Astrid's Journal
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Astrid’s Bio

When I was younger, I used to hide my ears. In our steading where at least seven people had lycanthropy, I worried about looking different. To be truthful, I didn’t look all that different from the other villagers— red hair, green eyes, and among the tall Ulfen, my elven heritage didn’t stand out much. I felt different though, and would pick fights with anyone that even looked my way for too long. My mother, an elf called Maeva, had disappeared when I was just a wee lass, most likely in a raid— those happened all too often. The only thing I remember of her is a beautiful voice and a few snippets of ballads she would sing when we were alone. I got my love of singing from Maeva; my passion for fighting from my father Asmund.

After my mother disappeared, Asmund did his best raising me alone. He began to teach me to swing a sword that was longer than I was tall, and I grew accustomed to wearing armor at all hours as well— we just never knew when the ice trolls or evil fey would attack our home. He also told me more of the lands beyond our steading so that I would know why we fight. For a long time, I had nightmares about the White Witches in the lands to the east of us. Actually, I still do. I stopped picking fights with others of my clan, and with quiet resolve, focused on keeping out creatures that would try to harm them instead.

Although life was hard, I had intended to stay with my father’s people, and even had a prospective mate who did not mind my pointed ears. Ulfhrafn was a fosterer to our steading from near Trollheim that went out on a hunt and never returned. Lest you think it had something to do with me, no one from that hunt returned, including my father. That was two years ago.

Weeks later, Asmund’s claymore was found several miles from the border of the neighboring kingdom of Irrisen. It was returned to me and I have carried it in battle since.

I learned during a raid of our own homestead by ice trolls, when our clan’s skald was slain, that I had a talent for singing and took up the cry. Suddenly, my years of silence fell away and I found my voice— recalling the ballads I’d heard as a wee thing and singing with a voice that scarcely sounded like my own. The results were enough to rally my clan and turn the tide of the battle.

I finally realized I had achieved the acceptance of my father’s people, and a great weight was lifted. Well, half of a great weight, at least. I could have stayed; I may go back, once I learn to accept myself.

Character sheet: Astrid Steelheart [Half-elf bard from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings]

Cause of Death: Sneaky troll.

Posted by Kristin on October 1, 2008, 17:14

Astrid’s Journey

Finding acceptance by others that do not know you is easy. Finding acceptance by the one that knows you the best is never easy. This is the one universal truth that I have learned in the months that I have traveled abroad.

To find that acceptance I traveled south past the Grungir Forest and over the Kodar Mountains until I came to the lands of the Gypsies. There I met an old fortune woman who claimed to be able to speak with those beyond the veil. There she claimed to have spoken with my father. His final words of wisdom were thus: “To begin to find self-acceptance you must start where all are accepted, the center of all things, the city on the sea.”

So I have traveled the land and sailed the sea until I have finally arrived at the center of all things, the city on the sea, Absalom.

Posted by Hugh on October 12, 2008, 00:19

Cliffhanger

12 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

Shortly before debarking the ship in Absalom, I made acquaintance with two other travelers: a Gypsy called Zandu and an elven woman named Tythe. Someone had mentioned rooms were available at the Golden Griffin (for those that needed to sleep indoors, I suppose), but more importantly, this establishment had food and drink available, and Zandu had offered to buy a round. Assured that Zandu had no motive other than not wanting to drink alone, we started off in the general direction of the tavern, trying to wend our way through the Harvest Festival crowd, when I saw three men grab a fourth and drag him into an alley. I pointed this out to my new acquaintances as I turned to follow.

We confronted the muggers and, not wishing to escalate the incident, I began to sing a tune that tends to cause drowsiness— it worked on two of the assailants and the victim, but one continued to threaten Zandu (and apparently three more had appeared behind Tythe). I decided to go take the victim away from his attackers, intending to only frighten them away by pulling my father’s sword— it worked, and they backed off almost immediately.

I stopped singing and picked up the unconscious man, and turned to leave the alley with him. I found that I had missed some bloodshed— one man was dead on the ground, Zandu’s dog chewing on him, as a small Vudrani human woman was in turn healing injuries and providing my comrades with some righteous indignation— apparently we had picked a fight with the very powerful Toresco merchant family. However, we had saved the life of a member of the Radu family, and were thanked profusely by someone called Torin Radu. At no time did anyone of actual authority appear, though I was told that places such as these have town guards. Perhaps they felt we had the matter in hand.

We opted to take the healer, Salma, along with us to the tavern. The strongest drink available was Dwarven ale— I had several while Zandu made room arrangements for all of us. I already have a bedroll, but was assured that I’d prefer to sleep indoors. My new friends all seemed rather excited that a “bath” was offered with the room. I bathed before I left home though. Personally, I thought it would be better for us to just go stay with Salma, but she assured us this was not possible.

We got to talking about why we had all landed in Absalom. Salma had been here for years; her parents had dropped her in “girls’ school” and never returned. Tythe seems out of her element entirely and has been taking comfort with a bottle of rum. Zandu was just wandering (as I was) until a chance encounter with an old man gave him purpose. In fact, the purpose involved visiting the Pathfinder Society here in the city. We all opted to go with him; I believe I am not alone in looking for acceptance and this is where (I’m told) my father wanted me to start.

Salma led us to our destination, and Zandu asked them for help with identifying a map, though for some reason he could not show us the map. In exchange for this help, we agreed to go collect a book from Vargos Gill in the Puddles District. This did not sound difficult, but apparently the Puddles District is not nearly as pleasant as the area where the earlier mugging occurred. My friends got a bad feeling when we got to Gill’s house— it was obvious that no one was home and that some sort of mischief had recently occurred. I saw an old woman watching us, but she ducked into an alley before I could call out to her. Zandu and I ran and caught up with her, and after he bribed her with a few copper pieces, she told us some men (“Nessiam’s”) with snarling dog tattoos (War Hounds) had taken Gill mere minutes before we arrived. We got Salma and Tythe and took off in the direction the old woman had indicated.

Sure enough, we found the six War Hounds with Gill and three other elderly men chained together on the edge of a cliff, with the obvious intention of pushing them off the side into the water below. I tore past the thugs and managed to grab the chain just as the old men lost footing and tumbled over the edge, but I had to contend with being hit in the back by various weapons as I struggled to keep from losing my grip.

Apparently I got hit pretty hard and must have blacked out, but not before my friends were able to dispatch or scare off the enemy and pull the chained men to safety. I came to and found Zandu was holding my head up and pouring some sort of potion down my throat. I managed to refrain from breaking his arm.

Posted by Kristin on October 15, 2008, 14:38

Color Coordinated

13 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

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 on November 5, 2008, 14:31

Fight or Flight

13 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

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 on November 16, 2008, 17:03

Having a Ball

14 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

We elected to fight on. First, we needed to get through the thick wooden door in front of us. I was unable to kick it down, so Zandu torched it, and I used my claymore to break up the burning wood so we could enter more quickly. Our nemesis was already gone, but his means of departure was obvious: I pulled up a “hidden” trap door and we filed down and through some winding tunnels and caverns. Zandu’s dog and I split tracking duty, and when we came to a ladder, I slung the dog over my shoulder so we could ascend easily. We all came up in a storage building in the Coins district and then headed to the Puddles as far as Gill’s house. He was not home, and Nessiam was nowhere to be seen, so we took the tunnel back to the pyramid and did a proper search of the main tower. We were quite lucky— we found several lanterns with glass of different colors and an iron box— once Tythe got the lock open, we found the book Nessiam had stolen (as well as a large sum of gold and gems). Before heading back to the Pathfinder Society, we opted to memorize the “abort” code just in case we managed to lose the book.

