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March 1, 2004

I Hate Wolves

William's Journal

Theona was at her home when I got there, but I think the loss of her friend weighed on her heavily. She seemed to accept my condolences, but when I offered her my services she asked me to do some strange things. At one point she even hid behind a tree to see what I’d do. I just stood there a bit confused. Then she told me to follow her to the inn.

Deitricha, and Areon were waiting there and after introductions, Theona asked where Tassar was. Two elves and a human cleric, I’ve been on caravans with a lot less. I can tell we’re off to a great start already. Deitricha and I went to get their two horses and, strangely enough, a riding dog. I picked up Comet, my warhorse, and off we went to the west gate to wait for the others. Soon Theona and Areon showed up with Tassar and that’s when I realized the purpose of the riding dog. Say what you will about halflings, I like this Tassar fellow. Nicer than some people I’ve traveled with.

With all of us riding we made it to a small hamlet before sunset. We decided to stop for the night, eat, drink, then go out in the morning. Being a bit short on cash I took a spot in the common room. It was okay; I wasn’t the only one there. I got up early and after a quick breakfast we set out again.

It was easy traveling and it wasn’t long till we saw the tower and my spirits fell. Close to the tower was a lone wolf. I hate wolves. No one believed me that it was a bad thing till out of nowhere the rest of the pack attacked us. I can still hear my father’s words echoing through time, “Wolves never hunt alone. If you see one, expect twenty.” and I did.

The next thing I knew I had a wolf on my ankles. I tried to hit it with a spell, then run but neither worked, and I was down. As it tried to drag me away I took one final swing with my mace. If I’m going down, I’m going to take as many as I can with me. Then everything went dark.

In the darkness of oblivion I returned back to a time almost thirteen years ago. I was eight or nine and riding with my father. Looking off to the one side, I saw the biggest dog I’d ever seen up till then. “Look dad!” I yelled, and as he turned I watched his face pale. “Get in the back, get down and stay there!” He practically threw me in the back of the wagon as he said it. Then the horses started to run as fast as they could. There was no attack that day, but my father explained to me later what could have happened.

Then the darkness recedes and I’m looking up into a face that appears to be outlined in pure light. The face smiles apparently relieved and pulls away from view leaving me staring at the sun. Deitricha had healed my wounds and was off to see if anyone else needed healing. Tassar, at this point, mentions eating some wolf meat. I said it sounded good, and as he cooked I looked at our surroundings. In this tower there was one stairwell. It went up about six feet or so, and down into darkness.

After lunch we tried to allow Theona to go first but I fell along with Tassar and Otto, Tassar’s dog. I only took a few seconds to look around. As I watched Tassar set fire to cobwebs in one room I heard Deitricha yell from another. Peering out I saw the strangest insect on her back. I hit it with magic missile then stepped back for Tassar to get closer. Soon I was able to see more, so I missiled them also. We’re just standing around right now, so I’ll wait till they’re ready to move on.

Posted by Fred at 07:30 | William’s Journal

To the Tower!

Deitricha's Journal

I spent half the morning hanging out at the tavern. At least I didn’t hear of anything bad happening to anyone I knew! After a while, I was distracted by a funny sight out of the window; Theona, walking over from her treehouse ahead of a humanoid creature. She was also sneaking around him, and hiding from him, while he stood out in the street and cast odd looks after her! Finally they entered the tavern and I was introduced to “William, a nonhuman mage” (think silver eyes), who was looking for work and offered to join us after our loss. I had no objections, nor did Areon from his quiet corner of the bar, so he and Theona headed out to get Tassar. William and I headed out of town with the party’s mounts. I met Comet the Warhorse, who probably outweighs our packhorses and Otto altogether!

We all met outside the West Gate in the rain. Tassar was looking a lot better, and in a better mood, which made me so glad I hugged him. He lit right into William, showing him his back and pointing out that it’s not a good idea to stab party members there. He also demanded that William buy him ale, and pretended to be miffed that he hadn’t the means to do so right there! William, thankfully, took it in good part. He mentioned there were quite some rumors going around about our crew; I imagine we’d be hard-put to top whatever stories the gossip mill has invented for us! Since two of the party were already riding, and it was still raining, Theona, Areon, and I decided to try riding the packhorses for the day. It wasn’t terribly comfortable, but the trip did go faster!

We re-reached the Frosty Mug by nightfall, and had a short debate about whether to press on to the tower right then. We agreed that the animals could use a rest, but I admit, I didn’t act very heroic; I announced that I was cold, wet, and tired, and I wanted to go to bed! I then paid over a gold piece and got a room to myself and turned in. I must have been quite a sight; Tassar elected to stay down in the common room with everyone else. In truth, if the bad things around here all happen at night, it would be wiser to check things out in the daylight. This night, at least, passed quietly at the inn; we ate breakfast, paid to stable the horses for a few days while we checked the tower, and headed out on foot (and one Otto). Oh, yes, and two extra waterskins full of ale; one for Tassar, and one for Theona of all folk!

It was still raining, but the way was clear. We made it past the former troll’s tracks without another incident, and soon could see the low remains of the tower on top of a hill. We all heard a howl, and saw a wolf at the crest, watching us. William was not at all comfortable with the sight, telling us there would be more, but we didn’t have many options, and decided to walk on up. Sure enough, by the time we reached the tower, there were quite a few wolves coming out of the brush! Tassar shouted for us to get our backs to the tower, but the wolves took that opportunity to charge into battle. Theona and Areon made it to the tower, and began shooting arrows into our attackers, but the rest of us were not so light on our feet. Poor William was soon knocked right off of his feet and dragged away. Tassar was dragged off of Otto but the two of them kept right on fighting beside each other, and I was at their backs, cracking wolves over the head with my quarterstaff. It was mass confusion for a while, but I saw Areon go charging by to help William, and then come back to us - next thing I knew, the remaining wolves were running away and Tassar was informing me that I looked like hell. Sheesh!

We killed quite a few wolves; I hope it keeps the others away for a while. Tassar, of course, had to cook one, and William was happy to help him dispose of it. I was able to heal him up but his one boot is now well-chewed! While we sat just inside the doorway, and I healed myself and the others, Theona noted that the wolves had never followed her into the enclosure during the fight. Interesting! Despite this sign of unusual things, William wandered off to check the place out, earning himself a scolding from Theona. She’s a little protective of our mage, now, methinks! He did find a spiral staircase into the ground below the tower, and there wasn’t really anything left aboveground, so we carefully headed inside. Of course, it was still raining and slippery, so several of the party took the fast trip down! Luckily, it wasn’t too deep; we all found ourselves in a hallway, and set to exploring the rooms.

I was standing in the hallway and watching the others when I heard Theona’s strangled cry for help. Running to her, I found a strange buglike creature attached to the back of her neck and smashed it off with my staff. Several more flew out of the room and attacked us all! Unfortunately, Theona and I were closest, and took the most damage. The things were sucking our blood, and our health with it! We managed to kill them all, eventually (in fact, I saw Tassar kill two at once - one attached to Otto, and one to me!), and I’m covered with blood from the last - magic missiles make them explode! I guess we’ll soon be moving on from here to see what else may by lurking. If we’re lucky, those awful creatures were the cause of the animal deaths on the district. But how much luck have we had, so far?

Posted by Kate at 18:27 | Deitricha’s Journal

March 3, 2004

A Vulnerable Spot

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 23, 1373, Ruined Tower

I had rushed out of town before our last trek to the tower, so I decided to check my home one more time for any notes Dante may have left for me. I didn’t find him or any signs he’d been back, but left a note of my own explaining where we’d gone on the off chance that he’d been by looking for me. I would suspect that he was in a hurry to get back to Waterdeep by any means necessary, to get some “proper” clothing. As I was leaving my house, I saw, staring up at my door, a rather odd looking fellow. He looked kind of like a human— likely a halfbreed— and fairly harmless. I descended from the tree my home is in and he immediately gave me his sympathy for Antonio’s death, mentioning he had been an acquaintance. I thought it rather odd that he’d be calling on me instead of the Ysthine family, until he offered his “services.”

Well, I’ve been offered “services” of all manner before and was about to politely decline, when I realized he (who now introduced himself as “William”) meant as Antonio’s replacement on our excursion (my, word travels fast!), declaring he was a mercenary and handy with a few spells. After explaining that the current pay rate was absolutely nothing and him not leaving directly, I figured I’d test him to see if he really was a mage. So, I told him to stand still and I walked about ten yards ahead of him. I turned around, and he was still there. So, I said, “I’m going to stand where you can’t see me,” and ducked behind a tree. After a few minutes, I showed myself again, and was amazed to find that his curiosity hadn’t caused him to look for me! He would have found himself face-down in the dirt if he had. Satisfied for the moment that he wouldn’t be the type that would run into melee and get himself killed outright, I agreed he should come to the inn with me to see my companions.

William followed me in to meet Areon and Deitricha, and, I found that Tassar (er, Otto, as he’s calling himself today) had wandered off to be alone. Deitricha and William went to fetch our horses while Areon and I took the challenge of finding a halfling in a city of 37,000. It took us several minutes.

Areon and I found Tassar paying his rent, of all things, and mumbling about seeking out “Mr. Bucket.” Assuring him Mr. Bucket wouldn’t be going anywhere, he agreed to get Otto (the real Otto) and saddle up for the trip. As nice as the walk was the first time, it was now overcast, so we decided to ride our two packhorses, with William riding his own horse. I casually asked Deitricha what she weighed to compare it to Areon (knowing I weighed the least of all) and suggested that I ride with the lightest so as not to overburden the horses. I’m not sure Areon approved of the arrangement at first, as he seemed to tense up quite a bit when I hopped on the horse behind him, but eventually he relaxed enough. Now that I’m thinking about it, it was likely just the fact that we were in town that caused him stress, as he usually seeks me out rather than the N-Tel-Quess whenever he needs help. He relaxed considerably after a short while, and I found the ride quite comfortable, in spite of sharing a packsaddle.

It rained most of the way to White Haven, and when we arrived, Deitricha felt so miserable she just checked in to a room— alone. Tassar didn’t seem too worried, so she probably just needed some time to rest. I didn’t feel like being alone, so I stayed in the Frosty Mug’s common room for the night with the rest of my companions.

The morning arrived damp and not overly warm. Seeing as the tower was only a short distance from the town, I suggested we board the horses in town until our return. If there are other creatures like that troll out there, our horses wouldn’t stand a chance if they were tethered outside the tower.

The walk was nice enough, until we got about 100 yards from the tower and heard a wolf howl, at which point William stated how much he really hates wolves. I recommended we hurry, when Williams suggested the wolves would be gathering— sure enough, one was watching us from the base of the tower and it disappeared as we approached— only to come back with a dozen of its pack mates! Areon and I dashed to the base of the tower, planning to keep our backs to it, but our companions were not as quick and ended up fighting out in the open. We shot as many of the wolves as we could, but one by one, our companions fell— even Tassar’s dog seemed to be having difficulty. Tassar and Deitricha were still fighting from a prone position, but William was being dragged away by one wolf— perhaps intent on taking William back to its lair for a meal. Areon left the relative safety of the tower to shoot that wolf and stabilize the failing spellcaster, and soon the remaining wolves thought better of the situation and disappeared as quickly as they’d arrived. I think I was the only one that hadn’t been at least nipped at— it seems the wolves wouldn’t risk going past the doorway of the tower.

As Deitricha healed those who needed it, Tassar was already making wolf stew. I did find myself warning William away from a stairwell in the middle of the ruins— he of course has no idea that Antonio had a bad habit of running up to dangerous things— I just can’t fathom why people that rely on magic more than armor and a dependable weapon think they can wander around like that and not get hurt.

We finished up our meal and looked over the ruins— the tower (what was left of it) had a 40’ diameter, and crumbled walls and stairs ranging from 5’ to 10’ tall. Of more interest was the stairwell going down. I asked everyone to let me check it for any traps, and proceeded slowly down the rain-slicked steps. I was not the first one to the bottom though— one by one, Tassar, Otto, and William slid past me. Obviously the stairs were not trapped. Looking for traps in the many small rooms didn’t work either, as, while I looked at one carefully, I could hear my companions wandering through another, putting torch to webs. There were several small rooms, apparently randomly placed, each festooned with cobwebs. I borrowed a torch from Tassar and looked into the doorway of one chamber, only to have something fall from the ceiling and attach itself to my neck!

I yelled for help as more things fell from the ceiling. Deitricha, I think, got to me first, though I am not sure who got the bug-like creature off my back. I was surprised to see one on Deitricha, only to be zapped off by a spell from William. I was so stunned to see a mage use a spell that worked that I quickly found myself battling my own bat-winged bug— a stirge— again. This one managed to get its proboscis through my skin. Areon pulled it off of me quickly, but I feel quite weak now, and Deitricha doesn’t look much better. At least now we know what we are fighting— I think these creatures are the “vampires” that are harassing the local farms. Could this be the reason the wolves steer clear of the tower?

Posted by Kristin at 18:38 | Theona’s Journal

March 7, 2004

Upside-Down Tower…

Tassar's Journal

Shortened plans…

As I begin working my way through the meandering streets of Silverymoon, I find myself aware of each and every shadow. Glimpses of something, and nothing. I am not paranoid, just highly aware and prepared for the inevitable meeting with town guards. My only hope is that Mr. Bucket is with them; broad daylight and public streets be damned, that man will pay and pay dearly for his actions.

First I will see Lady Brenin and assure her all is well; the last thing I need is the pressure of that sweet old lady being worried about me. Besides, her voice and overall grace will put me a little more at ease. I don’t know what it is about her, but I feel very comforted by her presence.

