Sprocket's Journal
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Sprocket’s Bio

Sprocket and Widget, image (c) Kristin Johnson


Sprocket Waywocket Shadowspinner is the only daughter of Lundil and Rilla Shadowspinner, a well-respected inventor/merchant family from Anchoril on the island of Lantan. Sprocket’s favorite part of her family’s work involves the travel, or more specifically, the instantaneous travel through portals. She also enjoys studying a variety of subjects and has an aptitude for magic. She has the typical gnomish sense of humor and has, on occasion, used illusion spells for such fun things as making a popular portal to Waterdeep look like it led to one of the Nine Hells, or at least, what she suspects the Nine Hells would look like. That trick would probably be even funnier if used on non-gnomes.

She studied magic under the tutelage of a local illusionist Nathee Nornock and became best friends with Nathee’s son Cognoggin, himself an inventor instructed by Sprocket’s mother Rilla. When Sprocket’s studies were complete, she was presented with a beautiful little white rat born to Nathee’s own familiar. Sprocket and Widget took to each other immediately.

Widget’s fur changes color on occasion, and since he’s become Sprocket’s familiar, her own hair changes to match his coat. She adores him though, and considers her hair color changes a gift rather than an unwanted side-effect. Both are somewhat green as of this writing. Ironically, Widget’s changes probably are a side-effect of being born in the Nornock’s household “lab” quite close to a not-entirely-stable portal. Sprocket sometimes calls him her “moodrat.”

Now that she’s old enough to strike out on her own, Sprocket has been doing what she likes best— hopping through portals to various parts of the Realms.


Widget and I decided to help out testing the new portal outside of Anchoril. We’ve been having a lot of fun going through the various portals on Lantan, usually with a group of gnomish inventors and merchants, or, if we are lucky, wizards that can whisk us back home soon after. Half the fun is finding a return trip home though— we’ve been able to travel as far as Waterdeep (lots of portals there!), Chult (scary sounds in the jungle and people twice as tall as me!), and the Pirate Isles (we went through a portal with the entire ship on the way home!). This time we didn’t get dropped in a place with any known portals (well, any I know of!), and stranger still, we didn’t arrive with the rest of the portal party, and I have yet to find any gnome merchants to obtain quick passage home. I’m in the Border Kingdoms, I’m sure, because I can smell the Lake of Steam from here. Looks like the perfect excuse to try other means of travel, though I’d like to send word home to mom, dad and Cognoggin (and the designer of the “nonmagical portal” for that matter) that I’m okay, but 2000 miles or so off course, and on Midsummer’s Eve of all days.

Character sheet: Sprocket Shadowspinner [Rock Gnome Illusionist]
Widget [Rat Familiar]

Posted by Kristin on August 28, 2004, 21:45

Worst Midsummer’s Festival Ever!

Midsummer 1373 DR, Pommeville

In no time at all I was able to establish that I was in Pommeville, a hamlet with several hundred people, mostly farmlands, and near the River Scelptar. And, as I had assumed, not too far from the odiferous Lake of Steam. Poor Widget got one whiff and with a squeak burrowed down as far as he could in my backpack. Odd, he usually doesn’t mind bad smells.

Now that I think on it, I’ve never been anywhere where gnomes were not somewhere nearby, so I started to look for some. Perhaps the smell of the Lake is too much for them— the owners of the Green Griffin Inn, Jelanna and Roland Grimstead, tell me the closest gnome family is the Begleys, a half-day’s walk west of here, and the closest wizard, in a tower just outside of town, when he’s around at all. I was inclined to set off immediately towards one or the other, but the smell isn’t nearly as strong in the Inn, and Widget and I could use a meal anyway. As I sat eating, I noticed other patrons filtering in and out— some clearly were new to town, such as the glum-looking dwarf at the bar and the wide-eyed halfling that was simply not blending in, and some were clearly new to civilization in general. The “new to civilization in general” would be the pair of huge dark-skinned human barbarians that were not at all familiar with how eating utensils were used. The male of the pair (well, I’m assuming it was the male— he looked guilty) missed his mouth completely with a slab of potato that somehow managed to hit me. Just in case he did it on purpose, I had to respond in kind, and a moment later a 6’ tall potato man, with arms, legs and an attitude, was tapping the male on the shoulder. While it wasn’t meant to scare the humans, I would have been less surprised if they’d at least been wary of the mutant tuber, but instead, they attempted to carve it up with their hunting knives and eat it. I dismissed the spurious spud with a grand gesture— that seemed to illicit a response, at least— the halfling in the corner was clapping and ordering a round of potatoes as the barbarians made sounds of disappointment about the big one that got away. Making the new plate of potatoes wail, “help, don’t eat me!” only made the female giggle. Makes me wonder what kind of vegetables are available where they come from.

I saw that a half-elf dressed in town guard garb was sitting with the glum dwarf at the bar— I gave up on any chance of excitement presenting itself any time soon and headed up to my rented room.

The accommodations where human-sized, but comfortable enough. Widget and I settled in and got a few hours of sleep, when I heard what could only be a dwarven battle cry, and smelled, well, it made the Lake of Steam smell pleasant by comparison. Widget was already burrowing to the bottom of my pack by the time I got to the door to open it.

Phew! Seems the glum dwarf from the bar had attracted a zombie! He was grappling with an undead human in the doorway across from me, and another rotting creature was gaining entrance to the room next to his. I shot a magic missile at it, but it didn’t damage it enough— it clawed its way through the door.

Two very naked barbarians flew into the fray, dispatching at least one zombie as another, then another, appeared in the small hallway. Apparently the halfling was also a guest in Green Griffin, as I could hear him yelling something to the male barbarian. I attempted to shoot the undead thing in that doorway with my flintlock pistol, but I’ve yet to master aiming the darn thing. It made a wonderful noise though. Widget surfaced from my backpack briefly to spit a spare bullet into my hand and I attempted to reload and try again.

I missed the second time too, but someone else managed to take out the foul creature.

The hall was clearing out as the would-be heroes ran down the steps and out into the street. I grabbed my pack and followed, reloading as I went. The innkeeper, Randal, exclaimed as one of the zombies lurched towards us, “That’s my uncle— he died months ago!” At least a dozen more zombies were meandering through the streets, attacking villagers. The dwarf and the naked barbarians were engaging them directly, while the sensible halfling was lobbing arrows at them from a respectable distance. Thankfully, the authorities appeared with a plan of action. Since a large portion of the town guard (5 people) were insisting we’d stand a better chance making a stand at the town’s only temple, I willingly followed them, assuming that the others would break off and make a stand with us. I noticed that, though the halfling was making some small progress towards the temple, the rest stubbornly stayed within arm’s length of the undead.

The Shrine to Ilmater was— small. There were no clerics, which meant, no one to ask to kindly turn the undead back. There was a paladin (or as he prefers to be called, a Holy Warrior of Suffering) guarding the main entrance, as well as the half-elf from the town guard (whose name is Amber). A few adepts made up the remainder of the clergy. None of them had ever dealt with undead. Ah, well. They were going to get a chance, I feared, as the undead where heading towards us.

Eventually the others from the Inn made their way to the temple, and the adepts did their best to patch them up while the zombies clawed at the door. The clawing went on for hours, during which the barbarians, dwarf and halfling made small talk. The barbarians (now dressed) are Nosila and Charzth, recently from Chult; the halfling, Roscoe, wandered in from the Shaar; and the dwarf, Bryrgar, is actually now the only cleric in the town, though he’s guided by Clangeddin, not Ilmater. He hails from Citadel Adbar, which is even further away than Lantan. Strange, I get the impression they all simply walked here— hardly a proper method of traveling long distances!

I also got to hear some interesting events from some of the townfolk while the other out-of-towners chatted amongst themselves. About a week ago, a band of adventurers, led by a cleric named Giles, passed through on their way to examine some ruins on the outskirts of town. Giles was on a pilgrimage, following the path of one of his order that had passed through many years before. Of course, none of the townsfolk relating this to me knew what order the cleric was from. I also learned that the hamlet, though run by a mayor (absent from the temple), is under the “leadership” of one Malvis the Enchanter, whose tower is on the opposite edge of town from the ruins. Malvis, as is customary with wizardly adventurers, has not been seen around for several weeks, though his tower is safe enough from vandals.

Eventually, the pounding of the thwarted undead ceased, and we opened the temple doors a crack, in time to see the shambling horde wandering towards the town cemetery. Not having had enough of a beating the night before, the other out-of-towners, who I now realize I’ve been lumped in with as part of a new “band of adventurers,” decided to take one more crack at them on their home turf. At least this time the town guard, and the paladin, chose to go that way as well, so I went along too. Without a proper night’s rest my spells are all but useless, but I figured I could talk to a groundhog at the cemetery if no obvious clues to the goings-on with the undead presented themselves.

There were clues aplenty though. The zombies, with several captive townsfolk in their clutches, where gathering around one with a distinctly evil glint in its eyes. Before we could do anything, this undead overseer grabbed the head of one villager and the poor person’s head just disintegrated. As he reached for the next, several of us attacked at once. I got my one and only hit with a bullet— right in the evil thing’s face. It looked irritated for a brief moment then repeated its cranium crumbling on the next hapless villager. I saw Roscoe standing (wisely) behind Nosila as Charzth and Bryrgar attacked zombies directly. I ran up to stand behind her as well so I could reload my pistol with total cover, but a moment later she was sprinting clear across the graveyard. Roscoe and I were backing up as quickly as we could, when Nosila must have hit her mark— a burst of green light erupted from the lead zombie as it fell. As the light darted away to the ruins on the northeast edge of the hamlet, the other zombies all fell where they stood.

As we “adventurers” headed back to the inn for breakfast, I racked my brain for a reason to not just continue on to the Begley farm. I couldn’t come up with a good one, though I still hope to find a way to contact my family and Cognoggin soon, so they know I’m taking the scenic route home!

Posted by Kristin on September 15, 2004, 23:53

Brains!

Eleasis 1, 1373 DR, Pommeville

The fun just keeps coming. After a fairly nice and quiet breakfast of potatoes (and yes, the barbarians were quite miffed that the giant potato golem didn’t provide a repeat performance), Widget and I went back up to our room so I could study and we could get the rest we missed the evening before. After enough hours to sleep and successfully prepare my spells, we headed out to see what else the hamlet of Pommeville had to offer. Even with the deaths of at least fifteen townsfolk the evening before, the market was open for business. Still, it was a bit of a disappointment, as there were no gnomish merchants, and worse, no books for sale, anywhere. I asked if there was a library in town and the vendor I was talking to pointed towards the wizard’s tower on the other end of town and said, “there’s probably a library up there.” Not to be defeated so easily, I asked if there were any other wizards in the town. No, of course not. I asked if there were any arcane magic users and was told to look up a human sorcerer called Aseir. These comments were, unfortunately, consistent with what Amber from the town guard, and the paladin, er, Holy Warrior of Suffering, Damota told me too. In fact, I was about to go seek out the sorcerer, when Widget reminded me it was time for our dinner.

We headed back to the Inn, and I noticed there were two other patrons there that likely did not hail from this town. The Calishite blended in well enough, but his little tablemate, which looked to be a halfling-sized drow, was an unusual site. I was still a bit tired from the non-stop excitement of the day before, so after a quick meal went back to my room to rest.

Sometime, long after dark, Widget and I awoke to the sounds of horns blaring— and seemingly getting closer. A town emergency? Did they decide to have a Midsummer’s Eve festivities a day late? We got ourselves packed up quickly and hustled out into the hall in time to see all the other guests of the Green Griffin running down the steps (thankfully all dressed this time). Everyone I’d met the night before, and the Calishite, ran towards the town cemetery with the town guard.

