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February 6, 2005

Surprise, someone lied!

Nosila's Journal

We left the boat moored in its tree stand, and walked toward the town. Roscoe walked far ahead of us in case Bryrgar made any sudden moves; still a little paranoid! I wasn’t happy about tromping on the ground, but Bryrgar says those things are nighttime creatures. I hoped so!

We walked by farms, and farmers at work. Everything looked very normal - nothing like the area around the lich’s domain! Yet this was supposed to be the realm of an even worse evil? We eventually stopped at one of the farmsteads to ask about the area, and the lord of Thornhold.

Despite Sprocket’s quizzing, the farmers had nothing bad to say of their lord, Tarik. While Bryrgar traded for a little food, we talked about Pommeville (the lich’s town, now), and heard rumors of trouble, but still, no problems around here. Confused, we followed in Roscoe’s footsteps until we reached a hill above the town.

The town was on a river, with a small keep above. Roscoe wandered into town to find things out, while the rest of us rested a little (and Bryrgar ate his lunch). When the halfling returned, we were left as stumped as ever. The lord of this town seemed to be no demon, but a good fighter who defeated evil here a few years ago, and now spends his time going on quests defeating it elsewhere.

We followed Roscoe to the only bar in the place, and got rooms for the night. Then, we went shopping, and information gathering. The shopping went well (I got new armor to replace my chewed equipment), but the information gathering? I think we’re on an impossible quest! There’s no fiend here! What do we do? Besides go back and kill my husband and the lich, that is...

By the time everyone met back at the bar, loaded down with new weapons and magic, Bryrgar was concerned about the lack of holy water in town, and Sprocket had found out that the lord Tarik’s wedding was being held in the spring. In the meantime, adventurers are wanted to go on a quest to Pommeville, and destroy the lich! Bryrgar, being the only one not under a spell, chose to go to the keep and see the lord.

When he got back, he said the lord seems like an OK guy. He didn’t tell him our real trouble, though, so the party got into a discussion of what to do about it. We were still worried that there may be a secret life to this place! We decided to sleep on it. This meant spending the night at the bar. Roscoe thought he might learn more, but ended up very drunk and ranting about conspiracies. Bryrgar went to the shrine in town again, and Sprocket studied while I drank ale with her familiar until it was time to scoop the halfling up and drop him into bed.

In the morning, Sprocket and Roscoe suddenly decided to go and meet with the lord’s fiancee. They thought that perhaps she might hold the key to this mystery. Worse, they almost talked me into going, too! I made it halfway across town before imagining what this would sound like to the lady, and stopped in my tracks. I ended up going off with Bryrgar, instead. He was looking for wedding gift ideas. I thought about my husband...

By the time we got back to the bar, we found out the results of our friends’ escapade. Four guards were looking for me! Bryrgar walked with me as we went to the keep, wondering what would happen now!

Thank Ubtao, the lord does seem to be OK. I would not look at him, in case this curse forced me to attack, but Bryrgar explained everything he could, and Tarik actually listened. He even let the gnome and halfling out of their “safe” cell, so that Bryrgar could check everyone in the keep for signs of evil. Finding none(!), he said that it was OK for us to stay in the tavern while he waits for powerful friends to arrive. They’re coming to help him fight the lich, but one may be able to release us from the curse.

Maybe things will turn out all right, after all!

Posted by Kate at 09:26 | Nosila’s Journal

February 10, 2005


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 at 18:43 | Sprocket’s Journal

February 11, 2005

Maiyr's Bio

Maiyr's Journal ~PC Bios~

Maiyr, image (c) Kristin Johnson

Thus far...

Well, where do I start? Often I hear this story from the begging, you know when they were born and all. I would like to start there but to tell you the truth I really don’t remember the day.

My earliest memories are from the age of six or so. They are memories of living on the streets of Waterdeep. I can not tell you my parents’ names for I can’t recall ever meeting them. No… better yet let’s just say I grew up with the streets as my parents. Not that I am complaining mind you, a young lad can learn a lot picking pockets and stealing food to survive. Whatever, I don’t mind.

