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October 8, 2004

No isn't just a nickname

Nosila's Journal

Well, after being chased to the temple for a second night, we were all determined to end this problem as soon as possible the next day! Bryrgar told us about a strange crypt he found in the graveyard, while burying the dead frm the first battle; although ancient, it showed signs of being opened from the outside. He’d followed a passage inside until he ran into a symbol to Tiamat - evil!

Sprocket quizzed various villagers, again, and returned with an update to her cleric story; she now thought the cleric who came through town recently, heading for the ruins, was probably evil, too. He may well have caused all this trouble by waking something up over there. We decided to wait for the zombies to leave, save any hostages they might have, then head straight for the ruins during daylight.

This time the return to the graveyard was uneventful - although a little odd to watch everyone return to their own place! Satisfied, we geared up, and walked the short path to the ruins outside of town. To our surprise, whomever had been there recently made no effort to hide their doings! A hole had been dug in the southeast corner inside the walls, and exposed a staircase leading into the earth.

They even left their digging tools at the entrance.. but we could hear no one inside. This seemed like a setup, so we were glad when Roscoe volunteered to check for traps ahead. We grabbed some digging tools in case they would be needed further in, and followed the halfling down the steps.

At the bottom, the way split. To our left we could see an empty room and two doors in the opposite wall. To our right we could see a room full of ancient, broken skeletons, doors to each side, and a set of double doors in the middle of the opposite wall. The doors, in fact, were slightly propped open by a modern helmet! Roscoe carefully headed into the room, checking for more traps, but Bryrgar tromped right across to the door, muttering something about dwarves and underground sense...

Ronya and Zym had taken the time while Roscoe searched to walk around the empty room, and found it full of footprints but nothing else. As Bryrgar made it safely to the double doors, we followed. He looked them over, pointed out another symbol of Tiamat on them, then pushed them aside and walked into the next room. We followed, yet again.

This room was a hall, with an altar at the end. I could make out four black skulls on it. There were several statues in the corners and in niches along the hall. There was a symbol to Tiamat on the floor, which I thought the good cleric would avoid, but he tromped right over it while following the footprints, and got hit by lightning for his troubles!

The rest of us followed, except for Zym, who stayed outside the room. Working our way around the symbol, I heard Sprocket saying that the symbol, one of the statues, and the altar itself glowed with magic. I wondered if the altar held any clues, even an outline in the dust of anything that used to be there, and headed for the base of the steps to see.

This was when I learned that it’s better to listen to your husband when he wants you to be cautious. When he said, “Wait!” I answered, “What?” while continuing to walk to the altar. Although I didn’t touch anything, I must have gotten too close, and four skeletons appeared out of nowhere and attacked me! I saw Charzth charging to my rescue, but multiple blows sent me into darkness.

I woke in the temple for the third time, my husband and the others nearby. Charzth was giving a big donation for their trouble in healing me again! I apologized as best I could - I mean, I’ve never been married before, I’m still learning this stuff! Seeing how worried he was really made me think, though. I don’t want him to worry like that about me.

Finally, we headed back into the sunlight, determined to try the cellar yet again. This time, we stocked up in the village - and Bryrgar made himself a “war-barrow” with a wheelbarrow and shield. It looks like a fun ride! We were soon back at the base of the steps. Everyone turned left this time, so I guessed that they finished off whatever was in the altar room.

Or not! Suddenly, it seemed like everyone had picked a door to open! I heard Roscoe curse and quickly stepped up behind him with my bow in time to shoot one of two undead in the next room. Charzth and I then ran in and attacked! As we finished off our opponents, I could hear high-pitched screaming outside.. something about bugs. We were soon done and looking for our friends; we found them in the room of bones, fighting off giant centipedes from one of the side doors’ rooms.

It was almost funny, except the bugs had a poison of some kind. Bryrgar was looking pretty sick. Finally, they got the door shut, and Sprocket wedged a cloak under the door so more couldn’t get out. Everyone’s still on their feet, this time! But I think we’ll take a breather as we figure out what to do next.

Posted by Kate at 21:49 | Nosila’s Journal

A Wife's Tale

Charzth's Journal

Seems I am a bad husband. The more we try to do things together, the worse I seem to help No’. From morning to night I seem to leave her in danger, no matter where we go. These undead beings really seem to take to her for some reason.

Through the day I tried being astute. But alas, it is just not meant to be it seems. I am glad I’m strong and No’ is light. Plus, I am happy for the gold hidden in my pouch. If not, the long treks to the shrine may have been in vain. Seems I know the adepts by their first names and their nicknames now. Their eyes brighten as I stumble in, my wife in my arms.