Sure as Gond is a gnome, there was a wave of undead stumbling towards the center of town again. I cast an armor spell on Widget and I as the larger members of the group dashed ahead. I thought I saw the little drow for a moment, but then he was gone so quickly I wasn’t sure— maybe he cast a darkness spell on himself.

The clear sky held a bright full moon, but I wasn’t sure how well all the humans and the halfling could see— I hoped my next spell would aid them in that regard while confusing the zombies. Seeing our dwarven cleric friend wasn’t attempting to turn the undead (but rather, plowing through them with an axe), I cast what looked like a huge fiery sun about 400’ above the fray. Only one or two zombies seemed to notice, but Roscoe, aiming his bow beside me, thanked me for the added light— helpful for ranged attacks, at least! (Amber from the town guard later thanked me for “the assistance of light” so I wonder if anyone realized it was an illusion rather than a light spell.)

Unfortunately, the light showed us that there were even more undead a hundred yards behind the first wave, headed our way. I tried a few variations on the “sun” as the rest of the group used mundane weapons. I thought it might get some of the undead’s attention if it looked more ominous, so I made it pulse with an eerie green light. Nothing. Next, I lowered it down on the zombies in melee. Some of the town defenders noticed it and seemed alarmed, but the zombies continued to be unimpressed. I finally let the orb “set” between the group of undead in melee and the more freshly arisen that were still shambling towards us. At least some of them took the extra time to walk around the pseudonova.

It didn’t look like there were any more zombies behind that batch (yet), and they were now all in melee range, so I dropped the spell and cast a forcewave at a zombie attempting to claw Bryrgar. The spell didn’t seem to be entirely effective, so I grabbed my pistol and shot the thing. Widget handed me another bullet as I started to back up with Roscoe— someone in front of us had called a retreat to the temple, where Damota was already gathering the townsfolk (the living ones, I mean). At least half of the town guard, desperately trying to buy more time for the villagers to reach safety, fell to the undead.

Nosila collapsed, and I attempted to shoot her attacker but missed by a goodly amount. I (and several others, I’m sure) yelled to Charzth and, in a rage, he tore though the massed horde to retrieve her, dropping her several yards further on before charging back into the battle. Roscoe and I decided to drag the unconscious barbarian woman to the temple, and arrived there only moments before the rest of the defenders.

We’re bolting the temple doors as we did last night, and (at last!) pooling our information. Bryrgar, in addition to spending half the day reburying the dead only to have them rise up again, had discovered something during their re-interment. At the back of the graveyard, he noticed a very old vault, untouched during that past night, but with obvious scrape marks in front of the door. He opened it and checked it out, finding an odd symbol of five dragon heads in a wheel— Tiamat, the Dragon Queen. I had to wonder if that was what Giles had been on a pilgrimage for, though it’s doubtful that these two mysteries fit so neatly together! That reminds me, I must tell the other town defenders of the ruins. I mean, they know about the ruins, as that is where the green light went to. Giles may have unleashed something, either willingly or unwillingly, that will continue the nightly torment of this town until there’s no one left alive to fight back.

Posted by Kristin on September 19, 2004, 21:38

New Tactics

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

We discussed what Bryrgar found in the graveyard, and I gave as many details as I could about the ruins. We also exchanged introductions with the little half-drow Zym, and his guardian RonyŠ, who had fought at Bryrgar’s side in our latest skirmish with the undead. Widget reminded me (finally!) that I had yet to see the sorcerer Aseir, and fortunately for us, he was among the villagers waiting in the temple. He was quite helpful and filled in some missing information about the ruins for me. Hundreds of years ago, there was a fortress dedicated to an evil god. A religious order from Vilhon Reach organized a holy crusade, and sent some of their paladins and clerics to destroy the evil, resulting in the ruins outside of Pommeville. I wonder now if Giles was from Vilhon Reach and was a member of that holy order that vanquished the evil? Was the holy order successful in that original crusade? What could have happened to Giles— what did he release?

I asked Aseir if he would be willing to accompany us, indicating my new comrades. I fear he took one look at the barbarians— Charzth appeared to be growling at the temple doors, impatient to be outside again— and declined.

Eventually the perpetual pounding on the temple doors ceased. We opened them to see the zombies shuffling back to the cemetery. I was worried that the green glow we’d witnessed the prior morning; if we released it from a zombie again, it might make the ruins that much harder for us to navigate, but luckily the zombies were all going back to their prospective graves (much to the chagrin of Bryrgar, who had spent yesterday re-burying them after they’d all be dropped where the stood). Three zombies remained without graves to shamble back to— apparently none of the downed town guards of the night before had survived the night.

After a quick meal and some vague discussion of battle plans, we wandered over to the ruins at the edge of town. I had no spells prepared, since we’d not had a full night’s rest, and neither did Bryrgar. I wished that we’d asked Damota to join us, as I’m sure he has a score to settle with whatever lurks within these broken walls.

It was about a two-minute walk from the inn to the ruins. The crumbling foundation stands about 2’ to 4’ high— I can see over most of it. The visible part of the foundation is a rectangle about 30’ by 40’. Signs of recent excavation, no doubt by Giles and his group, are evident in the southeast corner, where a pile of discarded shovels and picks lay near a staircase leading down into the earth. Charzth kept trying to hand me a shovel— the darn things are made for human-sized hands, and I have no desires to become a ditch-digger anyway.

We wandered down the steps, to find another pile of gear (oil, rope, pitons and a lantern), and a helmet wedged between a pair of double doors to keep them from closing. There are a few other doors and at least one passageway blocked by stone (okay, the shovels may be useful, but I’d rather check out the cleared ways first!). Bryrgar wasn’t impressed with Roscoe’s checking the doors (or floor, or walls, or ceilings) for traps and just took the double doors off their hinges. I hope we don’t need to close them in a hurry. We noticed there was a symbol of Tiamat on these doors as well— that mausoleum may actually have been related to the ruins after all!— but if the one on the doors wasn’t enough, there was a huge symbol of the 5-headed dragon on the floor as well. We suspected it was trapped, and Roscoe asked me to confirm that it was a magical trap. Of course, before I could do that, Bryrgar walked over it and got a zap of lightning from one of the symbol’s heads.

The huge room containing the aforementioned Tiamat symbol (which was indeed magically trapped with evocation magic), also contained six 10’ tall statues (one of which also radiated magic) and an evil-looking stone altar with four skulls on it. I pulled my periscope out to look at the top of it without getting closer when I saw that it had conjuration magic emanating from it. I think we figured out what it did in the course of the next few moments though.

Nosila stepped closer to the altar, but did not touch it. I guess being close to it was enough to activate it though, as four skeletons wielding scimitars appeared and began to attack her. Her mate was only one step away and absorbed one of the blows meant for her— I’m sure she’d have not survived it otherwise. Shooting an approaching skeleton did no good, so I attempted to shove a staff between the legs of one and trip it. However, the undead took offense to Bryrgar’s holy symbol and began to back away. I dropped my spell and dragged Nosila out of the fray. If I am going to keep lugging the unconscious barbarian woman around, I will need to invent a belt with wheels on it for her to wear.

I looked up in time to see one of Roscoe’s arrows sticking out of the dwarf (oops!) and RonyŠ jumping up on top of the altar to cut down a skeleton (I worried more skeletons would appear, but thankfully nothing noticeable happened). The battle was soon over, and when we realized that our dwarven cleric really had no healing ability left in him, Charzth hauled Nosila back to the temple (where, I’m told, it took the strength of all the adepts to revive her) and we rested at the Green Griffin until mid-afternoon so that we could go into the ruins with spells ready.

Eight hours later found us back in the ruins, this time walking towards another door. I was surprised, and slightly alarmed, to see Bryrgar had fashioned some sort of vehicle out of a wooden wheelbarrow with a wooden shield attached to it, and had managed to convince Charzth to ride in it. Being from Lantan, and a gnome, I was surprised that I hadn’t been consulted on the building of this device, but since I’m not entirely sure what it is or what it does, I guess that is just as well. It doesn’t seem to have any source of propulsion. Perhaps it is some sort of stretcher for an injured party member— Bryrgar is our cleric after all.

While I was puzzling over that, Roscoe had been checking a door, deeming it free of traps, and opening it. There were two zombies on the other side of the door however. I couldn’t get a clear shot at them with my pistol, so I shot one with a magic missile. Nosilia was right in there fighting with them, which frustrated those behind her, so they did the least logical thing and began to open other doors. I am not sure if Bryrgar or Charzth found anything, but RonyŠ and Zym found some rather large centipedes— one of them was screaming in alarm, and I’m going to assume it was Zym. Those of us not engaged with zombies ran around the corner in time to see RonyŠ pushing the door to the bug room shut, but the critters were coming out underneath and biting him. Zym was in the safety of his arms at least. As Bryrgar tried to step on them (and got bitten himself in the process), I cast a simple mage hand spell to safely push them all back into their nest on the other side of the door. A relieved RonyŠ tossed me his cloak, which I used to seal the doorway with the critters trapped on the other side. Before I could even suggest it, oil and a spark were produced and the cloak was set ablaze— hopefully that will finish off the bugs without smoking the rest of us out!

Posted by Kristin on September 28, 2004, 17:48

Green Light

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 on October 13, 2004, 22:55

A Clean Sweep

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

Nosila decided that we should burn the body of the lich— after all, it got up once right? Roscoe and I both yelled “loot the body first” at about the same time, and the halfling got to work grabbing the most valuable looking things from the corpse— a gold pectoral, gem-studded bracers, a jeweled mitre, a gilded mace, and then, amazingly, he found more hidden under the body— a silk pouch filled with diamonds, a silver ring and a silver and emerald necklace. Several of the items radiated magic. As the barbarians lit the corpse, Bryrgar noticed that the braziers in the corners gave off no heat, and though they were heavy, loaded them into his “war wagon” for a source of continual (if cumbersome to move) light. But, we had to assume for now that none of these wonderful items were the lich’s phylactery, so we went back through all the areas we had missed earlier.

We first went back up the steps, then through a door and into a long tunnel we hadn’t previously explored, and soon heard faint calls for help. Assuming we were the only live beings in here, we thought it was a trap of some sort at first, though Roscoe checked thoroughly and found none. We followed some footprints on the dusty floor to a door, and upon getting it open, found a bedraggled human in a 10’ by 10’ cell, apparently forgotten by his undead captors. Morn, a local farmer, was thankful we’d found his cell, and told us of his abduction while sleeping in his home— perhaps the undead needed fresh victims for something? There were no other occupied cells and Morn was quick to head home once we pointed him to the door out.

Our Chultean couple next found a room that had been a torture room long ago— six skeletons (thankfully the non-animated variety) still hung on the various devices.

We gave up on that way and went back down to the hall where our dwarf had found the spiked pit earlier. This time Roscoe was with him and he was able to find a switch that kept the pit from opening again, and we crossed it to see what lay beyond. We soon came to a room with ransacked crates, rusty weapons and ripped open sacks strewn about, and were picking up the few coins we saw scattered about, when Roscoe somehow noticed, under a chest, that there was a loose flagstone. Prying it up, he found a compartment with a pouch with three rubies hidden in it. What a find! All the while I was mentally appraising the gems, and being quite happy that Roscoe was having such luck while we were working together— he reminds me of Cognoggin, minus the explosions. Widget took an interest in the multitude of shiny things, and once I assured everyone that he wouldn’t damage the valuables in any way, we poured some of the loot into my backpack for him to “inspect.”

Our undead magnet Bryrgar led us to the remaining unsearched tunnel, where we encountered a room full of chests, coffers, and zombies! Actually, I never got close enough to be sure they were zombies, as they were dispatched before I got caught up with the taller folk. I heard Charzth howl at one point, even though he wasn’t at all close to the combat, and Roscoe is now studiously avoiding his gaze.