Growing up in the gutters, performing tricks for coin, or sneaking into basements for warmth in the winters, I learned to survive no matter what. By the age of fifteen I was running errands for some people I am trying to forget. While this may seem wrong to many, I had regular meals and people who protected me. In the end it is all good.

Around the age of 25 I was taken in by a temple to Tyr. And it is there I learned that there is no justice in this realm that you don’t make for yourself. Oh don’t get me wrong, they were nice to me for a while. Until I figured out how they were using me to strike at those who used to befriend me. Whatever, I learned a lesson.

There is something else that happened around that time. Ale, oh blessed nectar of the gods. And with ale comes bars, and with bars comes adventurers. I would listen to their tales of the road and revel in the songs of glory. It is around this time that I also figured out what I really enjoy in life. Ale, women, ale, the open sky above me with the road at my feet. And ale. Oh, there was one other thing I learned that I like, it was in my last night in town; I like a good fight. Of course as it stands now there are four dead, found at the docks, IT WAS SELF DEFENSE. The fact that they were town guard does no go well for me though. Alas, this put me on the road, so it is all good.

I found myself hired on a caravan as a guard to Luskin. Humans can’t tell how old elves are, so I lied about my age. I fit in well and traveled a few months with them. Well until the time we were attacked and nearly slaughtered to the man. The greed of others never seems to amaze me. So a new road had to be taken.

I traveled for many years, finding no place to my liking, until. Until I found the Border Kingdoms. Oh what a place. No real government to speak of, just a bunch of small kingdoms. Well that is what they call them, some of these so-called kings have complete reign over forty people. Battles from skirmishes to all out wars are common place. I witnessed one town change rulers four times in a week. Change can be good.

One kingdom knows me best. Lord Sotac the Kind has three beautiful daughters, three daughters I know very well. Sotac the Kind has declared that I am to be killed on sight. Sometimes when I am sneaking back out of his kingdom at night I think he will kill me soon. But one quick look back to his daughters and I remember it is all worth it. Ah, women.

Over the years I have made a minor name for myself here. I am usually recognized quickly when I come into town. Some towns give me welcome, for I have done a great service for them. Others just see me as another traveling sword, a man to be used or ignored. A few, well… a few see me as a marked man, as someone who stood in their way and defied the will of their people. Like I said, I love it here.

Character sheet: Maiyr [Wood Elf Fighter]

Posted by Kristin at 20:11 | Maiyr’s Journal | ~PC Bios~

February 17, 2005

The Power of Darkness

Sprocket's Journal

Uktar 20, 1373 DR, near Barak’s Tomb

Roscoe was coming around, Nosila was preparing to take Bryrgar’s body outside to bury near the barn, and Widget was sporting a bright gold coat (and I see that, as usual, my hair’s own color has adjusted to match). I was attempting to find anything in the farmhouse that could help us in our not-yet-completed task, when we all saw an elf in dark clothes appear in the doorway of the kitchen. Apparently he’d just been passed by an old woman on the road who was terrified and fleeing from the “bandits” in her house! We attempted to explain to this elf, who goes by the name Maiyr, that we were the victims (I had to assume that he thought Bryrgar had died defending the old woman), and that the cultists’ robes we were all wearing were borrowed. Maiyr was not easily convinced, and in fact had visited this farm many times in his wanderings, always welcomed with hospitality and fresh apple pie.

We were in no mood or condition to let things get ugly, and it occurred to me that, since he clearly wasn’t from Thornhold, we could, and should, show him the shrine under the barn to convince him. Nosila went back to the task of burying our dwarven cleric while Roscoe and I took Maiyr down to see the altar room. Roscoe was incensed that the altar was still pulsating with his blood in it; our chained assailants were claiming complete innocence. I think it was only the fact that there was an evil altar under the farmhouse that convinced Maiyr of our situation, as the cultist/farmhands were acting the part of the victims! While this was going on, Roscoe asked if he could see the Silver Rod and I absentmindedly handed it over to him for inspection.