My thoughts are distracted by the pattern of footpads behind me. They seem to be gaining on me, not walking at normal speed. I take a peek over my shoulder expecting to see a group of town guards only to be pleasantly surprised by two of my companions. Theona and Areon have found me, hmm, again. That Areon could probably track me through all Nine Hells and back.

After a short greeting, in which Theona kept calling me Mr. Otto (rubbing the salt into the wounds of my fears) and they insisted that we head back out of town. Apparently Theona had found a mage seeking to join our group. I asked her if she did the “follow me” routine to test him, she said that she did and that the fellow passed with flying colors. She went on to explain that she searched his belongings and confirmed him to be a magic user of some kind, and more importantly he seemed honestly broke. She explained that part as trying to make sure no one was hired to follow us, but to tell you the truth she likes picking pockets despite her insistence that she is not a thief.

I informed my friends that I wanted to at least see Lady Brenin and pay her the next month’s rent. They agreed only if they could come along and that we would leave soon after.

It didn’t take long to find the house and to my great pleasure Lady Brenin was home. She welcomed us and talked a little. I introduced my friends, at which point I got the impression that Lady Brenin and Theona knew each other, yet they seemed to act as if it was the first time they met. Well time was running and Areon wanted out of the town so we said our goodbyes and were on our way. The last comment that Lady Brenin made is sticking in my head though, she told me to stay away from things with long arms. Now I am forced to realize that she is aware of a great deal more than I thought she was. I hope she will be all right while I am gone; I will have to have another walk with her when I get back.

The new guy…

At the edge of town we meet our friend Deitricha and the almost human-looking new fellow. Deciding to not waste any time on formalities I went right up to the lad and informed him that his spells are not to be torching my backside. In a courtesy I told him to get a shield and carry it over his rear end, as this group has been known to shoot each other in the rear, not the back mind you— just the rear. Then he tried to tell me his name but I cut him off, “you are just the new guy, until you prove yourself, and buy me some ale also.” He then explained that he was broke; truly not a good start for him.

After a few more moments of conversation we headed out through the gates. In part to be on our way to the tower, in part to get through before they detained us.

Soon the road was at our feet and once again it brought comfort to my party. The road seemed to be where we belonged, as if it too was part of our group. The road offered a chance for us to think about our lost friend or the new one we found. In fact, it was a comical point as Areon realized that no one had seen the new guy ever cast a spell. Theona who claimed to have checked him out was forced to admit having never checked that vital part out. We could be going into danger with a buffoon apprentice for all she knew. Maybe this fellow couldn’t even cast a simple spell without disastrous effects. Too late now; this will be good.

The party soon found that the rain and mud forced those walking to get on the packhorses. The pace was quicker and we actually found that little town, I can’t remember the name, just before nightfall. Not a bad day’s travel in the rain. We decided to hole up the night and stable the horses for some much needed rest. Rarely have I seen something worse than a horse that was rode hard and put away wet, but Deitricha pushed passed that point. She had begun a bit of whining an hour before we hit the town, her horse had been behind the new guy’s warhorse and had gotten a lot of mud flung her way. Having only passing skills at riding, she was just happy to keep the horse moving the right direction.

We found the inn to be empty beyond ourselves and the one innkeeper at this hour, for most sane people did not travel in these conditions. I saw Deitricha get a room and go stomping up the stairs, flinging mud in every direction as she continued cursing her muddy clothes. I decided it would be much more comfortable curling up by the fire in the great room and joined the rest of the group there. It was a hard floor and the log I used for a pillow must have still had some bugs in it, for I was forced to toss it in the fire after being bitten a good dozen times.

The tower…

The next morning after a couple of nice breakfasts, we set out onto the road to the tower. The party had left the mounts at the town, except for me who kept Otto with me. The walk to the tower took nearly two hours. The only real distraction was crossing the path where the troll had been days earlier.

But we soon came over a small rise to see the tower. Now to all my learning and experience towers go up, but this thing showed no more than ten feet of wall at its highest point. It appears that it collapsed long ago. I took this chance to rekindle my mocking of the vampires, which only seemed to anger Theona more. The new guy seemed nervous too, but not from the vampire story, no he had spotted a wolf. He began to warn us about wolves. A point that Areon must have taken to heart for he began moving us to the ruined tower immediately.

Some fifty feet from the tower the lone wolf returned with some friends. I shouted for everyone to get to the tower and put their backs to the walls. Before we could do much more than step in that direction the wolves where upon us. Areon and Theona made it to the wall, but the rest of us where soon engaged. A game of attack and retreat began, and the new guy went down quick. I had my hands full so I shouted to the others, I meant to yell that our new companion was in danger, but it didn’t come out that way. “New guy is down.” came out of my mouth with a chuckle.

Soon the battle was in full force, I killed one or two before being pulled off of Otto by one of the beasts. The wolves are a difficult opponent; they don’t fight with any sense of honor, more of a weakling’s approach. They come in numbers and only fight long enough for one of the others to come up behind you, and then they back away.

After regaining my feet, which was difficult due to the one foot having spent a few minutes being gnawed upon, I sent Otto to Deitricha’s aid. Then after finishing the current wolf I went to her also and we stood back to back. Areon had blazed by in an effort to save the chew toy I called the new guy, while Deitricha and I fought on. Every few seconds or so a bolt from Theona would whiz by and sink into the side of a wolf.

Eventually we killed off most of the wolves and scared away the others. It wasn’t till then that I realized how bad Deitricha was wounded. I guess a day without drinking had loosened my tongue a bit as I told her she look like hell. She seemed a little hurt, but what else could I say after that, so I wondered off to see Areon and help him bring the barely alive new guy back to safety.

We made a little camp within the walls of the tower, the new guy proved to not be too good at fighting, but he could skin a wolf like a pro. Soon we had some meat cooking and the party was getting healed up. Theona did eat a little, but spent most of the meal reminding me that it had only been two hours sinse I had two breakfasts at the inn. Try as I might I couldn’t understand her point.

As we packed things back up the new guy said he found the stairs. Now this fellow seems to be ok, but in the hollowed out ring that we were in, the only thing standing up more than two feet was the stairs. Everyone had seen them; they stuck up almost six feet.

Anyway, we went over and Theona lead the way, for a bit. I was first to the bottom. I apparently was too busy still eating a nice cut of meat to watch my feet on the rain slicked steps. Most of the party slid down and slammed into me at the bottom. I think Theona, the first one on the steps was the last one to come off the steps.

Theona began searching for traps. It was a good full minute before I got bored this time and wondered off on my own to check things out. I think I am getting better at the patience thing. As I burned away some cobwebs I heard a scream from Theona, and then one from Deitricha. I wanted to go right out and fight but the new guy was standing in the doorway blocking my progress. I need to teach him to let the fighter through when there is trouble.

When I finally got into the hall I found both ladies being attacked by some kind of half bat — half mosquito things. I rode up to them and began slicing the little creatures up. They were easy to hit, but they seemed to be hurting the ladies bad. I got a couple and then prepared to slice the last one up when a glowing ball of magic flew, just over my head, and hit the last creature. Unfortunately this one had been drinking some blood and exploded when it was hit. I think it will take the ladies some time to clean up their hair and faces. Luckily they got most of the goo. I backed up and the three of us men kind of chuckled quietly as the ladies peeled the mess off of their bodies.

Posted by Jim at 07:10 | Tassar’s Journal

Public Enemy #1

Areon's Journal

Kythorn 11, 1373, Everlund

We rounded a corner running right into the orcs’ campsite. Tassar started across, falling into a pit trap, and I decided it would be better to use my bow, rather than risk falling into another trap.

Tassar was not giving up, however, and I could see arrows flying out of the pit to stick in any orc who got too close. I admire his fighting spirit; it reminds me of home. Antonio fell almost immediately, and Dietrecha did her best to drag him out of the way and get him healed. Theona killed a few orcs and an orc spellcaster with well placed crossbow bolts. Although I had killed several orcs, I had been wounded as well, and I lost consciousness then.

When I came to, all the orcs were dead, save one, who had fled. We decided that it would be best not to chase the orcs, as this little group seemed to have a lot of backup. We settled for just searching their cave. After a few minutes of traveling side tunnels, Theona found something: An orc in a cage! This one was quite different than the others. He was more than happy to talk to us, and did so so eloquently, that I became worried that maybe he was bait to a trap. Theona opened his cell before I said anything, and though I made no objection, Tassar said that we would kill him if he turned out to be an orcish helper.

Dante (as we had learned his name through Theona’s questioning), insisted that he was a human bard who had been on the wrong end of a polymorph spell. I don’t know who his “friend” was who did that, but I sure don’t want to meet him. He also provided us with some intriguing information the group of orcs we had found was an advance post of a small army led by an orc necromancer known as Grom. He is apparently blessed by Gruumsh and had managed to even build a stronghold in the Nether Mountains.

We heard the sounds of war drums in the distance, and decided that our little cave probably wasn’t going to be a safe haven any longer. So we set off in snow too deep for Tassar to even move in, he took it well, though, standing in the back of the last wagon, bow ready, should anything decide to sneak up behind us.

Our horses soon gave up on dragging the wagons through the snow, and we made a camp next to a river, so that if we were attacked, the attack would not be from more than one side. Almost as soon as we had finished setting up our little campsite, we were attacked. Not by the orcs that we had thought we were being chased by, but by wolves.

As the battle ensued, I could hear Dante shouting over the din, telling jokes. I know it sounds odd, but having someone who can loosen up a party in the tense moments of a battle is a priceless member of a party. We all fought better because of Dante, though one of the other caravan guards was killed by a wolf. Antonio tried to add more to the body count, but fortunately both Tassar and I are a little too powerful to be killed outright by his ill-aimed spells. Honestly, someone is going to kill him if he hits them at the wrong time.

After we had dispatched the wolves, Deitricha gave the corpse of the caravan guard a blessing, and Tassar skinned a wolf and began cooking it. I wanted to stop him, as the smell would surely bring in more creatures to fight, but I decided not to, and just hoped that anything coming it would be able to be chased off or killed.

After an uneventful rest, we traveled the rest of the way to Everlund. It took us two days, all through the deep snow, but we did not have to face any other type of attack. We split in town with Drake, agreeing to meet in five days; hopefully the snow will have melted by then.

We quickly found an inn, named The Stone Griffin because of the massive stone griffin in the middle of the lobby. Antonio arranged the rooms, setting up Deitricha and Tassar together (big surprise there!) and Dante and Theona together. Tassar and Deitricha had quite a laugh about that, and I heard several off color remarks about the rooming arrangements. I couldn’t help but be relieved that Antonio did not have Dante room with me, as I do not think I could be comfortable with sharing a room with an orc.

I am worried about Theona being with Dante though. It isn’t that I don’t think Theona can handle herself, because I know very well that she can. But I still fear that Dante may not be telling us everything we should know….

Kythorn 18, 1373, Everlund

A knock on my window startled me during the first night. I was even more surprised to see Theona kneeling outside the window motioning for me to let her in.

When I did she explained to me that Dante was a Harper, and that because of his current form, he could not make a contact as he needed to. Theona had volunteered us to make the contact for him and gotten the rendezvous information. We slipped into the night and headed outside town, almost an hour away to a tree that Theona had been directed too. There we would wait for two hours and having seen nothing of interest, we headed back to the inn so we could slip in and rest for the next day.

This pattern continued each night up until our last evening there, when we found a small piece of paper tucked into a bough of the tree. We returned to Everlund and slipped the note under the door of Rand Tallwood’s shop and then returned to our rooms.

I didn’t mind getting out of the cramped room, though our work seemed to be designed to get us as far out of town as possible in one night. I guess I just worried too much. I did however get to know Theona much better with all our time to talk privately. She seems pretty driven to find artifacts, though she kept alluding to one in particular that she was looking for. I’m still not sure what exactly it is, but perhaps she will trust me enough to tell me someday. I almost told her about the Tiger, but I decided that it would probably not be the best time to ask her. We already have more than enough on our plates.

We left from Everlund the next morning. Drake conversed with the rest of the group, and we decided that it would probably be best to spend the nights traveling, in hopes of making it to Silverymoon without having to stop. We did manage to do just that, though not at all in the fashion that we wanted to.

As we were traveling I saw a flickering light on the path ahead. Worried that there may be a trap ahead, I took Tassar with me to investigate. We cam upon two burning wagons, and out of the snow rose four zombies! Tassar tried to engage while still on his dog, and only managed to drop himself onto the ground. I used my bow to stick arrow after arrow into the zombies, and Deitricha and Theona came running forward soon after to help us out. Deitricha channeled divine power through herself and the zombies lumbered away from the show.

We were determining what to do when the zombies overcame their fear of the divine and returned to harass us. This time we destroyed them with force of arms. We put out the fires on the two wagons that were blocking our path and moved them out of the way.

We then heard a horn blast, which was surely a call to arms. Not far away from us we saw a dozen or so mounted orcs led by a huge one, riding a dire wolf. Tassar fired a potshot into the big orc, and buried and arrow into his chainmail. As we fled, Tassar shouted out his name, telling the orc (who we believe is Grom), who had injured him (if of course he had). It is amazing how little Tassar thinks about his actions sometimes.

We traveled as quickly as we could back to Silverymoon, and though we were safe from the orcish warband, our trials were not over yet.

We had forgotten the orcish form of Dante while we were out of town, but once we had returned to civilization, we discovered that Dante was looked upon with suspicion and mistrust. So much for this city being accepting for all races.

Antonio had disappeared and reappeared a few minutes later bearing all of us silver ale mugs. I put mine in my backpack, and though I appreciate the thought, I doubt I will ever use it.

We decided to split up and rest, and meet in the morning. I noticed that Dante had gone with Theona, and while I do trust that he isn’t really an orc, I am still not sure that I trust him, especially around Theona. I didn’t wander too far that evening, as I wanted to be close in case something did happen, but I didn’t stay the entire time, knowing that anyone intently watching just one home would arouse suspicion. I did see Theona poke her head out once, and I think she may have seen me. I hope she doesn’t think that I am stalking her….