Thankfully we were soon distracted by more loot. In addition to so many coins that we could barely carry them out, there was an amulet (obviously magical, but we’ve yet to figure out what it does), two gold statues of Tiamat, and a gem-encrusted copper bracelet.

We’d seen pretty much all there was to see, and hadn’t found a phylactery. I reminded Bryrgar of the mausoleum he’d found, and suggested that there was a chance there was more to it than a mere crypt. We made our way out of the ruins and were soon in the graveyard, inspecting the vault. Roscoe went in first, and came back out immediately as about ten skeletons began to rise inside. Bryrgar, with skill not before used in such a dramatic fashion, held up his holy symbol— and all the skeletons immediately turned to dust. I offered to go back in with Roscoe to watch his back while he investigated, and he soon found a concealed door. We quickly redistributed all that we were carrying and headed through this hidden portal, descending stairs and walking down a long, dark passage. We eventually came to a dead end, which seemed suspicious. We were right to think that, as Roscoe soon found another door. First we noticed the scorch marks on the bottom of the door, then we recognized the still-smoldering cloak, and the fact that the floor looked like it was moving. Centipedes! This time we finished them off, and examined the room from the inside. Roscoe found a gold symbol of Tiamat in the pocket of an old rotting robe, and Bryrgar found a concealed door that took us behind a statue in the altar room next door.

It seems we’ve found everything we can here, and Aseir has told us that Giles party was thought to be headed to the ruins in the Qurth Forest. After getting supplies for an extended journey, we plan to head there.

Posted by Kristin on November 4, 2004, 23:14

Quest in Qurth

Eleasis 4, 1373 DR, Ruins in Qurth Forest

We gave an equal share of our “treasure” to the two townspeople that helped us with the defeat (or temporary setback) of the lich, and went off to rest in the Inn. Thankfully, we finally got a night’s respite without being roused by zombies! I couldn’t help but overhear some odd sounds from the barbarians’ room (okay, actually, Widget heard the sounds and woke me up). I had to assure him that no one was being attacked; it sounded more like sobbing.

When we met in the morning, Roscoe had already gone to the marketplace, and Charzth had apparently just left. Nosila didn’t talk about it much, other than to say he had to leave and she decided to travel with us. Aseir and Damota will stay in town, as they are needed here should we not get back before the lich reforms. While we waited for Bryrgar, we tried out the magic items we’d acquired. Nosila said the silver ring made her feel more comfortable (who knew that this lovely summer weather was chilly to her?) and the light mace felt well-balanced. I tried on the bracers and didn’t feel a bit different. Nosila offered to let me hit her with and without them on, but of course, she didn’t feel that, so we have no idea what they are supposed to do. Roscoe is wearing the other ring and the amulet. We can all remove the items easily enough, so hopefully that means they aren’t cursed!

Bryrgar lumbered up with his 400+ pound “warwagon” (the wheelbarrow, now equipped with the four heavy braziers) and we headed north.

It was only about six miles, but that’s a pretty long walk for those of us of shorter stature, but I got Nosila to carry me for a while— I read the lich’s journal to my friends as we walked. The guy was pretty boring in life, it turns out. I talked with Roscoe about being short (again) and tried to point out to him that taller doesn’t mean more knowledgeable. He sees the taller races as treating him like a child because of his height. I had to make a few mental adjustments then, because I consider the rest of the group to be more young and inexperienced compared to me! It probably didn’t help matters that I was riding on Nosila’s shoulders, and Roscoe was being carried upside down by an ankle (she offered to carry him in a more comfortable fashion— short does, unfortunately, mean smaller steps!).

We reached the forest around sunset and soon encountered a black bear. Before we could decide what to do (the bear was just staring at us and not being threatening), a spear-wielding forest gnome appeared from behind it. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting our forest brethren on many occasions, and I considered it an honor that he was willing to make himself visible to us. After a brief introduction from us and some coaxing, he gave us his name— “Colmarr” and that of his animal friend “Bear.” We quickly dispensed with pleasantries; he wanted to know why we were traveling through such dangerous woods, and we realized we’d have an invaluable guide if he was willing. Colmarr had led Giles and his band (two humans, a half-elf, and a not-quite-human with dark eyes) to the ruins a 10-day ago, and was willing to help us find safe passage as well. We soon, and without incident (though we had to leave the wheelbarrow, er, warwagon behind when the trail became nonexistent), were camping by some stone ruins that averaged a height of about 1’ to 3’.

We were finally getting to talk with each other about something other than zombies, and I took the opportunity to share a few things about gnomes that I thought would be fascinating to them— about how many magical “crossbred” creatures have come into being through wizardry (Roscoe wants to see an owlbear, but I was afraid the image of one might upset Colmarr’s bear companion), of mining (and the legend of Garl Glittergold bringing forth the gnomish races from gemstones), of my uncle’s amazing inventions (widely available in larger cities across Faerun!), and the innate magic all gnomes are born with. I hoped that telling of these things would help Nosila understand that little people have made contributions to the world through their own unique cultures, and at the same time make Roscoe a bit less paranoid that he was being treated like a child. How wrong I was! Nosila said she thought I could easily win her village’s “lying contest.” Oh dear— how little she understands the nature of Truth! I would be a lousy illusionist if I could not tell the difference between the two. Gnomes truly are the Forgotten Folk.

We took different watches during the night— and everyone saw shadows flitting around in the ruins. Since they didn’t seem to be aware of us (or at least, were not trying to assault us in any way), we let them be, and asked Colmarr about them in the morning. He said these spirits of the forest haunt the “lost kingdom,” which had long ago been cursed by an evil wizard to be overrun by monsters. I wonder how and if it is related to our quest?

After a quick breakfast of trail rations, Colmarr pointed us towards a circular stairwell down— the last place he had seen Giles and his party. We thanked him for his help and headed down into the ruins.

Widget popped his head out of my backpack to give me a bullet for my pistol (I guess he sensed trouble ahead). I noticed his fur had turned purple, so I can only imagine what I look like at the moment. He usually sticks with a color for at least a week before changing.

Roscoe and Bryrgar were arguing about who would lead— I suggested we go in order of height— less chance for Roscoe to shoot one of us, actually. It turned out not to matter though— as we descended into the web-choked tunnels, we were quickly attacked by large spiders— that were both poisonous and had sticky webs that they shot at their victims. I was able to shoot one, but then spent the rest of my time prying loose my friends from the webs— they were apparently considered better targets than I! I was not hurt, but both Bryrgar and Roscoe were bitten. Roscoe in particular looked weak and woozy, so he was glad for Nosila’s size and strength when she unhesitatingly picked up his gear (and the halfling himself, several times) so we could move on. Bryrgar heard movement around the very next turn in the festooned hallway ahead, and as he stood fighting spiders in front of us, Nosila discovered spiders behind as well! We’d fought nearly a dozen of the things, and I was beginning to fear we’d not survive another attack. Roscoe was now so weak that he couldn’t stand in his leather armor, so Nosila carried that for him— I cast an armor spell on him so he’d have at least some protection. I wonder if Roscoe isn’t in some way subconsciously still incensed at the whole tall people/short people dilemma— he accidentally shot Nosila with an arrow during the spider skirmish.

Now we saw that Bryrgar had wandered into a room at one end of the hallway while Roscoe stared at a dead end at the other (he’s sure there is a secret passage that he can’t see!); we caught up and found the dwarf fighting with four more of the spiders, and one additional really, really big spider! I kept shooting that one while my friends attacked the closer, smaller ones in melee. I couldn’t do enough damage to the large one, which kept “healing” as we fought it, so I made a ring of fire appear to blaze up around it. I realized my companions still can’t tell my illusions, regardless of how and when they appear, so I yelled that it was “Potato Fire!” (I worried the spider might understand Common) and hoped my friends would make the connection between my mutant spud from when we first met, and these fictitious flames. They all studiously avoided the spell, though Nosila discovered that the damage from the magic mace she carried caused wounds that didn’t heal on the giant arachnid. I dropped the fire illusion and she finished off the creature.

Studying the room, we could see at least four human-sized cocoons hanging between huge strands of web. Slicing them open, we were sorry to discover the desiccated bodies of Giles and his party. A quick search of their remains proved useful though, as, in addition to a holy symbol of Helm (proof to me that Giles thought he was acting in the interest of Good) and a magic potion of some sort, we found a silver rod— it looks to be the item we sought to stop the lich. We are weak now, but barring further incident, we can travel back to Pommeville by nightfall, and hopefully before Nedrezzar has any opportunity to reform.

Posted by Kristin on November 8, 2004, 15:38

A Strange Turn

Eleasis 5, 1373 DR, Um....

We took a quick peek into the last hallway we’d left unexplored. Burning away a few dozen webs revealed some cocoons, but no more recognizable bodies, just a few old bones.

We went back up the steps out of the ruins, and Colmarr and his bear were waiting for us. I was glad, as Bryrgar had no healing left to provide and I was hoping the druid could patch up Roscoe a bit. However, the forest gnome was more interested in what we’d done to the inhabitants of the ruins. When we told him we’d killed a large spider with red eyes, he seemed a bit put out and said, “Why did you go and do that? Now I’ll have to breed another one.”

We stared at him for a few moments more, too stunned to really react. He reacted though— saying, “Well, I can feed you to one of my other pets!” and began waving his hands for a spell. As his bear reared up in front of us, we found vines beginning to curl up around us, trying to hold us in place. Having no offensive spells left, I tried shooting the druid with my pistol. I missed, and became entwined in his spell of entanglement. To make matters worse, another large bear appeared by the druid’s companion, and both of the ursine creatures began to attack the taller members of our group (Bryrgar was doing his best to keep between me and Bear at all times).

All the while, Bryrgar and Roscoe yelled bear recipes back and forth to each other.

I managed to have enough strength to rip the vines away from myself, but before I could get another shot at the druid, he ran away. His bear followed almost immediately. The second bear was slain, but moments later, its body disappeared.

We knew we had to get out of the woods as quickly as possible, but since we no longer had a guide (and hadn’t kept track of how we’d gotten here), getting out was going to be tricky. Nosila, who hunted in the jungles of Chult up until quite recently, figured she could get us headed in the right direction without being able to see the sun, so we went in what she thought was a generally west direction.

After a while, we heard the howling of wolves, and soon five of the creatures appeared, first nipping at Bryrgar (who again tried to keep me safe) and then eventually attacking all of us. I was bit by one and went down hard, and had to shoot it in the jaw to drive it off. It circled around and came back for another attack a few seconds later— another bullet drove it off, and two of its pack mates ran off as well; two lay where they fell to my companions’ weapons. We were looking nearly as bad ourselves. Nosila was unconscious— we dumped all of our healing potions into her just to bring her back to consciousness. We decided to rest until Bryrgar could provide some proper healing, which meant a long rest in a not-too-protected area. While we rested, I checked the magic items we’d found again. The silver rod appeared to be abjuration magic, so I figured whoever was on watch should hold it on the off-chance it could provide some protection. The potion, now that I’d looked at it, was obviously radiating illusion magic— perhaps an invisibility potion. Widget even tried to help, but most of what he knows of magic he learned from me. That, thankfully, was the most excitement we had for the next few hours— I didn’t feel up to sharing any more gnomish lore with my friends, even though Roscoe seems to genuinely enjoy them. The shadows came out again at sundown, but, like the night before, we didn’t bother them and they ignored us.

We felt a bit better in the morning, and Bryrgar provided what healing he could to us. We started off again in what we thought was the general direction of west.