Seconds later I saw a pulsating light, followed by the sound of an explosion, as Roscoe touched the holy artifact to the altar! Maiyr and I ran for all we were worth, up the ladder and out of the barn (too afraid to slow down, I used a mage hand spell on the way past the two penned in mules to release their latches ; they quickly bolted out of the barn and out of sight), grabbing Nosila on the way past. We had to keep running, until we were almost 200 feet away from the barn, as a sinkhole was forming in our wake. As we watched a lake of magma some 300 feet across form where the sunken remains of the farmhouse and barn had been, we knew that Roscoe did not survive— most likely he didn’t survive the initial explosion. At least there is no chance of Bryrgar or Roscoe ever being raised as zombies. This reminded me, we still have to eliminate the Maiden, and Nedrezzar. Without the Silver Rod. It is of some small comfort that the demon prince will not be released from the Abyss by use of that altar!

Maiyr pointed out that Nosila and I looked like we hadn’t rested for quite some time and offered to keep watch for us if we wanted to rest in a nearby copse of trees— we are not sure how well we’d be received in Thornhold, even though the destruction of the farm thwarted the Maiden. We agreed and wandered off a few hundred feet further into some vegetation, just as Lord Taricz and about a dozen guardsmen appeared on the scene— the explosion had been clearly heard in the town.

I’m not entirely sure what Maiyr said (Widget could hear him talking to the gathering crowd, but couldn’t make out what was discussed) but apparently he explained it well enough to the guards and other onlookers. Widget did hear someone yell, “Ankhegs did it!”

Apparently one of the passersby decided this whole situation was too interesting to ignore, and Maiyr figured since this armored guy on a large horse was coming from a direction other than Thornhold, he was probably safe enough to bring into his confidence— plus the tall human had actually seen the “old woman” heading north. Both Maiyr, and this human, who calls himself Darvin, came to find Nosila and I after the crowd had dispersed. I have no problems with humans, though I suspect some of the tallest ones have trouble with critical thinking— perhaps the air is thinner up there, or it takes a while for new information to make it up the steep climb to their brains. Thankfully Nosila doesn’t suffer from this, but I suspect Darvin might.

As we got ourselves ready to head north through rolling plains, I let it be known that Widget had the scent of the half-fiend and would attempt to track her. Darvin just kept saying, “I can’t believe we’re following a rat!” (Widget told me later that he couldn’t believe he had to lead that tall guy around, but I’m sure they’ll eventually get along.) Darvin also seemed concerned that I was carrying such a dangerous weapon (the pistol, not Widget). I was wondering if someone covered from head to toe in steel plate could be a pacifist. The sun was setting as we continued north, and Darvin lit a lantern. I had no problem with this— I realize human eyes are not accustomed to lower light levels. I just grabbed Nosila’s hand as we continued forward, as I easily adjusted to the fading light.

Suddenly, the air was filled with slingstones as six diminutive silhouettes appeared in the dimness in front of us. I swear one of our new companions yelled “halflings!” but gnomes have no such problems identifying the reptilian humanoid marauders— kobolds!

I was getting ready to aim my pistol at one of the vile creatures when a lantern was thrust at me— Darvin expected me to wander around as a beacon for an enemy of all gnomish-kind! Talented though I may be, I can’t hold a lantern and protect the party. I tried to tell him this while casting an armor spell, but he dropped the lantern at my feet and raced off into the darkness. Luckily, Nosila had a use for it and snatched it up!