We met the next morning at the Bright Blade Brandished for breakfast. After which we headed to the Grey Castle Estate to collect the remainder of the pay. Antonio suggested we take Dante to an associate of his and get him returned to normal. I went with the group and watched Dante’s transformation back to his human form, then slipped quietly away to be alone.

I traveled out of the city for a little while again. It just feels so much better to be out of the hustle and bustle of things. I knew I had to return to find my friends, but the few hours I took was time for myself, and I am sure that any of them would have understood.

I returned into the city a little after dusk and wandered back to the Bright Blade Brandished. As I was approaching, I saw Antonio, Tassar and Deitricha dragging Dante and Theona out of the tavern. I followed at a distance, as I knew that something was up. I realized what they were trying to do when they raised Theona and Dante up into Theona’s house. I couldn’t believe what they were doing. After they left, I climbed up into Theona’s house, and found Theona and Dante in a heap on the floor. I picked up Theona and laid her down on her bearskin rug. I prayed that she would be the first up, but did not feel I had time to wait around to find out.

I headed back to the Bright Blade Brandished to find Tassar alone passed out on the table. I didn’t see anyone else, and assumed that they must have gone home. I figured the best plan for me would be to watch out for him if he left so I found a good vantage spot away from normal view.

Not to long after I had climbed up to my vantage point. I saw Tassar wander around the building, apparently to relieve himself. He didn’t see Antonio’s father, or the six other men, who followed him into the alley, then proceeded to knock him around a bit. After a short conversation, one of the men knocked him unconscious.

I left the vantage point as quickly and quietly as I could, and rushed back to Theona’s house. Now that I think about it, I should have followed the group of guards to find out where they were taking Tassar, but I though that if I were fast enough, Theona and I would have been able to stop the guards.

When I arrived back at Theona’s house, she was still passed out. I decided I would pull Dante into her side room, just in case he should wake up first. After I did that I began to pace, and not long after I did, Theona started to stir. Once she was up, I told her that we needed to get going, because one of our friends was in trouble….

Posted by Tim at 09:54 | Areon’s Journal

March 9, 2004

Rosorc's Bio

Rosorc's Journal XPCs

Rosorc, image (c) Kristin Johnson
Greetings. As you don’t know me yet let me spin you a yarn. As the knot on my brow is pulsing I will try to get it right. Damn that pain again........ Oh I must have passed out I do apologize. What a dwarf would give for an ale!

Fifty-eight years ago I was born in the great Citadel Adbar. Being a Iron Smith’s youngest son I was not of any wealth or prestige. Seeing my older brothers’ love of the forge I realized young that my place was elsewhere. Anywhere else would definitely do. At a ripe young age of 35 I, Rosorc Ironfeld, wandered out of the citadel one day (leaving my glorious job of hauling coal far, so very far behind).

Oops am I nodding out again... What is that damn throb in my head coming from? Oh yeah, back to the tale. Leaving the great citadel out the back entrance, to, well, no fanfare at all, I started my great trek to anywhere else. My life savings jangling at my side and newly acquired travel gear strapped to my back I wandered off down the road of life.

Bright eyed and unworldly as I was, soon my life’s fortune had traveled much farther than I had. Seems someone else needed it more.....

Where was I again? Was that a noise? I wish I could reach my axe. Anyways an ale would be great. Frothy, thick, and warm in the gullet..... Sorry I seem to be rambling again.

Soon I found myself hiring out as a caravan guard, traveling back and forth from the Silver Marches to the Sword Coast. Finding my true calling this way in the Savage Frontier. My axe became notched many times on the skulls of kobolds and other unmentionables. Speaking of skulls why does mine seem to be splitting?

Years seemed to melt away and I grew bored in my duties as a guard.

Feeling the greater call of adventure and fortune I decided to join an ill-fated adventuring party. I should have known by the stupid name we were doomed from the start. Who calls themselves the Bumbling Beatknicks? Seems I still am learning this worldly thing.

At first things seemed promising. We scored some loot. Partied a lot though and we and our loot soon parted. Thick and frothy..... Anyways we got a tip of some serious goodies and headed off....

Here the story gets foggy. Tillimore fell first. Seems elves are partial to arrows. Just not sticking through their gullet in multiples.

Krag stumbled shortly after as we ran, arrows taking out his knees. His screams behind us were heart wrenching as we ran on. Maria fell last. Her spell of invisibility failed and they were upon her mobbing her and dragging her to the ground.

Eyes slick with blood: some my own, some of others I ran on into the night. Growing weaker and more confused I ran and ran. Base instinct told me I needed to hide and recover my strength. Staggering blindly I found a strange structure.....

This, it seems, is where I blacked out. A large amount of time must have passed as when I awoke I was very stiff, hungry, and where is my flask? I know I had a few flasks left. Oh yeah and very thirsty. Seems whereever I am I pulled something very heavy on myself and can’t seem to get free. Luckily my pack is still near and full of .... Ughh!!... road rations and water. What is that damn noise?

Maybe just a little nap before I continue. Maybe my head will stop pounding and I will remember where I put those flasks.....

Character sheet: Rosorc Ironfeld [Shield Dwarf Fighter]

Cause of death: Okay, not really dead, just decided it was better to wander the countryside with 8 hit points than to spend another moment with the party.

Posted by Erik at 15:59 | Rosorc’s Journal | XPCs


William's Journal

I waited patiently for a bit, but after a while of just standing there I asked if we could get moving again. At first there was no response, but soon enough the hall cleared out and I found myself walking down a flight of stairs. I heard someone mention about a room filled with crushed bones. This didn’t seem to bother anyone else but me, so I waited in the doorway and looked around for the glow of any magic items with that one very useful spell detect magic. I love that spell, comes in very handy. Noticing that there was nothing of interest in the room we moved on.

The next room seemed to have a story played out. There was a robed figure, much like a mage, pinned to the wall with a bastard sword. Apparently dead for some time now. On the floor not too far away was another figure, this one dressed in armor. This person had a bow, a shield and an empty scabbard. Now I noticed, upon entering, the statues of mages lining both sides of this room. Each one appeared to be in the middle of casting a different spell. Try as I might I couldn’t figure out just what was being cast. After taking everything of value we moved on.

Tassar was being impatient, and moving ahead fell into a pit trap. Deitricha decided to go after him. It took us a while to get them out. Tassar still impatient tried to jump, but being so small only made it back into the pit again. We got him out and Theona, with a rope around her waist, jumped to the other side. This is where I lost interest for about a minute. The next thing I knew I heard combat from the other side. Being so far back I could only stand there. After a bit I was able to see enough to get off a spell, but it wasn’t enough. Tassar, who had apparently found a way across, went down just after Theona was yanked back across the pit trap by Areon. Theona quickly wedged the trap shut, showing she thinks better under pressure, and off Deitricha went to save Tassar. That’s when I got a good look at the enemy. I wasn’t sure if they were constructs or undead so I tried a disruption spell on one to no effect. After that all I could do was attempt to do actual damage. All my spells missed. All except for the last one that is. That one accidentally hit Tassar. I apologized but I don’t think he heard me because after the constructs fell he turned on me so fast no one could stop him. It was totally uncalled for and we’re going to have a discussion about it soon. One he won’t forget.

Posted by Fred at 20:11 | William’s Journal

March 10, 2004

Regrettable Vault

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 24, 1373, Ruined Tower

It is hard to search with certain people— sometimes one must just give up and let them find the traps themselves, and pray no one dies because of it!

After the stirge incident, I went down a small set of stairs to find a room filled with old bones and rusty metal. Half expecting to have them all rise to fight us, I was calling for Deitricha to have divine assistance standing by when Tassar just wandered in. The bones remained inanimate, as they should. We continued on, oh, about two feet, to come to a door. Finding no traps, we passed through into a bizarre scene— a long room, or a wide hallway, if you prefer, and eight statues of a mage in various contortions, as if casting a spell. William didn’t recognize the gestures, but we found some great stuff to plunder, though it would have been nicer had the items not been on two desiccated corpses: one, an elf in half plate, the other, a robed figure impaled to the wall by a bastard sword. What was left of their facial expressions showed confusion— perhaps one had turned on the other, or maybe the mage statues had cast a spell on them— it was clear that the only weapons in the room belonged to them and had been instrumental in their mutual demise. Good quality stuff though— in addition to the nice bastard sword, we found a well-crafted large steel shield, longbow and arrows. I was still admiring the stuff when I heard a pitiful “woof” sound. Running out of the room with my companions, I discovered that Tassar had found yet another pit trap; this time it was 20’ deep and filled with spikes. He was okay, but his poor riding dog Otto did not survive the fall, or at least, not the landing. To make matters worse, the trap doors swung shut again, preventing us from simply hauling Tassar up with a rope. While I was running back to the last room to grab a broken staff the previous party had used to beat each other to death, I heard another thud in the corridor with the pit— Deitricha had attempted to disarm it, I’m guessing, with her entire body, as she was now lying beside Tassar.

It wasn’t a total loss (except for poor Otto): they found a dead human rogue in the pit who had likely looted her former companions in the previous room— they obtained several carefully labeled potions, thieves’ tools, a rapier, shortbow and arrows, all of very good quality, and a bit of gold too. I was able to brace the trap doors open to allow them to be hauled out by rope.

Now, I don’t know where my brain was after finding all those neat trinkets, but I was itching to continue on and find more loot, so I tied a rope around my own waist to jump the 10’ across the pit, knowing Areon would hold on and keep me safe. I planned to let everyone else use the rope between us if they were uncomfortable jumping. I must remember to not do that when there is no room for a running jump, as I missed. The rope caught me though and Areon hauled me back up. I was reevaluating this, when Tassar (short of stature, heavy of armor, and now toting the large shield) jumped— and fell back into the pit. Well, now I couldn’t close the trap doors, as he was in the pit, so I jumped across (successfully) and hauled him out by a rope.

Before I could correct the issue with the open pit trap, we were attacked— the room we were on the edge of had six statues and two had wandered off their pedestals to smoosh us— two dread guards vs. Tassar the pincushion and I, still not recovered from the stirge attack. I would have probably died right there and then, but Areon pulled on the rope and hauled me back across the pit while Tassar fought the constructs, using his newfound shield to keep their own attacks less effective. By the time I got the trap doors shut and secured so we could run across as a group, Tassar was down and the walking statues were returning to their posts.

I quickly shut the trap and we dashed across. Deitricha ran up to stand over Tassar as the constructs reanimated and continued their assault. Both statues began to attack her, even with the rest of us in the room shooting them. Seeing she wasn’t going to last long, I yelled to Areon to pull out his wand. I am not sure where his mind was (judging by the nice grouping of arrows on the far side of the room, it was not on the current battle!), but after a few seconds my request filtered in and, with a look of recognition, he retrieved the wand of healing, alternately healing Tassar or Deitricha, or fighting the dread guard in front of him.

William was having trouble of his own. Apparently that nice spell he used on the stirge wasn’t an option, as he began tossing magical acid toward the fray. Unfortunately, the only thing he hit was Tassar. He went down. He got healed and back up, and then, I am ashamed to say, I hit him— a bolt aimed at his opponent hit him as he stood up. He went back down. Not wishing to endanger my friends further, I tumbled past Deitricha to stab the construct in the back. Had it been flesh and blood, this would have killed it outright. I hit it one more time and it went down, never to rise. I was about to run over and help Areon, noticing Deitricha was on the floor beside Tassar again and that William was apparently tapped out of magic, but Areon dropped his foe at that very moment too. He then helped patch up Deitricha and Tassar (who I apologized to profusely, though I honestly think Tassar somehow blamed William for my bolt)— I of course had to see what made those constructs work— but their armor was empty. In fact, their armor was now utterly useless, but they each had a rather nice shield.

We decided to just rest in this room, seeing as we were the only things left moving from what we’d seen so far. There was a rather largish well-like hole in the floor, but none of us felt up to investigating it. We ate a bit and took turns keeping watch. At one point I heard Tassar and William having it out— in the future, we’ll have to add “drink Tassar under the table” to our list of requirements after the “follow me” test so that new adventuring companions are truly compatible! Deitricha was obviously tired and not as talkative as I would have liked. Areon was, well, I’m not sure. He’d come over and sit by me for a minute, say something strange like “Nice night.” or “That pit was really big!” and then retreat to a corner for an hour or more.

After a length of time that we decided constituted a full night’s rest, we had a bit of breakfast and then went over to look at the hole in the far end of the room. It was about 12’ in diameter, with the words “Vault of Sorrow” written in Common over it. Now, from my small experience in these matters, taverns, inns, even mercenary units are given names in Common—places that hold great magics or ancient artifacts generally have a name in a more cryptic language— even Thorass would have given it an air of mystery. There was one interesting feature though— we couldn’t see the bottom, thanks to an inky darkness that our torchlight could not penetrate. We tried dipping a rope in and then pulling it out, half expecting it to be charred or cold or something, but it looked just as it had going in. We took a hunk of metal from the dread guard rubble pile and tied that on the rope— and then, we had to tie another rope onto that— finally hearing a clunk about 60’ down. The armor came out looking the same as it had on the way down. Seeing as we haven’t found any secret passages elsewhere, this must be the gate to one of the Hells, though honestly, I was expecting the glowing lights and ghostly moans promised by the local lore. Maybe we should take a closer look at the statues and locations of the corpses we’ve passed for more clues to where this pit leads....

Posted by Kristin at 18:03 | Theona’s Journal

March 11, 2004

Holes in the Front, Holes in the Back…

Tassar's Journal

Hello again pit….