Tomorrow should be a better day. No’ does smell awful good, and I would be very displeased if she didn’t warm my “sheets” any more. Though we are going back to the cellar again today. I wonder how poorly I will do this time.

Why is this so hard? Killing zombies is easy. Heck, almost fun now. Ancestors forgive me!!!! What am I doing wrong?

Posted by Erik at 23:03 | Charzth’s Journal

October 13, 2004

Green Light

Sprocket's Journal

Eleasis 2, 1373 DR, Ruins on the outskirts of Pommeville

RonyŠ and Zym decided that they had had enough of adventuring for now and headed back above ground. Everyone else continued to (slightly more carefully than before) open doors and check the remaining unsearched rooms of the catacombs. In one room, we found a rather smelly (according to Widget, anyway) well covered in rotten wood beams with a broken pail. I kept wondering about the magic that was clearly present on that statue of the armored warrior by the altar in the larger room. I mused aloud about this, and much to our taller companions’ dismay, Roscoe decided to check the altar room carefully just one more time. Of course, when he got within a few paces of the skull-decorated altar, four skeletons with scimitars appeared and began to attack him! He hightailed it back to the doorway, dodging all four skeletons with only minor injury. Too bad one of the doors had been removed from its hinges! This turned out not to be a problem though— we could easily fight them through the open door (I even ran up and hit one with my staff!) and Bryrgar and Charzth dropped the heavy door on the final skeleton, crushing it. I appreciated the chance to see how the magic of the altar worked, and wondered, since the previous set of skeletal fighters had “disappeared,” if the altar would be restocked with undead if we went near it again.

Bryrgar had found what looked like sleeping quarters, and though not much of interest was found there, another door leading from them turned out to be the private quarters of Nedrezzar (who, it turns out, is the evil source of the current undead infestation in Pommeville). I know the name, because Nosila handed me a journal she found under the bed’s mattress. I was about to skim the tome when Bryrgar found a pouch hidden amongst the room’s furnishings, which contained two moonstones and a diagram of the magically enhanced statue in the altar room. He called Roscoe and I over to study the diagram, and though we couldn’t tell for sure what the symbols on it meant, we were both sure that it meant that the statue must be further studied.

Our taller companions, who would be doing the majority of fighting if the skeletons sprang from the altar again, we not too keen on the idea, but we went back to check the statue. Thankfully, this time the skeletons did not reappear. We saw that three of the symbols on the paper matched what was on the statue’s breastplate, in the middle of which Roscoe could discern the outline of a square. The diagram also showed the right knee of the statue to be of some importance. Pushing on the statue’s knee caused the square outline on breastplate to part, revealing a drawer!

The drawer contained eight valuable gems, a gold ring, and a divine scroll with four useful spells on it for Bryrgar. While he poured over that, I skimmed through some of Nedrezzar’s journal. It indicated (unsurprisingly) that he had been a cleric of Tiamat some 240 years ago, and described his preparations for lichdom. Not being the least bit interested in how or why necromancy is practiced, I skipped to the last entry, which outlined his final preparations for the ritual, and more importantly, that he had a crypt that could be reached through a secret entrance— below the skull-adorned altar. Roscoe immediately set himself to studying the altar, and he determined that the skulls could be depressed. He pressed one himself, and then asked Charzth to use his shovel to hit the other three, lest there be a trap. At least one of the skulls had some sort of needle trap, so this was a wise precaution.

As the fourth skull was depressed, the altar slid open to reveal steps going down. There were footprints on the steps in the dust that looked as though they had been made in the last few weeks.

As we descended the steps, we noticed the temperature was markedly cooler in the crypt. We found ourselves in a small chamber with two single doors on either side of us, and a pair of double doors in front of us. Roscoe decided to systematically check each door, but Bryrgar had other ideas. He wandered through one of the single doors and seconds later we heard a bit of an “oof” and a crashing sound. He didn’t respond to our calls, so we all raced after Charzth, to find him peering down into a pit in the floor. Below us was the dwarf, with a spike sticking through him in an alarming way. The humans were able to pull him up with a rope, but we had no way to heal him. Now, Charzth and Nosila were willing to wait until the dwarf regained consciousness, but we were afraid he would not do so before nightfall (when, we feared, the zombies would bother the townsfolk again), so Roscoe and I volunteered to run to the surface and bring back something to heal him. We grabbed the gems we’d found and were off.