About an hour later, we heard strange music— pipes and fiddles. It didn’t sound threatening, so we continued towards it, and eventually came to a clearing where several satyrs and some tiny grasshopper centaurs (I believe they go by the name “grig,” though I’ve never seen them before) were playing instruments and drinking. They offered us some mushroom wine— Bryrgar was willing to drink some, but I was having trouble getting over the strangeness of the situation and was glad when we were on our way again. About an hour later, I wish we’d stayed and chatted with them, for perhaps they could have prepared us for what we saw.

We had arrived in another clearing. We found that we were in a valley, surrounded by the forest, fog and mountains on all sides. To the north and south of us were rivers— but no Lake of Steam. And to the west, a crystal palace. For lack of anything specific to walk towards, it looks like we’ll head to the palace. I know we didn’t walk through a portal (I’m sure I would have noticed that!), so how did we end up so far away from our destination?

Posted by Kristin on November 14, 2004, 23:42

It is the Rabbit!

Eleasis 6, 1373 DR, Outside the Crystal Palace

As we walked towards the palace, we were serenaded by woodland creatures. We hadn’t seen or heard anything the least bit threatening since we first caught sight of the majestic building. We were at least halfway to it when we decided to stop and camp for the night. We got a fire going and I was pulling out some trail rations when Roscoe came back from “hunting” — with a sweet little bunny corpse he’d killed for food! He had the nerve to skin it, cook it, and offer pieces of the poor thing to us! Right at the same campfire where Widget and I had to eat! Widget gave him quite an earful, or rather, he tried to, but I don’t think halflings speak to small creatures. Come to think of it, I don’t think humans or dwarves do either. I’m sure if they had talked to a few, they’d have at least been hesitant to eat one. Widget (who managed to find out that Roscoe doesn’t like the color of slime green and soon had turned his fur, and my hair, just that shade) was so distressed about it that I just couldn’t speak to Roscoe— I wasn’t sure if I’d be expressing my feelings or my rat’s.

As my friends settled down to rest, Widget and I took the first watch. The forest seemed more ominous as night fell, so I set up an alarm spell around the perimeter of our camp— just in case. I am so glad I did! About an hour into my watch, the alarm went off, waking my companions as I turned to see a little brown rabbit had hopped into range. I quickly cast a spell to speak to it, to warn it away from the Rabbit Eaters, when it bared its teeth. It had a lot more teeth than a rabbit should have, and they were pointy and razor sharp! It never replied to me (but my spell let me hear exactly what Widget had been saying about the incidents of the evening), and as it leaped across the camp, intent on biting, No stabbed it with a kukri. Moments later, the alarm went off again, and again— soon we were being accosted by five more of these vorpal bunnies. I was bitten by one (as were all of my comrades) in spite of Bryrgar’s courageous attempts to keep between me and the rampaging rabbits. I cast the image of a wolf (with a potato on a collar, so my friends would realize it wasn’t a real wolf) and one of the bunnies kept occupied attempting to attack it. Soon all were dead or unconscious.

I didn’t stop Roscoe from skinning these, even though they did look like bunnies (I couldn’t talk to them, so I’m just not sure what they really were). However, when I found out he skinned one of them while it was still alive, I was horrified by that. He apparently doesn’t have a problem with eating anything that hops past him either.

Widget tells me he whizzed in the halfling’s backpack, and considered the matter settled.

Dawn arrived without any further incidents, and after we ate (rations again for Widget and I), we headed off towards the crystal palace again. We traveled most of the day, eventually arriving there shortly before sundown. The palace is 100’ wide, with very tall spires, and (what we couldn’t see from a distance) a white shimmering field or wall surrounding it in its entirety. We tried bouncing rocks off of it with no apparent harm to the rocks or the magical dome, so Bryrgar bravely tossed Roscoe through it. The halfling arrived safely on the other side, though all of his clothes and equipment stayed on our side. He quickly came back out and got dressed, while Bryrgar disrobed and walked through, no doubt counting on his beard to cover his nakedness at the palace doors. He walked in through the unlocked doors and, though the palace is translucent; we couldn’t see him on the other side. Nosila eventually decided she’d better go check on him. I wanted to go look too, but with my spellbook (admittedly, not worth much, but all I have to work with at the moment) and the silver rod (the only thing we absolutely could not replace) to keep watch of, I stayed outside. Roscoe did too. When it became apparent to us that they were going to be in the palace a long while (we had no idea that the entire inside was enchanted and literally swapping rooms around as our two taller companions attempted to navigate the inside), we started trying to figure out ways of getting inside with our belongings. Widget tried to burrow under the wall, but discovered that the force field went down as far as he could dig. Roscoe tried to climb it, but fell through and all of his clothing slid down the outside of the dome. We tried to push the silver rod through, attempted to attack the wall with a minor spell, and I even tried to use a net of shadows to “hide” us as we went in; none of these things worked. And, I’m not sure I am comfortable with the way the halfling was looking at me after that!

We had all but given up when we saw Bryrgar and Nosila coming out through the main entrance with three very realistic-looking statues— two winged sprite creatures, and one that looked like an elf. As they pushed the two sprite figures through the barrier, they each became animated, made a horrified shriek, and disappeared. I hope that is normal for a surprised sprite! The elf, on the other hand, seemed to wake from a spell of some sort as he was pulled through. Interestingly, his clothes remained inside the wall.

He seemed alarmed at first, but we tossed him a few cloaks to cover up with and gave some hurried introductions. He didn’t seem to understand Common, but Roscoe was able to talk to him in Elven, and he understood my questions in Draconic as well. Elzen, as he called himself, is the Chief Advisor to Queen Avaria. Nosila and Bryrgar wondered about that as we translated for them— they had seen a court full of still-life elves, including a jester and a king, but no queen. Elzen did confirm that we are no longer in Faerun, and I suspect, since we are here, we will do our best to help these people, and hopefully, someone will in turn be able to help us get home!

Posted by Kristin on November 24, 2004, 22:48

Diabolical Demiplane

Eleasis 7, 1373 DR, Outside the Crystal Palace

We managed to get a little more information out of the confused elf. We are in a realm called Arania. Upon questioning him about magic, and specifically, other planes, I discovered that they know nothing of elemental magic, and stranger still— they don’t speak Common because there are no gnomes here! In fact, there are no humans, dwarves, or halflings as far as Elzen knew. The elf insisted that there is nothing beyond the mountains, rivers and forest either! As Roscoe and I translated back and forth, we learned of the last thing Elzen remembered: a strange traveler with red eyes came to the palace, and the queen grew ill and was supposed to be resting in her bedchamber. Upon trying to take him back through the dome, we discovered that he became inanimate as soon as he was passed through. Bryrgar agreed to stay outside the dome with him (and our stuff), giving Roscoe and I a chance to go in with Nosila— Roscoe wanted to look at the books in the study (we were assuming all were in Elven), and I was to look for an elven wizard Elzen called Haran. Elzen assured us that the randomly displayed rooms behind the hallway doors were a perfectly normal function of the castle. I cast an alarm spell where the elf and Bryrgar sat, in case some of those killer rabbits showed up.

I put on some of the clothes from the heap by the dome, so Roscoe would stop looking at me so oddly. You’d think he’d never seen a female before! We followed Nosila in, and she showed us how the doors worked— after a fashion. I would have loved to stay longer and figure out how this all was accomplished. For a while we kept “finding” the kitchen and an empty bedchamber, but eventually a study appeared and Roscoe and I ran in before Nosila could stop us. Luckily she held the door open so we didn’t find ourselves lost elsewhere in the palace.

There were lots of books and Roscoe was pulling several off the shelves. I had stopped to look at the three remaining sprites frozen in place on the shelves, when I thought I saw one of them moving slightly. Suddenly, we all realized that, as the sun set outside, the inside of the palace took on demonic features: the walls became pitch black streaked with blood-red lines, the skin on the sprites darkened to black, and their teeth and nails elongated. Then the hellish screeching started, first from the sprites, and then we could hear it from elsewhere in the palace. We ran! If I had picked up something other than Widget, I dropped it in my haste to get out of that palace, and I was able to keep up with Nosila and Roscoe (who managed to hold on to three tomes as he ran). The dome was gone, but apparently, the evil was not contained to the palace grounds. We found Bryrgar pulling his axe out of the forehead of the dead Elzen, who was almost unrecognizable with his blackened skin and mouth full of fangs.

There was a full moon overhead, providing some light, but we suddenly found small wounds appearing on us, caused by some unseen assailants. I cast the illusion of a sun overhead, hoping to see the creatures better, but they were completely invisible. The screech of one told us that the sprites we’d seen in the study had found us, and were out for blood! We began running, and swinging weapons around us and overhead, hoping to hit them by chance. Then Bryrgar decided to stand still so we could get away while he took on however many of the demonic pixies there were. We all ran back to him and Nosila actually hit one, then Roscoe impaled the other on an arrow. I threw dirt on each one just so we could see their outlines— though as they expired, their hideously twisted corpses became visible.

The attacks ceased with the demise of these two creatures, so we camped where we were. Bryrgar provided us with what healing he could. Thankfully no other transformed beasts bothered us.

We formulated a plan for sunrise. It went as I feared it would.

We stood at the barrier in the morning, with most of our equipment (sans the books from the study) on the “dome” side of the palace grounds. Roscoe decided to stand inside where the dome would be, with our equipment, though I wish he hadn’t. As the sun came up, the dome reappeared and the red and black streaks disappeared from the palace. Roscoe ceased moving. I jumped across and pushed him to my friends, who grabbed him as he reanimated. He will spend the day outside reading the elven books while Nosila, Bryrgar, Widget and I try to find a way out of this cursed demiplane.

Posted by Kristin on November 30, 2004, 17:23

The Rat, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Eleasis 7, 1373 DR, Outside the Crystal Palace

We left Roscoe with what equipment was left on the outside of the dome and headed back into the palace. I got to see quite a few rooms:

A bedchamber
A long corridor that turned left at the end
A 30’ long hall with a door at the end
A kitchen (with still-life elves preparing food)
A study with six sprites
An armory (Bryrgar had to stop and check this one for armor that would fit either him or Nosila!)
A room containing a fountain, with an overall “nymph” motif
A 15’ long hall that turned to the right
A throne room (we noticed that Elzen had not reappeared here, though apparently everyone else was back in place)
A library
And… an elegant bedchamber.

Nosila and Bryrgar had left various things in some of these rooms before, “breadcrumbs” if you will, but could not see them today. Bryrgar would just rip a piece of Nosila’s borrowed clothing off to leave behind the rooms they wanted to mark. I offered a piece of chalk, but they continued to use bits of cloth instead.

But back to the most important room— the library! So many books, and nearly all of them in elven! There were also a few frozen elves in here, perhaps working to stop the curse before it took hold however long ago this all started? We looked at the books they were holding first, and though I couldn’t make out the language, I did notice that the symbol of the elven deity Corellen Larethian was on the spines or covers of several. I was about to give up and grab a few things for Roscoe to read when I found one in a different script that looked like magical writing. Casting a spell to read magic, I made out the title: All Curses Malevolent. What luck! I was about to sit down to read right away, when we heard another door in the library close. Looking up, we counted one less frozen elf. Of course, the elf that left could be the red-eyed stranger, or at least, someone not under the palace curse, but running to open the door just revealed an empty hallway. We started opening and closing doors, at one point opening a door and seeing our surprised selves staring back at us (we closed the door quickly that time!).

I sat down to read while Nosila and Bryrgar puzzled over the multitude of destinations available, and within a half hour I managed to find something worthwhile in the 100-page book. It appears to me that the curse is a combination of a spell to stop time, connected to a nightmare realm. As I turned to read about the curse removal, I was disappointed to see that page had been ripped out of the tome. I paused in my reading to share my findings just as my friends managed to find the Queen’s bedchamber— and Haran, watching over her. Both were, of course, frozen in time.