Nosila took on three on one side of our path and Maiyr sliced into the other three. I created the illusion of an ankheg, which frightened off a few of the spineless kobolds that were already backing away from the attacks of Nosila and Maiyr. Or maybe it was Darvin yelling, “I can’t see! Where’s my lantern?” that scared them off. I almost was run over by one kobold attempting to flee my illusion— unfortunately I couldn’t aim my pistol quickly enough and it got away. I’m sure these creatures will think twice before attacking any other groups with a gnome in them!

As Maiyr raced around looting the bodies (for a total of five copper pieces), Nosila returned the lantern to Darvin. He tried to insinuate that I was not fit for much more than a lantern bearer, but then, he doesn’t know me, so I will forgive him this one time. Widget thinks he may just discriminate against small things— this may be true— he’s got a very large two-bladed weapon, and his horse is as big as my kitchen was back home.

We continued our trek north; the rest of the night was uneventful.

Shortly after sunrise, we heard a rumble echoing across the plains but headed in our general direction— a bison stampede! They were aimed in the general direction of southeast, so we let them pass and headed northwest, where we saw two hunters skinning a dead bison. Maiyr was diplomatic and walked up to them, voiced a few pleasantries and then asked them if an old woman had passed them recently? They replied in the affirmative, and wondered why were had asked, so I added that there had been trouble back on her farm and she needed to be found and directed homeward. They seemed a bit friendlier and added that she’d been headed right towards Barak’s Tomb, and even gave us a bit of local lore. Seems Barak had been a warlord some 100 to 115 years ago, and after his army defeated a neighboring realm, had died of a mortal wound incurred in battle. His troops buried him in a stone cairn where he died.

We thanked the hunters and continued north, and arrived at a stone cairn a few hours later.

Posted by Kristin at 00:15 | Sprocket’s Journal

February 19, 2005

Darvin's Bio

Darvin's Journal XPCs

Darvin and Hoar image (c) Kristin Johnson

They call me Darvin

I guess my story begins almost six years ago when my father died. My mom had passed away a few years earlier during a harsh winter, and I helped my father take care of our farm. We barely had enough to eat on a regular basis, and the winters were hard. I came home from tending to some fences to find him seemingly asleep on the chair. When I tried to wake him I found him cold and stiff. It was a week later that I sold the farm to a neighbor, and headed out on my own.

I traveled most of the land, and met many strange people. At a glance, the different stories about the races seem true, but as I traveled with them I noticed that no matter how different the races are, they are also very much alike. It’s odd to see how a halfling can manipulate elves and dwarves alike into a decision they wouldn’t not have normally made. I had to laugh when I watched an elf drink a dwarf under the table. That dwarf still insists that his drink was drugged. It still scares me when I see a gnome working on some invention or other. Those things always seem to explode, and someone always gets hurt from it.

I had heard there was some trouble brewing down by the Lake of Steam a few weeks ago, so I’m headed there now. Who knows, maybe it’ll be fun.

Character sheets: Darvin Dundragon [Human Fighter]
Hoar [Heavy War Horse]

Cause of death: Rolling down stone steps to retrieve lantern, catching on fire, being attacked by undead, eventually being rendered unconscious. Mercy killing by party member.

Posted by Kristin at 23:53 | Darvin’s Journal | XPCs

February 20, 2005

This place is strange

Nosila's Journal

We waited in the tavern for the Lord’s friends. I drank ale with Sprocket’s rat while she studied a new spell. She said it would help her identify magical things, but when we asked Bryrgar to come down from the Lord’s keep with the silver rod, she found that its magic was too powerful. She identified another wand, instead, and we found out how the chairs and wardrobe attacked us before - it “animates objects”. Bryrgar headed back to the keep, and the rest of us drank ale until we passed out.

The surprising part was where we woke up! Somehow, the tavern had vanished, and our possessions with it! Sprocket, her rat, and I were chained to a cold stone wall, but poor Roscoe was chained to a black stone altar in the middle of the room. When he struggled to get free, the inside of the altar began to glow with a dull red light. We shouted at him to stop! And he did, but we were unable to free ourselves or him, and waited a long time for someone to arrive.

