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Strange Days

Nosila’s Journal

We walked toward the crystal tower, wondering out loud how we ended up in this strange place. Sprocket claimed to be an expert on portals, and felt strongly that she would have noticed us passing through one. Roscoe blamed the fog, and the satyrs; I’m not sure why. As the sun began to set, we realized the tower was still far off and we’d have to camp.

As we settled down, Roscoe pulled out his bow and arrows and walked into the woods, saying he was going hunting. By the time Bryrgar had a fire going, the halfling was back, carrying a rabbit skewered on the shaft of an arrow. He dropped it by the fire and began to walk back into the woods, but when I asked him what he expected us to do with the remains, it turned out that he’d never hunted before, much less cleaned or skinned a kill! I taught him right then, wondering if the mess would turn him off of hunting, but he was quite enthusiastic.

The gnome’s rat familiar was very upset by the death of a small woodland creature, or so she said. The dwarf remarked sourly that the smell of cooking meat would attract all the wrong attention. The halfling and I ate the rabbit, saving our rations for another time. As darkness fell, the forest began to feel distinctly ominous... Bryrgar was right. Sprocket set an alarm spell, which went off almost as soon as the rest of us fell asleep.

I rolled over in my blanket, hearing Sprocket’s voice as she tried to talk soothingly to another rabbit. Instead of responding (and before Roscoe could take a potshot at it), it bared a mouthful of fangs that no rabbit ought to possess, and leapt some twenty feet across the camp at her! It landed within ten feet of me, so I grabbed my kukri from under my head and stabbed it to death. I’d just begun to settle back into my bedroll when several more of the unnatural creatures leapt out of the woods and into battle.

We all ducked when we heard Roscoe say, “Oops!”, but for once no one was hit. I found out quickly that the fanged rabbits bit hard, and switched to the mace to dispatch them more quickly. Sprocket conjured up a wolf (with a potato around its neck), and we finally killed off all the rabbits except one. I managed to capture it, and hold it still. I wanted to get a closer look at such a thing - the rabbit Roscoe shot didn’t have teeth like that! Sprocket tried to talk to it like before, but this rabbit was more interested in trying to chew on me. It got even angrier when Roscoe decided to practice his new skinning skills on the dead ones. He wasn’t very good at it yet, I admit.. Bryrgar then knocked it on the head. When Roscoe wasn’t looking, he slipped it into the pile of dead rabbits. We sat back and waited for it to wake up and give him a good scare - but instead, he skinned it, too! The poor thing never had a chance. I guess that halfling really has no experience with hunting!

Well, after everything else that had happened, it was laugh or cry - and Bryrgar and I fell over laughing. Poor Sprocket took the other view, glaring at all of us in turn. I tried to apologize, but she didn’t believe me. Uncontrollable giggling will do that. I really am sorry... it’s just that this is all so strange. We set watches and spent the rest of the night quietly. If you don’t count Bryrgar stealing all the fanged rabbit skulls, and me setting the skins all around Roscoe’s sleeping bag, that is. (They got a few more arrow holes in them when he woke up screaming). I think I saw Sprocket’s rat sneaking around his stuff, too...

We found the crystal palace by midday. As we got closer, we could see a strange shimmering white wall all around it. There was no movement or sound. Bryrgar tried throwing a stick at the wall, but it bounced off. The rest of us walked around the castle, looking for an entrance, but found nothing. Shouting got no response from inside, nor tapping with an arrowhead. Roscoe finally tapped it with a fingertip - and his whole finger went into the wall! He quickly pulled it out, relieved to find it still attached. Seeing that he was OK, Bryrgar promptly picked the halfling up and threw him through! He landed on the other side, unhurt, but totally nude. All of his gear was in a pile at the base of the wall on our side. Bryrgar collapsed in laughter again, while Roscoe ran back through and redressed. I think I learned how to curse in Halfling.

After some talk, Bryrgar neatly stacked his gear and walked off to explore the castle, leaving us to experiment. He was soon inside, while we discovered that the bishop’s rod would not pass through the wall, nor Sprocket’s spellbook. She didn’t want to leave her book, and I didn’t like to leave the rod unattended. When Bryrgar stuck his head out of the castle door and shouted to come on in, we agreed that only I would go in for now while the other two waited. I hoped Sprocket wouldn’t sic any potato rabbits on Roscoe while we were gone...

The entrance hallway held four doors, and Bryrgar. Opening them, we found a hallway, a fountain, a bedroom.. which Bryrgar walked into while I went to open the fourth door (another passageway). I heard a thump as his door closed, and ran back to see what had happened. Opening the door, I found that the dwarf and the bedroom were gone! Instead, there was yet another empty passage. It was an awful moment. I shut the door, then, on a guess, opened it again. This time, I saw a dining hall, with elven figures at the table. They were very still. I was curious, but kept shutting the door until, thank Ubtao! There was the dwarf again!

He was holding some lacy slip of cloth and telling me I’d look good in it. I answered that he had scared me, and tried to explain the magic of the door and my glimpse of frozen elves. He was soon out in the hall, trying it for himself. He shut and opened the door, to see... the same bedroom he’d just left. I got quite a look from the dwarf, then! But when I grabbed the door and tried, it changed to a hallway, and he believed me. We shouted our news out the door to the other two (who were doing some kind of naked dance through the wall, I just don’t want to know), then set off in search of the elves, if nothing else.

I did put on the clothes Bryrgar had found, but there wasn’t anything for him to wear. We found that all the doors did the same trick, although it didn’t work if you held a door open and tried another in the same room. We got some weapons from the kitchen (and tried waking the elves frozen there, no luck). We found the entrance hall again, and started dropping bits of cloth to mark rooms we’d already seen. We hadn’t made it to the dining hall when we found a study, instead. Books! And all of them magic. There were a bunch of tiny sprites frozen on the desk, too. On a hunch, we took two of them, and opened the door once more.

Jackpot! We’d found the throne room! It was full of elves, and two thrones. We grabbed an older-looking elf who was standing near the throne, and carried him to the door. Bryrgar lit a candle, using the wax to mark rooms, and we opened the door until we found the entrance hall once more. Carrying our three statues, we headed down to the wall.

I handed a sprite to Roscoe. Sure enough, it passed through the wall, came to life in his hand, shrieked and disappeared. We decided that this was normal for a sprite, and carried the other one plus the elf through. My new clothes and the elf’s stayed on the inside, but the elf woke up! Maybe the shrieking of the other sprite startled him, maybe he didn’t know what had happened, but it took a moment to calm him down. I’d be a little startled, too, really..

Roscoe and Sprocket each speak a language the elf, Elzan, understands. He’s an advisor to the elven queen Ovaria. I hope we picked someone who can help us figure out this mystery!

Posted by Kate on November 27, 2004, 20:19 | Nosila’s Journal