We were preparing to carry them outside when I heard the murmuring of what sounded like an incantation from a corner of the room. I’m not sure if Bryrgar and Nosila heard my warning because suddenly a wardrobe standing near me fell on me! Additionally, it had opened its doors as it fell, scooping me inside, violently shaking me around within it. I could hear the muffled sounds of combat in the room beyond. I cast (belatedly) an armor spell on myself and Widget, who luckily was missing the battering from the wardrobe in the relative safety of my backpack. Moments later, the wardrobe spit me out on the floor, and I found my comrades battling two chairs. I threw a handful of black ribbons to cast a Shadow Spray on the corner the murmuring had come from mere moments before, but it was a wasted effort— the assailant had moved. I had to move too, before the wardrobe attacked me again, so I scrambled backwards without standing up.

It was almost a fatal mistake. I heard the scrape of a footstep near my head, then a burning pain in my chest.


A few moments later, Bryrgar was standing over me, providing divine healing. I could have hugged him, but then I saw my poor Widget covered in blood! Luckily, it was only my blood— he had used his own little body to attempt to keep me warm, and had managed to staunch my wound until the cleric could heal me.

I had to cast a spell so I could really talk to Widget and make sure all was okay with him. He told me he could smell the assassin, or rather, smell for the assassin, who was no longer in the room. At the very least, he’ll be able to smell my blood on the assassin’s dagger. But for now, we needed to take Haran outside to “unfreeze” him, and take the Queen as well, so he could see her when he was revived.

Roscoe was glad to see us— he’d spent the day reading about methods of making fertilizer, by the sounds of it. We let him bloviate at Haran for a few minutes, and eventually I was able to explain a few crucial things to Haran about how and why we were here (and for the record, Haran did recognize some of my images of planar creatures, so all is not lost on these elves). This elven mage is sure we can get back home to our own realm, but first we must at least try to help Arania. He offered to grab a crystal key out of his robes, which were, of course, lumped on the other side of the dome, and Roscoe showed him how he would be frozen if he attempted to go back in, using himself for the example. In the process, Roscoe managed to only numb himself from the neck down, and lay at the edge of the dome asking for someone to tug him back out for a few moments.

Um, anyway, the key would provide us access to Haran’s lab (third drawer, fourth cabinet!), where we could find Dust of Invisibility Purge— if we can hear (or Widget can smell) our way back to the assassin, this will hopefully give us the edge we need, and if we’re really lucky, access to that missing page from the magical tome.


Posted by Kristin on December 7, 2004, 17:21

By a Nose

Uktar ????, 1373 DR, Possibly in the Qurth Forest

Bryrgar, Nosila and I went back into the palace, but we were very cautious, as the doors only worked properly for elves. Each time we found a room with more than one door, Bryrgar would remove the hinges and hand them to Nosila to pack away, and move the door away from the jambs. This way, we’d know the exact route out if we needed to leave in a hurry! Our dwarven companion also tipped over all the elves in each room we went in, ostensibly to keep track of them more easily, though I suspect he just likes tipping elves. We counted 51 of them in the throne room, and while there, I found two small doors behind tapestries on the thrones’ dais. One opened to the Queen’s bedchamber, and the other to a less ornate bedchamber. At least they did the first time we opened them! In addition to removing hinges (and patches of Nosila’s wrap) to mark where we’d been already, I started marking the way with chalk as well.

We finally saw a door with a keyhole, and though I believe it could be opened without the key, I surmised that this key would force the door to open on the wizard’s lab. It seemed to work, at any rate! We got the pouch of Dust of Invisibility Purge, then grabbed every wand, staff, scroll and potion we could find (I had planned to give them to Haran, or at the very least, use them if need be to get past any nightmarish elves the sunset would bring), though Nosilia was very uncomfortable taking anything not specifically requested by the elven mage.

Before we could debate the matter, the walls began to take on a darker color, with the too-familiar red “veins” throughout. We shut the door, realized that poor Roscoe was outside with Haran, and decided to open the door and make a break for the outside. Thankfully, closing and opening the door provided us with a shortcut right to the main hall, so we were out within moments.

But we were not fast enough. We found the shredded remains of Haran and Roscoe, who had obviously changed into nightmare creatures as the sun set, then fought each other to the death in the time it took us to make our way back outside. The Queen, interestingly, was untouched and untainted. I wondered if we were able to wake her up if the nightmare would end for the rest of us. We took one potion, labeled as a “Remove Curse” spell, and poured it down her throat. Nothing happened of course, but we had to try.

Nothing could be done for Roscoe at this point either, so we decided to head back into the palace and hopefully find the one responsible for the curse. The telltale sound of screams as the elves ripped each other apart were starting to die down, so we had hope that we’d have little trouble with them. Two cursed elves, however, came out into a hall we were in, and we had to strike them down. I attempted to shoot one that was going to attack Bryrgar but shot the dwarven cleric instead. Luckily, he thinks it’s a “thunder blessing” and didn’t seem to mind the bullet that grazed him.

By the time these two creatures were dispatched, the rest of the palace was relatively quiet. We continued our search, and I held the pouch of dust at the ready on the off chance we cornered our invisible foe.

Suddenly, Widget excitedly pointed his nose and one little hand off to our side, indicating that he smelled what we had been searching for! I threw the dust in an arc in that direction, and was relieved to see that it outlined someone— though it was hardly an elf! The creature was elf-height, and had some elf-like features, but it also had red eyes and large, bat-like wings— in our Realms this creature is called a fey’ri. It held a rapier in one hand and a dagger (ouch!) in the other. In the few seconds that it had to realize it had been spotted, I shot it, and Bryrgar and Nosila rushed it and killed it as it turned to flee.

We quickly searched the body, finding a gold ring, a silver ring (the creature became completely visible when we removed that one!), a wand, some good lock picks, and the weapons it carried. Also, we found the crumpled missing page from All Curses Malevolent in its cloak pocket.

We went back outside. I wanted to read over the ritual for removing the curse, and suggested, hoping against hope, that Roscoe, Haran and Elzen (still lying where he fell the night before), would be restored if they were within the barrier, since it seemed to “reset” the slaughtered elves each dawn. Gond be praised it worked! Roscoe didn’t remember the day before at all, and we had to explain what was going on to the two confused elves who did not remember us. Haran and I decided to perform the ritual together, to make sure there was no chance of mishap, so I ran back to his lab (and had to open every door again, and I noticed all the stuff we’d taken from the lab had reappeared there) and brought out the components needed for the spell.

As we completed the ritual, we got to see that the barrier cracked and began to shatter— it worked! I was going to next ask Haran to help us return to our own land when there was a sudden flash of blinding light. Then everything went pitch black.

I cast a small cantrip to provide a flame to light a candle. My comrades and I found ourselves in an underground tomb, with a sarcophagus in the center and four statues of elven warriors wielding spears and shields in the four corners of the space. We recognized the relief on the sarcophagus— Queen Avaria! It took us a few seconds to realize that though we succeeded in breaking the curse, that time had gone back to normal for Arania— they must have been under that curse for a long, long time indeed. All of our personal equipment was present, including what we’d removed from the fiend, but the book and supplies from Haran were all gone.

At just that moment, we realized that we’d left the fiend in the palace to “respawn” with the rest of the elves when dawn had appeared over Arania, and we had no way now to go and rectify that. I can only hope that the elves did not have to deal with the creature ever again.

We found some steps leading up to a stone door, which slid aside to reveal sunlight. Hurrying out, we carefully replacing the moss-covered rocks over the Queen’s resting place. We now found ourselves standing in the forest clearing near stones and wall ruins overgrown with plants, moss and forest debris. To the north was a large body of water; to the south, rolling plains. The east held more forest and the west, the edge of the forest. It looked just like the Qurth Forest we had entered to find the silver rod. But, it was unnaturally cool for Eleasis— the weather was more suited to late Uktar. How long have we been gone?

Posted by Kristin on December 17, 2004, 13:09

Doing the Rat Thing

Uktar 15, 1373 DR, Pommeville?

The walk to Pommeville was uneventful. I spent most of the time trying to confirm the season, and then the year. I decided, based on the farms full of rotting produce, that it must still be 1373 DR, and at least four weeks after the harvests should have been brought in. When we got to Pommeville, we were better able to see why the harvest never took place.

Large hyena-headed humanoids were directing enslaved people and zombies to reconstruct the ruined temple to Tiamat, while the town’s shrine to Ilmater was now gone! Roscoe wanted to sneak off and investigate quietly on his own. I was sure the gnolls would see him, but we remembered the ring we’d taken from the once-invisible fiend. Roscoe tried it on and managed to zap himself— a whiff of ozone and a flash— leaving a still-visible, if singed, halfling. I tried it on and finished the incantation for an invisibility spell and vanished from view. After showing Roscoe how it worked, he disappeared, and was off to see what he could see.

He was sneaking past a few gnoll taskmasters, zombies, and enslaved townsfolk when the spell wore off. Ooops! I didn’t think to tell him that it might wear off after 24 seconds. Four gnolls and a hyena attempted to attack him, but he was, for the most part, too quick to be hit. I used a few shadow spray spells to confuse and weaken the gnolls, while Nosila attacked outright and Bryrgar created a magic weapon and summoned celestial badgers to aid us. Roscoe kept the hyena occupied. Suddenly, one of the gnolls ran straight at me, as if to attack. I ran to hide behind our dwarven cleric, who had seen the gnoll and was in turn running after it! He got it!

Next we decided to find a way into the temple unseen, hoping to return the silver rod, though we were unsure how to handle the lich, who had undoubtedly regained his full strength while we were gone. I suggested the path from the mausoleum that passed underground to the temple’s altar room, and Roscoe more than readily agreed. Bryrgar was sure it would be packed with undead.

Bryrgar was, of course, right about the undead. Apparently not all of them were involved in construction— our cleric had to send four of them shambling in the opposite direction while we found our way to the small tomb, and then we had two shadows to deal with in there. It was so dark that I had to cast dancing lights just to provide illumination while my comrades found torches to light, and then we descended the steps in the mausoleum and headed to the temple.

Either Nedrezzar and his minions didn’t know about this entrance, or simply didn’t care, as it was unguarded save for the two shadows. Roscoe snuck into the altar room, invisibility ring in use, and attacked two kneeling petitioners at the altar. He forgot that the altar had four skeletal warriors that would pop out— which they did! I suspect we need to carry something, perhaps like a symbol of Tiamat, to pass unharmed by that trap. We all ran in and attacked the acolytes and skeletons. I didn’t do much damage with my pistol, but in the end I was able to destroy a skeleton just charging it with my staff! I am not used to relying on my own physical strength, so that was quite astonishing to me!

We hurried down the stairs beneath the altar and to the room containing Nedrezzar’s crypt. This time is was quite dark— that’s what we get for removing the braziers from each corner. We saw movement in the far corners of the dark room. Someone produced a light, which revealed a dozen mindless undead and one lich! I cast the illusion of a portcullis between us and the undead (I made sure my friends could tell from our side of the gate that it wasn’t real), which kept them from overwhelming us right in the doorway. Unfortunately, Nedrezzar was quite able to handle us on his own, and began casting spells on my friends! Skeletons were reaching through the illusory bars to claw Bryrgar, who attempted to charge them and tripped. He was knocked out, and bleeding to death! I dragged him out of harm’s way while my dear little Widget was again able to save a companion’s life by covering the most severe wound with his own body to stop the bleeding.

Things were not going well though— one by one, my friends appeared to be held in place, no doubt through some evil spell of the lich’s. I eventually lost consciousness myself.