After a bit of waiting for the ladies to de-goo, we began looking around the room that the flittering creatures came from. We didn’t find much. Some of the party thinks that the super mosquitoes are the cause of death of the local farm animals. I am not so inclined to believe them. As I remember the dead cow that was drained of blood, the party had pointed out the lack of footprints from what had killed it. Truth be known, there wasn’t any cow prints either. I don’t believe that the little creatures we fought could have lifted a cow.

Theona began her “checking for traps.” It took me a while but I figured out what this long drawn out process really means, it means “Tassar can you lead the way.” So as she started looking at the steps down, I rode past and looked around a room at the bottom. Moments later the party joined me. The room was scattered full of bones and debris. It is as if a major battle had taken place here many years ago. There was a few weapons and armor, which had been beyond usable for a long, long time. Otto seemed to like the bones though.

As I looked around the mess for a goody of some kind, the new guy came in and cast a spell that can detect magic items. While we looked in the room the rest of the party went down a small hallway to a door and beyond to another room. When I caught up I viewed a room with many statues along the side walls. Each statue was of a magic user casting a spell, strange but no two were alike. Statue after statue seemed to be in the process of casting a spell. To me, it was a little creepy.

But the statues were of little interest for the room contained two dead bodies. A magic user and a fighter, they appeared to have killed each other. The warrior was in the middle of the floor and the mage was pinned to the wall by a sword. We examined the bodies and concluded that they must be part of the party that had come this way a little while ago. They had a couple of weapons that were better than just usable; in fact I took a short bow that is a fair bit better than mine. Oh, and a shield that is twice the size of my own. It is made of fine steel and I have taken a fancy to it.

During this time Deitricha seemed a little miffed with me. Theona said that it was my fault. She also said that human women do not like being told that they ‘look like hell.’ I took the message to heart, although I do like arguing with Theona, this information seemed to be given to help me.

End of a fine companion…

The group was ready to move on and I followed Theona, we talked about the fact that it was odd; the two dead did not have coin pouches. And if they were a party, where were the rest of them? I then guided Otto into a small hallway and began toward another room, and then the floor fell out from under us. I have fallen in a few pits in my time, but never with a mount. Poor Otto took it bad, for the pit was lined with spikes. I took a good bit of damage. When I pulled myself off of the last spike I looked at Otto, his loyal eyes were staring back at me as he breathed his final breaths.

I didn’t have too much time to miss my companion as I noticed I was not alone in the pit, next to me was a dead human rogue. Before I could do much more in the way of investigating I was forced to run across the spiked pit to catch Deitricha, who had fallen in the pit while trying to get me out. Her god must have been smiling on her as I somehow crossed to where she fell and caught her before she hit the spikes. In her joy from me catching her she had given me a hug and kiss that nearly knocked us over. Then she told me I ‘looked like hell.’ We shared a small laugh. Together we examined the corpse of the rogue and found a few more items that we could use, including a few potions of healing.

The crew above the trap finally figured out how to keep the trap open and lowered a rope to us. We eagerly climbed out and joined our friends. It is then that we were faced with another problem, how to cross this open spiked pit. Now in hindsight I see that we were quite stupid.

First Theona tied a rope to herself and let Areon hold the other end. They only gave her enough slack to cross the pit, but not enough to reach the bottom of the pit. She then got a running start and jumped. It wasn’t much of a running start as we didn’t have much room, again this was noticed in hindsight. She got about half way across and then swung like a pendulum into the pit wall with a smack that I believe broke her nose.

As they hoisted her up I decide that I could jump the pit and got the same running start that Theona got. I remind you again that we were stupid at this point. I made it about half way across when I notice my momentum beginning to change. I looked down at the spikes and said to myself “Yup, this is going to hurt.” At least Deitricha didn’t try to come in after me for there is no way I could have gotten up in time to even attempt to catch her, as I took a bit of time pulling myself off the spikes this time.

Theona and Areon thought they had figured out the jump and I looked up in time to see her leap the pit and land on the other side. I then tossed up my rope to her and she helped me climb up. While she had the rope I was on, she backed up into the new room, which became a bad thing. As she had noticed some more of the statue of mages, she also noticed two statues of armored knights. The knights began to move and came after her. I arrived at the top of the pit just in time to run in front of her to protect her. I am not saying that she cannot fight well, just that she seemed no match for these creatures. And after all, if something happened to her, who would I argue with?

An ugly battle…

Now the fight was on as both statues engaged me. Theona who was still tied about the waist decide to jump back across the pit. I did not see her go, but I did hear the familiar thud as she hit the wall in the pit. At least she didn’t make the same, wet, blood splattering sound when she hit.

Normally I would love this situation, a good fight and my friends in a safe spot, but as it happened to be I was in bad shape from my two visits to the bottom of the pit. I didn’t let on; in fact I found a corner to fight in and yelled at both of my enemies. They didn’t seem to be affected. It seems my fame hasn’t yet reached some old abandoned dungeons.

I held my own for a good bit, the statues only seemed to be able to nick at me. It appears that I have become a tough target with my new shield. The problem was I couldn’t really go on an offensive as I was busy trying not to slip on the floor, which was covered in my blood. Eventually the nicks and scrapes added up and I collapsed into blackness.

In that time the party realized I could use some help and this is also about the time the stupid part stopped. Apparently one of them asked Theona, “if you can keep the trap door open, can you keep it closed?” Quickly the trap was closed and pinned in that position. The party crossed the hall and Deitricha blessed me with a healing. She also took the time to let me know I ‘looked like hell.’

The statues had gone back to there stances along the wall; it appears that they only fight things that move, and while I was unconscious I must not have moved too much. Now that Deitricha and Theona were in the room and helping me up the two statues came once again to life and began toward us. I once again jumped in between the statues and my friends, although it seemed to mean more to me when I was protecting Deitricha.

I told the ladies to stand behind me, which Theona was happy to do. Deitricha let me know she could handle herself and told me to stop being chauvinistic. This lead to a bit of bickering that seemed to do more to make her angry than to do anything creative. She then leaped from behind me and engaged one of the statues. And while it was nice to have a little help, she was about the last one who should have been in the front of this melee.

I yelled at her, she yelled back. Moments later she was hit with several tough shots from the statue that sent her to the ground. Thankfully Areon came up and helped her with one of the magical healing wands. Deitricha then crawled out of the way as I yelled over my shoulder to her that she ‘looked like hell.’ Areon then joined me in the front. The fighting was vicious but the statues and I were well armored and shielded, leaving most of the deadly blows as no more than a twinge of metal on metal.

Soon I realize a very bad thing, the healing that Deitricha had given me was very light and had left me in a dangerous state for this battle. As I began to plan to split these two statues into two separate battles I was sent once more into floor as a spell hit me full in the back. Deitricha was quick to my side again and had me on my feat and back in the battle in a few moments, with a now comical you ‘look like hell.’ I had not gone unconscious this time and had quickly figured out what had happened. I let a few curses out at the new guy; he seemed indifferent as I heard nothing in return.

Armed with a new fury I began tearing a bit more viciously into the statue in front of me. My fury got a little worse when after only a couple of seconds I was struck in the back again. This time Theona had accidentally hit me with her crossbow. To her credit she was apologizing to me before I once again hit the floor, nearly going unconscious. While I was down Deitricha tried to keep one of the statues off of me and paid the price. With a powerful cleave, the statue sent her to the floor. She was seeing the darkness of unconscious before she hit the floor. I was in no shape to move but I tried my best to go to her, this led me to join her in the darkness.

Post battle…

Luck was with us, as while two of us where out, our companions managed to finish off the statues. I came awake after a bit of healing from Areon. Deitricha and I crawled over to the nearest wall and just sat for a bit. Neither of us had the energy to get up or really do much else, except one thing. Yup, I asked Areon to bring over my backpack and I pulled out my ale-skin. Deitricha and I shared some spirits and talked about how the rest of the party ‘looked like hell.’

This lead to a few good chuckles, which hurt a bit, but we accepted the pain for the laugh felt so good. Near the time that the ale ran out I remembered the new guy magic-ing me in the back. I let out a little bit of a steam about it, loud enough for him to hear. I thought I would get an apology then; I thought wrong. He seemed to be indifferent to the result of his actions and to my comments about it. Now Tempus does not have many rules to govern a warrior’s life, but one is to not suffer fools in battle. I decided to teach the new guy a lesson, perhaps a slap to the head will do more than the talk I had had with him on the day we met.

Most of the party was making camp when I gave the new guy one last chance to apologize, when he didn’t I made it clear what I was going to do. No one made any move to get in my way, although Areon made a humorous attempt to stop me: as he said, “No don’t do that give the man a chance, it was an accident”. Now the funny part was that he said the entire thing while laying out his bedroll, and not once did he lift his eyes from his bedroll while saying it. Then he lay down, covered his face with his cloak and proceeded to laugh his elven butt off.

While I walked right at the new guy, he just stared at me, made no move of any kind. So, I launched my shoulder into his right leg. This brought his face closer to me as he instinctively bent over to grab his bruise. I then put everything I had into a well-timed and well-placed uppercut. I believe the lad was seeing stars before his body hit the floor. I looked around for complaints, but didn’t get any. Having expressed my opinion, I walked back over to my bedroll and got some sleep.

A while later I awoke to hear Theona talking about the hole. I tried to help, I dropped a torch in and it vanished after twenty feet. Then I got some stuff on the end of a rope and dropped it down in, and found the hole did have a bottom. Then I lost most interest and went back to get more rest. There was no use playing there until the entire party was rested and ready to move on.

Posted by Jim at 16:35 | Tassar’s Journal

March 12, 2004

Hasty Halfling

Deitricha's Journal

Covered with blood (mostly mine), we all stopped a moment to catch our breath. Soon, Tassar was riding about again and Theona was burning cobwebs off the rest of the walls. Finding nothing, we headed down the hallway and descended another staircase. We could smell a terrible stench, but it didn’t stop us - in fact, Tassar went charging off ahead of us as Theona tried to check for traps. I tried to ask him to be more careful; it is a wizard’s tower, after all! But he rode off and was soon in the middle of a roomful of bones and rusty metal. Theona followed carefully, the rest of us watching from the hall, but we couldn’t find out anything about the place. The bones were smashed up badly, and no clue as to why!

The new hall ended at a door. Theona and Tassar tried to open it, but they were getting in each other’s way and arguing, so I finally reached between them and gave it a yank. The door opened to a long chamber, eight statues of mages ranged down the sides, and two bodies! Tassar, of course, wished to charge right in. I was getting a little exasperated; for Tymora’s sake, we had no idea what killed these two new bodies, or left the bones, or caused the tower to be abandoned in the first place! Of course, when I get mad I do silly things; I decided I’d be the first into the room instead. Poor Theona tried to check for traps further in, which gave Tassar ample time to snap at her for being slow and me for taking point. I made a rude gesture in his direction and headed over to check the bodies. When he followed me, I told him he looked like hell and went back to my work (next thing I know, I hear Theona trying to give him advice on human women. What does she know about human women?).

The elf on the floor had been dead for about a month. He had a very nice bow, which was quickly appropriated. The other body was pinned to the wall by a sword; he looked like a mage, also dead for several weeks. William, however, was the first to notice that the sword matched a scabbard on the elf’s body. I wonder what caused this trouble, and where the rest of their party is? Tassar was disappointed to find no money pouch, but he did pick up the elf’s shield, which makes for lots of protection for him! We were getting ready to search the rest of the room, when we heard a shout from the hallway out of the room - Tassar had already mounted Otto and dashed on ahead of us! I swear, he acts like trouble might wander off if we don’t run into it full-tilt! Areon yanked the sword out of the wall (and mage), and we ran after our fighter.

Tassar had only rounded a corner; we caught up with him in time to see another room at the end, more mage statues, and statues of something else, when he spurred Otto ahead, and they both dropped right through the floor! We were close enough to see the twenty feet down. Tassar was injured and cursing, Otto was impaled on the spiked pit floor, and so was yet another body. The trap door swung closed, and I didn’t stop to think. Before our expert in traps could get a look at things, I tried to push the trap door open with one foot, and fell right in myself! By Tymora’s grace, Tassar saw me fall and actually caught me! I gave him a well-earned kiss and let him tease me about following him around. I couldn’t even be mad at him for rushing into things; poor Otto was beyond my help. Tassar’s faithful companion was dead. I pulled out the wand he’d bought me and healed him up a little while we waited for our friends above to rescue us; we also checked out the body nearby. She must have been the party’s rogue; a very nice set of thieves’ tools (I think that’s what they are!) and also a well-made bow, arrows, rapier, some gold, and some vials that turned out to be useful potions. I felt a little bad to be making use of another party’s equipment without even knowing who they were, but I said a prayer of thanks over her as Theona opened the trap and dropped us a rope.

We climbed out and tried to figure out a safe way across the pit trap. Theona tied a rope around her waist and tried jumping, but didn’t have much space to run, and fell in. The wall knocked her breathless but at least she didn’t hit the spikes! Tassar then jumped back into the pit, for reasons only he can fathom, and, although re-injured, walked across. There, he waited for Theona to make a successful jump; as soon as she did, she dropped him a rope and he climbed up the other side. Before anyone else could make it over, we saw two of the statues come to life and attack our friends! Figures in banded plate mail, red eyes glowing, approached the two of them and ignored my turning completely. They smashed into Theona and Tassar even as he shouted his name at them; it was too much for Areon, who used the rope still tied about Theona’s waist to drag her back across the pit to safety. Tassar called to us that he had the situation under control, which is always a bad thing. The statues pinned him into a corner away from the doorway, and our sling, shuriken, arrows and spells did little or no damage; Tassar soon fell, and they returned to their places and became still once again.