I am happy to say that we did not lose the book, or get attacked, or witness armies of dead marching through the streets. We got the book to its destination and handed it over, then used the lanterns to render any further use of the codes ineffective. We were rewarded with seeing the unnatural fogbank along the harbor’s edge dissipate.

One would think we would go and take a well-deserved rest at this point, but Zandu had other ideas. After getting the Society’s cartographer Elias to look at his “map” (which is a big tattoo on his back), we all ended up nodding off in various corners while his map was meticulously copied by Elias.

Afterwards, we went to the Golden Griffin, where there was a big “bath” waiting. The bath turned out to just be a big tub of water that everyone used— I am not sure how this is supposedly cleaner than a river, where the water rinses away whatever needs washed, but it was warm, which was a pleasant surprise. It was quite late, well after the kitchen had closed, so I pleaded our case with the innkeeper, who kindly found us some fruit and bread to tide us over till breakfast. We shared a room— I do not remember too much after that, as I was quite worn out from two days of non-stop adventure.

Morning started out with a proper breakfast. I had planned to take it easy for the day, but shortly after we sat down in the common room a local woman burst in and exclaimed to the innkeeper (and anyone else within earshot) that her basement had demons in it. Curiosity piqued, we asked the innkeeper about her and learned that Goodwife Thestra was of sound mind. We wandered next door and offered to look around for her, and found a tunnel behind some barrels in her basement, and a shadow of… something. Before we could check that out, the town watch arrived and took over, insisting that this was now a crime scene and needed to be handled in an official capacity (never mind that we had rescued the town several times without their help over the past few days).

We started to feel a bit aimless. Salma decided she should drop in at her school and give them her portion of the gold we found. I guess that is her family. Later still, we returned to the Golden Griffin to find a letter waiting, addressed to Zandu. It said simply:

“I’m in need of your services— meet me at the Salty Dog. — TR”

I was actually relieved that we might have something to do, as I was getting restless, and I think Tythe was hitting the rum bottle a bit earlier than normal.

We headed straight to the Coins and to the aforementioned tavern. Upon entering, everyone in the place turned to look at us, and I thought we might have to fight our way through, but a man at the back of the room motioned to us and ushered us through a door to a private room. There we met Torin Radu, one of the two families we encountered upon our arrival in Absalom. He told us how his sister had been kidnapped by the filthy Torescos and somehow charmed into believing she was in love with one of them. Our “mission” will be to attend a fancy ball hosted at the Torescos with the hopes that we can get the Radu woman away from her captors. Dress clothes will be provided by the Radus.

Posted by Kristin on December 4, 2008, 00:00

Beware of the Dog

14 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

We were shown a locket with a picture of Lucinda and told she was “standoffish” with interests in falconry and gnomish poetry (I did not even know there was such a thing). We were told that our inside man is a carriage coachman called Rathas that would be taking Lucinda to her family once we rescued her. If she didn’t come willingly, we were supplied with a white powder to add to her drink to knock her out.

Our new personas for the evening are as follows:

Zandu: Alexandru Romantis, a silk merchant
Salma: Tatiana, wife of Alexandru
Tythe: Varuna Elendar, an emissary from Kyonin
Astrid: Astrid, Linnorm bodyguard of Varuna.

Hmph. Obviously, someone assumes I can not act. At least my dress clothes allowed for my claymore this way.

The ball was very interesting. We were announced as we arrived, as if we were royalty. We opted to split up, so Tythe and I went to the bar while Zandu and Salma went off to mingle or whatever. I noticed that there were huge windows that looked out on to a garden, a rather nice orchestra, and a buffet beyond the bar. Tythe and I just listened to the gossip around us, and did manage to hear that some local nobles had been disappearing and a rumor of ghostly figures in the Puddles before our target arrived: Antione Toresco and Lady Lucinda were announced, followed by someone called Marlis, who looked exactly like Nessiam. At that point I mentally decided I would add a task to our evening’s business and Tythe and I moved closer to where Nessiam was headed. He was at the bar asking a man called Ilias how his trip had been when we purposely bumped into them; while Tythe managed to distract Ilias, I swooped in on “Marlis” and managed to get him to the dance floor. I got very little information out of him, learning that he dealt in “antiquities” and lived locally. I steered him towards some semi-private seating briefly after the dance was over, and was able to get close enough for a kiss, but I was and am still not sure that he was the same man— had there been an easy way to rip one of his sleeves off to look for tattoos, I would have done so. I was just about to suggest we go somewhere alone so I could do just that, when he abruptly kissed my hand and apologized for having to depart so early!

Several other men left the ballroom at that time, including Antoine Toresco, which at least meant there was an opportunity to get Lucinda away from him. We eventually lured her to the “ladies’” bathroom (with Zandru even) to talk her into going with us, pointing out her fiancÚ was involved in some shady dealings. Somehow Zandru had a glass of alcohol with him (spiked with the white powder) which she absentmindedly took from him and drank. As soon as she was knocked out, the plan was to swap her clothes with Tythe’s (even though she’s a good foot taller), and Tythe would sneak out of the bathroom at a later time, while Salma and Zandru pretended to be taking the Kyonin emissary to her carriage. I opted to keep people in the ballroom by getting the orchestra to let me join them in song. I was actually keeping a pretty good crowd enthralled with a tune when Tythe came into the room naked and shrieking that she’d been robbed (at which point the orchestra abruptly stopped, the entire room’s attention turning to the unclothed elf). The Master of Ceremonies quickly found clothing for her and called a carriage, which we quickly and indignantly boarded. We headed off to the Golden Griffin, assured that Salma and Zandru had our quarry with them as their carriage headed to the Salty Dog.

Posted by Kristin on January 6, 2009, 16:52

The One That Got Away

15 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

Tythe and I got changed back into more familiar attire and headed back down to the Griffin’s tavern area. We were quite pleased with our performance for the evening and decided to get started on some serious drinking while we waited for Zandu and Salma to return. We did not have too long to wait— moments later Salma stumbled in, bloody and angry, adding that Zandu was dead, our patron was dead, and our delivery had been kidnapped. The part of me that had been consuming way too much dwarven ale suggested that we would likely not be getting paid if our patron was dead, and with a look of incredulity on her face, she pointed out her disheveled look and repeated that Zandu was dead. I used a small trick I’d learned from my clan’s skald to clean her clothes, but that seemed to upset her more and she stomped off to our room. A tall, lanky redhead at the next table over (who had been, as near as we could tell, carving his initials into the top of a wooden table with the end of a flail) offered his assistance. Not wanting to face Salma’s wrath till we’d had another round, we told him which room was ours and handed him a mug of ale to take up to her.

A moment later we heard what sounded like some crashing around and the call of the town guard above us… ? in a variety of confusing accents. Running upstairs, we found that the fellow had tried to coax her to open the door by announcing himself as the local constabulary, with the result that she had jumped out a window. Tythe and I were going to attempt to follow her, but the redhead, who we eventually learned goes by the name of Deaglan, is an expert tracker and offered to go collect her. We figured that sounded pretty good (and it would give me some time to sober up while Tythe finished her rum).