I became conscious some time later, shackled in a dungeon. I quick looked around and saw all of my friends in chains as well. Even poor Widget was in some rat-sized handcuffs! All of our equipment was gone. Before we could take stock of the situation, the lich appeared and gave us an ultimatum— our freedom could be purchased by ridding a neighboring kingdom of a fiend that had taken it over. His reasoning was that his enslavement of the population of Pommeville wasn’t nearly as “evil” as what the demon was doing, and the silver rod that would imprison the lich could be used to banish the demon.

Now, I would be quite willing to banish the demon, but I also want to help the town of Pommeville, and prevent the rebuilding of the temple to Tiamat. However, I feel a strong compulsion (and what I suspect is an enchantment or geas) to help Nedrezzar. Perhaps we can take care of the demon and come back and save the town from the lich when we are stronger? Bryrgar feels strongly that it is better to die here or remain imprisoned rather than do anything the lich asks. Nosila and Roscoe (and Widget!) feel as I do. Widget took this opportunity to point out (with me translating) that he’d just saved the dwarf’s life and it would be a shame to waste that life when some good could come from ridding the region of one evil overlord, and be alive to possibly finish off the other as well. Hopefully Widget can budge the dwarf for us, for I have no doubt that we will fail the quest without his strength and healing abilities!

Posted by Kristin on December 28, 2004, 14:52

Up a Tree

Uktar 17, 1373 DR, outside Thornhold

Someone decided binding Bryrgar as we were released from our shackles would guarantee his cooperation on the lich’s quest. He was the only one that didn’t seem to be compelled to do Nedrezzar’s bidding. I believe that the lich would have put him to work as a zombie though— the ones releasing us from our bonds looked familiar. I am sorry to say I recognized the half-drow child and his brother as they shuffled passed, and then I heard an anguished moan from Nosila as she learned that her husband had, in fact, come back to Pommeville— and was now part of the undead army himself. We tried to reassure her that it wasn’t really him anymore, just negative energy using his physical form, but well, I don’t really know anything about necromancy so for all I know Charzth is in there trying to break free, even though looked pretty vacant. Bryrgar says no one is in there though, and he’d know better. Nosila plans to destroy that zombie when we are back from our quest either way.

Roscoe managed to talk the lich into giving back our gear (including the stuff we liberated from his own tomb) and he even identified the stuff— I’ve been wearing bracers with an armor spell cast into them.

Roscoe, Widget, and I led a sobbing human and an irate dwarf out of the temple and towards Thornhold, the town down the river that we were to fulfill our quest in. I stopped in what was left of the marketplace to get some bullets for my pistol. The journey would be two days on foot or one day by river, so Roscoe insisted we take a boat— which meant we also had to get the dwarf into the boat. As we settled Bryrgar into the dinghy, he was saying some rather unkind things about what he planned to do to Roscoe when he was loose again. Widget hopped down from my backpack and squeezed behind the bound dwarf— so it was pretty obvious the dwarf would be loose before long. I now also know who has been feeding Widget between meals; Widget has always been a good judge of character, regardless of species.

As we floated downstream, I decided to try out the wand I’d found in Arania, but I’ve yet to figure out what it does. We noticed that the farms we were now passing looked much healthier than those nearest Pommeville, and many had at least begun their harvest. Nosila was quite distracted, so I didn’t bother attempting conversation. Roscoe was rowing the boat for all he was worth, as if he could row away from the angry dwarf.

I had to assume that Bryrgar was now loose from his bonds but biding his time, as Widget wandered out from behind him and climbed back in my pack. He seemed pleased and was grinding his little teeth. Uh-oh.

Suddenly, the dwarf made his move, but not being completely reckless while over a body of water, was unable to grab the halfling as he leaped over the side and began to swim to shore. Nosila was still coming to grips with her sudden unwed status, so I grabbed an oar and pulled the boat to the riverbank. We were just outside of Thornhold, but the sun was setting, so this was as good a place to camp as any. Roscoe had made his way along the bank and settled into a tree before Bryrgar reached him, so he was safe— for the time being. I cast an alarm spell around the camp, and let everyone else figure out who was keeping watch on what shift as I fell asleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night, the alarm rang out, and we all scrambled to get up. For a few seconds we didn’t see anything, and then this huge insect-like creature burrowed up through the ground in the middle of our camp! It bit into Nosila and began to pull her back underground. Bryrgar leaped in after her, though whether he was planning to heal her or beat up the ankheg wasn’t clear. I grabbed my pack (and Widget) and jumped into the gaping hole in the ground after them while Roscoe climbed down from the tree.

It was a lot darker down there! I had to cast an illusion of light to see by— after which I took a shot at the big bug-like monster. No luck! I tried the wand a few times, as well as various weapons, and just couldn’t hit the thing (I know I was aiming in the right direction though, as I managed to hit Bryrgar with a sling bullet). Roscoe was now down beside me, but the ankheg was dragging our companions backwards almost faster than we could move forwards. We had to do a full run to catch up, during which time I wondered briefly what could possibly scare off such a creature. Nosila had almost managed to get away once and Bryrgar cast some spell that seemed to irritate the thing; we were hosed down with acid for their efforts, before Nosila was grabbed again.

Finally the rage Chultean barbarians are best known for kicked in, which may have helped her break free (it was so hard to see what all was going on, even now that we were closer to the melee). That was the exact moment I figured out what would scare the thing off, and I cast a rather realistic-looking purple worm, complete with ominous sounds. I yelled to my friends that I was pulling a purple worm out of my backpack, hoping they wouldn’t waste their efforts attacking it. Bryrgar and Roscoe didn’t make the connection, and thankfully, neither did the ankheg, which took off quite quickly. As promised, I’d made part of the illusory creature look less than plausible, but they didn’t see the little banner on its tail until the entire image had passed. They scrambled back to the hole as I maintained the worm illusion a few seconds longer, and then hoisted me up. Bryrgar patched us up as best as he was able. Thankfully Widget hadn’t been splashed by acid.

We took a cue from Roscoe and decided to finish our rest in the tree— with the boat.

Posted by Kristin on January 23, 2005, 23:55

Direct

Uktar 18, 1373 DR, Thornhold

Turns out we were a bit further from Thornhold than we thought, but by arguing about taking the boat to Thornhold as we walked, we managed to get there by midday. We saw several farms on the way, and stopped to ask about Thornhold at one. The farmers said that Lord Taricz was well-liked by the townsfolk, had been there for three seasons (I had to ask— in case the demon had already been vanquished on our way there!), and had, in fact, deposed the not-as-nice tyrant Lord Larus that had occupied the keep prior to Taricz’s arrival. Thornhold itself is pretty small— one tavern (owned and run by a gnome called Northrup), one forge, etc.

When we later arrived at Thornhold itself, Roscoe thought it would be good for him to sneak in and scope out the place, count demons wandering through the streets, and listen for rumors. We let him go, then found ourselves waiting for several hours, as he apparently went to every building in the little hamlet, tasted all that was to be offered at the Gilded Gelding (Northrup’s tavern— I would have warned him about gnomish cuisine if he’d asked!), and even rented a room for the night. He eventually did come back for us though, at which point we joined him in wandering around gathering information. After Roscoe returned to get us, I saw Bryrgar hand Widget a gold coin— apparently they were betting on the halfling’s success or survival.

It turns out there is a 60’ wide keep on the hill, Taricz is betrothed to a human woman from Waterdeep that goes by the name Deidre, that they are often off on various quests, and he’s a follower of Torm. That last bit bothered me a bit, because I don’t think many evil demons are followers of Torm, the god of paladins, duty and loyalty. Hmmm. We then had to wonder if maybe Deirdre is the evil demon? We also found out that there is a limit on how many ankhegs may be hunted. Seems to me that even one digging around is one too many!

We looked around for other signs of demon occupancy. Or at least, we looked around and didn’t see any demons. We did visit a small shrine to Torm, Chauntea, Illmater and Tymora (nothing evil there!) and Marius the Leatherworker. We also visited Helden the half-elf healer, who had some nice scrolls for sale. I bought one to help me identify magic stuff, and another called Colorspray. My comrades seemed to be undecided as to how to proceed, so Bryrgar decided to go talk to Lord Taricz alone, since he was not cursed with the desire to kill Taricz on sight. I chose to go off to our rented room in the tavern and study the Colorspray spell. Widget took turns visiting the tavern and my friends, and coming back to our room to see how I was doing with the spell. I’m told that Roscoe got very drunk and started spouting theories about ankhegs and chickens taking over the world. I guess Widget walked over to him and swatted him on the side of the face, then stomped back up to our room before he had to discipline anyone else. That must have ended Roscoe’s drinking, as soon he and Nosila both came to the room to rest. Bryrgar chose to stay in the common room.

I found out in the morning that Bryrgar had talked to Taricz, and thought him to be an honorable man. Bryrgar even signed on to help Taricz fight evil in the Border Kingdoms! As much as I’d like to do that too, I’m stuck with this curse, and unless someone comes along and removes it, I have to keep attempting to eliminate the demon in charge here. Seeing Nosila carrying Roscoe around by his ankle like a small child (as much as he hates it) gave me an idea though.

I told my friends that Widget and I were going to go and confront Lord Taricz directly. Sensing trouble to be had, Roscoe immediately offered to go along. I tried to take the silver rod along too to see if I could use it against whatever demon was there, but Bryrgar wouldn’t let me.

As silly as it looked, I made an effort to hop and skip like a halfling as we went up to the keep. Talking as sweetly as I could to the guard on duty, I asked to see Taricz and we were admitted to meet with him. I figured if I accused him directly of being a demon and he isn’t, I would besmirch his honor and things would go badly. If I didn’t act though, I feared the curse would kick in and kill me. So, though I may have laid it on a bit thick, I talked to him the same way I’ve seen Roscoe do with “big people.” I let him think I have the mental capacity of a flumph while I studied his answers to my bizarre queries.

Taricz, three times my height, is an impressive figure. I asked him where his wings and horns were hidden. That put him off guard right away! I managed to squeeze as much truth into the nearly one-sided conversation as I could— that the silver rod would have helped me find the real demon in charge, would he marry a demon if he himself wasn’t one, and that the lich in the next town over would be very cross with us if we couldn’t fulfill our Quest to destroy the evil that controls this hamlet. I half-expected the curse the lich put on us to somehow zap us into unconsciousness just for attempting to work around the geas, but we managed to get through the interview with nothing worse than a bruised ego. He agreed to go in search of Nosila and Bryrgar right away, while we sat in his “waiting room.” (Which, Roscoe tells me, looks just like a jail cell.)

It wasn’t long before a guard came and brought us back to the reception area, and this time Bryrgar and Nosila (who kept her eyes averted from Lord Taricz at all times— I suspect she feared the geas would compel her to kill him if she met his gaze!). Bryrgar was gathering all the people in the keep together to cast a spell to detect evil. Nothing. Everyone in the keep was loyal to their Lord, and good-hearted. He has to keep looking for evil throughout the town, so they are going to gather the townsfolk together to do so. Roscoe and I had the option of going back to the “waiting room” or the tavern. I have a feeling he’s not ever spent much time with the smaller races.

We still have a dilemma though— we didn’t outright slay an innocent and good man, but we are still under the curse to eliminate the demon in charge of Thornhold.

Posted by Kristin on January 31, 2005, 15:49

Misleading

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

The Power of Darkness

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 on February 17, 2005, 00:15

Dangerous Footing

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 on February 24, 2005, 00:15

Horsing Around

Uktar 23, 1373 DR, Thornhold

Moments later, someone climbed out of the lake of magma. For one brief moment, I wondered if it was Bryrgar somehow, but though it was about dwarven height it looked to be at least 400 lbs., not to mention it was being very undwarf-like by giggling insanely as it ran, burning, off into the night, not towards Thornhold, but more in the direction of Pommeville. Nosila obviously took offense to this creature, as she dumped the half-fiend’s corpse and the unconscious Darvin off of his warhorse, jumped onto it, and galloped off before Maiyr or I could even react. We stood there on the road a moment more, and then realized it wouldn’t do for Nosila to have to fight the thing alone, so we rolled Darvin and the dead creature into a nearby copse and ran towards the departing barbarian woman.

