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November 5, 2008

Color Coordinated

Astrid's Journal

13 Lamashan 4709 AR

We freed the old men from their shackles. I had offered to just break them off, but Tythe had some other means of “unlocking” the bonds, which everyone else agreed was a better option. Zandu introduced us and showed Gill the letter from the Pathfinder Society; unfortunately, the would-be assassins had taken the book we were supposed to retrieve. Gill, a historian that is well-versed in military history, had read the book and gave us a detailed account of what he remembered.

The book contained codes. Gill had tried a few of them out and was alarmed when he discovered that Taldorian undead rose up from the shipwrecks surrounding the island city. Fortunately, the book also contained a “master code” that would nullify the others. Unfortunately, he could not recall the details of that last code.

We learned that the men shackled to Gill were the only people other than the Pathfinder Society that knew about the book, so we opted to escort them back to the Pathfinders where (we hoped) they would be safe. As we walked I saw a red light flash six times from the top of a very tall building. Gill said that it was one of the codes— in this case, it was a signal for the Black Echelon to poison a granary with gutwither. The three old men agreed they could get to the Pathfinder Guild alone while Gill accompanied us to the granary.

The granary was enveloped by a cold fog and we soon found the bodies of three dead guards. I opted to sing something to inspire my friends, as we were sure the assailants were inside trying to carry out their evil scheme. We rushed in and up spiraling stairs to find ourselves knee-deep in grain. Three obviously-undead creatures surrounded a rusty chest. They were hard to hit! I managed to slay one with my claymore, and Salma, with the power of her god, was able to damage the others. One cast some sort of spell and suddenly, I could not hear myself singing any longer! Two undead Black Echelon appeared to rise up from the grain, and with one more blast of energy, Salma was able to destroy them all. As soon as that happened, the cold mists cleared.

Gill had managed to alert some town guards to our situation, and they arrived just as Zandu was determining what was in the rusty chest: ten vials of gutwither, thankfully all unopened. We ran up and checked the rooftop where the signal had come from— there was no evidence to show that anyone had been there.

There was also no evidence that the three men we had rescued had ever made it to the Pathfinder Society’s headquarters. Our only lead on who had the book was, of course, the War Hounds that had attacked the four old men originally. Gill knew the location of one of Nessiam’s rivals and reluctantly suggested that we go there next to see if he knew of the War Hounds were holed up. We soon found ourselves wading through the flooded tunnels under the Puddles, or the “Siphons,” looking for a crime boss called “Grand Master Torch.”

We came to a door and were greeted with suspicion by a large half-orc guard, who eventually let us in to their hideout. We slogged our way past several rather unsavory-looking people, towards a bathtub where a severely burned man was being bathed by two women (is everyone in Absalom obsessed with bathing?). After listening to our request, he offered the information we sought under a condition: a price of 3000 in gold. We convinced him that we didn’t have that kind of money and he made us another offer: open three of five magical locked chests in the next room— according to him, his best underlings had been unable to open any of them. We agreed to try.

I was able to open two: a red box with a trio of angry golden faces on it— I glared back at it menacingly and it unlocked. Another had musical notation all over it and 10 pores along the lid— that one gave me a little trouble until I figured out how to play the tune on the lid itself, which caused it to open. Tythe picked the lock on an iron cask, and had actually opened a stone chest with an illusion cast on it, making it appear to still be closed (we eventually convinced her it was open so she could “see” it) and one covered in carved ivy had very small writing on its surface which turned out to be a riddle— Tythe blurted out the correct answer and it too unlocked.

Grand Master Torch was pleased that we had opened all five and gave us each 100 gold for our effort, as well as the information we had requested. Nessiam’s base is called the “Pyramid of the Dog” and is an old siege tower just outside Absalom. Thanking him for the information, we headed back to the surface— somehow, the entire night had passed and we had never made it to our room at the inn.

We debated going to the inn or heading toward the pyramid, when we spotted orange and green lights flashing on a cliff in the Puddles. Gill told us that was one of the final signals he’d read about, and it means a team of Black Echelon operatives are to prevent the organ pipes at Abadar’s Temple from playing, signaling an all-out invasion. I guess we are headed there next!