I was desperately hoping that Tassar was unconscious but alive; I hope Theona didn’t take it personally that I was screaming at her to fix the door so I could get across. She wedged the trap shut (and closed this time) and I flew across it, around the corner, and laid a healing spell on him without even checking to see if he were alive. Thank the goddess, I was there in time, this time! He sat up, looked over my shoulder, and immediately shoved me behind him, telling me to stay put. I should have known the statues would respond to more folk entering the room! I crouched behind him and his shield, trying in vain to convince him to back off as the statues’ blows rained down. Next time, I think I’ll move his body away from the battle and then I’ll heal him! I stepped out and hit one of the statues with my quarterstaff, provoking a stream of invective from my protector. I didn’t have time to apologize for trying to take some of the heat off him before the statue hit me hard. I saw arrows and magic missiles flying by as things got fuzzy, but was rejuvenated by a sudden heal from behind. Areon had arrived on the scene! He had good timing, too, for he healed me enough to not be killed by the next blow. I had just enough strength to crawl out of the way of the battle, after drinking one of the unknown rogue’s potions. Areon stepped into my place as I became aware of William’s chanting.. in fact, he’d been chanting a lot but I hadn’t noticed any effects until now, when he somehow hit Tassar, dropping him. Tassar wasn’t cursing at me anymore after that; William was his new focus! At least I was in a position to heal him as I reached a safe place and stood up away from the fight.

Tassar charged into the fray, too fast for Theona, who hit him with an arrow as he ran in front. My heal hadn’t been for much, and he fell again. I stepped over his prone body and attacked the statue myself, and learned a few new curses from the prone-but-awake fighter. Theona tumbled past us and attacked the thing from behind, I swung at it and missed, and both Areon and I almost stepped on poor Tassar! I took another hit from the statue, and things went black to the tune of our fighter’s opinions of the whole mess. I woke to the welcome sight of Areon - and the crumbled remains of the statues. Tassar was now unconscious, and William was trying to bind his wounds. Areon soon used his wand to fix him up enough to crawl over and yell at me while Theona searched the room. I decided to try tickling him into a better humor but it took his favorite waterskin (full of ale) to restore his mood (and his throat, which must be sore by now!). I healed him some more myself, noting that the wand was getting low, and we all decided to rest for a day and recover.

Our rest was uneventful, and I was glad for the chance to pray and heal us all, especially Theona’s residual weakness from the bloodsuckers’ attacks. We headed for the end of the room, where Theona had found a pit, labeled the Vault of Sorrow by some unknown hand. Tassar dropped a torch into it, which disappeared about twenty feet down. Next, they lowered one on a rope, with the same result. We figured we couldn’t see but maybe still could find the depth; I don’t know why they had to use a dead body to do it, but we did figure out that the pit was sixty feet deep. Tassar then decided to go “fishing”, which meant dragging a grappling hook around the bottom of the shaft! He certainly woke up anything still aware down there, and pulled up nothing. I guess this means we’ll be climbing down ourselves, next!

Posted by Kate at 22:51 | Deitricha’s Journal

March 15, 2004

Looks Like Hell

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 26, 1373, Somewhere in the Nine Hells

My comrades, either listening to my suggestions about the statues needing looked over again, or just unsure how to proceed, decided not to hop into the Vault of Sorrow. Instead, Deitricha, Areon and I went to check out the mage statue hall again, while Tassar and William went out of the ruins for some air. Neither attempted to beat the other, which surprised me, as I am certain I heard William mumbling in his sleep about “teaching that halfling a lesson.” While they were aboveground we examined the statues a bit more carefully. I can only assume that whatever spell the statues may have cast (for I am convinced the frozen hand gestures mean something), had been spent on the victims in the hall— perhaps some sort of enchantment that may have caused the human mage to attack a Tel-Quessir. I found the outline of a secret door, 5’ high, opposite the impaled mage, and upon opening it, we heard a lot of bellowing from a very loud, gruff voice. Curious, and slightly alarmed, we crept down the revealed 25’ corridor and found a shaft with a dwarf lying at the bottom. Apparently Tassar and William were done breathing outdoor air already, as they appeared and quickly climbed down the shaft. They began to chat with an obviously distressed dwarf who was trapped under a pile of debris. I quickly climbed down and pulled Tassar off the pile to help the dwarf, who introduced himself as Rosorc, up while Areon and Deitricha were climbing down, and then gave the parched dwarf some ale (which must have been the exact right thing to do, as I’ve apparently made a friend for life). He had been with traveling companions, but had been separated in some rather involved chase, somehow winding up in the ruins.

We looked around the area we were in: a small hall with two more mage statues and stairs leading down to yet another pair of mage statues flanking a pair of doors. Before I could stop him, Tassar moved between those statues and began to tug the doors open. I managed to leap out of the way as the statues shot electricity at the halfling. He looked dazed for a split second and appeared to shake it off. Rosorc helped look over the statues, somehow managing to break a finger off of one, but they appeared to no longer be dangerous. This led me to believe we’re either the first to make it this far, or any caretaker these catacombs had have been on vacation the last several weeks.

Tassar, now that the doors were open, started down another hall (about 40’ by 10’) towards another pair of doors, and Deitricha tried to catch up with him; all the while I was hollering at him for being careless with the statues. He stepped on a hidden plate in the floor and an iron gate dropped down out of the ceiling 5’ from the doors at each end. Two secret panels opened in the side walls and two dread guards, followed by twelve skeletons, appeared. I began a frantic search for a switch to pull up the gates, hampered by the attempts of the party to fight through the bars (which was necessary, really, but slowed things down for me). In fact, once or twice William pushed me out of the way so he could cast a spell, and Areon gave him a stern warning not to touch me. Deitricha dusted the skeletons six at a time— all that fit in the hallway simultaneously— while we beat on the dread guards with arrows and spells. Rosorc and William managed to burn one or two skeletons during this phase, as it was hard to fight the dread guards through the bars with all the skeletons milling about. Deitricha went down, but fortunately, Areon took out the dread guard fighting her. Tassar went down too, and his guard didn’t! Both were unconscious when I found a lever hidden behind one of the lightning trap statues— which thankfully pulled the gates back up. Rosorc finished off the last construct as Areon and I healed up our two wounded friends. William, oddly, didn’t help until I yelled at him— he figured they could lay there and bleed while he investigated the empty secret compartments that housed the creatures, even while Rosorc fought the last monster and the Tel-Quessir tried to stabilize their fallen comrades. Amazingly, our new dwarf companion seems to have melded with our fighting style faster than our new mage-like person.

Now that we had cleared the hallway, one more set of double doors stood in front of us. I suggested one or two people go back to the other end of the hallway (I asked William first, since he’d seen me find the lever, but he was not really interested in doing that) in case I managed to spring the trap again. The doors were clean though, so I opened them and we went in— dwarf first, then the rest. We found ourselves in a large, scorched and disheveled laboratory with a stone slab in the center, upon which was a dissected (well, likely vivisected, judging by the look on the face) gnome. I began to search the room for a secret door (this place is filled with secret levers, traps, doors, dwarves), once again wondering if this was a real dead end. Just as I found the outline of a door on one wall, the gnome on the slab turned to William and said, “Leave.” He bolted, as fast as he could, out of the chamber and towards the rope we’d used to reach Rosorc. Just as Deitricha rushed after William, I got hit as something invisible brushed me, and I felt a brief numbness that I was able to shake off. Then, those still in the room saw/felt something about halfling-sized flapping about. It was nearly impossible to hit, appearing to heal itself up half the time when we did succeed in stabbing it, and its barbed tail, if it touched one of us, made us feel sluggish and uncoordinated. We spent a long time attempting to hit it, while Deitricha was apparently “subduing” William to bring him back. By the time she did, of course, he was unconscious. Meanwhile, I staggered out into the hall when and told I “look like hell.” Tassar attempted to lasso the creature, now recognized as an imp, which was still zipping about the lab, but lassoed Areon instead. At that exact moment, the imp grazed Areon, and Deitricha hit him with a shuriken. Thankfully Rosorc snagged the imp with a chain he’d been hauling around, and it fell to the floor. Areon cut it in two, and Tassar removed its tail.

I finished searching the room and found a secret panel. Disarming it, I found two potions labeled Lesser Restoration (and quickly drank one), and a box of 50 platinum pieces. At Deitricha’s behest, we sat and rested for two days, getting to know Rosorc much better. The dwarf fancies himself a bit of a bard (just a bard with absolutely no sense of rhyme that can’t carry a tune), and can happily discuss the quality of any tavern’s ale from here to the coast.

After our rest period (during which Areon cast many meaningful looks at me— I think he wants to tell me something but didn’t want to share with the N-Tel-Quess), we finally opened the secret door off the lab and found a bizarre 15’ circle in the middle of the floor of a 25’ square room. It was ringed by runes, and obviously magical. While I studied the runes (William claimed to have little knowledge of arcane magic— note to self: next time we seek out a mage, make sure the mage can cast simple spells), Rosorc and Tassar bashed the lock off of a treasure chest in the corner of the room (200 gold pieces, 550 silver pieces, four labeled potions, two scroll cases, a spellbook, and an ash stick). Like the runes on the circle, the scrolls in the cases are written with symbols I’m not familiar with, but I flipped through the book and actually recognized the words “Ray of Frost,” though not much more. While I lamented the damage to the chest’s lock, Tassar threw a few coppers onto the circle. They disappeared. William indicated that it was a portal that likely goes two ways, and that my suggestion to drop a rope onto it would merely cut the rope in half. Before I could argue this logic, Tassar jumped in. Deitricha, who would jump down the gullet of a black dragon if Tassar were in there, followed. As did William. Then Rosorc. Finally, I turned to Areon and asked him if he’d, “follow me into Hell?” He nodded assent. I reached out and he gripped my hand firmly in his, and we stepped onto the circle together.

Blood red skies hover over mountains of blood red rock in the distance in one direction, a green fortress contrasts against the crimson sky in another. Distant bands of creatures appear to have bat-like wings and barbed tails. As I suspected, we are in Hell.

Posted by Kristin at 15:20 | Theona’s Journal

March 19, 2004

I'm starting to get used to this kind of thing.

Deitricha's Journal

The party, instead of heading down the well, decided to scatter. William went all the way outside for some “fresh air”, and returned to tell us that the wolves were still there. I was trying to listen at the pit, but having no success (Tassar was chucking things into it). Tassar suddenly decided that hunting more wolves with William would be fun. As they headed out the door I realized Theona and I were having the same thought - would both Tassar and William come back alive from this trip? She and I followed, and Areon followed Theona. So much for the pit!

As we walked back through the hall of mage statues, both Theona and I noticed a crack in the wall. Leaving Areon to chaperone Tassar and William, we decided to figure out the door. Theona soon had it open, and the two of us looked down a narrow secret hallway, wondering out loud what it could lead to. As I started to make out a hole in the floor about twenty feet away, our voices woke something up; a loud roar filled the hall, startling me so much that I ran right out of the catacombs, shouting for help! By the time I got back with the others, we could hear words in the roaring - “My head hurts! Get me out of here!” - and learned that somehow, there was a survivor from the other parties.

The end of the hall led down a shaft, with a broken-off ladder, and a dwarf at the bottom. He seemed to be pinned under some rubble, and very irritated. I can’t blame him! We sent Tassar down to help, being the strongest, but that was a mistake. The two of them quickly began to argue and the rest of us ended up climbing down, both to help the dwarf and get Tassar to stop badgering him. There was another tunnel, here; hopefully a safer passage than the pit to whatever was to be found. We finally got Rosorc to tell us his name and a little history; no more than we’d already guessed, his party had died in an adventure, and he’d fallen into the shaft, luckily within reach of food and water! William made introductions around the party, while Theona tried to dissuade Tassar from playing with the door at the end of the new passage. She also made herself a friend for life by giving Rosorc her aleskin!

Unfortunately, this gave Tassar the chance to open the doors for Theona. Statues on each side of the doors began to crackle with energy, and lightning bolts shot between them! Theona made it out of the way, but Tassar got zapped. Much as I thought he deserved it, I still got mad at the dwarf, who was laughing his butt off at “little people”. With the doors now open, Tassar walked off down the hallway, and I decided to walk with him instead. Naturally, as I caught up to him, we both heard a “click” under his foot, and metal bars slammed down at both ends of the hallway, trapping us inside a cage! Tassar kept telling me to stay behind him, as he got ready to fight whatever showed up, but I doubted things would work out that way.

Soon, a door opened at each end of the cage, and more of the banded mail statues with glowing red eyes appeared! Tassar really wanted me to stay safely behind him, but there wasn’t a safe place, so we were stuck back-to-back. He jokingly cursed at me, which made me start laughing, especially when Theona chimed in from the end of the hall that we “looked like hell”! I guess we all took lessons from Dante the bard about relieving tension in battle! Rosorc, however, must have thought us all insane. The statues closed in, William cast magic missiles at them, Areon and Rosorc were shooting arrows, and, of course, many skeletons with scimitars began to follow the statues into the hall! Rosorc and William, hoping the things were weak, started setting them on fire by flinging oil through the bars and lighting it. I, on the other hand, decided to try dealing with things my way, and turned them all to dust!

Unfortunately, the big statues were still there, and Tassar pretended to be disappointed that the skeletons were gone until the two statues smashed into us, and another mass of skeletons came through the doors! This led to Tassar shouting, “I thought you got rid of them?!”, so I turned them all to dust, too, and earned myself a good hit from a statue. Those things hurt a lot! Tassar then went back to complaining that I wasn’t staying “safely” behind him. I was just glad that our friends were still firing arrows and spells down the hall to help us. Rosorc and William seem to be a match made in heaven - their end of the hall was a smoking mess from Rosorc’s oil and William’s fire! About that time, I took a swing at a statue, missed, bashed my arm numb against the wall, and was knocked out by my foe.