We caught up to them on a farmstead. The magma creature had already set the barn on fire, killed one farmer and managed to light the farmhouse as well. Animals, rescued from the fiery barn, where running in all directions. I thought everyone was out and trying to get water to put out the little fires sprouting up everywhere, but I ran around to the back of the farmhouse to find Nosila catching children jumping from an upstairs window and sitting them on the warhorse for safe keeping. I attempted to stun the magmin by tossing the illusion of a wave of water over it— apparently not believable enough, even with Maiyr attempting to throw a real bucket of water on it at the same time. In fact, the water evaporated before hitting the creature. Widget suggested that I try something more realistic, like a rain cloud. I did that, but I fear it didn’t help matters any, as it ran into the already smoldering farmhouse, creating more fire as it moved!

I chased it through the house with the rain cloud, but it was soon beyond my reach with that spell. It was out the front door and heading off at fast run— I feared it would reach the next farm before we could stop it. As much as I hated to do it, I cast a few magic missiles at it, killing it outright. It puddled into a formless pile of slag as the fire went out of it.

It had to be done, but in another time and place, I would have liked to talk to it— perhaps it could have been coaxed to help us, or at least, help our departed halfling friend.

We hurried back to pick up Darvin and the dead hag, and collected the warhorse from the grateful family who’d been rescued with it. I noticed the horse had the outline of a hand burned onto one flank— poor thing must have been touched by the magmin. We decided to contact Lord Taricz immediately, in spite of the waning hour. We were worried that people in the town would be angry about the death of the Maiden of Pain, but thankfully, the opposite was the case. Lord Taricz welcomed us with open arms and invited us to stay in the keep. We left Darvin with one of the local healers recommended by Lord Taricz, then headed to the Gilded Gelding to relax for a bit. The gnomish tavern keeper Northrup told us our money was no good there and gave us much food and ale as we could handle. Actually, maybe more than we could handle. I think Widget was the only one that didn’t feel the effects of all the ale (I don’t know where he puts it!). Maiyr decided he needed to go see the ghost of Roscoe and put him out of his misery. He staggered out of the inn with Nosila, Widget and I following and trying to talk him out of it. Nosila whispered to me to make the elf think the ghost came to him, so I made an illusion of what I hoped would pass for the ghostly figure we’d seen earlier. I guess it did— or at least, it did to someone as drunk as our elven friend. He made a few attempts to hit the ghost with his scimitars, but only managed to throw each weapon off in opposite directions, and then fall on his backside in the middle of the empty street. I rather enjoyed taunting him with the imaginary halfling (now making humorous faces), but I feared Maiyr would be attacking the illusion all night. I had it appear to “merge” with the elf, occasionally making a giggling sound erupt from somewhere in his midsection, or wave a translucent blue arm in front of him (while sticking out of his chest). I was tired and had some studying to do, so I left Maiyr there with Nosila, who planned to bring him up to the keep when he passed out completely.

Before resting, I identified the little fan we’d found on the Maiden of Pain— it magically creates a brief gust of wind. The night was blissfully eventful. In the morning, Widget wandered off to wherever Nosila was resting, bringing back a gold ring— something else we’d not yet identified. It turned out to be a ring that provides magical protection— and here we’ve had it for weeks without her wearing it! Widget wandered back to where she was sleeping and shoved it on her finger, and came back bruxing and looking quite pleased with himself— apparently he got a kiss on the nose for his trouble.

I noticed we had settled on fiery red hair and fur for the day— I wish I could figure out what causes those color changes so I’d know what to expect!

Darvin is conscious again, or at least ambulatory, as I saw him wander past my open door. Why is it that humans walk around naked when indoors? I’ve never seen another race so immodest. He’s also very loud— he went by again (later) yelling about handprints on his horse. I’m sure there was only one.

We spent the rest of the day recuperating and occasionally talking to the Lord and his comrades that were arriving to travel to Pommeville. I managed to sell some of our more expensive (and useless) finds like that divine wand and scrolls none of my party could use. We got a Bag of Holding out of the deal (we don’t have to feel quite as guilty when Nosila lugs all of our loot around now) along with a good deal of coin. Widget must think he’s rich— I’ve seen him tipping guards (and even Lord Taricz himself) with copper coins. Nosila gave a good portion of her share of the gold to the family whose farm burned down. Especially sweet of her since I doubt there are many farms on Chult. Now I only need decide whether to share a horse with Nosila, or attempt to ride one on my own— Widget thinks it would be best to share a ride— he’s probably right. Or maybe he just wants to see how much stuff we can pack in the Bag of Holding.

Posted by Kristin on March 4, 2005, 17:03

Familiar

Uktar 23, 1373 DR, road between Thornhold and Pommeville

Lord Taricz had gone to the trouble of providing Widget and me a nice little war pony, so we decided to do our best to stay on it. I was not the only gnome in the war party: there is another Rock Gnome from the Heartlands who goes by Falrinn Blackrock. He’s a ranger that has never been to Lantan, and is probably the least talkative gnome I’ve ever met, preferring instead to scout ahead of the party. The lack of conversation was more than made up for by another companion: Respin is a bard from Waterdeep; I wanted to ask this half elf if he’d met Maiyr before, even though Waterdeep is a huge city, but Maiyr was clearly avoiding the bard so I let the matter drop. A cleric of Helm called Melark has been providing healing as needed to our group; a divine spellcaster is a welcome addition to this party seeing that we are headed into zombie territory. In addition to the Lord and his Lady Deirdre, we are also accompanied by a sorcerous dwarf called Dagnal. Widget tells me that Dagnal has a toad with her, but didn’t seem inclined to talk with the creature.

In fact, Widget seems to be talking a lot himself. I’ve finally started to understand what he is saying, I mean, actual speech, as opposed to the combination of gestures and empathy we’ve used since he was just weaned as a ratling. He still squeaks a lot of what he’s saying, but it sounds more like Common to me, with a very thick rodent accent.

So, when Widget said, “there are two boats in that tree,” I had to stop to make sure I’d heard him correctly. Sure enough, we’d come to the same spot where we’d spent the night over an ankheg’s hunting ground, though now an additional boat was perched beside the first. We didn’t have time to ponder that though, as the gnomish scout came back to let us know there were at least forty assorted gnolls and undead headed our way from the road to Pommeville.

I’m not sure why, but Darvin and Nosila needed to double check what Falrinn saw. They hightailed back with an updated count of fifty shambling and yipping things on the way— skeletons, gnolls, skeletal gnolls, dire rats, zombies— and one of those had been an ogre in life. As the evil creatures came into view, I tried to slow things down by making the illusion of a gaping crevasse traversing the roadway (Widget helped by taking the reins of the pony). It worked, but the army continued forward, splitting in half as it navigated around the imagined pit.

Our new comrades cut through the undead with fireballs and other devastating spells. Once the monstrous horde had passed the illusion, I dropped it and I concentrated on slowing down the gnolls that were now surrounding an unconscious Maiyr, and then moved on to help finish off the reanimated ogre that was threatening Darvin. It’s a good thing I didn’t see how badly Nosila was injured, as she was on the opposite side of the fight and I would have been distracted (though I know Widget was keeping an eye on her). Once the last monster fell, Widget hurried over to Maiyr and rummaged in his pack to find a healing salve. It was enough to get the elf conscious again. Melark healed everyone that needed it, though we were sorry to see that three of our own men-at-arms did not survive the encounter.

Posted by Kristin on March 10, 2005, 20:45

Creamed

Uktar 23, 1373 DR, beyond Nedrezzar’s crypt

We arrived at Pommeville at dusk. The town was, if possible, even more rundown than when we’d last seen it just one week ago. We studiously avoided the tall, vacant wizard’s tower and concentrated our efforts on the half-built temple to Tiamat, which appeared deserted. We headed into the temple, and down to the “secret” entrance that took us into the altar room behind a statue. Nosila and I, and of course Widget, were the only ones to make it that far when Nosila spotted eight zombies— who spotted her too! She managed to get to the double doors to let the rest of the party engage the undead, and got zapped by the doors in the process—someone had hung them back up since our previous visit.

After a brief battle, the zombies lay motionless at our feet. Knowing the altar was trapped, I attempted to make the illusion of little Tiamat “amulets” for everyone to carry to let us pass. While I argued with the cleric Melark that he need not worship Tiamat to carry the symbol through a trap, Nosila found that it was a mute point— the trap could tell the difference. Once again, we were faced with four skeletal warriors leaping out from the altar. They were dispatched much more quickly than the last few times, and I told Darvin to use something other than his hands to strike the top of each of the four skulls on the altar to reveal the staircase. He did somehow manage to hit one with his hand and got a nasty prick from the trap as a result.

The unusual tension that Darvin seems to cause got out of hand at this point. He had his lit lantern and was complaining that there was no one to carry it for him while he used his two-handed weapon. Nosila, anxious to be done with the lich (and to kill her undead husband) grabbed the lantern to lead us down the stairs under the altar. Darvin got angry that she “stole” his property and grappled with the barbarian woman; they both fell down the steps with the lantern, causing the glass to shatter and the oil in it to splatter on them, in turn catching their clothing on fire as they arrived at the bottom of the steps. They landed at the feet of six more undead creatures, and had to fight them and put out the flames on their clothes simultaneously (not to mention, they were now smacking each other around too). I got to Nosila and attempted to put her out with water from my waterskin, but it wasn’t enough. I remembered from my schooling that the fire had to be smothered to go out, so I next dropped about a pound of banana cream on Nosila. That put the fire right out, though she howled about the sticky substance that replaced the flames.

The undead were finally defeated, I dismissed the banana cream, and Nosila and Darvin went right back to their brawl, resulting in Darvin landing unconscious on the stone floor. I suggested we pass him up the steps before going into the crypt, so he wouldn’t be trampled if we needed to make a hasty retreat.

As we attempted to go into the lich’s crypt, four shadows passed through the walls to engage us. I tried to scare them off with a well-placed sun, hoping they would leave an area with no real shadows in it, but it only provided light for my companions to more clearly see what to attack. I ended up dropping it in favor of an offensive spell when my companions were starting to look weak. Once the last of the shadows were dispatched, the impatient Melark flung open the crypt doors, taking the brunt of the spell that was on them.

The room was virtually empty, save for the sarcophagus (which Maiyr quickly determined was empty) and a scroll placed on its lid. Fearing a trap, I used a mage hand spell to unroll the scroll, opening it away from the party. Nothing happened, so I turned the scroll around to face us….

After a split-second of disorientation, I found myself with Maiyr, Nosila and the inert form of Darvin in a long narrow corridor. I realized Widget was not with me, and began to panic while Nosila and Maiyr fought over what to do with Darvin. Moments later (as Nosila and Maiyr were coming to blows over what to do), Widget appeared a few feet above me with a surprised squeak— luckily I caught him. The scroll had cast a spell that had affected us, and when we disappeared, he allowed the spell to carry him as well so I wouldn’t be alone.

As I was hugging Widget, I noticed that Nosila had just fallen at Maiyr’s feet. The elf then turned and thrust his sword through Darvin, killing him outright.