Posted by Kristin at 14:31 | Astrid’s Journal

November 7, 2008

No rest for the weary

Salma's Journal

We couldn’t find any keys to unlock the chains on the old men, and Zandu admitted that he was nervous about Astrid’s offer to break the links with her (very large) sword, so Tythe set to work picking the locks while we questioned the former prisoners.

The old historian, Gill, told us about a book he had found, detailing the invasion codes used by an invasion fleet from Taldor - over one hundred years ago! Why would anyone care? Well, when he tried using some of the signal codes out of curiosity, old skeletons in Taldorean armor began rising from the harbor. Of course - the harbor full of old shipwrecks, the floating mass of debris offshore; an undead army waiting to be called up!

Of course, the book is already in the hands of someone named Nessiam, who had ordered the deaths of Gill and his friends, who were the only others who knew of the book’s power. We quickly offered all of them safe escort back to the Guild so they could tell the tale there. (No sign of the tattoed men, but just to be safe...)

As we walked, Gill tried to remember the codes he’d seen in the book. He was able to tell us that there is an “abort code” for emergencies, although he couldn’t remember the sequence. Tythe wondered aloud what we’d gotten ourselves into (my thoughts exactly!). Zandu kept almost stumbling into trouble with Astrid, who thinks he’s trying to flirt with her. I suspect he’ll get his arm broken, soon. Or maybe she’ll just use the song she says she has to put people to sleep when she doesn’t want to use her sword...

About this time, Gill remembered one of the codes - by seeing it flashing in red light from the top of a building across the city. I’ve never seen lights on top of the granary, before - apparently Nessiam was trying out the code to tell the “Black Echelon” to poison the city’s food supply. Zandu was all for racing to the scene, and the rest of Gill’s friends said they could make it to the Guild from here, so off we ran through the sunset streets and into a cold fog.

The building’s doors were open, three bodies in the uniform of the city guard inside, and all beyond my help. In we went, watching for the poisoners; I cast a light spell on Zandu’s bow so that we could see, and we quickly discovered and followed a trail of blood to another open set of doors. At this point, we asked Gill to go find help!

Astrid was singing something to inspire us as we entered the next chamber, which was full of grain, plus stairs leading up to a balcony, which I wanted to check out until I realized that there were three cloaked figures trying to open a rusty chest at the base of the steps. We pulled out our bows as the mist magically thickened, hiding the figures from us.

Zandu called to his dog to help Astrid, whose song had changed to one of fighting against the undead. Undead? I raised my arms and called out to Irori to turn them! The figures we could see began to back away; a fourth even emerged from the piled grain to move away from me, but one was unafraid. The mist grew thicker, and silence descended on us all.

Tythe plowed through the grain, longsword raised high, and Astrid followed suit. A fifth figure arrived, so I decided to try turning them again - and three crumbled to dust! The other two, of course, attacked me. Astrid destroyed one, and I turned the last, which caused the fog to dissipate so that we could see the chest full of gutwither poison, lid open. Thank Irori, the ten vials inside were unopened!

Astrid was not especially happy with Zandu’s way of checking for poison. She thinks little of certain types of magic, apparently. Still, at least we had good news for the town guard when they showed up! Better yet, they listened to our story instead of arresting us on sight. We did go up to the roof to check for any sign of the lights or who had sent the signals, but found nothing. (Zandu’s method of checking caused a discussion with Astrid about magic and the detection thereof. Hm..)

The only sign that anyone had been on the roof was a chipped stone parapet, and nothing to be seen below. I sighed and looked out over the city and harbor, which were thankfully quiet. We descended from the roof to head back to the Pathfinder’s Guild as night fell.

When we reached the Guild we discovered, to our dismay, that Gill’s friends had not arrived. Poor innocent victims.. and will we be next, knowing as much as we do? We filled the Guild in on what we’d learned; now they really want that book!

We asked for help in finding Nessiam, but the Guild had no idea where he would be. We ended up being led across the city by Gill, who was hoping that a man named Grand Master Torch could help us. This meant not only heading back to the Puddles after dark, but under them into the Siphon..

