’s body - and raised him! He cured me of my weakened state, and gave “Pockets” a length of the chain that had bound him.

Aramis can’t help us much more - he’s still very weak, for an angel! But we now know where to go and what to do, so I have more hope than before. We may succeed in this, yet!

With love and blessings,

Posted by Kate on June 15, 2003, 15:52

Catching Up

Dearest Grun,

Well, I’m catching you up piecemeal. I’ll start with the events right after we left the angel’s chamber.

The angel had given us some ideas and a name - Urkel - who used to work for the evil lord, but could give us some help. He/she/it lives(?) north of the city and down in the catacombs. As we walked down through the room of bones, half the party felt compelled to dig around. Someone found a trap door, “Pockets” opened it, and Fafnir climbed right in. The rest of us followed, not wanting to get split up, even though this wasn’t the way to the north of the city!

We found ourselves in a passageway beneath the city. Several party members wanted to explore, so we decided to at least follow it northwards, hoping to have a safer trip than aboveground. We didn’t get far before we were surrounded by wraiths, which we fought off, but not before they weakened Drusilia pretty badly. We tried moving on, finding underground chambers and rats as we travelled the ancient sewers, but we were set upon by more wraiths and wights, and decided that walking in the sunlight and open city would be easier, after all.

We found that a lot of nasties had been following us, of course! And “Pockets” had been given the sword of Pelor, but he’s useless for fighting with it - ran for the back of the party as soon as anything he could damage showed up. *siGh* .. I guess Drusilia meant well but that was not the best decision. We all made it back to the ladder and spoke briefly with the angel, but he couldn’t help us any more than he already had. Aramil became really paranoid that we were being watched by invisible eyes, and I was embarrassed to be there anyway after wasting half the morning on a wild goose chase, so we finally left the tower and headed north - aboveground.

The city, of course, provided its own set of distractions. Fafnir watched avidly for any sign of old magic shops, and finally found one. I stayed on the street, watching for trouble, while people banged about and argued inside. Finally Fafnir came out with new jewelry, an earring that they couldn’t identify until Valon had the idea of reading the magic word on it. The earring became a set of thieves’ tools, so he handed it to “pockets,” thereby offending Fafnir. Better luck next time, I guess.

Drusilia was distracted next as we travelled, finding a broken-down house with a sun symbol over the door. The place was empty, except for a deep hole in the ground in the back room. It didn’t look like the entrance to the catacombs, so we made note of the place, but moved on. The next building we checked out was an old armory, full of skeletal bats - one of which paralyzed me as we were destroying them. I found out Aramil’s a bit dense - he just couldn’t understand why I’d stopped talking or moving, and finally put it down to me being angry and in a sulk. Halfies. At least “Pockets” had the thought to try to heal me with the sword! Finally I could move, and we started north again.

Unfortunately, we reached the edge of the city before any entrance to the catacombs was found. The mountains rose up with no sign of a cave, so we began to search along the outskirts. Night was falling and a storm was brewing, so we wanted to find the entrance, or shelter of some kind! Aramil had another paranoid spell, which also got us moving. (I’ve edited out a lot of the arguing we went through that day, Grun - it wasn’t one of our finer days for staying on track, as I’m sure you’ve guessed!). “Pockets” saw a half-roofed tavern and offered to buy us a round.. but the room was full of more evil creatures. They murmered and fascinated me, but Drusilia chased them off. Fafnir became a small dragon and checked upstairs, but we decided it wasn’t safe for long, and headed back into the storm.

At least we got to know our new members a little better, but I can’t say much for our efforts otherwise that day, Grun. I’ll fill you in on the rest later!

With love,

Posted by Kate on June 22, 2003, 12:46

Finally getting somewhere!

Dearest Grun,

So, to continue..

We’d decided the tavern wasn’t safe (and had no ale), and re-entered the storm. It was getting so violent that the broken-down house with the 60-foot hole in the ground in it had started to sound good! No wind, and hopefully, some shelter out of the rain. So we walked back across town, looking for the house with the sun symbol carved over the door. Aramil continued his paranoia, convinced we were being watched, and it must be catching - Drusilia began to get the same feeling!

Valon promised to cast a feather-fall spell on the party so as to get us to the bottom of the pit safely - we all held hands and jumped in! Just when I get the most frustrated, we do something as a group that shows we do trust each other after all. It makes me smile. Of course, as we descended, I saw regular holes in the walls and cursed - this pit WAS the entrance to the catacombs the whole time! The stairs must have been wooden and rotted away during the ages of the angel’s captivity. Argh.. we really were on a wild goose chase for half the day!

The passage at the bottom actually showed some signs of recent use. We saw a sun sign carved into the floor and followed it down a hallway lined with broken-open crypts. At a turn in the passage, we realized there were burning torches ahead of us! Valon motioned for silence and crept forward.. and learned the same thing as poor Trap; this party doesn’t “get” hand signals too well. Everyone followed right along, albeit as quietly as possible. I moved to the back of the party, knowing I would likely be loudest. I’m a dwarf, I know my limits compared to an elf! I just make up for it elsewhere.

The gnome, by the way, was still running around as a dragon. He’s an odd one.. but it was kind of neat.

Valon didn’t get too far before something peered at him through a doorway, and skittered off, saying that we were come! It was merrily bouncing off the walls in the next room, so we moved in, warily, except for Aramil, who was hollering “Hi, Urkel,” and earned himself a swat. No one made him spokesman! The creature turned out to be a ghoul. A mad but intelligent ghoul, trying to have a conversation with us, and its “precious,” at the same time. It said it had wisdom to impart, that we could use its help - and the next minute was asking if it could eat us! Then it got in an argument with “precious” about that.. offered us a place to sleep in safety.. and a few minutes later was back to begging for “just a nibble.”

I figured, what the heck, we have a healing sword so maybe it would be OK, but Drusilia thought the ghoul would lose what precious little control it had to begin with if I actually “fed” it anything (the dragon, meanwhile, was happily offering Aramil as a delicacy, but I hope he was joking). We did settle down for the night, taking watches and leaving Valon to do most of the quizzing of the creature. He did well, too - even got a map!

He also revealed that this dark lord has been building an undead army for ages, simply to break out and attack all the dwarves it can find. I’m determined to do all I can to keep this from happening, Grun. I wish we could warn you all of this in case we fail!

Urkel, meanwhile, gave Drusilia some healing spells and scrolls, and then it gave us “precious.” This turned out to be a very beautiful golden symbol of Pelor (and a very nice mace to go with it). A lot of the mystery of Urkel was solved - it must have been a powerful cleric or paladin of Pelor, itself. I pitied the creature, indeed! Saying its job was done, Urkel asked Drusilia to send it to rest. “Pockets” immediately tried to step up and kill it with the healing sword but I tackled him - although the sword may be appropriate, I thought that a true cleric of Pelor ought to be the one to release this poor soul. Drusilia barely had to touch Urkel with the mace and it was reduced to dust. “Pockets” donated a bag and Drusilia gathered up the dust for proper burial later.

Fafnir and “Pockets” then got into an argument about who “deserved” the use of the scrolls Drusilia had been given, since they would restore the damage done by the undead draining our strength and health. Amid accusations of favoritism (nonsense!), Drusilia prayed over Urkel’s remains and they somehow became diamond dust - providing her with the materials necessary to heal everyone up even without the scrolls. I wish it would shame them into better behavior!

Finally, we left. “Pockets” climbed up with a rope, and everyone climbed out except me, as usual. Finally, they just pulled me up. We headed back through a very quiet town, following Urkel’s directions to the burnt-out tower and the vampire Catharsis. Now Fafnir became paranoid, although Aramil and Drusilia weren’t! Drusilia passed out the potions she’d been given - they’re healing potions, and will come in handy either for us or against the vampire. We reached the tower.. and found the door whole.

Valon and Fafnir opened it first and stepped inside, beckoning us to follow. We found the inside was untouched by fire! This really bothered poor Aramil, who decided to check out the upstairs and thereby exposed Fafnir’s illusion to the rest of us - muttering to himself as he walked in a circle instead of up the staircase. That gnome.. finally, I gave Aramil a shove to wake him up (and stop the disturbing giggling coming from Fafnir and Valon), so while Fafnir and Valon worked on a trapdoor in the floor, I explained Typical Gnome Antics and Bad Timing to the newest victim of the party. Aramil, naturally, wondered why we put up with this..

Suddenly, Valon started to gag and turn awful colors! “Pockets” hadn’t managed to disarm the trap on the door, I guess - luckily Valon shook it off, and headed right down the ladder! The ladder wasn’t long enough, so he tied a rope to the bottom.. and the ladder itself fell off. Argh! LIke we hadn’t seen that one before! Thank Moradin for feather-fall; that elf has more lives than I can count. Of course, we ended up with Valon a good sixty feet below us and had to figure out a way to get down there with him before anything happened. We tried holding a rope for Aramil to climb down - he made it, but no one else wanted to try! “Pockets” got them to tie the ladder to the rope and went to work re-attaching it so we had something to tie the rope to..and then we heard Valon and Aramil get attacked.

At this point the gnome pointed out that he could feather-fall the rest of the party.

I’m just glad Aramil wasn’t there.

We reached the bottom and got about half the party tangled up.. but Valon and I were able to attack the vampires, and Drusilia used her new holy symbol to drive them away with ease. We started running up the hallway, only to be swarmed by rats, which both Drusilia and Valon and I dispatched. While we were distracted, the rest were attacked by more wraiths, but Drusilia rapidly sent them off. Valon pulled out Urkel’s map, and we were off again!

More later..

With love!

Posted by Kate on June 28, 2003, 02:12

Seeing some improvement!

Dearest Grun,

Yes, I’m still catching up on my tale! At least, things began to look up at this point.

After dispatching the rats, we again followed Urkel’s map. It led to a staircase (which at this point we checked thoroughly before descending), and a passage that looked to be the vampire’s lair - much fancy workmanship, and lots of darts in the walls for Aramil to find. “Pockets” merrily stabbed me in the back.. with the healing sword, but I fear he’s having too much fun with that! There were three doors to choose from, and “Pockets” picked the central one after listening at all three.

