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Simple tasks never work out that way

Janet’s Journal

One morning after my early devotions, I decided to stop by the local tavern to see who was in town. People I recognized included the blue-haired elf Elizair and his strange parrot, and the gnome Fortuna, seated at a table trying to teach the dragonish Munthrek her language. I’m not sure how much success she was having, as a red-robed figure followed me inside and posted a notice on the tavern’s job board.

Munthrek was quickly on his feet, chatting to the elderly human, while I stepped up to the board to read the paper. Munthrek drew him off to sit with Fortuna as I read about a “Lady of means looking for a group of (discreet) adventurers” for a mission. Interested, I joined them at the table, as did Elizair. The human stared a bit at Munthrek’s dragonlike wings, but decided to tell us about his mistress and her request.

Lady Alana Zadrien sent him to check on her father, a wealthy alchemist who lives a little north of here. She has not heard from him in months. I recognized the name Zadrian; his servant stops in Rattedaumen every few months to buy supplies. I wonder when the servant was last seen? Meanwhile, for 800 gold apiece, we were willing to make the journey while he waited for news at the inn.

The trip was uneventful, and some time later we found ourselves looking at a “manor house” that just had to be the alchemist’s: a squat, one-story dome. The place seemed deserted. Elizair looked into the windows while Fortuna checked the door. Elizair reported seeing a smoky gray mist inside, so I asked for a lift - but I saw the same. Fortuna quickly reported that the door was unlocked - and had already been picked!

Munthrek readied his sword and shield, but first, Elizair decided to check the small stable a short distance from the house. I went with him but it was deserted, too. The single stall was open, and the cart and harness were untouched. It looked like the horse had kicked its way out - through fear or hunger, we had no way to tell.

By now, Munthrek had the door open and was watching the gray mist - as it swirled in the doorway but did not billow out. He stuck his sword in, pulled it back - nothing! So, he stepped inside. We shouted! And no answer. Fortuna pulled out a ten-foot pole and waved it around in the mist without touching anything; I stuck my hand in and had no luck. Elizair tied a rope to a tree outside the door, and Fortuna tied it around her waist before walking in after mad Munthrek.

Elizair held onto the rope and followed, leaving the parrot perched on top of the stable. I grabbed ahold of the rope as well... into the mist for what seemed like forever... and then we were out! We ended up in a large gray rectangular chamber. There were four statues of beautiful women, each holding a goblet. There were windows and doors, but the windows and the one open door only revealed more swirling mist.

Fortuna called out, “Lord Zadrian?” and got no response. Elizair tried to contact his parrot, and also got no response, which made for a worried-looking elf. Munthrek looked at the statues in the dim light, discovering that the goblets had inscriptions written in draconic on them. They also held different substances: one, silver mercury, two, red oprimin, three, white sal ammoniac, and four, yellow sulfur. The four spirits of traditional alchemy.

I decided to listen at the doors and windows for any sign of life: we still hadn’t met a living thing. And behind the closed door, I heard something shift! I looked under the door and made out a dim flickering light; Fortuna felt the door itself and it was warm to the touch. Elizair waited by the fourth statue at the far end of the room, I stepped away to tie a rope to the second statue, which was directly across from the door, Munthrek stood in front of it with his sword and shield ready, and Fortuna backed away while using a spell to push the door open.

The smell of scorched flesh rolled out, and a flickering of flames could be seen. Movement! A large wolf with red fur and smoking nostrils stood in the doorway, snarling at us! Munthrek asked it if the master was home, but its only response was to inhale a deep breath - and Fortuna shouted, “Duck!”

A cone of fire erupted from the creature’s mouth, enveloping Munthrek in flame. I quickly cast a ‘create water’ spell over the monster’s head, wetting its fur but not stopping it at all. Munthrek rolled away from the door, drinking a potion, and Fortuna took the opening to shoot it with her crossbow. Elizair was shooting arrows into it from across the room, too, but it just snarled and followed Munthrek instead. I slung a stone, missed, and pulled out my mace.

Fortuna headed after it to help Munthrek, but glanced into the doorway and pointed as another one showed up! Elizair kept shooting at the first, while the second grabbed at the gnome. I ran up and swung my mace at its side, while Fortuna quickly reloaded and shot it. I heard Munthrek connect on his target as well - twin yelping filled the room! I continued to hit the second wolf with my mace, while it bit at Fortuna, and between us we finished it off.

As she turned to help the others, I took a glance into the room. The other wolf was quickly killed, so I stepped up and looked into the next chamber. The room was some twenty by thirty feet, with scorched walls and a blackened corpse on a couch. There was a table in the center with some chairs around it, but nothing else. I quickly healed Fortuna, then stepped inside to check the body for rings or any identification that survived the fire.