They came back soon after, Deaglan had shot one of two men that were stalking Salma (and been poisoned in the process). The other stalker had disappeared after twisting a ring, which Salma said was how the people that had kidnapped Lucinda and killed Zandu had made their getaway. They showed Tythe and me the ring they pulled off the dead stalker— it was silver with a skull on it. Tythe tried it on, and said “did they twist it like this?” and disappeared!

We stood there stunned for a moment, and then I asked where Zandu’s dog was. Luckily for us, the innkeeper had been watching it and was quite happy to turn the animal over to us. I gave the dog one of Tythe’s garments to smell, hoping it could track her, but without a starting point, it was too confused. Then I thought we could have the dog smell the body of the slain stalker and go back from wherever he’d come from, hoping that the ring would have teleported Tythe there. We got close enough to the crime scene to discover it was a crime scene— the dog and I got close enough to ask a town guard what had happened, and learned that they were examining the fletching on the arrows sticking out of the dead body. I could not get the dog any closer, but it was able to pick up the scent and follow it. As we walked, I reached over and used one of those skald tricks to change the color of the fletching on Deaglan’s arrows— I figure I am saving the town guard some time and lives by not having them get mixed up with this network of teleporting, kidnapping, murdering thugs, and Deaglan, who seems good at tracking, but a bit confused on how to cover tracks.

The dog did a good job of tracking the assailant’s route in reverse. Still, we were quite surprised to find ourselves standing at the basement door to Goodwife Thestra’s home again. We decided to let her know we were back rather than sneaking in, and the elderly gentleman that answered the door and after we explained what we were doing said he’d let Goodwife Thestra know that we were poking around down there again.

The town guard had apparently boarded up the tunnel we had found yesterday, and the thugs had removed the boards in turn. We let the dog lead the way, wandering through tunnels and rubble. Eventually we stopped, hearing chuckling ahead of us and seeing a glowing figure passing by, seemingly unaware of us. Moments later though, we found some undead that were aware of us; I sang and pulled out my claymore and the three of us quickly dispatched the zombies….

Posted by Kristin on January 22, 2009, 18:48

With a Twist

15 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom (probably)

After the encounter with the zombies, we found ourselves crawling through a tunnel on our hands and knees. Up ahead of Deaglan was a larger chamber, and in it, the faint outline of someone in a mask looking towards us. The dog was still with us, and leapt to attack the shadowy figure as it turned to escape up a ladder. Salma and Deaglan recognized the clothing worn by the figure as that of Zandu’s killer and Salma’s stalkers, so we dispatched the would-be assassin before he had time to call for help or disappear.

As it turned out, he had one of those teleporting rings and a few potions on his belt, all of which could be useful down here. As much as I distrust this arcane magic (for that is what it must be!), we had yet to find Tythe, so we held on to each other while Salma put the ring on and twisted it.

What amazing luck! We arrived in a circle in a brazier-lit chamber with a pair of doors at one end— the only other person in sight happened to be Tythe. She had been out through some tunnels herself, and had only used her ring to return to this chamber because she was being attacked elsewhere.

We cautiously left the room and took the path Tythe had not used on her previous trip through, though it meant we would have to get past some guards just beyond the first turn in the tunnel. Luckily they were so absorbed in whatever it was that guards do that we were practically standing on them before they noticed us. I had volunteered to sing a lullaby to cause a distraction, when I realized I had the perfect opportunity to use something I had seen a skald use on charging enemies— this bit of legerdemain caused a grease-like substance to appear between us and the guards, causing one to fall outright and the others to have to pick their way carefully to avoid falling themselves.

We discovered that it is a bit difficult to fight in such close quarters. My friends all started out using bows until the guards were too close to aim properly, while I took a few down with my claymore (and got pretty beat up in the process). I think there were six, but at least one got away from us before we could dispatch him….

Posted by Kristin on February 3, 2009, 19:09

Things that Suck

16 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

We picked over the dead guards and their table— found a bit of coin and some more of those skull rings (these people have two modes of travel— skulking in shadows and teleporting). Moving on, we found a room containing purple robes and bronze masks. None of us have a clue what cult this is exactly. I am left wondering whatever happened to Lucinda— did she get taken back to her fiancÚ, or did she end up like her brother? I would assume she passed this way when the first time (okay, the second time) she was kidnapped, but we have not seen any evidence that she might be held here.

Of course, we need to rescue ourselves before even thinking of helping anyone else.

We found a staircase and wandered up to a torch-lit chamber with a circle of runes carved into the floor. Before we could stop her, Tythe wandered into it and twisted the ring she was wearing! I ran back to the previous circle, hoping to catch her there, but that room was empty. Worried that she’d get herself into trouble, the rest of us gathered in this new circle, all touching, and used one of the spare rings to send us to wherever Tythe had disappeared off to.

Staring off at the now-familiar decaying landscape, we realized that we were in the ruined Precipice Quarter above the Puddles. It is rumored to be haunted, but we were so tired that we opted to rest an hour or so till the sun came up. At least we were above ground!

We hadn’t even set up a place to wait for sunrise when we heard some ominous flapping sounds. Suddenly, a huge bat/mosquito creature had stabbed me in the side of the neck and was hanging on! My companions tried to pull it off with no success, and in fact soon found themselves in similar situations. I finally took a dagger to the neck of the stirge on me— that got it to let go! A mere minute later, all four of the attacking stirges had been vanquished, but we were all weak from blood loss and decided to brave the city streets in the dark rather than encounter anything else in the Precipice. As we headed back to the Golden Griffin, I noticed that two shadowy figures were watching us from an alley, but we were too filthy, tired and hungry to care. A quick bath and meal later, we had ourselves barricaded in a room, taking watches to allow each other time to rest.

Posted by Kristin on February 27, 2009, 15:02

Caught Your Eye

17 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

We tried to stay out of trouble for a day. Determined to stay in our room at the Golden Griffin until we were all well-rested and healed, we managed for at least 8 hours, until Tythe needed a fresh drink. Salma was adamant that she was not leaving, so Deaglan and I agreed to take turns staying with her. Tythe and I decided to go with our “personas” of the night before, which was not overly difficult, since no one in Absalom really knows us anyway.

We entered the crowded tavern area—there were no tables available so we sat down at the bar. Looking around the room, I spotted one of our “shadows” from the night before, and told Tythe I would be back in a minute after letting our friends know that trouble might be brewing. I told Salma and Deaglan and then hurried back down to the tavern in time to see Tythe had wandered over to the table of mystery stalker. I heard that she was quizzing him about which event she might have met him at. I wandered over and asked their forgiveness and told Tythe I would be ordering food for us to go up to the room we were staying in. I offered to do the same for the stalker, pretending I had never seen him before, but he was not giving up any info on where he was staying or what his name was.

We ordered food and went back upstairs. I put an alarm spell on the room, and we opted to shut the shutters to our room, somehow sure that snipers would be attacking us at any moment.

Then we heard a thump.

Something had hit the shuttered window. Tythe peeked out and said she saw a big “eye” looking back at her. I took a quick look and saw that yes, there was a big eye staring in. It had black fur and batlike wings. I thought it looked like a creature I had once heard of called an “eyewing” but it was much too small. Deaglan and Salma had a look in turn as well— none of us had ever seen such a thing.

We figured it was either a harmless creature that we had all somehow never seen before, an exotic pet, or a familiar of some spying wizard. It looked harmless otherwise, and we were getting cabin fever, having nearly been in the inn for a half of a day now, so we opened the shutters and I dismissed the alarm. The ocular creature scuttled (on three little bird-like legs) up to the frame of the window, still staring in at us. I attempt to coax it in with a lullaby (even though I did not see any ears on the creature) and it gradually scuttled in for a closer look.

