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Sprocket’s Journal

Uktar 19, 1373 DR, Thornhold

I had plenty of time to copy a new spell into my spellbook and even cast a spell to identify one of the items we’ve been carting around. I wanted to learn more about Bishop Trueheart’s Silver Rod, but it radiates such strong magic that I was sure it was beyond me. Instead, I ended up learning about that wand I’d been carrying around, and once I did so, I felt obtuse. It uses divine energy to animate objects. No wonder I can’t use it! It also explains how that wardrobe attacked me in the Crystal Palace. I handed the wand to Bryrgar, though I’m now retrieving it again. Oh, I am getting ahead of myself!

Bryrgar headed off with Lord Taricz to make sure the previous lord of Thornhold’s grave was undisturbed (it was), so I joined my other companions (Widget was already there) in the tavern. I only had one drink, whereas they had all had several. I’ve come to find out that Widget is the only one that can keep a clear head when consuming alcohol. As he explains it, Roscoe, Nosila and I all got sluggish, and then soon after passed out. Assuming we were merely drunk, Widget was amusing himself by alternately rooting around in my bag and messing up my hair, when some people in dark robes came into the tavern (unseen by anyone else, apparently) and picked us up, loaded us into a cart and wheeled us away under the cover of night. Rather than lose us by running for help, Widget came up with a Master Plan, in which he would grab one of the two dozen bullets I carry for my pistol, drop it behind the cart, then grab another, dropping it as soon as the cart turned left or right. He did this twenty times before we arrived at our destination, hoping Bryrgar would somehow notice them and rescue us.

When I came to, I was chained to a wall (again) and so was Nosila. Roscoe was in a worse situation, as he was manacled directly to an evil-looking altar made of volcanic glass. As he struggled to break free, he managed to slice his skin open in several spots on his exposed back on the craggy altar surface. Worse, his blood, as it seeped from the wounds, was absorbed into the altar, which started to glow red.

Widget couldn’t find a key to release any of us, and as he was describing the night (and his Master Plan) to me, four robed figures came into the chamber and began to chant around the altar.

I didn’t know what to do to help Roscoe, and poor Nosila wasn’t strong enough to break through the chains that held us. I was able to move my arms enough to cast an illusion, so I created what I thought the chanters would want to see— I made an image of an incorporeal dark swirling mass rise up from Roscoe’s chest and partially coalesce into a humanoid shape. Three of the chanters seemed elated and began to chant with more fervor (oops!) but one, the apparent leader, must have heard me mutter the words to the spell, as he turned towards me.

That’s when Bryrgar saved the day. Having apparently followed all of Widget’s “clues,” he burst into the chamber and summoned forth two celestial dogs that attacked the robed leader, killing him before he could alert his companions about the illusory “spirit” emanating from Roscoe. Unfortunately, Bryrgar wasn’t alone; two demonic creatures shambled into the room behind him, intent on tearing the dwarf apart. As he battled them, one of the chanters turned to attack him as well.

Fortunately, they all believed that the summoned being was there and ready to work with them (and judging by how brightly the altar was now glowing, there was soon to be an actual summoning). I manipulated the illusion before that could come to pass, by having it reach out to each of the remaining robed figures and slowly “choke” them. All three soon were unconscious and one of the dretches was as well, leaving one demonic thing for Bryrgar to finish off. He dispatched the other creature as well, and, finding keys in the pocket of the dead cultist, freed us, using the manacles on the three unconscious humans.

Turns out we were in a cellar below the barn on the farm we had stopped at on our way into Thornhold! Bryrgar interrogated the younger farmer (Enzedra) after he came to, while I had to divert the blood from the dead older farmer-cultist, as it seemed to be drawn towards the altar.

Enzedra’s confusing tale was deeply disturbing. The woman in the farmhouse (his mother, but not his mother) was a half-fiend known as the Maiden of Pain. They were attempting to free her father, the demon Prince Gorval, from his imprisonment in the Abyss. The cultists on this farm were following a prophesy that stated that “the blood of heroes touched by death can release him” and apparently, any of us would do nicely. Worse, Enzedra said that the majority of Thornhold was under the Maiden’s influence, and they had spies where she didn’t hold sway. We just weren’t sure who we could trust, but at least we had found the fiend “ruling” Thornhold!

Roscoe and Bryrgar were badly wounded from our encounter, though I didn’t know it. Bryrgar patched them up as best as he was able, and both insisted that we go to the farmhouse and confront the half-fiend woman right away. We climbed out of the underground chamber and gathered up our equipment which was thankfully still in the barn. Bryrgar handed me twenty bullets he’d found on his way to us, causing Widget to make happy little rat sounds from my backpack. We loaded my pistol and headed off to the farmhouse.

The Maiden, in the guise of a kindly old woman, was in the kitchen. I didn’t wait for an invitation, and shot her through the open door. The bullet bounced off of her harmlessly. Roscoe, Nosila and Bryrgar all ran into the kitchen as the woman began to transform into a hideous demon. She raked Bryrgar with her talons, causing multiple wounds, and then dropped him; then cast a spell. Bryrgar, and now Roscoe, were unconscious on the floor. Nosila, quiet up till this point, went into a rage and attacked the creature with her mace, causing visible damage. Widget ran to Bryrgar, with a plan to stabilize his wounds until we could get him some proper healing. I threw every spell I could at the thing, but none seemed to work. Frustrated, I grabbed the Silver Rod that Bryrgar had carried, yelled to Widget to run away from the farm as fast as he could and never look back, and attempted to drive the rod into the creature, but apparently that is not how the artifact works. Thankfully whatever the monster cast back at me was equally ineffective.

If not for Nosila, I doubt any of us would have survived, but she must have done enough injury to the fiend, because the room suddenly went dark, and when the darkness dissipated, the Maiden of Pain was gone. This was when Widget (who, also under the geas, did not leave) ran up to me, frantic and upset that the dwarf was not moving— or breathing. Roscoe was okay, though I think he’ll be out cold a while longer, but there was nothing we could do for Bryrgar. Poor Widget, as clever as he is, doesn’t understand that he wasn’t responsible for his friend; he just knows Bryrgar followed the trail he left for him.

Posted by Kristin on February 10, 2005, 18:43 | Sprocket’s Journal