The halfling and I first turned to Pommeville’s one and only potion maker, an elderly human named Hama, who I’d met briefly during one of our overnight stays in the temple. We asked for every healing potion she had, and she gave us six for one emerald (worth about 200 gold pieces by my estimate), with a kind thank you for our help with the zombie attacks. Roscoe reminded her to head to the temple again tonight though— just in case we didn’t succeed in our quest by sunset.

Roscoe’s mention of heading to the temple reminded me that we had one other source of healing— the paladin Damota. We agreed it would be worth the few extra minutes it would take to go request his aid, and hurried off in the direction of the temple.

Our side trek turned out to be a very good decision, for not only was he willing to immediately accompany us back to the ruins, but the sorcerer Aseir was there as well, and had reconsidered my request of the night before. The four of us were in the crypt a few minutes later, at which point the paladin healed Bryrgar.

We walked back out to where the doorways all met, this time taking a look at the double doors, which we noticed bore the symbol of Tiamat. As we got closer, white writing appeared above the doors:

In this year, 1117 of the Realms, I set my seal upon the crypt beyond this door. Evil slumbers within. To ward the Realms I have placed my stave over the tomb; let no person disturb it. Heed this, my warning.

Prefect and Bishop Astara Trueheart

Roscoe moved closer to examine the doors for traps, which Bryrgar determined had magical wards. The dwarf then used the scroll we had just found to dispel the magic of the wards, and we opened the doors.

The room was bathed in an eerie green light from four braziers in the corners. In the center of the room, a large stone sarcophagus, showed a relief depicting a stately hierophant. Runes surrounded it on the floor, but, with a 2’ gap where a cylinder or staff obviously had been removed. On a shelf on the far wall, a crystal skull leered at us, completing the disquieting scene.

At this point, we all agreed that we should probably start looking for that missing staff, and remembered there was a door on the level above us that we had yet to go through. Though it was late afternoon, opening the crypt must have disturbed the already-unnatural order of things— four undead were lurching down the steps towards us, trapping us between them and the tomb! As my comrades prepared to fight, I feared we would be quickly overwhelmed if there were more undead behind these four, so I cast the illusion of a heavy iron portcullis and had it appear to drop down between the bottom step and the floor— keeping the undead on one side, unable to attack us, while we decided what to do. We apparently decided to attack, but my companions believed the gate to be real as well (I must come up with some sort of “warning” to give them so they can tell when I’m casting a spell). They took turns stabbing through the “bars” of the illusory door (though I believe Damota must have realized it wasn’t really there by the way he struck the zombie in front of him) while the animated corpses tried to reach through the “bars” to tear at living flesh.

Charzth realized he couldn’t effectively fight with his tiny (for him) knife while so many people were in that small area, so he did what (I hope) turned out to be a good offensive strategy— he ran back into the crypt and, using a mining pick, smashed the crystal skull. Shards went everywhere, and the force of the exploding skull threw him a few feet to hit the sarcophagus behind him. As Nosila ran into the chamber to see if he was hurt, a green “glow” flew from the smashed skull and into one of the zombies, lighting its eyes with an evil intelligence. As we slew that zombie, the green witchfire retreated into the sarcophagus— right past where Nosila and Charzth were standing. We had managed to take down two zombies and one skeleton, and only one skeleton remained. I let the portcullis “fall” over, pinning the skeleton to the steps so that Damota could easily smash it. We then all ran to the crypt.

Sliding off the stone lid revealed an undead cleric Nedrezzar clutching a mace and wearing the symbol of Tiamat. It jumped up quickly, and as it stood there, I could think of nothing to help, so I made it appear as though its cloak had risen up and wrapped around its head. I don’t know if it helped or not, but we were able to subdue it quickly before it harmed us.

While my companions hoped that the crystal skull was the lich Nedrezzar’s phylactery, it appears to me that it was some sort of “magic jar”— but one that allowed the essence of the lich to hop from one corpse to the next rather than between living beings. So, Nedrezzar will reform— we have to either find that staff and reseal this crypt, or better, find and destroy the phylactery.

Posted by Kristin at 22:55 | Sprocket’s Journal

October 17, 2004

In which I did not fall asleep

Nosila's Journal

While waiting for the cloak to burn out and hopefully smother the centipedes, Ronya took his little brother outside. I guess things were too dangerous for Zym, for we haven’t seen them since! We also took a look inside the final unopened door of the room. Bryrgar quickly figured out that there was little more than an old well in the corner. While the others looked in, I stood in the doorway, listening for zombies. I could see into the altar room just a little, which reminded me - what did they ever find in there after I was nearly killed? When I asked, it turned out that they hadn’t stayed to check. Roscoe took this as a chance to search the room.. very, very carefully. Or so he thought. As I watched from the doorway, he set off the skeletons a second time!