Sure enough, it was a great throne room, and full of attacking wraiths! As we battled them, screams from behind let us know that the other doors must have held some surprises, too. Fafnir came flying into the throne room, Aramil was looking absolutely terrible.. and the vampire Kartharsis finally showed up. Out of nowhere, it appeared next to Drusilia and attacked.
The battle moved mostly into the room, but a fireball blocked the doorway with “Pockets” on the wrong side with the vampire! Thankfully, when the fireball swung away, “Pockets” was still alive and the vampire was gone.

Of course, it appeared as soon as it could get to Drusilia again - she really was tops on its list! Luckily, we had more room to attack it together. At one point it was even on the floor being grappled by Valon and a wildly swearing “Pockets” so that Drusilia could do her damage. (Its armor made it hard for anyone else to land a blow.) Suddenly, it turned to gas. We went for the metal door in the corner of the room, hoping to find its coffin before it had a chance to heal up and attack us again.

The room was a trap.. as soon as “Pockets” was inside and checking out the chest, bars came down across the entrance and an earth elemental appeared to attack him! I was trying to command it to stop, and that crazy half-human created another fireball - inside the small space! As if that would hurt anything but his friend - should I worry about that? He trapped “Pockets” in the hall with the vampire, too! Thankfully, the others were able to cast various spells to destroy the thing and someone got the bars to retract. “Pockets” returned to checking the empty box, and I smashed it up for stakes before we checked the last door in the room.

“Pockets” quickly found and fixed the trap in that doorway, and we found the vampire’s sarcophagus. We got holy water and acid and spells ready, and I shoved the lid off! The vampire was there.. and didn’t move. Valon and Drusilia realized that it had been hurt enough that it wouldn’t be able to move for an hour, thank Moradin! Valon pulled off the plate mail and staked him, and Drusilia used her mace to turn Kartharsis to dust. An evil creature has left the world!

Certain crazy party members began to divide up the vampire’s belongings, although I warned them they could be cursed. I went hunting for our real goal - the key to the Heart of Nerull! As soon as I found it I was ready to get going, but others wanted to find the vampire’s treasure. I pointed out that there were other evil creatures about, still.. finally, everyone agreed that they wanted to see the angel again. They’re awful dependent on that angel for some reason, but it got them moving at least!

We did check the other doors in the hallway; found, staked, and destroyed the other vampires, and discovered one musty tome for Fafnir to peruse later. We climbed out of the lair, went to the angel’s tower, and found that he was gone. Good for the angel, I said - and off we went to find the Heart of Nerull!

More later!

With love,

Posted by Kate on July 13, 2003, 12:18

Home for a Moment...

Dearest Grun,

Finally, the rest of my story!

We headed across town from the angel’s former prison tower, heading for the temple of the Heart of Nerull. The walk was very quiet, making us paranoid - and wondering where all the undead were waiting! They weren’t in the temple, at least, so we walked downstairs and checked the seal on the floor and the doorway beyond. I was willing to take the damage and walk the key across, but Valon used a spell to float the key right into place from where he stood!

The place began to pulse, then went quiet. Drusilia, who had been checking for magic, said the whole place had dissipated and walked right across the seal to the door with no trouble! What a relief, considering how it had drained poor Jonathan when he touched it. We all walked down the hall to the door, and Valon pushed it open. All we could see was another hallway, branching into three passages, and writing before us on the floor.

Valon said it was an ancient language, and read us a message of doom and destruction - all about crushing good and the path best known being false. Drusilia, though, thought that it sounded a lot like a riddle. After some discussion, we thought it might have something to do with what would happen if we travelled down each of the three hallways. None of the choices were good, in that case, so I started searching for secret passageways.

I couldn’t find anything on our side of the doorway, and the hall behind us looked the same as ever. The others began to split up according to their ideas, and Fafnir wanted to examine the seal. I decided to check if the seal itself could be lifted up, so we stepped back through the door...

...and we were in a completely new place! Hoping our companions noticed our absence soon, we looked around - it was a big room with an altar to Nerull in the middle, surrounded by a green liquid, and an altar at the end, covered by a fountain spewing blood! We could just see an object in the blood, perhaps the Heart? Luckily, the others began to appear with us, because several mummies attacked, slinging magic missiles from across the room!

Unfortunately, the mummies froze Fafnir, “pockets,” and Aramil with fear. This left me swinging into battle, Valon singing and fighting, and Drusilia eventually turning them all to dust. As we sorted ourselves out, however - the lich lord itself appeared before the bloody fountain altar, along with vampire spawn and a terribly mangled Korin! It was a horrible sight, and I was sure we were all about to die. Trapped in a room with the lich lord!

Fafnir lightning bolted the room, Drusilia did something that blinded a couple of the lich’s minions, and “Pockets” and Aramil were actually shooting arrows at the lord. I thought to ask Valon if he could snatch the object off the altar the same way he’d moved the key to the door, hoping it was the Heart and maybe that the lich would not kill us outright if we threatened to harm it. Valon was already thinking along those lines - he raced for the altar, grabbed the object, and ran for the other end of the room!

It was the Heart - the lich was enraged! It sent its vampires after Valon but I was in the way, and set myself for a battle to the death. Korin went racing around the other side, wielding his old “precious” axe, but ran into resistance from Aramil. And the lich itself sent a ray of blackness at Valon! Drusilia and “Pockets” jumped onto the altar in the middle of the green liquid and frantically searched for any weapons that might harm the lich; the rest of us kept fighting.. and the angel appeared behind the lich lord and attacked.

Next, the ghost of Jonathan came through a wall and attacked Korin. The room began to shake wildly! Drusilia was pitching anything useful-looking from the altar to various party members, Valon was trying to keep hidden with the Heart, and I smashed my way through two vampire spawn and went to help the angel battle the lich. (I knew I couldn’t do much harm but figured I might make a distraction the angel could use to its advantage). The lich lord did something...

...and time stopped.

When things began to move again we saw the lich lord wildly attack the angel; it was terrible! I thought nothing could survive so many hits and spells! The angel burst into light.. and instead of dying, stepped right forward and began to smash into the lich with its sword! The room was shaking like mad, poor Drusilia fell off the altar into the slime, and screamed as it began to eat into her like acid. “Pockets” helped her get it off.

I finally reached the battle and hit the lich lord with my urgrosh. I didn’t do too well with all the shaking, but the next instant, the angel stepped up and dropped it - the lich was dead, finally! If I thought the room was shaking before, I was wrong, as whole portions of the ceiling began to crash into the room. A portal opened up by the angel and the lich’s body, and it went to help poor Drusilia, who’d been knocked back into the green slime and was in real trouble.

Valon called to me that we had to find the lich’s phylactery. I dimly remembered the glowing crystal from the witch lord’s failed attempt long ago, and searched the lich’s body for something like it. I didn’t see anything, but pocketed whatever looked useful - rings and wands and such. Then I pushed the body into the slime, thinking it would be better to destroy it as much as possible. I then took out my urgrosh and waited for the others, next to the portal. Although the lich and vampires were gone, I could still see poor Korin’s remains across the room, struggling to attack us. No one could do more than crawl, but the party made it; I went last and the angel followed us, but poor Korin was left. I can only hope he was destroyed when the rest of the temple fell in. I pray he’s found peace.

After all the craziness, it took me a moment to realize the angel had brought us all to the outskirts of our own small village! We offered shelter to the angel and it refused, so I shook its hand and thanked it profusely for helping us. The angel then healed us of our hurts and the weakenings we’d taken while fighting in the City of the Dead. Valon still has the Heart, and we need to have it destroyed (We still have that rod of undeath that needs destroyed too; hopefully we can do both at the same time!). Our new companions in tow, we walked home.

There’s a travelling carnival in town, so we didn’t make quite the entrance that we did last time! I finally got to buy “Pockets” a drink, and Father is putting up with some extra guests while we sort ourselves out and prepare for our next quest - destroying the evil artifacts we’ve collected. Valon is performing, telling the tale of our adventures, and quite well, too! We’re also figuring out just how much treasure we’ve brought home, and what to do with it. Drusilia really wants some mithril armor, so there’s a chance we’ll be following this letter with a visit!

I’m truly grateful that we survived this adventure to tell of the City of the Dead, Grun - Moradin spared me so that I could warn you and our clan of the danger that lies so near. I believe the worst of the evil has been destroyed, but please be careful - that lord was aiming its army at us, the dwarves, and I don’t know how many of its commands live on in its minions’ pitiful minds!

With love;

Posted by Kate on July 20, 2003, 12:54

So much for resting at home!

Dearest Grun,

It’s been a few days since I’ve had anything to write to you about! Being home is nice, and the carnival in town entertaining, but not much else had been going on. Fafnir shut himself up in his house, making new potions, and Aramil shut himself up at Fafnir’s to memorize new spells. The smells and strange noises made a very effective Do Not Disturb sign!

Drusilia threw herself back into chapel duties, Valon polished his stories, and “Pockets” was out drinking and talking with the carnies.. which is just as well; if he’d been home much I’m not sure if Father would have resisted nailing the guest bedroom door shut “by mistake.” And where was I, Grun? Sad to say, I seem to have caught a bug of some kind, and spent a lot of time in bed!

How embarrassing! I hated to admit I’d gotten sick when the rest were just fine, so I planned to just sleep it off, but of course eventually someone started banging on the bedroom door. I threw something at it in return, but they wouldn’t go away. I admitted I wasn’t feeling well, and they still wouldn’t go away! So I finally opened the door, and the elves got all freaked out by how I looked. I told them I was ill! Drusilia cast some spell at me, and I immediately felt a lot better. “Pockets” wanted to get drunk and go to the carnival, so off we went!

About sundown, a mother came into the bar looking for her child. Drusilia felt like we had to do something, and “Pockets” was either friendly drunk or determined to impress her, so off we all went to search the riverbank where the kid was last seen. Oddly, I could see his footprints right down to the bank, and where he sat down, but no sign he’d left, or anyone else’s prints - but his pole and buckets sat there alone! “Pockets” quickly got bored and left, but Drusilia decided to go to the nearest bar and offer a ten gold piece reward to find the boy, which emptied the bar and half the town pretty fast! No one had any luck, however, and finally the next day dawned.