Without having much of a plan at this point, Deaglan and Tythe closed the shutters again, and the mini eyewing retreated up to a corner of the ceiling. Salma got it down with her staff, and was struggling with prying it off the staff when it turned its spindly little legs towards her chest and burrowed in! We quickly got it off of her, bundling it into a cloak— we could see that the little “legs” had inserted tendrils through her flesh, but I think we got the creature off in its entirety. Deaglan and I went down to the inn owner and got him to have a one of his servers procure a crate for us, so we had something to place the creature in. I did not see any of our stalkers in the great room this time.

So, here we sit, in a room in the tavern, still battered and bruised, with a mysterious bat-eye in a crate.

Posted by Kristin on March 7, 2009, 15:25

Killing the Zombies More

17 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

Curiously, Tythe decided to give up the rum in one moment, smashing the bottle in the corner of the room, and then twisting her ring (again). Deaglan, looking for any excuse to leave those four walls behind, did the same. I had to convince Salma it was better for us to keep up with them rather than split up, so we quickly followed.

It was only after we all found ourselves in that familiar room with the circle on the floor that we remembered that we’d left the dog (Rufus, Deaglan calls him) in the room with the bat-eye thing.

Planning to explore the rooms we’d missed previously, we went out into the hall, only to find the guards were back— sort of. It looked like the same bunch we’d dispatched earlier, only this time they were decidedly undead. Inexplicably, I couldn’t seem to hit any of them with my sword, but luckily Salma was able to turn them with divine power. Tythe set about to piling the zombies’ bodies and lighting them (they won’t get up again!) while I chased the last one down. I made sure it was quite dead this time and made some war paint from the remains. Strangely, no one else in my group wanted to wear any, even though I’m sure they’ll be wanting to bathe again when we get back to the inn.

Tythe led us to a chamber she’d not been able to see before. I was sure to provide copious amounts of light via a little cantrip so we’d not fall into any traps like she had previously. We found ourselves in a room with a large stone altar and an opening in one wall with a stairwell leading down. We followed those steps and came to the pit Tythe had “found” before. Fortunately, it was only 5’ across with a door on the other side. Unfortunately, the door led to a room with a half-dozen armored skeletons animated and waiting for us. Salma easily destroyed these with her divine energy, allowing the rest of us to follow her in without mishap.

I have no idea why we are doing this.

Posted by Kristin on March 21, 2009, 14:37

Not Quite As Dead As We Thought

17 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

I’ve been watching Tythe out of the corner of my eye, and trying not to notice that she’s eating part of one of the zombies we just re-killed. I wish she would go back to just drinking. She is, however, getting very handy with a lock pick, which she demonstrated when we came to a locked door further down the hallway beyond the skeletal guards.

We were quite surprised by what was behind the door.

Zandu sat there, chained to a wall, rather beaten and bloody, but most definitely alive. I checked the room for magic, sure that somehow this was an illusion, while Tythe went over to release him. I realized just as she was doing this that the room had an alarm spell cast on it, but she grabbed his arm and twisted her ring, teleporting them back to the room with the circle in it. I warned Salma and Deaglan about what I feared; Salma twisted her ring as Deaglan and I opted to run back to the teleport destination. I heard Salma screaming as we ran.

We arrived to see two robed figures casting spells into the room and about ten (live) thugs beating our friends. Deaglan stayed back, peppering the mages with arrows as I ran towards the fray. We dispatched most of these, though Tythe and Deaglan are chasing the remaining one(s) while Salma and I tend to Zandu, who managed to knock himself out during the battle….

Posted by Kristin on April 9, 2009, 18:52

Back at the Place with the Thing

17 Lamashan 4709 AR
Absalom

We arrived back at the place where we had encountered the stirges earlier, but left quickly this time, remembering we still had an eyewing-thing and a dog locked in our room at the inn. Or rather, as it turned out, we had a dead eyewing and a wounded dog. After a quick bit of cleaning up (of the room and ourselves) Zandu decided we must go get that map from the Pathfinders Guild. So, we began the trek across town for that. As we walked, we could not help but feel we were being watched, so Deaglan and Tythe took the freshly-healed dog and ducked into an alley to see what followed the rest of us. Something they called a “street urchin” was apparently darting through the crowd keeping a few dozen paces behind us.

Tythe circled back around and caught said urchin, who had been paid to follow us and deliver a message. As the urchin passed over a wax-sealed parchment, he said, “Things are not as they seem.”

Oh, the parchment had this on it:

You’re in danger — the unseen is moving — we need to talk.” G.T.

As Tythe was getting that, Zandu was retrieving information about his map tattoo from the Pathfinder Society. The map is a place in Darkmoon Vale, but Zandu would not elaborate— I guess he does not trust us. Hmmm.

Well, I figured out that “G.T.” must be none other than Grandmaster Torch, so we hustled ourselves back to the Puddles and to his lair in the sewers. Knocking on the door, we were met with the now-familiar irritated visage of a half-orc bodyguard (K’nuk— I finally got his name out of him). I like him.

Torch was (still) in his tub. He seemed to know what we had been up to, and suggested that we should contact Lucinda (who was safely back in her fiancÚ’s home) and apologize for attempting to take her back to her brother, indicating that we believe now that we had been on the wrong side of the clash between their two houses. We agreed, and I suggested that Deaglan and I go, since he was not at the ball and I had not been one of her actual kidnappers.

We went back to the Golden Griffin, tidied up again, and then hired a coach to go to the Toresco manor house to see if we could meet with Lucinda. It turned out to be quite easy. We did as Torch suggested and she seemed quite alright about the whole incident. While I had the chance, I mentioned my “infatuation” with Marlis and how I’d lost his address from our encounter at the ball— she provided me with the location of his business. I do not know if it matters, but I still am curious to know if he is Nessiam.

Posted by Kristin on May 10, 2009, 11:31

Leaving is Painful

17 Lamashan 4709 AR
Cairnlands outside Absalom

After talking for a while, we realized that there was not much holding us to Absalom, and we did not (with the possible exception of Salma) seem to be adapting well to city life. Tythe likes the ocean, and Deaglan and I just like to be anyplace that is not a city. We decided to leave, get away from the backstreet machinations, the assassins, and the degenerate upperclass with which we had managed to entangle ourselves. Maybe we can find a ship. Well, we will have to find a ship, since we are on an island….

On the way out of town, Tythe remembered that she owned a horse, and after debating whether the rest of us should get horses, decided to sell hers. I thought she had sold all that went with the horse, but she and Deaglan seemed to be fussing with some things— I confess I did not pay attention, as I had decided, while we were walking close to the docks, to look for Marlis’ warehouse, and see once and for all if he was truly a dealer in “antiquities.”

Spotting the large, nondescript wooden building that was supposed to be his, I peered in a window and saw a dim light somewhere deep within. I could not see or hear anyone from there, and was planning to investigate further when I heard Deaglan and Tythe giggling as they sped away from the building. While I was looking through the window, they had somehow produced a bag of horse manure, dropped it on the front steps of the warehouse, lit it, knocked on the door, and ran. Mortified, I followed with Salma and Zandu, and we watched from an alley as an older man opened the door and threw a bucket of water on the mess.

Having finished our business in Absalom, we walked to the gates of town. I changed the color of everyone’s hair before we left, on the off chance that we were, or would be, wanted for something by the authorities.