I woke to someone pouring something down my throat; Theona had found the healing potion I was carrying and put it to good use. I quickly cured Tassar, who was also down, and then looked around to see the cage was open and the statues destroyed. Did I mention that the dwarf has spiked armor? I was amused to see that the last statue was full of holes! Finally, we turned to the door at the end of the hallway, beyond the cage trap. The door opened to reveal a large vaulted room, in shambles. There was a body on a table, but the rest of the place had been smashed and shattered and burned. The body seemed to have been dissected, poor gnome! He, too, looked to have been dead only about a month. Rosorc, to our surprise, was very respectful of the gnome, asking for a cloak to cover the body and a moment of silence. This may have been a mistake, although well-intentioned; as William stood by the gnome, it turned to him, and said, “Leave!” .. which sent William right out the door even as Rosorc cleaved its head with his axe.

This seemed the signal for all hell to break loose; something swooped down from the rafters and stung Theona as she inspected a secret door in the wall, and then disappeared! We were ready to retreat forward through the new door, except that William was still running the other way. I took it upon myself to go get him, and left the others to deal with the flying things. I found William trying to climb out of the shaft, and dragged him off the rope. I couldn’t snap him out of whatever fugue the gnome’s body had set on him, and I fear I was reduced to sitting on him and smacking him around until he lost consciousness. I dragged his body back to the room, only to find everyone still fighting an invisible flying thing and looking strangely clumsy. Apparently it had poison, too. I stood in the doorway, throwing sling bullets and shuriken whenever I caught a glimpse of the creature (and I had to apologize to Areon, who took a shuriken from me and a lassoing from Tassar). Rosorc whipped out a ten-foot length of chain, and tried to catch it that way.

Theona was looking pretty bad by then, which worried me enough to suggest quitting the field of battle until I could heal everyone up. Theona took my advice but the menfolk were determined to kill the thing outright. We waited in the hall until Rosorc finally managed to entangle the creature, bringing it out of the air, and making it an easy target for Tassar and Areon. The one chopped off its poisonous tail, and the other chopped it in half, outright! At this point I had to explain why William was unconscious, which was a little embarrassing! I asked if we could wait a day, so I could heal everyone, and this time they all agreed. They searched the broken-up room, and we wedged the door closed. Theona found a secret panel in the wall, and came out with a box and vials. The vials helped us heal, and the box, when finally broken open, spilled platinum coins across the floor!

William finally woke up to accept my apologies (thank Tymora!), and I healed everyone as much as I could before we dropped off to sleep. In the morning, I healed everyone again as much as possible, and to my surprise, the party agreed to wait one more day so we could all be at full strength for our next adventure. The dwarf, to be sure, was sad that he had to water down his aleskin, but overall, I think it was a good idea. We also got a chance to talk and learn a little more about each other. Finally, the next day dawned, and we opened Theona’s secret door.

Well, another room was revealed, with a ritual circle in the center, surrounded by glowing runes. William was unable to decipher them, but noticed a chest in the corner, which drew Tassar and Rosorc right over to try their own brand of “lock-picking” upon. This sent Theona, at least, running from the room just in case! Luckily, the chest wasn’t trapped (that we could tell), and she was soon back, identifying the things inside and passing them out for us to carry. At this point, disaster struck. William, still pondering the runes, decided that the ritual circle was actually a teleportation device; the trouble began when he also mentioned that he thought it was a two-way portal. Without further ado, Tassar walked right in!

Well, I couldn’t let him face the unknown alone. Hearing someone mutter something about just leaving the halfling to his ill-fated decision really spurred me on! I quickly stepped onto the circle, and the others soon followed. What a sight met our eyes! A flat, dusty, red plain, random jets of flame, and the faint sound of screaming easily identified this new place as Hell. Of course, there was no circle to return home by! We could see a fortress in the distance and mountains in the other direction. There were groups of awful creatures wandering the plains, and William was doing his best to hide inside his own cloak. Whatever is not-human about him, apparently, is the exact opposite of creatures here. I can’t be angry at his mistake when he’s obviously terrified that he’ll pay for it with his life!

Tassar is now leading the way to the mountains. I hope we make it out of here alive! Tymora, guide my footsteps!

Posted by Kate at 01:22 | Deitricha’s Journal

March 21, 2004

What's Old is What's New

Rosorc's Journal

Such is a dwarf’s life... My head is pounding and there is that damned noise again. Where... What the heck is making all of that ruckus? A drink would surely help the situation. Hey, that’s a voice.... a loud and shrill voice.

“Stop that damn noise you’re hurting my head,” I yelled. Suddenly a halfling appeared above me. “What is your name?”, he asked, standing above my prone form. Not knowing my status I quickly belted out, “Who the blazes are you?!”. Several more painful minutes passed of his shrill halfling voice assaulting my pounding head. Nothing really making sense to me. When he finally stopped I noticed we were no longer alone.

A ramshackle party surrounded me. As I looked them over you could tell they were a group of adventurers. They looked as bad as the group of friends I had lost not so long ago. They pulled the rubble off of me that had me pinned to the ground. Several greetings were made. Being a little cloudy in the head I just kind of nodded along. Being free I slowly picked up my AXE!!!! Oh how great it is to have it back in my hands. They didn’t seem very threatening so I tried to converse with some of them. Small talk was made and then I asked....

“Does anyone have any ale for a dry dwarf?” A melodious voice of an angel said, “I have an extra flask you could have.” If she wouldn’t have been an elf I would have placed a large smacker right on her I was so happy. How long had it been... “Oh, thats the stuff!”, I thought, as I pulled a long draught. Quickly, though, my bliss was displaced by suprise as a large discharge of electricity pulsed on the far side of the room.

The halfling had a little smoke drifting off him and people were diving out of the way. Followed by a bunch of people all hollering at him.. you could get the feel this was a regular situation, as they weren’t being very considerate of his charred condition. Through the verbal berating I got the gist that his name was Tassar. Several other names rang out too, but I am sure not even a halfling family would name their offspring any of them..

Pulling another quick draught I was getting my head about me. Surveying the situation, it seemed Tassar had set off some sort of a magical trap. Seems statues were on each side of the door and had discharged the magic. Asking the glorious elf maiden (“Wonder if she likes ale too?” I thought), to move I approached the statues and surveyed them. I pulled out my hammer from my pack and smashed the one’s hand with it. A finger snapped off but nothing else happened. The best I could guess they were now harmless.

At this point a mage of sorts started to talk to me. I was put back a minute as I had never seen such eyes before. He said his name was William and that there were many such traps in the area. Then I noticed the door was open. Tassar and a human cleric were walking down the hall. He was calling her Deitricha as he told her to stay behind him. After they traveled about 12 feet there was a terrible clang. A heavy barred gate had dropped down on each side of them. They were caught in the middle as two secret doors popped open. A large animated suit of armour charged out of each at them, followed by a group of shambling skeltons. Sensing what I guess would be new comrades in danger, I pulled my crossbow and fired a bolt at the closest armor. It clanked off and fell to the floor.

Then there was a commotion of arrows and bolts from our outer position. The battle raged on within, though. Tassar seemed to be faring much better than Deitricha, landing several blows and dodging most tossed at him. She was taking quite a pounding when she put her holy symbol into the air. At the same time I was convincing the mage William that I would smash some oil flasks at and on the skeletons if he could light them. It was a coin toss of what went off first, our combined firey cocktail or her turning but it had great results. All the skeletons dropped to the floor. The elf they had called Areon hit the closest armour with an arrow.

Just as it seemed the situation was getting better another batch of skeletons appeared on each side of them. William and I blasted our oily cocktail of fire at them again on our side. Followed by another blast from Deitricha’s holy symbol, they all collapsed. Followed by Deitricha collapsing to the floor. Soon Tassar dropped, also succumbing to his wounds. Being the smart one, the elf they had called Theona, giver of the ale, found a release switch for the gates behind one of the statues. Flipping it, the gates retreated. At that point Areon dropped the closer armour with his arrow. So I charged with my spike shield before me and slammed the last armour to the ground. It didn’t rise again.

Quickly Theona poured a healing potion into the cleric’s mouth. She revived and gained her bearing. Being the giver of care, Detricha quickly turned to Tassar and healed him with a prayer. As they composed themselves and Theona made sure they were all right, William and I checked out the halls from where the minions had come. Both were empty, small, and went no where. Several of them then checked them for hidden doors and there just weren’t any to be found.

After securing arrows, bolts, and two usable light shields we headed for the visible door at the end of the hall. It quickly was opened. I stepped in first. Inside was a scorched room. A large altar was in the middle with a dissected gnome laying on it. Soon the others were in there with me. Feeling a sense of sadness, I asked Tassar for his cloak to cover the gnome up. He gave it to me and as I went to place it on the body, that is when the gnome’s head turned and yelled at William for him to leave. Dropping the cloak, I quickly split the gnome’s head with my axe, fearing further mischief.

I couldn’t believe how fast William took off. Like a shot. As Deitricha took off after William, Theona, goddess of ale, put out a yelp of pain on the far side of the room. Seems she had found a secret door as something else had found her. Theona yelled to “Watch out! My arm is limp, it seems to have a poison attack!”. So we all took care; as we went to rush to her aid as we saw an imp-like creature materialize, then disappear as it attacked Areon.

I felt the urge to sing as the battle began. Bolts flew, arrows richocheted, and the imp attacked on. Deep within my breast the first note broke out. “Crossbow and axe. Crossbow and axe. Clangeddin soul will stop their tracks. Fiends and minions will all bow down, to the power of the Crossbow and Axe. ” Seeing our missile weapons were’t doing any good we gathered in a huddle with our hand weapons. The imp was fast and had invisibility as an advantage. Soon we were frustrated and several of us were wounded.

Deitricha pulled a limp William up out in the hall and joined the fray from a distance. Growing angry I pulled out a 10 foot chain out of my pouch and hollered I was going to try and bind it like as with a whip. Hoping to draw it towards me I belted back into song, I have found almost anyone or anything in the Realms wishes to shut up a bad singing dwarf.

“Rock and stone yields the gold. Silver and Gold clears the soul. Clangeddin strength makes us bold.” Damn the first attempt missed. “I deserve two flasks after this one”, I thought. “Fiend or Foe has no hold. As Clangeddin’s strength makes us bold.” I shouted as the second attempt caught the vile beast and drug him to the floor. Upon landing, Areon cut it in half and I hollered for Tassar to cut off and save its tail. I figured it may buy a draft or three later if sold to the right guild.

Theona found a secret stash after the battle. Seems loot is a good thing. I had already started counting the kegs in my head as we bagged it up. Seeing we were all battered and tired we decided to barricade the doors to the room and get a day’s rest. Deitrcha was very busy in this time healing our wounds. During which we ate and got to know a little about each other.

At the end of the day we decided as beat as we were we should rest another day. I tried to teach Tassar some dwarven songs; being another fighter I felt he may draw strength from them but his high voice just couldn’t carry the notes. Besides, there were death stares coming from everyone else in the room.

Waking in the morning we opened the next door before us. Inside was a large circle of some kind drawn on the floor. More importantly, there was a large chest in the corner. It was locked, but Tassar and I fixed that. Within moments we experienced another pile of loot. I think I really like these guys. Thick and frothy... How many kegs is that. Oh yeah, back to where I was.

As we bagged the rest of the goodies, Theona had rolled a copper into the circle. To my suprise it had disappeared. During all of this Tassar and William had a loud conversation about portals.. One way.. Both ways.. or something like that. Then the halfling went running into circle painted on the floor and was gone.

We all stared in disbelief. Waited a while and nothing happened. William said,”I told him it might go both ways - I wasn’t sure.” Then Deitricha walked in and winked out, too. Slowly, we all decided to follow the halfling to wherever he may have went. As I stepped in I yelled, “Clange...

...ddin!” I finished as I was standing on blood red plains, under a blood red sky. Definitely not having any good thoughts about halflings, at the moment. There was a sinking feeling in my stomach telling me this was really bad. By the looks on all of the others’ faces I knew my gut was right. A bad time to start to develop some of that worldly thought thing I have been lacking!

Pulling out my ale, I noticed it was a little low. Not figuring I would get any more for a while, I filled it up with water and asked the others what we should do. There was some Tassar ripping, followed by a few shrugs. We noticed a large train of beings shambling to a large ominous keep to the south. They looked like demons, twisted and deformed; that dark, sinister keep was definitely out of the question. Tassar piped up, “There is a mountain to the north. Sounds like a better idea than that keep.” Without really discussing it we all started trudging our way north with heavy hearts and deep thoughts.

As we trudged I ran my favorite songs through my head but none seemed to chase the damper off my spirit. Then realized the watery ale in my flask wouldn’t work either. Maybe Theona, goddess of ale, has another.........

Posted by Erik at 00:59 | Rosorc’s Journal

March 22, 2004

Mental note, pay attention more….

Tassar's Journal

After getting some rest, the group was sort of meandering around. None of us really wanted to go into the dark hole, so we were just waiting for someone to stand up and be in charge and say ‘we are not going into the hole.’ Eventually the new guy went up to the surface to see if the wolves were still around. He returned and we thought it would be fun to go fight some wolves until someone found a way to go besides the dark hole.

Off we went, the rest of the party decided not to join us. They all were staring at us though as if waiting for a punch line from a joke. Disregarding the looks, we started up to the surface to kill a few wolves and maybe gain some meat for breakfast. We never made it to the surface. A scream came from below us as we were just steps away from the surface. It sounded like Deitricha and I was off and running.

Seconds later and with a few stubbed toes, I found Deitricha with a panicked look she had never shown. She stated that there was a voice coming from a hidden room that the two ladies had found. I prepared my sword and shield and went in after the voices. I must admit I was expecting something other than what I found. Perhaps, the reported vampire that I had been mocking for so long. As I peered over the edge of a pit I saw a pile of rubble, with a pile of rubble on top of him. What I mean is I found a Dwarf.