Drusilia decided to brave Fafnir’s door for incense to do a divination spell with. Luckily, all he did was growl at us for interrupting him, and Drusilia got her answer - “look to the earth.” Thinking of the tunnels from the old mansion, and how we’d followed at least one right under the town, we headed back to the riverbank so I could look for some sign of a hole. No luck, but while we were there we heard a scream, and off we ran!

One of the neighbors was crying that the basement had eaten her husband, so as Drusilia tried to calm her down I went for my urgrosh. We entered the house and went down the stairs, looking for the wall that had come alive, reached arms out, and snatched the man into it. I could see the earth had been disturbed, and there was blood at the base of the steps, but nothing else was there! I picked at the wall, but it was solid. A creature that swims through the earth? We went back upstairs and asked the assembled for ideas - if anyone had heard of such a creature stalking the town before, and how to possibly lure it out? We didn’t have much luck.

I wondered if the boy had been taken too - and both times, they were pretty much alone, so I tried to warn people to stay inside, and I geared up and walked around the town. I was hoping that if I was the only movement it might lure the creature to attack me, but I had no luck there, either. Drusilia showed up and said we should ask the druids, but they weren’t any help.. we were running out of ideas! I wondered if Fafnir’s trick of making things invisible might help, so we went off to bother Fafnir some more.

This time, we didn’t have to wake anyone up out of creative trances - Fafnir was mutterung about his chickens being stolen, and Aramil was talking with Valon about a toad that had shown up and wouldn’t leave him alone. It wasn’t just a trick of his tired brain, either - the toad jumped around on Valon’s head, and onto my hand, when I held it out. Not usual toad behavior! All this time, we were also talking to Fafnir about the thing in the ground (I checked his coop, and told him that I didn’t think his chickens were stolen - the ground was disturbed in the same way as the cellar wall!). In the middle of that, Drusilia cast a spell that allowed her to talk to the toad - and it turned out to be “pockets,” who we hadn’t seen since the night before! He wouldn’t tell us much about what had happened, which didn’t surprise me, and we were about to go buy some more chickens from a local farmer to use as lures, when we heard the constables’ whistles, and we were all off running again!

The creature had attacked again, this time burrowing through stone walls under the tavern, and had killed the poor serving girl as she came downstairs. It hadn’t dragged her away this time, so Drusilia cast a spell to ask her spirit what had happened, while Fafnir tried making the area invisible that the creature had burrowed through. No luck from either source - the ground was solid, and the poor serving girl had been grabbed from behind. “Pockets” landed on my shoudler, looking a bit mournful, so we left the mystery of the creature for a moment in order to go ask the carnies for directions to an elderly lady with a bird (one of the few things he’d mentioned to Drusilia before she made the mistake of asking him why the woman would do such a thing.).

Zorlla the fortune teller actually helped us in more ways than one - she finally did turn “Pockets” back into an elf, and she gave us some ideas about the creature! Using her crystal ball, she told me that it had settled in under the center of town, making many tunnels, and lives to feed. Luckily, light will hurt it, so we have both an idea of where it is, and how to fight it! While “Pockets” took off, muttering something about Aramil, the others asked the fortune teller their own questions.. Drusilia wanted to know the way to the Temple of the Void (that’s where we have to destroy our evil artifacts), which was a good idea but discouraging answer. The peaks of the Hell Furnace mountains are far away, and we only have two weeks to get there? Maybe we’ll visit you, Grun, and pay for a teleport!

I’m writing this from home, getting ready for bed - we’ve split up to get some rest and mull this over. (I’m so not going into the scene we found at Fafnir’s place after we left the gypsy’s tent. No, I am not. My eyes are burning. I don’t understand elves, even halfies! Drusilia is the exception to everything you’ve ever heard!).

Obviously, we must kill the creature first. After that, we’ll be off to our next adventure!

With love,

Posted by Kate on July 27, 2003, 13:30

In Need of Moradin’s Help...

Dearest Grun,

I am so frustrated! And I have only myself to blame! I let people talk me into a bad idea, and one of our party may very well be dead already because of it.

Last night ended well enough; we took the time to do a little shopping with the carnies, and they had lots of good stuff to choose from. I got a bag of holding (I wasn’t alone, there), and “Pockets” now has an odd-looking dog following him around like a puppy. There’s more mithril mail in the party than before, too.. so I guess that excuse to visit is on hold right now. With our tendency to get in trouble, Drusilia probably couldn’t afford to wait.

This morning, I decided to put the fortune-teller’s words to work, and began digging in the center of town. That happened to also be our front yard, but Father understood the situation (I think). I was expecting that as people heard what I was doing and why, I’d get some help (the beast is attacking us all, after all!), but I’d barely started when the others came up and talked me into trying the tunnels beneath the old Everston Estate.

I know at least one tunnel goes right under town, but we were so deep at the time.. still, I thought to myself, perhaps it had made its lair in the tunnels that were there, and burrowed new ones to the surface. Drusilia suggested leaving the villagers to dig, but I didn’t like that idea - what if it attacked while they dug, and no fighters to protect them? I decided to leave the digging for now, and check the tunnels first, hoping that the townsfolk were warned enough to keep anything from happening while we checked it out. Aramil decided to stay and study his spells while we were gone and headed back to Fafnir’s, but we hadn’t even made it out of town when Fafnir heard a scream from his own house!

It was terrible, Grun - the whole floor of Fafnir’s house had been pushed upward, and he was gone. His toad saw two white arms reach up and grab our friend into the earth; suddenly, our mission had a lot more urgency, as the toad familiar also sensed that Aramil was not yet dead! Off we ran for the Everston Estate!

The Estate was quiet - and full of rotting bodies from our first adventure. It seems like it was so long ago! Finally, we made it to the point in the tunnels where I knew we were directly under the center of town. And the toad was looking straight up! My fears had proven true - the tunnel we were in was too far below whatever the creature was using, and there wasn’t a way up except to go all the way back. The others wanted to look around a little while we were there, and headed down to the cavern with the falling spikes. I did think that was a good idea, as we hadn’t explored it properly before, and it was close - but once we figured out that it was empty, the party headed up a used-looking tunnel on the other side, and walked a good half-mile away from the center of town! If we’re going to trust our information, we were headed right away from the lair, but they had to go on until they reached a gorge, and then pick a fight with black oozes that obviously had nothing to do with our problem! Poor Valon lost his armor and his clothes.. second naked elf in a week..

Finally, we headed back up the tunnel. I’m afraid I was just ready to spit nails at everyone, at this point! Once we were back under the center of town, “Pockets” had a look at the toad, which turned its head a little toward the Estate, so we headed back. Drusilia had a very bright light cast on her holy symbol at this point, so we used it to examine the ceiling for any sign of burrowing. At the lake, we did spot a small hole in the ceiling. Fafnir flew up and set a rope for us to climb, and we followed the tunnel up, hoping for the best - but it was another dead end. Finally, we took the raft back across the lake, but not before “Pockets” tried to go fishing for the undead giant pike in the water. I swear, you wouldn’t know it was his best friend that’s in trouble, he gets distracted so easily!

So, here I am, writing you another letter-journal from beneath the Everston Estate. I guess we’ll be setting out to dig from above, in a while. Or not? The arguing has me frustrated beyond belief! Poor Aramil!

Wish us luck, Grun, we need it again!
With love,

Posted by Kate on July 28, 2003, 13:44

Looping Back...

Dearest Grun,

We’re taking a brief break before finally preparing to hunt down the creature that’s been attacking our village. I must say we’ve taken the long way about it!

We left the lake under the mansion, and returned to town. Valon immediately went to buy new clothing and armor, to the amusement of the townsfolk, while I asked Father for help digging (he was fine with that). Drusilia quizzed him about the local cellars, stonework, and possible secret passages (he didn’t know of anything odd). Naturally, at this point “Pockets” came in and said the toad had started looking around toward the old mansion! It also looked pretty sick, but we decided to follow it one more time!

Thsi time, we watched the toad the whole way. It began looking straight down before we got to the Estate, so I pondered for a bit.. and realized that we were standing above the caved-in portion of the catacombs, where the previous inhabitants had tried to stop attacks from duergar. We reentered the tunnels and reached the spot in no time. Sure enough, the toad stared at the collapsed tunnel avidly.. so “Pockets” began yanking rocks away! He quit that fast when the ceiling started to creak.

While the others began to hunt for furniture and wood to shore up the passage, I began to carefully tunnel my way in. It took a while, so the others decided to check out the door down the hallway - the one we left alone the first time because it has Drusilia’s holy symbol on it. They ought to have left it alone this time, too! Drusilia’s beautiful new holy symbol got zapped by some power in the door, and looks pretty beat-up, now!

I’d started to make some real headway when the floor collapsed under me. I’d just turned down an offer from “Pockets” to tie a rope to me in case something happened, too! Moradin must have a message in that.. but to retuirn to my story, I slid down the new passage and fell into yet another catacomb about twenty feet below. I’d just noticed one exit to the place when “Pockets” arrived and handed me a torch. The others climbed down by rope, although “Pockets” could not seem to call his dog. Poor puppy, always in trouble!

Miracle of miracles, the toad actually looked toward the one exit tunnel, so we followed it. We entered a big roomful of crypts and cobwebs, and we could see cocoons of various sizes in the webs! Finally, we thought we might have found Aramil - but as we stepped into the room, giant spiders attacked! In the middle of that, Drusilia turned on her big bright light and across the room, we finally saw a large white humanoid creature throw up its arms and run from the brightness!

We quickly killed the giant spiders and “Pockets” stayed with the toad for a guide to find Aramil, while the rest of us took off down the corridor after the white creature. We didn’t get far. Fafnir and I turned around at the first scream from behind! As we neared the room, unfortunately, all we got was a glimpse of a huge spider-humanoid dryder attacking “Pockets” in the corner, when the space we were in was suddenly filled with sticky webs! At least Fafnir could cast spells at the thing but all I could do was struggle and holler for the other elves, who were soon fighting their way through the sticky stuff from behind us.