After wading for some time through the watery sewers (unknown things occasionally brushing by), we arrived at the iron door of the thieves’ guild. Gill told us to keep our weapons sheathed, and only then admitted that Torch disliked him! A small window opened in the door, showing a pair of red eyes, so we quickly composed ourselves and requested an audience.

A large half-orc finally ushered us inside, Astrid openly eyeing him up. (Does she think she can take him in a fight?) We ended up in front of a man in a bathtub, with two women pouring water over his scarred back. We explained our urgent need to fund Nessiam.. but the Grand Master was not concerned.

We finally figured out that Torch was more interested in being compensated for his trouble than Nessiam’s plans to use the undead to invade Absalom. There was no way we could pay the fee he demanded, but after amusing himself with our pleas for a while, Torch said he’d help us if we helped him, first.

Five locked safes were in the next room; he wanted us to open at least three of them. Tythe has the skills for that! But I was insulted when he threatened us with dire consequences if we stole anything. We have more important things to worry about!

Although it got Astrid going again, Zandu checked for magic before we started. Some safes were, some weren’t. One had strange freakish faces on it, another, carved ivy leaves. A third was all stone with nothing to be seen, the fourth had writing on it and holes in its lid.

Tythe quickly opened the iron box’s lock, but pointedly did not lift the lid. Astrid glared at the box of strange faces - and it unlocked as well! Tythe got the ivy-leaved one unlocked as well, and, flush with success, everyone looked over the last two.

I thought the box with holes in the lid contained a living thing, but Astrid played it like a flute, reading its writing to play the notes to unlock it. They thought the last, plain all over stone box, might be something I could figure out. I sat down before it, placed my hands on the top, and meditated.. nothing happened.

At this point, Zandu looked at it for magic again, then turned to Tythe and told her to “put the lid down!” With that hint we realized that the magic on this box was actually illusion; it was open already. I took the lid from Tythe and put it back on the box, and we went out to Torch to tell him we were done.

Apparently no one stole anything. Torch not only told us where Nessiam’s base of operations is, he gave us a hundred gold pieces each, while reminding us that we “don’t know” where our information came from. We headed back to the surface as dawn was breaking, working out how we were to reach the Pyramid of the Dog, an old collapsed siege tower outside of Absalom.

Unfortunately, someone was using the codes again; we saw orange and green lights flashing at the top of the cliffs above the Puddles. Gill remembered them as some of the final signals for a team of operatives to attack the Metro Cathedral; if the morning organ pipes don’t play, it’s a sign to attack the city.

So much for sleep; we’re off to the Cathedral...

Posted by Kate at 23:10 | Salma’s Journal

November 9, 2008

No rest, no food, no bath

Zandu's Journal

As Tythe unlocked the shackles I handed Gill the letter from the Pathfinders Society. He then explained that the book contained codes from an invading army over 100 years ago. The problem was that when he tried one of the codes the army rose from the dead and went to complete their mission. He did discover a master abort code that would prevent this from happening, he just couldn’t remember it. Even worse it seems that a man called Nessiam had the book. We started to escort Gill and his three friends to the Pathfinders society, but unfortunately we saw some flashing lights from off in the distance. Gill remembered that that code meant the granary was to be poisoned. We sent his three friends off alone the as Gill and the rest of us went to prevent the entire city from a horrible death.

We found three town guards dead at the door, which was broken open. And inside the granary we found robed undead with a chest. Astrid sang and attacked, Salma called to her god, and Tythe did her best with a sword. I cast a few spells from behind as Dorin helped to defend us. The fight didn’t last very long, after a couple of bursts of energy from Salma the undead were again dead. Just after the town guard showed up and we explained what happened. We searched the building, but found no sign of Nessiam, so we headed for the pathfinders Society .

I thought it was strange that everyone was in bed sleeping with everything that was going on, but I then found out the Gill’s three friends never made it there. We filled them in on everything and when Gill mentioned he knows a man who can help us find Nessiam we all headed of to the Siphons located under the Puddles district.