When they did, it was horrifying! Four black-robed figures entered the room, ignored all of us, and began to chant around the altar while poking at Roscoe to make him bleed even more. I think the halfling went a little mad; I can’t blame him! As the door opened, and a fifth figure entered, I heard Sprocket start to mutter under her breath. Some greenish mist began to form over the altar - three of the figures got excited and chanted louder, but the fourth turned to give Sprocket a stare!

At this point, the last figure by the doorway raised its arms and suddenly - several dogs appeared out of nowhere and attacked the chanters at the altar! Sprocket made her figure “dive” from over Roscoe and into one of the chanters, and I was stuck chained to a wall as Bryrgar (for it was he) and his dogs saved us all. Both he and Roscoe were a mess by the time the survivors were chained to the wall in our place, but they got all kinds of the real story... which sent us all up the stairs to kill the “old woman” in the farmhouse.

We managed to drive the fiend off, but not kill her, and I am grieved to say that Bryrgar did not survive the battle. He died valiantly!

We stood in the farmhouse, aware that half the town was not under their own control, and the geas unfulfilled. So, what did we do? Started to loot the house! We didn’t get far before #1: a very injured halfling woke up, thank Ubtao! #2: an elf burst through the door, swords drawn, threatening us all after hearing quite a story from the “old woman” fleeing the farmhouse. We tried to explain, but Roscoe kept insulting the elf, and finally he and Sprocket took the elf down to the altar room to “prove” our side of the story. I headed out to the barn for a shovel, and went to dig a grave for our friend.

I had not dug very far when I heard a rumble! “WHAT did they do now?” was all I thought, before a *boom* from underground sent me racing for the now-shaking barn. I pulled out my rope and got ready to throw it to my friends, for I could see the whole building was sinking into the ground. I got to the barn doors in time to get out of the way of the gnome, the elf, and two mules running for safety. No Roscoe?! I had no time to ask, for the whole farm was sinking into a pit! We reached the safety of a hill nearby...

The whole farm was now a pit of magma! I felt terrible: no bodies of our friends to bury, no bishop’s rod to help us finish the fiend off! “Maiyr” the elf now believes our story, but was it worth that Roscoe getting himself killed? Meanwhile, Sprocket and I went off to hide until nightfall, and the elf stayed at the main road to gauge the locals’ reaction to the evil fiend’s apparent demise. We went to sleep in a tree, and woke at nightfall by tumbling out (Sprocket landed on me).

When we got back to the magma lake, Maiyr had found a new friend. He’s a human named Darvin. Darvin was interested enough in our story to offer to join up for a while (I don’t know why he thinks we have any opportunity for treasure, but maybe he just likes doing good deeds now and then). We found out that the Lord arrived at the head of some troops, but seemed OK, just “normal” worried about the people who lived here. The “old woman” was last seen heading north, and it seemed the best idea to follow her immediately.

(I guess magma pools aren’t unusual around here. No one seemed surprised by its sudden appearance, while to me, it was the strangest part!)

North we went, with Widget out and sniffing for any trace of the “old woman“‘s scent. Darvin was rather doubtful of this method of tracking, so Sprocket told many lies to reassure him. Suddenly, slingstones hit us all from the darkness of the trees! I don’t know why we weren’t being more careful, except that it had been a veryy rough day. We lost two friends so fast! Still, we were being attacked from all sides, and I couldn’t see a thing! Happily, Darvin put his lantern down next to Sprocket when he and Maiyr ran to one side, so I snatched it up and ran toward the other.

I found kobolds! Sprocket (I hope) created an ankeg to attack them, while I raged through several kobolds until the rest of them ran away. Rejoining the party around Darvin’s horse, I found out that he leeft the lantern by Sprocket in the hopes that she’d hold it up to provide him with light to fight by - so he wasn’t happy that I ran off with it! Thankfully, no one was killed by the mistake. We continued our walking until morning, and the end of the woods.