Suddenly, the whole place went black. Even I couldn’t see! Fafnir lightning bolted the room twice and heard something hit the floor, and we all kept struggling forward against the webs. It was awful! Finally, I got free - in the dark. I listened for the creature, but got an earful of swearing in multiple lanuages from behind me.. and the dryder hit. I swung wildly in the dark, making some contact and hoping the others got free soon.. sure enough, Drusilia’s light soon drove the darkness back. What a sight!

Poor “Pockets” was laid out on the floor, burned and unmoving from lightning bolts. Aramil was half-unwrapped but also unable to move in the corner. And the dryder was hanging above me from the wall! As soon as the light hit it - it disappeared! As the others got into the room, it reappeared, attacking Fafnir, and went invisible again! Finally, Drusilia’s spells killed the thing and we were able to help our comrades. I used the new wand of curing on “Pockets” as the fastest and strongest thing to use - thank Moradin, he got up! We then did a fair amount of stabbing on everyone, and freed Aramil. Lucky guy was the only one left alive of all the wrapped bodies; we’ve found the missing villagers and a few others, too. Bless them!

Drusilia searched the dryder’s body, took the creature’s greatsword, and found a pouch with some treasure and a letter. The letter is troubling - apparently we’re being hunted; evil creatures know we have the Heart, and of course, they want it! We need to get to the Temple and get the thing destroyed! First, however, we must destroy the white monster. We’re healed and ready - off we go!

With love,

Posted by Kate on August 10, 2003, 15:16

Moradin, grant me patience.

Dearest Grun,

Finally, we were together and ready to get rid of the albino beast. Fafnir said his weasel could track it, so into the tunnels we trekked. The passages got smaller and smaller, yet still we followed! Even I was crawling, when “Pockets” decided to leave a trail in case we got lost. He didn’t tell us he was stopping, and as he was behind the party.. it’s lucky that Fafnir heard the movement as the white arms reached through the side wall and carried “Pockets” off! We discovered something new - now the creature actually left open tunnels for us to follow as it moved, and we’d been in them for some time judging by the size. The weasel went ahead, and we followed, yet again.

After what seemed like ages, we came to a large chamber, high enough that I could actually stand up in it. After some thought, I decided this must be the beast’s lair - we were right under the center of town, finally! Even better, we found “Pockets” lying on the bone-covered floor across the room. We went to get him, but heard trouble behind - as we came into the room, Fafnir was attacked! I pulled Drusilia out of the tunnel, and Valon came right behind, but just as I thought we’d be able to get down the tunnel to Fafnir - Aramil decided to crawl right back in for him, instead! He’d already been hit once, and he got hit again as he crawled - still, he wasn’t giving any ground. Drusilia was trying to help by blasting light down the passage, and Valon sang something at me - wow, did it make me feel powerful! I crawled right down the tunnel and smashed the thing, which took off (and without any more party members). Finally, we got everyone out into the room and healed up, but some were paralyzed by the creature’s poison.

Drusilia said she could fix that a little, but when she cured “pockets,” he immediately sat up cursing the dog that had been pulling at him. The dog took off with a book in its mouth, and, to our astonishment, Aramil took off right after it! Drusilia got ready to cast down the tunnel, but Aramil got hit by the creature anyway, and couldn’t catch up with the dog. Finally he came back, pissed! He explained that he felt useless without his spells - and the dog had his spellbook! As he said it, we heard a yipping from the poor dog, then silence. Aramil was mad that the creature had eaten his book with the dog, but I just felt bad for the dog. Poor puppy! Of course, as we talked about what might attract it to be attacked, it came for us again. This time Valon, who hit it a few times as Drusilia used light on it too before it took off. She then tried heating a dagger, to no avail, and “Pockets” scratched at the wall.. and was attacked! He later explained he thought it would hurt the creature a lot if it was using its hearing to track us - but he slapped two thunderstones together, and nearly deafened us all! In fact, the creature was fine, but Fafnir and “Pockets” were deafened for some time afterwards, which really didn’t help matters.

As soon as he’d used the thunderstones, “Pockets” was grabbed by the creature and yanked into a new tunnel. Aramil immediately went in after him - which made the third time that day that he’d gotten in the way of people who could actually do some damage to it! I was really mad; even if it is his best friend, he already admitted he wasn’t much help at the moment! I grabbed him and yanked, but he wouldn’t come out. From the hollering, I gathered that the creature was now moving to the side - sure enough, Drusilia and Valon were shooting down the next corridor, with little luck. Aramil and “Pockets” had a fight in the passage, and I sat back to wait them out. As soon as Aramil lost that fight and crawled out, I grabbed him by the shirt and screamed at him about useless mages and only halfway fighters (with borrowed weapons!) getting in the way so we couldn’t get to the creature for fear of killing him, and a few choice words besides. Not only did he not get it, he even took a swing at me! Of course, it just proved my point - he didn’t even come close to landing a blow. “Pockets” tugged on my sleeve and asked for some healing, so I shoved Aramil away and helped his friend. Aramil decided this was the chance to draw both a torch and a rapier, so I pulled out my urgrosh and waved it in his face. Did he really want to get into this here? He couldn’t even stand up straight!

At this point, Valon did something - and we all couldn’t hear each other speak. He then told us all to shut up! Valon has good timing.

“pocktes” sheathed the healing sword and began scuffing at the ground again.. but this time, the creature came from above! As it yanked him into the ceiling, I did the first thing that came to mind - softening the stone and earth above us in hopes that they both would slide back into the chamber. Of course, this meant the whole ceiling came down, too.. At least it did bring “Pockets” and the creature back within reach! We immediately waded into battle, except for Aramil, who luckily couldn’t free himself from the dirt in time to get in the way. I’ll have to keep that idea in mind. Unfortunately, the creature escaped again, this time into the floor. We sorted ourselves out, and waited. And waited! I tried scraping at the ceiling like “Pockets” had (he was paralyzed again and this time Drusilia couldn’t help). There was a sudden movement from the dirt on the floor, and Drusilia nearly took the dog’s head off. She did hit Aramil, who’d seen that the dog had his spellbook and cluelessly dodged into sword range. Hrrrmph. He did get the book back, eventually, although he lost a few spells along with the cover. Now the poor dog has two people threatening its life for being a puppy!

I tried calling the dog - and it actually came over to me! I petted it for a bit, and then it decided to run down the creature’s latest hole. Ack! I could hear it sniffing and growling at something, though, and wondered if the thing had acually died right below us. I tied a rope to myself and gave an end to Valon, and climbed down the hole! The dog was yanking on a leather bag in the side of the passage.. no creature. Ah, well! I did bring the sack back up, which proved to be a bagful of gold, so I can’t complain. Still, we were wondering what to do. It was quiet - Fafnir had actually fallen asleep! “Pockets” came unparalyzed, and since he’d been awake the whole time, we found out what had been percolating in his brain - he immediately headed down the newest tunnel! We followed (even Fafnir),.and after an hour and a half, reached the surface. Prints led us deeper into the woods and we followed them to where it had gone to ground again - and in we went! Fafnir became a huge weasel, which would come in useful, as after hours of crawling, we came to a dead end.

I knew we were only about eight feet underground, so I passed my shovel to the rear of the party and told them to start digging up and pushing the dislodged dirt into the tunnel behind. Of course, it was Aramil who had the job, so Fafnir was able to tunnel himself up and back before he got too far! (OK, it’s not like he’s used to digging.. *sigh* gotta give the guy a break). We used Fafnir’s tunnel and found ourselves in the forest, and already into the next day. We took the time to pray, and Drusilia’s removed the last of the party’s deafness. The dog is now with me, since “Pockets” spends a lot of time with a drawn bow and arrow nocked at its head. He won’t take any money for it but I hope he lets up! I need to learn how to teach the poor puppy to behave. Drusilia, by the way, says her name is Watch.

I’m back to hoping you’ll pray for us, Grun. We need all the help we can get! I hope the creature’s gone for good but I wish we’d killed it, and meanwhile, we need to get to the Temple fast! What a crazy life - and I can’t complain, it’s what I asked for!

With love,

Posted by Kate on August 17, 2003, 13:55

It’s never easy, is it!

Dearest Grun,

We’ve returned to our usual style of adventuring, I fear - scatterbrained and split-up, yet, hopefully, meant to turn out well in the end!

We began, again, by walking back to town. At least our party was complete! The dog ran about happily, and Aramil and “Pockets” entertained themselves with imagining its death as we walked. When we got home, the carnival was in the middle of packing up. Most of us went for last-minute supplies. Fafnir decided to repair his flooring, and Aramil went with him to study. Guess Aramil hasn’t been around much carpentry work..

Drusilia was lucky - she found someone to repair her holy symbol! I found the fortuneteller and asked about the white creature’s fate. Unfortunately, we didn’t kill it, but at least it’s not coming back here. Then I asked her about where to get toys for the dog.. which earned me a strange look, but she pointed down the row. I picked up a book about dog training, and some toys and treats. And a leash!

Finally, we all met in the middle of town to discuss how to get to the mountains. I suggested Midrock for a teleport, and we were working out whether to travel with horses or a wagon, when Valon showed us an egg. A silver egg, which he said would magically take us to Hellfurnaces! I ran to say goodbye to Father and my brother, while Drusilia went to tell the families of the creature’s victims’ fates. By the time we all gathered, Aramil had gotten ahold of some ale as a peace-offering, which I accepted. We have to get along and I know it! The dog was enjoying my efforts to leash it, so I eventually put the leash away and called her over just as Valon broke the egg..

Instantly, we were standing atop an active volcano! Of course, this was the point at which someone pointed out that we had ten or twelve days to wait for the Temple entrance to appear.. I guess we were thinking there’ d be.. something.. here, instead of bare mountains. Typical of our party! I noticed a cave below us inside the volcano’s cone, and a path winding down the outside. But sharp-eyed elves saw a red dragon flying towards us! We debated briefly and decided to go for the cave - if we could get beyond his fire, we hoped he couldn’t get inside.

“Pockets” set up pitons and a rope at top speed, and Fafnir readied us for a feather-fall. Drusilia was thinking of all the things she could do to protect us from fire - she even remembered that the dryder’s greatsword caused ice damage, which would come in handy if I had to go toe-to-toe with the beast. We jumped, fell gently, and tumbled into the hole! Drusilia was casting spells of protection on anyone who she could reach, which slowed her down as we ran, and the poor elf was caught by the fire that the dragon blasted down the tunnel.