Having no great love for the boisterous creatures I told Deitricha “It’s just a Dwarf, leave him.’ After recoiling from the smack to the back of my head, I apologized to her and went down to see if I could help. The Dwarf had somehow become trapped. It looked like he was climbing the ladder on the wall and it collapsed with some of the wall. I think the new guy followed me, I just know that I found a chance to have some fun and took it. I climbed onto a large chunk of stone that was deposited on the Dwarf’s chest. To my joy the burly fellow yelled at me. I returned the favor by asking his name, without making the slightest effort to free him. Instead he ruffed back at me and I back at him. Before long the rest of the party was beside me pulling me off of the Dwarf and apologizing to him for my behavior.

I took a bit more of yelling from Deitricha before I wondered off to see what Theona was doing. Sometimes I think Deitricha does not understand how fighters talk to each other. We are not a breed of huggy-kissy people. We insult each other and lie about our deeds, it is an unwritten rule.

Anyway Theona was looking at a set of doors, she muttered something about ‘not locked,’ then began looking at other stuff. I took my normal queue and opened the door. Theona dove to the side as the two statues on either side of the doors let loose brilliant blue bolts of lightning. It hurt a little, but it was worth the pain to see the light show. Well, it was until the ladies started yelling at me for it. Even Areon put in his two bits. That is probably why I started walking down the hallway that the door revealed, just to find some piece and quiet, and to figure out if what Theona said was even physically possible.

I was followed as usual by Deitricha who continued to tell me to take more precautions. I stated that I would do so if she learned to stay behind me in the battle. For Tempus’ sake that woman can argue. She was just telling me, again, to let Theona look for traps as I stepped on something that clicked. Before I could look down there was another sound, a sound of bars closing us into a trap, then the sound of stone on stone. Two doors opened in the hall, one on each side and inside the trap we were in. I began telling Deitricha to get behind me when we were flanked by two more of the armored statues that attacked us earlier. We quickly stood back to back and began fighting the statues when we were joined by skeletons.

I began telling Deitricha to stand behind me and she began to tell me that she had nowhere to go. About that time the arrows began. Thank the gods I am a short fellow, as at least six arrows flew just over my head and into the far wall. Deitricha raised her holy symbol and turned the skeletons to dust. I told her that she took some of my kills, and to get behind me. By this time we had both taken a few shots from the armored statues and Theona was yelling ‘You two look like hell.’

As we enjoyed a slight chuckle, and ducked yet more arrows (my friends need some time on a practice range), more skeletons came out from the doors. As Deitricha again hoisted her holy symbol to destroy the skeletons, some of the party set the trapped area on fire. At least they set the end near them on fire and not where we were. I heard Deitricha hit the floor and I turned to try to protect her as the suit of armor I was fighting took advantage of my distraction and landed a solid blow that knocked me from consciousness.

Soon I was brought back around and the battle had ended. Theona, I am told, found the way to open the bars and the party finished the statues off. I was also coherent to two more facts: first the new guy wondered off to check out the passages that the statues had come out of instead of trying to save Deitricha and my life, second was the fact that the Dwarf (named Rosorc) had fought bravely in our behalf. That settles it for me, Rosorc is Rosorc, and William is still the new guy.

Eventually we walked up to another door, which I did let Theona check for traps, she then opened it and we walked in to find a dead Gnome on a table. Well, I will call it a Gnome, there wasn’t very much left of him. Rosorc, showing a good heart wanted to cover the fellow and I gave him my cloak. Before we knew it the dead, long dead, Gnome turned his head and looked at the new guy with hollow eyes. Then the dead fellow told the new guy to get out. I admit this was a new one for me, a creature with no innards turning and talking to some one. The new guy had had enough and was off and running, Deitricha followed him.

Then Theona, who was off to the side of the room, yelped in pain. Areon, Rosorc and I then took to fighting this new foe. It took a little while to figure out what or where it was for it could blink into invisibility and was very fast when we could see it. Areon after getting a good look at it, and a sting in the shoulder for the effort, told us it was some kind of Imp. Then Deitricha came back to the room and told us she ‘had to beat William into unconsciousness to stop him.’ I said “Sure, you had to. Who gets to beat him up tomorrow?” Then our attention was forced back to the attacking Imp.

It didn’t take long for the ladies to retreat into the hall to escape the speedy Imp’s attacks. The three of us men still standing, gathered into a tight group to give us extra chances to hit the speedy foe. The Dwarf then pulled out a length of chain and swung it at the Imp. On his second attempt, he actually caught the little creature. Taking nothing for chance I reached over and cut the tail and stinger off of the thing. Areon then stepped up next to me and cleaved the creature in half.

The party then gathered around and decided to rest for a while. We took the chance to get to know Rosorc better and kind of unofficially asked him to join us for a while. It was funny, we never had asked him, he just joined in and helped us.

After two days of rest I was ready to climb the walls. Finally Theona opened a hidden door off of the room that the Imp was in, we then followed her into the new room. In the center of the room was a large and ornate circle. It had many symbols on it that told something that I could not understand. In the corner of the room we found a chest, which was locked. Theona said she was going to get her tools. Soon as she was out of the room Rosorc and I looked at each other and without speaking a word, we agreed to open it before she got back. I held a dagger in the lock and he swung a small hammer that he produced from his pack. Just as we opened the lock Theona came back in and was yelling at us. It felt nice to have someone to share the blame with.

As the party went through the treasure I turned my attention back to the circle. I pulled a copper coin from my pouch and took a second to admire the flying Pegasus that was on the face of the coin, the symbol of Silverymoon. Then my attention was drawn back to the circle as Theona and the new guy were talking about the meaning of the symbols. The new guy said it was some kind of portal. I then rolled the copper coin into the circle and it disappeared. Then the new guy was telling Theona that it was probably a two-way device. Then I pulled another copper and tossed it into the circle, about ten feet in the air. This coin too disappeared.

Then I decided to go through the portal and see what was there. I don’t know why I had decided to do this. Perhaps I trusted the new guy, but that makes less sense to me in hindsight. I think it was just because we had spent two days cooped up in that room. As I walked toward it I heard the beginnings of something from Theona, but I was too far into the circle to hear what it was.

Suddenly my all of my senses were bombarded by heat and light and some dizziness from the trip through the portal. The heat was from the fires that erupted at random in every direction. The light was from both a red sky and from lightning that danced about. “Friggen Ehh, where in the Nine Hells am I …”? I stopped my thoughts as I realized that for the first time in my life, that was a true statement.

I quickly looked around for the returning symbol only to realize that there was none. Then they caught my eye, out in the distance, groups of creatures moving in small packs. Some appeared to have wings, others had horns. All of them where in shapes I have never seen in all my years. As sweat rolled down my cheek from the intense heat, I began to pray that no one follows me. Then in a flash Deitricha was next to me. I was not happy, but yet I had to laugh, she followed me to Hell. I went to her and gave her a hug. Soon all the party was there.

Theona lit into me real good. It appears that someone had warned us that there were passages to ‘Hell’ in the tower. I could only shrug and apologize, I didn’t know. I then turned my attention back to the new surroundings. Off to one side was a large castle that had a greenish tint to it. Other than that the only landmark was a mountain in the opposite direction.

I figured that the mountain might be a good place to find a place to hide while we figured out the trouble we were in. We all started off in that direction. The new guy pulled his cloak tight around his head, he was very afraid of this place. Rosorc seemed indifferent, and Areon was busy pointing out to Theona all the ‘unnatural’ things that were running about. Deitricha kept close to me, keeping her thoughts to herself. Again in this obviously bad moment, I had to smile to myself. She followed me to Hell.

Posted by Jim at 17:43 | Tassar’s Journal

March 28, 2004

A Very Bad Feeling

William's Journal

I want to get this down in what probably will be my last few minutes alive. I would say on this world, but being as we left our world I can’t. Allow me to explain.

I awoke this morning with a minor headache, probably from the unwarranted beating I got last night. I don’t blame Tassar though; there is something about that place that is definitely evil. I felt it from the moment I set foot in what was left of the door topside. I didn’t think much of it— just an underlying feeling I had. The longer I was there the more I got the impression it’s not the place but something it’s connected to. Things started to really get fuzzy at that point and all I wanted was some fresh air. I mentioned I was going up for some air, but no one seemed to notice so I just left. The sun and clean air was nice till I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I hate wolves.

I ran about as fast as I could till I got to the room with all the mage statues. Something about this room makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I walked the rest of the way to the room everyone was waiting in hurrying a little over the pit tap. I mentioned the wolves twice before anyone took notice and even then Tassar only wanted to kill one to eat it. I was all for it at the time though; it’s better to eat wolves then to be eaten by wolves anyway. I never noticed everyone else following us, not that we ever did get topside again. Had I known that was going to be my last look at the light of day, I would have relished it a bit more. But I digress; allow me to continue.

About half way up the stairs, one of the ladies we were traveling with called us back down. By the way Tassar ran back down I figured it was Deitricha who called, but I wasn’t sure, that feeling of being so close to evil suddenly got stronger. When we got to the room with the mage statues, Theona pointed out a hallway that was apparently behind a secret door and asked me, of all people, why I hadn’t noticed it. As politely as I could, I ignored the comment and went to join Tassar and Areon down the hall to see what had scared the ladies. At the end of the hall there was part of a ladder attached to a wall going down. About 20 feet down there seemed to be a dwarf apparently half buried under rubble. I tied my rope to a ladder rung and Tassar climbed down, I thought, to help the dwarf. What Tassar did next shocked me. I watched as he sat on the dwarf and pulled his beard. I hurriedly climbed down myself along with everyone else. Theona got Tassar off and I stared to remove the rubble. Helping the dwarf to his feet I attempted to make apologies, but all he seemed interested in was ale. Theona gave him some and he told us his name was Rosorc.

Rosorc had apparently been there awhile and as we talked a bit I head the creak of a door. I said, “Great now what?” I think Rosorc heard me because he dropped behind a shield with speed I didn’t think he had. Then there’s that feeling of evil, even stronger now. It feels like it’s emanating form someplace very close by. The next thing I know I hear a slight clicking noise followed by a loud crash and I’m snapped back into focus again in time to see 2 armored figures attack Tassar and Deitricha. They apparently were caught on the wrong side of a cage that fell out of the ceiling. Everyone did what they could and Rosorc had some great ideas about me casting fire on some oil he smashed on the skeletons that appeared. After a while I ran out of good spells and decided to try to burn the bars away with an acid cantrip I had. Didn’t work. Then the bars were removed. I noticed this, but for some reason it didn’t register. That feeling of evil— it overwhelmed me I guess. I had trouble focusing as my mind started to drift. I saw what was going on around me, but I felt like I was somewhere else. Then someone yelled at me to help the fallen companions. I snapped back to real life and if I had known then I would have left in a hurry. By Lathander I almost did.

We went through the doors at the end of this hall and what I saw was a shambles. Even though I can see in the dark, I can’t see as well as in light, so I created light. In the center of this room on a table was what appeared to be a dissected gnome. Rosorc appeared to be very affected by it, and as he tried to cover it up the gnome turned its head and looked right into my eyes. What I saw there brought me back to a summer just after my ninth birthday. My dad and I were going back to Silverymoon from Everlund. This woman offered the guards some cash to travel with them and let’s face it a little extra cash is always helpful. She had a child with her. I was latter informed that he was a tiefling, but at the time all I knew was that I didn’t like him. I asked him where his dad was as we camped the first night, he said Hell. I must have looked confused because the kid explained his dad lived in Hell and they were going to Hell to his dad. The look in his eyes gave me nightmares for weeks after.

The next thing I knew I was looking at a ceiling. Sitting up I looked around; I noticed we were in the same room with the dissected gnome, its head now lying on the floor. Deitricha told me how it spoke and I ran. She apologized profusely for beating me unconscious, even though I told her not to worry about it. She also informed me of the treasure they found while I was out and they were planning on resting here for another day to fully heal up. The feeling of evil surrounding us was still there, but not as intense. As we waited I pondered over my dream. I couldn’t for the life of me remember that boy’s name. I still don’t know why it’s bothering me so much, I just get the feeling it would be very helpful.

After 2 days we opened what was to be the last door in this place. There was a chest filled with all kinds of goodies in it and a circle of runes on the floor. The feeling of evil was very strong there. It had me preoccupied as I tried to study the runes. Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught what appeared to be a copper piece fly through the air and vanish over the circle. That’s when I figured it was a portal, but I didn’t know where to. At least I wasn’t positive. I simply mentioned it and that it probably went both ways; most portals do. PROBABLY. Meaning not definitely. Unfortunately Tassar didn’t understand the difference and went running in, followed by Deitricha yelling at him for doing so. I didn’t think— I just went after.

That feeling of evil is overpowering now as I open my eyes. It’s all around me as I notice the blood red sky above me and matching earth below me. Rosorc appears next to me and Theona and Areon show up a minute later holding hands. I try very hard to conceal my heritage within the depth of this outfit I got not too long ago. I watch as a large group of devils move between us and this green fortress off to the left. Tassar begins moving to the right towards some mountains. That seems like a better idea then the fortress so I follow. That’s when I hits me. Haimen. His name was Haimen I say to myself as we begin to walk to what I hope will be a safe place for us.