Posted by Kristin on March 15, 2005, 15:37

Game Face

Nightal 2, 1373 DR, Ruins containing Tome of Azuth

Maiyr turned back to Nosila and dumped a healing potion down her throat. Before much more could be resolved about “who was evil and for what reason,” a strange, ghostly form appeared— Roscoe! It seems the afterlife is not keeping him quiet; he didn’t stop prattling on for quite some time, going on about all his new abilities as a ghost. We finally took a look at where we were. Apparently we are on some island in the Lake of Steam (or an equally stinky body of water). There is a crater full of trees in the middle of our island, and we are in the middle of that. The trees are, in turn, surrounded by lake. The tunnel we are in at the moment has an easy-to-navigate exit on one end, and a sheer drop on the other. We decided to use the former for any possible excursions. In the distance, we heard the roar of a large cat followed by a cut-off scream, so we knew we weren’t entirely alone.

Roscoe, bored for the moment with us mere mortals who needed to rest, decided to “fly” around the island to see what all was out there. He found big spiders, a goblin totem or statue, and a large green dragon. Then he came back to see us, and showed us his “scary face.” I nearly passed out from the sight. Maiyr and Nosila felt too weak to move and carry weapons after that bit of entertainment, so we decided to stay put till everyone felt they could travel again. That “rest” turned out to take about ten days.

The first day or so, Roscoe tried to help us by possessing wild game and forcing the creatures to come back to be cooked. He also apparently bugged a manticore for a while, and found a goblin village. He attempted to bring back a goblin for us to interrogate, but bumped into a large green troll on the way to our camp; we ended up fighting that and nearly losing Nosila while the goblin broke free and ran home. After that, Roscoe was gone for nearly ten days himself— having apparently found something that could kill a ghost, at least temporarily. I didn’t stray too far while my larger companions recovered; but looked for portals away from this place as often as I could. I didn’t find any in the immediate vicinity of our camp.

Just as we decided we were healthy enough to venture out, perhaps to make a boat to leave the island, Roscoe reappeared. He pointed out a dead half-orc with black-fletched arrows protruding from it a ways from our camp; something he’d meant to tell us a week ago but forgot. We found a few coins on the corpse, plus some rope, torches, and a map of the general area. There were keep ruins labeled with the symbol of Azuth and the location of a secret door— and a warning of beholders. Sounded interesting to us! We headed in the direction indicated on the map.

Eventually, we found a very life-like statue of a wizard holding his staff out in front of him. I could not detect any magic from the statue. We also found poo. Widget says it’s beholder poo, but I’m not sure if he is really able to tell or not. We also discovered the ruins and some stairs leading down, and went to investigate.

We found ourselves in a room littered with splintered wooden crates and bones, including one skull with four holes bored in it (perhaps from a mind flayer?). There was an open well in the room, and Maiyr and I both had the thought simultaneously to cover it up in case of beholders— to them, a well would be a hallway between levels.

We continued on quickly, knowing that our search was for a particular well-concealed door. Maiyr found one, and was able to open it, just narrowly escaping from a pit trap that opened up underneath him. Nosila and I were able to jump across to him, and we continued on till we found a room with a door at one end— that had suits of armor standing on either side of the door. Roscoe floated down and checked them out and asked us to dispatch them as he looked through the closed door. He saw a room containing a “ball of eyes,” statues in alcoves, a door at the opposite end and a hole in the ceiling. We “killed” the inanimate suits of armor for him as the door splintered from a ray attack from the lesser beholder in the room. Roscoe said he’d lead the creature out of that room so we could attack it as it passed between us. Then he went into the room, where he was apparently “killed” again. I leaned into the room and shot a magic missile at what turned out to be a gauth (a smaller six-eye-stalked type of beholder), while my remaining friends attempted to hack it apart— it floated up through the ceiling from us though. We waited underneath the opening, but it never reappeared, so we continued on through the only other door in the room.

A few winding corridors later, Maiyr found another secret door, apparently the one on the map, as we found the symbol of Azuth carved on the floor right before reaching it. Opening the door, we saw a blue glow, then the source of the glow— a pedestal, surrounded by runes, with an open book perched on top. The pedestal was flanked by two 3’-high columns, each with a crystal containing a swirling red mist crowning it. The room also contained chests of treasure, armor and fine weapons. As we got closer to the warding circle (for that is what I was able to identify it as), the light from the runes would get brighter.

Suddenly, the swirling mists cracked their crystals and were released! I realized, as a spell was literally wiped from my memory, that these were nishruu, creatures from another plane that feed on magic. Apparently the other treasure in the room was magical in nature, for as one stayed with us, the other immediately went to feed from them….

Posted by Kristin on April 9, 2005, 16:56

Sewn Up

Nightal 4, 1373 DR, Pommeville

We very quickly decided to shut the door on the magic-eating nishruu, but still wanted to get the book out of the ring of runes. Maiyr was unable to reach the book; a wall-like force prevented him when he got close. Nosila decided to try going in alone, after we removed any items that were magical from her. She was in the room for a few seconds when the creatures decided to attack her anyway. Maiyr surmised that there must be something in the area to help us reach the book safely, so we decided to search the place room by room. We lucked out on the first room. Moldy sacks of grain, casks of wine turned to vinegar and a huge barrel of salt were inside. I immediately got an image of fried potatoes in my mind from Widget; luckily, my comrades decided one of these ingredients would likely help us get pass the nishruu. I thought perhaps they wouldn’t be able to cross the salt if we put it in a line around us. Nosila went back down the hall and attracted the nishruu’s attention while Maiyr and I got handfuls of salt. Salt very definitely made the creatures shrink back, but Widget and I must radiate a lot of magic, as I was promptly attacked! Those bites hurt! Maiyr quickly dipped his blades in the vinegar and then salt, using what stuck to the blades to kill one of the crimson creatures. Nosila stuffed me into the barrel of salt, no doubt thinking I’d be safer. The pain of the salt on my open bite wounds made me pass out for a few moments. I came to just in time to see Nosila kill the other nishruu by flinging a shield full of salt on it. After I cast a quick cantrip to remove the remaining salt and vinegar from our clothes and skin, we headed back to the room with the book.

The book was still there, untouched by the nishruu. In spite of how Maiyr had been blocked by the circle of runes, I figured I must try to get to the book anyway, so I took a deep breath and stepped over the runes— and picked up the book! As I held the leather and brass bound book, a fire spell was suddenly implanted in my brain, and I realized I was holding Azuth’s Book of Infinite Spells. A few troubling thoughts passed through my mind. Did the lich set us up so that we’d find this? Was he unable to pass the ring of runes himself? Why couldn’t Maiyr pass through to reach the book?

For now, we were too beat up to do more than barricade ourselves the room and rest. We looked through the other treasure in the room too. We found two potions to provide healing, two vials of oil that can transform stone to flesh, and coins totaling nearly 800 gold pieces. Maiyr found chainmail and a scimitar that is cool to the touch; Nosila found some good leather armor, a very sharp longsword and a spear— all are magical, but I didn’t have spells prepared to identify them.

We rested for what must have been close to a day, until we felt we had the stamina to haul ourselves out of the ruins and look for a way across the big lake. As we emerged from the ruin’s stairwell, a familiar form was waiting for us— Nedrezzar! He was accompanied by four zombies, one of which was Nosila’s long-dead husband. Nosila threw her spear at the lich. While he attempted to pull it from his chest, I cast the fireball that Azuth’s tome had planted in my brain. The four zombies were instantly obliterated (may Nosila forgive me for destroying her husband before she could), and Nedrezzar looked none too happy with the attack.

Maiyr, meanwhile, had managed to get behind the lich, and he and Nosila kept at the undead cleric while I cast some sonic and missile spells at him. I kept close to the temple stairs, so I could duck in and out for cover— that lich wanted me dead!

When I was out of spells that wouldn’t harm my comrades, I tried firing my pistol— if it did damage to the lich, it certainly didn’t show. As much as I hated to cast spells that would harm my friends, I felt I had little choice—the lich would kill them if I didn’t. So, I lobbed two more fireballs at it, making sure to spread the damage between Maiyr and Nosila with the brunt of it on Nedrezzar. Thankfully, the second one dropped the lich, and my friends survived with a few burns. They were so relieved I don’t believe either even minded too much.

We searched the lich’s body for anything valuable, and anything that might hint on where its phylactery was. We found several undoubtedly magical items— a ring, a breastplate, a short spear and a heavy pick— and of course a holy symbol of Tiamat. And then, amazingly, we noticed a row of stitches along the side of the corpse’s torso. Slicing it open revealed a small ornate box with a copper band. Who would have guessed Nedrezzar’s phylactery was inside Nedrezzar himself?

Now, I had hope that perhaps Nedrezzar had a portal between here and Pommeville. Though we’d only just broken camp a few minutes earlier, we were now so tired and, well, burnt, we decided to rest up for a while again. Maiyr spent some of the time trying to figure out how to destroy the phylactery.

By the next morning we were feeling well enough to travel, so we decided to make another attempt to find a way off the island. As we were leaving the ruins though, we stopped to look at the very realistic statue of the wizard. Something that had been stuffed in the back of my mind for weeks finally surfaced. There had been a wizard called Malvis from Pommeville, absent when we first arrived, and absent still when we were last there. We hadn’t thought anything of it; after all, wizards do travel. My companions must have come to similar conclusions, and we all decided quickly that this “statue” would be a good candidate for that Oil of Stone to Flesh that we’d found.

In an instant, the wizard returned to his more lively state. After introductions were made (and we learned that he was, indeed, Malvis), we tried to get him up to speed on what all had happened in Pommeville. Luckily, he knew of a portal from this island that would take us back right near his tower on the edge of town, but first he wanted to retrieve Azuth’s Tome from the ruins. He’d been trying to retrieve it nearly six months earlier, when an encounter with a beholder left him frozen till we found him.

From what I’d remembered told to me by the townsfolk, this Malvis was an asset to Pommeville and having him home sooner rather than later would be a good thing, so I told him Azuth’s Tome was in my possession, but that I’d be more than happy to trade him for another lesser, but useful magic item after we disposed of the phylactery. Malvis suggested that tossing it in the lava created where the silver rod rested would be a suitable end for this last piece of Nedrezzar.

Now, however, it was time to return to Pommeville. Malvis took us to the portal straight away and we stepped through, arriving just where he said we would. The town looked deserted. It made sense that the zombies had all fallen with the destruction of the lich, but where were the gnolls and few remaining humanoid slaves?

We entered the tower with Malvis; either he is a terribly messy person, or someone else had been through looking for something— the place was a shambles.

Posted by Kristin on April 21, 2005, 20:19

All’s Well that Ends....

Nightal 4, 1373 DR, Thornhold

Malvis was more interested in inventorying his tower than going with us to the magma lake to dispose of the lich’s phylactery, and to be honest, we didn’t really need the help. After walking around Pommeville for a few minutes, and determining that there wasn’t another living (or dead) soul about, Nosila found us a boat and we headed towards the lava outside of Thornhold.

We found Roscoe there; it was good to be able to tell him what we were about to do and say our good-byes. He promised to watch over us— I heard Widget give a sad squeak as Nosila tossed the copper-covered box into the lake and Roscoe faded away. I’ll miss him too.

Rather than heading back to Pommeville, we decided to go and check on the fate of Lord Taricz and company. Upon hearing of our arrival and defeat of Nedrezzar, he ordered a town-wide celebration in our honor. He also had Darvin’s horse; Nosila was happy to hear that the creature was okay.

I want to go home, even if just for a little while. The only thing that is preventing me now is Maiyr and Nosila. Poor Nosila finally realized that she is truly a widow and is hesitant to go back to Chult— she needs someone familiar around right now. Widget says that Maiyr needs us around to keep him out of trouble. Perhaps they would like to accompany Widget and me home and see all the technological wonders of Lantan. Assuming, of course, we don’t stop to investigate something interesting on the way!

Posted by Kristin on April 24, 2005, 20:50