The rest kept running but I waited and helped her put out the flames, and then we walked down the tunnel, waiting to hear screams from the rest. Kind of sad, Grun, that we just expect them to get in trouble, and wait so we can get them out? Luckily, this time they were OK, and looking down a shaft into the heart of the mountain. Although we could hear the dragon settling on the ridge above, I warned the others that this wasn’t a safe place to stay. Lava tunnels aren’t good hiding places in active volcanoes! We had no choice but to climb down this shaft, however, so I was glad when “Pockets” and Aramil climbed down for a look, and Aramil came back to tell us they could see two tunnels to choose from. Fafnir tied some ropes together and I let Aramil down - I thought in a controlled manner, but Fafnir’s knot left something to be desired. Aramil took the fast route, again. After some argument, we tied another rope and a piton, and everyone finally made it down safe.

I figured out which way was south and pointed down the appropriate tunnel. So, half the party decided to check out the other way! I don’t care if we have ten days to play around in, that’s silly! Valon, Drusilia, and I decided to wait for the screams, again. I offered Watch a treat, and she came and ate it - good Watch! I need to keep reading that book. About this time I heard “Pockets” echoing up the tunnel - “It’s cute! Can we take one home?” Still, no screams, so we decided to take a quick look up the southern route.

What a shock we got, Grun! The lich lord showed up! Whatever its phylactery was obviously didn’t get destroyed! It asked us about Aramis, and the Heart of Nerul. Valon froze, so I grabbed him and started backing down the tunnel while Drusilia tried to answer the lich without getting us all killed.. but I came up against an invisible wall. The thing then threatened my life if no one would talk. Of course, I didn’t want anyone to do so - but Valon spoke! Whatever spell the lich cast, it made Valon tell him everything - even to having the Heart! I set myself to grab the Heart - I was going to smash it with the butt of the greatsword, figuring that it would be better to kill our small group than let that evil back into the world in the lich’s hands.

Then, things got weird. It was like the lich knew what I was preparing to do, and decided to mess with my head! It told us that destroying the Heart will destroy the world. It said Aramis the angel is not what he seems, has other plots, and was imprisoned for a reason. Then it announced that we’d broken any useful bonds with the Heart, anyway, so it didn’t really want it anymore. And off it went! I know it is trying to manipulate us, but I can’t figure out what for.. I still think the Heart needs destroyed, though. Of course an evil lich is going to spread all the chaos it can!

We settled ourselves, brushed poor Valon off, and headed up the passage again (wondering if the others would believe a word we said). The tunnel led downwards to a cavern, and a city full of lizard-humanoids, and the whole place looked to be on fire! We backed up slowly, and went to find the others. They were all right, and full of stories of finding an exit - right across from the dragon’s lair! Naturally, they don’t believe that we saw the lich. I’m glad to rest for a moment. I hoped that writing this down would give me a better idea of what to do!

Praying for guidance,

Posted by Kate on August 24, 2003, 12:29

Pondering My Options

Dear Grun,

Well, my cousin, I’m pretty discouraged. We’re learning the peril of accepting party members just because they’re there. At the time it seemed like strength in numbers, when we met “Pockets” and Aramil in the City of the Dead, but now I really regret it. They’re bringing out the worst in me and I hate it, even if it is justified!

Reunited under the volcano, we discussed which passage was best to try: one led to the red dragon, another to the city of the salamanders, and a third was heading deeper into the earth but seemed safest by comparison! “Pockets” took off first, the rest of us followed in a group, and the trouble began.

Watch was running about, sniffing and doing puppy things, when she happened to pass by Aramil. He instantly whipped out his rapier and stabbed her through the heart with it! No warning, no justification except that he’d been planning to do so for some time, and if I didn’t like it, to keep her away from him! Yes, I should have known it was coming from their previous behavior, yet I’d hoped they were coming to their senses regarding a puppy.

I laid into him without a second thought. Two hard whacks with the greatsword did a lot of damage (more than I’d expected, the sword has some magical power of cold, too), before I stepped back, half-horrified but still totally enraged that he’d do such an evil thing. Totally unrepentant, Aramil yelled at me to keep the dog away from him even as I yelled at him about hurting innocent animals. The others distracted us, then - Watch was not only alive, she was perfectly fine! I called her over and checked her out, and they were right - not a scratch on her! Yet I know she was hit, and Aramil was obviously frustrated that she’s not dead. The others are a little worried about what she is, but I’m just relieved that she’s able to defend herself from these two in any way.

By the way, Grun, leashing that puppy right now would be a cruelty; this place is incredibly dangerous and she needs freedom of movement. Anyone with a modicum of sense would see that. Maybe I ought to leash those two so they see what fun it would be to be tangled up when something attacks? I plan to train her to heel as soon as we get some time, and if we both survive this.

I hit Aramil with the wand of curing, and he kept walking before I could finish the job. We walked down the new path, finally meeting up with “Pockets” who heard Aramil’s version of events, which were quite true but obviously - he doesn’t get why this was wrong. Neither does “Pockets”, so I didn’t bother to point it out. We travelled on until we reached a new cavern with a few magma pools, and three exits. We decided to follow the one that looked regularly used, and took us westward (the other two were more south, but we’ve learned the hard way that half the party wants to check out everywhere but where we need to go). The tunnel took us to a dark cavern full of giant toadstools, and I could see two more exits when I walked in for a look. As soon as the others entered, the toadstools erupted in noise! What a shrieking! Although we obviously had knocked on someone’s front door, the rest decided to get the heck out of there, return to the cavern before and turn south.

The southern passage led to yet another cavern - and an attack! One of the stalagmites was alive, and it grabbed “Pockets” and seemed intent on dragging him into its mouth. Drusilia’s bolts of light and Fafnir’s of lightning did little damage, so I went charging in with Valon to do some hand-to-hand combat. Of course, it bit at us, too. Then “Pockets” threw a tanglevine and missed - attaching us to the base of the creature! After that mistake, he compounded his error by throwing acid at it and missing.. ouch! Watch even got in on the action, giving the monster quite a bite. Good girl! “Pockets” now pulled out a charm of some sort, which turned into a huge tree trunk, growing up to the ceiling and smashing rocks down onto us, but this time he succeeded - the creature was crushed by the debris.

We took a moment to heal up, and restore “Pockets” and the dog’s strength. An idol of a creature Drusilia said was an ilithid dropped from the monster’s mouth, which she feared meant there were some around, but we regrouped and headed south once again. The trail led downwards, and it got very hot, and I was wondering how much longer we’d be able to stand the environment, when we reached an awesome sight - a chasm full of molten magma, with one rope bridge across! “Pockets” had no trouble navigating the ropes, but Aramil had so much trouble that he had to come back, and we decided to wait while “Pockets” searched ahead. I’d just fed Watch a snack, when crossbow bolts were shot down the tunnel behind us! Fafnir was hit and fell over unconscious - poison! While Aramil shot arrows through the party from the back (missed us all by a miracle), Drusilia pulled out an arrow and let fly - it hit with an explosion that sent the duergar scurrying back up the tunnel. She healed Fafnir and we began to look seriously at how to get across the bridge.

Finally, Fafnir cast fly on me. At least I wasn’t flying over water! If I fell in the magma it would be a quick death rather than one by drowning. It was all right, however, and I was able to fly everyone across in safety. We decided to see what had happened to “Pockets” and found him, looking over a ledge at a city - but not of salamanders, it was full of ilithid mind-flayers, and we were in no doubt that the duergar were no danger by comparison!

And here, Grun, is where the other half of my terrible dilemma formed. “Pockets” decided to whisper somthing to Watch and point down into the city - and, like a puppy wishing to please, off she ran! I was not able to call after her, not when it would bring the whole city down on our party! As the others ran back up the passage, I decided to wait and try to call her after they had a head start. “Pockets” waited, too, and as soon as he saw Watch trying to come back to us, he pulled out his crossbow and shot two bolts into my dog! I was shocked and ready to give him a shove over the edge, but he was gone already - his shots had let the ilithids know we were there, and where, and the whole city was swarming up the cavern after us. Watch, thank Moradin, was OK, although bolts were sticking out of her, and I was left to run up the passage and collapse the tunnel behind us to slow them down.

Of course, as we reached the bridge, the duergar were there waiting for us. They hit “Pockets” with a bolt and he collapsed. He also burst into flames, but I didn’t care. Fafnir had transformed into a dragon, and I was stuck shooting my crossbow and shouting for him to get me across the magma so I could lay into those evil dwarves! Luckily, Fafnir had one heck of a spell up his sleeve - he cast something that caused them all to die! He then flew us all across, and we’re off running again. I hope we can reach someplace of relative safety, here; getting lost in this maze of tunnels may be our only hope.

And what do I do about “Pockets” and Aramil? As Drusilia’s pointed out, we know nothing about their histories, but we trusted them. We know nothing about their motives, and they seemed to be on the same page with us as adventurers, but now I just give up. “Pockets”, especially, needs to leave or to die. I certainly can’t trust his word. He thinks it’s a vendetta against a dog? He nearly got us all killed or worse! Over a stupid petty ongoing tantrum about a puppy’s behavior! Whatever Watch did is nothing by comparison, yet he thinks she must be killed. He’s either evil or insane, and we can’t afford to put up with it in this situation.

Dearest Grun, I fear what I may have to do for the safety of the party. May Moradin forgive me, for I fear I won’t be able to forgive myself.

With love and trepidation,

Posted by Kate on August 31, 2003, 11:42

Duergar, duergar everywhere..

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 on September 6, 2003, 12:36

Into the Void

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 on September 26, 2003, 20:22

Never Like It Ought To Be

Dearest Grun,

We’ve accomplished our mission - but now I fear that it wasn’t quite what we expected it to be. Drusilia’s a little worried about the fortune-teller’s words to her - they seem to be literally coming true, and not in a good way!

We left off in my last letter resting befone attempting the Temple of the Void once more. Rummaging about the room and statues, we found no clues, except for a key Aramil discovered in the remnants of a statue. I was standing in the middle of the room, looking for writings of any kind about me, when Fafnir took the key and tried a random keyhole with it. There was a sudden rumbling and grinding beneath my feet, and the key became stuck. The rumbling died away, and Fafnir began to try the doors.. which now opened!