Wide plains rolled away before us. We couldn’t see anything moving, but we hoped for the best and continued northward. We could feel the rumble of the bison long before we saw a huge herd stampeding, but luckily it didn’t come our way. Amazing! A little while after that, we caught sight of two humans skinning a bison carcass. Maiyr snuck up on them, startling them, but managed not to get skewered. He quizzed them about the “old woman”, and Sprocket told some lies, and we found out that she was seen heading for some old ruins. We thanked them, and followed their directions to - Barak’s Tomb.

Posted by Kate at 09:30 | Nosila’s Journal

February 24, 2005

Dangerous Footing

Sprocket's Journal

Uktar 21, 1373 DR, outside of Thornhold

It took us all of two minutes to figure out the way into the cairn, as a stone slab on the side had been pushed away, leaving an opening to some stairs leading downward. Not surprisingly, there was a sarcophagus, which we assumed contained the remains of the late Warlord Barak; four dwarven statues flanked it and seemed to be posed to hold up the ceiling of the 20’ round chamber. Maiyr’s keen elven eyes spotted a crack in the wall, which upon further examination revealed an opening about 30” wide. We followed behind him through a hallway that widened as it went down, and wondered if there were any traps to worry about. Maiyr managed to find a tripwire with his boot, and took the brunt of the damage from the axe that swung down in response.

We continued on and soon came to an area that was slightly larger than Barak’s burial chamber. Two human-sized tunnels led out of this cavern, and 6 Widget-sized tunnels were dotted around the edges. Nosila bent down to look into one and found a pair of beady red eyes staring back! Widget, who must have heard or sensed something, squeaked for everyone to get to the center of the room; unfortunately, none of us speak rat, so we missed his rather sound advice. Large unnatural rats began to swarm out of the holes. I say unnatural, not only because there was something about their features that wasn’t quite right, but because they didn’t respond to my or Widget’s pleas to cease attacking. Not that it would have done them any good— the rest of our party was slicing through them quickly (and getting bitten in the process). In an attempt to scare them away, I created the illusion of a large green cat that hissed and growled. It was hard to concentrate on that with Widget squeaking, Darvin talking to me (at one point I attempted to have the cat bat him out of my line of sight), and the general mayhem. The cat, or possibly all the weapons, scared off the last few fiendish rats.

We dusted ourselves off and decided to check out the two remaining tunnels. The right tunnel took us to a shaft giving off an orange glow and a lot of heat— we didn’t want to mess with lava again so soon if we didn’t have to! As we backtracked, I placed an alarm spell on the “rat room” in case anything followed out of the right tunnel. We took the left tunnel, and came to a bridge over a lava flow. While seemingly easier to traverse, it was guarded by two dretches who took offense to our presence.

At this point, Maiyr took off in the direction we’d come from, Darvin ran up to them and threw up (and even though Widget doesn’t vomit, whatever bothered Darvin got to him too— I heard him doing something nasty in the confines of my backpack). I was able to stun one dretch with some spells, while Nosila ran up to engage one dretch and nearly flew off the bridge when she slipped on Darvin’s vomit. She managed to catch herself and push one of the dretches off the bridge. I cast another spell at the stunned one, which collapsed at this point, and Nosila pushed it off into the lava as well. Darvin recovered from being sick, and Maiyr came running back in (sporting yet another axe wound), just as soon as there was nothing to see.