I found nothing, but Elizair looked for magic and discovered a dagger and a pouch with a thieves’ kit inside. Some scrolls in the pouch turned out to be knock spells to open things. I’ll bet that these are not the Lord’s remains, then! More doors to open: more mist to be seen. We tied the rope from the second statue to Munthrek before he stepped in this time, and then we were off into the unknown.

We ended up in a very strange room. It had four walls, a floor with chains strewn across it, but no ceiling - just a darkened sky above. There was a chest on the floor against the far wall, so Fortuna walked over and opened it. A switch on the wall snapped up at the same time as the lid, and the gravity in the room changed direction: we all fell into the sky!

I was still holding onto the rope, but the others had already let go. They were sailing off into endless space while grabbing for the chains that fell with them. Fortuna got ahold of one, then Elizair hung onto Munthrek, who flapped his wings to “slow” the fall before he snagged a chain. This was when I realized that the floor of the room had opened and all I could see were spikes... and then the gravity reversed again.

Munthrek slowed his fall a second time, gliding to safety on the top of the wall, but I fell right onto the spikes. Elizair landed IN the chest (I had to heal him a bit), while Fortuna managed to land on a narrow ledge above the pit. It was a proper pit again, with things in their right direction. Thank Pelor we didn’t fall outside of the walls: once up, it was endless space all around the place, too. Unfortunately, Munthrek’s sword was broken (in his foot, ow!) when it fell back. At least I could heal myself!

We looked at the robe inside the chest. It had a pattern of moons and stars on it. But none of us wanted to risk taking it out after what had happened before! So, gingerly, we worked our way around the ledge and back into the swirling mist of the door back to the burnt-out room. There was one other door out, so in we walked; we landed in a desert! A wooden panelled path stretched out over the sands before us.

Munthrek tossed a copper piece off of the pathway, nothing happened, and we decided to turn around again. Back to the burnt-out room (wonder what that thief got into to set off the wolves? the upside-down spiked pit was bad enough!) and then out into the main room with the statues. I was wondering if there was any relation between the quality of the rooms and the alchemical spirits in the goblets, but I just don’t know enough... sulfur for fire for desert? What for earth, water, air?

We decided to try the open door this time. It landed us in a room full of books. And, for some strange reason, about six inches of snow. Something is very wrong indeed in this “house” - and then a book hit me in the back of the head. I turned to see who threw that - but the book itself flapped off like a clumsy bird! More followed, and I started cursing in dwarven, a bad habit I keep trying to break. I’ll have to atone for that later...

Elizair shot a book, but it kept flapping around, now with an arrow sticking through the cover. We were slashing and slapping and hitting the books with whatever we had; Fortuna pulled out a net and tried to trap them; Elizair managed to “kill” the book with the arrow in it, and Munthrek brought one down with a *thump*. Then the giggling started. We eventually followed Elizair’s orders to run through the door across the room.

This time, when the mist cleared, we were not alone! A kobold stood at a table, looking over the shoulders of four seated hobgoblins! Munthrek began to talk to the kobold in draconic, while Fortuna glared daggers at them, muttering something in gnomish at him. We don’t like kobolds! Still, we ended up agreeing to help get them out of there. Fortuna was angry, but the kobold swore he just wanted to live peacefully, and the guys believed him.

Greulzick was from the Great Sands, but doesn’t want to go back. He is willing to help us find the Lord Zadrian, since we’re willing to show him the way out. He explained that the only door out of the room he was in led to a room full of flying knives, so we warned him of the cold and books, and prepared to head back. The hobgoblins suddenly disappeared - a spell? A single kobold was more acceptable to me at least!

We compared notes as to the rooms explored, and realized that there were two left. One was out of the room of flying books - the other, from the room of flying knives. We decided to check the one from the book room first, and after a minor battering, found ourselves in a small room with no other exits. It was full of shelves, and on the shelves there were many crystal spheres.

Almost all were cracked or burnt, with the remains of alchemical experiments in them. The few whole ones we took just in case they could be of use later. We checked the place for secret doors, but gave up after a while. No one was looking forward to the run through the flying knives.

We caught them by surprise, I guess! No one was cut in our mad dash through the kitchen, and we landed in a large chamber we had not seen before. There was a book on a pedestal and arcane sigils on the floor, surrounded by seven engraved coffins. We could see one exit: a room with armor, and a trapdoor.

When Fortuna snuck in for a look, the armor began to move....

Posted by Kate on September 27, 2007, 07:47 | Janet’s Journal