The first door he tried looked like the great hall we’d appeared in, except for a jungle outside the windows, and two figures - a kneeling human in white robes, and a patched-together flesh golem standing behind! The human spoke to us (and the golem didn’t move, so we stuck around to listen), explaining that he was the guardian of “what was”, and we had to defeat him to continue. Fafnir closed the door. As we discussed this new development, “Pockets” opened the door behind us - which turned out to be a great hall, swampland outside the doors, and a human with a stone golem claiming to be the guardian of “what will be”. Finally, we checked the last door and found a human woman, snowy wasteland outside the windows, and a clay golem behind her - the guardian of the present.

Drusilia spoke at length with this person, asking how and why we were to fight them all (I admit at this point I suggested leaving the Heart inside one of the doors and being done with it. Only partly in jest, too!). “Pockets” discovered that he could mage hand things from one room to another - like snow to the jungle. He also threw a rope out of the window into the jungle. The upshot of the discussion was this: we could offer a champion in single combat with each human, or we could go in as a group and fight the human - and their golem! I thnk “Pockets” and Aramil have missed our battles with golems - they thought group combat would be better! Finally, I walked into the room of the past, and offered single combat.

It didn’t go especially well, Grun! I got some good hits in, but he ended up taking me down. The last thing I saw before I passed out was “Pockets” in the corner, raising his crossbow..

...and woke to Drusilia and me in the doorway, “Pockets” in the room fighting the monk, and the rest watching the fight. “Pockets” ended up leaping out the window, holding the rope, but of course the monk broke the rope and he was gone! Aramil immediately ran for the window and looked for his friend, which luckily the monk didn’t take as an attack. He even found him! Throwing the rope out, he pulled “Pockets” back in. I figured “Pockets” would leave it to the next person, but he insisted he wasn’t done yet and attacked again. Not for long! As he fell, Drusilia ran in and dragged him free of combat even as Aramil entered the fray! Aramil gave, and Fafnir strode into the room. He faced the monk and unleashed a spell that blew the monk right out the window, dead! “Pockets” retrieved a copper key and I arranged the body before the golem and prayed over his remains. Fafnir stuck the new key into a random lock, we heard more grinding, saw nothing, and headed for the next room.

I managed to defeat the keeper of the present alone. Barely! Thank Moradin the healing sword worked in the Temple of the Void or we’d have been in real trouble! Another key turn, more rumbling, and on to the future. The third challenge did not go as well. I went down again and woke to the sight of Aramil dancing upon the remains of the keeper. Go, Aramil! We laid out the remains for the last time, and went to turn the last key in its lock.

We stood by the walls and watched the floor slowly open. Inky blackness came up through the floor, and everything it touched it destroyed! I figured this was the way to destroy the Heart, and turned to Valon - who shocked us all by not only refusing to throw the Heart in, but running from the room! We followed (except for Fafnir and Watch), arguing, but it became obvious that the thing had taken over his mind. We had to fight him for it, even as the inky blackness destroyed the chamber behind us. Finally, we pinned him, and Aramil yanked out his bag of holding and began to rummage through it. At this point, Valon went insane, the void came through the doorway, and the golem decided it was a group battle. Dearest Grun, what a mess!

Aramil did find the Heart - but he was so weakened by the golem, he missed throwing it into the void. The golem smashed into me as I held onto Valon, and the void destroyed our armor (thank heavens that was all!). I could hear Watch barking, and see Fafnir’s spells hitting the void from behind, so we knew they were alive even as the void destroyed the golem. Drusilia ran through the mess, grabbed the Heart, and threw both it and the rod of undeath from our first adventure into the void.. they disappeared. She then attacked the void, but it flew out the window into the snowy wasteland, and was gone! This was rather anticlimactic, and we didn’t even know if the things had been destroyed! (the whole darkness thing is what has her worried, for that matter).

Valon seems to be himself again, and thinks the snows are in our plane of existence. Who knows where we’ll be when we come back to our world, though?

We’re resting for a bit, and then we’ll be after the void. It’s not what we expected, and so we’re going to try to learn more about it. I have no idea what we’ll do if we have to catch it, however!

Wish us luck.. again!

With love,

Posted by Kate on October 5, 2003, 22:28

Ah, Ale!

Dearest Grun,

I’ll have a chance to post these letters to you, now! We’re all safe and sound, and we’ve ended up in Greyhawk - yes, the city itself. How amazing is that?

We spent time at the Temple of the Void resting and recouperating while Drusilia watched the suns and stars of the different rooms. She did have a purpose - ensuring we’d be leaving to not only our own plane of existence, but our own time! Although everything correlated, we were a little paranoid by then. We left by the windows of the Guardian of the Present’s room.

First, of course, we had a long discussion about where to go once we got there! The final decision was to go to Greyhawk; we needed to buy new equipment, and we need to learn more about the Void (the biggest library is there). Yes, I know we should have done that first! “Pockets”, meanwhile, was trying to incite a golem so we sat upon him.

I was more than a little horrified at first when Fafnir said he could get us to Greyhawk in one teleport - if a few of us would get into a bag of holding so he could handle the weight! This sounded suicidal, but Drusilia was willing! We climbed out into the snowy wastes, still discussing who else would climb into a bag. I decided I would, since I have good stamina, but I didn’t fit. It would have to be an elf. Or a half-elf? “Pockets” gave me a wink and a look at Aramil, who had disrobed in the vain hope that putting everything, even clothes, into his handy haversack would bring us below the weight limit. We both tried to surprise him and knock him out, but instead we were treated to the sight of a naked swearing half-human running across the frozen wastes. While “Pockets” and I lay on the ground laughing, Valon offered to be elf in a sack #2. After we talked Aramil into coming back, we finally set off.

We appeared in the center of a town square, unharmed, and (to Valon’s relief) on the ground. We pulled out our companions (and guessed it was Greyhawk, the city that sees everything, because no one even looked twice), and watched Aramil and “Pockets” dancing in the street, cheering about their return to civilization. Valon seemed the wisest choice to sell our various loot, now that he’s his bardic self again, so we split up for a while. “Pockets”, Aramil and I went to a bar they swore by (with me wondering what the patrons would think of the three of us coming in. It sounded like the start of a bad joke!), and the others headed off to sell things and find the Library.

The bar wasn’t half bad. The ale was good enough that on the second round, I decided to tell them my own theory of why they won’t talk about their histories. I told them that they must be brothers - half-brothers, obviously, and the shame of how there came to be a half-human in the family makes it too hard to talk about! Whether I’m right or wrong, Grun, it was funny to see their reactions. Aramil was silent, “Pockets” spit up his ale and accused me of being insane, then tried to insult me for a while. Of course, I laughed it off, as he was obviously just trying to distract me. I told him it just proved my theory, since they weren’t explaining their “real” past to show me wrong! Then I bought another round.

It wasn’t too cruel, I hope, Grun? It was just too much fun at the time, and we were all blowing off steam after the last few pressure-filled days. First they tried to argue with me, then they got in a fight with each other! I sat down between them so we didn’t get kicked out before we were done eating, and of course that meant “Pockets” thought I made a good target. I finally choked him and sat him down, so Aramil defended him, and I ended up dragging “Pockets” out the front door while Aramil scooped up our mugs and followed. We didn’t make it before the fight spread, of course, so I ended up with an unconscious elf over one shoulder while we walked the streets looking for the Library. That, Grun, finally got some stares. Hah!

We finally got settled in town, and the others shared out our earnings. I was able to buy a very nice new chain shirt - with Drusilia’s encouragement, the armorer gave us a discount - it’s both mithril, and a little magical! Drusilia and I tithed to our gods, Fafnir’s researching, and “Pockets” and Aramil are visiting their respective guilds. This involves “Pockets” leaving the bulk of his money with me every day, but I’m not going to ask. I’ve even found some new dog toys, and I’m training Watch a little every day. She’s a good dog!

The only sad note right now is that Valon has disappeared. I know it’s a bard thing, yet I hope he’s all right. As far as we can tell he packed up and left by his own choice and we’ll have to respect that. This last adventure was pretty hard on him!

With love and hope,

Posted by Kate on October 9, 2003, 12:54

The Wheel Turns...

Dearest Grun,

Great Moradin, how our circumstances can change in a day!

We began the morning with “Pockets” deciding he was bored with whatever entertainments he’d enojyed so far. He was trying to talk me into a trip to one of the fighting arenas in town as we walked to the Library to see Fafnir and Drusilia. We never made it to the arena - the others had found an ancient text about the Void. After reading it, we knew we were in trouble. The Void will continue to grow if unchecked, and where it’s been, nothing remains. The whole world could be destroyed if someone or something doesn’t stop it! Fafnir said his magic-users’ guild might be able to help, so we made our way across the city.

Fafnir and Drusilia were planning to go alone, which I found a little rude, and Aramil had already disappeared to study more spells, so “Pockets” and I tagged along, just to bug them. Guess I’m bored with big city life, Grun! Everything fun costs money - even fighting!

At the guild, Fafnir asked to speak to an expert on the Astral Planes. Eventually we were left in a room with a blind old man, who listened to Drusilia’s story and promptly began to channel the damned lich. It actually yelled at us for screwing things up! After some arguing, it finally told us some more of its history, which might have made a difference before, but it’s a little too late now. The angel Aramis is insane - mad and full of hate. The gods decided to imprison him, and since angels live forever the lich implied it had to become what it is to continue to watch over him. Obviously, this story, too, is full of lies, but... the angel is connected to the Heart in order to keep it trapped. We “need” to capture Aramis, get him to the Void, send him into it so he reconnects with the Heart and becomes powerless again, and then destroy the Void. Simple, eh? And all this, presuming the angel is evil! (“Pockets” can’t say I-told-you-so enough, by the way. He always mistrusted Aramis. This didn’t stop him from asking the lich for wildly improbable weapons to “help” with the quest at random moments).