I stepped inside the doors in case he couldn’t outrun the things, earning me a reminder from Charzth about staying out of trouble. I answered that I was standing well away from trouble but couldn’t leave the halfling alone against the things! As we argued, Roscoe was hit a couple of times but managed to get away and run past us out of the room, so I followed. I watched the things come stalking down the length of the hall even as Charzth and Bryrgar picked up the doors and tried to close it up. I really expected them to stay inside the altar room, but found myself in hand-to-hand combat instead!

This time, things went better. Charzth and Bryrgar used a door to crush two of the skeletons, Sprocket and I destroyed one, and Bryrgar finished off the last. They disappeared totally - nothing left! Then Bryrgar turned to me, said a few words, and healed me up a lot! I thanked him, too; much easier than a trip back to town! After our latest experience in that room, we all agreed to leave it alone. I followed Charzth and the others to yet another door - this one, Bryrgar had been unable to open before. With everyone there, the door was soon shattered. Inside was an opulent bedchamber.

Bryrgar and Charzth promptly smashed open the desk, and the dresser. They make quite a pair! I avoided the splinters by checking under the bed. Nothing. So I started flipping sheets and blankets and pillows and the mattress.. aha! I found a book! I gave that to Sprocket, who seems the most bookish of us all. Bryrgar found a little bag and Charzth found some clothes he wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. Poor husband! The bag proved to have some gemstones and parchment - more stuff for the bookish folk. In fact, the parchment seemed to show that one of the statues in the altar room ought to be looked at more closely. Hmmm.

We trooped back to the altar room for a third time. We stood at the edge of the danger zone so no skeletons appeared, while Sprocket and Roscoe stared at one of the statues by the altar and tried to figure out the code. My husband and the dwarf, of course, wanted to just fight it out with the skeletons.. again. Next thing I knew, Bryrgar stepped well over the line, while the rest of us scrambled back! To our surprise, nothing happened. We quickly took the opportunity to step up to the statue and check it out closely.

Charzth was soon holding Roscoe up to the statue’s breastplate. He looked at the plate, at the parchment, at the plate... we were all discussing how to follow the directions.. or was it discussing what would happen if we followed the directions? Finally, I made out that Roscoe wanted someone to push on the statue’s knee. I had no idea why, but at least I understood that direction, so I did. The kneecap promptly disappeared into the statue; I promptly hid behind my husband!

At the same time, the breastplate of the statue slid aside and we could see a hole with something in it. Charzth put Roscoe down and reached in, pulling out a bag full of something that clunked while the halfling jumped and hollered at his feet. Charzth handed the bag to Sprocket, who carefully opened it. She found more gems, some scrolls which she handed right to the dwarf, saying they were for clerics to heal people with, and a plain gold ring. Then she opened the book I’d found, hoping it had some clues to this whole mess!

Over two hundred years ago, the evil head cleric of this place wanted to become a lich. Though the journal ended right before the important ritual began, it did give us a clue; he had a secret room under the altar. Finally, we might meet and maybe destroy the thing that’s been attacking the town! Roscoe went over the altar, quickly finding that the skulls were trapped, and finally figuring out the way to press them down to cause the whole altar to slide aside. It exposed a set of steps into the dark, and a surprise - recent footprints in the dust! Roscoe lit his lantern, and we were off.

There was a chamber at the base of the steps, and doors to a crypt on the other side. There was another Tiamat symbol, and wow! Was that place cold! It got worse the closer you got to the doors, too. Unnatural. While Roscoe checked the big doors for traps, Bryrgar found a couple of smaller ones; he followed one down a hallway, then crash! Charzth walked carefully down to see that the floor had given way, and poor Bryrgar was impaled on a spike in a pit trap. We got Roscoe to slide down a rope and tie it around the dwarf, then pulled them up. I managed to stop his bleeding, but he looked pretty bad.

We really wanted to finish this before sundown and more zombies, so we decided to get poor Brygar some healing and keep going. This time, Charzth and I waited while Sprocket and Roscoe ran to town with some of the gems. They planned to buy some healing potions, but they returned with potions, the town paladin, and the sorcerer! I was pleased we’d have some extra help, because sitting next to that cold evil door really freaked me out. Even with my husband there.

Bryrgar was soon on his feet, ignoring Roscoe’s taunts about not checking for traps. As we walked to the big doors, writing appeared on them. Some bishop in the past had placed a wand and magic so that the lich could not escape. Although he warned not to disturb the place, we could see that the footprints went right inside. Roscoe pulled at the handle and was immediately shocked - so much for checking for traps, I fear! We stepped back while Bryrgar tried one of the new scrolls; the door sizzled, and we hoped the magic had been dispelled. Sure enough, the paladin was soon leading us down a new hallway. It got even colder.