Under the gibbous moon, we traveled through the Cairnlands beyond the city, giving wide berth to broken siege engines and graves. Soon, however, we saw some humanoid forms in the distance, digging in the ground with their hands. Quiet as we were, they noticed us, all turning to stare with their undead eyes as we tried to pass 80’ from them. A brief and unwanted battle ensued— I got to slice a few of them in half, and Deaglan and I were both briefly paralyzed by their touch. We climbed into a ruined building to fight them off, eventually re-killing most of the attackers, though I am quite sure there are more lurking about.

Posted by Kristin on June 1, 2009, 22:23

Dogged

18 Lamashan 4709 AR
Shoreline of Kortos

I thought we might have a bit of a rest while the ruin’s courtyard was empty. Setting an alarm, we planned our shifts and Salma and I decided to rest first. That lasted less than a minute until Deaglan and Tythe were yelling and the alarm was going off. We re-killed the rest of the undead, and, exhausted, we returned to our planned shifts. Thankfully, the rest of the night was uneventful.

In the morning we prepared to depart quickly, and, doing a head-count, noticed that Rufus was not moving. Well, not moving normally— his skin and fur were rippling in a rather unhealthy fashion, but he had obviously expired during the night. I wanted to see what was going to burst out of the dog, but my friends opted to put the dog on the same pile as the zombies we were burning, thinking that it might be a flock of those one-eyed bat things.

We walked along the shoreline for several hours, wanting to get as far from the Cairnlands as possible, when we saw a body just at the waterline ahead. The human male we found was quite dead, and was clutching a map case in one hand. We pried that out and opened it, finding a map of Kortos Island. Tythe recognized a mark on the map that indicated pirate treasure near the edge of some mountains near the center of the island— we are going to head towards that, I think.

Posted by Kristin on June 9, 2009, 17:58

It Burns

18 Lamashan 4709 AR
A Cave in Kortos

Before heading off to seek pirate treasure, I looked over the body of the dead pirate. There were obvious burns on the soles of his bare feet in addition to the claw-like marks. I am left wondering— did he come in from the sea, or was he running from something toward the sea?

Following the map, we arrived at our destination in a few hours. The rock-strewn cave entrance had some skulls on pikes surrounding the entrance; other bones were scattered about as well, and the whole area smelled of decay. We moved to the entrance, and I cast light on a rock and tossed it in, revealing an inclined floor scattered with more bones. Deciding it was safe enough, we entered, and were clobbered by the stench that hit us. As we went further in, the smell just got worse, and now feathers were mixed in with the bones.

We came to a chamber with two bodies in the center. I recognized the winged humanoids—harpies! I told my companions to cover their ears on the off chance the vile creatures were still alive, while testing that theory with my sword. Thankfully, they were dead, and the dried blood stains under them showed they had been dead for some time.

We picked our way past the corpses and down a passage, eventually coming to a “Y” and a decision— left or right? Deaglan made that decision for us— the right had a bunch of rocks nearly covering the way past, but among those, he spied a gold scepter in a skeletal hand. Not sensing a trap, he reached down and grabbed the scepter— the hand and arm (attached to a string) came along, followed by more large rocks (which hit both of us). To add insult to injury, an inspection of the scepter revealed it to be gold-painted lead.

At least the resulting cave-in gave us room to pass by climbing over the rocks. We walked a few dozen feet more and came to another “Y” — one part led forward, and the other, back (we suspected) to the fork we had not taken. I suggested to Zandu that he backtrack to check. After a few minutes of Zandu not reporting back, we got worried and went down that fork ourselves, but we could not find him. Further searching did not locate him either— I have not even been sure he’s really Zandu, and this does not help my feeling that he is just not quite right.

We continued on to the other path without him, hoping that (if it was really him) he would reappear. Deaglan was scouting ahead for us, but must have had his mind on other things, as he tripped over a wire, dropping the floor out from under him and me. We found ourselves at the bottom of a 20’ pit, and a gray oozing thing was, well, not charging at us, but definitely leaning menacingly in our direction. Thankfully, Salma had a rope with her and dropped one end down so we could climb out. I then borrowed Deaglan’s bow and shot the ooze, which exploded.

Using Salma’s rope, we climbed down into the pit, and then I caught her as she jumped in after us. I climbed up the other side then, dropping the end of the rope so my companions could also climb out. From this point on, we let Tythe lead, so she could look for traps. This turned out to be a very good thing, as she found another trip wire.

At last, we came to a large cavern, half of which was filled with a lake. The area smelled of chlorine and something scorched, and the beach was littered with corroded metal and bones— I do believe we have found the lair of a green dragon. As I mentioned this, we noticed ripples forming on the surface of the lake....

Posted by Kristin on July 22, 2009, 15:21

It is Green

18 Lamashan 4709 AR
A Cave in Kortos

We ran out of the cavern and were well on our way to the exit when I stopped everyone and convinced them that it was probably a very small green dragon (judging by the size of the lair) and that we had, after all, come to look for treasure, which dragons collect. Tythe and Deaglan were ready to go back then— it took a bit of convincing to get Salma to go, and then, I think she just wanted to make sure we all survived the visit.

We walked quietly back into the cavern, and then I crept up to the edge of the lake— the dragon burst out of the water and bit me— hard. I was lucky that Salma was keeping track of me. In addition to keeping me on my feet, she used some divine intervention that increased my strength (and size)— it didn’t help my aim, but I can see that being a useful ability in the future.

We all fought the dragon, which battered us with its wings, claws, teeth and breath, and just when I thought we could fight no longer, it backed into the lake and swam away. Deaglan leapt in after it, swimming under the water some 60’ till he found its real lair— and he was sure he saw piles of coins. He returned to get us and we swam back with him to fight the dragon a bit more; this time we slew the accursed beast.

Among the bones of those who had fought and died on this beach, we found quite a lot of coins, as well as some magical weapons and armor (which my companions plan to use). I am not sure I want to use a magical weapon, though it might have made fighting a dragon a wee bit easier.

Posted by Kristin on August 18, 2009, 19:16

Indignitary

23 Lamashan 4709 AR
Diobel

I have much shorter hair now, and am irritated.

I watched Tythe take the teeth one by one out of the slain dragon as a souvenir. My people normally take the whole head, but I do not suppose that would be feasible since we have nowhere to stow it for now. We rested in the cave for the night, swimming back out in the morning, then returning to the beach where we had originally found the body with the treasure map.

We found another body. This one, however, was still quite alive, and struggling with what might once have been a boat. Being upwind from him, I could not help but note that he smelled like home, so I immediately felt a sense of ease around him. Candal has a dwarven accent, so I cannot place his clan, but he is taller than me with a proper-looking sword (which I am sure will come in handy) so I have no doubt he is Ulfen.

Salma made some half-hearted attempts to mend his boat, but Tythe noted that it would not hold all of us, so we ushered our new friend away from the splintered craft. I then caught a whiff of something quite bad— harpies! I began to counter their song almost before they got close enough to attack, and fortunately, they were unable to charm my companions. We dispatched two of the three handily, with the remaining wounded one flapping back to her lair. We saw no others after that.

In fact, we had no encounters of any sort for about one hundred miles, till we at last came to the small port town of Diobel. Diobel has two gates, both of which require a 2-copper entrance fee, and both of which are guarded. Salma and Candal wanted to see about booking passage off the island, and headed off to the north gate to get to the docks. Tythe had an idea to get us a ship of our own, and wanted me to reprise my role as her bodyguard. Deaglan seemed undecided on whom to follow, and I (wrongly) assumed he had wandered off with Salma and Candal.