After walking chest deep in sea water, Dorin swimming most of the way, we came to a door and were eventually let in to ask Grand Master Torch what he knew of Nessiam. He was unwilling to just give us the info, buy we could buy it for 3000 gold. Yeah like we had that kind of money. So instead he gave us a challenge, he had five chests he was unable to open and he wanted us to open them without stealing anything. I know it was just a test of our character and abilities, the chests weren’t that difficult to open. Torch was so impressed with us that he gave us the info and 100 gold each. Turns out Nessiam is holed up in an abandoned siege tower just outside of the city. As we were leaving the sewers the sun was rising and my stomach was growling. I stifled a yawn and that’s when it another signal was pointed out to me. We’ll have to forgo food and rest for now and go to the Metro Cathedral and stop more, then deal with Nessiam before we can go bathe, eat and sleep.

Posted by Fred at 10:36 | Zandu’s Journal

Long to go before I rest

Tythe's Journal

I don’t want to sound like a total witch. The fact is that I feel like a fish out of the sea and I still have yet to get my land legs. I miss my family, the crew and my Father. I don’t miss the evil back handed doings of my Sister. My latest dealings here in Absalom have brought it home to me just how far out of my own element I truly am. On board ship I was a force to be reckoned with. Yet here the simple task of putting down a few dead things seemed almost overwhelming. I am so happy to have my new found friends. Even though Zandu got me into this in the first place it is good to know he is at my back and that the others Salma, her healing touch and Astrid with her song stand with me. They are not my family but as friends and fellow adventurers they will more than do and I look forward to a hopefully long and profitable future together.

I was miserable this day. The heat and stink of the Puddles, the cold and fog surrounding the granary and the undead things, I will not call those things men. The traipsing off from one place to another following one clue and then another, wading through stinking filth to find that the person we’d been told could help us in our task was uninclined to do so. I admit I didn’t deal well with him and I accused him of wasting our time. The look on his face said something of a puzzle to me in that silent language and immediately felt I should better have said nothing and I could not meet his eyes again. I thought for a moment that I had ruined everything and I’d let everyone down but In the end after a test of our character he chose to help us after all. I have a lot to learn if I am to live the life of the land lover.

I am hungry and tired I need a bath and I want a drink like never before in my life but something tells me that there is much to do and we may have a long journey yet before any of us may rest.

Posted by Jon at 14:51 | Tythe’s Journal

November 16, 2008

Fight or Flight

Astrid's Journal

13 Lamashan 4709 AR

As we run towards the Cathedral, the organ music starts to play, but then stops. Gill tells us it must finish the song. We arrived at a bloody scene. A huge organ with pipes that appear as big as the sewer tunnels we just left fills one side of the room. The floor is littered with bloody corpses and those ghostly creatures from the mill are lined up on the “keys” or platforms in front of each pipe, about 15’ off the floor. One of the temple’s keepers is still alive but surrounded by more of the undead. As I run towards the balcony to slice my way through the Black Echelon, I see Salma is exuding that energy that weakens the undead while strengthening us; Tythe has out her bow, and Zandu is taking off his gloves?

We easily dispatch the undead, and save the one living person left in the temple, but are faced with playing the rest of the song. I beg the girl we’ve just rescued to point to the right keys as my friends and I run up to the balcony to play the monstrous instrument. After a few tries, we deem it successful and are back on our way to the Pyramid of the Dog. I complain that we haven’t eaten, but Salma assures me that we can find “food on a stick” from street vendors on our way out of town.

After about an hour of what I’d call forced marching, we find a half-wrecked “pyramid”— it was originally four siege towers, but now only ones stands tall while the other three have fallen towards that one, hence the name. A guard dog stands in front of what might be considered the main entrance, and arrows slits dot the towers. I attempt to lull the dog to sleep with music, but of course, as soon as we start to attack the tower (my friends aiming arrows through the arrow slits in the wrong direction), the dog begins to make noise and the occupants of the tower begin shooting back.