And colder still when we found the real crypt, and sarcophagus, and all lit by an eerie green light! Charzth put me behind him for safety while the paladin noted an empty slot in the floor - the bishop’s wand, missing? We could also see a crystal skull on a shelf across the room. Bryrgar decided he wanted to follow the footprints and headed back upstairs; Charzth and I waited for the paladin, but not for long - the others were screaming about undead even before they got back to the altar!

As we ran to help our friends, a green light streaked over our shoulders from the lich’s room. It disappeared into one of the zombies ahead of us, and we knew that was a bad thing. Thankfully, the zombies were held back by a portcullis that slammed down between them and us - I think Sprocket found the lever, thank Ubtao! We were able to stab at the undead without taking so much hurt. Charzth suddenly turned and ran back to the lich’s room; thinking he’d heard something, I followed. I got to the end of the hall in time to see him smash the crystal skull to pieces. He was cut up by the shards in the ensuing explosion, but I was more worried that he landed on the sarcophagus.

I ran to help him, but he was already chopping at the sarcophagus itself. He hoped that destroying the skull would make it easier to destroy the creature inside the crypt. I helped him push the lid aside even as the same green ball of light flew back into the body of the lich inside... which stood up, holding a mace, dead eyes glowing with an evil light. Without a second thought Charzth and I attacked it together with the pick and shovel in our hands. We were helped by its cloak suddenly wrapping about its head and face - Sprocket? - and the paladin attacking it from behind. Slingstones and arrows flew through the room and others attacked, even as Charzth dropped the thing. Thank Ubtao!

I thought we were done, but I was as wrong as when I destroyed the head zombie in the graveyard. The clerics say the lich’s source of power is hidden in a phylactery, and it won’t be truly destroyed until the phylactery is, too. I don’t want this thing to come back in any form! We must find either the phylactery or the bishop’s wand, but that could be stolen again. Either way, the search is on.

Posted by Kate at 09:22 | Nosila’s Journal

October 30, 2004

No Respect

Roscoe's Journal

I realized recently that no one here has any respect for me. Now I understand the usual skepticism that comes in my line of work, honestly I do. However that is not what I’m currently dealing with. I get the distinct impression it’s because I’m a Hin that they either don’t trust me or that they think I’m not capable of doing my job. What they don’t realize is that it doesn’t matter if I get caught in a trap or not, as long as they don’t. I could have prevented Bryrgar from dropping in the pit had he allowed me to go first.

Now I know I didn’t exactly see the trap in the altar, but I did find out it was there, and I knew it opened up and went somewhere. I was unable to open it and I was asking Charzth to try something he got really defensive, wouldn’t even allow me to finish talking without making a side threat. No one would listen to me when I said push the knee cap on the statue. No, touch this symbol, touch that symbol. It doesn’t matter that I know what I’m doing. Then when the chest of the statue opens, I’m treated like I was going to attempt to steal it. Now first of all I wouldn’t do that, but even if I would, I wouldn’t have tried it in front of everyone. I’m telling you if they don’t let me do my job they are going to get caught in a very deadly trap; I’m not going down with them.

Well, anyway, after we finally got the altar top open we went down into what appeared to be the bottom of the evil place and found the sarcophagus. Shortly after, the undead arrived and we were in the heat of battle. Now Charzth is no coward, but watching him run from the fight confused me. Then Nosila ran after him. I’d have gone to see what was up, but my bow was given some temporary magical help so I focused on attacking the enemy who was held behind a gate that appeared out of nowhere. Then suddenly there was this loud explosion from behind me, so I turned to look and found Charzth dripping with blood from what appeared to be a thousand small punctures. Then in the very next second all the undead appeared to just fall. Bryrgar, Charzth, and Nosila were able to lift the lid off the sarcophagus, and this lich rose up and the fight was on. It didn’t take to long to put it down, and it was made clear that if we didn’t destroy his phylactery he would come back.

I was wondering where it would be when it hit me. The tall people don’t like us Hin. I don’t know if Sprocket has the same problem or not, I’ll have to ask her sometime. However I have made a decision, I’m going to keep with these tall ones for as long as I can, and I will do my best to prevent them from being injured by traps and stuff, but if they wont allow me to do so then I’m just going to hang back and watch them, and hopefully, they will come around.

Posted by Fred at 23:42 | Roscoe’s Journal