The lich claimed the Void is destroyable with weapons and magic, and, for that matter, only our party is capable of such a thing, since we killed the three Guardians. I hope some of what it said is true; it was pretty coy about why it was planning to attack the dwarves, and as for what it did to poor Korin? Erggh. Finally, it left and the poor old man fell down in exhaustion! Drusilia did her magic and he woke up very confused, indeed! We had to start the story all over again - with added details! Luckily, the old man was pretty resilient, and thought of an artifact that could help us with the angel; an iron flask, coverd with runes, that could command Aramis long enough to trap him. It would cost a fortune, but when Fafnir explained the Void’s powers and showed him the old letter, he passed out from fear, then told us to wait while he consulted his colleagues in Divination magic for help.

Several hours later, we were fetched from the waiting room and returned to the old man and a young lady named Alicia the Seeress. They’ve “found” one of the flasks we need, under the ruins of Redcastle in the Bone March. Not a very nice place, apparently, but at least a start! I paid them for their efforts, while “Pockets” hit on the Seeress. I think he’s lucky her specialty is Divination!

At this point we’re working on learning more about the Bone March, so Fafnir can teleport us there. After we gain the iron flask, we’ll come back to town to find out where Aramis is. Then, we’ll have to come back to find out where the Void is! Drusilia’s off to commune with her god about the truth of the lich’s story, and “Pockets” wants to cut Aramil open to make sure the angel didn’t make him evil when he ressurrected him in the tower. Me, I want a drink. “Pockets” still wants me to fight in the arena - I think he’s still mad about the “brothers” joke with Aramil, myself. I don’t need to prove my fighting skills in such a way.

Drusilia’s back and frustrated. Her god’s not being very helpful. I don’t know if Moradin would be more so!

Wish us luck, Grun - we’re heading for an epic adventure, here, of our own making!


Posted by Kate on November 2, 2003, 12:14


Dearest Grun,

Today has been... frustrating. I am worried about where we are going - and why. Yet, when we tried to communicate with a being other than the lich, our party divisions doomed the project.

The day started with me offering to help Fafnir buy a teleport-without-error spell, which made sense, since he hasn’t been to the Bone March before, and we all remember Valon’s adventure with teleporting to a point several miles above his destination by mistake! He eventually decided to just research some more. I hope that works out OK.

Before that, however, Drusilia asked us to come to her temple with her while she summoned a planar creature of her deity about our “mission” and the truth of the lich’s words. This seemed like a very good idea; we went to her church, she cast her spell, and wow! This big humanoid with wings instead of arms arrived! Drusilia began to talk to it, while I clapped my hand over “pockets”’ mouth to keep him from asking this being for lots of weapons too. He tickled me. Hrmph. Next thing I know, the being asked for the healing sword!

We had a quick discussion, and only Drusilia and I were willing to give it back. I asked the being why it wanted it, and it said the Sword of Pelor was needed elsewhere. Well, Grun, this made sense to me: it’s Pelor’s sword, it’s meant to be used to fight undead, not heal us up whenever we get into a fight. We’ve been spoiled. How spoiled I didn’t know until then - even though the being’s words convinced Fafnir, too, to give the sword up, “pockets” and Aramil just couldn’t see letting their instant healing out of their hands. And guess who had the sword?

Finally, Drusilia gave up, apologized to the being, and told it we wouldn’t be needing its services after all. She and I were both so angry! The argument continued, and I told those two just what I thought - that I would not go to the Bone March under these circumstances, that they had better pray that sword keeps working (which is under no means certain); since they’ve decided it’s more important than our goodwill, or at least mine, they may well find themselves in trouble and out of luck and right now, I don’t care! I refuse to help them make things worse when we don’t have any confirmation this is the right thing to do.

At this point there was a commotion at the doors, and a blood-covered paladin of Pelor collapsed inside the temple. Drusilia ran to him and healed him enough that he woke up and asked for the head of the Order.. who is currently mad. They brought him anyway, and Drusilia tried to heal him, too, but it didn’t work. The paladin told us all that he was from the Kingdom of Geoff, just to the south, and that they’d been under attack from orcs and giants, but two days ago, there came a plague of undead from the mountains, and they’re infecting the people, now, too. Poor Drusilia turned pale - the Heart of Nerull came from around there. She fears we’ve released something there, too. I immediately volunteered to go help fight; it seems less a fool’s errand than following the lich’s directions. I pointed out to the others that this was exactly what the Sword of Pelor was made to fight, and suggested that Drusilia’s god was trying to give us a hint, but it made no difference to “pockets”.

I pointed out that his god might not think much of this behavior, and he ran off, saying he’d ask. He was back even faster, to show us his high priest - or what was left; a skinned, eviscerated body that he demanded Drusilia resurrect! Poor Drusilia tried to explain that she can only speak to the dead, not return them to life, but this wasn’t good enough; he left in a rage, thinking that she was being vindictive. That’s not Drusilia. He should know better.

Things had settled down for the time being at Drusilia’s temple, and “pockets” was off with his dead body to parts unknown. Fafnir and Aramil left to research a trip to the Bone March, and I decided to pray at my own temple. Drusilia was trying to make sense of her mad cleric’s words, and I came here to pour out my woes to you and to Moradin. Watch even came with me, and has been a real comfort.

A few hours later, and Drusilia’s come here. She wants to try to speak to an avatar at her temple again tomorrow. She thinks we’ll have to go to Redcastle anyway, but she’s hoping this one doesn’t ask for something we can’t give in return for that information. Bless her for trying!

Wish me luck, Grun, I’m having trouble keeping my temper these days.

With love,

Posted by Kate on November 9, 2003, 11:47

The Usual Routine

Dearest Grun,

Well, things are looking up again. We never quite make it to the point of breaking off with each other entirely!

It was dusk of the second day in GreyHawk by the time Drusilia and I got back to the inn. We found that both Aramil and Fafnir were there, so we sat down for dinner and hoped that night time would bring “pockets” back from his wanderings. He soon arrived, looking worried, and told us he’d found out that Durll was in town, too, and running the assassins’ guild. He wanted out of town fast - before Durll had us all killed.

We felt tolerably safe in the inn, so we talked over our options despite an increasingly agitated elf. Drusilia still wished to talk to another avatar, which suited me just fine, but she had to wait for the morning. (At this point we turned to the Sword of Pelor discussion again. I leaned over to Drusilia and whispered a thought that had just occurred to me; namely, we’d never asked nicely for the sword back. She turned to “pockets” and tried it out - and it worked! He did get a promise that she’d pay for it later, and didn’t specify a sum, but at least the Sword is back in the right hands. Moradin must have whispered in my ear!) Teleporting to Red Castle now and talking in the morning seemed like a good idea; things might be dangerous there, but “pockets” did his best to convince us that the unknown would still be better than here! Drusilia mentioned that her temple now considered her to be the head of the place, so she ought to let them know she was leaving town. I understood, but “pockets” seemed to think us suicidal.

We set out for Drusilia’s temple - just a 500 foot walk, but in the near-darkness. “pockets”, paranoid, stayed way back from the mian group. Turned out he was right - we didn’t make it far before he shouted at us to run! I could just see a shadowy figure in the street, going for him and then ducking down an alley. Hoping it was over now that it had been seen, I called for “pockets” to catch up, but he yelled at us to keep going and came up opposite the alley to aim his bow down the length. Fafnir ran. Aramil stared - shouldn’t he know his friend’s abilities? Drusilia cast a light. Deciding that “pockets” knew the most about this kind of fighting, I gave her a shove to get running (Sorry, Drusilia), then grabbed Aramil and started up the street.

Of course, as we all finally got moving, I looked back - and, being a dwarf, could see what the others could not. “pockets” was down in the street, and I didn’t want to think of what would happen if that figure took him to Durll. So, I turned and ran back. Watch, thankfully, was with me - and I prayed that she’d listen as I pointed down the alley and told her to “get him”! I heard her yip and prayed her healing abilities were working, as I slapped my best healing spell on “pockets” and hauled him over my shoulder. I took off running for the temple, shouted over my shoulder for Watch to come back, and got to the steps while Fafnir was still banging on the door for admittance. Aramil had his new bow out, covering the street over our heads, while Drusilia and I healed our teammate and the priests finally unlocked the door. We piled inside, finished healing “pockets”, and let Drusilia give her message while I gave my Watch lots of treats and a belly rub and told her what a good girl she was!

We found out that they were still searching for the former head of the temple - still mad, he’s now in the catacombs below. This worried “pockets”, surprisingly, but we hoped the temple guards and paladin would be all right and prepared to teleport. This involved much nocking of arrows. Hope Pelor didn’t mind! Fafnir set his spell, and... we arrived outside the ruins of an old castle, still in the middle of the night. One wall was crashed in, and skeletons were hung from the ramparts. “pockets” was all for immediately taking them down, but we convinced him to wait - no need to let everyone in the countryside know someone was here right away. We could see two intact towers beyond the gatehouse, and decided that we must be in the right place. The gatehouse itself was in tolerable condition, so Fafnir cast a magical shelter inside and we rested.

I woke up in the morning to the sight of “pockets” painting Aramil’s face in his sleep. I had to laugh; I guess everyone’s reurning to normal. After praying and studying, we spoke about calling the avatar, and decided to wait until we found this urn so we could ask about it. We’re pretty sure we can find it without help; I hope we’re right! Drusilia cast “detect magic” and began to wander around inside the castle, so I walked with her to guard, and so did Aramil. Watch played about, and the other two started opening any intact doors they could find. They didn’t get far before they were attacked by giant spiders in one of the towers - what is it with us and spiders? As we ran over to help, the spiders disappeared into thin air. What a freaky place! Fafnir called them “phase spiders” and got really nervous, saying they were still around, and be ready to fight. Sure enough, the spiders reappeared long enough to bite, and were gone again. Argh! I readied my sword, Drusilia cast spells on people’s arrows, Fafnir concentrated on a spell, and “pockets” swung wildly at the air until the spiders reappeared and we all took a shot. Finally, the spiders were dead, the cobwebs inside the tower were burnt up, and Aramil set himself on fire. Drusilia put him (and the rest of the tower) out with a well-placed “create water”, and I waited in the doorway to watch over the place while the others explored the ruins.