Salma suggests that we try again later when we can be less obvious about our attack, and she and I make to leave. We get a few hundred feet away when we realize that Zandu and Tythe are not with us; turning to look back, we see them entering one of the towers! We run back in time to face some of the War Dogs who come out to defend their pyramid. We manage to take a few of them out (and the dog) while one that I’m having a lot of trouble seeing attacks me repeatedly. I keep fighting, with Zandu reassuring me he has more of those healing potions should I fall. I manage to stay up long enough to hit Nessiam (or whoever this obvious leader of this welcome party is) before I go down. I didn’t manage to kill him, but did hit him hard enough that he’s slunk back into the main tower. True to his word, Zandu gives me a healing potion and we stand here now, unsure whether to follow the last enemy standing or rest to fight another day….

Posted by Kristin at 17:03 | Astrid’s Journal

November 20, 2008

Needs sleep badly

Salma's Journal

The others asked me if I could get help from my people - as we were running across town! I doubted we had the time to make a detour like that.

Sure enough, we barely made it to the Cathedral before the organ began to play. Zandu sent his bat to look for trouble; the bat reported “ow!” at the same time the music fell into a jumble, then went silent!

Into the Cathedral we went. Row upon row of pews marched ahead of us to the high altar. Above it stood the pipe organ, filling the back wall. The keys alone are so massive that people leap from one to another to play it.

Unfortunately, the players were strewn across the keys or fallen to the floor in bloody heaps. We saw only one survivor left, and black ghostly figures all around. I quickly ran down the aisle, calling upon Irori to turn the undead!

Although the creatures standing on the keys (fifteen feet above the floor) ignored me, the undead surrounding the girl backed off and I saw her heal a little. Wisely, she stayed down while the fighting raged around her.

A familiar cold mist began to fill the Cathedral, but we were getting the hang of fighting the things. I was able to destroy a few by turning them again, Zandu and his dog fought them directly, Tythe shot them with arrows and Astrid chased several back up the steps to the keyboard.

While Astrid finished off the last of the undead, I explained things as best I could to the surviving player, especially the importance of finishing the morning organ music. She agreed to direct us.

A more amateur performance was never played in the Cathedral that morning, but it did the trick, I hope! At least, there was no sign of an invading army when the town guard banged through the doors to find out what was going on...

Of course, our next goal was to get to the Pyramid of the Dog before the next signal went out. All we’ve done this far is react after the fact. Leaving the organ player to explain, we trekked across the city yet again, tired as we were. At least we were able to buy breakfast from early morning vendors as we went.

Zandu has claws, by the way.

The Pyramid of the Dog was down the coast, an hour’s walk away from Absalom’s walls. It was guarded, fittingly enough, by a large dog on a chain in front of the main entrance. When Astrid’s ‘sleep song’ didn’t work, Zandu proposed killing it, with me arguing that was cruelty! Luckily, a second song worked, and we sent the bat to circle the building to discover a less-used or secret entrance.

No luck! There were guards at arrow slits around the tower, and their arrows and shouts of “Intruders!” quickly had us scurrying behind a pile of rocks for cover. Astrid sang another song, for us this time, while Tythe and I pulled our bows and returned fire.

I wanted to pretend to leave, let them settle down, and try again. Instead, we kept watching the windows for signs of movement to fire off arrows at. I argued again about walking away, Astrid sang a song that we were leaving, but everyone stayed put.

After a while, I started walking back to town. Astrid came with me. And, as soon as we got out of earshot the other two ran up under fire to pick the lock on the side door beneath an arrow slit.

I’m going to have to admit my teachers were right about non-Vudrani after all, at this rate.

When we looked back, Tythe had the door open and she and Zandu were disappearing inside. What could we do, but go back? At least we discovered that they were waiting on a report from the bat before climbing a ladder, the only exit to the room!

The bat reported no one alive on the second floor, so up we went. Our arrows had found the mark in this room, at least - but then we heard the sound of steps entering the room below. No one had stayed downstairs to guard our backs.. whoops.

The dog had woken and been loosed from his chain, followed by several guards. There was no way into the central tower from the roomswe were in, so we had to fight our way back out. I blessed the party, then went to the window to attempt shooting at the guards outside the door.

Astrid made it down the ladder and was soon at work with her sword. Tythe had her bow out at the window with me. We shot at two guards running around the corner; they turned tail and went for reinforcements. Zandu accidentally hit Astrid with acid as she fought off the guard dog.