Now, I do not normally care one bit what my companions wear, so it did not really bother me when Tythe asked me to hold her clothes and meet her at the east gate after a few minutes passed. I did so, but I may have been too late by then, as at my arrival, the completely-naked elf had become hysterical, and then passed out, leaving the guards at the gate wondering what to do with her. As they started to pick her body up to haul her off somewhere, I did rush up, explaining that her stuff had been stolen and that I was her bodyguard. They wanted to detain me, so I began to explain that we had companions booking passage on a ship and that I would take the “ambassador” with me. I was pretty sure they would happily give me the elf rather than deal with her further, when Deaglan appeared from nowhere, claiming to be a town guard himself, and threatening the actual guards with bodily harm! More guards began to appear, and diplomacy was getting me nowhere. I am ashamed to say that Salma must be rubbing off on me, because rather than lead an attack the guards myself, I opted to deescalate the situation and began to sing instead, keeping the guards fascinated long enough for Deaglan to throw his cloak over Tythe and drag her through the gates and from view. I put their gate fee in the hand of one guard and then took off before they could recover.

I then had to disguise myself to get into the city. I do not trust sorcery; so I took my dagger and cut my braid off, and then bought new clothes as soon as I passed through the northern gate. I bought new clothes for Deaglan as well, as he might be recognizable. I think Tythe will not be so easy to recall once she has her regular clothes on.

I met up with Tythe, and we are heading to “The Tails” somewhere near the docks to find the others.

I have noticed that Salma wears a braid of hair as her holy symbol— maybe she can use mine.

Posted by Kristin on September 1, 2009, 23:46

Yarville

24 Lamashan 4709 AR
Diobel

I noticed that we were being followed by three men. Normally, this would not be a problem for the two of us, but we were trying to not call attention to ourselves. I turned to look for a merchant’s stall to hide in, but all were full of clay pots, glassware and other assorted breakables. In fact, there was nowhere to hide; what few people were out seemed to part for our pursuers. I grabbed Tythe and ran for the north gate. We were chased, but luck was with us and we were able to get away.

Somehow, our luck continued, and we ran into Salma, Deaglan and Candal. They had found us passage on a ship, but first we had somehow managed to be entrusted with a task (Deaglan had apparently not mentioned to the others that we were marked by the town guard). I thrust the extra clothes I had purchased at the ranger as we were filled in on our mission. Well, actually, I was not entirely paying attention, as I was still looking for our pursuers, but some not-well-liked pirate captain from Cheliax had stolen some rather important Azlanti tablets, and owed money to a local merchant. I suspect we are supposed to find either the pirate or the tablets. Tythe already is making designs on the pirate’s ship, one Hydra’s Fang.

Now that we were together, we decided it was time to find an inn and get some rest. We picked the first one we saw, called the Shadow Gull. I guess we looked like neither townsfolk nor pirates (or perhaps someone recognized Tythe from her pirating days), but all eyes were upon us as we made our way to the bar, to get a room and rum. Plans were discussed further, and I managed to catch the name of the local merchant (Staizkel) and the dread pirate (Domore). Apparently the merchant had an import office nearby, though it was getting dark, so we headed up to our room.

Oh, Salma is sneaky— she left the inn without us. Candal decided to follow and keep an eye on her, but he is not the least bit stealthy. I followed him for a bit, then, when I realized he was absolutely not paying attention to his own surroundings, leapt on him from the dark. Paladins are even less stealthy when leapt upon. Someone on top of a nearby building saw the resulting brief commotion— Salma. She was watching Staizkel’s building. Candal and I went up to the door and he asked me if I had a lockpick. Well, I do have a means of opening doors strapped to my back, but it turned out that was not necessary. I placed one hand on the door and it silently swung open.

The way I figured it, if the door was already open, then something bad must have happened before we got there. I did not want to do anything that might bring town guards upon us, so I suggested that we go back to the inn. Salma signaled that she would stay and keep an eye on the door.

We got back to the inn and Tythe and Deaglan looked, well, awkward, for lack of a better description.


Morning arrived, bringing Salma back with the news that the door stayed ajar all night on Staizkel’s building. She needed to get some sleep, so Candal decided to take up watch on the building, while Deaglan wanted to check out the local merchants. Tythe went with the paladin, so I went with Deaglan.

He had decided he needed a proper companion animal, and since Zandu’s dog had met with an unfortunate demise, he decided a wolf would be his animal of choice. He even had the name “Fuzzball” already picked out. In no time, we came to a merchant selling “exotic” animals, and he just happened to have a wolf. Now, where I come from, wolves roam in big packs, but I guess on an island maybe they are a rarity. It took some doing, but we got the cost down from 200 gold to 165, along with the promise that the vendor’s seventeen children would be starving at that price.

We have rum to occupy Tythe and a wolf for Deaglan— now I need something to keep myself out of trouble.

Posted by Kristin on September 16, 2009, 00:31

Hello Kitty

24 Lamashan 4709 AR
Leaving Diobel via ship for Almas

I asked Deaglan if he had talked to his wolf yet— I had recalled that some rangers that are really in tune with their animal companions can do so. He attempted, and apparently got a response, for in moments he was wrestling with the wolf right in the middle of a rather busy road. After they rolled around in the dirt for a few minutes, Deaglan announced that the wolf was to be called “Kitty” rather than “Fuzzball.” I am not certain that Deaglan is on the same busy road that the rest of us are on….

During the fracas, I noticed something odd under the wolf’s fur between its shoulders, but Deaglan didn’t want to stop and look more closely.

Candal and I headed closer towards an alley as we were walking, and both happened to notice we were being watched. We took off after the watcher, but he had disappeared after turning a corner. We gathered our companions and explored the alley further, only to find some doors that were just the back way in to some local businesses. We gave up on that and, after going back to the inn to gather Salma (she had two hours of sleep after all!), wandered back to the warehouse she had watched all night. Unfortunately, it was as we had feared and the town guard was already there investigating a murder. We spoke briefly to a guard and could see a bloody body in the middle of the room beyond the partially open door behind him. He confirmed that it was Staizkel, and asked our business. We mentioned we had been looking for work as guards, and were told to try the town garrison.

Realizing that once again we had lost any chance of a lead on our investigation (warehouses hate me!) we split up. Salma and Tythe continued wandering the main street, insisting that they needed to buy some sort of shears, Deaglan decided to take Kitty to the inn and get some drinking done, and Candal and I went to Osprey at “The Tails” where they had originally gone to look for a boat. I cut to the chase and suggested that we just ask to book passage on a ship, rather than ask for work to provide us with transport. At 30 gold a piece, I figured that it was worth it to get off of this island. Alas, they did not have any Ulfen vessels in the harbor, so we booked passage on the one leaving soonest, called the Nighthawk. It is apparently headed to someplace called Almas in Andoran.

We returned to the inn, where Deaglan was dozing by his wolf and empty tankard; Tythe and Salma were just back as well, and looked rather shaken. They had been accosted in the street by three people who were sending “regards” from Tythe’s twin sister Synn. They were thankfully interrupted by the arrival of the town guard (they are everywhere!).