We collected ourselves and headed onward, coming to a good-sized chamber. The floor was strewn with humanoid and animal bones, and the only piece of furniture was a ragged bed. Before we could investigate further, the half-fiend appeared, and cast a cloud of greasy darkness on us that made us all quite sick. I thought I was going to pass out, but Darvin, who apparently has been looking after me in spite of his bravado, yelled to me to grab the one potion on his belt and drink it. I was immediately healed and able to concentrate on defeating the Maiden of Pain. But where was she? I couldn’t see her, but suddenly there was Widget on my shoulder, pointing and squeaking. I told my companions that she was still in the room, in spite of the sounds of footsteps in the hall behind us. She reappeared as everyone attempted to slash at the area where she’d last been seen. My stronger spells hadn’t had much effect on her before, but I had quite a cantrips left that could at least distract her. I used a simple mage hand spell to yank the tattered blanket off the bed and wrap it around her head. My companions were able to get a few attacks in while she disentangled herself. Heartened by this, I ran behind her and cast a spell innate to gnomes (and mostly used for parlor tricks). A few rather unrealistic bananas appeared at her feet. I can’t imagine what went through her mind, if she even noticed, but she knew I was casting behind her and spun around to confront me. It turned out to be a fatal mistake as she slipped on a peel and went down. Prone, she was unable to defend herself and died quickly.

I feel as if a great weight has been lifted— the geas is broken! I could see that Nosila was feeling the same way, while Maiyr and Darvin looked, well, ill. In fact, Darvin passed out a few moments later— and he had given me his only healing potion. Both Nosila and Widget ran to him to attempt first aid, and at least he seems stable. We decided it would be best to get out of the cairn, but first we looked for anything of value on the body of the half-fiend. She wore a gold and sapphire ring etched with runes, and on her belt was a wood and paper fan, and a key. We looked under the bed and found a chest that happened to have a keyhole in it, so we considered ourselves well-compensated and dragged ourselves out to where Darvin’s horse waited patiently. We also took the scaly green body of the Maiden with us, to show to Lord Taricz.

I was impatient, and attempted to open the chest, despite Nosila’s request to hold off till we were someplace with a healer available. I briefly wondered why, since I had the key, but after pushing it into the lock, I felt a pin prick (and just a wee bit weaker!). The pain was worth it though, as the chest contained 900 gold pieces and several nice gems. I’m not sure what the fan does, though it radiates evocation magic. Widget told me that the ring would be handy for him, but he let me try it on. It contains a power that allows a wizard to cast more spells than can normally be cast in a single day, and apparently provides some magical protection as well. I hope my comrades don’t mind me keeping it!

We rested until sunrise; thankfully, our camp by the cairn went undisturbed. Darvin doesn’t look any worse, but has not regained consciousness. Thankfully his horse is quite strong and was able to carry both Darvin and the Maiden’s bodies for the return trip.

The excitement we felt at completing our goal was dampened by what we found as we were passing the magma lake where the Maiden’s farm had been. Circling the lake is the ghostly form of a badly-burned halfing.

Posted by Kristin at 00:15 | Sprocket’s Journal

February 27, 2005

My Human Shadow

Maiyr's Journal

We found the place the fiend went; it had made a home below an old grave of a hero. A large pile of rocks with a fallen dwarven hero underneath. There has to be some kind of irony here.

We started working our way down, found some traps. I don’t want to go first anymore. This group I travel with argues a lot, I am finding that I am not very patient for it. I get tired of it and walk away; Darvin is always first behind me. My human shadow.

More traps, and then some rats. Large and smelling fiendish, cool we must be on the right track.

The rats fall easily, Sprockets makes illusions. During the fight she produced a large cat, taller than me. It fought and helped scare the rats. Nosila warned me when it first arrived, Sprocket has quite a talent. Only problem, I hate cats.

Argue and wonder, we found the bridge guarded by two more of the fiend’s pets. They cast some sort of spell that made me run. I hate when that happens. Why can’t they fight sword to sword like men? When I got back it seems the two women had defeated them. Won’t live this down.

Found its home, bones and stench everywhere. Finally a good battle, we slay the fiend. I never had fought a fiend before and almost feel guilty; it was wounded when we got there. Just wasn’t even enough, almost unfair.

The beast had cast some spells on us, I am weakened and Darvin is well into unconscious. At least he isn’t following me.

Posted by Kristin at 08:29 | Maiyr’s Journal