As the guard dog went down, the reinforcements arrived. Tythe leapt out the window in a surprise attack! Astrid charged into the fray from the exit below, leaving enough room for me to make it down the ladder if I chose. By the time I reached the ground, the battle had left - everyone gone back around the corner, fighting over the main entryway.

There I saw a new face! Or, strangely, faces; a man who seemed to change appearance as I looked at him. Someone shouted that he was Nessiam, our target. Two guards were left, though, and Nessiam was fighting too.

He hit Zandu’s dog hard enough to make the dog back off, and staggered Tythe, who had to step back and quickly down a potion! Astrid and Zandu finished off the guards and attacked him with sword and claws. Still, he was able to get back inside the tower, slamming the door in our faces.

Zandu quickly gave a healing potion to Astrid: we must get inside that tower!

Posted by Kate at 23:31 | Salma’s Journal

November 22, 2008

Pyramid of the Dog

Tythe's Journal

They say an army travels on its stomach but our small band of what seems to slowly be evolving into friends travels and fights on its very soul. How I came to that conclusion is a story in itself. I don’t know why it was that Zandu decided to charge full on in as reckless a manner as he did into a fray that I honestly don’t know how we managed to survive any more than I know why it was I so foolishly decided to follow him.

Salma had decided to turn and walk away from the strange grouping of towers that looked to me like the four fingers of a hand trying desperately to push their way up out of the sand as did Astrid. This is by no means a reflection on them. I was myself ready to just call it a day when the arrows began to fly from a small slot like opening near the top of one of the smaller towers that leaned inward toward the taller one in the center. Both Zandu and myself fired arrows of our own but it was Zandu ‘s that entered the tower and killed the archer within but at the time we did not know that as we made ready to rush the tower.

Salma, Astrid, Zandu and myself hadn’t slept. We hadn’t eaten. We’d been wounded and were sick of fighting. It seemed to me that there was a conspiracy to keep us from getting any rest and I can’t help but believe who ever was behind this was doing what ever they could to keep us from having even a moment to get ourselves regrouped before we met once more in battle those undead things or whoever else was under their control.

I rushed headlong at the tower as Zandu did the same hoping to outrun the arrows of whoever was in the tower firing at us and by some miracle we made it and searched for a way in. Once inside we found a ladder and climbed, expecting a fight when we got to the top but all we found was the archer Zandu had killed. Salma and Astrid were some distance away when they realized we were not following yet they were loathe to return for us but something told them they would be needed. From here things get hazy for me. I remember more of those primitive looking men with the strange tattoos I remember sliding down a wall and rounding a corner to confront what seemed like dozens of them. I remember barely a shining great sword flashing by my head to take out one of them just in time to save my life. I remember backing off away to give myself some room to take one of my few health potions and I remember at some point seeing all of the tattooed men lying dead on the ground with a strangely clad human creature standing amongst the carnage we had wrought and I remember him ducking as quickly as he could move into the main door of the tower structure and I stand here now, my father’s coin in my hand feeling the weight of it, flipping it over and over. Should I try the door, should I not.

Posted by Jon at 10:48 | Tythe’s Journal

November 23, 2008


Zandu's Journal

We need to finish this, and it needs to be finished NOW. It’s only been a full day, I know, but first the granary, then the test we had to go through just to get a little information, then the cathedral, and now we are so close. Here at the “pyramid,” if you can really call it that, of the dog, we’ve done almost everything but get that book. I’m starting to get a bit cranky, and hacking away at people with my claws is something I don’t like doing. It’s just I really don’t like to get blood on my hands. I’d much rather cast in a few spells, but we’re so close. If Nessiam will just surrender it will be all over.

Right I forgot to tell you about the cathedral. We got there just after all but one girl was killed, and we destroyed the undead. I shake a bit every time I got some of that disgusting decay on my hands, but I’ll deal with it. We attempted to play the song, and did so horribly. Then we ran for a couple of hours to this pyramid/tower thing. Well, let’s get it done.

Posted by Fred at 09:24 | Zandu’s Journal