As we talked and got caught up with each other’s adventures, Salma was nonchalantly shaving a patch on the back of Deaglan’s wolf. The wolf did not seem to mind. This revealed what we had only glimpsed before— the wolf had a map on its back. Stranger still, it was the exact same map that Zandu had as a birthmark on his back, and in the same general area. How fortuitous! We had lost the original map when Zandu disappeared, and now, by some strange coincidence, we have the same map of an area in Darkmoon Vale at our disposal! Once we are to the mainland, we can easily travel to Darkmoon Vale.

We were eager to leave the island at once, though Tythe is now so paranoid about being watched that she does not wish to board the ship at the same time as the rest of us. This will be very tricky, since this port requires that you take a smaller boat as a shuttle to the ships docked further out in the harbor, but Tythe says it must be done this way.

Posted by Kristin on October 3, 2009, 16:13

Battling Bats

2 Neth 4709 AR
Riveredge

The trip on the Nighthawk was rather uneventful. In addition to the crew of twenty was a dwarf calling himself Rogar. I think we have adopted him. He smells nice.

Once we arrived in Almas, we decided we needed to make some more effort to get away from the shoreline, and managed to attach ourselves to a caravan that would be going north the next morning. We spent the night at the Falcon’s Crest (and were told to avoid the Hawk’s Nest). I decided to get some better gear for the trip north, as we may end up in lycanthrope territory (and apparently, unlike the Ulfen werecreatures, they are not welcome in the local communities); I bought better armor and a silver dagger.

Our whole first day and night with the caravan were quiet. In fact, tonight was quiet as well, though we found something interesting to do while the caravan is stopped for the night. Near the small hamlet of Riveredge there is a small, ruined temple to Aroden. Rumor has it that strange lights are seen around it at night. We headed over to check it out and found some freshly disturbed graves around it. Stepping inside the small chapel, we saw the old confessionals, pews, and altar, and some steps leading down, and… the ceiling moving. Bats!

As the swarms of bats flew around us, a rather gigantic bat appeared from among them, biting and scratching at us. Once we dispatched the largest bat though, the rest scattered and flew off, leaving us the choice of leaving the temple, or investigating where the stairs led….

Posted by Kristin on October 22, 2009, 19:43

22 Monsters Later

2 Neth 4709 AR
Riveredge

Rogar stepped outside for a few minutes; but the rest of us decided to descend into the next area of the abandoned chapel. We found several doors, one of which lead into a room filled with deadly yellow mold (we backed out quickly). We also found a yellow mold-covered dead peasant in the middle of the hallway, whom we carefully stepped over, and continued on to a concealed door that Tythe had spotted. While she worked on opening that, I noticed that there had been two sets of muddy footprints in the hall when we arrived, and only one dead muddy boot-wearer. Candal tried out another door— it lead to a small room with what might have been the vestiges of both a campsite and a peasant, and a creature covered in eyes and mouths that was, well, gibbering. He tried to shut the door quickly, but all those eyes had already spotted the open door. The creature was already filling the doorway, attempting to eat the paladin when I leapt in and took a swing at it— and got swallowed whole.

Thankfully my friends were quick-thinking— I could not move my sword and was attempting to slice my way out with a dagger when the gibbering mouther suddenly spit me out and sunk into the muddy floor of the little chamber, dousing the fire it had been attacked with. We shut the door before it could reconsider eating one of us.

We then descended steps that Tythe had revealed beyond the concealed door, and found ourselves in a large chamber complete with a defiled altar to Orcus (god of undead). The room reeked with evil, and it was not entirely surprising when ten bloody skeletons shuffled out of closets on two sides of the room. Fortunately, these were easy enough for us to dispatch. As we did so, Tythe found another hidden door behind the altar.

We followed her into the next area of the ruins, finding a room with ten more of the blood and gore-covered skeletons. As we fought them, the sound of rattling chains was echoing through the small hallway we stood in. We went to take a closer look at that room, and could see a man wrapped in chains. The room was also filled with implements of torture, as well as more chains and hooks hanging from the ceiling. Before we could determine if he needed help, chains began to snake out into the hallway to grapple us. I used a grease spell to keep him from easily climbing and swinging from his chains, and Salma enlarged me so I could put more force behind my sword as I finished off our assailant. It turns out that she recognized the abomination as a chain devil.

Once the creature was determined to be dead, we cautiously entered the room. We found a hidden container in the far wall; Tythe carefully opened it to reveal a heavy mace and a box. I recognized the weapon from folklore— there was no mistaking the bony forearm and fist-shaped mace as anything but the Fist of Orcus, an unholy weapon of the evil deity. Strangely (to me) our paladin Candal thought we could sell the item (it would be disastrous to attempt to wield it) while our resident rogue Tythe suggested that we destroy it. Since we cannot easily do either at the moment, we turned to the box next. It radiates magic and has screaming demon faces on the surface….

Posted by Kristin on November 17, 2009, 15:03

Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor!

16 Neth 4709 AR
Carpenden

Candal stuffed the evil items into his haversack, intent on looking at them closer when we were not in the temple ruins. Salma was starting to wonder when and if Rogar was coming to find us, as he had missed quite a lot of excitement, so I yelled his name a few times, which seemed to help him get to us quickly. While the dwarf got up to speed on what we had been doing, we took a look at a huge runic circle carved in the floor where the bloody skeletons had waited. It is obviously a summoning circle, but we were not sure how to destroy it without accidentally activating it, so we opted to just alert local townsfolk of its presence.

We began our ascent out of the ruins, coming back to the corridor where I had nearly been eaten by the gibbering mouther, when I heard a strange squelching sound sliding down the passageway, the now-clean bones of the dead peasant visible just beyond our light; apparently, we had not actually killed the thing. I am unused to fighting in close quarters, but did my best to hold it off from the rest of my party. Unfortunately, I do not think anyone was aware of my intentions, as they all rushed forward. I was able to “rescue” Tythe by throwing and lighting oil on the creature; Tythe got splashed in the attempt, but she was able to get away from the mouther. Salma was smart enough to stand back and provide healing where she could, but Rogar and Candal needed to get close to damage the creature, which resulted in both of them getting caught in its numerous mouths. In a fit of rage, I was able to yank Candal free, though I pulled much too hard and our resulting momentum carried us through a closed wooden door into an unexplored room while the dwarf apparently spent some time inside the amorphous creature. The mouther shrieked at us each time it was hit with fire; this time, the fire killed it, and Rogar was soon free from the monster’s corpse, although he spent an unusual amount of time digging through it. While he did that, we checked out the room the paladin and I had landed in. It had a cold campsite, and we found a small sack in a bedroll containing jewelry that was most certainly robbed from the ancient graves outside the temple. With no way to identify where it had come from, we took it with us.

We returned to the caravan and learned that Deaglan (and his wolf) had joined the town guard, which was odd, as the town did not have a guard prior to our arrival. He had always wanted to be a town guard though, so we wished him well. We rested for the remainder of the night. Once the sun was up, we moved out, traveling north past fields of olive trees and vineyards, and fourteen uneventful days later, we arrived in Carpenden, and collected our pay from the caravan….

Posted by Kristin on November 25, 2009, 00:15

The Whisperer in Darkness

19 Neth 4709 AR
Wilderness, West of Carpenden

By the time we arrived in Carpenden, I had managed to identify the last of our magical mystery items. Salma’s new bracers seem to enhance her armor (and better still, do not seem to be cursed). The Fist of Orcus, well, I was pretty sure what that was for, and we all agreed we should get rid of it as soon as we could find a safe place to deposit it. The box with the screaming faces on it was not as easy to examine, and we were not willing to open it. In fact, I am certain that would be disastrous under any circumstances. I only looked at it, but as I did so, I felt an almost inaudible whisper at the very edge of my perception, and a cold chill down my spine. I have since felt that almost-gleeful whisper again, when I was nowhere near the box.