Posted by Fred at 01:33 | William’s Journal

Lost Wizard's Spellbook

Adventures, DM's Notes & Maps

Level 0
(Abjuration) Resistance
(Conjuration) Acid Splash
(Divination) Detect Magic
(Divination) Detect Poison
(Divination) Read Magic
(Enchantment) Daze
(Evocation) Dancing Lights
(Evocation) Flare
(Evocation) Light
(Evocation) Ray of Frost
(Illusion) Ghost Sound
(Necromancy) Disrupt Undead
(Necromancy) Touch of Fatigue
(Transmutation) Mage Hand
(Transmutation) Mending
(Transmutation) Message
(Transmutation) Open/Close
(Transmutation) Repair Minor Damage
(Universal) Arcane Mark
(Universal) Prestidigitation

Level 1
(Abjuration) Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law
(Divination) Detect Secret Doors
(Evocation) Lesser Electric Orb
(Illusion) Nystul’s Magic Aura
(Necromancy) Ray of Enfeeblement
(Transmutation) Feather Fall

Level 2
(Divination) Locate Object
(Evocation) Darkness

100-page tome found in a Ruined Tower, in the Silver Marches.

March 30, 2004

A Devilish Dilemma

Theona's Journal

Kythorn 27, 1373, The City of Doors

I guess we looked dangerous, because the first creature we came face to face with dropped down prostrate on the ground, trembling and squeaking, “no hurt!” Now, I didn’t trust the little fellow, a dark-skinned spiky devil complete with warfork, but it wasn’t hard to get him talking, and most of what he said was accurate enough to form a plan of action. Hixtali indicated he was one of the many guards of Lord Bel’s castle (that would be the large green building filling up one horizon) and was more than willing to get us away from where we were standing. He wanted us to go through the nearest portal; though after hearing it led to something called the “Front Line of the Blood Wars,” we indicated we’d prefer something a bit more like home. Hixtali squeaked that he would take us to see a bad sorceress called Hexla, who lived in a cave in the mountains. Seeing as we were heading there anyway, we convinced him to act as our guide.

The landscape was depressing enough already, but we soon came to the edge of a river, which our guide insisted we had to cross. River of Blood was an apt name— the vivid red waterway smelled of blood, and in fact the “waterline” appeared as if it was clotting where it touched the dryer ground. Hixtali waded right in, with the crimson liquid lapping about his face as he forded what was apparently one of the narrower portions of the river. The rest of us resigned ourselves to getting drenched in the stuff, though Tassar ended up riding on Dietricha’s shoulders, as he would have been completely submerged. The distance across was still at least 200 yards. Before we got to the other side, Deitricha cried out when something brushed her leg— and then latched on. We quickly got out on the far bank to find that two 3’ long bloodworms were attached to Deitricha’s legs. We got them off but she looked like they’d already done some damage. Thankfully her clerical abilities still seem to function, as she had to do some healing before she was ready to walk again.

We quickly proceeded to the foothills where the red mountain met the red plains, and Hixtali pointed to a cave entrance a short ways up. Refusing to go up with us, the little devil assured us that he’d be waiting right there when we came out. Rosorc rewarded the fiend with a bit of meat he’d had in his backpack. I suspect Hixtali departed long before he’d swallowed the last morsel.

We climbed the path up to the entrance and soon found ourselves in a cave strewn with bones and skulls (definitely demonic in nature)— and a small wooden hut. Now, I don’t really know why my comrades would trust anyone that lived in a wooden hut in a cave on a plane where no trees were visible, but William, at least, was delighted by the prospect of meeting a magic user, and ran right up to the door of the dwelling. An eye peeked out. And that was it— just an eye, no body. The eye must have been satisfied by what it saw, for soon a half-elf appeared at the door as well.

Tassar somehow bribed her to give him some ale, and was soon completely intoxicated by some suspicious-looking red brew (I noticed at this point that he also had acquired Hixtali’s warfork— and he thinks I’m a thief!). More disturbing, upon talking to William, Hexla decided she could help us get back to our home, but only William had the “spell components” she needed— silver eyes. Now, I’ve never had the heart to tell William, but those silver things he has stuck in his face do not look like eyes to me— I was rather sure he’d be better off handing them over and getting a proper pair with pupils and all, but there was no convincing him of that. He offered her some of his platinum hair instead, which was simply astounding seeing as she didn’t ask for it. She was quick to shear it off of him though. I assured William that, unlike the eyes, the hair wouldn’t grow back. Our last mage burned off his hair and it never grew back. My friends tell me that is ridiculous, that hair grows back, but I know for a fact that there are a lot of bald humans in Silverymoon that I’ve been neighbors with for years and years— their hair turns platinum just like William’s, and then it falls right off, never to grow back. Nearly all of them have eyes though.

At any rate, Hexla told us we had to follow the River of Blood south until we came to the Pillar of Skulls— apparently there is a means to find a portal home there. While we mulled that idea over, I remembered that we’d found some as-of-yet-unidentified magic scrolls right beside the portal that got us into this mess. I didn’t trust that Hexla would tell us what they contained, so I asked to buy two potions of “Read Magic” from her (though I had to borrow from Rosorc to pay for them). After seeing how she’d interacted with Tassar and William, I bade her drink one before I could assume the other would be safe enough for me to swallow. The good news is that the potion worked, but unfortunately, the spells revealed by this magical enhancement were of no immediate use to us. Deitricha has been looking at me disapprovingly, and Areon seems to be keeping to himself even more so than usual, though I’ve caught him watching Rosorc a few times. Every time I catch Rosorc’s eye, he starts beaming and stroking his beard.

We departed the cave and headed south on a three-hour trek to the pillar. On the way we saw a squad of about twenty blue-skinned Baatezu (what the devils collectively call themselves), looking somewhat like tall dwarves, heading towards us, actively searching for trouble. We all scattered and hid behind some of the numerous boulders, and were doing a fairly good job of not being seen, until I noticed I could see Rosorc, or rather, a lot of the spikes on his armor and helm, sticking out from behind a big rock. There was no time to find him a better spot, so I tossed him a potion labeled “invisibility”—- that did the trick! The Baatezu were so loud in their plate armor as they clanked past us that I doubt they would have heard us had we been yelling at them.

The rest of the hike to the pillar went without incident. Before long we saw a line stretching up into the sky and out of view. As we neared, we could hear the cacophony of a multitude of voices, and realized that it was a column of heads stretching off into the— well, I would have said Heavens, but I suspect they stop quite short of that. A few dozen pairs of eyes locked on our party, and dozens of voices began to demand various things. Finally, an ogre head silenced those around him, and began an attempt at communication with us. It offered to give us instructions home in exchange for one of us! A fat head nearby demanded a fiend for providing the same information. An elf head suggested a means of departure from the plain, requesting only that we remove the large head from the pillar so the elf head could get a bit of peace. The ogre head was yanked out and tossed into the River of Blood (and continued its rant from there), though we are assured that it will take its place in the pillar again in due time.

The elf head, which once belonged to a merchant from some far off land called “Verbobonc” (“Always read the fine print!” he lamented), said that there was a portal to the south in a horseshoe rock. It required a special key— a brick from the road of Avernus. This would be a long red road we neglected to notice back by the fortress of Lord Bel. We’d either have to ford the river again, or go over a bridge to the south that was heavily guarded. While the elf head graciously gave detailed instructions, the fat head kept interrupting with suggestions to go west and find a circle on the ground. Even in Hell, the only really good advice came from an elf!

We headed off south first, to see just how “guarded” the bridge was. A very large fiend guarded the bone bridge, with quite a few minions keeping watch with him. We headed back on a three-hour trek to the narrowest part of the River of Blood. As we crossed, I felt something brush my legs and then heard a yelp from William. We got out of the river to find a bloodworm attached to him. It was immediately yanked off, but I skewered it with my rapier— one less critter to deal with when we cross back with our brick!

We headed towards the fortress and the “Blood Rift,” or rather, we skirted the fortress to the road. It was, indeed, made of red brick, though there was an entire army of fiends amassed on it. They weren’t paying any attention to us, but we kept our distance until they left several hours later. Occasionally, gouts of flame would burst from the ground near us.

Before I could offer to sneak out and get a brick, Tassar was off like a shot. I had a sudden mental image of him finding the only pit trap in the entire road and falling in, but he managed to grab a brick and started running back towards us.

Suddenly, about fifty winged fiends launched themselves from the top of the fortress, heading right for us! It took some convincing to get Tassar, who had thrown the brick to Rosorc, to keep running— he looked as though he would turn and fight the entire horde himself, and I think Rosorc would have fought at his side! Luckily for us, it didn’t come to that. First, a random ball of flame erupted from the ground, scattering fiend bodies everywhere as they fell from the blast. The remaining fiends, who were apparently answering the battle cry of another group of fiends heading towards the fortress, clashed overhead we ran like, um, Hell.

We raced across the river one last time, and, of all things, managed to nearly run into that squad of blue-skinned devils we’d avoided earlier. We took off as fast as we could, though with our shorter stature and overabundance of equipment, we probably looked like we were leisurely strolling along the path south. Luckily, the heavily armed Baatezu couldn’t catch up, so the slow chase began. We breezed past the pillar and thought we were home free, so to speak, when we passed the bone bridge— and all of its occupants. Things were looking grim, but then we spotted the horseshoe shaped rock just ahead. Sprinting for all we were worth, we got to the portal, only to find a fiend standing there blocking our way. The good thing was, that it caused the devils behind us to give up their pursuit.

The fiend, to be honest, looked like a darker version of William, being about the same height, though he still had his spiky hair. He said he would allow us passage on the condition we take a black orb he was holding with us— in fact he indicated we would not likely survive the trip through without it. As we agreed (there were not a lot of other options at this point) I called out, “Where does this portal lead?” to which he replied:

“The City of Doors.”

We found ourselves standing on a cobblestone street in a haze-shrouded ghetto, with lights high overhead. The orb was now useless, crumbled to dust. Looking up and down the street, we could see that it curved upward in both directions— way up. All manner of strange beings walked passed us— centaur-like creatures (though their bodies looked more goat-like), tall jaundiced-looking humanoids with sharp features, things with wings, and things with horns, mixing with others that likely were humans.

I could use a drink.

Posted by Kristin at 17:55 | Theona’s Journal

March 31, 2004

On the Run

William's Journal

“Third from the left, fourth from the right, the door in the center leads to your desire.”

That’s a rhyme my father used to say often when someone traveling with our caravan started talking about different worlds.

As you probably guessed, we are still alive. This small miracle was accomplished by a lot of running. Allow me to pick up where I left off.

We started heading towards the mountain range being as it seemed to be the safest choice. On the way this small black creature covered in horns appeared from around an extremely large boulder. Tassar approached it telling it his name and that it probably heard of him. I would have laughed right there if the creature hadn’t dropped to the ground shaking and screaming in a language I didn’t understand. I asked it if it spoke common and all it said was “no hurt” over and over. After a while of discussion, Hixtali, as its name turned out to be, agreed to lead us to a place where an evil sorcerer lived. Now being in Hell itself, I figured anything it considered evil was probably going to be extremely helpful to us.

We were led to a river of blood and forced to cross it to reach our destination. I hated it. Almost to the other side Deitricha yelled and started to run. Apparently something attached itself to her leg and started leaching off of her. The creatures were quickly removed and after some special healing we continued as far as this devil would take us. It was obvious the creature was evil especially when it started licking the blood from the river off of himself.

Hixtali came to a stop several feet from the cave of this sorcerer and refused to go any further. I decided to continue up as well as several of my companions. This cave felt just as evil as the rest of Hell, but the half elf who eventually emerged form a small cottage inside this cave didn’t seem evil. She was mad that much is obvious, but not evil.

We talked about a way to get us home, and she said she could do it if she had my eyes. She would need both of them, one for us and one for her. I was almost convinced to do it when she let slip about another possible way out. I had to giver her my hair in exchange for the information. My companion are apparently unaware that the blood of the divine flows through my veins. However diluted it may or may not be, it’s still there. I informed her before we left that if this didn’t work I would give her my eyes for the spell to go home.

We followed the flow of the blood river for a while and eventually came to a pillar of skulls we were informed to go see. There was only one obstacle on the way and that was simply to hide from some blue creatures that look very much like dwarves. Talking to this pillar was difficult at best, but eventually we got what we needed to know from them. Apparently there was a portal out of Hell a little further down the blood river, we only needed a key. All we needed we a piece of the Avernus. I was informed that this is a street leading out of the green fortress we saw when we first arrived in Hell almost 8 hours ago.

Looking ahead we did see a bridge, but it was guarded by being I have never seen before and really didn’t want to fight. So we went back to the place we first crossed the river and re-crossed it to get our portal key. We got to this Avernus a little too easily if you ask me. As we rounded the last corner of the fortress we saw what appeared to be an army gathering to go out to battle. The creatures were so fierce even Tassar paled a little.

We waited for them to go and after awhile they did. Tassar decided to prove himself by going out to get the brick from the road. As he was returning with it winged creatures took off from the fortress. We knew we couldn’t outrun them so we prepared to fight when we noticed another batch of winged creatures advancing on the fortress. We took this opportunity to get away and ran all the way back to the other side of the blood river.

We stopped just in time to see the dwarf-like things from before coming our way, and this time they saw us. Off we were again running as fast as we could while staying together, past the pillar of skulls and giving the bridge a wide birth. I had to look over my shoulder after we passed the bridge, and I wish I hadn’t. All the creatures guarding the bridge had joined the pursuit. Looking ahead we saw the structures we were looking for and there was the most hideous being I had ever seen. Something in his eyes reminded me of Haimen, but I’m sure it wasn’t him, after all what are the odds that would happen? He said we could go, but only if we took this black orb with us. Tassar took it as the portal opened up and we all jumped though.

My eyes were closed when I felt sturdy ground beneath me. Opening them, and being very thankful I still had them, I looked around. Everything in this place, which I’m told is the City of Doors, looks rundown. It’s kind of dark right now. I look up hoping to see sky and I catch the twinkle of lights. The orb crumbles to dust and I think, “That’s over.” I need a hot bath and some new clothes.

Posted by Fred at 02:21 | William’s Journal