Someone called for me to look at the ceiling and say if it looked sturdy enough to walk on - I told them it was OK for one person, and listened to careful footsteps. I’m not sure what they did next, but I heard voices, then “pockets” hollering about having a personal healer. Were they talking about payment for the Sword? I’ll have to ask later, because the voices got high up, and then the staircase came crumbling down. Next thing I knew, I heard shouting and several crashes, and the whole ceiling fell into the room behind me, with Drusilia, “pockets”, and a couple of other floors’ worth of stonework mixed in. Aramil and I laughed a lot, Grun, and then dug everyone out. Drusilia was giggling, too, which set “pockets” to cursing to make up for it. Fafnir decided it was safer to explore the rest of the place on his own, and came back to tell us that he’d found a used-looking staircase, heading down. Well, the urn is below the ruins, so I guess that’s our next destination! I pray the orcs aren’t too tough. Perhaps, Aramil’s still-painted face will help disconcert them.

At least we’re having fun again, Grun. I pray all ends well!

With love,

Posted by Kate on November 23, 2003, 14:12

A Short and Savage Day

Dearest Grun,

It’s been a short but eventful few hours! We’ve worn ourselves out already, and we’re resting for the rest of the afternoon and evening, so I have plenty of time to write to you.

Lighting various devices, we entered the staircase Fafnir had found. It spiraled down to a number of hallways, and the others explored while I checked out the darkness beneath the base of the steps. We’re learning, however slowly! “pockets” found a door with light flickering beyond, so we readied ourselves for trouble as he opened it and stepped back.

The torchlight in the large chamber beyond showed us a most astonishing sight! The place was full of motionless orc figures, which we quickly discovered were made of stone. Carefully, we walked inside. The faces of the orcs showed sheer terror - what could have done such a thing? And, since the firelight wasn’t magical, it must have happened recently; where was the cause now? While “pockets” turned or tipped over as many orcs as he could (and took the hinges off the door we’d entered by), we checked out the room itself. There was an ordinary wooden door and a steel one, covered with symbols. I called Fafnir, who said they were for warding. He wouldn’t touch the door, even to make part invisible to see through. The wooden door seemed the safest to try, so “pockets” listened at it, and swung it open. He promptly turned to stone!

Can you imagine our feelings, Grun?

Aramil screamed and began shooting arrows into the doorway, while Drusilia cast her flamestrike spell, Fafnir sent a fireball into it, and the thing entered the room we were in. I shot at it with my crossbow while hiding behind a stone column. As the others kept casting spells at it, Aramil and I shot arrows, all of us trying to keep from meeting the thing’s gaze. Watch ran right in and attacked it, bless her! Somehow, we killed it - Fafnir finished it off with another fireball, and Aramil chopped off its head. Somehow, none of the rest of us had been turned to stone. Poor “pockets”, to warn us in such a way!

Aramil was distressed for his friend, and also for his familiar. His spellbook wasn’t on “pockets”, but his toad had been! It had escaped being turned to stone, but was burned pretty badly by the subsequent battle. I healed the poor thing while we wondered if our friend was still alive somehow in the statue he’d become. I checked the medusa’s remains for an antidote to her power, and found her weapons and a scroll, but it had been burned in the battle. Fafnir read it and said that the spells he could still read were of no help. He’d been checking the room behind the wooden door and gave me a 70 pound lump of gold and platinum to carry in return. They’d really cooked the place!

Drusilia wondered out loud if the avatar we hadn’t called yet might help - and this seemed downright providential to me. We’d put off calling it for so many reasons, it made me think this was why! Yasmin arrived quickly, and Drusilia explained our new plight while ofering it the Sword of Pelor. It took both the sword and “pockets” away with it! It soon returned, however, with “pockets” alive and well. I was so glad, I hugged him! That was a lucky thing for Aramil, who happily showed him the severed medusa’s head, saying “We killed it!”, and nearly got beaten by “pockets” who’d seen more of her than he ever wanted to again.

Finally, we looked behind the steel door. Fafnir peered inside and told us it was just a stairway, so we decided to check the other doors on this floor first. The rest of the place was full of stone creatures, including an elf in a cell, which disturbed “pockets”, who unhinged the cell door just in case the elf ever reanimated. We returned to the steel door and headed down the steps. As we stepped into a large room at the bottom, between two huge stone minotaurs, an iron grate crashed down behind us - leaving Fafnir outside the room! And, of course, the statues began to move.

Lightning bolts, magic missiles, grease, my sword - we did knock one over, and it promptly reverted to being just a statue, but the other was barely hurt, and smashed Drusilia hard, and hurt my Watch badly, which I was starting to think impossible! Arrows did nothing, a stone elemental from Fafnir barely distracted it, and I got in a couple of hits before all went dark.

I woke up in the far corner with Drusilia bending over me. I could see Aramil using my sword against the minotaur, along with “pockets” and the elemental, and my poor dog lying in the corner. As I ran to get her, we shouted back and forth, deciding wisely that it was time to run. Fafnir had melted the iron bars away, and “pockets” threw hundreds of marbles on the floor. The minotaur crashed to the ground as we ran by and up the stairs!

We healed everyone up, but we’re pretty well out of spells - both for healing and for fighting! The rest of the day is for rest and figuring out how to handle this new problem. Wish us luck, Grun!

With love,

Posted by Kate on November 30, 2003, 14:54

Trying to drown the dwarf!?

Dearest Grun,

Once again, everything got hectic enough that I’m writing you several notes, days after the event!

We began the next morning with a trip to the stone elf. Drusilia wanted to try to turn him back to flesh - apparently she does have the ability, but feared that the statue of “pockets” had been too burned and melted during the battle to restore him to both flesh and health! Although the elf turned out to be dead, she had a chance to use a speak with dead spell, and learned all she could about him (not much).

Finally, we got back to discussing the minotaur. While we did so, “pockets” snuck down the stairs and checked the place out, and returned with the news that the thing was still quite alive and well - I think we’d all hoped it was back to being a statue in the corner. “pockets” still thought he had the means to distract it, borrowed my mithril axe so that we were all well-armed, and we all headed back down the stairs.

We started with a mage-handed marble, floating it around the thing’s head, but it was ignored. Pulling a weasel from “pockets”’ bag of tricks worked better; he threw it down the hall, and the minotaur turned and smashed the poor thing in a flash! That was the opportunity for us to attack it from behind. We got a couple of shots in, but wow, did it hit hard! I fell, but Drusilia cast a spell from the steps and I was quickly back on my feet. “pockets” and I were at the front, Drusilia and Aramil were sending light and fire spells over our heads, and Fafnir just wanted to know if it was dead yet. Irritated, I hollered, “No!” He offered to send us a fireball, and I hollered, “Yes!” Then I prayed he understood sarcasm. We were fighting in a narrow hallway, after all!

After quite a battle, the thing finally died - the whole hall shuddered with the sound of its fall! We found an iron key in the remains, while “pockets” announced that, of the three doors in the room, he liked the central one the best. The key fit, and vanished. “pockets” opened the door and suddenly decided to check the locked state of the others.. which of course were still locked. The new door held another staircase, so “pockets” collected his marbles from earlier, and we descended.

Strangely, we came to what looked like a waiting room - benches, lit torches, and everything! As we peered through the doorway, Fafnir decided to sit right down, and we heard a “click”. We feared the worst. “pockets” checked out the other benches, and the rest of us searched the room and the locked door at the end. Fafnir got up; nothing happened, so he sat down on the next two in succession! Of course, we heard two more clicks, so I gave the door a shove - and it opened.

There was a hallway to the right, and one to the left. The floor was dusty, and “pockets” headed in to look for traps. He decided that the traps to the left were too much for the party, and we turned right with him in the lead. Unfortunately, the place was well designed; when he found a trap, and leapt over it to disarm it for the rest of us, it turned out there was a trap on the other side, too. The floor tipped up and dumped him into a pit, and we all heard him scream! Fafnir cast fly on himself, and we got “pockets” out, but he was terribly weakened by whatever stuff had been spread on the spikes in the pit. We did work out how to weight the pivot (with ourselves, one at a time), and all made it safely across.

Next thing I knew, we’re arguing about whether to heal and restore “pockets” right away, or wait a day to see how much he healed on his own! I was worried he wouldn’t survive the next day without healing! “pockets” got bored and went exploring, and Drusilia sat down to pray while I stood guard. She gave him a partial healing when he returned to tell us that the next room had a bad thing in the middle. He described a tangle of tentacles in a well, and talked Fafnir into preparing a fireball for when he opened the door.

This worked well, except that in the middle of holding the door open for the spellcasters to attack the thing at a distance, “pockets” got a little odd. I don’t know how the thing hypnotized him, but he turned and attacked Fafnir! Aramil tried to stop his friend, while I tried to pull the door shut in the hope that it would help. I remember being forced to attack my friends by an evil being! We got tangled up in the doorway, but luckily, Fafnir was able to send magic missiles over us, and killed the thing outright. “pockets” immediately stopped fighting, and we explored the room and the well. “pockets” got a spear from the well, and Drusilia checked that and the medusa’s gear for magic (which involved shooting a door a few times, very subtle!).

The door we tried led down a short hall. The next door opened to a new room, but as we entered, a solid stone door slammed down, and water began to pour in! Ring of swimming or not, Grun, to be trapped in a closed room filling with water was more than I had bargained for. And then, the water elemental arrived. Aramil’s glowing rope went out and I waded, literally, into battle. Aramil tried his fireballs, Fafnir suddenly disintegrated the door, and I got hit a few times and went under. I heard Drusilia shout as I fell, and we all were suddenly back at the Temple of Pelor in Greyhawk!

“pockets” tried to heal me, which was a little disturbing, but Drusilia quickly took over and eventually we healed everyone up. Fafnir teleported us all right back to Red Castle, we descended to the hallway (which was wet but not full of water, thank Moradin), and “pockets” provided me with a pair of goggles before he walked right in and set the room off again! Of course, the elemental returned, too, so I headed into battle with arrows flying over my head and “pockets” and I got hit a few times. Drusilia stood up behind us, holding her holy symbol and a bar of soap high, and banished the thing outright. What a relief!

“pockets” turned back to the next door, the floor dropped out from under him, and he was gone.

I’ll continue this later, Grun.
With love,

Posted by Kate on December 11, 2003, 11:49