We were able to rid ourselves of the Fist of Orcus, at least. Rogar seemed to be familiar with this area; he was able to recommend a temple to take the evil weapon to. He and Candal decided to sell it to the local temple to Iomedae, and were assured it would not fall into the wrong hands. I do not understand why anyone would pay for such a thing, but the money is not unwelcome. I had appraised the Fist at about 18,000 gold and we were given 1/3 of that.

Meanwhile, Tythe and Salma (who still does not drink alcohol) were visiting a tavern called the Rusty Dagger. We joined them briefly, and determined that even though it was only late afternoon, we should stay in town overnight, as the moon was full and lycanthropy is not unheard of in this area. However, Rogar did not like the look of the menu or clientele at the Rusty Dagger and recommended a nice dwarven inn down the road. Tythe was fine where she was, ogling a barmaid, and Salma decided to stay and keep an eye on her. Candal, Rogar and I left to head to Torag’s Mug with plans to meet them in the morning.

As we walked through the darkening streets, I spotted a stocky, shadowy figure watching us from an alley. I suspected it was a dwarf, but by the time I got Rogar to look in that direction, the figure had disappeared. I have learned that shadowy figures are usually disastrous for Salma and Tythe if Candal or I am not with them, and expressed my concern to my two companions. I was surprised, but they agreed that we should return to the Rusty Dagger to see if we could get them to come with us to the less-seedy dwarven bar. To my surprise (again), they agreed and joined us.

As we made our second trek to Torag’s Mug, Salma and I felt like we were being watched, and sure enough, a short, shadowy figure appeared to be observing us from a rooftop; Tythe called to it and it quickly disappeared from view.

Thankfully we were now at the dwarven tavern and we promptly went in. All conversation stopped; as we looked around us, we saw that Salma, Candal, Tythe and I were the only non-dwarves. I knew what to do— merely yelling “This round is on me!” was enough to receive a welcoming cheer from the bar’s patrons. This was as close to anything like home I had been around in a long time. I saw that they had no resident bard and sang a few dwarven ballads; not my best performance, but I managed to make in tips more than I had spent on ale, had six drinks bought for me, and got invitations from two dwarves to share a room. It seemed unlikely that any of the males in my group of companions would make such an offer (and I have to keep telling Tythe thank you but no), so I happily agreed to both Grund and Kurg, even knowing I would be hearing jokes about “dwarven mining techniques” for days.

In the morning we said our goodbyes and headed west towards the Darkmoon Wood. My friends had learned of an increase in pixie attacks in the Verduran Woods, and the usual border skirmishes between Andoran and Cheliax, but otherwise, nothing remarkable to report. We traveled for two days without anything exciting happening and now find ourselves in unmarked wilderness….

Posted by Kristin on December 9, 2009, 00:06

The Road More Traveled

23 Neth 4709 AR
Road to Olfden

Someone remembered there was a road nearby and even though it does not go to the Darkmoon Wood, it is apparently “easier” traveling to use a road and head to Olfden instead. It is pretty much in the opposite direction, and near a completely different forest. But, I do not particularly care were we are going, and we seem to find interesting things to do wherever we end up anyway. So we travel by road, on foot.

I believe I may have made an error in judgment about my friends. I waited until I was sure that the screaming-faced box was not whispering to me anymore to mention it to them, so they would not be alarmed about something they could not remedy. They are now concerned that anything I say or do is “box related.” In the future, I will have to learn to keep such things completely to myself so as to not alarm them. I was myself watched on several of my camp watches during the past few nights, but they seem to be relaxing a bit more now.

This road is fairly quiet. We passed a caravan coming from Olfden about halfway there, and were told of some “burrowing” activity. Later, we found areas in and around the road that appeared to have been disturbed, with some tunnels going right through the road itself.

Two nights ago I was finally able to convince my companions that I was not under some evil spell; during Tythe’s watch she alerted us to some “humps” she saw in the distance. By the time we were up and prepared, the hulking creatures had become visible by our campfire— two armed ogres, and with them, a dozen goblins. Finally, something to hit! We defeated them quickly— I was able to kill one ogre myself, and then scare the few remaining goblins off. We found nearly 40 in gold and a few gems on the bodies, as well as a magical ring on the ogre I killed. It obviously is not a ring of protection (or at least, not a good one), but I have not quite figured out what it is for.

We broke camp soon after and continued on, seeing more of the recent burrowing activity and nothing else, and later had an uneventful night camping by the road.

Around noon today we came upon an overturned wagon— the wheels have been snapped, there are boxes and produce scattered about, intermixed with fresh blood, and definite evidence that something had burrowed up through the road. Before we had time to even look for survivors, Salma noticed something 200’ away. A dorsal fin appeared, moving closer. We scattered— Tythe to a nearby rock, Salma and I up a tree, and Rogar and Candal leaping atop the overturned wagon….

Posted by Kristin on December 30, 2009, 19:08

Land Shark

26 Neth 4709 AR
Olfden

The tree Salma and I climbed into was already occupied by a gnome. Fortunately, the gnome seemed intent on the rumbling disturbance moving towards the overturned wagon, so we opted to deal with that and provide introductions later. The dorsal fin ascended to reveal a bulette or “land shark” and it looked hungry.

Candal and I both ran towards the rock Tythe was clambering up, realizing it to be the safest place to attack from the ground. As we beat on the armored hide of the creature, another one appeared, but we soon realized it was the result of a gnomish spell. It confused the real bulette for a moment, allowing us to reposition ourselves for the next attack. A horse, which apparently is a companion of Candal’s, appeared within the illusory bulette.

We got a few good strikes on the bulette, but it was taking its toll on us as well. In fact, I was just about to fall over when I saw an arrow fly past— Tythe managed to finish the creature off with a well-placed shot.

I blacked out for a few moments, and came to while Salma was healing us. I wandered over to Rogar, who was busily cutting apart the bulette; in addition to salvaging the valuable hide and some vials of other things I could not identify, the land shark’s stomach contained some coins, a few moonstones, and a glowing dagger (we pretty much all agreed that Tythe should have that). There was a brief introduction to the gnome sorceress Liake, and then we saw riders coming down the road and prepared for whatever irritation was about to be dropped on us. Fortunately, it was a dozen Andoran soldiers from the Diamond Regimen, who had orders to kill the creature we had just dispatched. Their leader, Captain Tolben, told us to take proof to the marble tower Adamas for 1000 gold piece bounty. In addition, any meat from the creature could be sold to the Thrumming Birch in Olfden.

We grabbed as much meat as Candal’s bag would hold, and quite a lot of the creature’s hide, then left the carcass. We could hear wolves finishing that off as we camped nearby for the night. In the morning, there was not so much as a bone left behind.

After a few more days of travel, we arrived at a tall white marble tower built into a bluff face. After knocking on the single gate, a guard appeared, and after a look at our “proof” provided us with a letter to receive our reward money in Olfden. We got to town a while later, retrieving both the reward money and an additional 400 gold for the bulette meat. Rogar and Candal are discussing getting or making better armor; I suspect we will stay here for a day or so.

Posted by Kristin on January 6, 2010, 21:17